Archive for risk

Face You Fears – Unlimited Power!

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“I can’t believe I’m about to do this!” This thought flashes through my brain as I lean forward to place tension on the thin cable attached to the jerk vest hidden beneath my baggy clothing.

I slow my breathing down. The tension mounts around me, and the acrid stench of the torches burns into my throat. I can almost feel the simulated, nighttime darkness envelope me in its shroud.

You see, I am a stunt double for an actress on a film called, ‘Soldiers;’ and we are on set.  I’m about to be shot with a flamethrower device and knocked backwards through the air, and down into a gully, as several bombs explode.

I see everyone scurrying around me, and I feel like the calm in the center of a storm. The special effects guy double checks the fire squib he has placed on my stomach. My ratchet man is talking with me about my starting mark and my arm placement. The hair lady makes a final adjustment to my hair, as the bomb ‘squad,’ adjusts the propane bombs and debris cones that are on both sides to the front of me.

My boss asks if I’m ready. I give a nod and thumbs up sign. All of a sudden everybody scatters and disappears into the darkness. All is quiet. I keep the tension on the line and close my eyes as I hear the effects team say, “The bombs are going hot!”

From my cocoon of darkness I hear the shout on the megaphone, “Cameras Rolling!” “Speed!” “And on three. One….two….THREE!”

Simultaneously I feel the blast of heat, and I am jerked backwards and up. My eyes open and I see smoke, then darkness. I feel like I am swimming in the air. I fly backwards, 10ft…. 20ft… Hmmm, I seem to be traveling further than I did in the rehearsals. I should be free falling backward to the pads by now! Then I drop. And just as the thought dawns on me that I’m going to miss the pads, I feel a mighty “THWACK” to my head, and all goes black.

Ahhh….the life of a Hollywood stuntwoman! Ok, call me crazy, but I have been perfectly happy to be flying through the air, jumping through burning windows and slamming myself into walls. Well…maybe I’ve been a little happier when there has been no pain or headache involved, but I was definitely hooked on this wild roller coaster of a career!

Of course, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the world would anyone choose such a hazardous career?”

Well, have you ever wanted something so badly that you didn’t even try to accomplish it, because you were afraid you would find you couldn’t do it? I call it a fear of failure. That was the story of my life; that is, until I learned to defeat my fears by facing up to the challenges of my mind.

I come from a background of sexual abuse, abandonment, and the ravages created by suicidal, and alcoholic parents and relatives. I had no self-confidence or self-esteem. What I did have, was a bad habit of thinking, “I can’t,” along with a petrifying fear of disappointment, anger, hurt, and humiliation. As a result, I would typically run from any challenge of the mind, body, or soul.

I was my own worst enemy when it came to succeeding with something, and I was sick of it!

So when that first call came for me to double the villainess on the film ‘Under Cover Blues’ down in Lafayette, Louisiana. I jumped at the chance. When the fear of those first few stunts started to get in the way, I pushed them ruthlessly aside and did what I had to do. Afterwards, when I realized that I had completed the stunt successfully – even though my brain had almost been paralyzed with fear – I was enveloped in a euphoric, “walking on clouds” feeling of accomplishment.

At last, I had discovered a good battleground where I could focus on conquering my fears, and I was determined to win! So off I went to Hollywood.

Leaving behind my nine to five job in accounting, the Friday night parties, and Monday night football on the couch with my man, life, I jumped into my new career, and learned to face my fears on a daily basis.

As my experience and skills expanded, the jobs kept coming….’Batman Forever,’ ‘Batman & Robin,’ ‘Demolition Man,’ ‘Lethal Weapon 4,’ ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ ‘Swordfish,’ ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight,’ ‘Independence Day,’ plus an ongoing list of television shows like ‘Star Trek Voyager,’ ‘The Pretender,’ ‘VIP,’ and the ‘X-Files.’

Never would I have dreamed of being able to do the stunts I did with helicopters, jeep chases, jet ski-boat transfers, stair falls, saddle falls, jumps from buildings-through glass-over fences, hydraulic ratchets into walls – the ground – into other people. I would have never dared to be hit by a car wearing nothing but a sundress and sandals (‘Bella Mafia’)!

