Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Evolution in mind ... Facing fears

So this blog is about my personal evolution -- in body, mind and spirit. I've written a lot about how my body is currently evolving, and as I'm at the half way point in that process I thought it was a good time to start addressing the other two areas. Today I'd like to focus on mind. Specifically how the mind, through fears and self-doubt, can hold us back from achieving our dreams and goals which can leave us facing a lot of regrets later in life. This may be a longer post but I feel it's time to talk about facing my fears.

For most of my life I've let fear hold me back from doing the things that I most wanted to do. That's one of the reasons I've wanted to try jogging ... because on the one hand it's something I would never imagine myself capable of, but on the other hand I know that if I don't push myself I will never know what I'm truly capable of. Will I let fear stop me from giving it a real go?

Firstly, I fear that I physically can't do it. My body protests when I get to three or more intervals ... loudly! Not that I expect it to be easy but my lungs sometimes feel like they might burst! I'm a former smoker, having quit years ago, but suppose my lungs can't handle it? Then there are my knees ... my right knee is the worst and bothers me most during lunges and squats, but I worry whether jogging will improve or further aggravate it. I'm still over 200 pounds. Yes, they make Biggest Loser contestants run right from the beginning but not always without injury. Yet Runner 5 said she started at 118 kg and if she hadn't she'd never have learned how much she loves to run. And Leigh said she was 230 pounds when she started and that it was very hard but she persevered. So maybe that fear is unfounded.

Then there's the fear of people heckling the fat lady who thinks she can jog. That's one reason I prefer the trail around the lake where other fitness buffs are, and there are no people driving by watching me. But I can't always take the time to drive there first, and when I try routes closer to home more people can see me, including my neighbours.

Fear is no small thing; it's been the main reason throughout my life that I haven't done things I really wanted to do. If you had asked me in my teenage years what I most wanted to do with my life I would have said I wanted to be an actress or a singer. I’m a Leo – we love being centre stage. But as the years passed I never had the confidence or self-worth to actually pursue my dreams.

When I found the strength to leave my verbally abusive first husband at age 31 I was at a really low point, emotionally and financially. My best friend worked at the bar in a pizza place, so I hung out there most nights while she was working. They had karaoke nights, and one night I heard my name called out to come up and sing. I hadn’t signed up. Turns out my friend signed me up because she knew I loved to sing. I was too scared to go up there, but she kept saying I was good and I should just give it a go. Soon others were encouraging me to get up there as well, so I did. I was scared, but I did it – voice shaking with nerves, but despite that I still got compliments. Without my friend’s little push, I would have been too afraid to even try. But soon I was going to other places that had karaoke.

The bartender at one such place asked me to come with him to meet a lady who had a gig as a lounge singer. Her husband ran the lights and sound equipment, which used karaoke background tracks – but this was no karaoke show. She was an entertainer, and really very good.  She sometimes used props and costume accessories and could ‘morph’ into the person whose song she was singing. A few times during the night she’d let one or two of her friends up as guest singers while she took a short break. The bartender introduced us on one of her breaks, and she soon let me up as a guest singer. It was fun, and I became one of her featured regulars.

Eventually I got offers from people who wanted me to sing with them. There was a duo that had me join them during a song or two at their gigs. Then I met with a friend of my brothers who had a studio in his basement and he recorded me singing some of my favourite songs. I now had a demo tape! My divorce was final by now and to celebrate I went to Glamor Shots and got a professional photo shoot. I used one of the shots as a cover for my demo tape.

So what happened next? Not much. See … I was comfortable singing karaoke because I always had lyrics displayed in front of me. Though I sang songs that I knew very well, I was too insecure to get up there without my lyrics, scared I would forget the words. That fear held me back from promoting myself and joining a band. I gave friends and family a copy of my demo tape, and everyone liked it. I eventually had it transferred to CD, but that’s about it.

When I met my second husband and made the decision to come to Australia, that was about the only time I faced my fears and went for what I wanted. I was afraid to fly, as my friends who drove me to the airport can attest ... they held my hand as far as they could but I had to leave them and get on that plane all by myself! That was scary, but I did it. I definitely do not like flying, but I did it and I'm so glad because I have a good life with a good man and I never thought that would happen. Moving here was scary as it meant leaving my friends and family, my home and my country. But I will never regret facing that fear head-on as it paid off big time.

