Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crisis of Confidence


By Kirsten Scott

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about a credit crunch, or a financial meltdown, or bailout packages. Really. I promise! But I am going to talk about a crisis of confidence. A moment when you said – you know what? I’m not really sure I can do that.

I used to teach rock climbing and lead people through high ropes challenge courses. Inevitably, at some point during the course, I heard people say, “I can’t do that.” Usually, they said it right before they got over a particularly tough challenge. They said it when their energy, confidence, and strength were at their lowest. But then they reached down inside and did it. Every time.

It was amazing.

We lived for that sort of thing. It was our bread and butter, the stuff of legends, the reason we hung out in the trees for hours. We were all there waiting for that moment of truth, the turning point from, “I can’t,” to “Holy cow, I just did!”

Of course, a ropes course isn’t real life. It takes something most people find scary (heights), makes them physically safe, and then sets people up to accomplish amazing things. It’s the perfect controlled experiment in accomplishment. Life isn’t quite so perfect. Sometimes in life you aren’t wearing a harness, and when you step off a balance beam, you really fall off. Sometimes you try something really hard and don’t succeed.

But that’s good too, right? Because you can learn from that. You can become stronger, braver, and even tougher than if you’d never failed.

I used to tell people when they were climbing, “if you don’t fall, you aren’t trying hard enough. You haven’t picked the right route.”

So tell me – have you ever tried anything and failed? Ever had to dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes? Can failure be even sweeter than success? Or have you ever had a crisis of confidence that you resolved with a huge accomplishment? Ever succeeded against the odds? Please, restore our confidence and tell us all about it!

Delilah Marvelle wasn’t able to be with us today, but we’re trying to reschedule her guest spot. Until then, I’ll give a signed copy of her book to one lucky commenter!!

80 comments:

Jennifer said...

???

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Kirsten. Thanks for filling in so beautifully!

I think we writers have ALL experienced that fall-down-and-pick-yourself-up moment. In the face of rejections from editors and agents, we continue to send out queries. In the face of criticism from critique partners, we man-up and revise. In the face of family's doubts, we find the one person who will believe in us.

jo robertson said...

Great going, Jennifer. No ???!!! He's yours for the day.

Jennifer said...

Haha - it's late and I've had a... 18? O_o hour day now. Kristen, this was a great topic! I'm definitely encouraged.

And this post is so fitting. I actually took a break from composing an email and decided to see if this blog had been updated. Everything is still in flux so I don't want to talk about it for fear of "jinxing" it - but... I might be taking on something (this very moment) larger than I can handle. Hopefully it all turns out alright and I can call it a success (or at least accomplishment) rather than major fail. Especially because it'll have my name attached to it with a relatively wide distribution. Eek.

Trish Milburn said...

Jennifer, good luck with whatever you're working on.

Kirsten, as you know, I'm in the midst of big revisions, so I'm feeling this way now. Of course, I felt this way when I did the revisions on the first YA book too, so hopefully I'll make it through to the other side and like the result. Hope my editor does too. :)

Jane said...

There are many instances where I think there's no way I can do it, but I still had to try. The hardest part is convincing your mind to just do it. Mind over matter. It was hard to me to leave a job and look for another. I didn't know if I had what it takes to get another job where I would be more content. I had to tell myself that I might regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't take a chance and try.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Mornin' y'all and congrats Jennifer on nabbing that bird!

Kirsten, thoughtful topic today.

The hardest thing I've had to do in my writing carreer was mail off that first full manuscript. When the rejection came back, I had to think, can I really keep doing this? Fortunately for me I was already half-way through the next manuscript, so I just kept plugging away.

When I was a young nurse, my first full weekend on my own in the OB recovery room I had a patient nearly hemmorhage to death. Her name was Ann. (I will never forget her.) We managed to stem the problem after nearly losing her twice. Made me wonder if I was cut out for this job. But being part of the team that saved her and the knowledge that I'd done something that fulfilling got me out of bed the next day to do it again.

Elyssa Papa said...

Congrats Jennifer on nabbing the GR!

I feel as if I've been hit by a big crisis of confidence lately. It could be a lot of things piling up, and I know it'll pass.... But, jeez, I wish it would pass a lot sooner. And like Jo said, even in the face of adversity, you just keep on plodding along. Sometimes slower than I would like to and more doubtful I'll get to being published, but all I can do is put more stuff out there and . . . wait.

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, I loved this post. There's such a wonderful feeling when you accomplish something you're terrified of or that you think has defeated you.

I felt like that about water skiing. It took me half a day just to learn how to stand up on the darn things, but once I did, I had an absolute ball. My arms were sooo tired but I kept trying and trying and the feeling when I cracked it was fantastic.

