All posts tagged fear

2012: Mayan-Sized Endings

Published January 2, 2012 by Susan Woodward

Every year at this time everyone talks about resolutions to make changes… me included.  And every year, my resolve weakens about the third or fourth week in, gets invigorated in the spring after the winter hibernation, ebbs and flows throughout the summer, and then falls totally short once the new school year begins in September.  It’s been my pattern for so many years, but January 1 is always right there around the corner every 365 days just in time for me to make similar resolutions that will also fall short.

With all of the attention being given to the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, I want to pay attention.  This is an ending that won’t have a 365 day renewal policy.  While many are certain that December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world, I simply see it as a time for preparing for the end of an era.  And with the end of a long cycle needs to be the end of some long-standing resolutions… at least for me.  2012 also marks a milestone birthday for me… I will turn 50 in February, and it is time for some long-lasting changes.  I am ready for 2012 to be an ending of long cycles of behaviors in my life, starting with my annual pseudo-resolutions.

Long-Standing behaviors that I want to end throughout 2012:

1.  Self-Poisoning:  I need to stop poisoning my body and my mind.  This has been life long battle for me.  I eat too much of the wrong foods, I smoke, and I fill my mind with doubt.   I have been fearful too long, and have self “medicated” with overindulgence to the point where I have reached toxic levels… poison.

2.  Isolation:  Because of my fears of rejection, I have kept myself from really connecting with others.   I put myself in a self-imposed desert state, and it’s time to move more toward civilization.  While it may have been good for me to think of it as solitude and reassessment for a period of time, I have become too comfortable being by myself.   A certain level of safety has arisen from being alone, but that wall of safety has cut me off from so much.  Now even more at social functions, I retreat from the crowds to find a quiet corner.  Because I am afraid that anything I might have to say is not anything that anyone would want to hear, I shy away from conversation and simply watch from a distance.   I have done this for most of my life, but not to the level that I have currently reached.   This is a pattern I so desperately want to break because there is so much that I want to do with what is left of this life.   I cannot do what I truly want if I hide away from the world.

3. Fearfulness: My fears have caused the above behaviors, particularly the fear of rejection.   It has kept me from connecting with people, caused severe procrastination in my writing, provided me with an excuse to self-medicate with food and smoking, and kept me in this self-imposed desert state.  By working to conquer #3, that should take care of knocking off #1 and #2 above.

So fighting fearfulness is where I begin to make these long lasting changes.   And from past experience of resolutions, I am not going to try to go cold-turkey.  This cycle of endings came after a long period, and so my endings cannot just happen overnight… but they will happen.

– I will quit smoking, but I will do so gradually, giving me a better chance at long-lasting success.

– I will improve my eating behaviors, but I will not tell myself to stop eating any particular thing altogether.   I will work toward moderation so that I will not feel deprived and then fall back into over-indulgence.

– I will get out of the corner at social functions.  No, I won’t be the life of the party… but I will avoid being too shy to talk to new people.   I’ll start with talking to one new person at a time, and just go from there.

– I will get off the couch and exercise more.  No marathons, no Olympics… but getting out to do something I really love… swimming… will do much for me physically.   With less smoking, I will be able to build stamina in doing laps.  As my body becomes stronger, I will be less inclined to indulge in eating too much.

– I will make time to write a bit a couple times a week and work my way up to doing a bit of writing more often.   I don’t want to put a time line on my novel because that is self-defeating, but I will keep a steady pace at it and it will be complete in its own time… as long as I chip away at it.   A few pages at a time and before I know it, I will have all the pages it requires.   I will stop worrying about whether or not anyone else will like what I’ve written and just do it for myself.   I actually DO like the story I’ve plotted out, and as long as I like it, then that will be a very good start.   If I care enough about my own work, then I will be able to find others who will care about it, too.

While these may seem like the same resolutions I make year after year, I am going to be much more mindful about how I tackle my issues.   It took a couple thousand years for the Mayan calendar to come to an end, so I will not have high expectations of my life-long behaviors ending at the drop of a ball.   It will be a year of endings, and when December 21, 2012 arrives, a whole new era will begin.  That is my goal… to get ready for new beginnings.


Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Mussels, like toes dragged across wet sand,

Leave their trails below the surface,

Away from shore toward the safety of the deep,

Attempting to escape the fate of

Scattered skeletal remains of those feasted upon,

Left to collect in a child’s sand pail;

They leave behind ducks

Bickering over bits of bread,

Glad that they are not the prize instead.

“Bring Me Home”

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close enough to touch,

Yet too far to connect;

I am alone in a house full of faces.

Their voices call from the safety of dry land

While I am lost in a sea of despair,

Passively drowning in hopelessness;

Arms wrapped tightly about my hollow shell,

They drag me ashore,

Working in turn to resuscitate without success…

I lay lifeless before them,

Eyes focused on their helpless stares…


A tiny voice awakens within me

Struggling to be heard from afar,

Above the roar of the deafening blackness

Comes the cry,

“Don’t give up on me…”


Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

New year,

Almost a

New century,

New millenium…

What’s so new about it?

The only thing changed is four digits…

Big deal.

I changed seven with a new phone number!

Does Y2K make the hate go away?

Times Square with its two million people invading the streets

Hugging and kissing as the ball dropped

Will revert to a place of mugging and killing tomorrow.

The world’s fireworks will again be dropped bombs

Once they all realize that the end did not come when the clock struck twelve.

And why should it?

Why would God take the time to end this world as we know it

When we are doing such a bang-up job ourselves?


A little tolerance is a dangerous thing;

It may lead to widespread understanding

And an epidemic of compassion,

Posing a threat to many people’s way of life.


Oh, that the world would be so plagued!

“Why Do I Make My Heart Cry?”

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Why do I make my heart cry

When thoughts of you

Fill me with sorrow and pain?

The memories of what I’m missing

The hopes for a future that I’d been wishing

But the pain of the present’s in my eyes

Looking at us now, I realize

That the love that I feel is mine and mine alone,

And there’s nothing to share

When you’re loving on your own.

I can offer my heart,

But I cannot make you take it

Your gentle brushing aside

Is more than enough to break it

So why do I make my heart cry

By hoping the wall around your heart will crumble?

You say the spark is not there

Yet I know that you care

Clinging to the tenderness we used to share…

But why do I make my heart cry?

“False Friend”

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Must you hurt me again and again?

How will I ever know love if you constantly

Pull me in the wrong direction?

Oh, I thought I’d had it at times

But control, lust, anger and fear got in the way…

Yeah, all that directed at me

As if I were an unappealing force to be reckoned with

And broken

While I stood there taking it

But not accepting it,

Trembling inside.


How could you let me get here this time?

What is it about you

That allows me to make these same mistakes?

I thought you were so smart…


Pain so deep I can’t cry it out;

Not enough tears to wash it away,

Hanging on a “maybe” as if it meant “yes”

Only to be disappointed again,

Crying myself to sleep.


Why can’t anyone love me?

Or should I say “won’t” ‘cause love is a decision.

All deciding I’m not good enough

Either by walking away

Or else trying to change me,

Make me conform to their image of what I “ought” to be…

Not someone to love as I am, huh?


Stop looking at me like that,

Like I should know better!

Maybe if you spoke up once in a while

My heart would be spared a trampling or two!


With a cry of frustration

I lash out in my hurt,

Propelling my fist full force into your face

Only to pick glass from bleeding knuckles.


“Wrong Place, Right Time”

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Berryman’s bridge over troubled water let him down–

None too gently I’m afraid.

With no water to break his fall,

Those under Washington broke his all.


It was as simple as Sylvia’s Easy-Bake Oven;

Ooops… no auto-pilot —

Sorry, Sylvie.

I wonder what jarred the belle?

Nothing CO couldn’t fix, so it seemed.


What’s needed here is some real R & R–

How about Lorazepan and Spumanti

While settling under a nice warm Calgon?

Take me away!

Hello?  Hello!

Calling H.G. ’cause all’s not well!

Where the hell is Sam Beckett when you need him?

Gooshie, center Sam on me now!

