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You are browsing the archive for fear Archives - ᘡ Adventure Lab ᘠ ... rock paper estrogen.

Letting go of trauma to clear the way for Adventure

May 17, 2016 in , by Sue Braiden

Sue Braiden, Rochelle Zohn, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca

Twelve years ago I was attacked on a subway platform in Boston as more than twenty people stood by and watched.

No one intervened.

When I finally broke free from my attacker, and was running for the stairs, I fell. My hand was broken. I was crying, begging for help, but no one stopped. One by one, people disembarked the train, stepping over me, some on me, without ever looking back. When I finally reached street level, telling subway officials in the toll booths what had happened, they simply pointed me to a bank of 4 pay phones. 3 of them were broken.

No matter what I did, or who I asked, I could not get help.

May 17th has been in my calendar since 2004.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to hang onto it. Maybe to remind myself to be more vigilant (I made some stupid, tourist mistakes). Maybe to remember to be grateful that I’m still alive (especially given the very detailed account of what my attacker told me he was about to do to me). Mostly I think it’s just because I wasn’t ready to let go.

Somehow the trauma became part of what defined me. It’s also been one of my greatest blocks to getting on with the business of Adventures.

Come put your elbows on the kitchen table, and let’s talk about the ways we can stay safer as we’re creating happy experiences and memories …

What does an Adventure Diva conquering fear look like?

May 13, 2016 in , , by Sue Braiden

What does an Adventure Diva conquering fear look like? Kristina Paltén on a 1,144-mile journey of trust.

What does an Adventure Diva conquering fear look like? Kristina Paltén on a 1,144-mile journey of trust. The Swedish ultra-runner began her run through Iran on August 29th 2015. She was to become the first woman ever to cross Iran by foot.

Take a peek at the trailer for “Alone through Iran – 1144 miles of trust,” a documentary about Kristina Paltén, a lone Swedish woman, who wanted to challenge her own and others prejudices against Islam by running across Iran.

“I will tell people about the incredible kindness I have met.” — Kristina Paltén.

What are you afraid of? (Not much after watching 82-year-old nurse-turned-action-hero, Kay D’Arcy!)

April 20, 2015 in , , , , by Sue Braiden

What are you afraid of? Not much after watching 82-year-old nurse-turned-action-hero, Kay D’Arcy!

Ten years ago if you had asked me what I was afraid of, I would have told you: heights, a world chocolate shortage, and snakes.

Today? Getting old, getting sick, being alone, being irrelevant, peeing my pants and dying.

Aging has a funny way of shifting the lens. (And yes, dignity is often one of the first things to go).

When we understand what we are afraid of, we also understand what we need, and that is the key to asset building.

There are all kinds of clichés I could apply to this (things like “what we fear we give power”, and it would be true), but instead of waxing poetic, I’ve decided I’m going to take that litany of self-conjured horrors and turn it on it’s head. I’m going to turn it into the best damned fuel for a bucket list. Ever.

On embracing vulnerability as an asset, and banishing shame.

February 2, 2015 in by Sue Braiden

On embracing vulnerability as an asset, and banishing shame.

Seems like a heavy talking point in a space about adventures, doesn’t it? Let’s just call it “clearing the log-jam” that causes some of us to stumble right out of the gate.

ALL of us want to have adventures, but sometimes we struggle with the unspoken idea that we don’t entirely deserve them.

Seem silly? More people struggle with this than you might realize! There are a whole lot of reasons for this, and we’re going to devote an entire section on unpacking them really soon.

For now, let’s just acknowledge that “vulnerability” and “shame” can be stumbling blocks that get in the way of even starting to plot our adventures, and put them into a context that helps us find our way through.

We have all, at some point in our lives, experienced deep and profound shame. We are also likely to have caused it for someone else. This is not a kind part of human nature.

Today I found a teacher in an unlikely place. She is a person whose caricature has been allowed to stand in her place for 16 years. She became a pariah at the tender age of 22, and remains an almost universal allegory for the fall from grace. I am ashamed to admit that, like most of the public, I have been guilty of holding this young woman in a place of disdain for many years. I allowed the media circus to define both her truth and her value.

16 years later, Monica Lewinsky did something impossible: she stood up and became an advocate, and a voice of wisdom, about something that everyone of us has felt, witnessed and perpetuated.

