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The Fear Response

A friend of mine says FEAR stands for F— Everything And Run. I tend to agree. This week some fear has been coming up for me. Old, residual fear about money, the future, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been tapping along to Brad Yates’ “Fear And Panic Right Now,” and I’ve realized I don’t need my f— everything and run response anymore. Fear does not keep me safe. Fear does not help me handle a situation. Fear doesn’t do anything except make me afraid.

Some people (myself included) have said fear is necessary. That fear keeps us alive because it stops us from sticking our hand in a fire or handling poisonous snakes. That fear is our survival mechanism.
Eckhart Tolle writes in The Power Of Now:
“The reason why you don’t put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it’s because you know that you’ll get burned. You don’t need fear to avoid unnecessary danger – just a minimum of intelligence and common sense. For such practical matters, it is useful to apply the lessons learned in the past. . .The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and immediate danger. . .This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future.”
I realize a lot of my fear centers on “what ifs.” What if I get laid off? What if that cute boy calls me? What if he doesn’t call me? What if I don’t meet my deadlines? What if I miss my flight? As Tolle (and Brad Yates, and ok, a ton of other people) say, if those situations come up, I’ll handle them. If I get laid off I’ll go on unemployment, or get another job, or move in with a friend. That fear response? I don’t need it. Not even a little bit.
I am more safe than I can imagine. I am more secure than I know. I am already provided for and loved. I am allowed to move through life with ease and grace and joy. When I feel afraid it’s my opportunity to come back to the present moment. It’s my chance to ask myself, “Are you freaking out about the future? Or something to be dealt with right now?” If it’s right now I’ll deal with it right now. Being afraid or not afraid doesn’t preclude me from taking action. I’m going to take the action no matter what. Not being afraid though? Sure is more fun. And I’ll probably be more clear-headed about my decision.
This is me releasing any remaining fear. This is me recognizing fear comes from a gap in my mind between me in the now and me in the future. And all there is, my friend, is now. Ram Dass said it best more than 40 years ago, “Be Here Now.” That’s what I want, to be here now.
I dream of a world without fear. I dream of a world where we all feel safe, secure and protected. I dream of a world where we move through life feeling ease and grace and joy. A world where we take the next right action and then the next, staying present with each step along the way. A world where we allow ourselves to be who we are because fear is no longer a part of the equation.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
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Acceptance

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”

There are a lot of things floating in my head at the moment regarding acceptance. One, how there is a balance between accepting things as they are and trying to change them. Acceptance is indeed the answer but it’s dangerous to associate acceptance with complacency. The idea, “Well that’s just the way things are. What can we do about it?” That is perhaps a blog for another time.
Mostly I want to talk about accepting divine guidance and accepting the path we are walking. There has been A LOT of resistance within me about my path and what the Universe has been communicating to me. There has been resistance because I was afraid, or didn’t feel worthy, or the whole thing felt unrealistic because I didn’t have any physical proof. I’ve been resisting, making myself miserable and frustrated. Now is the time for acceptance.
I’ve been standing in a place of indecision, waffling between two choices, and now I have tipped over the precipice. There is only so long I can ignore what the Universe is telling me.
I could reference my move to San Francisco here as an example but by now everyone knows that story by heart. (If you read AWIP regularly, that is.) Instead I will relay another one.
I skipped fourth grade, meaning I was younger than almost everyone in my class by the time I entered middle school. It also means I related better to the people in the grade below me because technically those were my peers. By the time I reached senior year of high school, I was the intellectual equal of my classmates but not the emotional equal. In short, I wasn’t ready to leave home. I wasn’t ready to leave the comforts of mommy and daddy and venture off on my own. It didn’t occur to me to take a year off; instead I decided the best solution was to go to UNC Chapel Hill, a school roughly 2.5 hours away. My brother went to school there, it was close to home, and it had a journalism program. Never mind I hated UNC from the minute I visited. Never mind all the times I went to yearbook camp there in high school and felt it wasn’t a good fit because it was too big, too provincial, and in the South. I went against my intuition because I was scared. And I paid for it.
I packed on 20 pounds while I was there and sunk into a deep depression. So deep I had fleeting thoughts of suicide. And you know why? Because I went against my very essence, of what I knew to be true in my heart: that I wouldn’t like UNC. Some people would say to just accept it, make the best out of being there. To cherish what I had and dig a little deeper to find my niche. I refused. Instead I trusted my intuition, my heart, and I got the hell out of there. I moved back to Charlotte, my hometown, for the second semester of my freshman year and then I transferred to American University in Washington, D.C. where I graduated from. It was a great decision. I (mostly) loved AU, not so much the school but the people I met there and the city. Instead of accepting my situation as it was, I instead accepted the divine guidance I received. Instead of accepting that I made a choice and the end, I was stuck at UNC, I allied myself with what my heart told me.
When people talk about acceptance they seem to leave that part out. I’m obviously all about self-acceptance, but I also think divine acceptance is important. You’ll be much happier if you accept what the Universe is conveying, that’s for sure.
I dream of a world where we accept what we know to be true. A world where we cherish the divine guidance we are given and let our hearts lead the way. I dream of a world where we rise up to meet our destinies. A world where we take inspired action along the way and leave the rest up to our higher power.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.       
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I Am A Solution Allower, Not A Problem Solver

Something kicking around in my head today is the idea we are not problem solvers, we are solution allowers. When I’m confronted with a problem I automatically jump to, “How can I fix it?” I like to plot all the possible solutions to the problem and then choose the best one. Somehow I’ve been trained to think it’s my job. In truth, it’s not.