I'm hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew agreeing to write a book every 9 months but that's my next rather overwhelming challenge. But I'll do it or kill myself trying!

Helen said...

Congrats Jennifer have fun with him

Terrific post Kirsten
I am sure we have all been there taken on a challenge but really not sure you could do it, I was a bit like that when I was offered a course at work I knew it would be hard and thru the year I was doing it I had myself convinced that I would never pass the diploma I lost my Mum 8 months after starting it and I nearly gave up then but got thru it with flying colours and even became Tafe student of the year I got there it was a challenge but I am glad I pushed myself.

Have Fun
Helen

Carol said...

Jennifer Great catch...I can picture the GR dangling from your upside down hooks! ???!

My scariest momements accomplishment was when our Family went to Mesa Verde in Colorado...
I am scared stiff of heights...get whizzy looking over any balcony!
They (3 of them) didn't tell me we would have to climb up scary wooden ladders up the side of a cliff face (huge drop,HUGE 0000's of feet)

Well I managed it...death grip on them there ladders...white knuckles,focus on the wood in front..do not speak to me while I do this stuff!!!
DH bought me a beautiful Native Indian necklace for my bravery! Great memory of the achievement though!
Cheers Carol

Carol said...

Sorry Kirstan
...I forgot to say Wonderful Post to bring back these memories!
Does any one ever get over the fear of heights/falling from heights?
I love flying in planes...got the feet on the floor there, no worries!

Cheers Carol

PJ said...

Carol, I'm the same as you - terrified of open heights but love to fly. Go figure. A major height accomplishment for me was going to the Top of the Rock open observation deck in NYC last year. I was scared to death but I did it and was so proud of myself!

PJ said...

Have fun with the rooster, Jennifer!

Great topic, Kirsten. I enjoyed a 25+ year successful career in banking but every darn time I was promoted to a new position within the company I'd suffer a crisis of confidence. I was always sure I wouldn't be able to handle the job. Fortunately, I had a husband who was my biggest cheerleader and who had enough confidence in me to make up for my own lack of confidence. Of course, by the end of the first week in the new position I would be in love with the new job and sailing along with all the confidence necessary to do a great job. I guess I just needed to get over those initial jitters and fears. It's often scary to take that first step into the unknown but I'm very grateful I did. I would have missed out on so many fantastic experiences had I been unable to do so.

Kirsten said...

Good morning everyone! Your posts are just wonderful so far. I hope I have time to respond to everyone before I have to rush off to work. You are inspiring me this morning. Thank you so much.

Kirsten said...

jennifer, way to go with the GR!! And I hope the thing that cannot be named that you were in the middle of when you posted last night is working out for you. :-) I admit, I am the same way about jinxing things -- I still fear telling people about my book deal. I guess it won't seem real until I'm holding an actual book in my hands with my name on it. I will be sending powerful "you can do it" vibes your way!!

Kirsten said...

Jo, you are absolutely right. This is a huge one for writers. I think my biggest crisis of confidence in my writing came around the 2007 GH when I DIDN'T final with either my historical or my YA. That was a really deep pit to climb out of.

You have got to have this "belief in yourself" thing down to keep revising and keep submitting. And I can imagine Dr. Big is a great support for you to do that!!

Kirsten said...

Thanks Trish, and good luck to you with revisions on your YA. Don't you wish it got easier? I think from the outside, it seems once you sell, you should no longer experience these crises. You should just KNOW you're a good writer and not have to double-think yourself. Ha!

Funny how you get to climb a new rock with every book, isn't it?

Oh, but now I'm warming up to my analogy -- because I always said, if you don't fall, you aren't picking a hard enough route. So each book should challenge you more, right? Each book should send you back down that path of insecurity and doubt as you try something harder than you've ever done and make you wonder if you can do it.

Wow. That's a little depressing. It really isn't ever going to get easier!! ;-)

Kirsten said...

Jane, what a lovely post -- did you actually leave one job without having a new one, or did you already have the new one when you left? Either way, it's an amazing leap. I changed jobs about a year and a half ago and it was an incredibly hard decision. Leaving what you know (but isn't perfect) for what you don't know (and could be worse!) is a huge jump. Very much like a rope course challenge called the "pamper pole" (I have no idea how it got this name--they said it had something to do with checking you pants when you were done. *g*). Anyway, you'd climb to the top of a very tall telephone pole, hoist yourself onto a tiny platform, and jump off in the general direction of a bell.

It was terrifying beyond belief. Because you just had to jump. And that's what you did when you left your job. You just jumped.

So? Did it work out? Were you happy with the new job?

Kirsten said...

Suz, what an amazing story. I guess that's why I could never be a nurse. You have got to have an amazing level of confidence and emotional strength to deal with that every day. Wow.

