How to Face Your Big Fears

Lesley and I share many viewpoints and we have known each other for so long that sometimes I don’t know from whom the thought originated.  I remember first hearing this idea in college and I spout it often, however, we both pass on this advice, often. Its a very important idea to use in your life, daily. You have nothing to fear in any situation if you first come to terms with the worst possible outcome. Let me put it another way to clarify: if you figure out what the worst thing that can happen if you make a certain decision and become ok with that, you’ll be less fearful of taking that step or making that decision. Lesley and I have cured many an ill of others, or our own with this nugget of wisdom. Yes, it’s along the lines of that famous JFK quip: we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s so very true.

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Think about something you fear or something that is frustrating you right now not allowing you to move forward. Why are you fearful, or stagnant, or both?  Are you frustrated at work because you don’t want to ask for a raise but feel that you’re work is worth more money?  What is the worst-case scenario if you ask for more money: they say no and fire you instead. Let’s sort through this one. No company is going to fire you without due cause, and asking for what you are worth is not “due cause.” However, if you do get fired only because you asked for more money, it’s a terrible company and you don’t want to work for them anyway. These thoughts of getting fired for simply asking what you’re worth, are somewhat irrational and really extreme. So, back up a notch. Are you afraid of stating what you’re worth, or think that even though you think your work is worth more compensation, the powers that be might not think it so? That’s RIDICULOUS. Even more ridiculous is keeping yourself in a cage where you’re trapped and unhappy because you’re not adapting or meeting your needs.  Lesley is the cliff-diving type, as in she blindly leaps into opportunities. I’m more of a bungee jumper, as in I find a bounce back plan and research all of the safety options and review the best possible solutions fifteen times and try them out in less high risk situations before I make a big leap. Neither is right, wrong, nor the only answer for any situation. Both types observe risk before jumping.


Blindly leap, or research first.  Either way: just go for it!


I am an actress. (I have to say this multiple times a day to myself, because for the longest time, I thought that I wasn’t any good, and I didn’t deserve to be performing in shows and working with incredibly talented people.) I thought that New York City was just a dream for the longest time. Even though I was terrified about moving here, I had been telling people for years that I was moving here. In 2009, a good friend of mine and I made an agreement to move here together and be each other’s support system and built in cheerleader for the big move. I was terrified. Although I had moved several times in my life, and had made large cross country moves, I was chasing a dream. A big shiny dream that many people fail miserably at. After I finished my 2009 conversation with my friend Jen, I weighed the possibilities. What would happen if I moved here and failed? What did failure actually mean? I figured out that failure would mean moving here, never performing again, and not working in the arts, and after a few years, running back home to California and finding another desk job and apartment to live out my days. Ok… I could handle that. There was no death involved. There might be humiliation, which would not be fun to deal with, but I could handle humiliation—especially since, it would come after I had admirably chased down my dream and made a go at it. If I was only being held back by the possibility of humiliation, then why was I waiting? Yes, there was the possibility I would be a starving actress, but that part didn’t seem to bother me, it was the failing and coming home. That is when I decided that taking the unknown leap towards my fear was far better than staying where I was and continually hoping for my dreams to be fulfilled. (At the time, I lived down the street from Disneyland, so it could have happened that a magical fairy could escape and make my dreams come true.)

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September 8, 2010, I flew from San Diego to NYC, and stepped off the plane. I had no clue what was in store. When I made it, finally, to my apartment, my new roommate Jen was out for the day with her parents. I laid down on my bed and cried for many different reasons. Mostly from the terror that I had made the wrong decision. The next day I laughed with my mom about that moment, walking into my apartment and laying down on a naked bed and bawling about chasing my dream. The funny thing is, that first moment, that terror and tearstained moment, is one of the three lowest moments in my five years here (the other two being the realization I needed to move out of my mouse infested—but perfect—first apartment, and losing a friend to cancer.)

I figured out what the worst possible outcome of my situation would be: humiliation and failure. I came to terms with it: I figured that moving to a city where my dreams could possibly come true and making the attempt to make them become a reality was a fair trade off for the downside. Realizing that if I didn’t take the chance at my dreams, I understood that I would be even more unhappy and unfulfilled in my life, which would actually be worse than the possibility of failure and the humiliation. So I did it. Here I am. Almost four years later, and happy. Am I on Broadway? Nope, not yet. Am I performing, yes absolutely. I’m thriving. And I’m not moving back to California unless I get a major contract there. I miss the palm trees, but I’m so very happy I made the leap.


I understood that I would be even more unhappy and unfulfilled in my life, which would actually be worse than the possibility of failure and the humiliation.


