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Boo… 8 Things That Scare Me…

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Do one thing that scares you every day”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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T Rex fear

I threw up my hotdog one early summer evening in a family restaurant, its walls adorned with Hamilton Tiger Cat football and Toronto Maple Leafs hockey photos… it was mustardy messy and the cloud of smell was … well… you fill in the rest.

The waiter was nice about it, then probably gagged a bit when he went back to the kitchen.

It was a fancy restaurant and I was just a little kid, but the impression it left still lays inside me today, dormant like a herpes virus waiting to rise to the cold-sore surface.

For years, I was nervous that I might throw up in a restaurant again. Fear. Scared. A beautifully coutured phobia in-waiting.

Ultimately silly.

Fear is your friend,” said Tim Ferriss in a TED talk. “Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn’t do. More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the best results that I’ve had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been from asking a simple question: What’s the worst that can happen?”

We all know that most of our fears are nonsense and should be stuffed in a coffin and buried six feet under, but there are some I hold onto because they make me more human. They are a part of me that makes me ME. (now there’s a sentence that a narcissist could embrace!).

Being a complete person means never having to say you deny your frailties and rough edges.

I’m full of rough edges.

rough edges leaf.jpg

So, what are some of my biggest “rough-edged” fears now that I’m approaching my 7th decade on this beautiful blue planet?

  1. Driving at night and worrying I might hit and hurt or kill an animal. This is a biggie in my mind and yet it’s one of those fears I embrace and never wish to wash away. Tsunami waves of nausea roll through me when I’ve actually hit, or even think about killing an animal while driving, or for that matter, any other time.

2. A dog jumping out of the ether, barking and snarling at me while I’m running or cycling… my heart rate is already well up there, I don’t need any more stimulation thank you. I hate to see animals in pain or discomfort, and I hate to see me in pain or discomfort because of an animal sneak attack… back off Rover!

3. Walking into a social situation alone… my introversion tendencies rise to the surface. I’m pretty good at projecting a positive public face, but the childlike inner feelings of inadequacy bubble through me as I walk alone through a door to a party or gathering. If I looked in the mirror, I’m sure I’d see I’m wearing little boy shorts and my Parkdale Steelers hockey sweater.

4. Bungee Jumping. I can handle the thought of skydiving (today but not when I was younger). I’ve scuba dived. I’ve explored in narrow, dark underground caves. I’ve slogged my way through a Tough Mudder. But bungee? NO F***ing Way… that’s a stroke waiting to happen and I’m not going there… EVER!!

5. TV or Movie Killings. The realization that watching a TV show or movie of someone being killed – murdered – and knowing it doesn’t bother me (at least not the way I think it should) is bothersome. It makes me fear something within myself that accepts the violence… perversely even enjoys it, and does it over and over again. It also makes me wonder why consensual, loving sex isn’t more accepted on our screens. Which is the more positive choice?

6. One of my kids getting really sick or dying. This one really doesn’t need elaboration. There’s a hardwiring – a Constitutional amendment – in a parent’s head that insists that our issue should never ever pass on before we do. We had a close call once when our son was 9 years old. My heart bleeds for those many who have experienced the death of a child. It’s the devil’s kiss of lightning.

7. Getting near to vomiting or diarrhea on a plane… maybe this goes back to the hot dog incident as a child, beats me. A prison-like situation where you’re incarcerated in a sardine can in the sky? Often no access to a bathroom? … seat belt fastened and nowhere to go? Nowhere to go! UNCOMFORTABLE!

8. Boney M music. Yeah, I fear that electronic disco sound. I feel revulsion and frightening thoughts welling up inside me at the first kitschy Jamaican beats of their music. Why not play Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road and get this melodious mess out of our systems.

Boney M.jpg

And finally One bonus fear (every good blog list has a bonus!):

Dying suddenly without a chance to say goodbye. I’ve lived and felt the pain of not saying a final goodbye. It lies inside you, gnawing.

I’ve heard those many who say they’d like to be struck dead suddenly with a heart attack or stroke like a runaway truck on a London Bridge, swept away in a second.

Not me.

We can never express with the depth of our inner core, never capture the universe of emotion and love and respect and tenderness, the true multiplicity of feelings for our loved ones… not fully… until we’re in those final immersive moments.

Death mourned.jpg

OK, now some old fears that fell away like my thick head of hair? I’ve had a few.

Here is a sampling of ones I’ve inhaled, held inside, and then eventually exhaled into misty clouds with age and maturity, like:

… getting to the end of my life and realizing that I wasted most of it…

… singing or speaking in public…

… in early blog posts: sharp criticism of my opinions…

… in my young years… premature ejaculation…

… wondering what people thought of me…

… not losing my virginity: ever…

Overcoming rational fear is about being a better person…

Fear doesn’t ever really go away, nor should it. But confronting it is the way to move forward.

