And So It Begins…

We all have to start somewhere, right? So here’s my beginning. And this is how I’m feeling about it:

Unattributable source

Unattributable source

I’m as nervous starting this blog/website as I was on my first day of school every single year. Except back then I would throw up. I don’t think I’m going to do that now.

Why am I so nervous? For the same reasons every blogger/writer frets about:

1- No one will read my blog
2- Those who do will think it sucks
3- No one will read my blog

These three (ok, two) are part of the 99 problems I have as I hurl myself out in the social media realm again. I’m a chronic worrier and am desperate to break out of this agonizing pattern of worst-case-scenario’ing everything. But those two problems above–they’re not part of the 86 made up ones. They’re real. And I have to deal with them.

I know most people didn’t like Will and Jaden Smith’s After Earth, directed by M.Night Shyamalan (at least according to reviews), but for this girl who hyperventilates pondering the future, the phrase “take a knee” spoke to me.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Will’s character Cypher Raige doesn’t feel any fear. None. Period. No matter what happens. Unfortunately that makes for a pretty dry character for those of us watching the movie, but for Cypher’s son Kitai (Jaden Smith) it’s something to emulate. Cypher teaches this skill to Kitai by telling him to “take a knee,” which basically means “chill the f**k out.”

So Kitai does, literally…

Still from After Earth, Columbia Pictures

Still from After Earth, Columbia Pictures

And then he wills himself to focus on only “that which exists in the present moment–sight, sound, and smell.” Basically his dad tells him to pay attention to all his jazzed up senses instead of the loop of impending doom running on repeat through his mind.

The whole point of “taking a knee” is to stop ourselves from feeling fear. Here’s how Cypher breaks it down:

Fear is not real.

The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.

It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.

That is near insanity.

Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.

We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.

Now, I’ve read some stuff online that says this is a blatant Scientology tenet. I don’t know because I don’t study Scientology. I don’t really study any religion, but that’s not the point.

The point is, this works for me like nothing else ever has–that includes medication, therapy, relaxation techniques, alcohol, popping bubble wrap, etc.

Night is the worst, just before I fall asleep (although, according to my husband, this period seems to last as long as a flick of a frog’s tongue). I can easily take a mouse turd of a thought and turn it into the Mount Everest of elephant dung. So when my mind gets going like that, I tell myself to “take a knee” and pay attention to the sight, sounds and smells around me. Here’s what I usually come up with:

Sight: Not much because it’s dark.
Sound: Not much because I wear ear plugs (I’m a light sleeper and my husband snores).
Smell: Not much because my nose is usually stuffy when I lie down.

So how can this possibly work for me, you ask? I just call on another sense: touch.

I feel the smooth sheets under and over my skin.

I feel the warmth of the down comforter (in the winter).

I feel the cool breeze from the open windows (in the spring/summer and on a couple of random days in winter) blowing on my back and through my hair.

I feel my husband breathing as I lay my hand on his chest/shoulder.

I feel my stubbly legs rubbing against each other (usually in the winter…you girls know what I’m talking about).

And when I feel all that tangible stuff, I stop feeling the fear that exists in the future and only in my mind. You know–all that stuff that’s not real.

So try it. Take a knee and tell yourself a different story. It’s on me.

question_mark_flatWhat’s the dumbest thing you’ve feared or fretted over? What techniques have you used to talk yourself off your Mount Everest of elephant dung? Scroll on down the page and share your thoughts…I’m listening.

P.S. A big thank you to Kristen Lamb for her inspiring book, Rise of the Machines, without which I’d still be alone, writing in the void.

84 thoughts on “And So It Begins…

  1. Awesome post! I loved that part of the movie. I used to chant the mantra from Dune, โ€œI must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.โ€

    Oh, and I am a light sleeper as well. I can hear spider’s fart, LOL.

