Fear Week – Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Today I am thankful for Halloween. Mainly I am thankful for all of the candy that came as a result of Halloween when I was a child. As a 9 year old, nothing was better than filling up a sleeping bag with candy that I could use to trade with my brothers. (Trading a Milky Way for a Butterfinger was an easy one sided deal I could always make with my brother Chris).

How funny is it that one night out of the year, kids are encouraged to dress crazy and ask strangers for candy.

For 364 days of the year adults tell kids to dress normal, avoid strangers and eat healthy.

Imagine a 7 year old girl approaching her mom on June 3rd and saying, “mom, I want to dress up like Miley Cyrus, go outside at 8pm and wander around the neighborhood asking people for tootsie roll pops.”

I’m pretty sure her mom would but the back of her hand to her daughter’s forehead to check for a temperature before telling her to stop listening to Miley Cyrus, and brush her teeth, finish her homework and go straight to bed.

But on October 31st, all that goes out the window.

I don’t have kids, but I assume that parents allow their children to go crazy on Halloween because they remember how much fun it was when they were a kid.

As an adult I don’t quite look forward to Halloween like I did as a kid. I’m guessing that it has something to do with the fact that I can dress however I want and eat as much candy as I want everyday. If I wanted to, I could go out on June 3rd dressed like Miley Cyrus and wander around the neighborhood asking people for tootsie roll pops.

But I will always look fondly on Halloween as a kid. And one day when I am a parent I will let my kids dress crazy, talk to strangers and eat all the candy they want. But only on October 31st.

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Fear Week – Biggest Fear

What is your biggest fear?

As part of fear week I started to wonder…what is the one thing that most people are afraid of?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any comprehensive list that ranked the top fears in the world, but I was able to find a few articles on what are some of the most common fears that people have.

Here are some of the fears that showed up on every list.

  • Fear of Public Speaking
  • Fear of Flying
  • Fear of Spiders
  • Fear of Heights
  • Fear of Tight Spaces (Claustrophobia)

Are you afraid of any of those? If so, you are not alone.

Compared to the others I listed, public speaking is by far the least dangerous. But it is the one fear I’ve always had.

Spiders, flying, heights and tight spaces may actually be able to harm me, but I would gladly take any of those instead of speaking in front of a large group.

Just typing that sounds funny, but it is true for many people.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a great line on this topic. He says, “According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. ‘Death’ is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Speaking to people is something we do everyday. So why are people more afraid of public speaking than death?

One answer might be found in a great book by Susan Cain titled, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In her book, Cain discusses one theory based on the writings of the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson that says, “when our ancestors lived on the savannah, being watched intently meant only one thing: a wild animal was stalking us.”

In other words, Cain says, “hundreds of thousands of years of evolution urge us to get the hell off the stage, where we can mistake the gaze of the spectators for the glint in a predator’s eye.”

I have never thought of it like this before, but I think Cain and E.O Wilson make a great point.

I guess, subconsciously I’ve always felt that it is better to be off the stage than on it because out of the limelight is where I feel safe.

Being watched intently is not a common thing for most people. We are no longer being watched intently by wild animals, but that doesn’t we like being watched.

Fear Week – Fear Itself

The other day I was watching TV and I saw back to back commercials that made reference to FDR’s speech that says the only thing to fear is fear itself. (One commercials was for the Google phone and one was for the movie Gravity.)

That made me realize that I know very little about that speech. Sure I know the famous line about fear, but that is all I could tell you about what FDR said.

So I decided to look it up. And I am very glad that I did.

The quote comes from FDR’s first Inaugural Address when he became president in 1932. In addition to the one about fear, this speech contained many other great lines that I found very motivational. Here is a top 10 list I created with lines from that speech.

Top 10 Quotes From FDR’s First Inaugural Address:

10. “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”

In any time of fear and struggle it is important to remember that you have endured, you will endured and things will get better. The time of FDR’s speech was a rough period for America. But FDR knew he needed to install confidence in people by reminding them that America has endured in the past. Similarly, when faced with adversity, we need to remember that we’ve handled adversity in the past and we can do it again.

9. “There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it.”

