Destined Courage

Thelma and Louise was started because of one reason and one reason only- to learn from others how they overcome their fears with the hopes to overcome my own. Fear is debilitating for many and it has been especially debilitating for me. Have you ever ignored your vulnerabilities completely with the hopes they would vanish? Have you ever been so afraid to jump- you stay close to home hoping no one ever notices what you are really trying to face everyday- which is yourself and all the self that comes along with the fears that live in your head? That has been me for a long time. Yes, many people believe that I am this fearless chick who can put myself out there with out any fear at all, but really I am only putting myself “out there” with the attempt to overcome my deep-rooted fear. Every time I sing in public or write a heart-wrenching essay or create a moving film that has my heart and soul in the story exposing my truth, I am attempting to stare down my fear. I wish I wasn’t so afraid of what lies beneath. I wish I could stare at it and slap it and say “Hey fear, get the F outta here!” But the truth is I lie awake at night truly afraid of living my truth and then force myself to do it anyway every morning, just so one day I might wake up unafraid- so far that hasn’t happened yet. I still wake up afraid like a sissy girl on a handball court playing opposite a 4th grade bully named Skeeter. In this case the bully is my fear.

About five years ago I started writing a book that exposed my fears and myself in ways I never imagined existed. I guess I wanted to really look at my narrative and get over my fear- really get over all of it. But after writing the whole damn thing, I didn’t become more courageous- nope. I became more afraid. Afraid of what would happen if anyone read it, afraid of how I would be judged, afraid of how certain people would take it, afraid of my own story and how I would live in this world knowing other people learned my full narrative- learned the full me- learned my full fears. Oh Dear G-d that fear is paralyzing! S#*!!

I have re-written my book several times over. I’ve written the clean version that my mother would be proud of, the uglier version that was full of my “wounded” self, and then I finally wrote the honest version. With all the F-bombs I use in my everyday life. Yes I have a potty mouth. There I said it. (I’m already feeling a little less afraid-.)

Every time I finish a rewrite I am left so empty and so afraid to part with my story, even though I know it will one day benefit so many people that I close the book and slip into a state of unrest filled with fear and unusual turmoil.

The book’s main theme is how to face fear and how to get over fear to meet my spirit, and yet here I am still remaining fearful of the very story I am hoping will make others fearless.

As a result of this fear, I had decided to take a break from the book and from my own narrative for a while to truly study how other people have stared down their own fears by allowing them to expose their personal fears with Thelma & Louise. For many of our interviewees this is the first time they say their truth out loud and I have found inspiration in watching how exposing their fears on a format as public as this one has literally changed their lives moving forward. The hope was that by learning from others how they become fearless, I would finally get the nerve to release my own book, my own narrative- no matter how many effing fears I have to kick down in order to get it done.

With that said, please meet the fearless Bea Youngs.

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I am truly moved and amazed by women who follow their heart. I am even more fascinated by women who follow their heart after being wounded. That is what I call a warrior. And by all virtues of warrior truth, Bea Youngs fits into the category of heroic women.

A wife and the mother of two children, Bea is not your typical housewife. Bea is the owner, coach and a key player of an all women’s paintball team known as “Destiny Paintball.”

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Destiny Paintball is the only all-female tournament paintball team that has won a national championship in a male-dominated sport. Let’s just say: they’re known to kick male team’s butts.As you might expect from a group of women in such an intense

sport, none of the players are wallflowers. But you might be surprised to learn they are a group of magnificently gorgeous women, all with varying backgrounds. Mothers, lawyers, nurses, body building champions – the team is made up of female stereotypes who are anything but stereotypical.

To meet or spend time with the owner of Destiny Paintball is to be in the presence of female power. But Bea didn’t truly discover her own power until a few years ago when her father was diagnosed with a very rare form of Parkinson’s Disease that left him completely paralyzed. Bea became his primary caregiver and after he died, he became a source of inspiration, which lead Bea to make the move to live out her dream as a professional competitive paintball player.

When Bea met her husband, Mike Paxson, he was her paintball coach and seven years younger, but that didn’t stop him from wooing her into his life.