  2. Say it enough and you learn, LOL. Also love Deuteronomy 28:13. I’ve been afraid of a LOT of stupid stuff. Too long to list here. I remember my first agent pitchโ€ฆbarely. I nearly threw up. Now? I’ve fired two, LOL. You grow, you get new perspective and realize agents are people and they work for US. Some are great. Others? We might need to part ways. When I am feeling super overwhelmed, I pray. I talk it out with friends. Sometimes when we vocalize something, we HEAR how irrational it sounds. Also, fear is a GREAT friend. When I’m afraid of something, that is often the waving flags that THIS is the correct direction.

    1. I read this comment, thought ‘I don’t know that scripture off the top of my head,” and went to Google it. Had a dyslexic moment and instead, typed Deuteronomy 23:18 into the search box. Then I became terribly confused. Lol.

  3. Sooo… dumbest thing I fretted over: I had never been in a house with an alarm system. My parents bought a new house … with an alarm system. I stayed with them one night and I was spooked about walking around on the ground floor lest I set off the alarms. I had some grand Indiana Jones kind of result going on in my head. Hey, I was, what 12? Anyway, spooked me!

    How do I deal with fear? I pray and consider if 1) do I need to do this, 2) is it important, 3) what are the real risks of harm/failure and success. Then, if I decide that I need to do it, it’s important, and the real risks of harm/failure are within reason, I nail my courage together, and go for it.

    1. I’ve always wondered about that alarm system thing. What if you have the munchies in the middle of the night? I wouldn’t want raiding the refrigerator to bring the cops to my house… On the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

      1. Most alarm systems have two modes. “Away” activates the alarm when doors or windows are open AND when motion sensors detect movement in the house. “Stay” only activates when doors and windows are open. The motion sensors are disabled, so you can walk around the house all you want. That’s the mode I always use, because otherwise my 85 pound German shepherd would set it off every time she walks around. Though some people would say that a dog this size is an efficient anti-burglar alarm system on it’s own. I know she chased some Jehovah Witnesses off my porch once just by barking from behind the screen door…

  4. I can be afraid of anything, from “DId my bankbook forget to balance itself again? Sheesh.” to “I’ve lived all these years and I’ve got nothing to show for it. What if I never succeed? Am I wasting my life?”

    I can get panic attacks from some of my thoughts, but that’s when I remember where my fears live…and I cruelly recommence the starvation process.

    Btw, your site is gorgeous. I wish you the best.

  5. Thanks Kelly. This is so basic and so crucial. Not just to writing but to everything in life. I didn’t see After Earth because I probably listened too closely to the reviews. And I had a mixed up idea about what “Take a knee” means. I’m glad you’ve straightened me out. I’m about to make a scary move in my life that involves some huge risks. This piece you’ve written here will help me with that. I do my own thing of saying “Be not afraid.” to myself but taking a knee is even easier and more direct. Best of all I don’t have to think… I just have to feel. Thinking is what gets us into the fear bind in the first place. It makes sense that turning off the think thing for a bit and just feeling could be the way out. I’m going to try it. Probably a lot in the next few months. Thanks for the gift. And welcome to the blogging world. I can tell I’m going to enjoy reading your words and hearing your voice. Alice

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Alice! Feeling the tangible is really the key. I’ve never been able to talk myself out of the panicky cycle of worst-case scenario’ing things. Kinda of funny—even though I’m a writer, words, at least the ones in my head, fail me when I need them the most. The bonus—focusing on what I feel is good practice for showing not telling.

  6. Hi, Kelly. Nice blog, great post. Everybody’s afraid. Kristen Lamb showing up here is a pretty good omen, I’d say. I’m working on making something of my site (steventhomashowell.com) as well, though as of now it’s still pretty random.

  7. You fretted about nothing, which is easy to see in retrospect. This is a wonderful blog. Well done! I’m one who’s working hard on her worrying. There was a day when I could worry about things before I knew about them. It was that bad. In recent days I worried about my relocation last month and pretty much everything associated with writing. Yes, I know exactly how you feel and it’s great to see you made it through. Congratulations!

