Tag Archive | Gastronaut

Embrace Your Fears…

fearI was talking to someone recently who always wanted to travel the world, but they were too uncomfortable, or too scared, to do it. Maybe it was the strange foods, the different languages, the media fear that perpetrates the news that they’re going to die if they leave their safe little haven. It’s probably all of the above, but to let fear rule your life will get you no where.

I write books. I’ve written them for years, but only in the past three years have I started to publish them. Why? Fear. Fear that people would laugh at me, fear that it’s not the “Great American Novel” and I’ll be ridiculed, fear of no sales, you name it. But one day something in me clicked. Maybe I got more mature, but I finally said “so what if it’s not the great american tale? I’m not Hemingway and I’m not trying to be him.” I recently read John Locke’s book on how he sold a million e-books and one thing really stuck with me. I need to stop worry about creating a book that is going to become a classic and write something fun, entertaining, engaging and will take everyone out of their everyday lives for just a little bit of time. If I’ve been able to accomplish that, it’s a success. That was a relief to read and I’m embracing it. (Not that I don’t want my books to get wide acclaim, and not that I won’t put out the best novel I can, but let’s take it one step at a time).

Me talking to the kids at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf.

Me talking to the kids at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf.

Other things that scare people? Strange foods, daring situations, presenting in front of people… my feeling is, that if any single part of you wants to try something, you should try it. If fear is the motivating factor getting in your way, and nothing else, then you need to fight it. I tend to put myself in uncomfortable situations all the time. I go to events by myself because I want to try new things and sometimes other people won’t go with me. I spoke to children at two Deaf Schools, Mill Neck Manor and St. Joseph’s, about my YA thrillers and my Sign Language was not the best, but I tried. I feel like putting yourself out there is the only way to grow. Even a book signing is slightly terrifying. Strangers coming up to you to discuss something that you’ve put your heart and soul into.

Honestly, it’s easier to sit in our homes, hide in our beds, exist in our safe little worlds – but that is not life. Life is meant to be lived and I implore you to live it. Share your artwork or writing, go to karaoke, jump out of that plane, try sushi, octopus, escargot. Pick one thing you’ve always wanted to do and then do it. Or, make a bucket list and see if you can click things off of it – even if it takes years. I did one below:

My first Tae Kwon Do Tournament - waiting to do forms. I look tough, but I was SO NERVOUS.

My first Tae Kwon Do Tournament – waiting to do forms. I look tough, but was SO NERVOUS.

My bucket list that I made seven years ago:
Get my black belt and participate in a tournament (five years later – GOT IT)
Get a book published (seven years later – SIX are out!)
Try new foods (joined a Gastronaut crazy eating club)
Travel the world (went to Alaska this summer and have plans for Italy in less than three years!)
Jump out of a plane (I still have not done this – I admit it, I’m terrified)

Now I realize I need to make another one and I’ve been thinking hard on what I want to put on it.

So, what’s on your bucket list that you’d love to do, but are scared to do? Let us know – maybe we can convince you to try!

Advertisements

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone… and not just by writing in a different genre….

Lamb testicle and deep fried beef genitalia

Lamb testicle and deep fried beef genitalia

I attended a Gastronaut dinner the other night. What is a Gastronaut you might ask? Well, it’s a person that likes to try unique foods that normally you wouldn’t eat on a day to day basis.

I would like nothing more than to travel the continents and eat street food. I firmly believe that a people’s culture is learned and experienced through their food. What is weird and uncomfortable to us Americans is very well the norm in other parts of the world. Cow’s feet, Goat’s and Lamb’s heads, brains, sweetbreads, land snails, tripe, fried genitals (the pictures in this post are from that particular dinner where innards and genitalia were the focus of the meal) – these are all things that are eaten regularly in other cultures. When people are poor, it’s not like you have a great Kobi steak lying around or a stack of gluten-free pancakes – you eat what you have – if it’s a lamb, you eat the entire thing. And I’m talking about the ENTIRE thing.

The other night the dinner was at a fantastic greek restaurant called Loukoumi in Astoria and besides great salads, and dips and octopus/calamari and other foods, they made us roasted baby lamb’s head. I posted a photo of it on Facebook to shock everyone, and I got the response I was expecting. I actually didn’t post it on this page because it was so disturbing to some folks they actually hid the photo. Out of respect for my readers who’d like to “keep their lunches intact” I decided to show some other photos instead. But we must remember, to 82 million Greeks, this is not a crazy thing to eat – it’s peasant food. Since I am not going to be able to go to Greece or Nigeria or other places soon, these special dinners are the closest thing to me finding authenticity in a people and to learn about them. I just don’t want to go through life scared and afraid just because my American senses have programmed me to be leery of certain things. That’s not to say I loved this dish. The tongue had a weird texture, the eyeball was chewy, and the entire head was fatty, but I tried it. And, the Greek kid across from me said his mother makes it every single lent.

Cold Platter, Beef Tendon, Chicken Heart, Beef Tripe, Tofu Skin, Quick Pickle, Headcheese

Cold Platter, Beef Tendon, Chicken Heart, Beef Tripe, Tofu Skin, Quick Pickle, Headcheese

I want to open myself to different things and new experiences and I believe everything I do will help me grow and become a better writer. If I can’t physically travel to exotic locales, why not try it right here in the United States where there is a melting pot of amazing restaurants and cultures?

So I implore everyone – be adventurous, get out of your comfort zone. I’m not saying go jump out of a plane (but, by all means do if you really want to), but go find an authentic new restaurant nearby. Go eat octopus, try a chicken foot, eat a grasshopper, go eat Peruvian food, Greek food, Turkish Food – go LEARN something new. I guarantee you – everything you do and try will make you a stronger person and hopefully our experiences will make us stronger writers.

What do YOU do to get out of your comfort zone? I’d love to hear.