Archive for success

Be Remembered, Not Forgotten

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I so admire people who can walk up to a complete stranger and get that person talking about their life or thoughts. I myself am fairly good at this from time to time, yet nothing like the lady I ran into at a recent 4th of July BBQ. There were about 40 of us out there on this 4,500 acre ranch next to Tom Ford’s massive property outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many of us didn’t know each other, yet most were happy to have you introduce yourself and engage in a few minutes of small talk. And then, there was this pretty lady, probably in her late 40’s. She marched up to me and told me she wanted to know more about my Olympic win. She had such a light in her face and keen interest in her tone of voice. She made me feel interesting and important. And though I tried to turn the conversation back to her, she successfully navigated me in another direction. Throughout the remainder of that day, I observed her chatting earnestly with quite a few others, and I was amazed at how easily she could engage just about anyone. Driving home from the ranch that evening, I thought of the people I had met and realized that although there had been a lot of nice, ‘well to do’ people there; the conversations they initiated were always about ‘them’ and how important they were. The one exception was that wonderful lady and how she made me feel special. As I turned off the dirt road to enter the highway, I thought of a quote from the late, great Angelou Maya, “People do not remember what we do or say. They remember how we make them feel.”

 

cc:  danahee 2014

 

 

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“IS THE THRILL OF VICTORY WORTH THE AGONY OF DEFEAT?”

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Is the thrill of victory worth the possible agony of defeat?

 

To me it is, because…

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to conflict…and I felt like a coward

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to challenge…and I felt like a looser

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to risk…and I felt like I had lost out on something important

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to my dreams…and I began to lose faith in them

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to an opportunity in life…and I had regrets

 

Too many times I said ‘no’ to life…and I almost ended mine

 

What I discovered…is that it’s the chance, challenge and dreams in my life that gives me that sense of ‘meaning’ and purpose’ that keeps the light of ‘hope’ shining at the end of the tunnel.

 And whether I succeed or fail with my goal, I have found that the sense of pride and satisfaction I gain, from having the courage to step forward in pursuit of ‘happiness’…..well, ‘that’ gives me lifetime of pride and satisfaction.

 Too many times I said ‘no.’ So now, I say….YES!

cc:  danahee   May 2014

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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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The Winds Of Change

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As I walk along the mountain path a wind begins to blow

 Past me, over me, around me, through me

 I say ‘hello.’  For I know this wind.  He is my friend.  He is the ‘Wind of Change.’

 I feel blessed with His friendship, and His gift of embracing me during this time

 And I know that He is helping me

 To blow the darkness away from my spirit…this sadness, this pain

 He brings instead joy, love and happiness to a broken soul

 He restores my health and passion

 With promises of the future

 And hope in the present

 I love my friend, the ‘Wind of Change.’

 Without Him nothing lives

 With Him everything blossoms

 I am grateful

cc:  danahee  February 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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As The Snow Falls

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Standing outside just now, I watch my beautiful turkeys as they eat the corn and ‘coo’ among themselves

The silence of the falling snow drowns out the cries of my soul.  It’s sleek white blanket slowly covers the tears in my heart

Crystal cold air quiets my mind…if only for a moment or two

What peace it must be, to never feel the beauty of the snow.  Yet so sad this emptiness within

‘Good-by’ echoes in the frozen stillness of this winter wonderland

As I turn away,  I pray I pray that peace will prevail

Truly?  Is it better to go to sleep on an empty stomach?

Perhaps so.  Perhaps not.

cc:  dhee 02/2014

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Innovation and Visualization – Winning the Olympic Gold

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Dana’s shares her story about training and competing  for the 1988 Olympic Games!

Back when I was first training and competing in Taekwondo, I had discovered although I was stronger and faster than most of my competitors, I didn’t have the endurance.  And what good was it that I would win the first and second round in our full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo, yet then lose in the third.  The truth of the matter is that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere.  Once things got tough…my mind would overrule my body, and I would just quit!  And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender, I needed to change this!  So I decided to go train in upstate New York, with a famous coach, known for producing competitors with amazing stamina.  His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking. 