  8. Lots of things scare me. I had a phobia about driving, but I wanted my son to go to preschool, and I needed a car to get there, so I got my license. I worry about getting stuff wrong, especially writing stuff, because people crazily seem to listen to me these days. So, I try to study and read and learn as much as I can. And trust me, I wanted to barf when I started The Bookshelf Muse blog too. Fear likes to whisper at us, telling us how we’re just going to trip so why bother, that it’s better to not try than to fail.

    Leaving one’s comfort zone is scary. But here’s the thing…it is the first step toward really living. If we let fear hold us back, we can never strive for greatness. So shove fear into a virtual room of clowns and take that step.

    The blog is lovely and you laid yourself out there with this first post. Such authenticity is sure to find readers, so enjoy the ride to your own greatness. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ange

    1. Thanks Ange! I’m convinced that fear creates the ultimate gag reflex, at least in me. I’m going right over to check out your blog. Makes me feel less alone to know others shared the same fears at their beginnings, so thanks for speaking up.

  9. Congrats on starting something and fighting the fear. You have a great voice, you’ll do well. And props to Kristen Lamb for promoting you!

    I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t comment on that specifically, but one thing really resonated with me when I took yoga. One instructor, told us to close our eyes, then still our eye muscles while focusing on our breath. He said, when your mind is troubled, your eyes move around, even when closed, darting around energetically. So I learned from him to acknowledge the thought, then let it go, focus on my breath and relax my eye muscles. It’s done wonders for me, including when I’m stressing out at work and there’s an impending migraine.

    And though I probably sound sacrilegious, I pray while I’m doing it, giving my worries to my creator.

    1. Ooooh, I really like that idea, Heather, thank you! When I get really stressed out my eye twitches, and I’d give anything to get it to stop. I’m going to have to try this. The more weapons in your fear arsenal the better!

  10. Ok the gateway just timed out. Let me write that again….

    Great post ๐Ÿ™‚ you had nothing to fear ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll have to check out that movie – think I’d like it… And I’m going to try what you suggest. I often lie in bed with all the stresses, worries and fears in the world banging around in my head – things from today, worries for tomorrow, fears from neverwillhappen. I end up dreaming/nightmaring about work and worry. But if I stopped and paused, I’d feel the same things as you (including the stubble) and it sounds like a much better way to end the day. Loved Rise of the Machines – and you’ve done one of the most important things advised – you’ve given the reader something to take away. I’ve benefitted from what you’ve written, and written so well. Love your voice.

    Ps I also love bubblewrap.

    1. Thanks Sara, for all your wonderful thoughts and for taking the extra time to write them twice! And you’re the only other person I’ve ever known that likes bubble wrap too…we’re kindred spirits!

  11. I’m right there with ya Kelly. I once heard there are 3 types of people. Those who fret about the future, those who dwell on the past, and those blessed ones that are just present. I fall into the future category myself (sounds like you do too) and the above advice is just fab. I’ve also used a technique where you just observe thoughts. And let them pass by. Sorta like meditation but you can do this anytime. It helps detach from the thoughts instead of latching on and spiraling out of control. The Untethered Soul (audio verision on Audible) is another resource you might check out. Great book for dealing with fear!

      1. haha! Well awareness is half the battle, right? Then it’s what you do with the knowledge that’s the other half. Not easy I know, but it’s important to acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments.

  12. Welcome to the blogoshpere! I loved this post. I do the same thing. In fact just last night I spent 4 hours stressing over something that I now know wasn’t even a problem. I never would have thought to try the “take a knee” from this movie that I really loved. It’s a fantastic idea! I’ll have to try it the next time I get myself worked up. I look forward to more posts from you!

    1. Oh Amy, I feel your pain! If I had kept track over my lifetime I bet 97.84% of all my worries were for no darn good. I’d share the mathematical equation that led me to that specific percentage but I’m worried I’d get it wrong and people would think I’m stupid and no one would read my blog ever again and I’d die of shame and embarrassment…best keep it to myself (and take a knee).

