Kicking Fear’s Ass

The lady who was teaching a craft to my class today asked the kids what they feared. All the good sociology tells us to help the kids “face their fears” and “talk about their emotions”. So we smiled benevolently at them and waited for them to answer. The first four kids shared the things that scared them: roller coasters, monsters, ghosts and the dark. When we got to the fifth one, a very dainty little girl who only wears dresses, she didn’t hesitate a second before answering “nothing”. It stopped the whole discussion. I wondered if I should coax a more realistic answer out of her. Then I saw her face.

Getting to know her these last few months has helped me see that there is a spine of titanium steel beneath those lacy dresses.  She meant exactly what she’d said. Her look dared us to challenge her. Of course, the two boys after her said the same thing, that they weren’t afraid of anything either.

I’ve thought about the simple way she stated it all day. I was reminded about all the times I’ve heard that we give power to the things we acknowledge. Most of the time this is phrased in a good way: we build up our confidence when we acknowledge our success, etc. Perhaps it works in the reverse as well, and we give fear more than its due when we acknowledge its presence. Maybe denying its existence could take a bit of its sting away from it. Just a thought.

Visions, Dreams and Thorns

It used to drive me nuts to shop with my daughter.  She went to the store with a vision in mind of exactly what she wanted, then we spent an entire day searching for it, usually without success.  I would get so frustrated as I showed her item after item that would work fine. But she clung to the picture in her head and nothing else would satisfy.

Now I know where she got that trait from, something I’ve never acknowledged before.  My own vision of exactly how this path was going to turn out was so strong that it never occurred to me that there would be any deviation.  Oh, I would allow for a bit of variation here and there, but nothing prepared me for the total annihilation of my dream.

Long ago I took a nutrition class and found out an interesting fact about how our bones grow.  They literally disassemble and reconstruct themselves longer and stronger.  What a concept.  Those twin pillars of severity and mercy, of destruction and creation are actually a part of the process.  Who knew?

My boss asked me yesterday if I was getting ready for Easter. My answer was no, for a number of reasons. One of them is the fact that I’m no longer the one responsible for the egg hunt. That got me thinking. I’ve noticed that today kids get a way better deal than I did. The eggs are filled with chocolate and other candies. Some are even filled with money.

Easter egg hunting was a much tougher business back in my day. Many times we went to my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm to hunt with my cousins. The eggs were hidden in the wooded area by the house then all us kids were sent out to hunt them. Sounds kind of idyllic, doesn’t it?

Well, don’t get too caught up in nostalgia cause this was my family, not some TV one. The eggs were not the cute plastic kind that come in bright neon colors. Nor were they filled with chocolate or money. They were eggs of the hard-boiled variety. My aunt never failed to dye the eggs the same colors as the spots they’d be hidden in. This tactic made keeping an accurate count of how many eggs had been sequestered in the woods a very important component of the day.

Being sent out to hunt knowing there were two or three eggs that had never been uncovered from the previous year is not a good feeling. These little time bombs were out there, lying in wait for the unlucky kid who stumbled on them. Or who were lured by a snickering older sibling to their location.

If we managed to escape the egg bombs, we still faced the daunting task of consuming an enormous amount of boiled eggs over the next few days. I often smile to myself when I hear kids complain about how hard things are these days. Little do they know we threw ourselves on the bombs so they could have it easy.

Pass the chocolate bunny ears, please.

Three Things I’ve Learned

Three things I’ve learned:

Life is scary no matter what you choose.

*****   You can choose safety and bad things can happen.

*****    You can take a risk and bad things can happen.

*****    You can survive the bad things.

It’s okay to be afraid as long as you do it anyway.

*****     Fear is a normal human emotion – and so is panic.

*****     We can learn to control fear and panic.

*****     Courage is also a normal human emotion.

If you don’t do it, you will never get it.

*****   This is clearly a given. It makes perfect sense.

*****    You’ll never win the lottery if you don’t buy the ticket.

Buy the ticket, damn it!

