Learning to Stop Being a Scaredy Cat

There is nothing to be gained in fear. You may feel more at ease, protected, safe and unconcerned, but you will only have lost on your opportunity to push past easy, safe and comfortable. We all carry this mouse with a megaphone called fear, judging us, pushing us, or holding us back. It’s sometimes called common sense, but more often than that it is simply complacency. I wrote this to encourage myself as I chase my dream to make my writing mean something to people.

I hope this little piece finds someone and hits them hard. I hope they then somehow find the courage to call this “monster” by its name, and go conquer the world in their own beautiful, meaningful, life-altering way.

I’m done being a scaredy cat. It hasn’t served me well.

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Fear is an instinct, built into us, to preserve us, to protect us from the possibility of pain.

Fear is your mother’s voice in your childhood ear – ‘be careful. not too high. not so fast. not so far’.

Fear is the dark corridor, the blind corner, the drop into the trench and the void that is the unknown.

Fear is insulation around your heart, two ply bubble wrap and a warning label…’Fragile: handle with care”.

Fear is the sweat of your palms, the words caught in your throat, the Doubting Thomas of your subconscious that quietly reminds and reprimands you, “better safe than sorry”.

Fear is a nameless face with a clipboard and a checklist of all the things you think you “should“. Should be, should have, should say, should do. Fear is checking those off one by one and in the meantime you lose your chance…

Your chance to taste life, to sing, to dance, to write, to paint, to create, to pursue…your change to sashay your spirit into that unknown space of “maybe…”

Fear is the thief that doesn’t even bother coming in the night. Fear walks into your office with you on another mundane Monday and robs you blind in broad daylight.

Fear says “not now”, fear comforts you with “next time”, fear reiterates your to do list and keeps you busy. Fear says, most often and with the most conviction “not you, you could never…”.

Fear is pervasive and strong and condoned by society as sensibility. Fear is acceptable. Fear is common ground with a brethren of people with their clipboards and comparing notes on who has the most check marks.

…but fear is no guarded prison. There are no shackles or irons, no fetters, no chains, no sentence to serve. You can walk out at any time.

Fear isn’t immortal. It isn’t indestructible. Fear isn’t “death and taxes”. It isn’t long winded and it isn’t eternal.

Fear is routed out of life by knowledge – like the little girl who finally looked under her bed to find no monsters, no sharp teeth and jagged claws and in her victory, slept peacefully in the dark.

Fear is dissipated by effort. Like fog burning off in bright, mid-morning light, fear cannot return to the space you have filled with “try”. 

Fear is told to go to hell when you understand the falsehood, the emptiness, and the slight of hand trick that it plays in your life.

Fear, in its true form, is so very powerless.

It begins to lose the moment it’s recognized “I think I’m JUST afraid…”

Its weakened further by the blow of “WHAT IF…?”

Its fully disarmed by “I’m going to try…”

And is devastated completely by “I won’t give up…”

Thoughts on Getting a Little Older 

I have to admit this is not a new piece of writing, but it is one that is close to my heart. I revisited it today and found it to still be something I feel very deeply. I am sharing … Continue reading

My Eidetic Memory

Someone asked me a question earlier this evening that prompted this, my first post in months. The question:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY?’

I had an amazing childhood. I had a backyard full of madness – dogs, raccoons, a tire swing, a trampoline, bb guns, a go-cart, a garden, little popup pools in the summer and a ‘clubhouse’ on stilts. All the kids in the neighborhood flocked to our house. Kids weren’t allowed through the back gate without a note from their parents. I have not exaggerated one word. It was pretty incredible.

My favorite childhood memory could have been behind that chainlink fence or at the park across the street. It could have been one of the many camping excursions, the trips we took as a family to the hill country or my first sleepover. No, my favorite memory is simple and precious. It’s also so vivid that I can recall the sensory experience, as if it had just happened, although it was twenty-seven years ago this summer.

The summer I turned eight years old, my dad taught me how to swim at Lake Somerville. I remember following him out to the water. I remember carefully putting my feet where he had just left indentions in the muddy bank. I remember how he firmly told me not to be afraid. I remember him turning my little hands into ‘boats’. I remember him teaching me the kicks. I do not remember feeling afraid, doubtful or inferior because I didn’t know what to do. I felt safe and sure.

I remember the way the lake water smelled on him mixed with his Sure deodorant and how it got all caught up on his furry chest (he was super fuzzy!). I remember the way the sun looked; dipping into its final performance of the day and sending shimmery, red, late-July light across the surface of the muddy lake. I remember his assuring voice guiding me through the steps and patiently waiting for me to pick up the skill. I remember how it felt the first time I soared away from him and surprised myself with my strength.

I have subconsciously conjured this precious recollection hundreds of times over. Until recently I had not realized that it is definitely the most dear to my heart out of all the unforgettable moments of a childhood like mine. The brilliance of the recall might be part of why I favor it so much. However, being able to bring back who I was and who he was so realistically is just extra goodness.

I love this memory so much because it exemplifies who my daddy was to me and who I was to him. I was his to protect, lead, care for, reassure, admonish, make strong and prepared for the world. He was all those things to me and more.

So in my own life, in my own time, I have learned again how to step where he stepped, to not be afraid, to use my hands and the tools I had been given. I have remembered his assuring wisdom, referenced his guidance and learned from the skills he lived out in front of me. I have, more times than I had ever imagined that I could, surprised myself with my strength – but I never would have known it had it not been for him.

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If this photo had been taken just a tick or two to the right then the exact spot I learned to swim that July day would be in the frame.