Nowadays I try to face fear like a gladiator. Grrr. And usually I’m strong and brave but occasionally… rarely… my inner child arises and I’d like to suck my thumb in the corner – please don’t ever point a gun at my head, OK?

When I see myself overcoming part of a fear each day it lifts me up — I feel the thrive.  

It feeds my endorphin fix needs better than a needle in my arm.

Dealing with fear is always a choice.

One final thought. The Art of Manliness, one of my favorite websites on the Internet declares this “fear” rule:

“Whenever you are presented with a choice, ask yourself which option you would prefer to have taken in ten years.”

yoga at sunset

On The Lightness of Being An Evangelist of Positive Passion …

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Two wolves

BEWARE!

Look both ways before crossing my path because I’m not always sure that I’m heading in the right direction.

I’m sorry. Don’t worry.

This is all just a metaphor for my choices in life.

We ALL have a direction. We ALL have choices.

We ALL make choices, even if we choose to do nothing … that’s a choice too!

positive passion

This is where my concept of Positive Passion vs Negative Passion comes into play ….

Many dive into politics and weighty issues. This is a good thing in most cases.

With lofty intentions they dive into the stinky diapers of the world and try to make changes, or try to change the opinions of others, or fight injustice and inequality.

The most common form of this arises in protest of government edicts or legislation.

Unions and armies have fought their negative passions for eons. Protesters have died in Tiananmen and Tahrir.

They are filled with passion, but it’s a negative passion. It’s a contra passion… an “against something” passion.

I feel inferior when I encounter people like this and yet I don’t change.

I’ve made my choice. Why? What choice?

I’m not a negative passion kind of person.

I decided some time back that I want to fill my life with positivity. I want to do and live positive things with positive people in a positive way.

Happy dog

I want to fill my life with Positive Passion, not Negative Passion.

Check out this Letter to the Editor in my local Penticton newspaper last week. It suggested we find something we don’t like in the world and then fight against it as our life’s passion. Negative Passion.

I hear, “what can I do” or “nothing is going to change.” 

There are many people and organizations tackling challenges we face; environmental, social and economic challenges that have the power to cripple if we let them. In the face of these challenges, these people are making changes that few of us hear about, or if we do hear, our hopelessness doesn’t allow us to register. 

I say, “Get mad, get motivated and get moving.” Action is the only thing that ever has, or ever will, change anything.

First, what bothers you?

Finding your discontent is the key to discovering your passion, and when a person is passionate, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.

Second, “get motivated.”

Who else shares your pet peeve? I can guarantee there is a person, people or an organization already tackling the challenge you see.

Third, “get moving.” Contact one of those people or organizations. Start your own movement, volunteer, donate, whatever you can do with  whatever you have is good enough. Never let anyone tell you your efforts will never be enough.  

It’s noble and elegant, isn’t it? Superheroes fighting crime and injustice.

But I don’t want to fill my mind with negativity. I don’t want to be mad. Why do I want to be bitter and angry?  “Finding your discontent is the key to discovering your passion” just doesn’t work for me.

I try to float a bit lighter, filled with positive thoughts, positive energy; perhaps I can lessen just a teensy bit some of the problems that exist by the approach that I take.

Will I solve all the issues, the myriad of problems that beset us? Nope, not by a long stretch.

Don’t call me Polly’annish.

But I know that when I smile and see a grin mirrored back by others, problems somehow seem less significant, less bothersome. Smile dynamics break through where confrontation fails.

Here’s another approach that I’d describe as Positive Passion… this is from my local Penticton Herald newspaper Letters to the Editor, same as the example above. Positive Passion.

 

As the Okanagan summer draws to a close, we gratefully acknowledge the tremendous support given to the Soupateria.

Donations of fresh fruit and vegetables from local orchards, farmers and home gardeners have been delivered. Merchants have donated bread, baked goods and various food items. Service clubs, churches, businesses and individuals given assistance in various ways. These  contributions have enabled us to continue providing a hot, nourishing lunch each day.

To the end of August, 30,506 “signed in” lunches were served, an increase of 945 over the same time period in 2014. Due to the influx of seasonal transient workers, numbers grew exponentially.

These numbers will drop dramatically at the end of harvest time. However, as a result of the downturn of the economy, the local clientele continues to grow. Many new faces appear in the lunchtime lines. 

Our dedicated volunteers have been champions, giving of their time and talents throughout this long, hot summer. The smiles of appreciation from clients, their compliments to the soup makers, and their cooperation during a busy season have made the effort well worthwhile.

On behalf of everyone here at the Soupateria, to the community of Penticton,  we say, thank you.

What a beautiful, thankful way to deal with a problem that exists. Feeding the positive wolf.

I respect, sometimes even admire, those who choose to fight with negative passion.

BUT.

I’ve made my choice.

I’m choosing to feed my positive wolf.