Following up on #10, we can’t just sit back and wait for things to get better just because they were better in the past. It does no good merely to sit back and talk about the good ol’ days.

8. “Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.”

Now that #9 taught us that talk is cheap, what do we do next? We act! FDR tells the people that we need action and we need it now. Fear can become crippling when we do nothing about it. But when we act against it, fear begins to shrink.  Don’t sit back and let fear grow. Take action and fear becomes less intimidating.

7. “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Often we fear of not having enough money. But we need to remember that happiness isn’t dictated by how much money we have. I love the lines of “joy of achievement” and “thrill of creative effort.” I don’t know about you, but reading those makes me want to go out and create something and achieve something.

6. “In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things.”

If your biggest fear is money, FDR says you should be thankful it is only something material. Of all the difficult things people are faced with everyday, money isn’t all that bad. Money is nothing compared to violence, abuse, and disease.

5. “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.”

Fear can cause you to lie to yourself. Fear will make you convinced something is true when it is not. In times of fear you must speak the truth frankly and boldly. If you are starting a new business fear will say you are not qualified. Speak boldly and tell yourself that you are qualified.

4. “Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for.”

I think FDR would be a fan of Thankful Thursdays. He knew the importance of being thankful. I am sure FDR was thankful for George Washington and everything he did for his country. Someone ahead of us has already conquered the fear we are presently faced with. For example, if you are afraid of heights, know that there are hundreds of stories of people who have overcome that same fear. Those people survived and so can we. Fear is not undefeated. We should be thankful for all the people that have gained victories over fear.

3. “These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

It’s hard to accept, but fear and failure are not all bad. When we learn and grow from the experience, we turn fear and failure into a positive. It would be great to learn all lessons without having a rough patch. But that is never going to happen. Life is not always sunny. There are rainy days. But like FDR says, the dark days are worth all they cost when they teach us our true destiny. And what a great destiny it is to minister to ourselves and our fellow men (and women).

2. “This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.”

I love this quote because it doesn’t say there is no unsolvable problem…the end. It says, there is no unsolvable problem IF we face it wisely and courageously. To be courageous and wise in the face of fear can be difficult, but it is essential. Fear is stronger than the dumb and timid, but it can’t handle the wise and courageous!

1. “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Of course this was going to be number one. Is it the headliner of the speech for a reason. Fear of fear itself can be difficult to understand. But what I think FDR means is that we make fear stronger when we dwell on it. The more we think about fear, the more it grows and grows. Eventually it becomes paralyzing if we let it. FDR says we need to advance instead of retreat. If you take the lessons from 10-2 on this list, you have some pretty good ways to advance and some great reasons not to dwell on fear.

If you would like to hear and read FDR’s speech, you can find it here.

Fear Week – No Fear

As I started to put together upcoming blog posts, I began to notice that many had a common theme…fear.

Unfortunately, fear is a big part of our lives. There is much to write about it because it is something we are faced with on a daily basis.

So what do you do with a topic that people can relate to and that you have a lot of content on.

You copy the Discovery Channel and devote an entire week to it.

When the Discovery Channel realized that they had a lot of content on sharks they created Shark Week.

When I realized that I had a lot to say about fear, I decided to create Fear Week.

I am not doing this to scare people. Rather, I am doing this to shine the light on fear and help myself and other people overcome it.

To start off the week, I am using a Memory Monday post and taking you back to the 1990s. A time when Michael Jordan was the king of basketball, Michael Jackson was the king of pop and a little t-shirt company was the king of fear…

If you grew up in the 90s you are likely to remember the No Fear brand of clothing.

For those that don’t, No Fear was a clothing line created by Mark and Brian Simo in 1989 that gained popularity thanks to its somewhat inspirational sports related sayings.

Here are a few sayings that could be found on No Fear shirts…

  • “Bottom of the 9th. Bases loaded. Full count. Two outs. No Fear.”
  • “Bones heal, to play lasts forever. No Fear.”
  • “Been there wrecked that. I love this pain. No Fear.”
  • “Luck is for the rabbits. No Fear.”
  • “Fear tastes like chicken. No Fear.”

These shirts always contained a saying that sounded like they came from Ricky Bobby, followed by the words “No Fear.”

