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Day 27

 

Went to breakfast this morning at the local country restaurant three miles from our house. My husband and I both prefer going out for breakfast to dinner, so we get to do this pretty frequently. We get there in time for the early bird special and we split one of their plate-size pancakes. The people who work there are just lovely and we are beginning to get to know many locals who make a Sunday ritual of breakfast as well. I've brought the Fear Chair there three times now.

 

So before she took our order, our regular waitress leaned over the table and said, "I have to tell you, people are wondering about 'the chair.' They're all like 'what's with the chair?' But they ask ME. I mean it's no problem, I tell them about what you said but I just think it's funny they ask me not you. Don't you think so?" We laughed. I told her yesterday was the first time in a long time that I purposefully observed people's reactions to me walking into a coffeeshop with the chair and the responses were on their faces but no one approached me about it. We laughed again. I told her to tell them to ask me. I also told her I am planning to make business cards with the link to my blog so she can just give those to them. 

 

She took our order then leaned over again, "actually last week one of the cooks caught me as I was really busy and said she had something to talk to me about. I told her I was busy. Later she said, 'now?' I said I was still busy. Later on in the day it was quiet and I went back there and said, 'ok, what do you need to talk about?' (The cook) said, 'what's with the chair?'" We laughed. She looked at the counter, "actually, when you just came in now, one of the waitresses said, "so, what's with the chair?" I told her to send the woman over to ask me.

 

So my husband and I talked and waited for our breakfasts. Pretty soon, we looked up and the other waitress was standing across from us. Neither of us had seen her approach, it was kind of like a dream, suddenly she was just there, looking at me with a calm but somewhat cautious expression. "So, um, will you tell me about the chair?" "Sure," I answered and smiled at her.  "About a month ago I learned of a woman who carried a burdensom anger and so got a chair and painted 'anger' on it. She carried it around everywhere she went. I thought about it and realized that Fear is the root emotion that has kept me sitting out on life the most, it is my greatest burden. So, the chair is my Fear metaphor and I carry it everywhere I go and will until Fear is no longer a burden to me." She nodded thoughtfully. "That's cool."  "Thanks, and thanks for asking me about it."

 

Our food came. We had a lovely time, interrupted only for refills on our coffee and to talk with the two sisters who'd been sitting across from us. As they got up, they noticed our pancake and one said, "we wondered when we got our mini-pancakes why 6 inch pancakes are mini; but seeing that, we understand!" Then the other sister said, "and by the way what's with the chair? I mean it's beautifull, but there must be a story." I told them my story, adding a bit about that it had to be colored and bright because visibility is one of my fears. One of the sisters physically seemed to shift a bit at this part as we looked into eachother's eyes. The other said, "I may do that but not with a chair." I told her I've heard others have done this with things like backpacks; but it had to be a chair for me. My husband said it's strengthened me physically and I suggested she check the weight of it if she liked. She did lift it. I laughed, said, "My Fear has strengthened me." We didn't get into any further discussion, they were on a road trip to see their dad. I imagine the chair might perhaps be discussed a bit, perhaps even Fear will be.

 

After we'd finished eating, the couple behind us, who'd also just finished, turned around, "Excuse me, we're very curious about your chair..." 

 

It was the most I've ever talked with people about the FCP in one place. I left feeling happy, grateful and very visible. Had to do some healthy self-talk but not very much. Perhaps I am learning something about visibility. Perhaps we all are FAR more visible than we realize ALL the time. People watch us and make judgements or formulate questions about us but rarely come forward about their reactions. Yet, in the end, people really only see what they are able to see, whether they take a chance to learn more or not.  They are busy in their own lives, in their own heads. 

 

Later, as we got up, our waitress came over to us, she admitted, "you know, I don't even know your name." "Ohhhh," I said, "it's Anya" She gave me a big hug. Such a brave thing she did. We've been going there for a couple years nearly every Sunday but she has SO many people she meets. Yet, I know from having worked customer service in a small city before that you feel that you should remember everyone's name who remembers yours. What a sweet moment. As we left, she called out, "Be courageous! and remember the business cards!" I turned from the door, "yes! Hold me accountable!" We laughed. I turned and thought, for which one?

 


Day 26

 

Labor Day Weekend Saturday celebrated once again by the self-employed by working. Celebrating the American work ethic, we like to say. We worked prep-ing a house to paint it. Not our usual work but it's work; and she's a long-time client so we stretch ourselves. Oh yes, and lots of big spiders were there to help. It was the first cool, occasionally sprinkly day, so they seemed to come out of the woodwork (litteraly) to just hang there and see what this change in weather means. I let them be. Talked to them a bit just to make myself more comfortable mostly and that seemed to help. They let me be also. One of them may have had a few choice spidey words for me when he/she came out of the siding and got showered with Bondo dust as I was using an orbital sander just above her/his hole in the wall. Otherwise all was fine.

