Fear: Face it or forget it

Photo of Ferris Wheel with Neon Lights at NightMy husband would love to take me in a teeny-tiny plane or helicopter for a flight-seeing tour.

Ain’t gonna happen. You see, I don’t do heights. My fear of falling has only swelled to a crescendo over the years.

Picture it. I was a little girl in blue over-alls in the upstairs bedroom of my two-story suburbanville home. The window was large and the sill, low. My face was pressed against the screen of the open window. I was teasing and making faces at my brothers, who were on the trampoline, in the yard below.

Then the unthinkable happened. The screen popped out, I lost my balance, fell forward and plummeted two stories to the ground, while my older brothers and a neighbor lady looked on in horror.

Miraculously, I narrowly missed being impaled by the spikes for the tomato plants, located ever-so-close to my grassy landing pad, and equally as miraculously landed on my rump roast.

The most painful part of it was the embarrassment I felt as the concerned neighbor checked me over to be sure I hadn’t broken anything.

So THAT happened. Not one broken bone. Kids are made of rubber.

Though my mind knows it was an accident, I haven’t been fond of falling ever since.

Sometime later, I began having this recurring dream. In the dream, I was on the second floor of that same house. There was an open floor plan where the upstairs hallway was also a balcony to the lower level. I fell, but woke up before landing in every single dream.

I’ve never been able to get a real handle on the fear of falling –even over time. So I began avoiding it.

I avoided taking my small children down escalators. I hated the feeling of being high up in a stadium, with the short barrier railings that wouldn’t keep you from falling if you lost your balance. I didn’t do the high dive at the swimming pool. I started refusing to go on certain amusement park rides. Just say no to ferris wheels, I say!

The inconveniences and brief moments of discomfort have been few and of low impact.

The following life moment however, struck an embarrassing chord.

In my thirties, I went rafting during a family reunion. Our guide helped us pull over to a popular spot for cliff-jumping.

We all got off the boat. I climbed to the top. Several people jumped with no problem. I stood there and tried to talk myself into jumping.

Several countdowns later, I did the climb of shame back down to the boat, to the loud BOOING of a boatful of passing strangers! Needless to say, it was absolutely humiliating.

On that same trip, I watched my father climb a pole I thought would reach heaven, and stand on an itty-bitty square before bursting out across a zip line several stories high. All of his children and grandchildren looked on with total admiration. How could anyone be that brave? I did not get the bravery genes.

I’ve considered the possibility of facing these fears, but have realized over time, that some fears aren’t worth trying to overcome. I mean, what (other than risking my life) am I going to get out of facing my fears through unnecessary thrill-seeking adventures? My nerves don’t need the excitement.

Some fears DO need to be faced. So for now, I’ll stay grounded and start working on my fear of getting head lice. I’m a teacher.  Now that is a fear worth facing!

What are your fears? Which are not worth facing? Which should you try to tackle?

Are We Wearing our Honesty Hats?

photo of pineapple wearing black aviator style sunglasses and party hat
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Pexels.com

You know how most people have the ability to “read a room?” There was a time my son had no such ability, especially when it mattered — like at church.

Church is one of those places where there are many unspoken rules. Enter the building and greet others politely. Sit down. Listen. Don’t talk, call out, or make vocal or bodily noises of any sort during the sermon.

One day, my son, bless his heart, was challenging me, and was for whatever reason, unable to follow the unspoken, but well-known rules.

“I’d smack his ass!” an elderly lady loudly whisper-yelled to her seat mate in the pew directly in front of us, and loud enough for those in nearby pews to hear.

Needless to say, I was taken a-back and swiftly exited the building with my little darling in tow.

Those who heard and saw what happened could assume several things.

1. My son was being a little jerk that needed to be escorted off the premises quickly, and perhaps should have been extracted sooner.

2. I was embarrassed by, or had my feelings hurt by a thoughtless comment from a stranger and was incensed and left.

3. My son was old enough to know better than to be behaving so poorly in church.

4.  The elderly lady was old enough to know better than to shame a young mother.

All of the above could very well have been true.  But, here’s the truth.

This sweet little elderly lady was actually visiting our church.  She was a dear friend’s mother who was suffering with a severe memory loss disease. I had never met her.  She obviously didn’t know me. She was simply a stranger wearing her honesty hat, and found herself, through no fault of her own, without a filter that day.

