I have chosen the word to set my intention for 2019. FEARLESS. Now just give me a moment to pop an Ativan and I’ll tell you all about it.
I chose this word because I have started out this year a great big giant bundle of fear, and I’m done with it. I thought about choosing Brave or Courageous, but you know, you have to be careful what you ask for. I am told I am brave and courageous all the time, and nobody tells me that because I stand tall with my shoulders back and a sword at the ready. They tell me that because I have endured some GOD AWFUL THINGS in life that they think they would not want to have to survive. So I’m done with those things. I’ve had enough, thank you! No more!
I don’t want to be brave in the face of danger, or courageous in the face of tests.
I want to be FEARLESS in stepping out and taking hold of life and being successful at it. At least according to my definition of success.
There are many things that have me shaking in my shoes right now. I am afraid because of money, or lack of it. When people tell you cancer is financially devastating, believe them. But my own issues are quite frankly is being amplified by the fact that thousands of people are living with that fear because of the protracted government shutdown. I think this collective fear is permeating the atmosphere, and I just add it to my own. It’s a primary cause of anxiety right now, but it’s not alone in my fearscape.
I am suffering from a fear-based paralysis. I am afraid to do things because I am afraid I will fail. Have you noticed I have not been here for awhile? That is quite simply because I don’t think anybody will be interested in anything I have to say, that they will not want to read more of my words than will fit in a Facebook post. Same with art. I have a terrible time putting pencil or brush to paper because I think I will fail to produce what I see in my mind. And hey, that’s probably true because it has been just a matter of months since I started drawing again, and yesterday is the first time I have had the guts to use a paintbrush.
I used the paintbrush to create the cover for the Cosmic Smash Book I am making this year (pictured above). It was the creation of this Smash Book that called me to set a word of intention for 2019 in the first place.
Fearlessness is not something that just falls on you. When you are a ‘fraidy cat, Fearlessness is something you have to learn, something you have to train yourself for. This is my training program.
One thing I have done for years is use the “what is the worst that could happen” question to help alleviate my fears. Now I’d already experienced the worst thing that could happen at that point, when my daughter was kidnapped. There is not much of anything that can compare to losing your child, so I started telling myself that if I could get through that, I could get through anything. It remained, however, something I had to tell myself each and every time, though. It never made its home in me. I never became brave. In fact, the opposite. It left me with a deep deep deep fear. My therapists have called it PTSD. Not unexpectedly, my fears revolve more around other people than they do myself. I am afraid of other people getting hurt more than I am of being hurt myself. I feel my children. I feel their hurts, their losses, their fears and stresses, down in my soul. And because I have a lot of kids and because life kind of sucks sometimes, I have at all times a bubbling mass of feelings that I have to kind of keep a lid on.
I love dystopian fiction, and I think it is because I enjoy seeing people face “the worst that could happen” and survive. I like survival stories in general. In my “to read” pile I have the book The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel, who wandered one day into the woods and lived there alone for years. It sounds like an interesting story, but beyond that I think a part of me wants to know how he survived so I will know how I could survive if I had to go live in the woods. Julia Butterfly Hill is my hero because she managed to spend an entire year living in the top of a tree to make a point. I love endurance sports: ultra marathons, triathlons. I generally despise sports on TV. Just the sound of them gets on my nerves. But I could sit for days watching the Tour de France bicycle race.
I store it all up in my head. People can do amazing things. People can survive. I am a person, and therefore I can survive. I can do amazing things. I do still plan on running marathons into my eighties. I just have to get out my front door first!
I recently went through a lengthy battle against advanced breast cancer. This woke me up to a few things. First, I realized I am not actually afraid of dying. In fact, I kind of view it as a Grand Adventure. I don’t know exactly what waits on the other side, but I don’t think it’s bad (unless of course it involves reincarnation and having to come back and do this all over again!). If it is true what people say, that we are just biological organisms and cease to exist when we die, that’s okay. Over the course of my cancer treatments I had six surgeries, and I developed a truly unhealthy delight in general anesthesia. I just loved being wheeled into the operating room, the bright lights and busy people, the music that always seemed to be playing, people talking to you so nicely, and then boom! You are gone, into this deep, dreamless state where there is no pain, even though people are carving you up at that very moment. There were times I was in such deep emotional pain as I went into surgery that I literally longed for the moment it would cease. If that is what comes after death, the dreamless, painless state of nonexistence, hey, that’s okay.
