The Universal FlinchI forgot my book when I left the house this morning so started “The Flinch” on the train into work. I arrived home this evening and I got into a very cold shower.

No, not like that — read the book.

I don’t know how long exactly I was in there but it was at least the requisite 5 minutes.

I listened to all of the screaming voices in my head saying that it was stupid and dangerous and pointless… and I did it anyway. Stepping into the spray. Shivering. Feeling the needle pricks on my legs over and over and over. Counting my breaths.

Even now as I am typing it sounds so foolish because it was so little.

Yes, the inevitable comparison to how others live: As I switched over to hot water I thought about all those that don’t have that option.

I also thought about how I wished I had just talked to the person on the subway platform instead (read the book). I thought about talking to my boys at the bar. It doesn’t really scare me to go into an unfamiliar place alone and sit and either be by myself or talk to someone.

I smiled at some folks on the tubes. Made space for someone who needed a seat. But “no problem” was the only conversation I made. While I know I could have done more, I flinched and talked myself out of it.

Lesson learned.

I also did do was more difficult for me: I came home and got in the cold shower. I’m glad I did.


Right now I am energized. The wheels are greased and I am going and going and passionate and thinking about all that I will do for the next week and next month and next year. It feels great.

I think where the book leaves you off is at the point of being more cognizant of when you are flinching back. What are your thoughts that are stopping you from doing something? What are you really reacting to when you jump? Either into or out of something.

Coincidentally, on the same day I was faced with a choice. I had the— I have the opportunity to make an easy jump: to pack it all up in Georgia and come back to NYC to work on a friend’s show. It would be a blast and I would be back in this place that I know and love.

Hard work? Yes. But also the much more familiar and simple path. I was really contemplating it. I was to the point of even starting to think about how to tell my sister and logistics… when I got into that cold shower.

Hair still damp, I’m realizing that the harder thing will be to leave my city and go become a vegan yogi-in-training while nannying and seeing at least 2 and possibly 3 other ventures off the ground. That is before I get on a plane and go to Italy for a year.

How do I want to spend the next 9 months? What will be more fulfilling at the end of it? What do I want to go to Italy/WDS/Thailand saying I did? Even if none of my other projects really pan out— what am I excited about?

Do I progress forward or do I flinch back?

Safe to cross.

Here is the truth: As fun as the crew sounds and how happy I know I would be being back in NYC, I’m not jazzed at the idea of working for another cable tv show. I know it would consume all my time and my other projects would be distant memories.

I am extremely happy for my friend’s success and I would love to support it and him… but that is his dream. His hustle made it a reality and his drive is going to bring him other successes.

I didn’t have that drive in tv. I don’t have the drive in tv. I don’t effing watch tv!

Do what is hard Joanna.

Work without a net. Go to Italy broke if that is what it takes. I will at least be well storied and soul fulfilled. I will leave this place and come back when I have earned it.

Most importantly: I will be moving forward towards potential instead of flinching back into routine.

A kid in summer

Update: I wrote the original draft of this last week when I really was fresh from the shower. I’m going to assume that my massive head cold did not kick in — complete with 3am fever breaking and glands the size of golfballs — because of my test-of-will. (Regardless, I didn’t repeat the experiment the next day.)

Sherman Falls

I will do it again, however (most probably), when I am back to healthy because I had trouble going to sleep with a mind whirling with plans and goals. I used the 3:30-6:30am awake with chills and sweats window to write and think. Planning the work and working the plan and more conscious then ever of my flinches. Thanks Julien.

Seriously, “The Flinch” is free and you should get you some.

Now I’m tearing up NYC with a friend from college this week but staying up late to work and get things moving. I’m as resolute as ever to do great things in 2012 instead of going back to tv.

I know I will have to recommit to this choice often especially over the next 2 weeks of peer pressure to stay. I’ll be publishing my list of intentions by next Monday to try and firm up my resolve.

However friendly intended and flattering, I see the encouragement to stay for what it is: the flinch trying to seduce into the familiar. That will lead to a failure to live up to the ideals I want for myself.

No, thank you, not my choice this time. I choose the vibrant cold.


Images via flickr under CC by: bru76 (Universal Flinch), rwkvisual (Cold), zdenadel (Safe to Cross), Larry Johnson (A kid in summer) and Derek Purdy (Sherman Flalls). Thank you.


  1. Reminds me of the wtienr when I had no hot water. I couldn’t be bothered to call a technician to fix it, so instead I showered in cold water. What gave me the inspiration was watching the video for Singing in the Rain . I figured that showering in cold water is no worse than walking in the rain for a few minutes.After trying it, I can say that it’s no worse than stepping into a cold swimming pool. After a few seconds you become desensitized to the cold and the water feels fine.


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