Archive for Fear Posts

published in Change, Dreams/Goals, Fear, Inspiration, Procrastination by Maryanne | February 12, 2017 | 2 Comments

Waffles Anyone – What Type of Decision Maker Are You?


“We don’t know if a choice is wise or wrong until we’ve lived it. We can’t ever really know where a choice will take us, though we may sense its direction.”

Sarah Ban Breathach, Something More; Excavating Your Authentic Self

When it comes to making big life decisions, I tend to waffle back and forth.

I’m the type of person who tries to look at ALL the angles. I write out all the pros and cons I can think of. I ask people for their advice. I do the research. I wrack my brain trying to think of all the things that could go wrong. But, of course, trying to determine all possible things that could go wrong – or right – is technically impossible…because we don’t know what we don’t know yet!

Sure, we can anticipate the obvious likely outcomes, if we chose a certain course of action. But there is simply no way we can anticipate all outcomes because there are, whether we like it or not, other variables that likely aren’t even on our radar yet.

In other words, we don’t live in a vacuum.

I’ve been waffling over a decision for quite some time now, so when I was reading the February 2017 edition of O Magazine the other day, an article caught my eye. It was about the different types of decision makers there are. So I did the little quiz and it turned out I am “The Waffler.” I laughed out loud…yup!

Here is the description of The Waffler:

“You’re a thoughtful person who considers all the angles…but now you’re overanalyzing, so busy looking you can’t leap. The more time you spend thinking about what you should do, the less able you are to do anything at all.”


Sometimes I think so much, I think myself right into a big fat corner, immobilized by indecision and terrified of making the WRONG decision. So I put off making ANY decision…which, of course, is still a decision – just not a particularly proactive one.

In terms of advising us Wafflers on how to flip ourselves out of the damn pan of indecision, O Magazine had this to suggest:

“Do a gut check. Write your choices on a separate piece of paper and fold them into squares, then throw them in the air and pick up the one that lands closest. When you read what’s inside, check your physical reaction. Are you holding your breath or sighing in relief? Do you feel lighter or heavier? Let your response be your guide.”

– O Magazine, February 2017

So that’s exactly what I did – and you know what? It kinda helped! And I think I know why.

This strategy is similar to a cute little coffee-table book I have, called The Book of Answers by Carol Bolt. It was given to me by a dear friend years ago. It is, literally, a book of answers, in that each page has a single “answer” on it.

So what you do is hold the book, close your eyes, ask yourself a close-ended question (e.g. “Is the job I am applying for the right one?”), then open the book up to whatever feels like the right page, open your eyes and ta da…there’s your answer!

Here are a few sample answers:

“That’s out of your control”

“Don’t ignore the obvious”

“Make a list of why not”

“You are too close to see”

“You will find out everything you need to know”

Kids love it!

Now, of course, the book doesn’t really have THE answer to our questions. It just has an answer – and it is up to us to see how that answer makes us feel. And that, I have found, can actually be very helpful – similar to the idea of tossing the pieces of paper in the air and randomly choosing one.

If I ask the book a question and I rather like the answer I get, then that tells me I might be on the right track. If I DON’T like the answer I get and am, in fact, a little miffed at the audacity of the Universe to suggest such a thing, then that is also revealing in terms of helping me figure out what I don’t want.

“There comes a time when we aren’t allowed to know.”

– Judith Viorst

In the end, a decision needs to be made – even if it is the decision to do nothing at all. But what I’ve also come to realize over the years is that, for me, waffling may actually be an important part of the decision-making process.

Maybe we waffle when we know we have to make a change – but aren’t quite sure what or when…possibly because there are other factors and forces at play that we have no control over?

Perhaps other things have to line up first and then when everything else is in place, the time comes for us to make our move – and, low and behold, we DO know what to do and when.

In other words, maybe the process of waffling has helped prepare us to be able to make the right decision when the right time comes to make it?

Food for thought 🙂

When it comes to making big life decisions, are you a Waffler? What is your decision-making process like? Do you trust your gut instinct?

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

Searching for Something More


Something More book cover

“When we talk about Something More, it isn’t wanting a fancier car, a bigger house, or a designer dress. Something More is what we need to fill our spiritual hunger.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach, Something More

What have you been reading this summer?

I’ve been reading, yet again, one of my all-time favourite books: Something More; Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach (author of Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy).

Something More is based on the premise that “the authentic self is the soul made visible.”

Alas, as is often the way with matters pertaining to the soul, it’s a book I find to be more unsettling than encouraging – but in a good way. Its candour cuts to the core of some pretty deep truths about women’s lives, particularly about the danger of…settling.

“Our choices can be conscious or unconscious,” explains Ban Breathnach in Something More. “Conscious choice is creative, the heart of authenticity.”

But when we fall asleep at the wheel of our own lives (and I suspect it happens to most of us at some point) and begin making small but significant decisions on auto-pilot – that serve to keep the peace but aren’t necessarily for our own highest good – we can run into trouble.

So how do we prevent this from happening? By pulling over to the side of the road, of course, and taking a time-out. Or put another way:

“Be still, woman, and know who you are.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Something More

But many women don’t STOP because a) they lead very busy lives (and likely manage several other people’s busy lives, as well) and; b) to stop means to think and that could lead to reflecting and that could lead to change and that could lead to all sorts of uncomfortable things for all sorts of people. So, on some level, it seems wiser to keep moving – and the status quo intact.

But here’s one problem, among many, with that strategy: “When we lose touch with our true natures,” explains Ban Breathnach, “we become unable to create boundaries that protect, nurture, and sustain our self-worth.”

Been there, done that, got the (very expensive) t-shirt.

So how do we know when we’ve veered off track…away from our soul’s authentic path? By how we feel.

