What Are Fears Afraid Of?

Recently, a few things happened. One is, I learned to relate to some aggressive sheep dogs. The other is that I played an open mic. I’m realizing that working with fear is less about solving a mystery or scaring it away or ignoring it, and more about making friends. 

Let me explain the sheep dog scenario. I live part time at a ranch, and there are a few sheep dogs. They are doing a job, which is guarding the sheep. The sheep happen to be right outside of my front door. So walking my dog anywhere quickly became a problem.

If you are any type of perceptive, you probably notice I have a lot of pictures of my dog up on the blog. That’s no accident. I’m his biggest fan. I love the ever-loving Hell out of him. I don’t want him getting bit up, beat up, or intimidated by some dogs based on a misunderstanding of the threat he poses to some sheep.

What I did at first was just run from them. That didn’t work, they felt powerful and chased me. I then started carrying a stick to raise in the air and scare them if they chased us. That sort of worked, except sometimes they got really angry and truth be told, that stick wouldn’t do much if they wanted to attack me or my dog. Then I tried something else, which was to come outside to actually greet them alone before walking my dog.

You know what happened? They freaking loved it. The girl one even let me pet her, which is nearly unheard of. She gets happy to see me in the morning now. The boy one does as well. They say hi to me, get excited, and then they leave us pleasantly alone while we walk by the river. They don’t even bark. If they do, I say their name, and they stop. It’s that freaking simple.

The open mic. There’s another one. A small handful of my friends have heard me play and sing, even though I’ve been doing it for more than ten years for just my own amusement. It’s not a side of me I show very much, yet have always yearned to in some form or another. Since joining Soundcloud, where things are safe and distant, I’ve learned that my lyrics really do have a great impact on some people. That’s a great feeling.

I was half-watching a movie called “The Waitress” last night (Nathan Fillian is in it, come on how could I not), and one of the things the main character Jenna said was “I was addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone.”

That’s exactly how it was. I became addicted to wanting to share, wanting to share my words with whoever would want to hear them. Plus I like getting over fears and hesitations. So I did the open mic.

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A new song about feeling proud of what you are even when it’s not much comparatively:
http://soundcloud.com/starshipjenerprise/until-its-done-by-jennifer

Before going, I addressed my fears one by one. I knew that if someone went before me and sounded amazing, that I would tap into a feeling of “I’m super proud that I get to offer something very different” instead of “oh jeez I’m going to just suck compared to them.”  I meditated, I even played in front of my boyfriend for hours and had him talk to me and try to distract me while doing it because I knew my mind would attempt such things later. I met every possible fear in a friendly way and worked with it so that when I was there, I felt prepared.

It went wonderfully. I sang three songs, I made some friends, I plan to go back and do it again next week. A few months ago, I would have probably bet my dog’s right front paw that I would never do an open mic for at least a few years. But working with my fears has really made my world feel bigger.

The way that I faced the fear of singing in public and really chose to want to work with it instead of run from it or fight it was very similar to how I finally learned to be less scared of the dogs. Maybe fears are as afraid of us really looking at them as we are of them. Maybe they are more afraid of someone being nice to them than of a direct challenge, because it’s amazing how fast they can scatter once you make up your mind to just let them do whatever they want after they get a friendly “hello” from you.  It’s easier than a battle or feigning ignorance, because even if you aren’t looking, they still have a strong prey drive.

How about you, have you overcome any fears lately?

Do you like to do things that are scary, or a specific type of scary? 

Do you ever look at your fear or fight it, or try to learn about it to dissolve it?

Hope everyone is well!

Running Toilet: The Rorschach of Household Problems

The other day, the toilet at my part-time house was running for too long. I had to turn the water off, and figure out what was wrong. I gave my dad a play-by-play of the situation over the phone as I turned the water on, flushed, and watched what happened in the back part. It was fun, connecty, and educational.

And it got me thinking. What if this was a metaphor of something?

In some schools of thought, you can view your house as a reflection of your self. If you always have trash piled up before taking it out, maybe you have a problem with letting things go. If you have too much food and can never fit it all in the cupboards, maybe you can use a better system for taking inventory of your day before adding more things to your schedule. It’s rather endless and fun, and I don’t really do it.

But this running toilet was interesting. I didn’t realize that you could just turn the water off to make it stop running, turn it back on, use the toilet, and then turn it off again. It was like empowering magic.

Do I have something that’s constantly running in my mind, something that ends up doing more than it should and causing problems because of it? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. It’s called fear about the future. It’s always running, overflowing, doing more than it needs to.