 

Which reminds me, yesterday after taking the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in from the garden, I got distracted and when I came back to wash the vegis, found a hitchiker on the edge of the bowl. A moderate size garden spider had been harvested along with the produce. I very calmly and quickly brought the bowl outside and tapped it hard on the floor of the porch above the first step. Spidey slipped and hung from an impromptu web (they're are little geniuses aren't they). Not quite long enough, tap tap, a little harder. three inches, still not past the bottom of the bowl. Tap tap,....a n d,... there we are a nice long web strand and I was able to transfer it's anchor to the step. I felt pretty proud of my fearful fearless ingenuity and my allowing of the spider. 

 

Allowing oddly enough has been an issue for me. I don't allow very easily or readily. I get tight and controling or fearful or hesitant or apologetic. Funny, I think yesterday allowing the spider it's freedom uplifted me because in it I respected not only the spider but myself as well. I allowed myself my phobia. I didn't just kill it OR keep it in the house out of guilt. I allowed myself to feel the way I do and I came up with a creative solution to what could have been internal conflict. I think not allowing is where the majority of my internal conflict comes from. Not allowing myself to have needs, not allowing myself to have perceptions that might be correct or perceptions that might be mistaken, not allowing myself to have Fear/fearS, not allowing myself to be decisive or strong or present or ,... visible.... Hmmm.

  

I've not written about this yet but yesterday I noticed that the arthritis in my hands continues to worsen and yesterday the pain of carrying the chair reached an 8. Today it didn't hurt quite that much, but I did leave the chair in the car when I was at work. I figured prep-ing a house for paint today would be enough for my hands. I did take it into the coffeshop before work though. Lots of interesting/interested looks. No comments or questions though. I don't always watch for people's reactions to seeing me carry the chair into unusual places but today I just wondered and so had a look. Anyway, the pain has been increasingly bad for the past 4 or so months. I have never had an official diagnosis but my mother has osteo and my aunt has rheumatoid, so chances are I've got some form of it. At any rate, I have an appointment later this month with a rheumatologist to find out. And, anyway, I just thought this a good post to say sometimes I am going to allow myself to leave the chair in the car if the pain is too much or if I have a lot of work that taxes my hands. 

 

 


Day 25

 

Carol and I got together today. Always good to dig in the compost of life with a good friend who is unafraid of the mess. In the end we both concluded it would be a good exercise for me to place myself in a vaccum of other issues, that is, not what ifs or if onlys, just me. And consider what do I need in life. What do I need? So later today I sat down and began such a list. It's longer than I thought it'd be. About 20 or so items on the list. It was a good exercise. I'm going to post it in my room and look at it everyday just to see how I am doing with taking care of me. I am at a crossroads time in life. If I weren't, trust me, I wouldn't be carrying a chair around everywhere I go. So taking an assessment of my needs seems a pretty good start to seeing where I stand before I move too much forward into choices of paths...

 

The chair went to Fred Meyer for the first time today. My daughter needed new hiking shoes and I thought I'd get a few groceries. The carts there are shallower than Winco, where I usually grocery shop. So the chair lay on it's front in the cart. Still, it did get a bit of attention. One woman, writer apparently, commented when I told her briefly my purpose with the chair. Her response was a quiet, "and of course, it would have to be colorful." We talked of color then. Her favorites are oranges and yellows while her husband leaned (perhaps he'd passed away, she looked to be in her 70s) into browns and blues. She wore a dark blue shirt. She pointed to it, "of course I'd be wearing this today, I rarely wear this." I learned that her living room and dining room are more to her husband's tastes while her bedroom is bright in yellows and oranges. The guest room is "orange without really being orange, if you know what I mean." But "people like it, they feel comfortable in there." Such a sweet woman. She never spoke with a hint of judgement about me and my chair or about her husbands choice of colors or her own. She just relayed the information. Told her story of colors. She journals. I wonder if she'll write about the lady carrying a chair everywhere, even in Freddy's until she no longer feels Fear to be a burden. Perhaps she will but my sense is she has no need of judgement about it. She'll simply tell a story.

 

This reminds me of last night's post. My fears around what other people think of me. Holycow. Who do I think I am? Truth is, as I've taught my daughter through her teen years, people DON'T think about me, her or anyone but themselves for the most part. And those that pass judgements, who cares what they DO think. We're all just writing our own stories. Thinking about getting needs met. Taking care of our own really. Hmmm,.... Carrying a chair around, I am beginning to let go of this fear. It still rears it's head but hey, I'm still carrying the chair. No apologies, no explanations. Unless asked, and even then, I usually end up listening more than I talk. Hmm....