  13. Totally with you on your three (two… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) fears! With my blog and my not yet finished novel (that I’m no where close to having anyone read!). I’m also afraid of spiders XD When it comes to my writing, I remind myself that I write for me, to get the words, ideas, thoughts, and craziness out of my head. So, even if no one reads it or likes it, I feel better having it down on a page (or in a Word doc). Spiders… I scream and run and my husband squishes it. I’ll work on that one next. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. LOL!! My husband and I were once at a very serious crossroads in our relationship. I found a huge spider in our basement laundry room, screamed, and my husband came running. He saw it, screamed, and then we looked at each other like, “Are YOU going to kill it?!” I grabbed a piece of cardboard, my husband grabbed a hammer, and after more wallops than should have been arachnid-ally possible, the thing was dead. I feel bad about that today, but it was REALLY big. Luckily for our relationship I’m not afraid of spiders anymore, but it was touch and go for a while in the extermination department in the Roberts’ household.

  14. “A big thank you to Kristen Lamb for her inspiring book, Rise of the Machines, without which Iโ€™d still be alone, writing in the void.”

    Were it not for Kristen Lamb, my first novel might have been trapped in a different sort of void, eaten by a predatory contract and doomed never to see physical print. I lived through R.O.T.M.’s early chapters. Thanks to Kristen, YOUR prose is free to soar, unhindered by the Sharknados at the door.

  15. I understand your struggle. I only started my platform recently, and so far I’ve put far more work in than what I expected. It gets better with time. I had the exact same fears, and even woke up some days wanting to delete all my accounts and be done with it. Once you build a community around yourself, though, you’ll never want to give it up. Great post!

    1. Thanks Aaron! I hear ya. When I first smacked up against the “you must platform, writer” wall I thought I’d slide down it and stay down. But, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, writing is so lonely (although being part of a writers’ group or two has helped), I think I felt ready to get up and break through that wall. And I have to say the view on the other side has been fabulous so far, especially thanks to good folks like you.

  16. I’m resisting the urge to say I’m mostly fearless (because you’d all be entitled to say “aren’t you the fu*cken hero!”) so I won’t.

    What I will say is that “as long as a flick of a frogโ€™s tongue” is my favourite simile ever. Do not be surprised if I steal it.

    1. I’m so flattered I will gladly let you steal it. And too bad you didn’t say you’re mostly fearless cuz I would have loved to type “fu*ken.” Oh, I just did! My work here is done. *drops microphone on floor*

  17. I enjoyed your post, Kelly. Nicely done. I recently published my first novella and was afraid to tell anyone it was available. My print proof arrived the same day and I read it from cover to cover. I was entertained all over again and reminded why I set out to write in the first place. Sometimes looking at the bigger picture helps me get past the small obstacles (fear) that seem to be blocking my way. Keep up the good work!

    1. “I was entertained all over again and reminded why I set out to write in the first place.” Meda, what a validation that must have been for you. In the end, if we don’t like our own writing, aren’t entertained by it, then what’s the point. I hope I feel the same way when I get the proof of my first novel. Congratulations!

  18. Wow, fabulous start! Go you. Welcome to WANA World and the blogosphere.

    As to the silliest thing I fret over? Well, I can do a pretty long stent of worry-filled wondering about some little thing I said and how someone might, or might not, have taken it. I’ll worry about how I could have said something differently and maybe it could have come across better and what if they think this or that about me and why can’t I think longer before I speak anyway (stupid, stupid, stupid)… Most of time, I discover my worry was just me being ridiculous because nobody was thinking anything. What. A. Waste. of. Time. I should just “take a knee.” Thanks!

    1. Thank Julie! Your mind sounds like it works just like mine. It makes me crazy to realize how I can get myself so worked up in a negative, nonproductive way and why it’s so hard sometimes to get myself worked up in a positive, productive way. Argh!!