My hubby was a bass player in a rock and roll band. I would go to his gigs and watch him up on stage and it reminded me of my own dreams. Friends would tell me we should sing together, but of course I didn’t sing much rock and roll, and he didn’t play country, 70s easy listening or soft rock. But I did hit a few karaoke shows, and at one of them I was approached by a man who was looking for a woman to sing with him in a duo. I was excited and said yes ... we actually had several gigs together. It was fun and for the first time ever I was actually getting paid to sing! That was awesome! But I kept my lyric book on a stand in front of me as a security blanket still.

It didn't last long though, partly because we had different ideas about the types of songs we'd do and the venues we'd play at, but mostly because I was obese, insecure and losing what little confidence I had to stand on stage in a roomfull of strangers and sing. I really haven't sung in public since. I miss it though. My greatest joy still comes from singing, though now I'm cranking my favorite tunes and singing along in my car or at home with the jukebox.

There are many things in life that I've not done because fear held me back ... instead I sat on the sidelines watching life pass me by. What got me thinking so much about this lately? Oddly enough it was Robert Conrad! I had the biggest crush on him when I was a teenager watching The Wild Wild West reruns. He looked damn fine in those days, and I've remained a fan over the years collecting some of his movies and shows on VHS. I got the full collection of The Wild Wild West DVDs for Christmas and I've been enjoying watching the show again very much.

These days he hosts a radio show where fans can call in or email him and ask questions. Of course I'd be afraid to actually call and speak to him directly, but I listened to him answer people's questions and some of his responses got me thinking. He was asked whether he had regrets about any particular shows he'd done, whether there were people he'd always wanted to work with but hadn't got the chance, whether he'd taken any risks, etc. While I can't quote his answers verbatim he essentially said he had no regrets because everything he'd done was what he wanted to do at the time, that he'd worked with everyone he'd wanted to, and that of course he'd taken many risks but that's show business. Of course he'd made mistakes in his life (as we all have) but he'd had the confidence (some would say cockiness) to go after what he wanted in life. Now in his senior years, he is happy and has no regrets.

They say most people later in life regret the things they didn't do, not the things they did. So I started thinking about the things I'm likely to regret in the future, and giving up on singing will most likely be right up there. So I talked to hubby about that and you know what? He said he'd talk to a friend of his that has a recording studio and see if he'd help me record another CD. That would be so much fun, and as this friend is in a country band you never know, if he likes what he hears he might ask me to join them for a song or two. If nothing else I would have the joy of singing again as I'd have to practice a lot before I'd be ready to record. So maybe that dream isn't dead in the water after all.

And that brings me back to where I started. Tackling the fear of actually pushing myself to jog. What have I got to lose? I'll either find it's not for me, or I'll find I really enjoy it and it builds my endurance and lung capacity, which could not only make me more fit, but a better singer. At the very least, not having pushed myself to try would be one regret I wouldn't face in my golden years. That alone makes me think I've got to do it. Maybe I can only do 30 second intervals ... maybe less! But that's OK. Whatever level I'm at, it's OK.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing all of that!! Go for it is all I can say. I too left an emotionally abusive husband many years ago and I also love to sing Kareoke but I know my limits!! My sister on the other hand has been a professional singer in New Zealand since she was 17 years old... 33 years - that's along time in that business.

    Good luck with your dreams, you are doing so well.

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing all of that, sweetie!

    Re people making fun of heavy people jogging? That's like saying sinners should stay away from church. ;)

    I think you are brave to push yourself now; many people never ever do. You never know your potential until you reach for more than what you have or are, right now!

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  3. Thanks Lynda and Gwen. At 50 now I think I worry more about having regrets in my old age ... assuming I reach old age, because my family typically doesn't. That's a big reason I started this journey to begin with ... wanting to outlive my parents! But as to finally facing my fears, I reckon better late than never! Lol

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  4. well, regrets may have are centered on failed marriages... ;)

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  5. yeah story time! I was hoping you would link to a track for us to hear. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

    Can't wait to see how everything goes.

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    Replies
    1. Mrs Swan, I just might if I find a way to do it! LOL

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