During one of the first training sessions, we were doing a repetitious kicking drill which was designed to increase stamina.  Everyone had a partner holding a kicking paddle that we kicked as many times and as fast as we could.  At some point, when my endurance was failing, he came over and took the paddle from my partner and held it for me.  Each time I started to tire and slow down, he yelled at me to continue.  About the third time this happened, I snapped, and yelled back, “I’m TRYING!”  Well, he lowered the kicking pad, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Try…not good enough!”  “Everyone ‘try,’ not everyone ‘champion.’”  “Don’t ‘try!’”  “Just DO!”  And he raised the kicking paddle for me to continue with the drill.

The thing is…how do you ‘just DO,’ when you don’t know that you can DO?  How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?”   Well, I learned the amazingly important answer to the first half of that puzzling question in another training session with that coach!

I learned this lesson during a long distance run.  One of the biggest elements to this coach’s 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 make my heart start ‘racing’ 90 thousand miles and hour.  And then the racing heart would trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there in New York 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, if I could just keep putting one foot in front of the other…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 those negative thoughts, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,”  “I could do it!”  “I could keep going.”  From that time on… every time I began to think, “I can’t,” and want to come screeching to a halt… I would force myself to keep taking just one more step…and I would replace my negative thoughts with positive ones!

Throughout my Olympic training I used what I had learned with that coach, as much as possible.  In theory, it was easy to replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations.  I just substituted “I can’t,” with “I can.”  “I won’t,” with “I will!”  What made this difficult is that I found it much easier to slip backwards into what I already knew – those negative thoughts – than to convince myself of something that I couldn’t actually ‘picture’ in my mind.  It was really hard to stay positive, when one half of my brain was saying, “I can,” while the other half was saying, “What makes you think that!?”   And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender…I needed to get both of those halves working together as a whole!  I desperately needed to solve the second half of that question of how do you ‘just do,’ when you don’t truly ‘believe’ that you can do…before I entered that competition ring at the Olympics!

Our United States Taekwondo team arrived in Seoul, Korea two weeks before the Games, to do the final, most important training before our competition was to begin.  Unfortunately, I had sustained a back injury at the Olympic Team trials a month and a half beforehand.  And although I had tried all kinds of modern medicine, sports medicine, and holistic remedies, the injury had gotten progressively worse.  All of the doctors agreed, that the only thing that would help, was rest.  But, there was no way I could do that, and have a chance of winning!  By the time we arrived in Seoul, the pain was excruciating.

During our third practice in Seoul, we were doing a kicking drill where each of our teammates held a kicking pad at different heights, and one by one we would run the gauntlet of pads, kicking and screaming like banshees.  When it was my turn, I started out kicking ferociously.  “Hey…this was the Olympics…I was going to do this!”  I was doing fine, until I came to the very last high kick.  As my foot reached for that pad, a lightening bolt of pain shot through me and dropped me to my knees in tears and agony.  As my coach and teammates turned aside, I gingerly picked myself up, and limped off to the side.  It was obvious to all of us, that my Olympic dream was over before it even began!  I was devastated!

That night, I agonized over this dilemma.  This was the Olympics!  I couldn’t just give up!  I have sacrificed so much to be here!  Yet, what could I do?  If I didn’t train these two weeks, I knew that, even if I could compete I would feel unprepared…and I knew that ‘mental’ negativity would interfere with my determination.  Later that night, after hours of torturous twisting and turning in bed, I came up with a plan of action…or in-action as it turned out.  I would practice by visualizing the things that I needed to work on!

So that’s what I did.  For the remaining days before our competition, while everyone else practiced physically, I practiced mentally.  I would find a quiet place, sit, meditate and visualize my attacks, and my counters. I saw myself executing everything with perfect precision and timing.  I saw myself winning match after match!

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested enough to compete, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition.  I felt good!  I felt confident!  Then…as I began warming up…that old fear of failure started creeping in again.  Who did I think I was?  What made me think that I was good enough to do this?  As we were called to enter the competition area, I frantically searched my brain for the answer to that question,

Suddenly realized that I had lots of reasons to think that I was good enough!  I had practiced physically, and I had practiced mentally!  I had the strength, the speed, the training and the endurance.  And that’s when it hit me, that I had the answer to the second part of that question of, “How do you just do, when you don’t believe you can do?”  You build your confidence and self-esteem through preparation!  And I WAS prepared.  I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment!  I WAS good enough!  So I told myself, “Be not afraid,” and I took that final step into the competition 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.  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 realized that I was, indeed, a winner.  I had faced my fears, and overcome the limitations of my mind!

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