How does writing compare to that? Does it seem harder, or easier, to sit down at the computer after such gut-wrenching days at work?

Kirsten said...

Oh Elyssa, I wish I could give you a big hugs and my best ropes course "keep trying, you can do it!" yell. (Not while I was hugging you. That would probably hurt your ears.)

I mentioned above that I fell deep into the Pit of Despair when I didn't final with either YA or historical ms in the 2007 GH. (Thanks to Susan S for pulling me out!) I'd also piled up an impressive 100+ rejections for three books. I sold soon after that. My learning from then and now is that you have to keep improving. I'm still trying to figure out how to write. Send things out, submit, but keep writing, keep reading, keep analyzing your own work and other people's. Judge contests. Do workshops. Write something you haven't written before--try a short story or a different genre. Sometimes it's when you shake things up that you learn the most.

We're all here for you -- whenever you start going crazy waiting for those responses, just give us a shout. We'll send cyber hugs and chocolate your way!!

Kirsten said...

Hi christine! Your fans will definitely appreciate seeing more of your books on the shelf, so I am very glad you agreed to step up the production schedule. But I know it is totally crazy to try to do that while you're also raising little ones, traveling, and trying to keep a little bit of your sanity intact. Big hugs to you! :-)

Oh, and the water skiing sounds fun. I've never done it, but I bet it's a blast. It would probably take me much more than half a day to learn to stand up. I tried windsurfing once and it was a TOTAL DISASTER. That's one time you say, "you know what? I really can't do this! And it's okay!" :-)

Kirsten said...

Helen, what an amazing story! Tafe Student of the year sounds very impressive. Can you explain what Tafe is? I tried to google it but couldn't quite figure it out. Is that the name of the college?

The amazing thing is that you did this while taking care of the family and dealing with your own grief. That's a very special accomplishment. No wonder you're proud of it. :-) I would be too!

Kirsten said...

Carol, what a wonderful story, and I'm so glad to remind you of it! :-) I think everyone has some fear of heights in them. Really, it wouldn't be very safe NOT to worry about heights, would it? The great thing about fear is what you do with it. I talk to my kids a lot about what bravery is. It isn't not being scared -- it's being scared, and doing the scary things anyway.

Sounds like you were very brave out there, and got a beautiful necklace to show for it. I think sometimes we need these tangible reminders of a great accomplishment.

BTW, I love your description of the white knuckles, staring at the wood, not talking. Focusing on the step you're taking and not what comes next can really help. I'm trying to do that now with my revisions. Take one step at a time. Not think about tomorrow or the next chapter. Just focus on the page in front of me.

Thanks for sharing your story with us! :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Jennifer! Keep him busy and out of trouble!

Very inspirational post, Kirsten. If you don't fall, you aren't trying hard enough. That is SO true of most things in life!

You all amaze me with the incredible things you do, especially those of you with kids! Talk about the ultimate fall and get back up activity!

I remember a reporter from a German paper standing backstage during a performance and saying "You people don't get nervous at all, do you?" We laughed so loud I was afraid the audience was going to hear us! PLEASE! Every singer I know is a bundle of nerves and neuroses! We are TERRIFIED right up to the moment we step on that stage!

And I have been mountain climbing in the Alps and that was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life! I can't tell you how many times I thought and said "I can't do this!" Fortunately the two German guys who took me climbing would not let me quit!

The same with hang gliding. A friend and I did it on a dare and that last minute before I stepped off that cliff was EEEEEEEEEEEK!

But you know the scariest thing I have ever done? Submit a manuscript to an editor who requested it! And then once I got the rejection letter the scariest thing I did was say "Okay, how can I make this better next time?" Seems simple, right? It isn't, but if I want to make it in this business I have to keep trying and I have no doubt I will keep falling. I just have to keep getting up!

Kirsten said...

PJ, what a lovely response -- you've said all the things I really believe. You need a dear friend/love to help bring you through those rough patches, you need to make that leap so you can have the experiences that make life richer and fuller on the other end, and yes, you're going to go through those jitters every time you make a big change, but that's good. Change is good, a little doubt and challenge is good, and in the end, we feel better for having had the experience.

And woohooo to you for getting to the top of the observation deck in NYC!!! I don't know the building you're talking about (I don't know the city at all) but I bet it's tall and scary! :-)

Kirsten said...

Louisa, your post was so funny because I have to admit, I would have thought the same thing as that reporter -- surely you singers know you're fabulous! Surely you don't get nervous! Ha! Isn't that funny.

Yes, submitting is terrifying, but I did find those rejection letters got a little easier. Not easy, mind you, but at least you got more used to the process. Getting two or three on the same day was a bit of a bummer, though. I did that a few times.