Later that night in a phone call, my friend apologized profusely for her mother’s rudeness. She was understandably mortified!

I told her I thought the incident was entirely amusing — even hilarious.  I insisted, “She only said what we were all thinking!” Truly, the kid was driving me (and clearly others) nuts. Her mother’s timing was spot on. I mean, preach sister!

This brief moment provided me a mini-vacation from my stress.  I always enjoy it when this particular memory floats through my mind’s parade. This one stressful moment turned into many laugh-out-loud moments. So bless her. Bless her for giving me many giggle fits over the years. Bless her for wearing her honesty hat and forgetting her filter that day. After all, we’re only human.

What funny memories help get you through the tough days?

The Nincompooper Strikes Again

Several years ago, my life was in the pooper — figuratively and literally.  It became necessary to “get my poop in a group” in every sense of the phrase. Yes, you read that right.

At the time, I was going through an excrutiating divorce. My children and I were living with my parents, ruining what was supposed to be their peaceful retirement.

Now, I’m no Debbie Downer, and can usually find the humor in things. But, at the time (and for many years thereafter), nothing about the following story seemed funny — AT ALL.

What, pray-tell, does all this have to do with poop?

One fateful evening, I glanced over and saw what no parent wants to see — a big bushy tail under the couch.  We did not own a single four-legged furry friend.

I didn’t know what it was, but there was a wild animal IN THE HOUSE.  I freaked out.

I got my children secured in a bedroom and put a towel at the bottom of the door.  I left the sliding glass door open and hoped this little critter would scoot.

It did not.  That little bundle of joy unloaded solid nuggets of sunshine everywhere it could locate a blank square of space — countertops, couches, flooring…EVERYWHERE.   I can still see it.

Nevertheless, I put on my big girl panties, cleaned up,  and we went to bed.  I thought it had left.

The next morning, my dear father, stopped into my room on his way to work. I was still asleep.

I will never forget how he ever so slowly leaned over the bed, and hovered over my face.  In a calm voice, he whispered, “Our little friend is back.”   Then he skeedadled off to work before I could talk him into staying.

Shell shocked, I began to panic.   That $%#&*% had done it AGAIN!  This thing had no soul.

I frantically called my brothers at work.   This was a Defcon 5 situation.  To them, this was apparently NOT an emergency.  I begged to differ. Nevertheless, no one could help me.

After all, how could they feasibly tell their bosses that they needed to leave work to locate and clean up after an unknown wild animal? Fine. It sounded a little crazy.

Oh, but my friends, this was no innocent little critter. This little jerk was a machine-gun powered pooping machine on a mission to terrorize my already frazzled state of mind.  It was out to get me.

My sanity and morning troll hair (I can only imagine) did not a happy marriage make.  In that moment, I was so overcome with stress, I was one step on the path to the nut house at the carnival for coocoos.

I was hysterical — a full-fledged sobbing basket case. I had ALREADY cleaned up once.  Was I seriously about to clean up after this little nincompooper twice? What did I do to deserve this hellish ordeal?  What — I ask you?

I called my sister-in-law.  She couldn’t come over either.  However, that didn’t stop her from laughing so hard I thought she might pee herself.

I finally came to the unpleasant realization that I was flying solo on this one.  I reluctantly began to clean up…AGAIN.

Animal control was called, came out, told us it was a squirrell, and assisted us in escorting the little party pooper out of the house.

That incident happened nearly thirteen years ago. At the time, I remember wondering why.  Why, in the midst of my darkest time, was it necessary to throw a squirrel with a case of the explosive poops in the mix?

I still don’t have the full answer.  Here is my current working theory.

Sometimes the unexpected and undeserved hoopla that happens becomes a gift — something to laugh about, at a bare minimum, or and dare I say, at the risk of sounding cliché,  — learn from.

Sometimes, like in this case, the lesson isn’t immediately apparent.  At first, it simply becomes one of our personal narratives.  The repetative telling of the story assists us in putting other things in our lives in perspective, creating a metaphor for us to use to help us make sense of things at a later date.

In my case, I needed to get my poop in a group.  I cleaned up the literal squirrel mess.   More importantly, I somehow managed, with a lot of help, and over a very long period of time, to clean up the seemingly insurmountable mess of my divorce.

If you have a story that you have yet to laugh about or learn from, take comfort, and know that it is very unlikely that a squirrel is going to poop all over your house today.   Celebrate that!

brown squirrel
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