Their faces showed slight surprise, eyes expectant. They shyly held onto to every word the police officer said, switching back from his face to the translator. Kids played nearby oblivious to the serious nature of the meeting. I soaked it all in, trying to read minds that thought in a different language. There was one unmistakable emotion, however, that betrayed each one. Fear.
A murder had taken place in their neighborhood. And they were terrified for their kids and for themselves, some leaving the comfort of their beds and sleeping together on the floor.
I’ve not been in their shoes. But I have fought with my own fears.
Fear of failure.
Fear of letting people down.
Fear of things I can’t control.
And sometimes, fear of success.
Two days earlier I sat with some friends who challenged me. They raised the bar for my business. They told me to move forward towards risk. They suggested I invest deeper into the dreams I have gotten a taste of.
It scared me. Because these people are lifelong friends, they recognized my hesitance. And then showed me a movie trailer.
Now, there’s something. In my years of dealing with those who are hurting, fearful, overwhelmed and devastated, I never thought of pulling out the iPhone and showing them a movie trailer. Not even close. But I watched, and was glad I did. Here it is:
Will Smith’s words spoke to me: “If we are going to survive this, you must realize that FEAR IS NOT REAL. It is a product of thoughts you create. Now, do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real, but FEAR IS A CHOICE.”
Fear is a choice?
I thought fear was an emotion. An emotion that has dominion over me because I perceive the danger to be real. My mind naturally plays tricks on me. I let my thoughts go to what could happen based on circumstances, based on real danger, or based on perceived danger. Life will hand us the unexpected, and because we are who we are, we try to ready ourselves for the unexpected by going to places in our minds that are imaginary. The result can be FEAR.
Violence is real, and at times visits our neighborhoods. It’s close. In response, our imaginations ignite fear – it may be our turn next.
But what if we band together and unite, keeping each other informed and accountable? What if we take a step towards the fear in daring boldness, and decide we will not be pushed around by those who seek to destroy?
Risks don’t always pan out. In response, our imaginations ignite fear in the risk – if it fails, I’ll lose everything. Maybe. But then again, sometimes losing everything is the beginning of real success. What if that risk is something that expands my business, carrying a message to the very people who need to hear it?
In either case, and in the case of fears that each of us carry, there are varying degrees of danger. But fear is not real – it is a product of thoughts we create.
Fear is a choice. What will you choose?
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" May 30th, 2013
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Proactive Steps To Deal with Fear
We can know the odds and be prepared for the worst. But there are always those close calls and creepy little feelings that come up from time to time as we face the danger of what our spouse does for a living. How do we disarm them?
1. Face the worst case scenario. Much of what we fear is unknown, and fear breeds worry. Think through your greatest fear and play it out in your mind as to how you will deal with it. Come up with an emergency response to the “what if.”
2. Demystify the experience. Familiarize yourself with your agency’s death benefits and protocol. Talk to your spouse about who you would want to deliver the news should something happen. Security is very important to us as women, and not knowing what will happen if can be a catalyst for worry. Brent’s agency encourages officers to designate who will notify next of kin in case. You can be a part of that decision or work to initiate such a protocol in your husband’s agency.
3. Resist the temptation to listen to scanners or dispatch applications on the Internet. This is not an emergency response to facing the worst case scenario. This is a distracting illusion of control. “If I just know what’s going on, I can handle it…” Risky approach. This could perpetuate fear, not dispel it.
4. Talk out your fears. I talked with Brent in his down time once or twice and found it helpful. I’ve also talked with other seasoned wives, and this helps too. You may even consider talking with a survivor if you have the opportunity. If you are a person of faith, prayer is an excellent way to talk out your fears. Personally, this is where I found much comfort when I have dealt with occasional fear.
5. Let it go. This is one area you can’t control, and if you try you’ll drive yourself and others crazy. Go back to your foundation. What or who is it that you trust?
My friend Michelle Walker lost her husband in the line of duty New Year’s Eve of 2005. I asked her how she dealt with fear before he was killed. I learned that her father was with LAPD and had suffered a shooting but recovered. Incredibly, she never feared that her husband would be killed. She answered, “Fear drains your energy, puts stress on your marriage and family, and ultimately won’t change a thing. I’m so glad that I didn’t waste the time I had with Mike worrying.”
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" May 20th, 2013
Posted In: Uncategorized
Chief and I were on Interstate 5 somewhere in central California when he asked me a question. It was one of those moments. Like when you see smoke rising from a discharged revolver. Or taser darts that grabbed high and low – a perfect hit. Or the boot print on my assets. It was a question that opened up a long forgotten door to my inner self, shedding light on an issue that was meant to be hidden.
I hate when he does that.
Well, not really. Because after the initial hot alligator tears of anger comes gradual relief as I see the silhouette of an obstacle. And like all obstacles, it’s in the way.
Obstacles are kind of like hurdles. And that word right there conjures up memories of gym class eons ago when the coach put out those white L-shaped contraptions on a perfectly good track. My palms get a little sweaty just thinking about it. For those of you who I’ve not met in person, I’ll clue you in. I’m short. And I was blessed with Scottish genes that gave me muscular thighs that should move fast but don’t and a long torso. This translates to very few hurdles left intact after I’ve bumbled through. It’s a wonder I kept all my teeth through the track and field weeks. My knees and elbows still bear the scars of blood long lost on hurdle day.
Chief’s question made me very much aware that I struggle with fear. Fear of heights. Fear of failure. Fear of dying when I run too long. The list goes on a little further, but I think you get the point.
As I made peace with this new realization, I was reminded of a picture my aunt gave me on my 40th birthday. It was a picture of a little blond girl of maybe four years old, running full force through the grass, a look of pure delight and excitement on her face. She had bright eyes and a huge laughing smile. It was me. My aunt wrote a note that said this is how she sees me, even now. It was my favorite gift that year.
With that picture in mind and the fear obstacle in front of me, I made the decision to tackle my fears in 2013. To sprint full force toward the things that scare me, and leave no fear hurdle unturned, even if I have to skin my knees along the way. My word for this year is FEARLESS.
I plan to run a marathon late in the year, with little races on the way. For my 25th anniversary I’m having Chief take me to Maui to learn to surf. And this summer I will jump out of an airplane. There are other goals and fears that I want to tackle as well. It’ll be a new season of adventure!
What about you? Want to join me? What word will be the theme of your 2013? What’s your game plan? I’d love to hear.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" January 4th, 2013
Posted In: Uncategorized