Thursday, February 18, 2010


There are some people in this world that have an amazing and instant ability to walk into a room and it lights up.  What a gift!  What a blessing!  Colleen, a soldier, is just such a person.  You look at her smile and you smile.  It is quite  impossible not to. I have always wanted to be that kind of person. 

Julia Cameron in "Walking in this World" hit the nail on the head when she wrote, 'Panic is an escalating sense of terror that can feel as if we are being flooded and immobilized by the glare of change.  It is rooted in "I know where I want to go, but how am I going to get there?" 

It is easy to say you begin with a single step.  But fear and panic can leave us stuck, stranded, and not living the life we want to live.  Our imagination takes over, and it is then that negativity rises to the surface, and you tuck your tail and run back to where you 'think' you feel safe.  But in reality you really aren't safe or even where you want to be.  You aren't happy.  You make excuses.  You find yourself lying and hurting those you love the most and those that love you the most, to avoid the panic of change.  We expect snipers and catrastrophes at every corner.  We obsess, we worry, we fear, we hurt people, we put up stumbling blocks, we develop artistic moves that keep us as far from fear and panic as possible - or so we think.  All of this indicates we are sitting smack dab on the brink of worrying about worrying. Sounds a little stupid doesn't it?

What if we were to focus all of this energy expended on negativity that inhabits our very being into the positive?  Just perhaps this worry can become something else - something positive.  What if there were a switch and we could turn off fear, worry, panic and negativity?  Where then would we be?

The first step is scary.  We are afraid of being afraid, and scared of being scared.  And all too often this escalates into panic. And in the saddest cases of all into inertia.  When that happens lives are broken - and hearts. This life, this only life we have, is lost to us. Perhaps there is hope and perhaps that hope lies in braving the chaos and waiting calmly.  You most likely know the answer, just not how to get there.

Julia Cameron says, "When fear enters our lives, it is like a mouse scurrying across the floor of our creative consciousness."    She continues that when you feel afraid you must tell yourself that 'this is good, not bad.  Tell yourself  that this fear is a 'heightened energy available for productive use.' 

Fear is based on a 'simple lack of accurate information,' allowing the worry to become 'a bogeyman who keeps us from entering the gates to our dreams.' We need to accept them as messengers rather than terrorists.  And it is then we can begin to understand, and we can then share our fear with others and not closet it away.  And it is in this sharing that our burden is lessened and healing can begin.

Are we resilent enough to do this?  Are we strong enough, courageous enough?  Is it possible we are addicted to fear? Only change will lead us to true happiness and a place where we can reach our full potential.  But sometimes we are as afraid of change as we are afraid of fear.  We get caught up in survivor mode, which in turn causes us to get stuck once again. And again more lives are demolished.

True intimacy and happiness comes from revealing our true selves to another.  Someone we trust, someone who does not judge us, someone who loves us just the way we are. Then the door opens to begin taking risks, one at a time.  Then once in a while pain and emptiness will reappear in our lives when we allow ourselves the opportunity to be distracted. As long as we are distracted by work, by wrong relationships or marriages, by busyness, and addictions, we don't have to face the fear.  How very sad.

Perhaps our internal house needs to be redecorated.  Get a new sofa, sweep the floor and for your sake- your life -  move on so that the deepest and truest parts of ourselves can come out and breathe. We must move off of the threshold where we find we are unable to separate ourselves from ways of living we have become so used to that our souls are cramped.

I told a good friend last week that I had been diagnosed with Panic Disorder.  He looked at me,  and said, "I am honored and I am humbled that you told me.  Thank you.  I think more of you now than I ever did before."  I was suddenly free.  What an amazing feeling. I had faced my demons and I was free.  Free to be me and live my life any way I want.

As for Colleen, I don't know her background at all, and I don't have to.  All I know is that when she is in the living room at the Lackland AFB Fisher House with our working therapy dogs, the world is brighter and lighter and the furthest thing from my mind is fear and worry.  Perhaps we all need a Colleen in our lives.  Someone who smiles and loves us and provides a place where we feel safe for all the right reasons.  Not barricaded in our closet, our office, our house with the door shut, keeping happiness away.


"When a person feels like a victim all the time, they don't see the people they have hurt."
~Susan Peabody~

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone."
~Coco Chanel~

"Feel the fear - do it anyway!"
Author Unknown

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