Oh, and huge sigh for your mountain climbing in the Alps! That sounds so beautiful. I would love to do that. You have had such incredible experiences in your life, and have so many wonderful memories.

jo robertson said...

Jennifer!!!??? What the heck?? You can't throw that out there and leave us dangling, girl!

Give it up!

jo robertson said...

Elyssa, I think waiting is the hardest part -- it's like being pregnant for 60 months LOL!

M. said...

I think one of the biggest 'I can't do this, I can't do this' but forcing myself to do it anyhow (because, hey, when you have no other choice, it's amazing what you can do!)moments was standing on stage as a shaky-kneed, terrified teaching assistant in front of 100+ first year psychology students to give a tutorial. I felt like they were all out for my blood. Having already spent the money from my first (measly) paycheck, I couldn't decide the job was not for me after all, and suffered all the way through that half hour. And at the end, an amazing thing happened: half a dozen students approached me with earnest questions, as if they were convinced I would know the answers. And,miracle, I did. Felt great.

PJ said...

Kirsten, Top of the Rock is the observation deck on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center. More than a little scary (for someone who doesn't even like climbing a stepladder) but absolutely incredible views!

http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/history/Default.aspx

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - wonderful post. I've always wanted to do a ropes course. (AT least until I read about the pamper pole!!!! Not so sure now *g*) My daughter did one in fifth grade. Great exercise for those about to leap into middle school.

Jennifer - be sure to let us know about the project that can't be named when you can so we can cheer you on to success. You can do this!

Jane - I think changing jobs is the hardest leap of faith there is. That and raising kids. I think every mother must at some point think they can't be the incredible perfect mother they want to be. Good for you for the jump.

I've been a CPA longer than I've been writing. It's an occupation based on rules and regulations for everything. There are checklists to verify that everything has been included in the financial statements that needs to be there. Guidebooks on how to calculate amounts to go on tax returns. The industry goal is to make sure everyone does things in pretty much the exact same way.

Now jump to a writer's world where success is often measured by the size of the rejection pile. Writers are encouraged to be (gasp!) unique and individual. There are no checklists that can lead you to publication. Every book is a leap of faith (and I love it!)

flchen1 said...

Very good topic, Kirsten! I've never tried climbing or one of those rope courses--I'm a big fraidy cat! (I have made myself climb ladders and did some theatrical lighting work in college in one of those attempts to face down the fear ;p)

One fall-down moment I still remember was a piano recital when I was in junior high. I was not a joyful piano student and had learned most of those pieces by playing them about a billion times until your muscles vaguely know where to go even though your brain has no idea... and I totally get stage fright and loathe being in front of people so, partway through the piece, with my hands and feet trembling from the adrenaline and anxiety, my brain/hands have a quick disconnect moment--just long enough to derail the train, so to speak. I sat there, frozen, for what felt like an eternity, but what was probably more like thirty seconds, before plunging in somewhere else in the piece and barreling to the end. Worst performance ever.

My piano teacher made me do it again at another recital the weekend after. I think the train stayed on the track that time.

Aack. Is it any wonder I'm not a concert pianist today? ;)

Congrats on the GR, Jennifer!

Cassondra said...

Kirten, what a GREAT post! I have done those jobs too--teaching high ropes courses and putting people through simulated life challenges. It's very rewarding work. Especially seeing people accomplish things they were afraid of.

I think that's the big thing for me. Fear almost never has a positive outcome. It's amazing what we can do if we are able to beat the fear down. I've had people who were so afraid of everything that they couldn't climb a three foot stepladder--but when they were done, they had been maybe twelve feet off the ground--not nearly as high as the course went, but for them, it was a MAJOR accomplishment, and they walked taller and decided that next time, they'd go fourteen feet up.

I find that I can push my way through that sort of physical fear and challenge much more easily than I can push my way through believing in myself and my writing. That may be the hardest challenge of all because it's SO LONG before a writer gets positive affirmation of the value of the work.

I truly believe that every challenge you face and overcome helps you to overcome the next one more easily. Even if they're not the same sort of life issue. Confidence is a good word for it. To come away with "I can do that, so I can do THIS too."

Cassondra said...

Jennifer, congrats on the rooster. I think it's a sign--a good omen, that rooster. Your project will be brilliant!

Cassondra said...

Jane said:

I didn't know if I had what it takes to get another job where I would be more content. I had to tell myself that I might regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't take a chance and try.

Oh Jane! I'm dealing with this right now. How cool that you put this here. I'm so glad you took the leap. It's always encouraging to me to see another person succeed at something I want to do.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

I lost my Mum 8 months after starting it and I nearly gave up then but got thru it with flying colours and even became Tafe student of the year I got there it was a challenge but I am glad I pushed myself.

