How to Battle Fear…..

I recently had, shall we say, a sinking spell….. in which fear won.  It started out innocently enough. It did not begin in response to an outrageously out-of-the-box experience but instead, began when I was trying to be financially prudent.

As readers know, in 2015 my life dramatically changed—going from a single woman who had a job and lived in a small but nicely furnished condo to a woman (due to a broken engagement) who owned a big home that was missing furniture and needed repairs and renovations. And, oh yes, I was retired and there was no work-related income.

There were two options —  A. To sell my home and move (again) or, B. To stay. I chose Option B but doing so meant I was going to bleed money….. a lot of money.

I was raised by parents who taught me how to budget and all my married life, budgeting played a role in my financial management. In the beginning, there was the gray-blue ledger book with its white pages and blue-green and red lines where I dutifully recorded all expenses and incomes for each category—I even put money aside monthly for a Christmas Tree. In the early 1990s, I mastered Excel spreadsheets.

Due to the ups and downs in my life, I have spent the last 6 years tracking, not budgeting, my expenses. I can tell you to the penny how much I have spent yearly for all categories—from going out to dinner to Nana days to utilities, etc.  But this spring, as I finally came up for air, I realized I needed a stronger financial plan. I started looking at my expenses with a critical eye as I knew I needed to spend less.

I now live in a house—not a condo—and in a county with higher taxes. I also need guys—a lot of guys—such as a yard guy; a fertilizer guy; a shrub guy, a gutter guy; an electrician guy—the list goes on and on. As I started looking for areas to cut back, the harsh truth was if I stay here—there were many expenses that could not be decreased.

That is when fear came creeping into my mind. It did not start out as fear—it tiptoed into my mind disguised as anxiety. There was renewed uneasiness about my life—it has not gone exactly as planned.

As I let the anxieties in and fed them, they grew into full blown fears which included the ultimate Fear-Inspired-Question—the one I wanted to answer—which was—what will happen next?

Once living in my mind, Fear let his other family members in—the ones that tell you what a failure you are.

I started rehashing the past—I began looking in the rear-view mirror of my mind and re-played my life. In these events, I was not a strong successful woman but instead, I was a loser. I had loved two men in my life with all my heart and both of them rejected me and moved on to other lives (LOSER).

I mulled over my failures as a mother and a daughter and a friend—things I said or worse, did not say. (LOSER AGAIN).  The screams of Loser/Failure echoed loudly in my mind.

I had a fairly miserable few days during which I would keep my smiley face on when around family and friends—but inside, no smiles…. just fear and darkness.

And then….. I saw the light.

Both figuratively and literally.

I was sitting one evening in my screen porch and noticed a soft yet bright light in the back corner of my yard. It was casting various shadows. Intrigued, I walked outside to see what was going on.

I have a water feature area which consists of a small pond and a little waterfall. There is a light in the pond that shines up at the waterfall. The water was glistening in the light and the greenery around the pond appeared to be dancing in the light as the breeze moved the leaves.

My pond needs to be cleaned twice a year by my pond guys (another group of guys). They had cleaned the pond that day. It had been six months since their last visit and over these last 6 months, the pond slowly but surely filled with dust and debris and in the process, the light that tried to shine through the murky water had been reduced to a hazy glow.

As I sat there, I realized I was doing the same thing to my own internal light.

I think our purpose during our pitifully short amount of time on this planet is to support and help others and to be an example for others—but recently the central question for me has been “What should I be an example of/for?”

The events of 2016 have led to me to believe there is nothing greater than to try to be an example of a person whose true internal light comes from a faith-based walk in which the central message is the one Christ taught—we are to love one another.

There is no brighter light than one that shines with love.

I realized, as I sat by the pond, if I let all the uncertainties of life fill my mind with anxieties and fears, then there will be little room for love to shine through. If I let my failures consume my mind, then I cannot see nor address the fears and anxieties and pains of others.  And my light, just like the light that had shone though the murky pond waters, would be reduced to a dim glow.

I want to be more than a dim glow.

What about you? What do you want to be an example of? And when you have your sinking spells, what can you use to remove those harmful thoughts that have crept quietly into your mind—or perhaps, they have barged in and overcome you. Either way, what will be your center? Will it be light or darkness? And what will be the source of the light you carry inside of you?

This much I know—anxieties/fears will always try to reside in our minds. Once there, they will darken not only you but what you see around you.

The choice is to let darkness and fear color our lives or, to let light shine inside and outside of us.

With that in mind, I re-centered myself.

True, it is not practical for me to remain in this house—and yet, I have decided to do so as the memories created here may be among the strongest ones my grandchildren will have—memories created due to my having a house (not a condo) with a front and back yard….. Memories of cities built from boxes; playing in a sandbox, a fort, and a tepee; creating a fairy garden and a dinosaur pit …… and scattered in their memories ….. there will be light ….. it will shine brightly through our laughter and joy.

And just maybe one day…… they will look back on our time together and remember that Nana chose to battle fear and darkness with joy and light.

It might be the best memory I can give them.  


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5 thoughts on “How to Battle Fear…..

  1. Janet-probably right at the same time you were writing this I was thinking what a bright light you are-Sunday I stopped by the church where we planted the day lilies from your yard and they were in full bloom. They look absolutely gorgeous. And they are the stars in their landscape right now and I couldn’t help but notice that without them, things would be a little dull over there right now. You were so generous to share those with them. So thank you again, life is wonderful how it twists and turns and you never know how what can seem like a little action can shine very brightly.

    • Peggy–Thank you for sharing about the day lilies. I can see them in my mind and it makes me very happy to think they are adding some joy and light to others. Thank you!

  2. Janet….

    First of all – I still miss you at FPC – we all do!….. Thanks for sharing your latest writing with me. It brought to mind a “comment” I have framed and hanging over my desk (found it in a shop in Scotland when my daughter and I were there in 2007) and has helped me through some days of discouragement, anxiety, etc…..those things that living alone with responsibility of home and big yard bring to us. Here it is:


  3. Janet…..

    Thanks for sharing your latest narrative……. I still miss you at FPC, we ALL do. Your circumstances brought to mind a writing I have framed and hanging over my desk – where I re-read it frequently. Found it in a “croft” in Scotland when one of my daughters and I were there in 2007. Here it is:

    “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown He replied “Go out into the darkness, put your hand into the hand of God – that will be for you better than light and safer than a known way”

    God Bless You, Love ya, Mary V.

    • Mary, I truly love that quote–and I am\ putting it in my writing notes book. Thank you for sharing. And I miss you all too. I hope to find a Sunday in late summer or early fall to drop in and visit. Thank you for taking the time to share the quote.

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