As one film led to another, I was swept up into a whirlwind of movie stars, travel, money, and extraordinary adventure.

I spent weeks working with actors like Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, and Mel Gibson. I hung out on the set with George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Charlie Sheen and Gwynneth Paltrow.

The productions flew me first class around the world to exotic locations to film. I galloped a horse in the sunset along the ancient cliffs and temples of Petra, Jordan (same local as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’). I fought in a hurricane in Wales, and then floated in a rickety boat down a mystical river in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand (‘Mortal Kombat Annihilation’).

There were side trips for shopping in London, museums in Paris, lounging on exotic beaches. And then there was the highlight of, after a brief sojourn in Rome working with Cameron Diaz on ‘Gangs of New York,’ I landed one of the best contracts in the business with the TV series, ‘Alias.’

Although the glamour of this business has been fun, it was at times overwhelming. To keep my sanity, I have always worked to balance my perspective of what is important, and what is real. (Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other, and you’ll get an idea of how difficult this can be.)

Beneath the glitz and the glamour, I have found the real counter-balance in this rocky career is the underlying magnet of satisfaction and self-accomplishment.

 After a lifetime of dealing with issues from an extremely difficult childhood, I welcomed the challenges of this career. They have helped me balance and conquer those old feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and my fear of failure. (Not that I would recommend all people suffering from childhood trauma jump from buildings or launch themselves 20 feet through the air by stepping on a seriously dangerous mechanical device called an air ram)!

And now, after over 20 years, thousands of stunts, hundreds of movies, over 2,520 days of pain (excluding the eight hospital trips and numerous doctor visits for burns, stitches, pulls, breaks, and concussions), I can honestly say that I still enjoy the challenges of my work when I get one of those calls.  I just try to pass up the car hits, and stick to ‘prat falls’ and fighting!

Sure there were times when I would long for that nine to five, football night, bruise-free life. But when I was sixty feet up on a huge 360 degree rotating shipping crane, about to start a big fight on a contraption consisting of a forklift, a motorcycle, and a car sandwiched together (Barbwire), I knew that, once again, I was conquering that debilitating fear I felt growing up.

You see I now know that the only thing worse than failing is to let fear keep you from succeeding at what you want to do. Hey, call me crazy if you want, but now, instead of running from a challenge, when I’m asked to jump, I say, “how high?”

cc:   danahee  02/2014

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A Bridge To Cross – A Future To Build

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There comes a point in everyone’s life that we need to cross a bridge.  For me, that time is now.

The past is over and done.  The future is yet to be seen.  All I have is right now…and I, for one want to make the most of each and every moment.

Therefore, I will close this heavy book I have been holding in my hand, and I will begin writing a new one with every step I take.  I will put one foot in front of the other leaving the old and familiar, as I cross that bridge into the future.

I do not know what is on the other side of this bridge.  Yet whatever it is, I will embrace it with all of my heart and soul.

Yes.  I do not know where I am going.  Yet I do know I will get there.  With God’s grace, it will be a wonderful place.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

cc:  danahee  February 19 2014

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Acting with Courage in the face of Stress! Dealing with Stress, Part III

When you are feeling the pressure and frozen in time…when it feels like you have no move left to make?

There is one rule to live by and but one path to take.

Just make a move, whether right or wrong, and you will see doors open a hundred miles long.

The biggest fallacy you see is that there is nothing to be done to change your circumstance.

Your secret to defeat the undefeatable is the law of inertia and it’s a wonder to behold.  How the smallest of movement can create your next championship gold.

For even if the step you take is true or false, this action creates a reaction and you will not feel that sense of loss.

You see the one thing I have truly learned is that the only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try.

So when you are thinking there is no hope and want to give in and die?

Take some small action and you will find, that whether you succeed or fail…you will feel like the biggest winner of all.

For nothing can take away that wonderful feeling deep inside of pride and satisfaction for having the courage to lift yourself back up every single time you fall.

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Stress! And How To Combat This. II

Listen with your heart!

When you are stuck in a quandary and cannot see the forest for the trees, it is wise to let an outside source help you with your needs.