A small amount of that fear can be fine in some situations. It helps me to be careful, to be safe, to take account of what’s happening and choose my actions accordingly.

But too much of that fear constantly running is just a waste of energy and creates an annoying noise in the background.

So I started applying what I learned about the toilet’s water system to my own fear. Turn it off. Twist the knob, make it stop. I can turn it on when I need it, but there’s no need for it to be running constantly.

I did that, specifically in relation to some dog issues that have been arising in this house, since it’s a ranch and there are many dogs and my dog’s a little nuts. I am constantly afraid that he’s going to get super hurt, but I also want us to be able to play by the river and have fun and get exercise.

I shut the fear off temporarily. I went to the river, I felt the ground under my feet and the sunshine and all the things that were not fear. It went fine. The fear came back, but then I went to the river again the next day. The fear didn’t come back that time.

And now, the toilet doesn’t keep running. Maybe it will again, but for now it’s working great. At the same time, I try to learn about the water pipe of my fear. Where’s the knob, how far to the right do I have to turn it before it stops? Can I find it in the dark if I need to? And can I notice the times when it actually doesn’t run for too long and appreciate them?

Just some thoughts.

Are there household problems that you feel could relate to your own mind?

Do you ever see your house as a reflection of yourself or is that just new-age hippie crap?

If you had to pick one random thing, like dishes in the sink or dust on the shelves, and relate it to your mind, do you get some ideas of things that pop up?

Hope you all are well 🙂

In the link under the picture is a song by Tom Waits called “Yesterday is Here” that I covered with a distant friend. Actually trying to “sing” was new for me, and I’m rather proud of how it turned out! Shuttin’ off the fear is fun!

Why I Love Loving What I Hate (AKA, Reality Doesn’t Pick Sides)

A lot of my favorite people had a hard time growing up. Some of us were made fun of by our friends, some had abusive family situations, some suffered real hunger and fear of imminent death and some suffered with extreme states of mind.

A lot of my favorite people have learned from these struggles, and have found a way of becoming inspiring because of it. And some of them are going to someday, I can feel it.

Recently I told a friend that I felt really confident about my new job. He suggested to really savor the feeling and write about it because “someday, you might really need it.” When my ravenous insecurity hits, I want to remember how it felt to feel confident and capable.

In the spirit of that encounter, I want to share something that I’ve been feeling good about lately, which is my ability to identify, appreciate, and learn from my hatred of some things.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my studies of academia and real life, it is that things are rarely black and white. One person full-heartedly believes one thing and someone else believes the opposite, and reality has never once really chosen a side. It has a compassionate ear in both directions to anyone who cares to listen.

So, my hatred of things is something that I’m pretty sure is not ever completely accurate. My insecurity, fear, anxiety, and repulsion is often times a red flag for me to look closer.

“I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

What’s really going on here? I mean, really?

Oh, right, reality doesn’t pick sides. It just is. Lots of things at once, like a minestrone soup. You can eat it in many ways. Maybe you eat the carrot pieces first because you want to get them out of the way before you get to the chunks of potato, or maybe you eat all the noodles first because you love them and want to throw away the rest anyway. Who knows. There’s lots of ways to eat it, and it’s all there when you care to look at it. If you try eating it in a new way, something new may emerge. Maybe you like carrots more than you used to when you slow down and savor their flavor, maybe the taste of asparagus is exactly what you needed. Can you even put asparagus in soup? Anything’s possible.

The more curiosity that I hold towards things that are unappealing, the more that I learn. I learn about my fear of a certain type of situation, I learn about what other nuances exist in it. This helps me when I want to write fiction, it also helps me when I want to work with people who have more extreme fears, anxieties, phobias and repulsions than I do.

We can all relate to each other. It’s really not that hard. And yet, it’s scary. It’s scary to relate to someone with depression when you feel as if you are happy. What if they bring you down? Well you know what? If you are avoiding relating to that person, I would question the authenticity of your happiness all together. Happiness based on protection from the things that are quote-unquote “not happy” is not any type of happiness that I would want to be a part of. No siree.

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”
Pema Chödrön

So as I step into a feeling of confidence with my job, and take a gentle inventory of the most useful things I have to offer myself, my curiosity about my hatred is one of my top faves. At least for now.

What about you, have you learned from hardship in your life? Do you feel like it has made you a better person in the long run?

Do you like relating to people with love even if they are in a hard place in their life right now?

I’m curious. As always, thank you for reading. You guys truly rock.