Some Will, Some Won’t: Being the Master of Two Worlds

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax.  Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit.  Take one last very deep breath and hold it.  Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air.  Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more.  When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax.  Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw.  Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.  You pass deep down into the earth and suddenly find yourself awakening in your bed in your very special place.  Stretch cat-line in contentment as you look around your room.  Admire your favorite possessions and embrace the familiarity of being home.  It almost seems as if the long journey was a dream, and yet you know it was not.  Get out of bed and go to each of your special items and remind yourself of why it holds this status for you.  Who or what does each remind you of?  How does the memory of each make you feel?

Everything is so familiar, and yet you can sense of difference in the air.  The difference is not with the place; it is within you.  How have you changed?  Do these changes make you think or feel differently about being home?  How does this make you feel?  You realize that your return has left you with an obligation to share what you have learned with others.  How do you feel about that?

While you are perusing the room, a pleasant, tantalizing scent wafts in the air.  You are suddenly greeted with, “Well, I’m glad to see you’re finally back!”

Turning around, you find the one person with whom you wanted to share your experiences sitting at the table.  A hearty breakfast awaits you, and the table has been set for two.  Who is this person?  Why is he/she the one you with which you most wish to share your tale?  How do you feel upon seeing him/her?  What has he/she prepared for your breakfast in honor of your return?

Greet this person with a big hug before sitting down at the table.  The two of you enjoy the wonderful food, and he/she listens to the tales of your adventures.  How does he/she react?  What does he/she say about what you’ve learned?

“You’ve changed,” he/she observes.  As you continue to talk, it is apparent that he/she approves of the changes in you.  How does this make you feel?  What does he/she remark about the changes?

As you continue with your meal, it is obvious that he/she is becoming more and more wistful with the description of each adventure.  For a moment, you think that he/she is no longer listening and has begun daydreaming.  Question him/her about it.  How does this reaction make you feel?

His/her response surprises you.  He/she tells you that he/she had been contemplating trying something new, but was unsure of whether or not to proceed.  However, after hearing your tale, you have awakened in him/her the courage to take that step forward.  How does this make you feel?  What is it that he/she would like to do?  How has your story impacted him/her?  What can you do to help him/her get started?  You can feel a change taking place in your relationship to this person.  What is it?  How do you feel about this change?

After finishing breakfast, you talk for a bit more before he/she arises to leave.  He/she has many plans to make, and is eager to get started after listening to you.  How do you feel about that?  He/she gives you a big hug and says that he/she will return soon to talk with you more.  Say good-bye and open the door for him/her.  When you do, you discover that there is someone else on the doorstep that was just about to knock.  Who is this person?

Say good-bye to one friend as you welcome your newcomer.  This new person is also a good friend, and you are glad to see him/her.  This person, however, does not seem to be as pleased to see you.  When he/she enters, he/she barely returns your welcoming hug before taking a seat and turning to you with, “So.  You’re back.”  The tone carries something negative, but you can’t quite put your finger on what is wrong.  You’ve been so close in the past and are puzzled by his/her reaction.

“So what did you do while you were off on your vacation?” he/she demands.  Again, the tone sounds condescending and puts you on your guard.  What feelings are going through you?  Why might he/she be acting this way?

Try to remain pleasant with this person who obviously isn’t.  Cheerfully describe your adventures just as you had earlier.  Somehow, though, based on his/her stiff reaction, you begin to feel as if you’d done something wrong by going on the journey at all.  Where is this feeling of guilt coming from?  Why do you even feel guilty at all?  You’ve done nothing wrong, although this person obviously believes you have.  What do you suppose has led him/her to the conclusion that your journey was a bad thing?  How does that make you feel?

As you talk, you hear yourself downplaying certain parts of the adventure.  Why would you censor yourself?  Which parts do you downplay?  Why?  How does it make you feel to know that you cannot share your entire experience with this person because it obviously makes him/her upset?  What has caused this chasm in your once-close relationship?  How do you begin to feel about yourself as you hear how you downplay your experiences?

His/her comments are repetitive, and all he/she seems to say is, “Oh. Uh huh.  How nice for you.”  How does this make you feel?  Why do you suppose he/she is acting like this?