Yet as much as you may want to…you cannot listen to someone when your mind is on overload and your heart is on empty.

So when you truly want to make a change that is beyond your ability, or even beyond your comprehension….

What do YOU think you need to do?

All you need to do is focus on what you CAN control, and let another help you with what you cannot.

The truth is simple you see. And it will set you free.

For an outside thought, a helpful hand or the clear insight into your soul can once again make your heart whole.

So take the advice of a friend, take that hand or the advice from your soul. Then listen and act. And once again, you will feel the freedom and joy your negative thoughts stole.

Now…how to act you ask? When you seem frozen in time? That is soon to come as I transcribe to paper my experiences on same and the certain knowledge of this in my mind.

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MY OLYMPIC STORY [A young girls’ struggle to overcome the odds against her and make her long-standing dream come true].


The Olympic Story of Dana Hee

Have you ever been so afraid of failure, that you couldn’t even think of succeeding, much less even try?
That’s how I lived my life for the first 22 years. From the age of three, I was passed back and forth between an orphanage and raging alcoholic, suicidal, low income, abusive family. From there I eventually ended up on the streets, in a commune, a halfway house, a government shelter, and finally a foster home at age sixteen.

Never trusting the illusions of love and safety, I left the foster home right out of high school. I then struggled for the next six years to make it on my own. On the surface, I presented my ‘survivalist’ game face that everything was just fine. But the overwhelming impact of the years of broken promises, emotional turmoil, and pain had taken their tole. The devastating feelings of sadness and despair from the past, blocked out any sense of hope I might have had. Time and again, I found myself running from any chance, challenge or dream because I did not believe in myself.

The thought, that I wasn’t good enough, had been instilled in me since childhood. It was as if the two words, “I can’t,” had been programmed into my mind. By the age of 25, I had become my own worst enemy of success. That is, until I made a decision that would change my life forever.

The decision that I would make did not happen overnight. It came from years of self-loathing, after running away from yet another of my dreams, and then some.

You see, in high school, I had discovered that I had a real talent and opportunity to be successful in the track and field event of high jump. With a scholarship offer and a sponsorship with a top Stanford University coach, I began to dream of Olympic Gold. I just knew that if I could win an Olympic Gold Medal, then I would really ‘BE’ someone.

Then I would be recognized, loved, and wanted. But just as the going got tough, I let my old fear of failure get the best of me. I couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen if I tried my best, and discovered that I wasn’t good enough. It was just like that old saying, that the higher up the ladder you climb, the further you have to fall. And I had become really afraid of hitting that ground. So I gave up. I just turned and walked away from my dream.

Years later, I was still kicking myself for my cowardice, when another opportunity popped up with my newly found talent in Taekwondo. Placing second in my first National competition in 1986, I discovered that this sport was to be introduced in the upcoming ‘88’ Olympics in Seoul, Korea. The revelation, that here was my second chance to make my Olympic dream come true, hit me square between the eyes. At that moment, it became startling clear to me that I could not just walk away again.
I’d been given a second chance, and by God, I’d make the most of it! This time I swore to myself, that no matter what, I would take this dream and make it come true. And if I failed…well at least I would know that it wasn’t because I didn’t give it 100% effort. I would know that, for once in my life, I did not let my fears get the best of me!

So with a glimpse of hope and an ounce of courage, I took one step forward and started climbing that ladder to Olympic Gold with my dream from the past.

I analyzed where I was, versus where I wanted to be. I listed the things I needed to do, then I figured out how to accomplish them. And step-by-step, I inched my way upward. Right off, I discovered that I had the raw talent, though I’d still need a lot more work. It also became clear that my biggest hurdle was my lack of self-confidence.

Champions have to believe in themselves, yet from my experiences and disappointments in life, I’d developed the bad habit of saying, “I can’t.” As a result, I had very little self-esteem! It was something that seemed impossible to change, and yet I just had to find a way!

In the next two and a half years, I trained like crazy. First for about 3 hours a day, then 6, and finally right before the Olympics, I was training 8 hours a day! I traveled and competed in every tournament I could find that would be beneficial. I researched and experimented with physical, mental, and dietary programs. I solicited funds from local businesses, help from top coaches, and ideas from top competitors.