Helen this is a great story! And didn't you feel WONDERFUL when you got it done. Grief is a powerful thing and it's so hard to push through that depression to keep going. Even though you were grieving, you were able to do something really hard. I'm so impressed with you!

Nancy said...

Kirsten, great post. Confidence is important isn't it? Going ahead without it requires a certain level of courage. And faking it can work almost as well as actually having it, at least in dealing with other people.

Trying and failing? I took riding lessons for a while. One evening, our instructor left us alone in the paddock while she showed a new client around, and my horse decided the adjacent paddock, which had recently housed mares waiting to be bred, was really interesting. Every time we went down that way, he picked up the pace and stuck his nose over the fence.

I knew I couldn't stay on if he decided to jump it. He was also banging my leg against the boards periodically, and I didn't have the physical strength to stop him. However, I knew--thanks to Dick Francis--that horses could sense fear, so I tried to stay calm and maintain and upright posture until our instructor finally returned.

I felt as if I'd come up really short by not being able to control him, and my fear had me cold once I touched the ground. She put me on a gentler horse but with western gear instead of the English I'd been using, which meant the reins worked differently. By the end of the evening, I was done with horses.

The instructor persuaded me to come go for a trail ride on yet another horse, and that was nice. I enjoyed being out in the woods on a pleasant day. As we started down one branch of the trail, though, the horse started balking. She wanted to go back to the barn for dinner. This disagreement occurred right by the manure pile from the mucking out, and I remember thinking, I am not going in that pile. I got her under control and down the trail, and my instructor pointed out to me that I'd done well. I felt pleased but still decided I'd had enough.

Now, of course, as Jo points out, I'm in that suspended-between-success-and-failure submission process. In the immortal words of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart (from Galaxy Quest for those who aren't SF geeks), "Never give up, never surrender." A particular ms. may not sell, but only when we do have we ultimately failed.

Nancy said...

And I never did master the spin sidekick, alas.

Cassondra said...

Carol said:

Does any one ever get over the fear of heights/falling from heights?

Carol you've brought up something really interesting. The fear of heights and the fear of falling are actually two different fears. I don't have a fear of heights, but I DO have the fear of falling. (Especially backwards, and I don't know why backwards is such a huge problem for me.)

I learned teaching ropes courses that the fear of falling is very nearly universal. But I've encountered a few people who have NO fear of falling. My husband is one of those. He's just not afraid of it. Maybe something to do with being a paratrooper, but I don't think so. He's always been able to work at height without fear of falling. It's very strange when you encounter someone like that.

And we had interesting ways of challenging those people. "Okay, here's your partner who will take care of you while you're 40 feet in the air. Now here's a blindfold. Put it on."

Then it became a lesson in trusting someone ELSE rather than your own abilities. (evil grin) Easy for me to say. Harder to do.

Cassondra said...

flchen said:

I sat there, frozen, for what felt like an eternity, but what was probably more like thirty seconds, before plunging in somewhere else in the piece and barreling to the end. Worst performance ever.

My piano teacher made me do it again at another recital the weekend after. I think the train stayed on the track that time.


Ooooo. OUCH. Been there, felt THAT awful panic. I don't know one stage performer who hasn't frozen at least once. You did great Flchen, finding a place to start and just going on.

And I know you hated your teacher for making you "get back on the horse," but good for her. If you'd let that fear stop you from doing it again, you'd be afraid on stage forever. The fear would have won. The second time you did it and defeated that. High Five to YOU!

Cassondra said...

Louisa said:

But you know the scariest thing I have ever done? Submit a manuscript to an editor who requested it! And then once I got the rejection letter the scariest thing I did was say "Okay, how can I make this better next time?" Seems simple, right? It isn't, but if I want to make it in this business I have to keep trying and I have no doubt I will keep falling. I just have to keep getting up!

And all the people said Amen.

Louisa, when Aunty Cindy is not in the lair, you're like a whole other Chief Encouragement Officer. (Did y'all know that's Aunty Cindy's job in the lair? She carries that riding crop and snaps it and keeps us all going.)
CEO--Chief Encouragement Officer.

Cassondra said...

elyssa said:

feel as if I've been hit by a big crisis of confidence lately. It could be a lot of things piling up, and I know it'll pass.... But, jeez, I wish it would pass a lot sooner.

Oh, man, elyssa you are so singing my song right now girlfriend.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

And I never did master the spin sidekick, alas.

Me neither Nancy. Spinning kicks are hard. :0/

catslady said...

The first job interview I went on asked me what I'd do if I didn't get the job and I said probably go on in my schooling. Well I guess they figured they'd wait until I did that lol. That is what I did and maybe it was for the better but I always wonder because it seemed like a fantastic job.

flchen1 said...

