We can use fear for good

Thoughts to Ponder

January 31, 2017

“Fear is faith that it won’t work out.”

Sister Mary Tricky*

 “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself….”

Franklin D. Roosevelt**

 

Recently I wrote about life being stressful and the need to find relief by finding ways to relax and laugh. Since then I have become aware that stress is often a disguise for fear.

Fear tends to be sneaky and finds many ways to insert itself into our lives. One way it manifests in my life is that I say that I don’t like roller coasters because they upset my stomach.  What I really mean is that I am afraid I’ll vomit and humiliate myself. Gosh, so that’s why thrill rides are often called vomit comets. I also say I’m afraid that I’ll drop my cell phone, knowing that it would shatter into many pieces. What I really fear is that I will fall out and my body will shatter into pieces. That’s an unlikely scenario, but it is real to me.

Many people face their fear by riding the coaster and enjoying the adrenaline rush. Their anticipation of the rush is stronger than their fear. Think I’ll ever get there? Nah! Besides, my cardiologist would get mad at me.

I recall hearing that anger is the face of fear and know that is true. I’ve seen this happen in my life and I see it happening in the world around me. Some people face their fear by protesting. Others yell at the television. Still others have health failures because their bodies can’t handle the stress.

This became all too real to me recently. A couple weeks ago I had a scary dream that caused my body to tremor for several hours until I spoke with a trusted advisor. That person led me in a meditation that showed me I was fighting Fear with a capitol F that is a part of me. I have to accept that, but I don’t have to live by Fear’s rules. That exercise lowered Fear’s impact to a lower case f on an important portion of my life and gave me freedom to try certain things that I’d been delaying for fear of failure.

However, over the past several days I’d noticed that my body was rebelling, a pain here, an ache there, and so on. I tried relaxation and physical exercise to no avail. Finally, I felt prompted to calm myself and just let my thoughts guide me. Those thoughts reminded me that this fear had a different cause and that sometimes it gives us pain to keep us stuck in a dark personal space, that place where fear controls us.

Then my thoughts (guides) gave me the realization that I have a platform for sharing this information and that I should use it because many others besides me are living in the same fear. They think it their bodies are failing, but they aren’t. Their bodies are simply holding the fear that is preventing us from moving forward. They think they are angry, but they are afraid their world is crumbling around them. We can’t stop those people whose actions distress us from doing what they are determined to do, but we can lessen their impact by not concentrating on the “what if” aspect of what we see.

I’m not going to be ingenuous and say that I no longer have fear. I don’t want to be fear-free. After all, fear is what keeps me from stepping in front of a fast moving vehicle. Instead, I asked fear to take its proper place in my life, keeping me safe when necessary while allowing me to move forward in other areas, such as writing this short essay.

For those who aren’t sure that angels/guides can teach us:

“The answers will always be discovered when we connect to Mother Earth.”

A Window of Wisdom***

We do this by sitting on the ground and feeling the Earth’s energy. If we’re not as agile as we used to be, we can sit outside in a lawn chair with our bare feet touching the ground. As we relax, we can feel our stress drain into the soil. If we leave our feet there a bit longer, we can feel regenerating energy flowing back up our feet and legs.

Spirit,

Thank you for giving us the gift of fear and showing us how we can use it for our protection without allowing it to dominate our lives and prevent us from doing the job we are on Earth to do. Thank you for making us aware that we can use fear for reasonable protection rather than a barrier to prevent us from being who we are meant to be.

 And, so it is.

* Andrews, Robert, The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations, page 480. Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933 (also used in other FDR addresses and by other world leaders)

**Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, page 114, Prentiss Hall

***Window 1397-Step Outside, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/windo-1397-step-outside/

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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Truth is always calm

Thoughts to Ponder, September 28, 2016 

“Truth is always calm. Still. Quietly and intensely alive.”

Martha Beck*

That quote seems contrary to the way most of us think. We can all remember various famous people who spoke with anger and derision in their voices. They shouted their beliefs loudly and repeatedly to convince others to their points of view. A few that come to my mind are various rulers who sought/seek to conquer, politicians wanting to make a point and preachers seeking converts. They persuaded many to follow their teachings, but were ultimately deposed or faded from public awareness. We read about them in historic and current books that show us the folly of their stances and their short lived dominance and fame.

