Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Letting Go Of Fear

UPDATE: I do owe readers an update on this post, as things continue to move in a better direction and several people have reached out to me with concern. Thank you so much for that! A lot of change has obviously gone on with me this year (see the post Not Working: A One Year Check-In,) but unexpectedly shifts occurred with my husband's work as well during this same time. When there is a threat that the rug of financial security may be unexpectedly pulled out from under you it's amazing what can go through one's mind. Fear and more FEAR, how will you be able to carry through on promises to the kids, what's important, what isn't, what changes are you open to making. Happily I can report things are on a correcting course and I have to give a huge shot out to the message of Dave Ramsey to build a several month reserve fund and to the guidance of our financial adviser over the last decade that allowed us wiggle room when moving to a single income and an unexpected but thankfully temporary loss of income from my husband's side. The benefit of going through this period is we have really been forced to elevate what is important in terms of things, priories and goals, coming away with new perspectives and a plan to do some downsizing in several areas, a plan we are excited about. So, all in all, it's been a worthwhile trip through some rougher moments! 

For a number of reasons - events and changes that none of us are strangers to - life over the past several months has often been dominated by fear. Much that I had come to take for granted has been challenged, has shifted or even disappeared altogether... at least for now. 

Fear is a powerful thing, isn't it? It has left me lying awake on numerous nights, going over each and every detail of a challenge, thinking, rethinking, strategizing, coming up with plans to successfully pass myself and my family through this time. But then my daughter, of all people, shared a quote one day that has completely shifted how I'm approaching this period of our lives. Basically the message is this: One shouldn't let the fear of losing what you have had hold you back from embracing the possibility of something new or different, give yourself the freedom to move on to new things. You won't lose the people or places left behind, if for a brief or even an extended period of time, they will still be there for you. 

Then a few days later in a yoga class the instructor began talking about will. Will is also a powerful force; our will to hold on to the status quo, to force our lives down the path we want so badly or believe we need to be happy, not imagining or being open to seeing something more or different. Holding on so strongly to our will for a certain outcome can, in fact, strangle the real vitality from our lives, stopping the life force. Now that sounds pretty "yoga" right? But when you think about it for a bit, the truth of it becomes so very evident.

Nothing truly horrible is happening, we're just on a different path here in this household than I could have foretold a year ago. And it's actually good, when I release the fear. I can begin to see the potential for more in the days ahead than staying "on course" would have brought us. When the uncertainly hits a crescendo, I try to remember to take several deep breaths and see everything is really good in this single day, today, and for now that is enough: the future will unfold as it should if I simply allow it to.

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  1. wow, so poignant. and so hard to do. but i believe that (yogi speak or not) if you are open to all things vs just whatever you have in your head, the right things happen to you. kind of in the same vein as the saying 'you dont always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need'. you just wouldnt have known you needed it because it wasn't what you were wanting. at any rate - i could speak in quotes and metaphors all day because it helps me and I like inspirational things, but i think what it comes down to if trusting yourself and releasing fear like you said!! (btw - have you ever read that book 'the gift of fear' -- about the positive properties of fear and listening to your gut...) I sure hope this road ahead proves to be a lovely journey, even if it wasnt what you had in mind.

  2. I posted this exact same picture and quote today on my blog to represent my 2014 word of the year. Fear is a powerful thing. Have you read the excerpt | poem 'Our Deepest Fear' by Marianne Williamson? Powerful!

  3. Fear is a tough one and sometimes its such a big bully. I'm no expert but I've found staying connected to the moment - right here, right now, rather than the "might be" where all the fearful possibilities and "stories" exist, helps me give fear a kick in the butt. I've also found listening to podcasts by Tara Brach (free on iTunes store) helpful; while every podcast I've listened to is great, "From Story to Presence" is one that's helped me.

  4. Thank you Bethany, Darnetha and Robin, just what I needed to hear and resources I'll be looking at. Loved the poem, Darnetha, thanks for sending and posting it here as I think it is just fantastic!

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

    It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
    gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

    Actually, who are you not to be?
    You are a child of God.

    Your playing small does not serve the world.
    There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
    so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
    We are all meant to shine, as children do.

    We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
    It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

    And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
    other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others.

    Author: Marianne Williamson

    1. Oh my, that poem gives me much to think about. I love how this turns fear of not being enough or not worthy inside out! Very powerful. I'm currently reading "Hardwiring Happiness" and the premise is "reprogramming your thoughts to reprogram your brain to change your experiences" and the happiness aspect could be swapped out for "fear-less-ness" (or whatever the opposite of fear is) by applying the ideas in this poem. So glad I returned to this post to read subsequent comments.