  19. Wonderful beginning…I love it.
    When my beloved sister-in-law was dying of cancer, she used to tell us, “Do not be afraid…He is with us always.”
    It wasn’t always easy to “not be afraid” but she was our inspiration. We followed her lead. And I’ve learned not to be afraid, too. (Or at least, I try hard.) When I’m going through all my fears in the middle of the night (how correct you are about mice turds/elephant dung), I make that my mantra…and it works.

  20. Congratulations on your first post! I love that idea of “take a knee”–no matter what a person’s religion is or isn’t.

    Kristen Lamb helped me get started, too. I’d still be “writing in the void” as well. ๐Ÿ˜€ Happy Blogging!!

  21. Hey, welcome to the blogosphere and the #MyWANA blogger family!

    I wasn’t totally enamored of After Earth, but I did like the concept of “take a knee”. I’m a worrier, too, so I get where you’re coming from. I will admit self-medicating with the wondrous world of the Internet. Another trick I use, if I’m avoiding a task (for example, avoiding writing for fear it will be bad), is to set a timer. 30 minutes is doable, 15 if it’s really scary. The hardest part is finding the willpower to start the timer. After that, actually writing (or whatever) is easy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    P.S. And yes, I have stubbly legs too. It’s March, after all!

    1. Siri, you said it about willpower. When my brain is jetting off to Worryland it’s so hard not to grab onto its tail and let it drag me wherever it’s going. So taking a knee keeps me closer to the ground and eventually I’m strong enough to pull my brain back into reality.

  22. Hello and welcome to the blogosphere Kelly! So glad you found the WANAs to give you a nice, warm housewarming party.

    I know exactly how you feel, worrying about the unknown. I live in my head way too much and go through scenarios of what could happen. The anxiety I give myself is probably the biggest barrier I face. I recently made big changes in my life (quit my job of 6 years, was unemployed for several months, found a new job, started writing and editing my book) and it just dawned on me 2 nights ago that even after all THAT, I’m still in transition. I thought I had it figured out and was settling in, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m trying to be patient and wait for the balance to return. I like you ‘Take a Knee’ idea about stopping to breathe and reflect a little. I haven’t successfully done that yet. I always want to move too fast. Good reminder.

    1. Thanks Jess! I just pooped over, whoops, I mean popped over to your blog–loved the post on, well you know. Just followed your blog, and can’t wait to read each new post.

  23. Kelly! Great first blog post. You’re starting on a very good foot.

    No, this is not scientology, it’s success psychology. Successful people get to where they are because of how they think.

    Successful people make a choice. Beliefs —> Thoughts —> Feelings —> Actions —>Results

    It seems to me that Beliefs, Thoughts,, and Actions are the ones we can change the quickest, and if we do that enough, our feelings and results will change too.

    This is true whether you’re Tom Cruise, Seneca, Bob the Builder, Joe the Plumber, or John the Baptist.

    I also wrote a post about fear, which you may like:

    http://www.authordavid.com/how-i-took-charge-of-my-fear-and-won-even-when-i-wasnt-supposed-to/

    Hope to hear from you on the twitter soon!

    -D

    1. That makes complete sense to me, David, so thanks for chiming in. I read your post and can so relate–my husband lost his job last year (it was actually a “win” for us) and we decided to sell our house and move into an apartment (also a “win” for us, although not a lot of people saw it that way, and the subject for a future job post). It was nerve-wracking searching for a place and even more of a nail-biting experience when we had to rely on the Timing gods to make sure we got rid of the house in time to not lose the apartment. ARGH! Of course at that time I hadn’t yet had my “take a knee” experience, so I was drowning in fear. It’s definitely something we all face, isn’t it…

  24. You were worried nobody would read this?! Puleeze. But, for what it’s worth, I do understand exactly what you’re talking about. (And I wear earplugs to bed, too)

    I have a vivid imagination. I should right? It’s one of the job requirements for fiction writers. Sometimes the same imagination that helps me write stories turns into my enemy, terrifying me or infuriating me with all sorts of horrid possibilities. It’s a challenge not to let these thoughts take root and consume my days, nights…my whole life.