Many of us still think that the loudest person wins the argument. Today’s politicians, commentators, co-workers and neighbors try to prove that point daily. They think that many big words and volume are persuasive. Instead of being persuaded, we are tempted to argue. Soon people are taking sides and trying to see who can yell the loudest.

On the other hand we find that teachers like Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, the Buddha, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. M.L. King, the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis and many others spoke/speak their truth calmly, quietly and eloquently. Their teachings have stayed with us for generations. We can feel the truth of what they had/have to say.

If we emulate those teachers I mentioned and others like them, we will find that we will be more persuasive and, overall, the world will be quieter and calmer. It’s hard to argue with someone who quietly states the truth with knowledge and wisdom. If we disagree with their premise, we tend to copy that person’s speech patterns which results in a discussion rather than an argument. Discussion solves many more problems than do arguments.

Spirit,

Thank you for showing us that quiet and calm speaks the truth better than anger and intensity. We choose to live our lives quietly, calmly and persuasively.

And, so it is.

*Martha’s Daily Inspiration, September 15, 2016, info@marthabeck.com

© by Sharon D. Dillon, September 28, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as an e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

Treat yourself

Thoughts to Ponder – February 10, 2016

“Every day, give yourself at least three really good treats.
One for every risk you take, and two because you’re you.
No exceptions. No excuses”

Martha Beck*

Oh boy! I can have three desserts every day. I’m heading for the grocery store to buy something yummy. My waistline is grateful that Beck was probably not referring to desserts, though an occasional dessert is good for our souls too. Beck is referring to things that make our souls feel happy.

There are so many ways we can treat ourselves. Treating ourselves regenerates our brains and bodies so we can work more efficiently. Perhaps we could tell ourselves, “Way to go! You did a good job!” We could do a happy dance. (Hopefully, the boss isn’t watching.) We could go for a walk and enjoy the sun warming our bodies. We could give ourselves a few minutes to play ONE game of Solitaire on our Kindles or work ONE crossword puzzle to get our minds off the project. Gratitude for ourselves also makes us aware of reasons to appreciate other people and the many wonderful ways they contribute to our happiness.

Regrettably, our society tends to consider treating ourselves as wasting time. Many of us were taught that to succeed we must “keep our noses to the grindstone.” Perhaps we were told that good grades and hard work are the stepping stones on the path to success. It is, but we owe it to ourselves to take a break, or three, every day. Otherwise, we are not on the path to success, but the road to a heart attack or mental collapse. Many employers offer their employees two 15 minute breaks and a lunch period. In the past I either worked through those breaks and ate at my desk or spent the time complaining about the boss, coworkers and the work load. Spending free time like that can add to the level of anger floating around the world.

Fortunately, my current employer believes in another axiom, “All work and no play make Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.” For that reason they schedule several team events throughout the year. They may be just for fun, to showcase a new event or to support a good cause. These team events give employees time to relax and get to know their team mates personally. It also reminds them that their company appreciates their efforts and makes this a great place to work.

So take a few minutes to relax and show yourself some appreciation. You deserve it.

Spirit,

Thank you for this reminder to take a few moments several times a day to express gratitude for ourselves and our work. By being thankful for our own efforts we are thanking you for giving us life, love and even things we don’t like very much, but make us better people.

And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Daily Inspiration, info@marthabeck.com, February 3, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 10, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Missing – beautiful vixen

As Joe sat reading the newspaper he opened it to the classified section. There in large print was a concisely written notice.

“Missing – beautiful vixen with long, silky red hair.
Likes to disguise her sly personality with a come-hither smile.
Call 555-1212 if you see her.”

Joe was in shock. The ad must be talking about Susan, his new girlfriend. She had appeared out of nowhere. She had beautiful, long red, wavy tresses that flowed nearly to her waist. Her dazzling smile made men fall instantly in love with her. She was tall with an athletic build and ran five miles every morning, returning to their apartment glistening with perspiration, but breathing evenly and easily. She loved to eat steak, but sadly did not know how to cook. That left Joe picking up the tab for frequent meals at high-cost steak houses. He didn’t mind that, but sadly, Joe was learning the hard way that beneath her lovely exterior lurked a prickly personality that quickly shifted to explosive anger. Joe had been thinking, trying to find a way to break-up with Susan that wouldn’t make her anger flare in a frightening way.