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Together they literally “live for paintball.” Between her husband’s travels as a player in his 6th season with one of the world’s best Division I professional paintball teams, the Los Angeles Ironmen, the ’07 & ’08 World Cup Champions, and the ’07 and ’08 NXL Series Champions and Bea’s commitment to her team, they lead a very full life as pre-tournament paintball players and as the parents of two beautiful little girls, ages 5 and 2.1660609_717436861639673_1849858315_n 10801584_864380986945259_1323858170374093483_n

That’s right. Bea is not just the leader of a group of women warriors, but captain of her team at home. And she finds herself playing this “Mama-bear” role in all aspects of her life, for her little girls at home as well as her “girls” on the field. In one instance she may be encouraging her teammates to push themselves harder, physically, to improve their paintball performance and, later, she may be encouraging those same teammates to go back to school or find their personal path.

Ironically, in spite of the mother role she’s adopted for Destiny’s players, one of Bea’s biggest fears was about becoming a mother, herself.
“I waited a long time to have kids and I was afraid I wouldn’t be a good mom, but one day, literally while changing my own father’s diaper, while he was suffering with Parkinson’s, he teased me by saying- “See, look how good you are at this, you’ll be a great mom!”

And a GREAT mom she became. After getting to know Bea, I realized her skills on the paintball field paled in comparison to her skills at motherhood. After probing Bea a little bit more about the fears she faces today, It became evident that although at one time in her life her biggest fear was becoming a mom, now that she is a mom, her biggest fear is sharing the story of her youngest daughter, Diane.

But Bea knows the drill at Thelma & Louise- if you’re going to get on this blog to kick fear in the face- you’re going to go all the way with us. You’re going to Get real or go home.

After really connecting with Bea, her warrior side came through and she did decide to kick her “fear in the face” and come out with her latest story.

When Bea’s second daughter, Diane, was born two years ago, Bea never imagined she would face the most difficult battle of her life. Diane had been born with a hole in her heart and a rare condition known as Trisomy 14 Mosaic. Bea has been reluctant to share this news with certain family members out of fear of how they might react. By the time Diane was a year old, she had undergone five surgeries, including PDA Stent Surgery, Feeding Tube Surgery, Open Heart Surgery, Cleft Palate Surgery and Ear Tube Surgery.

When I probed Bea to share her fears surrounding her daughter’s condition, she admitted that her fear was more in her own ability to perform as the mother her daughter needs her to be. Bea’s patience with her daughter and her determination to give Diane a good life has not just saved this little girl’s life, but has helped her become a little warrior, herself. Bea is not only Diane’s full time caregiver, handling her feedings through Diane’s feeding tube, and holding her hand in and out of her many surgeries, but she is her greatest fan and her strength as well. It’s not an easy task, Bea admits.

“I feel as though when I’m away from my family and with my paintball team, my paintball family, it helps to give me strength as a mom. I am a team player and mom to them and we have to play like a team to win. The same can apply to a family – I think I am super mom and can do it alone, but truth be told I have to depend on my husband and even my daughter and mother to help make our family win, which doesn’t come easy to me.”

The objective of a paintball game is to earn two points on the board in a certain period of time by grabbing the opposing team’s flag before the time is up. In order to meet that objective all the players must be strategizing like a perfect symmetrical dance. In other words, they need to come together like a team in order to win it. Ironically, Bea has been afraid to embrace this concept of teamwork in her life as a mother.

Her real fear was in her ability to create the “team” she needs in her own home so things run smoothly in the face of their new challenges. As Bea puts it so eloquently,

“Courage comes from having faith and staying on target daily, which I struggle with! Paintball doesn’t come easy for me. Mothering isn’t easy for me either, but I’m getting better at it. There are moments I do feel like giving up and running away! But… I keep reminding myself that we all have purpose. Having friends helps me — my girlfriends on my team, especially, and knowing that people depend on me (like my children). If I want them to be successful some day, I have to stay strong and true to doing that myself. Letting others in and trusting others to help me reach the goal is all part of staying on target. You can’t get courageous alone.”

Bea attributes much of her courage to her husband Mike, who seeks to alleviate Bea’s fears about their daughter.

“The only things it affected were her heart and palate. She’s going to be just fine,” Mike assures Bea.

They have each other to lean on and Mike plays a crucial part in Bea’s “home team,” that provides Bea with the support and encouragement she is so accustomed to giving to others.

That was exactly what I needed to hear. You really can’t get courageous alone. You really do need a team around you, helping you through the pitfalls and rooting you on when the chips are down.

