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post chair carrying day 49


Funny, nearly 100 days of exploring Fear and I realize tonight I am running out of things to say. Fear is present in my life. The "water table" I wrote about still exists; but more and more I find that Fear comes up in life everyday but it is an ebb and flow rather than a whirlpool or tsunami sensation. Perhaps it is that after nearly 100 days of practice, Love accompanies Fear quite naturally and calms it, calms me, assuring me all will be well, all IS well. 


A brief story: I play solitaire on my computer. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a "gamer," I am, recall an earlier post, a "techno-dinosaur." The other day I noticed an internal conflict arise when I hit ctrl z to undo plays. I thought, if this were real solitaire, with real cards, there's no way I could undo that many plays. And I suddenly wondered if I was "cheating" to be able to undo 5 or 10 plays. It was tiny but it was Fear, Fear that I was a cheater. I've had this irksome little thought before but never had the nerve to explore it. So I explored it the other day. It only took a moment to look at it and realize, no I am not a cheater. If I'd be playing with cards, I'd abide by the rules and the limits of the game at hand. On the computer I am simply abiding by the rules and the limits of the game at hand. And so (it smacked me upside the head) it goes with life. In ALL situations, in ALL living, ALL we can do is play by the rules and limits of the game at hand. Other people seem to get this much better than I. I am 52 for godsake. So, I realized the rules and limits of THIS game, Life, include that I get to choose the focus of my energy. I am not cheating or skipping steps or missing any point by choosing Love and Joy and Peace and Abundance over Fear and all it's incarnations (anger, self-pity, apathy, to name a few I've chosen in the past). So, now I see clearer, my choices are clearer. Every day.


I know life will be riddled with surprises of which I will be afraid (I just learned last night that the husband of a friend died suddenly, things like that); but in this moment, I know this practice works for me.Actually, right now I can think of a few of situations and people for whom I am afraid; but the predominant feeling, the predominant energy I feel isn't the Fear. I recognize predominantly, I feel Love. I feel Love for me and for others and for Life. Love, compassion, empathy, hope,... These are much better alternatives to swim in than Fear. Ultimately, if I were in turmoil, I'd much rather find my support persons saturated with Love than with Fear, for their sake as well as mine.


So once again, I am grateful beyond expression for the FCP. This experience has altered me internally as if I've been re-wired. I explained to friend today whom I saw for the first time in 26 years that all my life I internally referred to myself as "Little Much-Afraid." What I have learned about Fear and Love and living in the present is precious powerful. (Perhaps I should have stopped at "beyond expression," lol, but I kind of like "precious powerful," it's pretty accurate -- if clunky.) No longer much-afraid, I am simply and powerfully Anya, walker in this world, swimmer in these seas. 


I do wonder, as it became time to let go of the chair, (and time to accidentally lose the totem) I am feeling it may soon be time to let go of this blog strand. What will it become? I don't know. About my art? About Art in general? About Art and Fear? Hmm,.... in time, I will know. No Fear.

post chair carrying day 48


I had an incredible internal day. While I've given Zen meditation a try, I've been studying a bit Vispassana meditation and today began. It suits me incredibly well. I don't know if I will ever go for a ten day training. That would be cool but in the meantime, I can explore and step into it. Today was mind-blowing. Just a taste and it was/is amazing. It is work also, so I am grateful to have listened to when I am ready.


Also, yesterday I met an incredible dog. This is redundant I know, all dogs are incredible. Animals in general really, but dogs are golden. This particular dog was the most present being I have ever encountered. In general, dogs are simply present, I know; but this dog (Bo) more than any I've met held my gaze and seemed not even to have the outer shell of a dog body but to simply be soul, spirit, life-energy looking back at me. He had a face I would look at and feel as if it were a human face, he was that relatable. What I learned from Bo was to simply be in the present. I've been working on that for some time, most intensely since taking up the chair almost 100 days ago. So, perhaps I was just ready to meet Bo and was able to see him; but he was utterly present for the hour or so I was with him. He requested through body language, all the loves any dog would request. It wasn't that he didn't act dog-like. He was very dog-like and he was more. A beautiful soul. And all day I found myself grateful for the present and grateful for the lesson Bo deepened for me to BE, to LIVE in the present.