You did it too, didn’t you? — flinched when I just said her name. I’m inviting you to invest the next 25 minutes to listen to something that will change the way you think not only about Monica Lewinsky, but about the internet, about assumptions, and about the responsibility we each bear to create safe spaces that don’t include shaming. Click on the tab to the right when you’re ready to listen to what Monica has to say.

This talk affected me in the same way that vulnerability researcher Brené Brown’s callings-out do, and I’d encourage you to take a few more minutes to listen to those too. You’ll find that I’ve shared them in a tab to the right as well.

I suspect every single one of us will find a take-away in these moments of wisdom, first, from Monica, and then from Brené. At a time when such big parts of our lives are lived online, openly, publicly, fragile-ly, taking the blinders off and thinking about the impact of that is a very good thing.

Trading places. How asking one simple question can give a whole new perspective.

September 2, 2014 in , , by Sue Braiden

Trading places. How asking one simple question can give a whole new perspective.

Needs can be such bothersome things. Sometimes feeding one comes at the expense of another.

We’re creatures of habit. We love dwelling in our comfort zones, even when it’s no longer a smart thing to do.

So how do we find the courage to break out of unhealthy behaviours?

Try asking this one simple question:

If it was my daughter/sister/best friend, what would I tell her to do?

Have you ever been in a bad relationship that you just couldn’t shake? Men, chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, a toxic friendship … you go ahead and fill in the blank. (Okay, so maybe not chocolate 😉 )

Detaching can be an awesome tool for gaining a little much needed perspective.

When -we- are part of the equation, seeing things clearly can be almost impossible. In our hearts we already know the right thing to do, (our instincts are rarely wrong) but human nature comes bundled with “attachment,” and that can be a tricky thing to sort out.

By stepping back from the situation, effectively removing ourselves from it, it’s easier to jettison emotion right out of the mix.

If we were to watch someone we loved doing the very thing we are doing now, and know to be an unhealthy or self-destructive behaviour, wouldn’t we want to help them make a change?

We need to learn to treat ourselves like a cherished friend. Take five minutes first thing in the morning to sit quietly in a sunny window with a cup of tea, and have a chat with yourself. What do you want to give yourself the courage to do? What do you love about yourself that can help you be strong and resilient in those tough moments? Who do we trust most to share this with, and to be supportive without judgement? (Allies are important when we’re facing really difficult choices, especially on those days when we’re feeling weak and full of doubt).

Do you have a secret weapon?

What kinds of things do you find most helpful when you’re trying to make a really difficult change in your life?

Why not put your elbows on the kitchen table and talk about it? Chances are you’ve got some wisdom that a sister Adventure Diva will really appreciate, while tapping into some great ideas others are sharing too!

Ellen, on finding your own way, mustering up courage, and living with integrity.

August 14, 2014 in , , by Sue Braiden

Ellen Degeneres - Tulane Commencement - 2009

Sometimes being comfortable in our own skin can be one of the toughest battles we face. It can also be fuel for really great adventures. When we think about the things we fear the most, there are often hidden gems inside, things that can be a powerful springboard to new experiences we’ve never really had the courage to embrace.

Ellen DeGeneres transformed the tragedy of the death of someone she loved at an early age into an opportunity to have a comedic conversation with God, opening the door to a truly unexpected life. She made her mind up that she was going to be on the Johnny Carson show, and be the first woman to be invited to sit down. She did, and she was, and well, you likely know the rest.

In spite of her success, happiness still eluded her because she lived with a secret that threatened to ruin it all, and it did. Ellen went on to turn shame and fear inside out to simply be herself, and it’s no surprise that this is one midlife diva who has gone on to have some of the most incredible adventures.

In 2009 she was invited back to Tulane University to give the Commencement speech in her home town of New Orleans, and in a way only Ellen could do, gifted everyone who listened moments of laughter, bumper crops of wisdom, and the way to take hold of a handful of elusive assets and make them your own: living with integrity, courage, resilience, determination, purpose and joy.

Grab a mugga joe (and a box of kleenex) and settle in for the most empowering 17 minutes and 54 seconds of your day …

In case you hadn’t noticed, age isn’t a 4-lettered word (and how a drag queen’s pink coat might be your next parade) …

August 8, 2014 in , , , by Sue Braiden

In case you hadn’t noticed, age isn’t a 4-lettered word (and how a drag queen’s pink coat might be your next parade) …

It’s cold out today. Last night was so chilly I actually pulled my fleece lounge pants on. This wouldn’t be so surprising if it wasn’t still early in August, the supposed “dog days of summer”.