To hear Bea’s story and see her courage on and off the field really helped me to realize that sometimes finding courage comes in the shape of a paintball warrior princess halfway across the globe, willing to hold your hand in the most frightening times of your own life. But I still wasn’t sure if meeting Bea was really the dose of courage I needed this week until she shared her purpose in life-

“I guess you could say my purpose is to inspire others struggling to overcome situations that seem unbearably challenging to get over. We only have this one life to live, and I want to help others. In doing so, it helps me to stay on course and fight my own battles.”

Suddenly it all made sense that I connected with this warrior woman online for nothing is by chance. I’ve met a woman across the country who seems to be holding the universe up with the same purpose I’ve always adhered to- it must be fate we met- maybe we were meant to meet- to become each other’s balance – to know when one is faltering there is another strong warrior on the other side of the country holding on tight so the other one won’t topple over.

After my Skype interview with Bea, she promised me a date on the paintball field and a karaoke night- because, of course, this woman is not just a wife, mother, paintball team owner, warrior player, but Oh- she’s a killer vocalist and DJ too!

Of course she is. Bea Youngs- I’ll play paintball with you and celebrate Karaoke style any time- Thanks for giving me the courage to open my manuscript today and get my ass out of my own head-

Love,

“Thelma”

Hit It-

th“Joy is the outcome of calm after the rain,

contentment after struggle,

laughter after tears,

it is the story after the storm,

it can’t always be felt within-

before a little salt has been applied first,

So Don’t be afraid to  break the glass-

’cause that’s when we boogie like its 1985.”- Chava T.

Pain

 

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“Fear can damage ones ability to have healthy faith.

Believing in a Higher Power was never meant to

stop us from having pain,

it was meant to help us cope with it upon its arrival .” -Chava T

Hypnotize Your Fear of Flying- Or Drink Tequila

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What is the meaning of life? I get to ask this question to others on a regular basis, especially since I’ve been traveling the world with my one woman show called “The Search”, where I share with others how to become explorers to the meaning of life through my original songs and short films.

For me, the meaning of life is to connect with others, for it is connection that centers us to connect to the self that mirrors our Higher Power. It is why I love to fly. I love meeting new people in the airport, on the plane, hearing their stories and being surprised by the dozens of answers I’ve received on what so many think the meaning of life is. My favorite answer up to date has been- “I believe the meaning of life is that we are aliens flown onto earth from another planet and our job is to wait for the spaceship to arrive and take us back to our real one.” See? Great material happens in airports. But I didn’t always LOVE flying. Infact I HATED IT- like worse than we all hate Mackelmore right now.

Lets discuss my fears with flying for a second, shall we?

I was about 25 years old when my husband and I jetted off to Miami for a little romantic getaway. As the flight took off, the plane hit about 13,000 feet when it suddenly began falling out of the sky. I am serious, we were taking a nose dive at four jillion miles per hour and my husband, in his calm voice, because he thinks he’s all that, and because he thinks it would be sexy to die in an airplane crash, mockingly yelled out “Grab your oxygen masks!” He was laughing, everyone else started wailing. There were no oxygen masks. But if there were, I would have smacked him upside the head with it. I of course was a wreck, screaming, crying, heaving, and picturing my body splatted on the ground with my wedding ring broken in three places. Suddenly the plane leveled off and the pilot got on the loud speaker and uttered these words no amount of therapy or alcohol will allow me to forget-

“Sorry Folks, it appears there was another plane in our path that did not come up on the radar, so we had no choice but to drop 6,000 feet to dodge it.”

WTF? Are you serious? What the hell was going on in air traffic control? What?? Were they redecorating their bedroom, ordering pizza during a Zombie attack, smelling their armpits? What exactly would have been the reason another AIRPLANE failed to come up on our radar? SO it was at that moment I decided never to trust air traffic control again. This made flying very unbearable. Unless I was willing to spend an extra few hundred bucks on alcoholic beverages like mojitos, bloody maries, pisco sours or Cuba Libres, I needed to get my shit together if I was going to travel.

I had tried everything. But every time I’d get near an airport that sinking feeling would come over me, like mad anxiety that landed me with the runs, profuse sweating and an enormous need to search for airplane personnel so they could storyboard their four thousand flights they’ve taken without incident. I tried Xanax and sleeping aids, which helped once I got on the flight, but it was the several hours before that was really bad. I mean you can’t exactly be a walking sleeping zombie while you pack for New York, check in to the airport, or search for your gate.

Then 9-11 happened, and well I had resigned myself to never really fly again. Cause now it wasn’t just air traffic control I couldn’t trust, it was passengers, their luggage AND their shoes. I was so screwed because I really loved to travel and see new places and of course meet new people but my fear had crippled me.