I told my husband tonight about Bo and about the lesson I learned. I added, "it's not that there aren't challenges in life today, there are; but somehow, I am not burdened any longer by the Fear of those challenges." The meditation, Bo, the loss of the Love Fear Chair; something has shifted for me this week. Something like plate techtonics has slid below and lifted in me. It is a time of change. Much work to be done still. Each day. One day at a time.


I want to add too that I just learned on FB that the husband of a former co-worker passed away last night suddenly. He was a man who always smiled. I saw him deal with some difficult issues but still he found things to smile about. He raised three strong, loving children with his wife. The family is deeply close. My co-worker and her husband were in the not-so-distant honored with a community recognition for their devotion to our town and to the children of our town. They were a good team. I imagine she is devastated tonight. She is in my heart, as is he and their children. I don't think he will be far from them. His smiling strength will linger with them, I believe throughout their lives. But he will be missed bodily by his loved ones. He will be missed fiercely. 


In the midst of Life, Death. In the midst of Death, Life. We have no choice in the matter. The two are conjoined. We can turn our faces, we can run, we can try to hide, our Fear doesn't change matters. So I suggest we, I stop turning, running, trying to hide and use the energy to dance all we/I possibly can with this strange and beautiful gift that is Life...


post chair carrying day 47


I really do believe Fear is the base negative emotion, the end point, or more precisely the start point for all negative energy. Almost 100 days ago, I embarked on a journey to uncover Fear and unburden myself of Fear. Today I feel the shift that has occurred because of this journey. I may not be incredibly articulate about it yet as the understanding, the awakening to the shift is relatively new. 


I feel as if I have shed something. Not a skin. Something deeper. I feel as if I have been cored. Like an apple. But I am not empty. I am open. As if being cored, I have then also been turned inside out. I am not Fear-free, I am perhaps Fear-less. Still human, still feel pulse quicken at the thought of certain things. But am very clear what that is. It is Fear. And the clear, unapologetic, uncluttered understanding gives me the ability then to allow the Fear to be what it is. A response. And allowing Fear makes me as powerful as Fear. And I can choose to be whatever response I choose. A quaking, crumbling victim of Fear or a breathing, courageous companion to Fear, or someone in-between. 


This courageous companion to Fear is an interesting image. Let's return to the mountain, you know, the mountain of life. I have faced this mountain quaking and sometimes crumbling in Fear. But today, I realize I am a companion. Fear is with me, beside me as I climb and stumble and get up and glissade and make decisions. But Fear is NOT me and I am not Fear. Courage is my companion as well. But it is NOT me and I am not Courage. Love is there too of course; and the same reality applies to Love and I. Anger, Discouragement, Despair, Hope, Joy, Triumph,... and the list goes on. Every possibility accompanies me in this life. And I am only me. And I am all that I am. And I am enough.


Fear is deeply powerful in our psyches, in my psyche. And it is only as powerful as I allow it to be. Just like anything else.


But I started this entry by stating that I really do believe Fear is THE base negative emotion. I have talked about this before. Today I believe it more than ever because I feel as if in awakening to Fear, to the reality of what Fear is and allowing it, and in doing so becoming free of the BURDEN of Fear; I see and feel as if all that burdened me in life are no longer burdens. There are challenges, sure, life is not suddenly heaven but those challenges are no longer felt to be unbearable weights on my back or chest as I face the mountain. The mountain is simply a mountain, the challenges simply challenges. Beautiful hard work that     is      in      EVERY     step     worth       it     ,.. and in every step contains every possiblity ... and every step belongs to me. 

The significance of the changes in my understanding of my life and of myself  since the beginning of the Fear Chair Project are to me astounding. Certainly many factors play into the events and growth of the past almost 100 days; but through it all, every day, the commond thread of encountering Fear where it lives and befriending it binds all that has occurred to bring me to this new place, this new reality, this new awakening to self. 


There is fondness for the FCP, and I believe even fondness for this newly understood companion.



post chair carrying day 46


Two things happened today.


