NO FEAR — Pushing the Envelope

By Laura Drake

Here at WITS, we’ve discussed dealing with fear before – most notably, our Throwdown, which explored The Fear of Success, and The Fear of Never Succeeding.

Today, I thought I’d share with you my latest goal – To Live Without Fear.

Yeah, I know, it’s ambitious, but you have to admit, it’s a good thing to shoot for! Follow me here, and see if you’re game to try it!

Twenty-six years ago, when I met Alpha Dog, we spent a lot of time on his motorcycle. I hadn’t ridden one before, and I found it exhilarating. And terrifying. The world rushed by, faster than I was able to take it in. As hard as I tried to capture the details, many flew past, unnoticed. But what if they were critical things? Essential things, keeping me safe?

Trust me, you’ll never feel as powerless as when you’re perched on a motorcycle in L.A. traffic, clinging to the broad back in front of you, having no control over your fate. You realize how fragile your body is when you’re surrounded by huge hunks of metal, whizzing within inches of you at seventy miles an hour.

I spent most of those first months in a frantic state of hyper-awareness, muscles locked, my shoulders pulled up to my ears.

Note, the ‘Trailer Trash’ Flamingo. His name is Frank.

But, then there were the other moments:

  • In the badlands of Utah, the delicate multicolored striations in the crumbling cliffs alongside the road made me wish I knew how to dye cloth to be able to recreate the patterns on fabric.
  • Coming around a bend in a highway to a black and white paint horse standing in a green meadow, silhouetted against a backdrop of black thunderclouds, his mane and tail whipping in the wind.
  • Held up in  small town, in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, while they shut down the Main Street for a Fourth of July parade, bunting-festooned hay wagons carrying the local beauty queens

Both sides of that motorcycle experience taught me a lot about life. You know the term, “Pushing the Envelope?” My odd brain somehow fashioned that into a philosophical picture in my head.

My cat, Cisco, demonstrates the concept. Ooooohhhhmmmm.

Imagine that every way we can experience life fits in a rectangle, like an envelope. We can choose where you want to be on that envelope. You can hang on the very edge of the back part, afraid of change coming at you. Or, you can ‘hang ten’ on the windward edge, bugs in your teeth, laughing into the future.

I think what happens to you in life is going to happen, no matter where you are on the envelope. And if that’s true, why not meet it head on – actually looking forward to the next thing?

NO FEAR. That’s my new mantra. I’ve lived too long, and seen too much to live in fear. I’m giving it up – letting it go.

Since July, I’ve slid into the next chapter in my life: Retirement. I have everything to look forward to. Instead of doing what I have to do to make money, I’m going to be doing what I’d do even if they didn’t pay me – write.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have my moments. But that’s all I’ll the time I’ll allow fear to steal from me – moments.

Fat, but happy, motorcycle chick

So if you see some old lady flash by you on a bright yellow motorcycle, laughing maniacally, that’s just me, flying on the edge of my envelope.

What do you think? Where are you on the envelope? Are you ready to give up the fear?

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37 Responses to NO FEAR — Pushing the Envelope

  1. lizkflaherty says:

    I’m there on the edge with you–and it’s WONDERFUL out here!

  2. You don’t know how much I want to stand with Fred and have no fear of being run over by a Harley. Although…

    He is kind of hugging the edge of your camper.

    Until a few days ago, I was stuffed inside the envelope. I let FEAR (in the form of the delete button) pound away at confidence in my voice and my writing. It didn’t matter that I had WOWZAPALOOZA critique feedback on those pages I’d released for others to see. I let the “what if the next pages don’t measure up?” demons pound away at my overstuffed envelop.

    A few days ago, I realized I do many things without worrying about being judged. If you follow me at all, you know I dance alone in public. I dance as if (as the saying goes) no one is watching.

    I am now writing as if no one is reading. It got me past a stinking, sticky point. Is the result perfect? Nope. But, I sailed over that speed bump and I will come back to it when I’m ready for my Dancing with the Stars debut.

    That’s only one aspect of my life, of course.

    In other areas? I’m a blue-sky gal. I’m not sure how or why Chicken Little began following me around when I looked at the sky in writer’s garb. He’s banned now. Stop by for some chicken soup if your bright yellow motorcycle brings you to my part of Texas.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Where are you in Tx, Gloria? If I’m within range, keep an eye out for an old broad on a yellow bike!

      Congrats on your commitment to not let fear stop you! I salute you, Chickie!

      • Hey, Laura! Rumor control had it some time ago that you were moving to Texas. I didn’t think you’d yet made that move.

        I live in Westlake — Southlake, Keller, Trophy Club area.