What are you waiting for? What is something you’re wanting to do? What is the biggest fear in your way? Come to terms with it, as in acknowledge it and admit to yourself that it could never be as bad as not trying. Go for it. Forget about “you only live once.” You only die once, and its getting closer every day. As my mother always says: if you’re not hurting anyone or yourself, and it makes you happy: do it.

–Clare

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5 tips to beat the Heat of Life

Alright, I know you all don’t live in LA, but I’m sure you can relate to this.  There are those days or weeks where it feels like the wind and chill will never return.  The sun goes down and the temperature took a stand and decided not to go down with it.  When we think of storms in our lives, we often relate them to hurricanes, El Ninos, or other wet and windy moments.  Recently, Clare shared her experience and thoughts on weathering a storm. As we know storms do blow on through eventually. Often leaving behind fresh air or at least a rainbow.

What if your “storm” feels like a heatwave. What if it feels like stagnant hot air. One where even when you run for cover you are only in a space that’s at best a few degrees cooler. You look around and you’re still feeling smothered.  Well, I’m here to say you’re not alone. These almost suffocating waves will pass eventually. But man! While you’re in (I’m very much in it) it just feels hot, unmovable and lifeless.


You’re not alone. These almost suffocating waves will pass eventually.


My heatwave started probably when summer started. Just like summer my wave eased on in. I didn’t wake up one day and plop there I was in this place of feeling stagnant. Nope, there were signs of the wave that was too come.  As it began I dealt with an internal dialogue. Projects began piling up. Deadlines were fast approaching. Inside I kept making excuses for why I was falling behind on things. Then when I ran out of excuses I started beating myself up.  I couldn’t help but think things like: Am I just crazy? Is it me? Look at all the half finished projects!  This dialogue would and could spin entirely out of control. That’s when the wave hits! Every step in any direction is effort and you find yourself not know which way is up. Your self doubt gets louder in the heat of it.

There’s a tipping point in the wave though. A moment where you can grow stronger because of it or sink down.   Here’s some tips for staying cool:

1) Eventually fall will arrive. You can either be ready to welcome it or be picking yourself up still when it arrives.

2) Stay Hydrated. Drink in lots of self love, big picture thinking and how this storm will prepare you for the future.

3) Cold showers. Snap you out of your head and into the present. When you get too much into analyzing you lose a sense of what happened and what you thought into happening.

4) Open a window. It’s like a fire drill. If the door is hot look for another path out!

5) Move early! Don’t let the heat or problems keep you from exercising. Just do that earlier. Taking on the day before the heat try’s to take you is the best way to stay on the offense.

To be honest, I’m still in my heatwave. Maybe by the time this publishes, LA and I will be entering fall. But, until then I will workout earlier, keep my eye on my future plans and celebrate any breeze that blows my way.

The late Dr Wayne Dyer said “Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done. It’s always your choice.”

You are in control of your life and your thoughts–see brain is listening. Remember you have choices. You can make them, or the heat can. Which will it be?

Stay cool my dears!

Xx~LL

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6 ways to stop your waiting anxiety

You’ve focused on something. You’ve put something at stake. But for some reason, the passion and drive you’ve thrown into the proverbial “ring” isn’t being rewarded. As my roommate Shana aptly put it—“we always want what we can’t have. We live for the chase, and indulge in the glimpses of possibility.   We get a taste and only hunger for more when the adrenaline sets in.” Why is this? Why does it feel like we are continually waiting?

According to an article called The Psychology of Waiting, “unoccupied time seems longer than occupied time” and  waiting solo seems longer than waiting with a group. Its lonely-waiting.  Its also rough not getting this kind of attention or what you want, especially when it is so important to you. No matter what it is, a date, a job, a person to text you back, an apartment, a performance contract, it is hard waiting endlessly.  Sadly, a watched pot never boils.

In this exact moment in time, I am waiting to get an important work call. A friend is waiting to hear back from a job interview (and texting me relentlessly about it). Another friend is waiting to hear from a date that she had to see if his feelings are as strong as hers (and I’m fielding her texts, too). Even more friends are waiting to hear back about auditions they had to see if they booked work. It seems like everyone I know is waiting on something. Waiting is the most aggravating thing in the world. I’m not Catholic, but purgatory seems much worse than any other option.


Waiting is the most aggravating thing in the world.


I usually find myself going stir crazy when I’m just waiting. I am not good at just sitting and doing nothing. The watched pot doesn’t boil, so you have to go off and do something else, and let the rest take care of itself. Eventually the rest of the world will catch up to you and come through for you, but until then, you just have to get through the waiting.

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How to get through this:

1)   No matter the situation you have to stop focusing on it. All of your attention on it will only make it seem bigger, more important, and more detrimental when you don’t get what you want. Also it makes the time drag by.

