Making 2013 Different: Letting Go of Fear

Happy 2013, world! Yes, I know I’m a little behind the times, but at least it’s still January 🙂

Goodness, it’s been such a long time from writing, so let’s just jump right in! Although I apologize for my long absence, I can make no promises that I will update extremely frequently. Let’s face it, I’ve said it before and look how far we’ve come…or haven’t. How often do we make “promises” to ourselves or to others that we will definitely do something, but then don’t? We see someone from our past and put on a show that we’ll “call soon,”  or that “we’ll make plans” but then forget all about our encounter by the end of the day. Or we say we’re going to try something new, try to change, try to do something different,  but then something distracts us or we get discouraged and we just stop. I think we all have a tendency to do these sorts of things, don’t you?

So then the question becomes, why?

If you ask me (or Meredith Grey), I’d say a lot of it has to do with fear.

I know this is going to come as a surprise to many of you (sarcasm!), but I’m a shy person (mostly). Although I can be extremely outgoing, it takes me awhile to get to that point. Granted, I love people. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in clinical psychology. But, I’m shy (or inhibited if you want to get clinically technical 😉 Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m painstakingly shy. It would be way too hard to do some of the things I have to do if that were the case. But, nonetheless, this is what it is. In my past, I think there may have been times when I let my shyness get the best of me. I would pass up opportunities (concerning guys/opportunities at school/etc.) because I was afraid of…something. Now, I don’t think this is completely related to my being shy. Lots of people have fears of “something” who are extremely outgoing and far from being shy. But, what is this elusive “something” that I feared (and that I’m guessing many of you fear)? Fear of looking foolish or realizing that your expectations were much different than what actually was? Fear of the possibilities, being embarrassed, or being rejected?

I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast answer to this question…unfortunately. Maybe it differs from person to person, or from situation to situation. Maybe it’s something that we won’t ever be able to fully identify.

So, here’s the thing. At the beginning of this year, my friends from high school and I discussed what our new years resolutions were. Now, that’s a painstaking process. Because it’s easy to forget to follow New Years Resolutions, there were years when I figured, why bother? Why bother saying “This year will be different. This year, I will do x, y, and z,” when it was more often the case that my resolutions often didn’t last past January?

Well, this year I became inspired. This year, I decided things will be different. As I got the text from my friends about my resolutions, I  had to think about it for awhile. In May, I graduate with my master’s degree. In August, I hope to be starting a PhD program. A lot of things will be changing. I’ll be 24 this year and if I don’t get into a PhD program, I’ll be starting my real grown-up life (scary!) after graduation. I know 23 and 24 are young. People tell me that all the time. But, I feel like I’m at a point where I need to start thinking about my future and my career and being with someone I want to spend the rest of my life with and starting a family and all the craziness that goes along with that.

So you’re thinking, okay Jeannette get to the point. What does this have to do with your resolutions? Well, my faithful readers, I’ll tell you. It has everything to do with them.  After some thought, I responded to my friends the following: “Let go of my inhibition and don’t let it get in the way of accomplishing greatness!” Okay…so the last bit about greatness may have been a little bit dramatic, but you should get the point.

So often, we let this something, this fear, get in the way.

It doesn’t matter what it gets in the way of; it’s enough that our fears prevent us from taking action.

From speaking up about your ideas and values.

From telling someone how we feel about them and asking them out for coffee.

The point is, our fears (this “something”) can prevent us from, well…accomplishing greatness. Think about it for one second; if you let your fears rule your life, maybe you could be missing out on potentially finding your ideal job (because you’re too afraid to apply for the job), or from starting a relationship with someone who could become your potential spouse (because you’re too afraid of the rejection you may face by asking them out).

I guess the whole point of this is to not let your fears (whatever they may be) control your life. Don’t let them prevent you from taking action (whatever that may mean).

I can’t say for certain how the rest of the year will go, but for now, I’ve already started to make this year different. 

Holiday Reading: The Hunger Games

My post tonight combines Abbie and Jeannette’s commentaries on their Holiday traditions and Sarah’s post on being kind to yourself.

