What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Family lore has it that I taught myself to read by age three. I published my first poem in a school newsletter in kindergarten. It was about rinsing apples and washing our hands at the sinks – world-changing literature, for sure.

I have always wanted to be a writer. Yet it has been one of my “dreams deferred” for a long time, while life got in theLisa's hello world way.

Now’s my time to live the dream, and I’m delighted to share the journey with the other incredible women of 8womendream and with all of you.

In the next year, I will be completing my first book. I’m exhilarated and scared, thrilled and tickled to be doing this.

I’m fortunate to have a great writing coach, best-selling author Ellen Sussman, and writing peers along the way.

Writing a book is bigger than anything I’ve ever done. I’ve planned statewide conferences, graduated from Harvard, taught swing dancing, organized fund-raisers and dance events, published articles, worked for the mayor of San Francisco. This to me feels more challenging, and yet it’s the only thing I can do now. It’s time to tell my story.

My story isn’t pretty. My life might look good from the outside now, and I am very happy. But my early 20s were like a USA Up-All-Night B-grade movie – full of tragedy and terror, drama and trauma. I barely survived it ~ it’s a miracle I’m here today to tell my story.

Yet I’ve managed to create a wonderful life for myself, despite years of suffering, despite the aftershocks of fear and terror that left me scarred, despite deep-seated doubts about myself. I’ve overcome it all. My life has been anything but typical, and I’m grateful for that.

I am a living example of what is possible when someone truly commits to creating a happy life and realizing their dreams.

Yet it took me years to claw my way out of some of the suffering, years to find a path of happiness, years to realize that I could have peace in my life just by stopping to breathe, just by releasing myself from the grip of my own fears, perfectionism and demons. I had to realize that my fears weren’t real – they were just thoughts. I could stare them in the face, laugh at them, and move on with my life.

I am finally ready to tell the truth about myself and my life, and I’ll be sharing that journey with you.

All I’d ask is that you let my story call you to your own greatness.

What dreams lie dormant in you now that you can bring to life?

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Record it here, now. Put it out there in the world. The universe rewards our boldness.

As Goethe once said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Take one small step in the direction of that dream today.

Lisa_avatar(Lisa has launched her dream by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule — 50 pages due by December! Being invited to join 8womendream.com was a dream come true, and she looks forward to chronicling her writing process. Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco. Lisa’s post day is Tuesday).

  • Thanks Noel :-) and thanks for reading this… It’s fun “living my dreams out loud….” Hope you are living yours now too!

  • Noel

    Lisa, You Go Girl :-) I look forward to reading more about you.

  • Thanks Kim and Heather – I can’t wait to share this incredible journey with you too!!!

    And Katie, THANK YOU, that means the world to me that you still remember and are inspired by my story… Standing up there on that stage at Glide was the first time I had the courage to speak my story out loud like that. A transformative moment in my life… All of you in the Ensemble especially made me feel accepted and loved (and even encouraged me to join the choir, which I did – it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever done!). I wish I could have seen YOU at LitQuake recently… Please keep me posted on YOUR writing journey as well Katie – I’ll be cheering you on!


  • Lisa – congrats and welcome! You have an incredible story and I can’t wait hearing more about your journey as a writer.

  • Katie Burke

    You’re amazing, Lisa. I know some of your story, and I may never have told you this before, but I am still inspired by it from that time you spoke it to our community years ago. I am excited to read your blog, and I support you in your journey to finishing the book. Rock on, sister.

  • Kim

    Welcome! Looking forward to all your stories. Love your energy.

  • WOW – you all move and inspire me.

    Love you Coach Jak and wouldn’t be here withoutcha!

    Mo, I’m looking forward to hearing more about your current dreams – let me know if I can be a support – we all need each other on this journey!

    Randi, thanks for reading this and I’m honored to have you as a writing partner – here we go!

    Bianca, I couldn’t do what I do every day without you to help inspire me and keep me on track! Here’s to making that Big Leap together.

    Catherine, thank YOU for making this possible for me… I’m so excited to be a part of the team.

    Daphne, thank you for the beautiful words angel. I love you and can’t wait to see YOU live all your dreams!!! Am so proud of you!!! Best Year Yet!!!

    Remy, I’m so happy to be part of this team with you and to continue to get to know you and move through our fears together to live our dreams…

    And Julita, believe in yourself :-) You can do it and I’ll be cheering you on too. I really think we owe it to ourselves to DO the things that we would do “if we were not afraid…” to live our boldest lives.

    Can’t wait to share the journey with all of you.


  • Julita

    I ask myself: what am I afraid of? of being alone, not having love in my life, of being bored with my life, of aging, of people taking advantage of me because I am too nice, of not finding that dream job. so, what would I do if I was not afraid? I would take more risks, I would start to be happy and not worry like I do non stop.I am hoping to buy a new house, start a new job, mend my broken marriage, connect with my teen daughter, spend more time with my mom, all in 2010.

    so, Lisa, we all have our dreams and hopes. looking forward to reading about your life.you are so amazing!!

  • Remy, the photographer

    Welcome to the Group Lisa! Being bold, fearless, and honest are great ideas for every day…cause I’m certainly faced with things that challenge my weaknesses and create wonderful opportunties for fear. I have learned to not dismiss fear, but rather, honor it, understand why its making an appearance, and put it off to the side so I can move ahead. Easier said than done, sometimes – but Im confident that I’ll figure it out – whatever “it” is. Thanks for your post – cant wait till next week!!! Remy

  • Daphne

    Lisa, You are such an incredible, inspiring woman!! I am so grateful and filled with joy to be a witness to your journey. You have, in your gentle, loving way, pushed me to test the boundaries that I have subconsciously set for myself with all of my limiting stories. With such a vibrant, empowered woman as inspiration and support, I have worked to re-write my story from one of self-assigned purgatory to one filled with joy, love, success and fearlessness.

    My dreams/goals for this year are to focus and develop my wonderful career, to create and distribute relaxation CDs, to develop, nurture and honor my current relationships, to slowly develop a loving, inspiring, supportive and mutually beneficial and satisfying love relationship, to have a daily yoga and meditation practice, to continue to refine and improve my musical skills and to practice daily at least one instrument, to more deeply uncover my inner spirit through writing and artistic expression, and to somehow in between all of that find time to enjoy nature!

    Thank you so much for doing this, for encouraging us all to look within ourselves and to identify and strive towards our goals and to break out of our cacoons so we can fly free like the beautiful butterflies that we were meant to be. You are such a bright shining star in this world. Shine on, Red, Hot and Blue Supernova!!

    Love, Daphne

  • Cattherine

    Look at you go girl. I think you have the whole marketing yourself part down – I am going to enjoy reading about you over the next year.

    Congratulations and welcome to 8 Women Dream!


  • Bianca

    Bold, direct, inspiring.
    Thank you Lisa.
    I’m looking forward to hearing how the year unfolds for you, (and seeing what I will create too).

  • Randi

    A great inspiration to start the day.
    Looking forward to witnessing and sharing your journey this next year.

  • Mo

    Lisa glad to see you boldly pursuing your dreams, subscribing to rss feed and can’t wait to read more!

  • Jak

    I look forward to witnessing the bloom.

    Rock on,


  • Allright y’all I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I’m putting myself out here, living my dreams live and in public. ;)

    What’s yours? Let us help you make it happen… Put it out here now – LIVE IT – what are you waiting for?