Day 24

 

Tough day. Began with abundance and gratitude mantra on my way to a job. Glad I started with that. I think it helped keep my frustrations somewhat in check when power tools began not working then working then not. Argh. I did give in and let off a stream of explitives a couple times but no one was around. Well, once it was while on the phone with my husband, so, technically not around but definitely withing hearing range. Poor guy. I apologized. He understood. He's dealt with this sander too. BUT we found a solution. 

 

Not sure what that has to do with Fear. I suppose it is the insidious irritation of tools breaking down on a hot hot day that brings to mind last night's post. Spiders. And just the insidious nature of negative energy and Fear. Somehow it all just gets under my skin and becomes so much a part of me in my interactions. Before I have a clue it's happening. No matter how much I sing or say my positive mantras, or close my doors, irritation, like spiders can still get in. And no matter how strong I feel carrying a chair about, reminding me to be conscious of Fear, I still get blindsided by things like caring what others think of me.

 

Today I had another encounter with that one... I realized someone who may become important in my life though I have yet to meet this person, may have gotten an impression of me from someone who IS important in my life who has a somewhat skewed image of me. My first internal response was "I gotta fix this!" and "how, how can I fix this?" but as the evening moved forward, so did I. I eventually realize these two people are out of my control and if one or both have negative thoughts about me, i can't be helped by my getting all neurotic and protective. So, I let it go. I really can't afford to waste energy worrying, Fearing, what these two people think about me when there is nothing I can do change things. 

 

Focus on the Love. Tonight I feel sad about what happened but I am breathing and remembering Love is what strenghtens me. 

 

I am realizing that the Fear Chair is heavy (I should weigh it). My upper body hasn't had such a workout since my rock-climbing days. I noticed today how fatiguing it is to carry it though. It HAS been very hot lately and packing that chair in and out of the car and in and out of buildings (not to mention around in the buildings - some have carts but today was the paint store and bank, none of which do) is tiring. Yet, as I wrote about "remembering Love" I realized carrying the Fear Chair IS tiring but it has "Love" painted on the underside of the seat. And the Chair that bears both Love AND Fear is strengthening me. In a very real way, when I lay the Chair in the car, I see that "Love" under the seat and the fatigue sloughs away. Just like remembering tonight that I don't have to focus on my Fear of what these two people think of me but can instead just Love (myself, them, all) creates an internal flushing away of the fear. Cleansing that is also strengthening. 

 

Back to my abundance and gratitude mantra! Full circle...

 

 

 


Day 23

 

Spiders 


Day 22

I needed some cheerleaders today and found them in my sister and my daughter. I am so grateful for their support. For one thing, they helped me see that what's been coming up (and what I've been writing in my blog) is the fear of what other people think. Holycow and, uh, duh... I so often think I've moved beyond peer pressure. I'm 51, haven't worn makeup in decades, don't dye my hair, live pretty much they way I see fit; but this chair has shown me my folly. I still give a shit, sometimes perhaps too much, what other's think of me. Wow. So, that's out in the open. I haven't painted on the chair for a while. I think this may need some form of expression. I will think about it.

 

The other important insight was when I was reminded of the principle that we can only change in ourselves what we accept to be part of us. Perhaps the best example is body size. We can't sustainably change our body size until we accept our body image. In order to change, we first need to see where we ARE. And even perhaps love our selves as we are. So, perhaps, we also need to love the fearful part of ourselves before we can really let go of Fear. This is why I have the chair. Of course I could just set the chair down or lose it somewhere but that won't get rid of Fear. The chair is just a chair. BUT, it IS a metaphor, and in that, it does represent a process of accepting who I am, WITH my burden of Fear and fearS even to the point of simply walking around with them/it very visible to the world and very visible to the people who's opinions matter to me.

 

Tonight when I took my daughter out for pizza, a woman came up behind me and whispered loudly, "is that YOUR special chair?" Without turning to look at her (it seemed a covert conversation and turning would blow the effect), "yes it is." I answered. "And only YOU get to sit in it?" I turned then as I answered "yes" but she'd gone.  I have no idea of the meaning there (yet) but .... hmmm....


Day 21 I believe...

 

I didn't carry the chair everywhere today. It stayed in the car a lot. I haven't been feeling fearful. Actually have been quite strong and decisive the past couple of days. Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster which is why I haven't been posting; but I've been very conscious of where my Fears lie and have moved forward quite well beyond them. 

 

However,...

 

I AM noticing a number of people have implied that this FCP is actually weighing me down or tethering me to Fear-based living. I am mulling this over. Initial response is no, of course, as I've written in this blog, that isn't how this works. But I am noticing that the pressure from others to not carry the chair IS there, and I have also noticed that today I did not carry the chair. 