ACCENTCHUATE_THE_POSITIVE!_

You’ve Just Crossed Over Into … The Grey Zone …

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Fish in lightbulb

Why is no one paying ME billions of dollars for my ideas?

I wonder if it’s because I’m caught in the twilight of The Grey Zone.

I’m a prisoner in this quagmire and I need to make myself break free.

Well before 50 Shades of Grey came along, I invented the whole genre of the “grey zone”.

I can’t see anything as black or white.

50 Shades of Grey?

Hell, I can see the universe in 1,000 shades of grey.

50-shades-grey-paint

The other day while I was pouring drinks at my bartending job, someone said to me,

“Who are you voting for in the upcoming federal election?

Depends…

… the choices?

Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic Party (NDP) or Green.

Hmmmm… depends on where my sense of priority lies on voting day, I suppose… I think, I’m pretty sure!

  • Conservative if I feel angry at the world and want to fight wars and abortion laws and gun control and market controls.
  • Liberal if I like Justin Trudeau’s hair style that day and I want a bouncy mix of free markets and social justice.
  • NDP if I feel in sync with the friendly folks patiently waiting for me to open the doors to the Penticton Soupateria kitchen who need free daycare and subsidized dental care for their cavity-laden mouths.
  • Green if I’m sick of picking another empty Tim Hortons cup off the street under the ozone-thin rays of sunshine, AND perhaps I feel a subtle loyalty to them because my last name happens to be Green.
  • Is Obama a choice? Doesn’t Barack need a job after November 2016?

OK … you might have insinuated by my choice of words above that it won’t be a CONSERVATIVE check mark!

But other than that, I just don’t know!

And I don’t want to spend a lot of time working my way through the issues. I’m one politically lazy cat.

lazy-cat5

And this political muskeg? This is just one small example of my grey zone or “sitting on the fence” outlook on life.

My “grey zone” often has me seized up by the glut of alternatives in our world… you know… the Walmart selection of choices in everything we do or purchase.

In the halcyon days of The Waltons (nope, not Sam Walton of Walmart, I’m talking John Boy Walton of Walton’s Mountain, Virginia), you would just walk into Godsey’s General Store and say,

“Ike, I need an iron, two spools of blue thread, a package of laundry soap, and a suit for Yancey Tucker’s wedding this weekend.”

Two minutes later, with no further questions, Ike would smile his boyishly toothy grin and have everything tied up in a neat bundle and off you went, a happy camper.

No VISA, no MasterCard, no Air Miles or Loyalty Club cards… just cold, hard-earned cash slapped down on the old oak counter.

Can you imagine?

Now… NOW! … you need 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months… whatever … to make all of the important decisions involved in these same purchases. Questions and more questions:

  • Self cleaning iron or auto shut-off? GE or Samsung or Toshiba? Corded or cordless? Removable steam tank? Retractable cord? Anti-burn control?
  • Sky Blue, royal blue, indigo thread? Cotton, nylon, polyester, heavy-duty, silk, wool, or metallic thread?
  • Powdered or liquid laundry soap? Detergent with bleach added? Dye and perfume free? Cold water active? Top or front-loading washer?
  • And, it would take an entire blog post to go through the choices when selecting a man’s suit for a wedding.

Choices

I just don’t know! And I don’t want to spend a lot of time working my way through the consumer consumables. I’m consumerly lazy.

I like the idea of options, but the harsh reality of endless choice is endless decision-making and the need to do extensive research on the purchase of my next Bic pen or Gillette razor blade.

I sometimes rue having to use what little brain power I do have, to investigate and research and think and weigh options.

Really, I want to use my “grey’ matter to think about the things that are important to me. Things I’ve prioritized, or have wanted to prioritize.

Really, I want my head filled with story ideas for blog posts that infinitely stretch my thoughts and imagination.

Really, let me work on the concept of Idea Sex where I can take two or more unrelated ideas and tap my J.K. Rowling magic wand to marry them into something new and beautiful.

Really, the same for my music writing and playing. I don’t want to create everyday songs that anyone lacking imagination can pen for a commercial audience. I want unique songs with meaning and substance, stories filled with relevance, and emotion… and heart…

Experts such as psychologist/author Roy Baumeister (Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength) tell us that we have a finite amount of willpower.

The willpower needed in making decisions becomes depleted as we use it, and we use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.

If I spend 10 minutes making a decision over something as seemingly simple as which toilet paper to buy (3 ply or 2 ply, 12 rolls or 8, super soft or Russian sandpaper, and on and on), those 10 minutes have depleted my eagerness for making sweet music.

Regrettably, almost unlimited choices in today’s world saps my energy.

In order to change, it’s a circular conundrum of making decisions about decision-making. Yup, my very own personal 1,000 Shades of Grey.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve crossed over into… Nu-nu nu-nu …. THE GREY ZONE.

rod serling