Thanks, Cassondra--even though I hated it then, I knew it was the right thing to do. But I still hated it and I still hate being in the spotlight today.

And I think I probably have both the fear of heights and the fear of falling--I'm not sure I can separate them. Or is it the fear of falling overwhelming me so I can't think of anything but the fear?

Anyway, glad to have my feet firmly on the ground, so to speak ;)

terrio said...

I love this line:
“if you don’t fall, you aren’t trying hard enough. You haven’t picked the right route.”

My life seems to be me stepping off one figurative ledge after another. And as soon as that voice in my head says, "I can't do this," something kicks in and pushes me forward. Not sure what it is, but I'm trying very hard to instill it in my daughter. She's a giant fraidy-cat (like her father) so getting some guts in her is my goal.

I have hit bottom one time. Didn't have any fight left in me but somehow got out of bed everyday. Then God sent me an angel and a real live miracle and life has been better ever since. Sometimes having faith is the most important ingredient. Whether in yourself or a higher power or whatever, you have to have faith.

Cassondra said...

Terrio said:

I have hit bottom one time. Didn't have any fight left in me but somehow got out of bed everyday. Then God sent me an angel and a real live miracle and life has been better ever since. Sometimes having faith is the most important ingredient. Whether in yourself or a higher power or whatever, you have to have faith.

This is scary profound. And how cool that you recognized that angel and the miracle for what it was. I've seen people look a real live miracle in the face and start trying to figure out ways around it--like they're trying to "undo" the miracle and stay where they are. They just can't believe it's real. Heck, I've very nearly done that myself at times.

And it's really powerful that you are striving to help your daughter be less afraid. That might be one of the best gifts you can ever give her. Especially for a young girl in the world today. Gotta have guts to make it.

Eva S said...

Congrats Jennifer!
I think my biggest challenge was when my youngest daughter at 16 found some not-so-great friends with drugproblems, we had a hard time and sometimes I nearly gave up. I really thought I'd failed as a parent...

But thanks to family, school and better friends we all got through it, now she has a great job and a new boyfriend.

I love great views but I'm afraid of heights, no climbing for me. And I'm afraid of flying too...

p226 said...

Yeah. I've tried something and failed. In fact, I just hit the ground flat on my back a couple of days ago.

I'm laying there gazing up at the dizzying heights of the metaphorical wall from which I just fell. My body's numb. My throat's dry. And I'm wondering what comes next. For the moment, I'm paralyzed. So I can't answer the last half of your question.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hey, Kirsten--

Great topic, as always. I immediately thought of two things--delivering a baby & writing a book. Both things I wanted to do, both things that, when faced with the realities of what it would take to get 'er done, seemed ridiculous & impossible.

I have now done both, a couple times. And for my money the only way from no way to yay me is one second, or one word, at a time. Don't worry about the big picture. Take it breath by breath. You'll get there.

jo robertson said...

Jane, I think you're so right. The hardest part is convincing yourself you can do it. And then taking that first step.

jo robertson said...

What wonderful stories you tell, Louisa! You've done just about everything, haven't you? Very admirable.

M, that's an amazing story and so true of teaching. It's such a gratifying and rewarding job.

jo robertson said...

Kirsten and Cassondra, I admire both of you for teaching the ropes courses. I've never done it myself, but seen it work for other people. It's amazing!

Helen said...

Kirsten
TAFE it is a learning institute here in Australia not a university but somewhere in between school and uni they teach lots of things you can get your certificates and diplomas for a lot of careers from motor mechanic chef business degrees hairdressing so many opportunities and they cater for all ages.
Cassondra
Yes it was a wonderful feeling when I finished and everytime I look at the diploma I know I did it for Mum as well, she was impressed with me doing it in the first place.
Have Fun
Helen

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Kirsten!

Writing is a different kind of challenge, that's for sure. Working through the rough spots, making the story creative and cohesive, characters compelling. But it's such an outlet for me, I don't think I could stop if I wanted to. The rejections certainly haven't done that, at all.

Denise Rossetti said...

Hi there, Kirsten - and Banditas! Sorry, I haven't been around. I'm submerged under a big scary deadline, but htis post has brought me out of the woodwork.

I'm so inspired by you all. THANKS YOU!

My problem is a more pervasive one. You know how we all have mental habits, patterns of thought, "stories" we tell ourselves about ourselves every single day? Mine is, "I can't cope, I'll never be able to do that."

Happens every damn time I'm confronted with some new challenge.