Here was the answer! She was missing. Perhaps she had a form of amnesia. That would explain her reluctance to talk about her family. It would also account for her underlying anger. Fear and loss can do that to a person. Joe could return Susan to her family, knowing she would be safe. This kind act would also give him some breathing room from her mercurial personality. If she recovered they could resume their relationship in a calmer manner. Those thoughts filled Joe with hope.

Confidently, Joe walked to the counter, picked up his phone and dialed 555-1212. Imagine his surprise when the voice at the other end said, “County Zoo. May I help you?”

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 30, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Anger or Acceptance

Thoughts to Ponder – July 24, 2015

 “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”

*Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

 Recently, I wrote a piece in which I described no longer feeling anger at a person who had wronged me. A friend challenged that statement, so today I am attempting to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts.

Anger is a normal part of the human psyche. We all feel anger. We get angry at our family, jobs, the world situation and human behavior in general. There are so many things in this world that can trigger our anger button. Feeling anger is sometimes appropriate. It’s how we act on that anger that is right or wrong.

Do we shout and swear? Do we vow to get even? Do we stop speaking to that person? Do we refuse to see that person ever again? Do we carry our anger forever? I’ve seen all those reactions and done some of them. The results are always destructive rather than constructive.

Or we can focus our anger another way. If someone makes us angry, we can walk away and consider what triggered our anger. Was it really what they did? Was it a reflection of an old memory? Should we go back and apologize for our behavior? Should we just let the anger fly away in the wind?

Perhaps if our anger is at a larger situation we can become an active part of the solution. Are we angry that too many children can’t read? We can we become a reading tutor. Are we angry at a social situation? Perhaps we can take a page from Mahatma Mohandas Ghandi and lead a march to the sea. Or we can emulate one of his followers, Dr. Martin Luther King, and organize voter registration – still an issue these many years later.

I often get angry about my physical well-being. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. I can’t do what I did when I was 18. I’m not really sick, but various restrictions and prescriptions make me angry. I’m learning a different tactic for this situation. Acceptance.

I can accept that the other person is not who I’d like him/her to be and move forward accordingly. I can accept that the world situation is not what I’d like to see and if I’m so moved, I can do as the bumper sticker says, “Think globally. Act locally.” Or “Imagine Whirled Peas.”

For many things in my life I live acceptance. However, yesterday my doctor told me to take yet another nutritional supplement, to temporarily forego donating blood, something that means a lot to me and to take yet another yucky test. I became angry. I did not accept her diagnosis and became what she called “cranky.” As the day passed, I realized that she was just looking out for my health. She didn’t tell me I had a horrible disease. She just told me to adjust my life a little for my ultimate good. I’m still not happy about taking yet another pill, but I’m glad it’s a supplement, not a medicine.

A friend recently told me how she recovered from a serious illness. She was following all her doctor’s directions, but feeling angry that she was in so much pain. Finally she reached a point where she said, “Okay, God, if this is to be my life, I accept it. Just show me where to go from here.” Amazingly, she began to heal immediately, a little at a time. She can now participate in activities that were once unthinkable. She’s not playing tennis yet, but she can do pretty much what she wants to do otherwise – work, socialize and just feel good.

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.”**

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 24, 2015

*pg 89, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter X, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”

**The Serenity Prayer, A Day at a Time in Al-Anon, 1987, Al-Anon Family Groups

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Serenity is strength

Thoughts to Ponder – July 9, 2015

“With rage in heart and clenched fists, you may feel invincible.
The truth is that you have never been weaker.”
Dr. Phil McGraw1

Life has a way of bringing our situations full circle. We face who we used to be and learn who we are now. This last week circumstances made me proud of whom I’ve become.

Many years ago I married a nice young man who said he loved me. I thought he was fun to be with, so I convinced myself that I loved him. I thought he would rescue me from my parents who set so many rules and made my life miserable. After our wedding we immediately moved across the U.S. to his military posting. We had some fun and some arguments.

After three children and several military assignments, we found that life was not so much fun and arguments were nearly non-stop. (Of course, none of this was my fault.) We parted ways, both carrying a great deal of anger and feeling fully justified in our actions. As often happens with divorced couples, our communications were rancorous and filled with threats. Eventually the children finished high school and we no longer needed to communicate. This gave us a good, long cooling off time. I could feel my anger lessen as time went by and I began to admit my contributions to the discord.