Before long, the conversation becomes too unbearable for you to stand.  It seems that the only way to talk to this person is to change the subject entirely and try to talk about something you have in common.  However, resentment has begun to build in you, and you find your end of the conversation as stiff as his/hers.  How do you feel about this change between you two?  Is there anything that can make things be the way they used to be when you were close?  How do you see the relationship evolving?

As the conversation becomes more uncomfortable, your companion decides that it’s time to leave.  At this point you are filled with conflicting emotions.  This is someone that you care about, and yet his/her reaction to your journey has left you filled with negative emotions.  What are these emotions?

After he/she leaves, the negativity still hangs in the air.  While you know that you’ve done nothing wrong in following your call to adventure, your friend’s reaction has left you feeling as if you should not have gone.   Ask yourself once again if there is something that can be done to heal the relationship.

You decide that the events of the day have left you tired and confused.  You were so happy to share with your first visitor who actually seemed inspired to begin his/her own journey.  Revisit those feelings that reinforce the positive aspects of sharing your experiences.  Knowing that there is nothing you can do at the moment to change the way your second visitor views your journey, keep your focus on the positive.  In your heart, you know that change involves the risk of displeasing those who do not invite change into their own lives.  The change in you has changed the relationship, and the change in the relationship is uncomfortable to the person who wished to maintain the status quo.  Perhaps, with time, he/she will come to accept what has changed in you and the relationship can grow.  If not, are you willing to bear his/her resentment at seeking personal growth?

For the remainder of the day, pour over the extensive notes you took while on your journey.  What observations do you make?  Pay attention to the types of plants and trees and animals you mentioned in your journal.  How were these significant at that point in the journey?  Fortunately, you own a book of symbolism.  It is a rather large volume that sits high upon one of your bookshelves.  Bring it down and begin to look up the significance of everything you wrote in your journal.  Even though you have returned, these symbols have lessons to teach you.  This is an activity that will bring you much pleasure in the future as you begin to analyze your journey and its significance to your personal growth.

The activity calms your mind and alleviates the negativity you’d felt earlier.  You know in your heart that this journey was the best thing for your growth and that no one has the right to negate that growth, no matter who he/she is.  Feeling better, you tidy your place after your visits and prepare a simple supper for yourself.  Now how do you feel about being home?

Relaxed and calm once more, you decide that it is time to go to sleep.  Curl into a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your very own bed in your special place.  As you rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you.  This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago.  As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you think about your two friends.  Send them both positive thoughts and energy and know that your journey was right for your personal growth.  This realization will remain in your memory as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.

Hesitations: Refusing to Return

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax. Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit. Take one last very deep breath and hold it. Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air. Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more. When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding. Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax. Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw. Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor. Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed. You continue to sink down until you find yourself awakening after a satisfying rest.

You are so comfortable in the wonderfully soft bed that you almost don’t wish to get up.  Stretching cat-like, wallow in the luxury of the pillows and the warmth of the blankets.  The stress of having to move forward has alleviated, and you begin to feel a bit lazy after having traveled so far.  How do you feel as you wake up without the sensation of urgency?  Look around the room.  Describe what you see in great detail.  How does being here make you feel?  Looking toward a small table nearby, you notice that a tray has been placed for you.  A highly polished silver lid makes you curious to lift it to see the breakfast that awaits you.  Step out of bed and lift the cover from the dish.  What has been prepared for you?  Breathe in deeply, appreciating the tantalizing aroma that makes your mouth water.  You are surprised that you are even hungry at all after the feasting of the previous evening, but a familiar rumble begins once the scent reaches your nostrils.  Sit down in the well-padded chair and partake of your breakfast with gusto.

While you are eating, your eye falls upon your wonderful reward that you earned for the completion of your task.  Bask once again in the feelings of success.  What goes through your mind as you look at your reward?  How do you plan to use it?

Another thought creeps into your mind, causing you to pause in contemplation.  What if you had not been successful in this journey?  How might you feel if you had not been able to do what you had set out to?  How might things have turned out differently if you’d failed at this attempt?  Thinking about this possibility, you walk towards your reward and hold it in your hand.  What if this could not have been yours?  Would you feel differently about yourself?  How do you suppose others might have viewed your failure?