Yet despite all my efforts, the real reason for my ultimate success was really because of a life changing experience I had while training up-state New York with a famous coach.

I had determined that although I was faster and stronger than many competitors, I did not have the stamina. And without this endurance, I would be unable to win. What good was it that I could win the first round or two, yet then lose in the third? Though I had trained like a maniac trying to increase my stamina, I discovered that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere. Once I got tired, that was it. My mind overruled my body, and I would quit.

So I went to train with a rival’s coach who was known for producing competitors with amazing stamina and determination. His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking. Right from the beginning, I ran into trouble. For, one of the biggest elements to his training program was running. That was something I had been doing as little of as possible. I had discovered back in high school, that long distant running would produce in me, a ‘racing’ heart that would then trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there to train and learn, and I was determined to improve, I went with the program as best as I could.

One of the runs he’d have us do was an extremely difficult one up and through a cemetery. It seemed impossible for me to do this run successfully, and on my last two efforts, I had been forced to stop and walk up the steepest hill.

On this third attempt, despite my determination, I found myself laboring as usual as we began to climb the dreaded hill. About a quarter of the way up, with my breathing coming hard and fast, my heart started racing. A few beats later, the asthmatic reaction set in, and my desperate lungs began closing off further. Panic stricken, I came wheezing to a stop, bending over, trying desperately to get some air into my starved lungs. My coach, who’d been staying alongside me to encourage me, came up to me – I thought to help reassure me. Not!

To my surprise, he came up behind me, placed his hand on my back and started pushing me unceremoniously up the hill! Oh the indignity of it. He completely ignored the fact that I couldn’t even breathe, and that I was close to passing out or getting violently sick. “How insensitive!” “How unbelievable!”

As I stumbled forward from the pressure of his hand, I became angry and started moving forward on my own. As I put one foot in front of the other, muttering angrily to myself, trying to pull away, he kept pace, with his hand resting on my back as a reminder that he was not going to let me stop. Fuming with anger and indignation, it was with surprise that I discovered I had reached the top of the hill, and that I hadn’t passed out.

Although my breathing was still labored and wheezing, I discovered that, I could keep going! That revelation sounded off in my head like a trumpet from heaven. As my coach pulled ahead and let me continue on my own down the hill, that thought pounded in my brain with each forward footstep.

I realized that I had been thinking, “I can’t make it,” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to pass out!” Yet, once I had taken my mind off of that negative thinking, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,” “I could do it!” “I could keep running.” “I didn’t pass out!” From that time on… everytime I began to think, “I can’t,” I learned to replace that thinking with, “I can!” Those two little words changed my life forever.

Throughout the remaining months of training, I used those two words as much as possible. And though it was never easy, and my mindset did not change overnight, I now knew in my heart, that amazing things were possible if only I believed in myself, and could just continue taking that one step forward!

This knowledge became the powerful key to my success. So much so, that when I got knocked out with a spinning kick in the Olympic Finals competition, I got back up and won the match. When, in Seoul, two weeks before the Olympic competition and a back injury got the best of me and forced me to stop training, I started practicing by ‘visualizing’ my fight moves. When it became obvious that my Olympic coach had dismissed me as a potential medal candidate, I let my disappointment, anger and frustration fuel my determination to prove him wrong.

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition.


Then…just before I entered the ring for competition, that old fear of failure started creeping back into my mind. “Who did I think I was?” “I would never be good enough!”

But, just as those thoughts started to take hold, I began replacing them with the truth. “I was ready!” “And, I was good enough!” And I took one step forward, and entered the ring. When my first match was halfway over, I knew that although my body was not 100%, my positive mindset made up for it. As I faced my toughest opponent (Chinese Taipei) in the semi-finals, I knew in my heart, that I was good enough to win. I knew that I had the strength, the speed, the training, and the determination. And most important of all, I truly believed in myself.

When my hand was raised after my final match to let everyone know I’d won the Olympic Gold, I smiled to myself, because I finally realized that I was, indeed, a winner. I had conquered my fears!