I remember even as a kid thinking the bases loaded saying was confusing. What team am I on? What is the score? If I am the pitcher and I am up 10, then of course I am not afraid.

Despite the confusing sayings, No Fear shirts were cool and made you feel tough.

But did they make you really have no fear?

Probably not. But what if we lived life like it was a No Fear shirt?

Yes, the sayings are silly and yes, I would feel a little strange as a grown up wearing a shirt that says fear tastes like chicken. But wouldn’t it be great to actually believe in no fear.

Unfortunately it is difficult to find one of these funny No Fear shirts for adults. No Fear filed for bankruptcy in 2011 as has since been purchased by new owners who have turned their focus to energy drinks.

So although we can’t look in the mirror and see “No Fear” on our shirt, next time fear is starting to creep into your life, image that you are wearing a shirt that says “been there wrecked that.”

Convince yourself that you have been in this situation before and you were successful. You’ve wrecked fear before and you’ll wreck it again.

Welcome to Fear Week…

No Topic Rhyme

I have many words inside my head, but nothing to write about.

I don’t have a writing topic in mind, so it is a theme I am left without.

I can’t imagine I’ve covered every issue, since I haven’t been blogging for many days.

But here I am, stuck in a rut, and my writing keeps finding delays.

Should I write about planning for the future, or should I spend more time on the past.

Without an answer to those questions, this blog will surely never last.

Where can I look for more topics? Where do all the great ideas hide?

I guess I could do a Google search, I bet millions of links that would provide.

But I want to be original, and I don’t want to copy anyone’s work.

Maybe I should write about pop culture, but who cares what I have to say about Miley Cyrus’ twerk?

To fix this problem I’ll ask my readers, and see if they can help me out.

Post in the comments section below any topic you want me to write about!

Thankful For Kickstarter

As many of you know (and are probably sick of me mentioning), the Kickstarter campaign I ran for my book, Maury C. Moose and The Forest Noel, expired yesterday.

I am blessed to say that not only did I reach my goal, but I surpassed it and achieved 114% if my $5,000 target!

I couldn’t have done it without the support of my 89 backers, the countless number of people who helped spread the word and, last but not least, Kickstarter.

For today’s thankful Thursday, I am very thankful for Kickstarter!

Two months ago I knew very little about Kickstarter, but now it is something that has made a huge difference in my life as an aspiring author.

Kickstarter has not only helped me raise funding, but it as also helped me raise awareness for my book. Hundreds of people have viewed my project, watched my video and liked my Facebook page. This would not have happened without Kickstarter.

I could have made a book without Kickstarter. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as good and very few people would have known about it.

Thanks to Kickstarter, I have not only a renewed excitement for my book project, but also a new following to share that excitement with.

Many people are now looking forward to seeing the book come to life and I have Kickstarter to thank.

If anyone out there is reading this and on the fence about whether to start their own Kickstarter project or not, I definitely say go for it! You will not regret it.

And when you do start, send me the link and I will be the first in line to support you because I know how great the feeling of gaining a new backer feels.

How A Flu Shot Is Made

We have now entered flu season. Have you gotten your flu shot?

Depending on who you talk to, there are mixed opinions about getting a flu shot. Some people think it is completely necessary to get the shot to prevent sickness during a time when everyone is more susceptible. Others say that they want no part of the shot because the vaccination is actually injecting a strain of the flu virus into your arm.

I’ve never felt strongly one way or the other, but this year I was required to get a flu shot. So I did.

On my way to the doctor’s office to receive my shot, I started to wonder…how do they make a flu shot? If it is really a strain of a flu virus, where does the virus come from and how do they make it into a liquid? Are there just bottles of flu virus sitting around the doctor’s office? Sounds like the making of a Family Matter’s episode where Steve Urkel spills the flu bottles and then looks at the camera and says, “Did I do that?”

So I decided to ask the nurse who gave me my shot how they make the flu vaccine. Her response was a real shot to the arm (haha get it).

She said that the flu shot is grown in chicken eggs and they are able to extract the vaccine from the eggs.

She must have seen the confused look on my face because she said, “seriously, look it up.”