And you know what? It's dumb, and wrong. Because I always do manage to do it. ALWAYS. Teach, write, speak in public, create a marriage and two beautiful human beings, organise projects etc etc

If anyone has the secret on how to turn off the "can't do it" song in my head, I'd be eternally grateful. It's singing to me right now, with this book. *sigh*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT Post, Kirsten!

I was having a MAJOR crisis yesterday in the midst of all our partying. I had NOT received my author copies and had received word that my books had not made it to the warehouse with the others. ACK!!!!

Fortunately, my author copies arrived about an hour ago, and I'm now confident that at least SOME stores will have them...

Oh, and I definitely didn't think we could get the Lair cleaned up after the blow out we had yesterday. :-P How could I have ever doubted our faithful Cabana boys and gladiators?!!? Not to mention Sven and Lars. GREAT JOB Guys! There are only a few stains on the paneling in the foyer.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Cassondra said: "(Did y'all know that's Aunty Cindy's job in the lair? She carries that riding crop and snaps it and keeps us all going.)
CEO--Chief Encouragement Officer."

AWWWW! Thanx Cassondra, but it's easy to be encouraging to a GREAT bunch like the Banditas, not to mention our wonderful Bandita Buddies. I can't tell you what a thrill it is to be associated with all y'all!

AC

Virginia said...

Well I will be the first person to tell you I like self confidence. I am really bad for this.I went back to school after 30 years and didn't think I could do it. I will have to say it was a lot of work but I made it through just fine, only problem is I don't like the job I trained for, but I guess education is never wasted.

jo robertson said...

Yay on the author copies arriving in time for your Launch Party, Aunty Cindy! My copy just mailed from Amazon, so they're sending them out apparently.

And yes, the boys did quite a nice job of cleaning up the Lair, didn't they?

Virginia, I really believe all education is important to personal growth, but it must be hard to work hard training for a job you don't really care for.

Carol said...

P226...please tell us more!

Louisa...please tell us your hardest part/aria? and your Favourite?

flchen... please tell us your hardest piece/sonata/?

Cheers Carol

Cassondra said...

Denise said:
If anyone has the secret on how to turn off the "can't do it" song in my head, I'd be eternally grateful. It's singing to me right now, with this book. *sigh*

Oh,Denise, Jeanne has some GREAT tools for doing that. Exercises you can do to turn the negative self talk, gradually, into positive. I'll tell her you were asking. I think she's in the cave at the moment, but maybe you two can email or something if she doesn't get to the blog today.

It's so good to see you out and about M'dear.

flchen1 said...

Carol, I think that recital was with a Mozart sonata (can't remember which one now--#10?) When I finally stopped taking lessons, I was up to Chopin Etudes. When I took a look at one of them recently, I was pretty surprised--I definitely couldn't play one today!

Kirsten said...

m, congratulations on surviving that first day of teaching! what a wonderful story and what a great memory of mastering all that information and being able to be the mentor for your students. I know how terrifying it can be to stand up in front of a group of students (I've tried to teach lawyers a few times...shudder...) and it was never easy, but always rewarding. I hope you're still finding a way to teach and have that connection with students.

Kirsten said...

donna, i love the idea that every book is a leap of faith -- that's so true. And writing is a leap in so many different ways. Emotional, financial, sometimes even physical, depending on how seriously you take your research! I'm writing my sixth book, and I'm amazed that 1) it never gets easier; and 2) the process is different every time. It's like finding a new route up the same rock. Different, but the same.

Kirsten said...

Fedora, feet firmly on the ground or not, doing that recital sounds like a real leap of faith for you! Very impressive, and impressive that you can look back on it and know that even though it was a pretty horrible experience, it was a good thing to do.

Kinda like eating spinach. ;-)

But don't tell your piano teacher I said that.

Kirsten said...

Cassondra, thanks for chatting with everyone and keeping the conversation going while I was at work all day!

You know, it's funny you say that about fear not being a good learning tool for you, because it's always much more fun to put other people through a challenge course than to do it yourself. I think we instructors can sometimes forget how real that fear is, or underestimate how it feels to be scared, because we haven't pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones for so long. It's like, you are sending OTHER people out of their comfort zones all day, while you're dangling around in your harness, happy as can be, and you forget what it's like to be scared.

So writing is good. It's good to be scared and challenged. But you need the reward too. You need the feedback and the pat on the back and having someone say -- wow, you rock. And you do. I actually like blogging for that reason. Just think about how deeply people respond to your blogs, Cassondra. You are a very powerful writer. I have no doubt about that. And someday soon, and editor will tell you that as well. I have no doubt about that, either.

Kirsten said...