First, I noted as I wrote my morning pages that I am far more judgemental than I have believed I am. This was a blow to my ego just hard enough to wack some sense into me. It is time, I am ready to let go of the judgemental stuff. It was Fear-based and was harming no one so much as myself because I was one of those judgers who really tried very hard to not let on that I was judging. The words out of my mouth were compassionate, and I really felt that; but deep in a secret place inside, where no one saw, I sometimes nurtured judgements. And though I kept those judgements silent usually, knowing what I do about phsychology, I'd say they showed themselves in other ways. And, certainly they were not healthy sitting burried inside me either. Judgement of others and myself feels like the last great negative burden inside me. Realizing it for the cancer that it was and exposing it to the light of day, the light of consciousness, mindfulness, feels like opening a window and letting the breeze blow in and cleanse a stale room of it's contents. It may not be unusual, it may be human, but today I found myself burdened by the practice of judging and I realized I have been burdened by judgements for many years. But today I began to teach myself better, more purposefully, how to allow. My mantra for the day was "Breathe and Be and Allow." And when I encountered hints of judgements, the mantra reminded me of the change I wish to create in myself and in my world. I am very grateful for the humbling awakening to my judgemental habits. I am very grateful for the work of correcting my posture in the world and clearing my inner rooms.


Second, I have lost the totem that was "the Love Fear Chair." It has been on my key chain. Today I ran errands, had lunch out and went to a meeting. When I got home and checked the mail with my keys, I noticed the Chair totem was missing. I checked the car and retraced my steps but did not find it. I called my sister to tell her the news because, while there was a peacefulness in my response, I wanted to talk about it rather than only think about it to insure I wouldn't go to negative places in my head. I was sad to lose it. It was adorable and I felt connected to it. Yet, I admitted to my sister, there always was a temorary quality to the totem even as I labored to strengthen it with three coats of epoxy. She helped me see too that perhaps I needed to lose it, to let go of it; and perhaps someone else needs to find it. Perhaps it will be a good totem for someone else. After all, none of us knows what our creations might bring the world. It was created in gratitude and love with feet (legs) firmly planted in human experience. May it bring joy and love and wisdom to those who encounter it. 


I just realized the totem was lost on the same day I seemed to have opened the window on the "last great negative burden inside me." Hmmm, coincidence? I think not. Makes me smile.

post chair carrying day 45


Fear is so insidious. It lurks secretly inside motivations I though I knew well.


Tonight I was talking with my husband about obsessions and compulsions. I reflected a bit. "I just pay attention so I don't get compulsive or obsessed." I said when asked what might trigger such behavior in me. Indeed, I HAVE worked very hard through the years to be mindful of former obsessions and compulsive behaviour. My answer reflected confidence that I have it all under control.


Immediately I remembered however, just a couple weeks ago obsessing when my daughter left me a troubling message then didn't return calls or texts for three days. I let myself get worked into a frazzle over that. 


Then little and big and every size obsession or compulsion flooded my thoughts. I checked off those I'd not-so successfully kept under control through "mindfulness." And I told my husband to hold on a moment. I searched again for what triggered these behaviors as well as what fueled my "frazzle." In less than a minute, I'd filed through reactions to get to their sources and it wasn't very hard to see that there was a common denomonator. Fear. I quickly searched old stories too. Yep. Fear was always there. Every time I feel obssessive or fall into compulsions, the root can always, always be traced to Fear.


Fear for someone's safety, Fear of loss, Fear of loss of control, Fear of letting someone down, Fear of annihilation,.. that's the map of my "frazzle" obsession when my daughter didn't connect for three days. I wasn't conscious of those Fears at the time of course but upon reflection, I can totally own them. They weren't BIG at the time. Infact the Fears were very well hidden by the busy-ness of my obsession, by the justifications I created for my behavior, by my obsessive behaviour itself. 


But I didn't feel good, feeling obsessed; and I think that is a clue to look for. I think I will start paying attention to when a reaction or an action doesn't feel good. A simple thing really. I will pay attention to simply not feeling good in my gut. Then see if I can map that feeling and find where Fear hides in it. 


Odd, I just realized Fear is starting to feel a bit like a toxin to me. It is something that doesn't feel good or healthy in my body. Even when Fear is helpful (when there is real danger to avoid for example), it doesn't seem to belong in my body. This is a new experience for me. It's not just intellectualizing the understanding that a person can possibly be free of Fear. It's becoming a physical understanding, a physical experience of desiring to not pollute my body, my being with Fear. 