  5. I totally understand. Our oldest, an early college grad in 2011 with a job starting the day after graduation, came to us last year and said she wanted to change career paths (like a 180, almost 360-from communications/pr to education/teaching). She took that leap of faith, enrolled in a teaching program and is just finished her 1st semester of teaching 9th grade Special Education Math and Science! Yes, we feared her losing a good pay check, she was taking a risk, but almost a year after her decision...we know it was the right one!

  6. Janell. I have never commented but to me you have always seemed so together and sure of yourself and the direction you are heading. I admire your perspective when things are not what you planned. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life behind the blog. Good luck to you and your family.

  7. Janell, I'm glad nothing truly horrible is happening, but I know how fear can paralyze us to a standstill. The funny thing is that your heartfelt and open posts always seem to give me more courage and comfort. I guess it's nice to know that we are not alone on our journeys in life and all struggle with similar things. Your post has come at the perfect time for me because our family is taking a journey into the unknown as we uproot and move abroad. So thank you for sharing because I needed some encouragement to let go of my fears right now. The fear of the unknown is always a challenge. From following along here for a while, I know that you will conquer your fears to move forward and "let your light shine." All the best to you and your family on your journey.

  8. Thanks for sharing Janell. I always gain insight and comfort when I open up to friends and others in difficult situations...hopefully you will too. I have been going to yoga several times a week since November...and I must say the mental benefits are equal to or even greater than the physical for me. I find myself drawing upon the positive energy all day long. I truly believe that all things happen for a reason...even if that reason is not obvious right away.

  9. That was great insight. I look back over my life and especially at the times when life took a turn I wasn't planning. I'm glad I wasn't in charge because I would have missed out on some experiences and growth and even joy. The older I get I guess it is a little easier because I don't concern myself so much with what others think, but what is the best for the situation. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) our lives intertwine with others and their actions affect ours for better or worse - but in the end it can all be good. Good luck with your life's journey!

  10. Thinking of you Janell and sending you positive energy. :)

  11. Janelle,

    I am sorry that you are having a difficult time, you are so right fear can indeed stop us in our tracks. I think we have all been in situations where we are so caught up in thinking about them and worrying that we feel stuck. At times like those it is best to to seek guidance from a higher power, as well as strength and insight from family and friends.

    Prayers that things work out for you and positive thoughts for a little relief and a good night sleep.

  12. I'm sure whatever changes come your way, you'll handle them with grace. I've loved seeing your transition from full-time blogger to e-magazine owner to living real life (via Instagram!). I'm a Janell fan, you know :)

  13. Yes I do agree that fear is a powerful force. I have learned to trust in God and listen to him and allow him to direct to direct my path. Sometimes we just need to be still and allow him to work things out. Wishing that you totally surrender and much success.

  14. Oh, I can relate with your Janell. Our household has undergone so many changes over the past 18 months -with my husband being laid off from a job that took our family to live in exciting places, to our oldest going off to university and me going back to work teaching full time after being at home with the kids for 18 years. My husband has a new job but our live and reality changed. We let fear take grip and we felt immobilized. I feel that we have learned to let if go, somewhat, I have to be honest that I get so anxious for our future that I too lay awake at night. I guess that is why I have taken a break from my blog....I need time to bring everything "in" and sort things out. Glad you have a fabulous trip! I can't wait to head there over spring break with my husband. I think it will be just what we need! Thanks for always being so inspirational!

  15. I feel we are kindred spirits Janell, going through many life changes even though Im quite older, alot is going on! It is soooo hard to let go of what is comfortable and take that leap. I wish you godspeed and happiness and know that you have a huge fan club out there, so don't be afraid to let us in. Thanks for opening your heart. I love the adventures you have been on! xo Nancy

  16. Best wishes as you navigate your new road; I hope it brings unexpected joys as well as challenges.

  17. Strong words. I'm not sure if there is really anything I can say here except that I hope your course brings both you and those that need it through the darkness.

  18. I just finished reading "My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir " by Noelle Hancock - who, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, spent a year confronting her fears. You might find it a good read at this phase of your life.


  19. I actually just posted a quote on this very topic last week relating to endings and new beginnings. We're going through a lot of change in our own home at the moment also. Fear can really do a number on you, I'm choosing is the quote by the way:

  20. I'm sorry you are going through this…I also find myself awake at night worrying…wondering, etc….Wish life could be perfect….but I guess it keeps us searching and growing. But man do I hate STRESS!!!!! Love the message from your daughter's quote. It is uplifting!

  21. Janell - I am sorry you are going through tough times but I love your perspective on it. You continue to inspire so many people.

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