Posts tagged dreams

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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Increase Your Interactivity and Productivity by Holding Hands


Ok…my lesson from the past few days w/my good friend Doctor Mark Cheng is how I can multiply effective interactivity and productivity by ‘hand-holding.’ Sound strange? That’s what I thought at first!

First of all…I never really had anyone holding MY hand while growing up. So the concept is completely foreign to me! Yet…I can definitely see it’s value…especially as my goal is to reach out and help others achieve goals and happiness!
Can you imagine how great it would be to multiply YOUR results from YOUR interactions?

Hand-holding is a tool in interacting w/others. I have found that there are times as a Motivational Speaker, that I have not really ‘reached’ all of my audience members. So I’m constantly working on improving upon that. Dr. Cheng helped me understand an easy way to do this, simply by making sure to make that all important ‘connection’ w/each person in my audience by tying THIER personal experience and emotion into MY personal experience and emotion.

By tying an individuals own experience in with mine, it makes it easier for each person to truly relate and connect with what I am saying. This way, it’s as if each person is holding my hand and walking with me as I share my journey and experience with them.

‘Hand-holding,’ is a step by step process in helping your associate, your customer, your client, your partner, your loved one get in touch with their own personal experience/feeling so that they can then relate to the power of your story, and/or the benefit of your product.

For example, I have found that it’s our hopes and dreams that can keep us going in the toughest of times.

Have you ever experienced a moment or several, where you felt ‘abandoned’ or ‘un-loved? Perhaps there was a time when you were a child, that your mom or dad was late in picking you up from school or practice? And with each passing moment, you got more anxious and embarrassed. Where, one by one, all of the other kids were picked up and went off smiling and laughing, while you just stood there waiting? And the longer you waited, the more your feeling of rejection, anger, hopelessness increased. Now of course, I’m sure you did eventually get picked up, or you walked home, and probably forgot all about it a few days later. But, what if that happened to you over and over again? What if you kept expecting for your parent to show up, but they never did? Wouldn’t you feel even more hurt?

Now, take that feeling that you experienced, multiply it by 100 and you might have an idea about how I felt, so many times back when I was in that Orphanage. Here’s one particular story from my childhood, after my mother abandoned myself and my two brothers when I was three, and we were placed in the Masonic Home for Children, where we stayed for the next nine long years…

“My mother did finally get back in touch with us, and would occasionally write or call, with promises that she would come visit or come and take us out of there to live with her. I remember the rare times when I would receive a letter during mail call, and I would gallop all around the dormitory, waving that letter high in the air.

And then there was the time that I actually got to talk with her on the telephone, and she said she’d be coming to get us the next day to go spend the summer with her. I was so excited, I couldn’t’ sleep all night long. The next morning I convinced my housemother to let me wait for her on the front steps.

So shortly after breakfast I sat down on the cold stone steps…waiting, watching, hoping. As each car entered the long circular driveway, my heart would beat a little faster, and I would shield my eyes from the glare of the sun and try and make out who it was. As each car left with their excited, laughing children…my heart would sink a little lower.

Finally the bell rang for lunch, and I pulled myself to my feet, and joined the small line heading to the cafeteria. “Perhaps later” I said to myself! After lunch, my Housemother pulled me aside and told me that no one would be coming to pick me up, and that I would remain at the home, once again, throughout the long summer vacation.

Late that afternoon, I sat in the deep grass and clover on the playground, beneath a huge sweet smelling Magnolia tree. The gentle sun was fading as I watched the few kids that were left, playing a game of jump rope.

As I thought about that morning, the familiar pain of abandonment wrapped its tight hold around my heart, and a feeling of hopelessness spread through my soul. Just then, the bell sounded for us to gather in our groups and head inside the building, so I automatically wiped my face and walked across the immense lawn towards the front entrance with it’s huge stone steps.

I walked up the steps with the other girls, then paused for a moment before entering the door. I turned around to take one last breath of the fresh sweet air before heading inside to the dark, musty smelling dormitories.

It was then that I noticed…there on the horizon in the gathering twilight of evening, just above the tree-line…one single star glittering brightly. Quickly, I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and whispered to myself…“Starlight, star-bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might…have the wish I wish tonight. And I made that wish…just before the hall monitor, smacked me on the backside with a ruler, and sent me inside.

It was a wish that I repeated, year after year. And it was a wish that gave me a glimmer of hope…even in my darkest hour…for as a child, I believed in the power of dreams, wishes and stars. And my wish was for loving family, a place to call home, and a happier tomorrow.”


Well, that wish upon a star, that ‘dream’ kept me going for many, many years! And that’s why I KNOW about how powerful our hopes and dreams are to our sense of well being. They are the light at the end of the tunnel. They are the candle in the darkness of night. They are our salvation when we have nothing else to turn to. So, please. Whatever you do, do not abandon your hopes and your dreams!

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