Practice being mindful of when the "not good" feeling comes and of tracing and understanding the root Fears will be good. And then breathing and letting go of the Fears, that will be important as well. Freeing my body of them once found, that will be the challenge. That will be the discipline. That will be the liberation. The healing. The health.



post chair carrying day 43


Fear really does find nourishment in reflection on the past doesn't it?


I started meditating yesterday. Simple, very simple zen meditation. And holicow, I find suddenly my mind wants to wander into the past and drag my Fear out from behind boulders waiting there for me. Wow. Very interesting how attempting to change something in ones self can dredge up old Fears and reveal addictions even, to Fears. I am not discouraged by this but I am a bit shocked by the magnitude of the effort a part of me seems to be making in response to change. 


For a long time, I've said, if something isn't remembered or isn't apparent in one's psyche, there is a reason. Our subconscious knows well how to protect us from that which overwelms us with Fear. So, meditating has been something I've tried to get myself to do for about a year now. There's been something in me holding me back. Now I am moving forward, stepping into meditation practice and that something is likely going to come into the light. The prospect is a bit scary. But in this NOW, the prospect is yet in the future and so it isn't for me to concern myself. When it comes to light, I will be ready. In that present moment.



Post-chair carrying day 42


Got 10 hours of sleep last night. Jet lag officially over. Well, for the most part. It's still a bit surreal being back; but I cleaned, did laundry, cooked a bit, spent quality time with my sweetheart and our dog and cat. Nested on a rainy day. Didn't go anywhere. So I am feeling planted again in my life here -- as much as I can with my heart (child) still going to school and working out some tough life-choices on the East Coast.


I have noticed so much strengthening via the FCP, some of which I elaborated a bit on last night. Today however, I noticed the one area where I have much to learn in terms of understanding and "handling" my Fear. Parenthood. 


The FCP has been enourmously helpful in teaching me to disassociate, to separate my feelings, my reactions, my life from others. Yet, when my child is troubled or somehow experiences pain at life's hand, my Fear levels rise abruptly and I must say, a bit frighteningly out of my range of comprehension.

Is it just that "deciding to have a child is like deciding to live with your heart outside your body"? Or is it something more to do with, what, survival? It feels like that. 


Perhaps this parental Fear thing is just based on my own life and that of my child's; or perhaps it is also something deeper. I've written about the "water table" of Fear, the deep undercurrent of Fear that reaches primal depths within our psyche. I really do believe that such levels of Fear exist in humans, in humanity. For tens of thousands of years we were primarily concerned with survival on very base levels. It's only really very recently that significant percentages of the human population goes through the day without considering survival let alone concentrating on it. Like domesticated animals through thousands of years change physically and behaviourally based on what is demanded from them by humans, perhaps we humans have been molded by what life demanded of us. Therefore, for the vast majority of human existence, we have been shaped by the instinct to survive and to help our children survive. That meant avoiding that which we Feared would kill us.


So today, I am not so concerned with survival per-se because we live in 21st century America. My daughter is warm, has food, has shelter, has friends, goes to school. But on some deep level, I recognize that her being across the country means she's not in my cave anymore. And the fact that she's struggling with some issues, stirs deep Fear for her well-being, even though I know intellectually that she will be fine and infact IS fine in this process. There feels to be something primal about my apprehension in response to her struggles. 


What do I do with this now?


While I visited her the past two weeks, I likened her journey to climbing a mountain; and I was beside her. Now I am 3000 miles away! Sure we can talk and text but while those are perfect forms of communication for life in pleasant times, they are limited communication when life becomes complicated and heavy. How did people used to do this when their children left home in England, sailed around the world to, wherever, or left on the Oregon Trail, never to return to the place of their birth? Did those parents feel the deep undercurrents of Fear for their children's lives? Well, they must have, for survival was much more an issue then than it is now.


Yet, I guess we do still have to survive and still do struggle for survival today. Survival means something different though than it did in pioneer or settlement or stone-age days. Today, our children have to survive emotionally and psychologically and financially in a world that can be quite hostile to the unprepared and prepared alike. Lions aren't trying to eat them, entire populations aren't trying to take their homes (not in America anyway), antibiotics and probiotics (or thousands of choices of chemical answers ) stave off the bacteria that would kill them. But the big danger now for our children is perhaps more internal, stress and perhaps even Fear itself. Fear of not measuring up, Fear of falling behind, Fear of failing, Fear of not fitting in, Fear of loneliness, Fear of the future, Fear of joblessness, and on and on and on...