Although my family has a variety of Christmas traditions, such as (in the last 5 years) having Christmas Eve dinner at our house, going to a party with my Dad’s big, extended Lebanese family, and going to my Grandma’s sister’s “big old house” in Mill Creek Park on Christmas Day, one of my personal Holiday traditions is to read as many novels as possible.

I could…should…be working in earnest on my Master’s thesis, and although I will, I need, after a long, difficult, and extremely stressful semester to be kind to myself. I do this by losing myself in fiction.

I have no shortage of fresh novels to read, largely due to the 30+ books that I bought in the Fall as a result of Borders going out of business. But, I also own a Barnes and Noble Nook and was going to a conference in Washington, DC that I didn’t feel like dragging a bunch of books to, so I decided I needed an e-book or three to take with me.

So, in a effort to “be kind to myself” and uphold my holiday tradition, I bought the first  book from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and had at it. A week and a half later (today) I’ve bought and read all three and am so glad I did.

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I admit, I’m notorious for “coming late to things.” I didn’t start watching Grey’s Anatomy until it was well into its later seasons, I was obsessed with The West Wing and didn’t start watching it until it was almost over. And, though I’m a “great reader” (anyone catch the Pride and Prejudice reference? lol), I tend to find a lot of books once they’re made into movies —  although I do make an effort to read the book before seeing it acted out. Good examples of this: “Water for Elephants,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” anything by Nicholas Sparks, “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “The Da Vinci Code,” etc, etc, etc.

The same story goes for “The Hunger Games.” I’d heard of it before, certainly seen the buzz on Facebook and other places online, and noticed that they were making it into a movie. I like to watch the MTV Movie/Music Awards and saw the teaser trailer over the summer on one of the broadcasts. Similar to the way I had no plans to read Twilight (for various reasons) but did (also for various reasons), I had no plans to read The Hunger Games.

I thought the movie trailers looked good, knew the film was based on a book, and figured I’d watch it eventually, but really didn’t understand what the book was even about.

So, I did a little research: Found out the the main characters had funny names (Katniss, Peeta, Effie, Haymitch, etc, etc, etc), learned it was set in a dystopian post-United States North America, that its characters lived in an oppressive dictatorship, and that the premise of the story was that the main character was involved in some kind of sick, twisted “sporting event/reality show” that involved kids fighting to the death. I was intrigued, but not sold.

Did I really want to get involved in another series? Wasn’t I a little too old to read this kid’s stuff? Didn’t I hate these sad dystopian stories?

I thought I didn’t/was/did. But I was wrong.

The first book was cheap to buy as an e-book, so I got it. What was there to lose?

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The books are great. End of story. To not spoil the experience, should you decide to read the trilogy, I won’t say anything about the second and third books except that their titles are “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay,” respectively, and will limit what I say about the first book, simply titled “The Hunger Games.”

You meet Katniss Everdeen, the main character, and her mother and little sister Prim, as they do what they have to do to survive life in District 12 in the country of Panem. You meet her friend and possible love interest Gale, who helps her hunt (illegally) and to whom she shares a special bond since their fathers were both killed years earlier in the same mining explosion. Peeta is her fellow District 12 Tribute whom she has known all her life and to whom, in a way, she owes her life — and whose interest in/relationship to Katniss is more than it seems.

It is the day known as “The Reaping,” when 2 (one boy, one girl) children between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen to represent their district (there are 12 in all) as “Tributes” in the annual “Hunger Games.” The 24 tributes chosen will travel to the Capitol, whose people hold the country’s wealth and whose children are exempt from the Games, to train and prepare to fight to the death. The Victor will win glory and enough money/supplies/prestige to keep themselves and their families alive in the largely impoverished District where they live.

