Monthly Archives: March 2024

Don’t Feed the Fears

The sign was tucked precariously into the shingles of a house a bit back from the road. When I passed it before, I assumed it was just another treasure a college student had ripped off from the national forest. But yesterday, perhaps because I had new glasses, I doubled back to check it out. 

Sure enough. Nothing about Bears. Don’t Feed the Fears it said. Now THAT sounds about right, I thought. And then the question came to me.

What if I could accomplish this in my own lifetime? What if I could truly learn to refrain from feeding the fears that come with most any challenge?

Let me just say It would be a miracle. 

And I believe in miracles. 

Love is Letting Go of Fear was my favorite go-to for the entire decade of the 1980’s, when I was submerged in mothering two young children.

There were times when I might have taken it a bit far, like the day I noticed my daughter, not yet three, perched at the top of a slide. Was she hesitant, waiting for my permission? I ran to the slide, but she was already propelling down the chute, coming close to landing on her still somewhat bald head. For years I would laugh about my struggles conveying to her “a decent sense of fear.” 

Later I learned there was another name for the challenge of raising both my kids. ADHD. What I’ve learned from this entire experience would fill at least a book or two (and one I already wrote. Literally). But what I have left to learn about neurodiversity could fill far more pages.  And continue to offer valuable perspective, as I’m still learning.

But what I’m thinking about nowadays is more basic yet. What simple mantra has been my guide over the years? It could be summarized in the very same three words: Don’t Feed the Fears.

I’ve traveled to retreats, embracing meditation, holy listening, and inquiry. I’ve continued to discover that generalized “fear” includes death and chronic debilitating illness, the things that I see beloved friends facing head-on nowadays. The Big Things.

I’m learning to make enough space in my life for the silence I need to take inspiration from the snowdrops and hyacinths pushing their way up just outside the walls of daily routine. I’m taking this poem by May Sarton with me as I spend a few days in my tiny meditation/writing hut, where I’ll be joining other meditators at a semi-silent online retreat. My goal is to allow this busy mind to trust the way of all other living things this Spring.

I want to begin with curiosity about how the next passages of life might look if I truly learned life lessons and took inspiration from the simple mantra, Don’t Feed the Fears.

The Short Story of My Shadow and Me

Once I tried to give away my shadow.
It wasn’t easy. More like downright terrifying.
I was launching my new book,
Putting Your Best Foot Forward:
a PR Guide to Life™ Suddenly I saw that my foot wasn’t the problem. 
It was my shadow. 
Such a mouth it had. Always with a snappy comebacks
Always with the opinions, 
Always with the surprises. 

It was time to move it along,
and so I started the earth
with Groundhog, squatting  at his burrow door.
(He was known to be cranky this time of year so I whispered).
You can use my shadow as a backup, 
I gently suggested. 
You might be more predictable,
He curled his lip and bared his incisors
I’ve got enough shadow
worries on my own without yours,
he snarled, And besides, It won’t fit!


Plan A (The Giveaway) was out. 
Plan B (Direct Persuasion) was in.
Moon Shadows are  kinder than Day Shadows, and so we met under a full moon.
Thank you so much for your service,.
Perhaps retirement might suit you, I suggested., 
I kept the argument civil, logical,
Sensitive to its needs. 
But the nicer I was the nastier the response.
until I noticed my collar getting very hot, 
and I heard myself saying
Okay then, I’m done trying to figure this out.
Let me make it clear: I don’t need you anymore.

And what if I refuse? It asked, 
After that there were no other words, 
only a dark pressure in my midnight mind,
a burrowing into my chest,
a sense of something crouching
Somewhere deep and out of reach.

And so I guess it’s the two of us now,
and I know that I will never see 
the dance we do together, my shadow and me.