“The soul is here for it’s own joy.”

– Rumi

“Many of us confuse happiness and joy,” writes Ban Breathnach. “Happiness is often triggered by external events, events we usually have no control over – you get the promotion, he loves you back, they approve your mortgage application. Happiness camouflages a lot of fears. But joy is the absence of fear. Joy is your soul’s knowledge that if you don’t get the promotion, keep the relationship, or buy the house, it’s because you weren’t meant to. You’re meant to have something better, something richer, something more.”

If you know, deep down, that you need to make some sort of significant change in your life, here is a passage from Something More that you might find of help:

“The medical-intuitive Caroline Myss…tells us that when we know we are supposed to move on or out of a situation that is stunting our soul growth and we consciously refuse to do so because the uncharted terror of choice and change scares us, a celestial clock starts ticking. “If you’re getting directions, ‘Move on with your life, let go of something,’ then do it. Have the courage to do it. This is the way it is. When you get guidance to let go of something, it’s sort of like a time warning that says, ‘You have ten days left. After that, your angel’s going to do it.’ So the desire to hold on is not going to stop the process of change.”

If I had read that when I was 17, I would have thought it ridiculous. But now that I’ve experienced life on this planet for almost 50 years, I know that a mere desire to keep things the way they are is NOT going to stop the process of change. Time and time again, I have found this to be true in my own life.

However, I do think we get plenty of sweet – and not-so-sweet but still small enough to be ignored – little nudges from the Universe to help us make the changes we know we need to make, in ourselves and/or our lives, before A Big One (health scare, loss of a loved one, financial crisis, divorce, etc) potentially arrives in all its heartbreaking, life-altering, soul-waking splendour 🙁

But here’s the good news:

“If you can learn from hard knocks, you can learn from soft touches.”

– Carolyn Kenmore

Thankfully, I have found this to be equally true 🙂

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary

The Danger of Comfort – Lessons from the Cubicle

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Change, Courage, Failure, Fear, Inspiration by Maryanne | June 28, 2016 | 2 Comments

Fly or Flop – Overcoming the Fear of Failure


MA flying

“The only failure is not to try.”

– George Clooney

When I was visiting Montreal recently, the friends I was staying with, Helene and Clement, suggested I go flying at a place called SkyVenture.

“Flying?” I said.

“Yeah,” replied Helene. “In a wind tunnel. It’s kinda like skydiving only you don’t have to jump out of a plane.”

The next thing I knew we were inside said SkyVenture building, checking on availability for the day. But there wasn’t room for me to fly until 5 o’clock that evening.

“I dunno,” I said to Helene, as we were standing at the desk. “I don’t want to cut short our day of sightseeing by having to rush back here for 5. And it’s kinda expensive. And…”

Helene looked me. “And…?”

I shrugged. “And what if I don’t get it?”

She laughed. “You’ll get it. They teach you everything you need to know and an instructor is with you the whole time. It’s totally safe.”

“Why don’t you go upstairs and watch,” the girl at the desk suggested. “The instructors will be doing a demo in a few minutes.”

So we did. And let me tell you, those instructors – who were likely also professional skydivers – were flying around that wind tunnel like nobody’s business! They were doing backflips and kicking off from the sides and whipping around in circles and shooting lightning-quick from the grate at the bottom to the very top. It was awesome!

pros in wind tunnel flying

The pros in action, SkyVenture Montreal

As I was staring in awe at the airborne gymnastics inside the wind tunnel, Clement glanced over at me and thought he better clarify things. “You won’t be doing any of that, Maryanne.”

Sure enough, after the pros had done their demo of the cool tricks, they returned to the business of helping schmucks like me attempt the basics of flying, which appeared to entail lying spread-eagled on your stomach – like Superman – and trying not to drop down to the grate at the bottom where the wind was blasting up through.

But judging from the number of people who, despite the instructor’s repeated hand signals and actual hands-on assistance, kept dropping like a stone towards the grate then flopping around like a fish out of water, it actually looked quite tricky to do correctly i.e. remain in the air…to fly.

So as I stood there, watching several different people attempt – with mixed results – to fly, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to give it a go, I asked myself: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

And my answer?

That I would fail. That I would forget what the hand signals meant. That I, too, would drop to the grate and flop around like a big fat fish in a flight suit.  

But then I asked myself: so what?

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

So I signed up for the 5 o’clock time slot.

And when 5 p.m. rolled around, I listened carefully to my (oh so adorable!) instructor’s detailed instructions. I studied the hand signals on the wall as if my life depended on it. Even though my life didn’t, my ego certainly did. Then I climbed into my flight suit, put in earplugs, donned my helmet and safety glasses and awaited my turn to fly…or not.

MA flying mouth closed

But I DID fly! Sure, I dropped down towards the grate a couple of times at the beginning but when my instructor gave me the signal to straighten my legs, I did so…and voila! Up I floated again.

Interestingly, the key to flying (in a wind tunnel anyway) is to expose the maximum amount of one’s body surface to the wind. The tiniest tweak in one’s position significantly impacts whether one floats or sinks…and isn’t that a metaphor for life itself?

Likewise, another trick we were taught is to keep your chin up – because that ensures your back is arched, thereby exposing more surface area on the front of your body to the wind.

MA flying MA big smile

I loved the experience of flying. I loved how I overcame my fear of forgetting and/or failing and/or looking like an idiot. I loved the sense of accomplishment that came from succeeding at something completely new to me.

Mostly, however, I loved how excited Helene and Clement were to encourage and cheer me on. It was a good reminder about the importance of having a cheering squad – regardless of what we’re doing – as well as being on the cheering squad for others in our lives 🙂

MA, Helene & Clement

Clement, Helene & MA

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.