Nancy, that's a great story, and you worked so hard to get back on that horse and master your fear and master him! Horses are INCREDIBLE at picking up on fear or even just hesitation in their riders. I led a horsepacking trip once and we had an above the knee amputee on the trip who was amazing. She could stick a horse like you cannot imagine. There was also an able-bodied young woman who was scared of her horse. Not terrified, just not confident. Well, one day we got into a bee's nest, and both of their horses went crazy. But the amputee? She wrestled her horse back under control in a few seconds flat. The able-bodied girl? She was thrown in a second. It wasn't even their riding skills, though the amputee was more experienced. It was their confidence. Their sense of control. One knew she could control her thousand pounds of horse, the other knew she could not.

Kirsten said...

Catslady, LOL on the interview question! I'm sure getting a chance to go back to school was for the best, but that's a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It's interesting to think where you'd be if you had gotten that job...have you seen the moving Sliding Doors? It's so interesting to wonder if our lives would really be different, or if there's some destiny calling us, and we'd end up in the same place no matter what happens.

Kirsten said...

Terrio, I'm glad my rock climbing slogan speaks to you -- your story about faith really speaks to me! And I love the idea of trying to install that toughness in your daughter. I'm hoping to do that for my daughter as well.

Kirsten said...

eva, thanks for sharing your story about your daughter. I think that's every parent's greatest fear, that your child will go a direction you can't control, and you'll watch from the sidelines, helpless to someone else's influences. I think the best we can do as parents is love them, provide them with structure and support, and be there to guide them as best we can through the rough patches. Some lessons they have to learn on their own--but you sure hope you can help them find their way to success.

Kirsten said...

p226, do tell more about this metaphoric wall! We are all waiting...and hoping you didn't give yourself a metaphoric concussion!

Kirsten said...

Susan, thanks for the reminder. One word, one breath...I will keep telling myself that when I sit down to the keyboard tomorrow to work on my revisions. Keep breathing...

hee hee hee hooooooo

hee hee hee hooooooo

Kirsten said...

Oh, Denise! Welcome back to the Lair, stranger! I wish we had a theme song, so we could use it to replace that icky song in your head right now.

Hmmm...

Okay, see if you can find the song "Here to There," by Sonya Kitchell. It's kind of a traveling song.

But anyway, YOU CAN DO IT!! So there. I'm here to say it anytime you need me, doll. I haven't quite figured out how to turn off the "I can't" voices in my head, but I think Susan had the right idea -- one word, one breath at a time.

Keep breathing, keep writing.

And check in and let us know how it's going. We'll be thinking of you.

Kirsten said...

AC, I'm so glad your party was completed, even if a bit late, with those author copies! And the Lair is squeaky clean today. Very impressive. :-)

And you are such a fantastic cheerleader and CEO for the rest of us. It may sound crazy, but we need that "you can do it" and hug and pat on the back. Darn it, a girl needs to feel the love. Once you feel the love, you really can accomplish more. I believe that. Thanks for all the love AC!

Kirsten said...

Virginia, congratulations on going back and finishing school--that's not easy. and the great thing is that now that you have the education and experience at the job, it will always be easier to go back and try something different. i read somewhere that in the US, people change careers an average of 6 times in their life. Careers! That's amazing to me. So you probably have just gotten started on your career list!

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Cassondra! Comparing me in any way to the fabulous Aunty Cindy is truly a compliment! And she is right. This is SUCH a great group because whatever encouragement I come up with comes back to me 100 fold.

Carol, the hardest part I have ever performed as far as nailing it every time is the Queen of the Night from Mozart's Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute). Her aria, Der Holle Rache, has a series of F's above high C that are TERRIFYING!! Especially when you KNOW the audience is sitting there thinking "Will she hit them or will she crash and burn?"

I was VERY, VERY lucky in performance! There were some rehearsals though were I scared the crap out of the director because I hit more than I missed! EEEEK!

I think my favorite role roles were Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Zerlina was not really a lead part. She has one really cute aria, but she is such a ditzy flirt to play!!

Lucia, on the other hand, is a tough role to play as the character is in the process of going mad in the opera. My favorite of her arias is actually called "The Mad Scene" by most people. It is Il dolce suono .... Ardon gli incensi... and it happens after our heroine has murdered her new husband on their wedding night and comes downstairs to the wedding ball to go nuts. If you have ever seen the movie THE FIFTH ELEMENT - the opera singer sings it right before she gets shot and all hell breaks loose.

Fedora, I feel your pain. I had been singing Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion for five years when I sang it for an important audition and COMPLETELY forgot a phrase!! I just waited for the next phrase to come along and jumped on that one. MORTIFIED!!

Jane said...

Kirsten, I did quit my job without having another one lined up. Not having a steady paycheck is a scary thing, but at the same time I was happier because I wasn't doing something I totally hated.

Nathalie said...

I just saw Deborah's blog...

Thanks for the alternative post... that was quick!