2)   Put your focus somewhere similar. If it’s a job you’re applying for, go send out more applications to other jobs. If it’s a text you’re waiting for, go put your energy towards another person; how long has it been since you called your parents? If it’s a living situation, go look at other places. Putting your energy into similar things, pulls energy toward you. Think of it as this: When kids are in the sandbox, everyone wants the pail so they can make castles, but if one kid decides he doesn’t want the pail anymore and then starts using the shovel and starts making his own pile of sand with the shovel, then the focus starts to be on the one who is making progress. Eventually, most will abandon the focus on the pail, leaving it up for grabs. They’re all still in the sandbox, they’re all still making sand castles, but the need for the pail is lifted, making it available.

3)   Realize the first step is that you have no control over other people and the way the world turns. You just don’t. Give it up to whatever diety you believe (or don’t believe) in. Know that you have no control, no matter how long you stare at your phone, or refresh your email, or watch the clock tick. You just don’t have control. And that’s ok. Just breathe. Life will go on either way.


You just don’t have control. And that’s ok. Just breathe. Life will go on either way.


4)   Don’t plan your life around it. Continue to live. Go out with friends, go to the gym, go plan a menu and go grocery shopping. Don’t sit and marathon tv shows!! Get moving! If you sit around just waiting for something to do, time drags, and you’ll continually think about how nothing is happening. Create movement. You’ll attract movement as well… so maybe if you get out and do things, what you’re waiting on will sense the movement and start moving, too.

5)   Focus on yourself. In this time that you’re waiting, think about things to do for yourself, or that you need to accomplish. Do you want to do a facemask? Reorganize your junk drawer? Make appointments for personal things? Go focus on you! If you make yourself important, and you view yourself that way, others will too! You will attract the energy. So go focus on yourself for a bit!

6)   Know that whatever is happening to halt the incoming has nothing to do with you. I mean it does because you want it, but there are other people and other factors in the world. There are other people and other factors in play. We just have to wait for other people to take care of their business or lives, and then get back to us. They might be reading over lots of applications, or working, or having their own crisis. Just because they’re not getting back to you doesn’t absolutely mean that they’re antagonizing you on purpose or need more from you. Just leave them be! They’ll get back to you when they can.

Desire is great; it drives us. Adrenaline powers us, but at the same time it can make life worse. If you’re not getting what you want, just keep moving forward. It might not be the right time for what you want. I’d love to keep writing… but my work call came in, because I focused on something else. So, I’ve got to go, but let us know what you’re secret to beating waiting is, below!

–Clare

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Happiness

There are some days that being happy seems like the worst chore. It should be easy—laughter, happy moments, smiles; when not forced seem to just happen automatically when the moment is right. But, when it is forced, when you’re just trying to find a modicum of hope, its more frustrating than sorting quinoa by hand, kernel by kernel.

However, happiness is really just an adjusted perspective. No, really, it is. The way or the view you have of something today can be different tomorrow. You like your job and are happy in it one day, but through a chain of events, your perspective is changed and you’re not a fan tomorrow. Maybe it’s something simple like a co-worker that you thought was an ally is now a questionable foe. Maybe you failed to complete an assignment, and got a slap on the wrist for it. Maybe you realized that you’ve got a higher calling in life and this job feels like its holding you back. Or any number of other things and combinations of factors. The point is, today your perspective of something that made you happy, has now been altered. You’ve shifted. Now that a kernel of doubt is seeding in your head, it starts to grow—for better or for worse. Sometimes you think and analyze the thing that happened, and sometimes you let it go, and it quietly changes within you. It creates unrest—and in my experience, unrest is never a happy feeling. Nothing is “wrong,” per se, but its no longer “right.” You can feel a crossroads coming—but you’re not quite there yet. I think because we start to feel the brink of change, that we feel this unrest. To give you a visual, you’ve been walking along your path for a while, somewhat blindly, because it has just a slight incline—one that makes you think that you’re going in the right direction, because a road that leads uphill must lead to something that will better you. As you feel yourself starting to edge up and over the top, you see—still off in the distance—but a change or a crossroads where you have to change or adapt. Well, I guess you don’t have to… you could turn around and go back down the way you came. But, it is my belief that even if you choose the wrong road, you’ll eventually wind your way back around to where you’re meant to go. But I digress.

If you’re looking for more on change, I wrote about that earlier here. Back to happiness. Change has happened causing unease and possibly anxiety. Anxiety, not sadness, is the opposite of happiness. This seems to be true in my life. I would wager it’s the same in yours. The thing is, whereas happiness seems like the easiest fixes to make, it is one of the hardest things to continually achieve. Partially because its an emotion open to interpretation. Partially because human beings tend to like things like answers, closure, and reasons. Because of this, the question we ask most is: Why? (Second only to asking where the closest bathroom is. Too many years of customer service have led me to live that statistic.)