When I was in college my scholarships and grants didn’t cover all of my expenses. I started off living in a house with some friends of mine but after one semester I couldn’t continue to afford it. My solution was to become an RA. Live on campus for free! Get paid for it! I put on my most charming smile and went to the interview assured I would get the job.

I didn’t.

Not only did I not get the job, but they made a guy I deemed creepy and who acted inappropriately toward women an RA. Someone who used to leer at friends of mine and may or may not have groped a mutual friend of ours. What did I do? I went to the head honchos and I complained. How could they not have given me the job??? How could they have given the position to that other guy???

I sat in the woman’s office and I cried about how unfair it all was, how I was a way better candidate than Joe Schmoe over there. Somehow I thought if only she saw how much I cared and how much this other guy didn’t deserve it, they would magically give the job to me. My act of outrage accomplished nothing other than moistening my cheeks with tears.

What to do next? I thought about being a nanny but geez, I was a senior in college. I didn’t have the time or the patience for that. I scoured Craigslist and university job boards looking for something. I felt inspired to look up babysitting gigs. What ended up happening is I became a live-in babysitter for a 10 year old. My only responsibilities were to pick her up from school everyday (which was within walking distance from the house!) and watch her until her parents came home from work. In exchange I lived rent free in their basement apartment. And not some studio either. A big apartment with a living room, bedroom, and kitchen. What the Universe provided for me was way better than what I picked out for myself.

Living in the dorms I would have used the communal kitchen, requiring me to schlep all my pots and pans as well as the ingredients to and fro. I would have had to deal with drunken students and fire alarms and floor activities to promote bonding. As a live-in babysitter? I just had to watch a sweet 10 year old for a few hours a day. And the family let me use their car when I needed it.

I guess I’m saying the Universe already has the solution to all of our problems lined up. All the live-in babysitter scenarios we could ask for. All the everything. It’s not my responsibility to figure everything out. It’s my responsibility to allow the best things to come to me. To take inspired action. To do what moves me, knowing and trusting the Universe along the way. The solution to the problem? It already exists – I just need to be open to hearing it.

I dream of a world where we realize everything we experience on this Earth is for the purpose of expansion. Where we realize our purpose is to not to solve problems but to live our solutions. A world where we allow ourselves to be taken to the solution as opposed to trying to force our own will. A world where we know all we need we already have.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Traveling Without A Roadmap

There are two things that stress me out above all else: “shoulds” and the unknown. For instance, I “should” have written this blogpost earlier. I “should” have meditated longer before eating dinner. I “should” have woken up earlier today. I “should” devote more time to my fledgling business. You get the picture. The reason I love “shoulds” so much is I like having neat, orderly paths. I like structure and discipline because it makes me feel safe. And if I deviate from the path set before me? Whoa buddy, here comes the guilt or shame!
I like shoulds because I feel like I know what to expect. Just follow the yellow brick road of shoulds and I’ll get to see the wizard, life will be grand. But I get stressed out because I get caught up in the shoulds and sometimes the shoulds are conflicting. Like, “I should devote more time to my business,” in conflict with, “I should make my full-time job my priority.” Depending who you talk to you’ll get different answers. What I lose out on when I get caught up in shoulds is myself. What do I want to do? What’s most important to me? It’s very easy for me to get caught up in trying to please everyone else, sometimes even nonexistent people, rather than pay attention to myself and my own needs. Because what will happen if I do? Will you still love me? Will I still be safe and secure?
Once I start to pay attention to myself and my needs I freak out because I’m navigating in uncharted territory. I’m no longer following the path laid before me. I’m off the yellow brick road. So I feel stressed. How do I manage my life and myself? I’m not just talking obliquely, I mean concrete things too. Starting this spiritual entertainment company? There is no roadmap. There is no, “First you do this and then you do this.” Sure, there are suggestions, there are things I could do, but most of it is pell-mell, everything all at once. And that brings me stress. A lot of stress. “What the heck am I supposed to take care of next??” I feel like I’m in a room where clothes are strewn helter-skelter and I’m traveling from pile to pile picking up one item at a time. Where is my roadmap?? Where is my guide? Can I get a handbook please? Life feels much safer that way.
I have the answers and they can be distilled down into two expressions: “One day at a time,” and “Trust in a power greater than yourself.” I could barrage myself with a series of “shoulds” right now. A whole lot of, “You should take this one day at a time!” and “You should trust in the Universe and know you’re safe!” but I won’t. Instead I know that when I’m ready to pick up the tools I’ve learned, I will. When I’m ready to say, “Hey, I have no idea what the future holds and all I can do is live in the moment,” that I will. There is no one way I “should” be. There is no “right” way to live in the world. Have you looked at a roadmap recently? There are endless paths to Paducah.
I dream of a world where we let ourselves be who we are, feeling at peace with the knowledge there are endless ways to get where we’re going. I dream of a world where we feel comfortable with the unknown because we recognize we are already safe, we are already loved. I dream of a world where we roam free, traversing the world without a roadmap because we realize the roadmap is really just a suggestion.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.  
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