        Even if you live on the other side of the MetroPlex, we could make arrangements to meet some day. I drove all the way to Toronto to visit my buddies up there, for crumb’s sake.

        • LauraDrake says:

          I looked that up, Gloria, you’re near Fort Worth, right? I’ll be in Midland – according to Alpha Dog, it’s about 350 miles.
          I’d love to meet up!

        • Jenny Hansen says:

          Ooo-ooo! Ooo! Pick me to be the fly on the wall at the meeting. I wanna go too!!!!!!!!!!

          (That was some damn fine whining, if I do say so myself.)

  3. Great post, Laura! The beauty you described could be waiting around any corner and if we let fear guide us, we may never make the turn. I made a similiar choice a few years ago and got on an airplane to explore Italy. A year later Germany. Oh, and four years ago when I took the writing plunge full-time…boy, was that scary. I’m even a little afraid of motorcycles, but your post almost makes me want to hop on one and take a ride🙂
    Sharon

  4. Betty Bolte says:

    Interesting analogy and image about the envelope. I picture it like a flying carpet or a surf board, neither of which I’ve ever ridden, mind you, but would like to (if I were a stronger swimmer with regard to the surfing). I don’t think I’ve reached the point that I have faced all my fears, especially when it comes to my writing. I try to write freely, but it always seems like I worry about what others will think and that’s rather stifling at times. Having said that, the WF ghost story I outlined I think will let me share some truths that I’ve not shared before. Should be freeing if my characters will agree. Thanks for the beautiful images, especially of the paint horse — sounds arresting!

    • LauraDrake says:

      Oh, it was, Betty. And like Sharon said, images like that are waiting around the corner, for any of us brave enough to peek around it! You’re doing it, with your writing. Fly on.

  5. Sharla Rae says:

    Love the blog Laura and your writing skills certainly come out here as well your point. As a kid I was the oldest but my younger sis was the cute fragile one while I was the chubby one. I was always the one trying to measure up and was always looking over my shoulder to make sure someone wasn’t making fun of me. That little girl still comes out and it’s really hard sometimes to peep out of my clam shell. One day, though, someone told me I was incapable of accomplishing a goal. It made me so mad that my inner hulk ripped off the lid to the clam shell. I proved them wrong and then some. I’m still shy and I still approach things with caution but when challenged, my inner hulk takes everyone by surprise. I’ve grown to love my hulk. She’s my hero and best kept secret. The shy retiring me may have written my books but the hulk got me published.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Wow, Sharla – you could have been writing about me! Except, I never got the cute face, and hot bod you did! I’ve learned over the years though, it doesn’t matter what other people see — it only matters how we see ourselves, and that often doesn’t match what’s in the mirror.

      Your Girl-Hulk is your wonderful spirit, and those who know you are inspired by her!

  6. marsharwest says:

    Fears, yeah, I have lots of them. Mostly about things I can’t control, which I guess is pretty stupid. But for things I can control, I’ve done okay. While you’re not catching me even thinking about getting on a mortor cycle (I’m thrilled for you, Laura, that you love it and it’s important to you.), I have done things that scare lots of others: run for a large urban school board seat, lost, and run and won twice more, spoken to large (over a thousand) audiences. Truth be told, those are scary, too, but I could do them and lots of folks ccouldn’t.
    From a writing standpoint, I’ve always said, I was glad I didn’t know how hard it would be to learn this business, or I might not have even tried. That would have been my sad loss, because I’ve met so many warm, supportive people through the process.
    Sharla, I love your comment about your “inner hulk.” We all need to learn to let that gal out more.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Marsha, we all get to chose our scary stuff. Motorcycling was just the scary thing that had a thrill at the end of it for me. Well, that, and the big shoulders in the driver’s seat that I fell in love with.

      I completely agree with you – I’m so glad I didn’t know how long it would take me to sell, or how convoluted the road would be!

  7. My trainer told me about a month ago that we who ride horses (and in your case motorcycles) are “adrenaline junkies”. I thought about the fact that what I do in my life – write and ride – are both things I absolutely unequivocally love to death – and both are kind of like standing on the edge of the envelope you mention, teeth bared to the bugs, loving it though it’s scary because not doing it is not an option.

  8. Julie says:

    A friend mentioned this post on Twitter, so here I am. Very thought-provoking. Like someone above mentioned, I don’t like when people doubt me or say I can’t, it makes me work to prove them wrong. My mom used to call this trait in me Mulie Julie. I guess that’s not all bad. I quit a long and successful career a year ago to give this writing gig a full-time effort, to heck with the naysayers.

    What can stop me dead in my tracks with any decisions, is the fear of hurting others– my kids, especially. If I think that’s a possibility, I put my needs and desires on the back burner. That’s an envelope I haven’t been able to push, for better, and sometimes I think, for worse.