Standing on the Olympic podium watching the American flag flutter gracefully upwards to the music of our beautiful National Anthem, my heart swelled with pride and joy. As the cameras clicked their last photos, and I turned and walked past the cheering crowds, my mind reeled with the wonder of what I’d accomplished. Who would have thought that a scrawny, timid, lonely little girl with no self esteem or self confidence, would grow up and win the prestigious honor of being an Olympic Gold Medalist for her country?

Who would have thought that it would be possible to make a dream come true with a vow of commitment and faith in the two little words, “I can.”

As I gave one last parting wave to the crowd, and stepped out of the Olympic limelight, I realized that this was only the beginning. Somehow I knew, that this one moment in time would last a lifetime. Because, I now knew, that if I could just keep taking that one step forward, it was possible to make my dreams come true!

Cc Dana Hee, 1992

ABOUT DANA

Dana is an Olympic Gold Medalist, Top Motivational Speaker, 2X Hall Of Fame Martial Artist, Award-Winning Stuntwoman (over 17 years stunt doubling the leading ladies in Block-Buster Films such as the Batman Movies, The Terminator films, Charlies Angels, Peacemaker, Alias and MUCH more).  More importantly, she is a Life Survivalist whom endeavors to Inspire, Enlighten, and Elevate the hearts and minds of people around the world.

http://www.GreatThingsArePossible.com
http://www.greatthingsarepossible.com/

TO READ MORE OF DANA’S INSPIRATIONAL STORIES…CLICK HERE

 

Thank you for viewing my stories!  Love and light to all!  Dana Hee

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Fighting Fear With Courage! A Stuntwoman’s perspective on performing death defying stunts!


Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself where you started out in life…and where you are now. I was looking through some old stories that I wrote for magazines and such…and came across one from back when I first started out in Hollywood. My words from years ago help to re-generate my soul from time to time. Perhaps you can find your own cool stories to remember!

A Brave New World
“I still recall that day on the set of the Natassja Kinski film, “Bella Mafia,” as if it were yesterday.
It was the day I did my first car hit in my career as a Hollywood Stuntwoman. I remember standing on the paved road in my yellow sundress and strap sandals with the sun warming my back, and glinting off the metallic silver bumper of the car rapidly closing in on me.

It approached much faster than what I had envisioned it would. There was a moment of extreme panic and fear, and I felt like bolting from its path. Then, the fear was replaced by the sudden rush of adrenaline that surged like a locomotive through my body. Steeling myself to focus on what had to happen next, I bent my knees in anticipation of the slight thrust upwards I would make on contact.

As the bumper caught me and lifted me into the air, the ‘whack’ of my body slamming against the hood resonated in my ears for a moment before being swallowed by an intense silence, as I was spit up and over the top of the car. There was a surprising and disorienting sense of peace as I spun through the air, catching glimpses of blue, then brown…before landing with a resounding thud on the side of the road.”
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You know, you’ve really have to wonder about the Mario Andretti’s of this world! And, likewise, all of the skydiving, bull riding, bungee jumping extreme-adrenaline freaks!! Why do they do what they do? Why would anyone purposely put themselves in harms way? I wonder if it’s for the same reason I’ve been doing just that for the last sixteen years.

From competing in full-contact fighting in the Olympic Games, to performing dangerous and debilitating stunts for Hollywood films, I’ve evan had moments where I’ve thought that I must be insane.

What compels me to place myself in front of an oncoming car, or allow someone to jerk me thirty feet through the air and slam me into the nose of an airplane?

Hmmm….perhaps it’s because I’ve wanted to forget about the painful scars of my childhood…the years of life in an orphanage, with alcoholic, suicidal, abusive family members, on the streets, in halfway houses, a government shelter, and a foster home.

Maybe it’s been an effort to strip myself of my negative self-image, and cloak myself in the resulting praise and admiration of my peers. What I do know, without a doubt, is that I have been driven by the need to face my fears head on.

I guess if I had come into the world feet first, I wouldn’t have felt so compelled to challenge my fate, as I would’ve been able to hit the ground running.