Happiness, although we would like to believe it is simple, really isn’t as easy to achieve. Its not like it prepackaged at the local drug store—although the big pharmaceutical companies would like to tell you that it is. (By the way, I would like to pause for a moment and say that if you find yourself unchangingly depressed—GO SEEK HELP. There is nothing to be ashamed of, especially during these cold, depressing wintry months. Please seek out someone to talk to you. There are programs for low income therapy, and life coaching out there—just an internet search away.)

Back to the point: Some days you might just find yourselves visiting the doldrums. You know the feeling of unhappiness. Sometimes you find yourself there—nothing is specifically wrong or caused unhappiness, but something is just… off. Whatever this momentary feeling is, it’s been a few hours or a few days and you know that you’re the only one who can solve your unhappiness. This is a general rule. You’re the only one who can truly make yourself happy or unhappy. Again, it’s a perspective. How other people affect this is your view point of their actions. Its not that he didn’t call, its how you feel about him not calling and letting it affect you. Its not about the asshat at work who threw you under the bus, its that you let the asshat get under your skin. Happiness is ALWAYS a perspective.

I wrote this part in a green notebook on the subway on my way to my survival job. The train keeps making long stops at every station causing anxiety, unrest, and yes, unhappiness: I’ll probably be late, even though I left enough time. Today it’s a bigger deal that I’m on time, but there really isn’t much I can do. My happiness doesn’t depend on the train performing as it should, but instead rests in my brain. As an adult and a high functioning human, I have already made all of the connections in my brain which are this: Oh no! this train will make me late; my boss is in today and will be paying attention to my arrival time and will think that I regularly coast in like this every day when normally I’m on time, if not early, and I might get reprimanded, or even fired; and then I’d have no money and no place to live and I can’t take that Cancun vacation I had planned and I’ll have to move back in with my mother who will ask me daily about any number of my life choices from underwear, to detergent, to men and will point out that I’m doing it all wrong!

Woooooooah, Tiger!! Its JUST a train. Just a few minutes. And my mother isn’t that bad—actually my mother just recently turned in her application for sainthood, but that sounds like I’m bragging, and anyway I digress. Again… Lets go step by step backwards. I won’t have to live with my mom. There are other people I can live with, plus my roommate is super understanding, and we can call the landlord if needed. But it won’t be needed, because I won’t lose my job over a few minutes.   And even if I did, I will just apply for unemployment and other jobs in the interim. But really, my boss isn’t that bad, and is less stressed about time than I am. Deep breath. And once again the train is moving. (I actually was only two minutes late that day, and my boss wasn’t even there, so the point was moot).

Again, was all of this train nonsense a reality? Nope, it was perspective. Once I stepped back and told myself that all was ok, and took a breath, I was fine. Actually, I was happy to have an extra few minutes to write out my thoughts in my notebook, so I could get this inspiration written.

In those moments of unhappiness, step back. Go from the craziest thought first and debunk it. Breathe. Take it one step at a time, and come back from that negative ledge. All will be right again.

You deserve to be happy. You also control your happiness. Yup. Go ahead, read that again. You DESERVE to be HAPPY and are IN CONTROL of your OWN HAPPINESS. Stop the madness. When you feel your brain spiraling out of control, take it step by step backwards through the muck. Rationalize all of those thoughts. Most won’t happen. And for the ones that have a good chance, make a plan or two or three to give yourself the strength to deal with it. I don’t know each of you individually, but I’m sure you have some sort of resources at your disposal. If you’re reading this you’re already on the internet… just internet search some ideas!

Now, for the things that make you continually unhappy, think about how you can change them. Stop the idea that you can change another person—that DOESN’T work. However you can express to the other person your needs or concerns. Recently, a good friend of mine approached her boyfriend because she needed more communication… she asked if he would text and call her at least once a day, and that she needed some sort of reply to the texts she sent him. She wasn’t trying to change him, she was just expressing a need. Just because you express the need doesn’t mean you’ll get it, however in just saying it out loud to another person, you might also find that you don’t actually have that need, or it isn’t as big of a need as it seems. I am learning to ask for help when needed.  To read about it, go here.

You’ll find the moment you start to take control of your own happiness, you’ll actually find happiness. What a freaking mind blowing concept!?! Make your own happiness. Again—you deserve to be happy. So, go out, Live ClareLesley, and make your own happiness.   You’ll find that you’ll actually attract more happiness and will double your own return!

Clare