    • LauraDrake says:

      Julie, thanks for stopping by, and commenting! Mulie Julie – I think that is a compliment!

      You’re right, of course – we have to consider others sometimes in our decisions. But I’ll never again allow someone else’s opinion to matter more than mine. Worked too hard to give up myself now!

      Good luck with your new career! Stop back – hope you can find some things here to help you.

  9. Okay, biker gal … I’d have to say that at 40 I gave up guilt and after that everything else started to fall away. I could be afraid that I’d go broke, lose everything and end up homeless, sleeping in someone’s living room with three cats. The greatest fears we have can actually happen and the end result is you begin to “see” the greatest fears are not so frightening at all. Broke, busted and homeless, I began again. I’ve done it before and I knew I could do it again. What’s frightening is NOT doing anything at all and letting life pass by without grabbing for the gold ring. Me? I fell off a few bikes, a wooden horse, a live horse, several brick walls, and survived.

    I am on the edge of the enevelope hanging on and free falling, fast and furious and loving every damn minute I have been given or will be given. Its a roller coaster ride and I love the thrill of that first hill. Throw your arms up in the air and scream bloody hell !!

    You may not know it Laura, but we are kindred spirits and somewhere between the mid-west, the far west, Texas and South Brooklyn our paths have crossed. I saw a flash of yellow, grinned … and yelled … “Hey you, enjoy the ride!”

    • LauraDrake says:

      Oh Florence, I have been down there too. I’ve put myself into some bad places in my life, and have clawed my way back, higher than I’d ever thought I could!

      There’s peace that comes from knowing that you can do that. My husband worries about losing it all. I sure don’t. I tell him if things get really bad, we’ll load the cat in a shopping cart, hold hands, and go dumpster diving!

      You’re a scrapper, like me…kindred spirits for sure, in spite of the New York thing you’ve got going…

  10. Jenny Hansen says:

    By the way, I wanted to rip the caption off that last photo because you are NOT fat. I’m just sayin…

    • LauraDrake says:

      Pffftt. 13 hour days at the computer and deadlines are taking their toll.

      Major writer’s Badonka butt.

      But I’ll take happy over thin, any day!

  11. I sometimes rely on my hubby to push me past my fears. Last weekend, he drove us into, and out of the White Mountain National Forest to find a tiny cabin perched on the edge of a fast-moving river.(The wet rutted road was more like a walking trail.) I figured, we had seltzers and Cheez-Its, so what the heck?

    • LauraDrake says:

      Good for you, Lorrie! I’m the same — it would have NEVER occurred to me to try to ride my own motorcycle if Alpha Dog hadn’t challenged my limitations. It helps to have the support!

  12. At the moment, in this economy, and given what chaos it has caused for me, fear is always with me. But, I have discovered good things even so. Finding a way to share my travel adventures (see my blog🙂 and writing for children are some of those things.

  13. Last week I wrote down this in my journal: I’m afraid of putting myself out there for fear of getting my heart crushed. Since then, I’ve been working on ridding myself of fear. I hope to one day reach your level of freedom, Laura. Thanks for the great and uplifting post!

    • LauraDrake says:

      Sheila, that probably-getting-trite-now phrase about dancing as if no one is watching, really resonated with me. When you’re sitting on the porch, rocking, at 85, which will bother you more — the times you looked foolish, or the things you didn’t do because you were afraid of looking foolish?

      GO FOR IT!

  14. Elaine Karpierz says:

    Love it, but I’ll stay within the box thank you very much.

  15. SD Writer says:

    I actually like and welcome my fear. It means I need to pay attention–and stay awake. It pushes me to look closer at why the fear has come up. It also keeps me sharp. Fear can be a good thing if you use it instead of letting it stop you.

  16. Lorraine E. Castro says:

    Why did you refer to yourself as “fat”? Are you affected by the Seventh Avenue advertising showing us “regular” women as unfashionable? Don’t let anyone or anything take away from your unique individuality and worth! You must be your biggest champion and fan!

  17. C. K. Crouch says:

    Ride that bike up here to the Fort Hood, TX area I’d love to see you in person. Congratulations anf good luck.

  18. LauraDrake says:

    I’m going to look you up, C.K – I feel like I’m moving to an enemy camp (a Yankee, deep in the heart of Texas? The horror!) AND there isn’t an RWA chapter within 250 miles! I’m going to need friends!

  19. Pieter says:

    Awesome post, thank you and yes it so true…but can I add to your mantra.

    Live without fear…and take action. Without action nothing gets done.

    Regards
    Pieter

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