As it was, my rocky start in life did nothing to ensure that I would be able to hold my head high in society. Indeed, I was handicapped with a huge lack of self-esteem and confidence.

Luckily for me though, I was too hardheaded to accept defeat with humility and grace. So after years of struggling against the force of the whirlpool trying to pull me down, I forced my head up out of the water, and struck out swimming.

You know, it’s amazing what one can accomplish with a spark of hope and a lot of determination.

When I finally took hold of my life I was actually able to make my dreams of Olympics, Hollywood, and life come true.

I guess it’s a tribute to the strength and courage of mankind that someone like myself was able to rise from the ashes, and hover in the clouds. Then again, maybe it has nothing to do with strength or courage.

Personally, I feel my successes in life have much more to do with fear…fear that I’m not good enough, fear of pain and humiliation, fear of the unknown, and most of all, fear of failure.

For me, it was fortunate that I finally recognized that, ‘that’ was what was holding me back in life. It is equally fortunate that I felt a burning need to change that. The fact that I chose to face and conquer my fears is commendable. The fact that I chose to face fear with more fear, is nuts! Or is it?

From stair falls, to car hits, that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I get when I face fear, and pull off a death-defying stunt makes me feel good about myself.

It reinforces the fact that it is possible to put my fears aside, if only for a time, and accomplish what I set out to do.

It’s a very empowering feeling! And it’s a recipe for success I’ve used many times now.

I wonder…. perhaps that is what drives the Mario Andretti’s of this world, this fear factor, and the need to face it…perhaps not.

All I know, is that when the paramedics are rushing me to the hospital after yet another near-death encounter, and are shaking their heads saying, “Why in the world would anyone do such crazy work!” I smile to myself, because I know the answer to that question.

Call me crazy if you want, but I have learned to fight fear, with fear. Instead of cowing away from the challenges and trials of life, I meet them head on, or upside down, or in front of a car. I now know that the only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try. Now, when someone asks me to jump, I say, “how high?”

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Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other. A Stuntwoman’s perspective.


“FACING FEAR WITH FEAR!”

an excerpt from Dana’s life as a Stuntwoman in Hollywood…

“I can’t believe I’m about to do this!” This thought flashes through my brain as I lean forward to place tension on the thin cable attached to the jerk vest hidden beneath my baggy clothing. I slow my breathing down. The tension mounts around me, and the acrid stench of the torches burns into my throat. I can almost feel the simulated, nighttime darkness envelope me in its shroud.

You see, I am a stunt double for an actress; and I’m about to be shot with a flamethrower device and knocked backwards through the air, and down into a gully, as several bombs explode. I see everyone scurrying around me, and I feel like the calm in the center of a storm. The special effects guy double checks the fire squib he has placed on my stomach. My ratchet man is talking with me about my starting mark and my arm placement. The hair lady makes a final adjustment to my hair, as the bomb ‘squad,’ adjusts the propane bombs and debris cones that are on both sides to the front of me.

My boss asks if I am ready. I give a nod and a thumbs up sign. All of a sudden everybody scatters and disappears into the darkness. All is quiet. I keep the tension on the line and close my eyes as I hear the effects team say, “The bombs are going hot!” From my cocoon of darkness I hear the shout on the megaphone, “Cameras Rolling!” “Speed!” “And on three. One….two….THREE!” Simultaneously I feel the blast of heat, and I am jerked backwards and up.

My eyes open and I see smoke, then darkness. I feel like I am swimming in the air. I fly backwards, 10ft…. 20ft… Hmmm, I seem to be traveling further than I did in the rehearsals. I should be free falling backward to the pads by now! Then I drop. And just as the thought dawns on me that I’m going to miss the pads, I feel a mighty “THWACK” to my head, and all goes black.

Ahhh….the life of a Hollywood stuntwoman! Ok, call me crazy, but I’m perfectly happy to be flying through the air, jumping through burning windows and slamming myself into walls. Well…maybe I’m a little happier when there is no pain or headache involved, but still, I’m definitely hooked on this wild roller coaster of a career!