It wasn’t until the amazing fateful night my husband and I went to our kid’s annual school gala that all of it changed forever. It was in this really swanky nightclub. The lights were really dim, the tequila was free and my friend decided to push me on the stage and volunteer me to be hypnotized by the worst hypnotist they hired to entertain all of the parents. Of course, I wasn’t worried, because no one has ever been able to hypnotize me before. Who cares that the room was filled with clergy, teachers and parents- I’d be safe all I had to do was play a long. Did I mention the lights were dim and I had downed a few shots of tequila? Ya- so apparently if they were giving out Oscars for best hypnotized volunteer, I would have won it. Only I wasn’t acting, I was REALLY under the hypnotist’s trance.  I honestly don’t remember much from that evening, but I am told I danced like Lady Gaga, stole someone’s red scarf and spoke like an Alien. When I awoke from my deep sleep, the very sleep that the hypnotist mentioned he had never seen anyone respond as well as I had, I was ONE HOT MESS. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and frustration and I felt a little nauseous too. My husband was really annoyed. “Look I brought my wife here to have a good time, if I wanted her to go home pissed off, I would do that to her myself, fix her.” So in an effort to make me feel at peace, and so that he would avoid getting slugged by Robbie, the hypnotist asked me if there was anything I would really like to be fixed in my psyche. To which I said- OH do you have a few months? To which he then said, no we have 5 minutes. So I chose the one fear that had crippled

 

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my traveling, the fear of flying. He put me under in a trance and when I awoke all I felt was relaxed and really thirsty. He swore that I would never ever be afraid to fly again. He told me that not only would I never be afraid, I’d actually be excited to get to the airport. And he also assured me that I’d never get the runs at the check in line again. Clearly he was an idiot.

Of course I didn’t believe him. ‘Cause I don’t trust air traffic control, passengers, luggage and now hypnotists.

But about a month later I was invited to accompany a friend who was seriously afraid of flying to San Francisco. She was so scared she promised me she’d pack enough Xanax to feed us both and four elephants. She was convinced going with another fearful person would make her less afraid. Something about two negatives equaling a positive. I pulled up to the airport and she kept checking in with me- “How are you feeling? Do you have to go to the bathroom?” Surprisingly I felt fine, like I was just stopping at a regular check in counter at a regular hang out where regular people stood. No sweats, no cramps, no nerves, it was REALLY weird and really awesome, yet I was still thirsty. I did my usual routine and looked for a pilot who told me it was perfectly normal to experience a little turbulence and to imagine we were flying on water, because air and water are similar. (ya right) He then finished his reassurance by telling me that his wife’s best friend died in a plane crash and when they found the wreckage her wedding ring had been found broken in three places- oh and there were no survivors. Hmm, funny I didn’t feel even a tinge of nerves at that moment either. It was like I was Superwoman. Like I was wearing titanium and nothing could get to me, not even the Pilot’s plane crash story.

The truth is, this story is not really about my fear of airplanes, but my overcoming the fear of life. Sometimes we get so crippled by past experiences that we just assume not ever take off. We just assume to never fly past what we think we are capable of. We stay stuck in our irrational thinking, we blame others for our downfall, most of all, we refuse to even get on that dance floor and allow some man sporting a sparkly shirt to shake things up. When I got pushed to volunteer to be hypnotized, I realized what really happened to me that day, was that I allowed myself to open up to new possibilities of thinking differently. I allowed my imagination to reinvent a new story so that traveling wouldn’t be so impossible, mostly I allowed my imagination to fly and I have been taking off ever since.

Now I have flown dozens of times and each time, I realize that every moment that I allow myself to embark on the adventure, I take away my fear’s power. I get to meet people all over the world and for the first time, I don’t have a bone to pick with air traffic control. But I am really annoyed by passengers who don’t wear deodorant. Now that’s just wrong.

The bottom line is, if you can’t beat your fear- down a few shots of tequila and then get it hypnotized out of you. Oh and make sure to pack travel lavender spray- incase you wind up sitting next to someone who likes goin all “natural”.

Never be afraid to put out the fires that life brings- Just make sure you got a hose to clean up the wreckage.-

Love, Thelma and Louise- Get real or go home!