The only part of death I fear is the dying part, the part when you are still alive.
But the point of this blog is how I can become Fearless. My number one choice would be to have nothing to fear! Is that possible in this world? Not likely. So in order to become Fearless, what I have to do is face my fears and do what I can about them. And that is part of what I am going to be doing in my Cosmic Smash Book. I am going to set my intention, believe in it, and then figure out what I am afraid of and what I can do to become Fearless.
I intend to do at least one Fearless thing each day. This does not mean Big Stuff. Just having to make a phone call can have me tied in knots for days. Why the world cannot operate by text messages I don’t know. Going places outside my comfort zone. Meeting people I don’t know. So I have a lot of opportunities here!
I am going to pull my head out of the sand. It gets increasingly hard to breathe in that position, and also leaves you open to having your butt kicked without any forewarning. Just take my word for that. Do not put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Answer it. Open the mail. Assess what needs to be done, what needs to be paid, and take baby steps until you can take bigger strides. Sometimes the problems seem so big we are overwhelmed and afraid to even approach them. But have you ever picked up after a two-year old? My daughter and grandson (now three) live with me. First, his mother organized his toys really well, with boxes that fit in cubbies in Ikea bookshelves. There is a box for Little People, a box for cars, a box for trains, a box for bristle blocks, a box for duplo blocks, some display areas for larger toys and a miscellaneous shelf. These all live in my living room, by the way. Many times I have walked by the living room and thought, that is an impossible mess, like on those days when my grandson thought it was more fun to dump the boxes out than actually play with the toys.
But this I have learned: the secret is to take one thing at a time. Pick up, put away. Pick up, put away. Because of the way my daughter has the toys stored, it even becomes kind of a game, putting everything in the right box. We kind of line them up and each thing we pick up we toss into the proper box. It’s actually a little bit of fun, and it’s amazing how quickly an overwhelming mess can be turned into a neat, clean space.
Whatever it is that is overwhelming you, keep repeating this mantra: “one step at a time.”
These are my intentions anyway.
I am also this year delving into my writing and art in a deeper way. I’ve been held back in this because of my own self doubt, and also because in the back of my mind, because of need, I keep thinking that I need to make money at this. It’s really not impossible to do this. Between Etsy and Createspace on Amazon, even if no professional galleries or publishers or agents are interested in your stuff, you can sell it. Actually there are people who make thousands of dollars every month from their blogs. That is what the advertising is about. Me? I think I have made $8. I have something misfiring that seems to drive money away from me instead of to me. It must be hidden somewhere in my fears, so maybe I will find it as I learn to be Fearlessness. Meanwhile, if you see any ads on my blog that appeal to you, please know that the tiniest portion might go to help a real person survive in this world. Me.
I have a series of paintings I want to do, if I can figure out how. I have a book that I am working on. But it is not about Michaela. Do people want to hear about anything from me besides Michaela? Maybe I can come back to it one day, but I have written her story a million times, never finishing, never sure where it was going since there was no resolution. But this is a work of fiction, about a woman recovering from cancer, but not about a missing child. But whatever it is about, I write and write and then suddenly I think, wait, is this interesting? I start reading and don’t finish soooooo many books myself. The characters don’t appeal to me, the descriptions drag on, nothing happens, it goes back and forth between times and places and people and I can’t keep track. Would I read my own book I wonder?
What is your intention word for 2019? Be careful when picking that word, but once you do, what can you do to achieve it? Can you purposely, every single day, do something to move you closer toward your goal? If you have a phone phobia, how many calls would you need to make or receive in order to feel like a phone pro? I’d be interested in knowing what you are doing if anything.
An intention word is not the same as a New Year’s Resolution. A New Year’s Resolution deals with a behavior, like eating less to lose weight. An intention word takes you deeper. You just might want to lose weight, and you might need to eat less in order to do that, but first what is it in your life or character that you could change that would help you achieve your goals? The need to lose weight can come from a general attachment to excesses in our life, and perhaps becoming more mindful about things might help. Perhaps you could figure out what you are really doing by overeating. There are more depths here than I can plumb in a blog, but each person’s will find something different at the bottom. (I lost 30 pounds in the last year, but that’s another blog entry).
One thing I’m going to pledge is to write at least one entry in this blog each week. Maybe you will even find them interesting, but I’m going to stop letting the worry about whether you will like what I write or not, or whether you will like me or not, get in my way.
To every one who has read this far, you get a big gold star and a heartfelt I love you from me.