Coffee Time Musings

I’ve been drinking out of this coffee cup for years now when staying with my parents. Of course I’ve read the words, but until now, I’m not sure I’ve stopped to figure out if I’m living them. So why not now?

Risk more than others think is safe: I’d say the last few months fulfills this one. Quitting a great job, leaving a great city, and not having a real plan in mind? Yeah, that was risky, and some people didn’t think it was safe or smart, either. I think the rewards will be worth the risk in the end, though.

Care more than others think is wise: Probably one of my most prominent behaviors. It’s both a strength and a weakness. When I care about something or someone – a job, an idea, friends/family/lovers, I’m all in. I’m invested, I’m emotional, and I’m absolutely vulnerable.

Dream more than others think is practical: I’m probably not dreaming enough right now. That was a big reason I moved to California to take this break, and my dad reminded me just the other day to think bigger and farther — and to remove the word “if” from my vocabulary. Dreams are the first step to making something reality.

Expect more than others think is possible: I have high expectations, for myself and for others, and sometimes it means I get hurt. I can be a perfectionist at work because I aim to impress and please, and for my own pride. And I often expect more from my relationships with people than they realize, or that they can or want to give. But I’m a firm believer that setting a high bar for yourself and for the people you care about and who care about you is ultimately a good thing.

What about you? Do you live these words (from a cadet maxim) often enough? Do you even believe they’re worth following?

Is Not Being Afraid the Same as Being Fearless?

Next up in the #BeFearless series, my friend Sarah, who works in online communications at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. You can read more of her stories at her blog, QueSarah.net.

Traveling alone...and fearlessly!

A little more than five years ago, an amazing opportunity was presented to me: a chance to go to Thailand for work, to do a press check on a book we were publishing. My boss agreed to my request to take a couple of weeks of vacation there after my responsibilities were finished, and I got to planning my trip. I had little advance warning (just a few weeks) and quickly realized I’d be going alone — none of my friends could get time off from work on such short notice. Undeterred,  I reserved hotels in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and researched the train schedule that would get me between the two. I booked a flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, not knowing if I’d ever be so near again. As far as I was concerned, I was planning the trip of a lifetime.

And it was, without a doubt. But even before I left home, I noticed a recurring theme from a lot of the people I told about the trip: amazement that I was flying halfway around the world, to a county that had just experienced a coup, alone. I was told it was bold, and brave, and fearless. Once I was there, everyone seemed shocked to meet an American woman traveling alone in Asia. (Apparently, it would have been less stunning if I were European, or perhaps Australian.) I was such a novelty that a group of Buddhist monks in Cambodia wanted to have their picture taken with me, to prove that they had seen such a thing.

Not surprisingly, I found this hilarious, and more than a little strange, because it hadn’t occurred to me that making the trip required any sort of fearlessness until people started mentioning it. I wasn’t afraid to be making the trip, therefore, I wasn’t being fearless — I was just doing what I wanted to do.

I don’t remember exactly when or how I developed that attitude — I just know that at some point I realized that being afraid was an incredibly lame reason not to do things I wanted to do or see places I wanted to see. From that point on, whenever I would hesitate to do something because I was fearful, I would remind myself that fear was, for me, not an acceptable out, and I would force myself to do it. Eventually, I got to the point where I needed a reminder less and less, because I at some point I stopped overcoming fear and just stopped being afraid.

Mostly, anyway. I’ve got it narrowed down to spiders, heights, and walking up to strangers and saying hello. And I’m working on those. Well, not the spiders. I don’t think being afraid of them is negatively impacting my life in any way.

Defining Fearless

Ready to take a swing at the world!

A few weeks ago I shared a post from my friend Lauree to kick off my personal series on being fearless, taking inspiration from my organization’s commitment to the movement. You’ll be seeing more from my friends in coming months, but for now, I wanted to share my own thoughts on what it has meant to Be Fearless for me in the past, what it means now, and what it could mean in the future.

As a little girl, I jumped into the swamps of Louisiana without a care for the alligators and snakes that could bite or kill me. I wanted to ride the boat or the jet ski or the bumper cars or four wheeler faster and farther. I loved playing hide and seek in the dark with my cousins in the old barns and sugarcane fields.

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The best time to move on…is when it’s best for YOU.

Taking a leap!

I feel like I’m playing hooky today. I’m not on vacation, I’m not taking a sick day, but I’m not checking email or doing work either. I’m in between jobs.

It’s been three and a half years since I was transitioning from one job to another, and this time, it’s a little different. It’s different because my second job, at the UN Foundation, was like a home to me for the last few years. Many of the people there became my family, and I made some friends that I will have for life. I also grew up in that job, personally and professionally, and although I am excited about my next chapter, it was hard to say goodbye to the people I worked and laughed with, to my cube, to my accomplishments.

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Life is short. Are you living?

Look outside to see what you can live for today

Recently, I wrote about making a dedicated effort to try new things to have a little fun, expand upon a skill, or to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you’re trying new things or indulging in old favorites, stopping to smell the roses and enjoy life is something we all advise, but many of us rarely put into practice.

I was chatting with a friend last week who is nearing 40, is single, and doesn’t have any children. And here I am, 26, and a year ago or so, I thought I would be getting married around now (a lot has changed since then!). As we recalled how we had both attempted to either set a path for ourselves in our careers and relationships or avoided one assuming things would work themselves out, I was reminded that life is short, and more often than not, we have to just go for what we want.

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