Our first visit eight years ago was touchy, but amicable. We were determined to put the past behind us. His wife and I became fast friends and I wondered where the man I had hated so many years had gone. Then he asked for directions to another relative’s city. Our daughters explained several times that he would need to go west several miles, then turn north to get there.  No matter how many times they explained, he insisted, “I don’t want to go west and north. I want to go northwest.” I chuckled and said to myself. “Oh, he’s still in there.” As the years passed we’ve met a few more times with cautious conversation and our extended family has blended well.

Last weekend was the BIG event. His family always gathers for a reunion the first Sunday in July. I’ve been invited several times by various relatives, but always turned them down for fear I’d be considered an interloper or even be excoriated for my behavior. This year I decided it was time to face the crowd. I knew I had changed and thought I could handle the situation, whatever it turned out to be.

One daughter and family drove to the mountains in one vehicle. I rode with the other daughter and husband, not an auspicious beginning. Traffic jams and motion sickness reigned supreme. I spent a good part of the trip holding onto the headrest in front of me to keep from swaying and staring at it to avoid catching any movement out of the side of my eyes. Along the way I bought Dramamine but still maintained the same position until we reached our destination, feeling only slightly stable.

Of course, everyone there thought this was hilarious, but sympathized while trying to keep straight faces. As the agony dispersed I began to interact with those present and found I was having fun. The entire visit turned out to be much better than I expected. I did not keep myself sheltered emotionally, but let events happen as they would. Even frequent rainstorms did not dampen our spirits. We laughed at the children playing in the mud and cooked for many visitors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and relatives at the reunion until the rain washed out the event and we all ran for our cars.

I felt like I belonged with these wonderful people. Even the ex and I enjoyed a few laughs and “remember whens.” I knew then that we both have finally grown into the people we were supposed to be all those years ago before anger led us astray.

Oh, the trip back was much better. I took Dramamine before we left the hotel and followed their advice about resting my head against a stationary surface and keeping my eyes closed until we were out of the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing them again – down here in the flat lands.

My conclusion was confirmed the next day at work. A man I’d never met before said, “I sense you are a calm person. You don’t have anger in you.” I didn’t know how to respond, but WOW! What a wonderful gift from a stranger!

 Spirit, thank you for this gift of serenity after all those years of anger. And, so it is.

 © by Sharon D. Dillon, July 9, 2015

1O, the Oprah Magazine, January 2015, pg. 41

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Thoughts to Ponder – Anger

June 4, 2014

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrong.” – Charlotte Bronte

 “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” – Indira Gandhi

“What I’ve learned about being angry with people is that it generally hurts you more than it hurts them.” – Oprah Winfrey

 Message

 People seem to be angry lately. We were angry in the 60s and 70s, but seemed to come back to our senses and live more quietly. During the decades since our world made a lot of strides and a lot of mistakes, but we grew and lived together in relative peace, that is, until the past few years when our personal, national and international anger has grown and become more dangerous for the citizens of many countries, including our own.

In some countries the citizens are overthrowing their governments. Others are being invaded by larger and more-well-armed neighbors. Some people think that anyone who has a different outlook on life should be killed. In our own country more and more people who feel alienated decide to take it out on others, sometimes many others. We then grieve for those who gave their lives.

Some of our politicians seem to think that the only way to achieve their ends is to set up blocks to any kind of progress or change. Some seem to think that anything proposed by the other political party is evil and must be obliterated. Some seem to think that particular politicians are determined to destroy our country. This was the attitude in the years leading up to and including the Civil War and several years after.

Do we want to relive those years with more deadly weapons?

Are we willing to see that we all bleed the same color blood?

Are we willing to try to accept our neighbors for who they are?

Are we and our politicians willing to listen to the others’ opinions?

Are we willing to accept that we all want the same outcome but are approaching the problem from different angles?

Are we willing to talk to each other and learn what is in the other person’s heart?

Or are we going to continue to act on what we think the other person is thinking?

 Meditation

 Creator,

Thank you for this beautiful world and all the people and creatures on it. Open our eyes to see that all of us just want what we think is best for our loved ones. Open our hearts so each of us can learn to accept the other for who he or she is inside. Open our minds to be willing to reach out to those we think are our enemies. I ask this for each person on our planet Earth, no matter who he or she may be. And, so it is.

 If you know someone who would appreciate reading “Thoughts to Ponder,” please suggest that he or she contact me at: energywriter@cox.net

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Is author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com and available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.