I was thinking about this as I was making a cup of tea to warm up, and it occurred to me that I had already been pining the “near end” of summer way back in July. I catch myself doing this each year, already ringing my hands over the loss of the precious heat and inevitable slide into fall, even though the season might be just weeks old. As much as I love fall, look forward to picking apples and making pumpkin pies, I never really shake off the notion of it as “an end”.

And this is why I still have not learned to embrace being 51. It feels like my autumn. My hair is more than touched with frost, and there are plenty of the tiny but ever-marching betrayals of my body as it sheds the gifts of youth and becomes something I no longer recognize as myself.

Why does aging come with so much grief? Why do we dread it? Go to such lengths to hide it and push it off? And how do we turn this wasted angst into something more productive that helps us learn to love this very moment where we are right now?

Kiss my assets. One of the most eloquent responses you’ll ever read from a woman confronting the bullies that body-shamed her.

August 4, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Kiss my assets. One of the most eloquent responses you'll ever read from a woman confronting the bullies that body-shamed her.

You’ve spent months planning an epic adventure. You feel courageous as hell, until you eye up that little bikini your girlfriend talked you into buying for the occasion. What were you thinking? You can’t wear that! Your hand is shaking as you try to will it into the suitcase.

There is no shortage of things that chip away at our self esteem as we get older. The battle of the bulge is often one of them. Shame and that inner critic rob us of so many awesome opportunities to feast on joy when we deny ourselves the freedom to just be ourselves.

Sometimes it can be damned hard to love our own bodies, especially when there are people out there bent on feeding our anxieties. Whether it’s the media’s relentless campaign to edit the reality of our Botticelli curves, or the disapproving look of a passer-by, we get the message, day in and day out, that who we are is not okay.

Tanis Jex-Blake is a 33 year old mother of 5, and she’s about to be your hero.

All those things you wish you had? — like courage, strength, dignity and self-love — are served up in one seriously epic, wisdom-packed wallop to the wiseasses who put her sense of worth under assault. Take a peek at how Tanis responded through a Facebook post when she wore a bikini to the beach for the first time in 13 years, and was body-shamed by a trio of strangers. I promise you’ll be standing on your chair cheering by the time you get to the end.

On bucket lists, and planning your own funeral (just because it’s fun)

July 2, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

It’s no surprise that as we get older the topic of death rents a lot more real-estate in our head. We lose parents, friends, and sometimes even our children, with each of these deaths being held up like a mirror reflecting the inevitability of our own.

What we fear we give power.

Why not take it back?

Many of us talk about our “bucket list”. It’s the sexy portmanteau we stuff all the supposedly important things into on our journey to the end, generally cramming it chock full in our heads, but not always taking the time to get it down on paper and sorting it out to map the way. There are all kinds of fiddly bits hanging out: dreams of treks to exotic places, passionate love affairs rekindled with long lost souls, and maybe even writing the Great Canadian Novel. But it would likely be a cold day in hell before you heard the soundtrack from your own funeral trailing lovingly behind. Where on earth would be the fun in that?

While we’re blazing a trail to great adventures with ecclesiastical zeal, is it possible that in overlooking it — that celebration of the glorious end — we’re actually throwing away one of the most powerful tools of all? What if leaving a legacy started with knowing exactly what you hoped people would be saying about you in that colossal eulogy? What kind of person would you hope they’d say you’d been? What kinds of things would they celebrate your having done? And hell yes, while we’re at it, exactly what bloody music IS that playing while they’re all waxing poetic about the saga of your last (and ever so many more) days?

Do you honestly want to picture a bunch of people hunched together sobbing? Wouldn’t it be so much more epic to plan a wake to end all wakes, where people were laughing and spinning inspired tales about the awesomeness of what was gloriously -you- until the wee hours of the day? Hell yes, you would!

What if this is THAT moment? On gutchecks and living life on purpose.

July 1, 2014 in , by Sue Braiden

Last night my son and his girlfriend were hit by a drunk driver. My heart jumped into my throat when I got the news. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare, to get that call. You play it over in your head a hundred times when they’re out there beyond the reach of your arms, having to admit that you cannot protect them from so many things.

How does it end? A life snuffed out? More ruined?

Your head is going a thousand miles an hour, living through every horrifying scenario, making bargains with whatever higher power you pray to or hope might be there to listen: just let them be okay, and I promise to do/be (… and this is where you fill in the blank).

Have you ever made that bargain? Clutching your stomach with the wind knocked out of you? That moment where time actually does stand still?

How does it end?

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