It Is My Birthday, I Fear

I’m turning 33 today.33

33 is my scary age.

I don’t really know why this is, except that it’s the age Jesus was when he died. I know, that sounds ridiculous, like I’m somehow comparing myself to Jesus. I can’t explain why it matters, but it does. That strong Catholic upbringing sometimes rears its head in strange ways.

The other day, I discovered that Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. That made me feel marginally better, like 33 might be a good year for writing important things. But there I go again, comparing myself to a major historical figure. (Though I doubt either would want to be compared with each other, let alone to me.) Continue reading

What’s The Opposite of Fear?

Many emotional states have polar opposites. Happy, unhappy. Excited, calm. Accepting, resisting.

But what’s the opposite of fear?opposite of fear

To my mind, these are the top contenders: Courage, Faith, Hope, and Logic.

Courage is the most obvious choice. The opposite of something should be capable of combatting it. If you feel courage in the face of fear, the fear lessens. One cannot have more of one without having less of the other (though both can escalate as danger escalates).

Faith is needed to overcome fear. If you don’t believe that the source of the fear will ever go away, you’ll always be living with that fear. In contrast, if you have faith that you’ll one day be able to defeat the fear, it makes it that much easier to live with it in the short- and long-term.

Hope isn’t quite as strong as faith, but can still be used to push back against fear. If you kindle small hopes against larger fears, you can diminish the fear.

Logic is a great weapon against fear. Fears are often (though not always) irrational; reasoning against it takes away some of its power. In addition, logic can be calming, and calmness, though not exactly a contender for fear’s opposite, can play a part in defeating it. Continue reading

Child’s Fear, Parent’s Fear

As I wrote in my early June post, Birthing A Zero, my good friend/cousin recently had a baby. Soon afterward, Edwin and I went to visit her and the baby at their house. Edwin has been there before, but not often. As soon as we got in the door, he was glued to my side. He huddled next to me, sucking on his pacifier, and barely said a word the entire time. A couple of weeks later, my cousin brought the baby over to our house to visit. Edwin couldn’t have been more different. He said hello to the baby, played with his toys, showed them that he knew his colors and letters, and was generally charming and fun. What was the difference? We were with the exact same people… but we weren’t in the same place. In our house, Edwin’s house, he felt safe. So even if someone a little less familiar walked in, he still felt in control of his environment, and could be himself. In someone else’s space, on the other hand, he felt nervous, insecure, maybe even afraid.

And it occurred to me… I’m EXACTLY the same way.  Continue reading

Little Steps Defeat Big Fears

fear stepsFear is a big, mysterious concept. We know it when we feel it, but we find it hard to explain where it comes from. (In that way, fear is a lot like bravery, another indefinable force that I wrote about in a guest post for the Female Yoda.) Fear can often be crippling; it has a major effect on our life choices. Often, fears have no logical reason for being. All of the characteristics of fear only serve to increase the fear itself. Fear is the ultimate reproducible energy.

But even though fear is a big thing, we can often combat it by taking little steps.

For example, my parents must have done a great job teaching me about ‘stranger danger,’ because at 32, I’m still ‘afraid’ of strangers. I’m also afraid of small talk, crowds, and over-stimulation. These fears can be boiled down to two: fear of making mistakes (saying the wrong thing, offending someone or misrepresenting myself) and fear of rejection (having someone react badly to something I’ve done or said- or not done, not said). I don’t feel those fears when I’m talking to someone I know well, or in a familiar environment with a few people, because I know I’ll get another chance to make an impression. (This is also classic introvert behavior.) Continue reading

July’s Mini-Series: Fear

I’ve been really happy with my new system of focusing on one topic, like a mini-series, for each month. So far, we’ve explored beauty in May, and parenting in June (in the past, there was also November’s gratitude series and February’s cancer series). You might think that for July, the quintessential summer month, I’d choose to write about something light and simple, like “vacations” or “relaxing” or “family fun.” Well, I considered all of those, but instead, I’m going to go with something much more complex.

FEAR. Fear will be my mini-series focus for July.fear icon

Why? Because I’m facing a pretty major life transition at the end of the summer, and while parts of me are excited, some of me is scared. I need to work through some of those fears, and others I’ve held onto for far too long. What better way to do that than to write and share them? Continue reading

June Book Round-Up

I feel like I’ve been gorging on books lately, but when I looked back, I found I haven’t actually finished many this month. I’m still in the middle of EIGHT! Two on CD in my car, one on my iPhone, one paperback novel, one giant reference on book publishing, and three on my Kindle. This is mostly the fault of the library, which seemed to release all of my held books (whether physical or virtual) at once. So the first three books listed here are ones I’ve actually finished; the last two are ones I’m almost, almost done with, and I’ll give you some brief impressions of those I’m still in the middle of. (See the Books I’m Reading page for a regular update.)

i remember nothingI Remember Nothing, Nora Ephron

Ephron’s last memoir reads like a meandering chat over coffee, running the gamut from funny “modern life” anecdotes, to fascinating stories from her early adulthood, to lists of things she loves and hates. She strikes a particular chord between sad and funny in one of her final lists, of “things she won’t miss” when she’s dead.

Recommended for people who like show business, memoir, and a well-placed acerbic wit. (See also: Dick Van Dyke’s memoir.)



think like a freak

Think Like A Freak, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

The Freakonomics guys are back with a third book, but if you loved the first two, don’t expect this one to read the same way. While Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics showed us the numbers and incentives behind everything from prostitution to sumo wrestling, Think Like A Freak distills the principles of Freakonomics with the intent of turning us all into Freak-thinkers. I particularly enjoyed the chapter, “Think Like A Child,” which encourages Freaks to explore with curiosity and intense passion, and to play whenever possible.

While it was thought-provoking, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first two (I really love those twist-ending stories with the hidden motivating factors) and it was also a bit short…and a bit pricey, even for Kindle. Continue reading

What To Say To “Baby Encouragers”

It’s a fact of life: some people will always try to encourage you to take the next step on the ladder of traditional societal norms. When you start dating someone seriously, it’s “So where’s the ring?” When you get engaged, it’s “Set the date!” Once you’re married, it’s “Your biological clock is ticking!” And then you have the baby, and there’s a brief reprieve, and you think maybe, finally, the societal pressure will stop. But wait! One baby isn’t enough. You’re supposed to have two! At least!

Edwin is almost two years old, so I’m guessing I’m due for some “baby #2″ pressure. In the past, I’ve never been prepared for these situations, so I’ve decided to arm myself with a little deflective humor.

Here’s how you might respond to… well, for lack of a better term, let’s call them, “Well-Meaning Baby Encouragers” (WMBE).

Well-Meaning Baby Encourager: “Only one kid, so far, huh? Don’t you want more?”

Me: “Actually, my husband and I have signed up for a reality show. It’s called ‘One Kid and Not Counting.’ We’re contractually obligated to stop procreating. But on the bright side, we’ll be almost as famous as the Gosselins!”

WMBE #2: “You’re already in your thirties, right? You better get working on that next kid!”

Me: “Oh, I guess you didn’t know. I’m half-robot. Like the Robin Williams character in that movie, Bicentennial Man? So my life expectancy and my fertile years are both a lot longer than yours. No worries!”

WMBE #3: “Don’t you want your son to have a sibling that’s close in age?”

Me: “Seriously? Why would I want that? I need that kid to babysit! How’s he going to do that if he’s only two years older?” Continue reading