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would anyone choose such a hazardous career?” Well, have you ever wanted something so badly that you didn’t even try to accomplish it, because you were afraid you would find you couldn’t do it? I call it a fear of failure.

That was the story of my life; that is, until I learned to defeat my fears by facing up to the challenges of my mind. I came from a background of sexual abuse, abandonment, and the ravages created by suicidal, and alcoholic parents and relatives.

I had no self-confidence or self-esteem. What I did have, was a bad habit of thinking, “I can’t,” along with a petrifying fear of disappointment, anger, hurt, and humiliation. As a result, I would typically run from any challenge of the mind, body, or soul. I was my own worst enemy when it came to succeeding with something, and I was sick of it!

So when that first call came for me to double the villainess on the film Under Cover Blues down in Lafayette, Louisiana. I jumped at the chance. When the fear of those first few stunts started to get in the way, I pushed them ruthlessly aside and did what I had to do.

Afterwards, when I realized that I had completed the stunt successfully – even though my brain had been saying I couldn’t – I was enveloped in a euphoric, “walking on clouds” feeling of accomplishment.

At last, I had discovered a good battleground where I could focus on conquering my fears, and I was determined to win! So off I went to Hollywood.

Leaving behind my nine to five job in accounting, the Friday night parties, and Monday night football on the couch with my man, life, I jumped into my new career, and learned to face my fears on a daily basis.

As my experience and skills expanded, the jobs kept coming….Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Demolition Man, Lethal Weapon 4, Charlie’s Angels, Swordfish, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Independence Day, plus an ongoing list of television shows like Star Trek Voyager, The Pretender, VIP, and the X-Files.

Never would I have dreamed of being able to do the stunts I did with helicopters, jeep chases, jet ski-boat transfers, stair falls, saddle falls, jumps from buildings-through glass-over fences, hydraulic ratchets into walls – the ground- into other people. I would have never dared to be hit by a car wearing nothing but a sundress and sandals (Bella Mafia).

As one film led to another, I was swept up into a whirlwind of movie stars, travel, money, and extraordinary adventure. I spent weeks working with actors like Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, and Mel Gibson. I hung out on the set with George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Charlie Sheen and Gwynneth Paltrow.

The productions flew me first class around the world to exotic locations to film. I galloped a horse in the sunset along the ancient cliffs and temples of Petra, Jordan (same local as Raiders of the Lost Ark). I fought in a hurricane in Wales, and then floated in a rickety boat down a mystical river in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand (Mortal Kombat Annihilation).

There were side trips for shopping in London, museums in Paris, lounging on exotic beaches. And now, after a brief sojourn in Rome working with Cameron Diaz on Gangs of New York, I am on contract with a great new TV series called Alias. Although the glamour of this business can be fun, it can also be overwhelming.

To keep my sanity, I try to balance my perspective of what is important, and what is real. (Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other, and you’ll get an idea of how difficult this can be.)

Beneath the glitz and the glamour, I have found the real counter-balance in this rocky career is the underlying magnet of satisfaction and self-accomplishment.

After a lifetime of dealing with issues from my extremely difficult childhood, I welcome the challenges of this career. They have helped me balance and conquer those old feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and my fear of failure. (Not that I would recommend all people suffering from childhood trauma jump from buildings or launch themselves 20 feet through the air by stepping on a seriously dangerous mechanical device called an air ram)!

And now, after ten years, thousands of stunts, hundreds of movies, over 2,520 days of pain (excluding the five hospital trips and numerous doctor visits for burns, stitches, pulls, breaks, and concussions), I can honestly say that I still enjoy the challenges of my work.

Sure there are times when I long for that nine to five, football night, bruise-free life. But when I’m sixty feet up on a huge 360 degree rotating shipping crane, about to start a big fight on a contraption consisting of a forklift, a motorcycle, and a car sandwiched together (Barbwire), I realize that, once again, I am conquering that debilitating fear I felt growing up
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You see I know that the only thing worse than failing is to let fear keep you from succeeding at what you want to do.

Hey, call me crazy if you want, but now, instead of running from a challenge, when I’m asked to jump, I say, “how high?”

copyright dana hee August 2001

http://www.GreatThingsArePossible.com

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