Each year, I try to do something that scares me – I call it a “Big Hairy Scary Thing.” (BHST) Now I’m not talking about “haunted house” or “Brazilian wax” sort of scary. It’s got to be something that actually makes you better, helps overcome a limiting belief or teaches you something from the experience. While writing this post, I realized I’ve been doing this for ten years now – ever since graduating college. Here is a concise list of the past 10 years of my self-inflicted terror:
2000 – Moved from the cozy confines of my parents’ house in Chicago to Hoboken, NJ. Got a job working in broadcasting in New York City. Moved in with my boyfriend and horrified my God-lovin’ mother by doing so. Learned that you reach an age where your parents actually don’t know best anymore, as much as they’d like to disagree. (I love you Mom!)
2001 – Fear pretty much summed up the year 2001, and my BHST was to learn to fight with some of the best self-defense experts in the world. Shannon McNamara was murdered in June, followed by the fall of the Twin Towers that September. I commuted into the World Trade Center every day at the time, and fate made me late for work that day. I learned to grieve, to feel fear, and to not be paralyzed by it.
2002 – Quit my job at Miramax Films. Decided to officially incorporate Girls Fight Back, and begin speaking professionally as a full-time career. Learned that starting a business is one of the biggest, hairiest things a person can do! Also learned that most people fear public speaking more than death itself, but thankfully that was not the case for me. Otherwise 2002 would have brought a lot more pit stains.
2003 – Did a national TV appearance, in front of a live studio audience. I was a guest on the John Walsh Show on NBC (watch it here), and almost peed my pants. Did a few more interviews in 2003. Learned that sometimes big, hairy, scary things tend to become less intimidating the more you face them. In 2003 I also faced Shannon’s murderer in a 2-week murder trial. It still reigns as the worst two weeks of my life. I learned the incredible power of friends and family who rally around a loved one…even when that loved one is gone.
2004 – Got married. (Not so scary – but certainly significant.) Was offered a book deal with a top publisher in New York. Decided to walk away from it, since the terms gave me no control of final edits (including Shannon’s story). Then got sued by my book agent for a multitude of long-winded reasons. After settling, decided to give the middle finger to the book publishing industry and self-published instead. Learned that sometimes, you just gotta do things yourself. (Except when it comes to contracts – always have a lawyer look at those.) Also learned how lucky I was (still am) to have a partner so supportive of my mission. Surround yourself with people who believe in you!
2005 – Wrote my book: Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself. It was a new, second version that was totally on my own terms. For ADHD people like myself, this is beyond big, hairy and scary! I set a deadline of Cinco de Mayo, and rewarded myself with a top shelf margarita when I accomplished it. I learned that trusting intuition (even when it leads you down a more difficult path) is the best advice I’ve ever given or taken. I also learned how motivated I can become when a margarita is at stake.
2006 – Opened New Jersey’s first women’s self-defense school in Hoboken. Released my book. Lived on airplanes. Did more speaking events than I thought possible for a human being. Learned I took on too much, and that I’m a serial over-committer. Also learned how to do yoga and meditation in an attempt to hold it all together. Sadly, I learned that I’m not a gifted yogi or zen meditation guru. I still struggle with over-commitment and breathing in general…
2007 – Closed the self-defense school and my husband quit his job. We moved to Colorado just because we love it here. I learned that driving 1,800 miles behind a Penske truck that maxes out at 59 mph really sucks. Hubby learned that actually driving said truck sucks much worse.
2008 – We decided to start a family. Got pregnant. Miscarried. Got pregnant again. Learned we are really not in control, and sometimes you have to believe in something bigger than your day planner.
2009 – ‘Twas the year of replication! Found and trained a team of speakers to give the Girls Fight Back seminar. Learned that if you build it, they will come – and often times they will surprise you with their awesomeness. Also had our first baby, a boy named Miles. Learned that natural childbirth hurts…a lot. (Read my Birth Story here) But also acquired a new respect for the female body and spirit. I learned to love deeper, have patience and be productive on just 3 hours of sleep.
So what’s on deck for this year? After watching Drew Barrymore’s directing debut of “Whip It” last week, I’m thinking Roller Derby. My name will be Weed Wacker.
What are your big hairy scary things this year?