 

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Girl Interrupted

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Conquer your Fear of Crazyyy…
Conquer your fear of Crazz-
Conquer your fear of Crayyy-
Here I go,
My life has a habit of getting completely disrupted. I have all different kinds of disruptions that I tend to get myself into. Like the time I hosted a family of five with 3 dogs, 3 kids and 3 maids for 3 months, or the time I had my four younger siblings move in with us for a few years, or this time, when my sister and her husband and newborn stayed with us for two months while they looked for a new place after moving back from NYC. Now that my house is back to “museum clean”, quiet, tranquil and boring I am feeling lost, empty and completely void of any meaning. So now I feel frozen, (not the movie- ENOUGH w that damn movie)- sad, stuck, paralyzed you know, spiraling in frozen fractals all around- {damn that movie again, can’t get it outta my head for two lousy seconds-}

Its funny, because when your life gets interrupted, while I adore the high of change, I can’t help realize that I have created this bad habit of getting addicted to that hamster in the cage insanity line- out of comfort. You know, where you do the same thing over and over, and eventually you do it again, cause you’re sure to do it better and more right next time even though it is exactly the same task without a hint of newness- you swear this time your life won’t derail, or get interrupted by welcoming a disruption and you’ll keep the same routine, you’ll continue on your path that you had before even if you’re interrupted a little bit? K its only me? Fine. I admit it, I am enslaved to my hamster cage addiction of disruption.
Here’s the thing, I really love hosting incredible friends and family in my home. I grew up with seven kids in my house, I love the noise, the crazy unpredictability it brings, the big dinners, the tears, the laughter, the joy reverberating in the house, but I also see that in my life, I tend to navigate towards unhealthy imbalance. I tend to veer towards this chaos, because to me chaos is comfortable. Oh MY G-d. I just admitted that out loud. That happened. I said I like chaos. I also hate it at the same time- no I hate myself for liking it at the same time. Therapists, please call me.
This past Passover, I was feeling really interrupted, more than usual. Rather than look at how good I am at procrastinating my writing projects, I just felt annoyed that G-d decided to disrupt me with this whole holiday thing. This time I didn’t have myself to blame for creating interruptions in my life, I got to blame G-d. And I did it VERY well. Then I started thinking who else he has managed to interrupt. There’s one of my dear friends who was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her life has been hugely interrupted, OH MY WORD, breast cancer is G-d’s big fat interruption. I’m liking this blame game. See, I can go all day at blaming G-d for his interruption wars. And I do that very well. LIKE I’m NIKE PRO at it. It is so much easier than blaming myself for allowing interruptions to become my procrastination tool. What about those 300 Nigerian girls who got kidnapped- isn’t that a big fat G-d interruption? What the hell was He thinking there??
Don’t get me started on the Malaysian interruption.
Why is it that I’m okay if I interrupt my own life. Heck, I usually welcome it, even if in the end it is not the best idea for me. But for some reason, I don’t have any tolerance for God’s interruptions? Sometimes I would rather be the interrupter than wait for G-d to do it, since I’ve had a history of Him doing it at epic proportions. Might as well beat Him to the punch, ya know. But all this blaming has me wondering if maybe I’m completely blinding myself to the real lesson of the gifts disruption brings.
There are a few things I have learned about what happens when life gets interrupted. Interruption has forced me to navigate towards my values. It has forced me to become choosy about what I want to spend time on versus what I have to spend time on. It has also given me pause to look at my routine and reevaluate it based on the new one that has now become my disrupted one because I have to redesign my life based on my new reality. And suddenly my new reality brings new perspective. And when things go back to the way they were- the “normal” state, my life is always renewed and refreshed and reevaluated very differently. I usually end up learning a thing or two about myself because of those disruptions, whether I want to or not.
Obviously I can’t continue to blame G-d for using my destiny to interrupt my life, nor can I punish myself when my own life gets disrupted by hosting friends or family I love having over. Rather, I can find a way to embrace those changing moments and maybe spend more time nesting in a healthy boring, “museum clean”, quiet, tranquil home when it is quiet and pondering the lessons I have been fortunate to receive once those interruptions have left. (no this is not an invitation for anyone reading this to move in. There’s a reason I don’t have a blinking red sign outside that says “Come in we’ll leave the light on for ya.”).
Maybe I’m not as frozen as I think I am. Maybe I’m just tempering myself for new waters- unchartered waters. Today there is no 5 month-old baby cooing in the background, no bottles piled up on the counter, no baby blankets taking space up on the floor. Its quiet around here. Life is back to “normal.” Or is it?

Thanks for letting me share-
Thelma:)