The Hunger Games aren’t about glory though. They’re about punishment — a reminder of a previous uprising amongst the Districts which annihilated a 13th District. And, the Games aren’t a noble battle. They’re entertainment, and the “Gamemakers” who orchestrate them will do anything to ensure the citizens of the Capitol are entertained and the power of Panem is maintained. Victory in the Hunger Games isn’t purely based on skill, though more often than not skill helps immensely, but also on luck — and District 12 has neither. The smallest and arguably the poorest of the Districts, 12 has only had one victor — Haymitch, a drunk who is the biggest ally/aid District 12’s tributes can rely on.

This is the atmosphere in which Katniss and her peers enter into at District 12’s reaping. In which Katniss’ sister Prim’s name is called, in which Katniss volunteers to take her place, in which Katniss Everdeen becomes the girl tribute for her District.

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The Hunger Games is a story of power. Of politics. Of what it means to adapt to and manipulate forces outside of your control that are shaping your destiny. Of playing to people’s emotions and getting caught up in them yourself.

It is a love story. Love of family, friends. Romantic love. Love of self.

It is about denying and coming to terms with self worth.

It is about imagining a world that is so contrary to our own in so many ways, but also like it in ways that startle and frighten deep down.

So, ask yourself:

What would you do if once a year, your government gathered you and your peers together to choose two of you, one boy and one girl, to represent your region in a battle to the death?

What if you were not chosen, but your younger sibling was, or your best friend, or the love of your life? Would you volunteer?

Would you fight as hard as you could to survive, or give up?

Or would you try to beat the Game itself?

I suggest you read The Hunger Games and find out.

“May  the odds be ever in your favor.”

 

 

Happy Holidays!

“Be Careful, Or You Might End Up in My Novel”

My fellow Dames and I have been having an informal conversation of late regarding doing groups of themed posts on the blog to keep things organized and interesting. The first theme discussed is the concept of having goals in life, whether short or long term ones. I didn’t originally plan on writing a post on this particular goal tonight, or perhaps even at all, because when I was casually thinking about my goals this one wasn’t brightly flashing in my brain — even though it is a goal of mine and a very important one.

I’m a very introspective person. I literally spend my time in the past, researching and thinking about how people lived, what and how they thought, and why they did the things they did. It’s probably, in a way, why I read so much. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe I’m a historian because I’ve read so much my entire life — I’ve trained myself to ask those introspective questions. But debating something like that is sort of like asking the question: “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”

My love of reading has always been topically broad — from political thrillers and science fiction mysteries to dramatic love sagas and stories about the bonds of friendship. More recently, though, my readings of choice have gravitated more and more towards historical fiction related titles. Perhaps, then, you could say that my love of reading and my love of history are complimentary and that neither fall into the Latin concept of old that reads “Post hoc, ergo procter hoc” (After it, therefore because of it).

With this devotion in mind, then, it isn’t so far of a leap to understand why my goal is to eventually write a novel. Or two. Or ten. 🙂

Seriously though. I’ve had a desire to write a novel for a while, but it’s something that I vacillate back and forth on, never having quite the right idea, enough time, or enough will power to just do it.

But, I think I may finally attempt it.

Because I have all kind of infinite spare time, right? Over the next 6 months my two main necessities are to a) write a Master’s thesis and b)apply and get into Ph.D. programs, so where could a novel possibly fit in? I don’t know either, but, hey, they do say that the busier you are, the more you accomplish.

So why the sudden decision that this would be my goal to write about?

The universe was sending me ideas today. Ideas for that ever elusive novel. As well as further inspiration to actually pursue it.

I think, in a way, that my anxiety and outright fear over writing my thesis and pursuing a Ph.D. has made me, not surprisingly, think about alternatives. Things that I may be able to do if my plans don’t work out the way I want them to. If you know me well, you know I’m all about plans. I’m prepared. I’m the girl who walks around the amusement park or Disney World with a map firmly in hand, because I have to have a plan. And a plan for the plan. And a plan in case plans a and b don’t work. I know, it’s crazy, but I never claimed to be sane.

