Upon learning about my family’s trips to live out of the U.S., many people have asked me “Weren’t you scared?!”and the truth is, the first time we moved to Brazil, yes, I was absolutely scared. Excited, but scared too. I’d been listening to people (family and friends) talk about how dangerous Sao Paulo is, and how Rio has gangs of children roaming the streets, just waiting to attack and steal from you.
I still remember our very first day in Sao Paulo. We had gotten off of the plane and been taken directly to our hotel. Exhausted from our trip, we took a nap. We realized once we woke up that we were out of cigarettes, so we called down to the desk to ask if they sold them. They didn’t, but they told us there was a gas station about a block down the street that did. We were so scared from what we had been told about the dangers in Sao Paulo, that we (I) begged the concierge to send one of his employees to get the smokes for us. Being in a 5 star hotel, he was most gracious and did, in fact, send his guy to get the cigarettes. I can still remember the paralyzing fear balled up in the pit of my stomach when I thought about walking outside that day. I had no idea how we were going to be able to live there another year.
We ended up living in a different hotel, one without a gracious concierge, so while Blake was at work, I was forced to go outside, or end up living in that shoe-box sized room for days on end. Fortunately, the Universe watched over me as I searched for a place to exchange cash and ended up learning Portuguese.
Walking 13 blocks through Sao Paulo was really scary at first. I walked very quickly, always kept my eyes straight ahead with my purse latched and close to my body. But eventually, after talking with the Brazilians in class, and seeing the same people as I walked past them every day for two weeks, I relaxed a little bit. Fear loosened it’s grip so that I could savor this new experience and even started to enjoy it.
Not completely though. We lived in Penedo, which was then a quiet vacation town, inhabited by only a few hundred people during the week, only to be flooded with Paulistas (Sao Paulo residents) and Cariocas (Rio de Janiero residents) on the weekends.
It was creepy quiet during the the week. With Blake gone to work, my mind had plenty of time and opportunity to really freak me out. Especially the day I accidentally killed the gecko and then saw the big green lizard, the fear and paranoia took it’s toll. In order to keep myself safe, I stayed fairly close to home. Although I drove Blake back and forth to work and shopped in town, constant worry was my ever-present companion. I lost weight and generally felt anxious, which left me feeling helpless and stuck.
Our Mexico trip was very different.
You could say it changed my life. (Well, changed isn’t really the right word. You can change your pants but that doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t even really change your pants.) It transformed me. Not all at once, of course. Just like cooking a turkey, transformation takes time, tools and intention. But the best part is that once it started, there was no going back. You can’t un-cook a turkey, just like I won’t ever be that scared, overwhelmed woman again. (Thank God!)
In my new book You’re the Boat, (look for the KickStarter project link next week!) the lady on the front of the boat represents your face. When you face your boat into the waves (fears/challenges), your boat will be more stable because the wave has less surface area upon which to effect your vessel. If you turn away from the wave (fear/challenge), your boat will be hit full-on broad-side and you risk being rocked hard, or even capsized.
Basically, fear and avoidance does more damage to you and your life than facing your fears. If you try to stay safe, you’ll never feel strong enough to go out and explore your world. By trying to keep yourself safe, you lock yourself away from the opportunities and people that can help you grow and develop.
Living in fear steals all of the fun and magic out of life. Joy and ecstasy can’t survive paranoia and relationships wilt and die without trust. Fear keeps you living without actually giving you a life.
Living in Fear = Death
“When I acknowledge my fear and stay open to the gifts that it holds, I have access to the confidence and courage that I need to be authentically who I am.” Debbie Ford
Uncertainty is a natural part of life. Everybody gets scared. It’s how you react to that fear that defines what kind of a life you’ll end up with. Let the fear overwhelm you and you’ll end up with a shallow, sad, thin existence. When you lean into the fear, you’ll grow by leaps and bounds.
This past week, Eric Klein wrote How to heal or ruin your life: the power of Universal Tension.
The Universal Tensions are…..
- Revealing your self/your truth and concealing your self/truth.
- Trusting life and protecting your self from life.
- Seeking freedom and seeking security.
- Giving to others and taking care of one’s self.
Eric explains “These tensions are not meant to be “handled” or “finished”.
They are universal and ever-present. The universal nature of a primary tension generates the creative energy that infuses your life with meaning, purpose, and direction.
It’s the source of your juice, your élan vital.
It’s not a problem – it’s the source of your enthusiasm for living.
And it fills you with energy when you embrace its un-solvability.”
He then goes on to say “You can turn this source of creativity and joy into your own personal pain-in-the-neck.
Here’s how: continue to see it as a problem. Continue to fight it. And – this is a big one – to look for ways to solve the un-solvable.
This ensures that you will convert universal tension into a personal problem. And experience the source of your life’s energy as an un-ending source of suffering.
Un-solvability doesn’t mean that you must suffer endlessly.
Struggling against the universal nature of the universal tension does.”
So what do you think, my friendly blog reader?
Which of the Universal Tensions is generating creative energy in your life?
I would LOVE to read your answer in the comments below, OR you can e-mail me at pambelding at gmail dot com.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this! Feel free to share it with someone if you think they’ll enjoy it too!
For now, I’m going to go work on finishing up my KickStarter project (finally got the video finished thanks to Lino di Julio!) and my new website!
Have a fantastic week!!