 

My assessment, to be honest, is that I am afraid they know better what I should be doing AND that I SHOULD just let go of the chair and let go of Fear and let go of my fearS and live life to the fullest. Yes. Yes, I should do those things. However, I've known for a very long time that I should do those things and yet something has held me back. I believe Fear has held me back. Despite my KNOWING what to do, I DON'T do it. Why? because there is this massive, heavy, unknown-ness about my Fear. And at the same time, there is an insidiousness that allows it to slip in unknown to influence my choices and responses. 

 

I don't think I'm really that different from most people. My sense is that even those people who passively tell me to drop the chair are sometimes blindsided by their Fear or fearS. I AM tempted to drop the project. I AM tired of carrying the chair. I AM tired of looking different in such a different way. And it's heavy. And life right now brings a great heaviness already in the form of some relationship and health issues. I do know that carrying the chair has been good for me. Very strengthening of mind, body and spirit actually. 

 

A lapse... I have lapsed. Does this mean the Project should end? Does this mean I should not carry the chair? Funny, the most recent lesson I learned from the chair is how critical it is to simply be decisive in a difficult situation. And so I was simply and very clearly decisive. It turned out well. It really was the best solution simply to decide. Yet, here I am feeling all wishy washy, ooey gooey indecisive about the Project. 

 

How many posts am I going to spend discussing whether this is going to continue or not then concluding that it is a good project and it IS helping me move forward! 

 

This is unbelievably difficult in completely unimagined ways.

 

Just read this post to my daughter and she gave me a pep-talk I needed, reminding me the chair is just a chair. That people who think it's silly or unnecessary or burdening don't get what the Project is about and perhaps have fears around seeing someone carry a Fear Chair. She reminded me too that the quote, (sorry Mr. Roosevelt) "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." is wrong. The most pervasive and paralizing fear is the fear of our fear. So read it tongue in cheek, "We have nothing to fear but fearing fear."  This Project was started, again, not because I am so unbearably Fear-full but because I feel a strong desire to know Fear, to know MY Fear. Not my fearS. Those are clear. But what is this underlying presence of Fear that I don't know so well but have carried throughout my remembered life. And, just HOW does it sneak into my relationships and decisions and responses,... ooooo and my goals? The questions are only now coming to light. Why would the answer already be just let go of the chair?


Day 18

a.m.

A pervasive unease today as I am sensing a good friend is not happy with me. I don't know what I have done or not done but this friend seems to have a difficult time even looking at me today. I know she has much going on in her life and so am attempting to ride it out just living my life as we pass through this. My tendancy in such a situation is to just become scarce for a little while but we are working on a project together and so today I am going to practice not becoming invisible and setting internal boundaries in case my visibility becomes an issue .

 

I went to a garage sale this morning and saw another friend. She and I chatted, catching up with eachother. First thing, I explained my FCP as the chair was with me. Her insight was very helpful. She said, "you're externallizing fear through the chair." Yes, the undercurrent, the "water table" of Fear that I carry is slowly transferring to the chair. This includes all those little and big fearS in me but also is that presence of Fear, of which those are a part. So eventually I won't have to carry the chair and I can get rid of it or "put it at the table and it becomes useful," my friend said. Absolutely.

 

p.m.

It is amazing the trouble I can drum up out of Fear. After writing this morning and enroute to working on the project, I found myself getting all worked up. Fantasizing scenarios of confrontation, building my case, I was in a tumult in my own mind. And the Fear Chair was in the back seat of the car. But a wonderful thing happened about half-way to my destination. I suddenly realized I was making this all up. I had no proof of my friend's feelings. I had only my "sensing," based on flimsy evidence. So, really, I thought, if I am going to make up a situation, why would I choose to make up such a horrible, negative one? So I began shifting my focus to Love. I remembered my love for my friend. I remembered my love for her family and her love for me and for my family. I talked to the Universe. I thanked God, Universe, Source for the Love and for the peace and resolution. Then I drove on. I pulled up. Parked. And the only Fear that I found to carry was the Chair.

A lovely day and good solid work was enjoyed by all.

 

Oddly, this morning I had again pondered stopping the FCP. I'd gotten a couple cheeky comments from men in town when I'd gone running errands and it made me question myself just a bit. It's funny but I am noticing that other people's comments really are mirrors they hold up for me to see myself. There is a desire (subconscious or conscious it matters not) for me to see myself as they see me. But the mirrors distorted by their own image of the world and themselves. So, people's responses to me carrying the chair vary greatly but because the chair is external I somehow have better objectivity to view just what those people are doing. It's like, in a way, I see them holding up the mirror for the chair, so I am a bystander. My issue is embodied in the chair, so I see their issues with me are focused on the chair as well. Sure, I sometimes become drawn in to other people's reflections of me and confused because that's an old pattern of behavior I am working to change. But in a very unique way now I am seeing people's opinions really are about them. Not me. Not the Chair.

 

I am grateful I've got the Chair. Today I learned much about Fear and much about Love.