Facing Fear

I really dislike ticks.  Okay that is probably the understatement of the century.  I hate them and see no reason for their existence.  Yes, I know they are an insect, that they are small, that they are attracted to animals and people.  Ticks freak me out.  Even though I douse myself in anti-tick spray (on occasion I will douse myself several times), somehow a tick will be on me.  I freak out and do what is affectionately known as the “tick dance.”  I just shuddered thinking about ticks.  Where am I going with this?  I don’t let my fear of ticks keep me from going hiking in the woods where a majority of the ticks live.

Part of the “tick dance” is my personal version of fight or flight, the primal instinct that remains from our earliest ancestors.  I instantly react to the tick by getting it off of me as soon as possible.  That doesn’t stop the skin crawling and involuntary movement of my body trying to get away from the tick.  I just shuddered again.  Did I explain how much ticks freak me out?  Everyone has their own fear, freak out, and fight or flight situations.  Just as everyone has their own personal fear situations, each person deals with theirs in their own unique way.

Sometimes in our dealing with fear, we make our worst fears come true.  We are so afraid that something will happen we actually make it happen.  I have a friend whose mother was a helicopter mom.  Hovered over her.  Smothered her.  Her mom insinuated herself in every area of my friend’s life.  I met my friend when she was going for her bachelor’s degree at a University four states away from her mother.  Her mother would call her every day.  (This was before cell phones.)  Most of the time she would have whoever answered the phone tell her mom that she wasn’t there.  Her mother’s fear was that she would lose her daughter.  My friend lives on another continent and has an ocean between her and her mother.  (She confessed to me at one time that she had done this on purpose because her mother is terrified of flying.)  My friends mother made her fear come true.  By constantly inserting herself in her daughter’s life, up until college.  Once my friend had some autonomy, she found that she really enjoyed it and didn’t want to go back to the way things were, providing the outcome her mother feared would happen.

There are occasions when we face our fears, often by taking a risk, and find out that our worst fears about the situation did not come true.  I am a professional artist.  I submit my artwork for juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions.  A person or group of people look at my work and decide if it is appropriate for the theme of their show, good enough for their museum or exhibition space, and acceptable to their standards of what art is.  Every time I put together an exhibit proposal or fill out the form for a juried exhibition, I am afraid.  Afraid of not being accepted and almost equally afraid of being accepted.  For every acceptance letter there are two or three “thanks but no thanks” letters.  The crazy thing is that after I have put it all together and sent off the materials it doesn’t really matter what letter comes back.  I conquered my fear by doing the work and taking the risk.

As a side note about facing fear, I have noticed that when you take a daring risk, the universe notices and rewards you for being brave.

When talking to a friend recently about being brave, he reminded me of this quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue in-spite of fear.”  This is my hope for all of us.  To make decisions based on hope and love, not fear.  To take risks that may be scary but the rewards out weigh the fear.  To thrive in-spite fear.

Also, if you see a tick on me, please get it off me as quickly as possible.  Thank you.


“It isn’t for the moment you are stuck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I had been stuck creatively.  I wasn’t creating.  I was writing my morning pages and doing the work to be ready for when I would become unstuck.  Because I believed that I wouldn’t be stuck forever.  There were many reasons for being stuck.  And it took some very interesting experiences to become unstuck.  (Most of which will show up in my posts over time.)

What I wanted to share is that even when you become unstuck you need to be kind and gentle with yourself.  Nurture the new creativity.  Allow the creative work to grow.  Then I came across this quote and heard from a friend who has started writing.

Long uphill climb….. whether you are starting out or became unstuck, you’ve got to keep working.  You have to have the courage to follow that work through.  It doesn’t become easy just because you are unstuck.  Now the real work begins.