Back to my point though. This morning while I was getting dressed, I was watching this documentary on PBS about a terrorist attack in India several years ago. The program included interviews with the survivors, who were very candid about the terror and the other more surprising human emotions that they experienced in the time they were held hostage in two besieged Mumbai hotels. (Here’s a link to the program in case you’re interested: Secrets of the Dead – Mumbai Massacre)

The observations these people had about life and death, about risk and bravery, about love and faith, and about hate and forgiveness gave me some wonderful ideas that I plan on exploring very soon.

I recognized that this program, which I hadn’t even seen in its entirety, had started something working in my brain while I was driving to campus. But, being so busy that sometimes I can’t even see straight, I filed the nugget of idea away in my head for perusal later.

But, the universe wasn’t done with me today.

Tonight, on Grey’s Anatomy, Alfre Woodard guest starred as a beloved novelist who needed brain surgery. She refused, however, to consent to the surgery until she finished her latest book. While some may find the story line sappy or may not care at all, and while I didn’t identify wholly with the show’s characterization of her as a novelist, something in it made me stop and really think. Even though my path is directed towards a Ph.D. and a life as a historian, I don’t want to give up the idea that maybe one day I’ll eventually write a novel.

A professor once asked me whether I was “writing the next great American novel yet.” Not yet.

But some day.

So, what do you think about my plans and/or inspiration? What are some of your goals?

Tune In: A week of premieres

If any of you out there are like me, you are looking forward to this week on television. Starting tonight, we are able to catch up with some of our old stars and maybe find some new shows and stars that we’ll love. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to this week! (Yes, I do know that I should be doing more scholarly things with my time, but everyone needs to take a break every and now and then!)

So, what will you be watching? I have a few favorites that I’ll be sure to catch (Hawaii Five-0, Glee How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Grey’s Anatomy), but I think it’s exciting to know what else is out there. Unfortunately, I usually forget what days and times the shows are on that I want to watch. Does this happen to anyone else? I’m guessing it does, so I figured it might be nice to know what’s premiering this week so you can watch whatever you’d like 🙂 Hope this helps!

Monday, September 19

ABC

  • 8:00 pm-Dancing with the Stars
  • 10:00 pm-Castle
CBS
  • 8:00 pm-How I Met Your Mother
  • 9:00 pm- Two and a Half Men
  • 9:30 pm-Two Broke Girls
  • 10:00 pm-Hawaii Five-O
NBC

  • 8:00 pm-The Sing Off
  • 10:00 pm-The Playboy Club
Tuesday, September 20
ABC
  • 10:00-Body of Proof
CBS
  • 8:00- NCIS
  • 9:00-NCIS: Los Angeles
  • 10:00-Unforgettable
NBC 
  • 8:00-The Biggest Loser
Fox
  • 8:00-Glee
  • 9:00-New Girl
  • 9:30-Raising Hope
Wednesday, September 21
ABC
  • 8:00-The Middle
  • 9:00-Modern Family
  • 10:00-Revenge
CBS
  • 9:00-Criminal Minds
  • 10:00-CSI
NBC
  • 9:00-Harry’s Law
  • 10:00-Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit
Fox
  • 8:00-The X Factor
Thursday, September 22
ABC
  • 8:00-Charlie’s Angels
  • 9:00-Grey’s Anatomy
CBS
  • 8:00-The Big Bang Theory
  • 9:00-Person of Interest
  • 10:00-The Mentalist
NBC
  • 8:00-Community
  • 8:30-Parks and Recreation
  • 9:00-The Office
  • 9:30-Whitney
  • 10:00-Prime Suspect
Friday, September 23
CBS
  • 8:00-A Gifted Man
  • 9:00-CSI: NY
  • 10:00-Blue Bloods
NBC
  • 9:00-Dateline NBC
Fox
  • 8:00-Kitchen Nightmares
  • 9:00-Fringe
CW
  • 8:00-Nikita
  • 9:00-Supernatural
Saturday, September 24
CBS
  • 8:00-Rules of Engagement
  • 10:00-48 Hours Mystery
Enjoy! Hope you reconnect with old characters and fall in love with some new ones!