To Sue or Not to Sue

There’s a lot of discussion today over our rights as citizens. Sometimes it seems like some of us think we’re entitled to do pretty much whatever we want. But if there’s one thing Americans truly seem to consider their right to do, it’s to sue. Whether or not someone is going to file a lawsuit over what happened is often the first thing that comes to our minds when we read the news. Whether or not a lawsuit turns out well is another story. Take the guy who only wanted everyone to see him praying in public.

If you read this, you’ll know his exercise of his right didn’t turn out to be the gold mine I’m sure he was hoping for. The thing that really gets me though, is wouldn’t you think having everyone around him snickering would be enough punishment? Why in the world would you take such an embarrassing incident to a more public level by filing a lawsuit? Did he think it would be less embarrassing when repeated in a court of law? I mean, what was his thought process: “Hey, guess what, I was trying to appear really cool and uber-religious so God and everyone around me would notice how great I was but those d*^* people at Applebee’s screwed it up. If they hadn’t served me hot food like I asked for, I wouldn’t have gotten burned and there would have been applause instead of laughter.”

Perhaps it’s just me, because I go out of my way to hide my embarrassing missteps. Believe me, there are a number of them. But it’s my fervent hope that most of you will never know what they are. My philosophy is if you didn’t happen to be there at the time to enjoy it in its original form, you aren’t going to learn about them from me. This philosophy is one of the reasons I skipped my high school reunion. I knew it would go any better than actual high school had when they sent me this questionnaire that asked me to write down my most embarrassing memories during that time. I thought, why in the hell would I do that? Just because the rest of you may have lost your hair or your cheerleader figure doesn’t mean I’ve lost my common sense. What happened at high school needs to stay buried in that locker.

It All Makes Sense Now

Found this today and it’s the perfect scapegoat, I mean explanation for my crazy trip:

It’s clear now that it’s all genetic. The craziness is in my blood. I was born to wander on this journey:

“According to Dobbs, the mutant form of the DRD4 gene, 7r, results in people who are “more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities,” he went on to say that bearers of this gene, “generally embrace movement, change, and adventure.”

Of course, there is the caveat at the end of the article:

“…while carriers of this genetic variant might be “incredibly resourceful, pioneering, creative,” and more predisposed for wanderlust, they also might be “utterly out of control.”

I either need to renew my passport or get serious help.

Living Loud

I once got my friend, Kristen, yelled at. It wasn’t intentional. I’d been saying things to make her laugh, and of course she did. Our boss fussed, saying she was being too loud and no one else could concentrate. Kristen looked at me, then asked, “why didn’t she yell at you too? You were the one talking.”

I thought to myself, well, duh, I know how to whisper. That quality defined most of my life. I was the kid no teacher remembered was there, the person sitting in the corner who nobody remembered coming to the party. I was, and still am, quiet.

But I’m learning not to whisper. Maybe the whole journey thing is a big shout out to the Universe to say, HEY, I’M STILL HERE! And I’m looking to do some yelling.

Well, It’s a Start…

“I’m sitting here, all my worldly, and some not so worldly, possessions packed away in a 10×20 shed, wondering what the next step in my life will be. I’m an unemployed writer/historian/filmmaker and a mother/grandmother whose children have been supportive enough not to force me into a home when I told them what I planned. I own a car that is virtually theft-proof because it looks like one the Beverly Hillbillies would have turned their nose up at, and a dog that likes to throw things. So what’s the obvious next step for a woman like me?”

I wrote these words over three years ago. Believe me, the next step wasn’t obvious in the least. My hope was to write the next great “Woman on a Journey of Self-Discovery” bestseller. Turns out my new life was less of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and more of “In the Glow of the Wal-Mart Sign”. Still, it’s had its moments. So now I’m taking computer keyboard in hand and sharing life’s craziness. The first step is learning how to put together this space. In case you can’t tell (in which case you are worse off then I am), I’m winging it. Hopefully the visuals will get better with time. If you’re up to it, come and join me. Trust me, it’ll be fun…