Shaking the thoughts off, you turn once more to your breakfast and clear your plate.  Your stomach and your pallet are now satisfied, and so you begin to stretch once more.  This place just feels so comfortable right now, and you wish you could stay here.  One thing you know, though, is that this is not your home.  While it has been a challenge to finally arrive, the quest is now complete.  You’ve done what you’d set out to do, and there is no reason to stay.  Actually, now that you have accomplished this task, you feel a sense of urgency to return home to share the experience with others.

Whom do you intend to tell about your adventures?  What do you hope will come from sharing what you’ve learned?  Who can benefit the most?

Even though you know that you must get ready to leave, it just feels so comfortable here.  The food is delicious, the service is great, and the bed is luxurious.  It’s hard to leave knowing that you have a long journey back.

Turning toward the bed as if to crawl back in to take a nap, you notice that the bed has mysteriously been made and your cleaned garment is laid out for you in preparation for travel.  As much as you’d love to get back into the bed and just relax, you realize that it is important for you to move on.  People are waiting for you back home.

Before leaving, you decide that a hot shower is just what you need to get you motivated.  Turn the water in the shower as hot as you can comfortably stand it, and step beneath the pulsating stream.  Pick up the soap and drink in its fragrance.  What does it smell like?  Why might the scent be significant for your return journey?  What does it remind you of?  Allow the hot water to pour over your head.  Close your eyes and feel it pulsating against your skull.  The sensation is hypnotic and even though your muscles become more relaxed, your spirit becomes more energized for the upcoming journey.  Stand there and let the water just come down over your head.  Breathe deeply and know that you are ready to share what you’ve learned.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness behind your closed eyelids. Begin to feel yourself slowly rising from the shower. As you rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you. This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago. As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you think about the message that you know you must share with others. The feelings stemming from knowing that you have a gift to share will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.


And the Universe steps in…

Published October 15, 2011 by Susan Woodward

So I’ve been telling myself that I need to enjoy the desert time… need to slow down and not rush toward each potential oasis that I think will relieve my thirst, albeit temporarily.  Nope, the Universe decided that it was going to make sure that I followed through… funny how that happens, you know?

The newest gift from the Universe is Bell’s Palsy.  Yup… you got it.  Facial paralysis is a great way to keep me from running around here and there, my ego being too great to allow myself to spend much time in public looking like Two-Face from the Batman movies.   As much as I am dismayed at the temporary set-back, I guess I have to realize that the Universe is telling me to just slow down and stay close to home for a while.  How will I learn to learn the difference between loneliness and solace if I am too busy flitting about?  So here I am.  No potential dating for 4-6 weeks, no performing, no eating out (since I can only chew on one side and keep biting the inside of my mouth, it’s really not at all attractive), and only shopping for necessities.  Even going to work is a “get in, get out” situation for a while.

So where does that leave me?  Well, once I get over feeling sorry for myself, I can focus on the blessings that my home offers that I haven’t taken as much advantage of as I could have in the recent past.  I have my books, and there are a couple sitting there waiting for me to pick them up.  I have my computer, which I need to use for more than FaceBook and checking email. And I can take the time to cook for myself for a change.

What I really do want to do is write.  Now there are no excuses.  I’m not too busy, I don’t have to be anywhere, and no one is coming over (except for my son to watch football with me).  The mind WANTS to write, but I have to motivate the rest of me.  My novel sits there waiting to be worked on… all I need to do is make myself comfortable, make a pot of tea, a bit of toast (it IS cold and rainy today, so it’s a “tea and toast” day!), and just start typing.  Once I get into it, the story will take over.  Yup… that’s what I need to do.  Open the file… start typing…

Ok, so what’s holding me back now?

I guess it all boils down to fear.  Fear that no one will even like what I write.  Fear that I’ll never even get anyone to read it.  Fear that if they DO read it that the criticism will come.

Did J.K. Rowling feel like this?  How about Poe?  Or L. Frank Baum?  How the hell does Nora Roberts keep pumping those novels out?

Well, I’ll never know for sure unless I just go ahead and do it.  I know I want to… I just have to get over my insecurities and start typing.

Ok… I’m going to open the file now… soon as I make some tea… and some toast…

The Universe has given me this time… I need to make sure not to squander it in doubt.

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