What perhaps stirs my primal Fear most is when I notice my child is experiencing Fear -- for whatever reason. In this way, perhaps I am the same as that pioneer's mother, or that explorer's mother, or that cave-dweller mother. What causes me the greatest Fear, and perhaps any mother the greatest Fear is feeling, sensing or knowing that our child is in a state of Fear. That is why we can let them go when they feel the call to explore new lands, new lives. They step forward fearlessly, excitedly even. But when some threat to their plans, or threat to their lives and what they are building comes to light, whatever the source or type of threat, how can a parent (a mother anyway) not feel some sense of that deep, thousands-year-old conditioning? 


So how do I detatch again?


Well, if the FCP taught me anything, it taught me to carry my Fear out infront of me where I can see it. Get to know it. Let it be seen. Unappologetically befriend it. And by all means keep moving. Don't sit on it and stop living. Yes my child is 3000 miles away. Yes she is working through some tough stuff. But I can still be with her in her climb. And she is still with me in mine. Fear can parylize me or Fear can wake me up. And what is the antidote to Fear but Love.


Perhaps the disassociation I seek really IS from not just other's feelings but also from my own. Emotions are important but they are not ALL. They aresimply tools to help us get through life. I can use Fear where appropriate and I can use Love whenever possible... :)

Post-chair carrying day 41


Beginning to feel as if my head, mind, and soul have caught up with my body after the transcontinental flight. Jet lag is so disorienting. The 3 a.m. wake-up this morning didn't help but I am hoping to stay up a bit later tonight and remedy my sleep pattern.


As I begin coming back to myself, I am wanting to note some things here;


First, I am vastly changed due to the FCP and continue to discover ways in which this manifests in my life. Being with my daughter at her college, helping to expedite processes and plug into resources, I discovered not only how much faster things get done when the one writing the checks is simply present, I also really enjoyed being "big." That is, I enjoyed the empowered feeling and the visibility. I found myself very pleasantly assertive when the situation called for a bit more push and things got done while genuine smiles were exchanged. I went into the situations fully aware of my Fears but chose to focus on my love for my daughter and on thinking of the school personnel as team-mates in the tasks at hand. And things got done.


Second, I am "checking in" with myself in present moments far more frequently than ever before. This means I am learning to better live "in the moment, in the NOW." This is empowering, humbling, joyful, beautiful to think about. It means present moments, even scary ones are being experienced far more fully than I usually allow myself. One ultimate test was the flights across country. I have in the past despised flying for the Fears it created in me. For years I've practiced visualizations to get me through flights. This helped. This trip I practiced pre-gratitude for the co-passengers that would be provided who would somehow help me feel more distracted at least, more safe at best during the flights. Then I just breathed and trusted. As my Fear subsided my trust in the Universe/God/Source grew so that when my seat partners and I began talking, I was struck with immense gratitude (and smiled broadly in my heart) at the wisdom of the Universe's choice. 


Third, healing is happening in a relationship I'd nearly lost all hope of redeeming. Not just healing but deepening. I find that the FCP has created in me a strength that plants me firmly here, on this planet, in this moment, in my skin; and when I am in that place in me, I can better meet those around me with openness, love and compassion. It reminds me of "Namaste'" which has been said to mean "I honor the place in me of light, of life, of love. I honor that place in you of light of life of love. I honor that when you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one." Wow, I've always loved that word. Now, I believe, through Fear and the FCP, I am beginning to LIVE it. Beginning is good.


Fourth, the Community Warehouse, a not-for-profit in Portland contacted me today and they are excited to receive the Fear Chair as one of the pieces to be auctioned off next spring at their annual fundraiser, "The Chair Affair"! I am so excited it will move out into the world and do more good for someone! It has changed my life! It has changed me! And continues to do so. Tonight I epoxied (a sturdier clear-coat) the smaller version of the Fear Chair that I will begin carrying tomorrow as a totem I am calling "The Love Fear Chair." It differs from the original only in size and that "Love" is painted topside with "Fear" painted on the underside symbolizing my choice of focus in the moment, moving forward.


I have MUCH work to do, MUCH living to do, MUCH learning to do and I am in this moment overjoyed at the prospect; and moving forward in gratitude.