So that’s what I did. And after looking it up, I am even more amazed. You can find some great links about how a flu shot is made, here and here.

My nurse wasn’t lying. Flu shots are really manufactured in fertilized chicken eggs.

Each year, three strains are chosen for selection in that year’s flu vaccination by the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network. That kind of sounds like an organization Tom Cruise might have worked for during one of the Mission Impossible movies.

Those strains are injected into the eggs. My brain is too small to understand exactly what happens next, but basically the strains multiply and mix around and eventually are taken out to create the vaccine. Here is an image that shows more detailed information.

I don’t know about you, but that is fascinating. And what is even harder to believe is that they have been growing flu shots in eggs since 1931. I don’t mean you could get a shot that is 82 years old. I doubt the shots are like wine and get better with age. What I mean is that they first started this process back in 1931. According to Wikipedia, some genius doctor named Ernest William Goodpasture and his colleagues at Vanderbilt University first reported viral growth of the flu vaccine in embryonated hens’ eggs.

Like I said, fascinating stuff.

Did reading all this scientific mumbo-jumbo make your head hurt? You might be coming down with the flu.

Does knowing all this make you more likely or less likely to get a flu shot this year? Or did you stop reading after my awful Steve Urkel joke?

Top 10 Lessons to Learn From The Lion King

You never know where you can learn important lessons.

Just the other day I was watching The Lion King and I started to notice that there were some great messages for both kids and adults mixed in with the catchy songs and fart jokes from Timon & Pumbaa.

I’d recommend anyone to take the time to watch the movie and see what I mean. Just in case you don’t have the time, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the top 10 lessons we all can learn from the film.

Top 10 Lessons to Learn From The Lion King:

10. It Is Good To Have Big Lions On Your Side

When Timon & Pumbaa stumble upon an exhausted Simba, they don’t save him just because they are nice guys. They keep him around because “little lions grow up to be big lions.” They see the importance of having a big lion on their side. Much like I talked about in my post yesterday, we all need support. Timon & Pumbaa saw that a big lion could be beneficial to them so they were happy to add a third member to their group. Where are the big lions in your life?

9. There Is More To Being King Than Getting Your Way

Simba tells Mufasa that he thought a king could do whatever he wants. Mufasa has to explain to his son that there is more to being in charge than just getting your way. This is a tough lesson for successful people to learn. Unfortunately many of us feel the same away anytime we succeed in our life. I think it boils down to what motivates us to succeed. Do we want to become the king or queen of our field just so that we can do whatever we want? I hope not.

8. A Parent’s Influence Lasts Forever

Mufasa only had a short time on the Pride Land with his son. But that doesn’t mean his influence didn’t have a lasting impact. In addition to sacrificing his life for Simba, Mufasa shows the power of great parenting when he teaches his son lessons from beyond the grave. In real life, we won’t see storm clouds who look like our parents (and sound like James Earl Jones), but we can still feel their impact long after they are gone.

7. Remember Who You Are

Speaking of the importance from #8, Mufasa’s big lesson to Simba from the clouds is to remember who you are. Simba needed to be reminded that he was the king and he had a land to protect. When times get tough (or busy) it can be difficult to remember who we are. We can get caught trying to become someone we are not. Or even worse we can get caught trying to ignore who we are. Once Simba remembered who he really was, it was easy for him to see what he had to do next.

6. “You Gotta Put Your Behind In the Past” – Pumbaa

Okay, so I still have a soft spot for fart and butt jokes. But what Pumbaa is trying to say is a pretty good message. What he actually meant was that you have to put your past behind you. Much like the Coach K quote from the Jay Bilas book, “Next play”, you can’t dwell on the past. Whether the past was good or bad, we can’t get caught with our behind in the past!

5. Being Brave Doesn’t Mean You Go Looking For Trouble

Here’s another lesson Mufasa teaches Simba. Simba and Nala are nearly killed after they get caught by the hyenas in elephant graveyard. Simba tries to say that he laughs in the face of danger, but Mufasa explains that you can be brave, but don’t be stupid. Don’t go looking for trouble just because you think you can handle it.

