What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

This is my mantra.

I’ve not always been a particularly fearful person. I climbed trees as a kid. I hike alone. I frequently travel by myself. I don’t avoid airplanes. I talk to strangers and approach dogs.

Yet when it comes to opening myself up, I’m a coward. I’ve been that way most of my life. One of my ten defining moments (thank you, Dr. Phil) was in a middle school class called “Creativity” when my teacher Mrs. Marshall wanted to hang my poem on the gallery wall. I was proud of that poem. It came from my heart. But because it came from my heart, my heart would be pinned up on that wall, exposed to all.

I said no.

I’ve always wondered if the trajectory of my life would have been different had I said yes. It’s an easy thing to say no. It’s safe. Nobody can hurt what they don’t know is there. But what if I had said yes? What if my poem being on display would have resulted in support and true praise. Would I have been inspired to keep creating for others, instead of just for myself?

I’ve written before about my first blog post, how my finger hovered over that enter key for what seemed like hours. My stomach did flip-flops. I knew I would feel exposed, all my tender parts wide open to the predators. But that’s not what happened. People were supportive and encouraging. I became a part of communities. And gradually I built confidence.

My battle with fear began after a battle with cancer. There’s nothing like facing your own mortality to help you reevaluate your life and choices. That’s when I took on the mantra, “what would you do if you were not afraid?” And I started doing those things. I went back to school and became a teacher. I took on my first class. I spoke up at meetings. I created a blog. And life became deeper and richer. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my life of being a mom to my kids. I’d just been doing it from a blind, a bunker, looking out and staying hidden.

To this day, my kids know me best. It took a lot for me to open up to my adult friends. It took a long time for me to participate in book club conversation. (I wear anxiety like I’m holding a squirmy toddler.) But every time I did it, every time I let myself feel the flip-flopping of my stomach and the hot flush of embarrassment, it got a little better. Brick by painful brick, I built my confidence.

I still battle fears. I don’t like opening myself up to being judged. That’s my kryptonite. But I find joy in my journey and where I am now on my life’s path. I have a blog. I have my art in a gallery. I have art online. I still hope to write a book.

Good things are out there.

What would you do if you were not afraid?


If you are interested in checking out any of my photography or art designs, you can find me on Fine Art America, Redbubble, and Zazzle. Thanks for stopping by!

Battling the Loneliness Monster

The monster sleeps fitfully in its lair. A vicious opportunist with an insatiable appetite, it dreams of stragglers, outliers, awkward members of the group who veer to the dangerous periphery.

The smell of solitude awakens it from its slumber. A single soul wanders into view. Fully awake now, the monster sizes up its victim. Definitely alone. The monster gets up, hungry with anticipation. It pads on stealthy paws, silently creeping up from behind. Without a sound, it pounces, grasping the prey’s neck with sharp claws and rendering it immobile. The prey, feeling the tightening grip, feeling the danger, valiantly struggles to break free as the monster’s grip intensifies. With a desperate, pleading glance, she cranes her neck to look it in the eye, but dark emptiness stares back at her.

The monster pushes her down to the ground and puts the whole force of its weight into its goal of submission. ย Tenaciously it clings on, waiting for the moment of despair, salivating at the chance for a long-awaited meal.

The prey fights back. She weakly calls for reinforcements, but they are far from the periphery, where she now lies immobile. They can hardly make out her cries for help. From their vantage points they can’t see the monster. They tell her to get up, to come back to the group, and then go back to their business.

On her own, she knows she must struggle or perish. Her hands flail wildly to the sides for something within reach, something, anything with which to attack the monster. She grabs a paintbrush and beats the monster, hitting its sides, its head, prying at the claws around her neck. She feels its weight shift, its grip relax slightly, feels its energy subside, but its weight is still on top of her and sharp claws, though looser, still encircle her throat. She grabs garden clippers and stabs at it, slowly, deliberately, purposefully. It releases one strong paw in defense and swings its head around. While it’s distracted, she drops the clippers, grabs a guitar, and bashes it over the head. With a yowl, it finally releases its grip and flees back to its cave.

There it lies in fitful slumber, temporarily subdued, awaiting a chance to strike again.