    Advice for not letting the “might happens” take root is something I’ve seen versions of in many different teachings, belief systems, and even clichรฉ sayings. It’s good advice. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Aw, thank you!

      Somebody asked me once why I sleep with ear plugs (before I had to share my bed with a snorer). I said that if a crazed killer (or even a sane-appearing killer, i.e. tween Lizzie from the 3-16-14 Walking Dead episode…ca-reepy!) was going to break into my house and kill me in my sleep, I’d rather not know about it, let alone lie there anticipating it!

      And wouldn’t you think that with all of those various teachings, belief systems, etc. I’d have figured it out by now? Guess I’m a slow learner…or maybe just slow.

  25. This is your first post? I think you have nothing to worry about. And I got a good laugh out of your dyslexic Google of the Deuteronomy passage. No wonder you were confused!

    Looking forward to more of your posts.

  26. Hi Kelly! I would say from the long list of commenters that you’ve had tremendous support girl! Oh boy, do I ever remember my first post. Fear beyond belief. I had never put myself out there in such a public way before. I was so sure that I was going to die, that I named my post, “Hanging for Dear Life.” It was about repelling off a skyscraper in Los Angeles because that’s how I felt. A fellow blogger/Wana classmate had just recently reminded me of it. That was almost two and a half years ago. And I’m still alive. lol. I really enjoyed your post and humor Kelly. You did a wonderful job conveying your fears in a most positive way. Awesome! Just remember, you’re never alone. It’s the best part of WANA. So glad to have met you and keep ’em coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Loved that story, Karen! It’s encouraging to hear from people who’ve been at this longer than me and to know I’m not alone in this scary endeavor. Thanks so much for popping over, reading, and sharing your thoughts!

  27. It would seem we have more than a name in common, Kelly. I’m the worrier of the family myself.

    In fact, I’ve been in therapy for a few months dealing with that and many other issues that have lovingly popped up as I glide into my early forties. I would say you’re doing a fabulous job with your “baby blog” and you have nothing to fear.

    But of course it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else says, it’s what you believe that matters. So hopefully both you and I (and well, everyone else too – we don’t need to be greedy) will find a way to truly practice what you preach in this here first post.

    Now, after reading this, I actually want to revise what I said on your FB page. I hope you don’t get any time to spend with your bubble wrap today, because I hope you won’t need to. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Breathe, feel those soft sheets and those stubbly legs and know that everything is good in this moment.

  28. My experience is the “no one will read it/it sucks” fears tend to ebb and flow. Some days I post without qualms (or even with glee) and others I absolutely dread it, certain that it is the day no one in the universe (not even my mother) will visit my blog let alone read the puke I posted and oddly annoyed by the fact (since you’d think I wouldn’t want anyone to see the pukey stuff). The only thing that’s worked for me is to just keep putting stuff up and try not to worry (read: obsess) about who or how many have read my latest post.

    I like your getting-into-the-moment strategy for dealing with anxiety. My biggest help for this was changing my diet. My second biggest was changing my thoughts. Together, I am in a much better place, although I’d be lying if I said I’m never afraid or anxious. I still have my moments.

    1. Not that I’m happy when other people are anxiety ridden, but it’s so nice to know I’m not the only one in the panic boat. So thanks Kit! We’ll just keep rowing and eventually, hopefully, we’ll get to calmer more confident emotional seas when it comes to our writing (and our GD parents who won’t read our pukey stuff).

      1. You made me laugh! I wouldn’t wish my problems on anyone, but it’s always a relief to know I am not alone. (One of many reasons to adore Kristen Lamb.)

  29. In football, “take a knee” is known as Tebowing. And that’s all I know about football.

    Hitting “publish” for the first time is a commitment like marriage, childbirth, or eating at Taco Bell. Nothing anyone tells you actually prepares you for the journey you are making. I hit that button the first time in July 2010, and my first book was released last June. Life on this path has been a succession of “take a knee” moments. As Jason Mraz says, “You win some and you learn some.” But you never lose.

    Welcome to the Blogoverse! Great job!

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