4. Be Prepared

This is from the song Scar sings to the hyenas when explains that he is going to kill Mufasa and become king. Despite Scar’s wrong motives, his message can still be motivational. He says, “Be prepared for a chance of a lifetime. Be prepared for sensational news.” Are we prepared for a chance of a lifetime or sensational news? What can we do now to make sure we are prepared for those situations?

3. Change Is Good But It Is Not Easy

This is a lesson Rafiki teaches Simba when the mandrill is helping the lion remember who he is. Simba has become accustom to a carefree life of eating bugs and sleeping all day. Rafiki shows him he needs to change. Much like any of us would be in that circumstance, Simba is resistant to change because it is difficult. Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it is wrong. Spoiler alert, Simba’s life becomes 10 times better in the long run because of the changes he made after talking to Rafiki. We can make this happen through subtle change in our own life.

2. You Can’t Hakuna Matata Forever

As Timon & Pumbaa explain, Hakuna Matata means no worries. It means you don’t have a care in the world. How great would it be to live Hakuna Matata 24/7. Unfortunately we can’t do that. It is one thing not to worry, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore real life. Simba learns that he has rules and responsibilities. We too have responsibilities that we can’t ignore. But Hakuna Matata is still a great song!

1. You can run from your past or you can learn from it.

Rafiki tells Simba, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” Now you may be saying, “I thought in #6 you told us that have to put our past behind us?” Yes, that is correct, I did. But you past needs to be behind you because you learned from it and grew because of it. Not because you ran away from it. Simba was running away from a past he was ashamed of. It took him awhile to learn that he couldn’t run forever. He needed to confront his past and learn something from it. Where in our lives are we running from our past? What is one small step you can take to stop running and start learning?

 

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You Are Not Tough Alone

In his book, Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off The Court, Jay Bilas says, “There is nothing more powerful, motivating and inspiring than having people in your life, especially your teammates and coaches, truly believe in you.”

Knowing that people are in your corner can help you overcome any obstacle. Fear makes you constantly look over your shoulder. But when you have people in your life that truly believe in you and have your back, looking over your shoulder isn’t a bad thing. You look back and see an army of believers.

As I mentioned in my post about the top 10 principles from his book, Bilas quotes Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski who says, “You are not tough alone.”

This quote really stuck with me because I think it has two meanings.

First, it means that you can’t be tough all by yourself. In basketball, you are one part of the team and the success is not determined by you alone.  No matter how hard you work, or how special your abilities are, the game is not all about you.

Second, I think Coach K’s quote means that we don’t have to be tough alone. Going back to the example in basketball, you don’t have to be responsible for the outcome. The entire weight of the team and the game does not fall on your shoulders. You are not alone and that is what can make you tough.

This idea seems to be a common theme in my life. I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends who have believed in me in ways that I didn’t think was possible.

My Kickstarter campaign is a perfect example of this. With two days remaining, I have achieved 111% of my goal of $5,000.

I could not have done this alone. Thanks to 80+ backers who believe in me and my book, I am ready to succeed.

I’ll admit that I had many doubts when I started the campaign. After all, $5,000 is a lot to ask for. I knew it would be tough.

It was tough, but we were tougher. Alone, I could not have made it, but like Coach K says, ” You are not tough alone.” I did not have to make it alone.

Where in your life do you need to be tough?

Are you trying to go at it alone?

A friend told me that the number one reason people give is because they are asked.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t try to be tough alone.

When you start to doubt yourself, and fear causes you to look over your shoulder, you need people to have your back. Find those people who believe in you.

Relaxe

Learning to Dance in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
 – Vivian Greene

I saw this quote and thought it was pretty appropriate following a Thankful Thursday where I talked about how great the weather was.

Not everyday is going to have perfect weather. Most days will not align exactly into our plans. Some days will seem like the storm is never going to pass.

When things aren’t going our way, our first instinct is to lock-down and wait out the storm. That is much easier than going out in the rain and getting wet.

But that usually means we keep waiting and waiting and waiting. We end up wasting good opportunities because we can’t see past the storm clouds.

Some days the storm clouds are so big that we think they will never go way.

But we need to realize that if they aren’t going way, there is no use trying to wait them out.

These are the days that we need to learn to dance in the rain.

Playing in the Rain