Facing My Fears

I don’t like to brag, but sometimes you just have to stop and celebrate successes. I’ve conquered my fear of tablecloth origami.

That’s right.  We’ve concluded the Alpha program at our church and I’ve managed to fold and hang the ten tablecloths we’ve been using for our weekly dinners since January.  You may remember that I’ve been taking them home to launder each week, but I’ve steered well clear of attempting the intricate process by which the tablecloths are supposed to be folded and hung in the linen cabinet because I was paralyzed by fear. The other day, I took a deep breathe and faced my fear.  Now, seven round and three rectangular tablecloths are hanging, relatively neatly, in the parish center linen closet.  I may not have done the task perfectly, but the end product is a reasonable facsimile of what it is supposed to be.  I call that a victory.  I’ve vanquished my tablecloth demons!

I do think it is important to not let our fears cripple us.  On the other hand, nobody has to run around doing everything just to prove a point.  

I’ve never been what you would call a thrillseeker.  I’m not going to lie.  I am afraid of stuff.  I have avoided doing some things because I was afraid.  I believe most of my fears are rational.  I admit that some are not.  The thing is- I really don’t have that much FOMO.  I’ve never felt the need to do things like skydive or wrestle crocodiles or stick my hand in a badger’s den just for the sake of it.  I understand that some people like the adrenaline rush they get from doing such things, but I just never saw the point.  I think my body makes quite enough adrenaline on its own without me priming the pump. 

I don’t really think there is any need to do stuff just to do it.  I never got that whole concept of “climbing the mountain because it is there.”  I think opting out of doing something is a perfectly reasonable decision. I remember a conversation I had once with my mother about six months after my father died.  She called me and, in a strained and sob-sodden voice, told me that she was going to a play with a friend of hers.  I knew immediately from her voice that the play was Guys and Dolls. My parents attended a performance of this musical on their first date.  When I asked her about it, she confirmed my suspicion and started crying in earnest.  I asked, since it was obviously upsetting her so much, why she was going.  She haltingly said, “I have to go sometime.”  I pointed out that, in fact, she did not have to go.  It was my humble opinion that she could easily go the rest of her life without ever seeing Guys and Dolls again. 

During our conversation, my mother started to realize that she actually wanted to go see the play.  She wanted to have a fun night out with her friend and she wanted to feel normal.  On some level, she believed that she was missing out on a certain joy in her life because she was afraid to do something that might increase her grief.  For her, I don’t think it was so much the play itself that she was afraid of missing.  She was afraid that her life would be consumed by grief if she allowed herself to hide from doing normal things that she would have done without hesitation if my father was still alive.  Her FOMO over what she might miss in her life because she was afraid of her grief was much bigger and scarier than her fear of facing her grief.  She saw value in facing a risk. Unlike the hand-in-a-badger-den thing, she saw a chance of reward.

So, I guess facing fears is a good thing.  I’m not sure my life is any better because I have slayed the tablecloth dragons.  I’m not sure I’ll ever decide to fold tablecloths again.  I may opt out of tablecloth folding.  But I’ll decide not to do it on my own terms.  I’ll decide not to do it based on my own desire and inclination, not based on fear. 

P.S. After my foray into the world of tablecloth origami, another lady suggested in the nicest possible way that I was doing it all wrong and taught me another way to fold the tablecloths. It seems I was correct in thinking my natural talents do not lie in this direction. Still, I did my best and did not allow my fear to prevent me from trying something new. That’s what is important, right? Anybody? Help me out here!

What fears have you faced and what was the benefit? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a fear-free day!

Losing Myself

You know how people always talk about “finding themselves?” This week, I am off doing exactly the opposite. I am on a quest to lose myself. That’s right. For a few days, I am hoping to lose myself in different surroundings, different activities, and different dining experiences (I’m talking about YOU, In-And-Out Burger!) I am also hoping that, in the process of losing myself, I will find a decent pizza.

At any rate, I’ll be back next week with new content. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. Better yet… if you are pining for me, consider toddling on over to your favorite online bookseller and ordering a copy of my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement.

Have a purposeful day! It is always good to have a goal, even if that goal is losing yourself.

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Blooming

Max and I went to the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot the other day.  I love Epcot and I particularly love this event. There are huge topiaries of Disney characters.  There are spectacular floral designs carpeting the grounds.  There are creative and unusual playground gardens where children burn energy.  There is a butterfly garden, filled with light, lazy aerial ballerinas dancing nonstop through the air.  There are different sights and smells all over the park to entrance the senses.  It is no coincidence that we think of Paradise as the Garden of Eden and Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival definitely evokes paradise. 

Now that spring is here, the Flower and Garden Festival got me thinking about blooming.  There was a lot of blooming going on in Epcot.  I’m thinking of another kind of blooming, though.

I think we all go through spurts of spontaneous creative energy periodically in our lives.  We all experience times when the momentum of our lives become sweet and fertile.  We seem to experience one amazing epiphany after another, each feeding on the one before it.  The pieces are clicking together almost automatically.  It seems as though our lives are enrichening moment by moment.  We may or may not experience success in all our endeavors and I don’t mean to suggest that it doesn’t take hard work to make something wonderful out of all this impetus.  However, even in our failures during these times, we are usually happy and satisfied and confident.  There is an excitement and lushness about living that is completely independent of traditional success.  We are luxuriating in the moment, thankful for all the unique miracles in our lives. 

What spurs these periods of renaissance in our lives?  I’ve seen it happen when people fall into a healthy love relationship.  It can also happen when people become parents.  Sometimes it happens when people have careers that reflect their intellectual passions and work with colleagues who are likeminded.  Maybe it boils down to love.  When love is in the mix, whether it be love for a significant other or love for a child or love for an idea, people may feel safer pushing their boundaries and believing the dreams they normally wouldn’t even dare to dream.

However, it seems that loss can also be a catalyst for these periods of exploration and awakening. Since my mother’s death, I have been experiencing my own personal renaissance.  I’ve changed so much.  I am so much more engaged with people and with the world.  I am much more confident and secure than I’ve been in my life. My spiritual life is more exquisite. I feel physically healthier than I can ever remember being.  I feel like that health shines from the inside out and makes me a more attractive person.  I’m still not traditionally pretty, but I just don’t care anymore.  I no longer worry about being attractive enough or good enough or anything enough to be “worth” other people’s attention and approval.  I am just me and I trust that is enough to attract the right people in my life.  There is a sort of centeredness and peace in my spirit.  I try things that I never would have in the past- publishing the book, singing in the choir, acting in a play, reigning as Alpha Hospitality Princess, creating art, and many other activities.  I am blooming.

If I am honest, I think I have to say that some of this blossoming is the result of the crushingly sad journey I took with my mother during her illness and death.  During that time, I found out that I am much more complex and multi-faceted than the “me” I always thought I knew.  I also had to learn, through the grieving process, how to let go of parts of my life that were no longer blooming.     

Now, you all know how much I loved my mother.  I still miss her sharply and deeply every single day.  I would give up every blossom I have gathered in the past year and a half if it could bring her back- healthy, happy, and living life with me.  Since I can’t bring her back, I know she is happy that I am using the life and love she gave me to create something wonderful in my spirit. 

As painful as it is, maybe sometimes you have to prune to bloom.  Especially if the pruning is accompanied by love.

Have you experienced a period of personal renaissance? Tell us about it!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a blooming day!

Terri/Dorry 😊