Overruled! How to Beat Fear at Its Own Game.

Happy Birthday!

It’s the day we gather together in celebration of another year older in age. Wrapped presents sit on a table, while surrounded by some of our biggest fans. The popping of champagne and clinking of glasses drown out apprehensions of the future. Fear is nowhere in sight at these shindigs. You see, fear doesn’t make an entrance during public praise, fear prefers to make its appearance in the privacy of personal development.

Being identified as the birthday girl = safe.

Being identified as someone who is developing and changing = dangerous.

Standing still is easy. Moving forward takes guts.

Fear often takes center stage when the process of changing thought patterns, expanding beliefs, or growing a love for humanity, begins to take shape. Inspiration, courage, and even large amounts of faith, prove to become overrun by fear. It’s effortless to get stuck living out the same standards as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. It is often seen as rebellious to be the gal that everyone knows as this or that, and then… change.

Fear is the likely culprit that holds many  people back from experiencing more out of their life.

Fear asks harrowing questions:

  • What if you’re alone?
  • What if there is nothing there for you?
  • What if you lose friends, drop customers, or forfeit patrons?

When the fear of the unknown takes a seat in the mind, self-preservation begins its planning process and the worst case scenario soon becomes imaginable.

But these are real fears that hold real value. Yes, and this means they absolutely must be expressed. If we suppress our fears, or simply dismiss them, we succumb ourselves to unwanted confusion and an unnecessary amount of inner-suffering. Unspoken fears pile up, growing more and more intimidating.

An intimidating fear becomes a paralyzing fear.

Only when we express these fears can the Universe respond with comfort, reassurance, and self-confidence. Through people, opportunities, invitations and refined character traits, the Universe exchanges our fears with the gift of joy – the joy of possibilities, the joy of adventure, the joy of discovery, and the joy of encountering wonder in new and interesting ways.

Joy asks us marvelous questions:

  • What if we’re not alone – that others are on similar journeys?
  • What if we discover new communities of people and find deeper connections?
  • What if we attract more authentic friendships, more invested customers and more inspiring patrons?

Can our fear of not knowing what’s next, be overruled by the joy of not yet knowing the gifts we are about to receive?

To overrule fear, think about a leap of faith as a birthday party. All those who love us unconditionally and have our back, show up with a gift. These gifts are wrapped. Now, don’t we trust that these gifts were selected for us, hand-picked for us, and they are meant for good?  

Really think about that. Who sits at a birthday party fearing the wrapped gifts on the table? Who thinks, “Oh gosh, I wonder what pain and carnage is concealed under that bow?” No one. Instead, we hear, “When I saw this, I thought of you!”, or “This has your name all over it!”.

We will never have to train ourselves to trust more and fear less when we believe in the goodness of the gifts we are given. The real challenge is to see everything as a gift.

Yes, be prayerful, be discerning, and be wise – but also be trusting. Trust in the process of growth, the process of communication, and the process of human development; to trust in the process is to trust God, to trust the I AM, to trust the Universe – trust in whatever you name the Light of The World.

Trust in your journey. It is yours alone to be responsible with and accountable for. Trust that all your questions are right and good; trust that your seeking is aligned, and trust that you are free. Trust in the voice that says, “This is your captain speaking. The seatbelt sign is now off and you are fee to move about the cabin”.

Perhaps at your next birthday party, you will be celebrating much more than growing another year older.

M

 

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Life Essential: Listening

Let’s talk about the “N”  word. Neglect.

Neglect:  To pay little or no attention to; to fail to care for or attend properly; to ignore or disregard.

As a hairdresser, I knew what it looked like for a woman to neglect the care of her hair: lengthy roots, massive split ends, accompanied by faded, brassy color.  When this woman sat in my chair, she struggled to make eye contact in the mirror. It was clear that she was not comfortable facing her neglect.

Then, there was the woman who highly valued the presentation of her mane. This woman carried smooth, shiny strands regularly serviced with expensive oil treatments; she maintained her hair color religiously and owned a wide array of pricey products. This woman would sit in my chair and make direct contact with me, and herself, confident in what she wanted and occasionally adventurous to try something new.

Caring for anything becomes an art when you highly value it.

And let’s not forget the men. Men know how to care for things, too. Oh yes, they do. I’ve seen them standing in their driveways on Sunday afternoons waxing and washing that precious ride. Sweet baby girl is getting talked up, shined up and pampered where the sun don’t shine. Her needs are heard through the noises she makes when he starts her up, and he eagerly listens for any notification of pride – or concern.

So, there we have it: both men and women know how to care for things they value. And if they don’t know, they are willing to learn. And when they really care, they make caring for it an art.

The question today is: have we lost the courage to hold ourselves responsible when the things we value fall apart?

Health, marriage, family unity, career, faith – all of these things we value demand a level of responsibility to ensure sustainability and healthy development. We say what we believe, we talk about what we value, but it is in how we live that reveals how well we care for them.

As I stood with clippers in hand that day, I reflected on years of care: color, hi-lights, bleaching, haircuts, styling products – every single process that expressed the value I placed on hair. It took my 10 year daughter getting diagnosed with Cancer to help me see all that I had allowed to stand in the way of caring for the most valuable people in my life. While my hair looked professionally cared for, my own child had been suffering and I wasn’t aware enough to notice. Her voiced concerns were “noise” to my ears; whiny, the product of childish complaining. I simply hadn’t cared enough to make my mothering an art – and therefore, it had become an inconvenience.

Standing in the bathroom of room 701, at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, I shaved it all off. This became a public declaration to myself and to my daughter. Never again would I value the pursuit of something outside our family more than I value my family itself.

A baptism into unity. An emancipation proclamation. This was the ultimate throw-down. I was a letting go that which no longer served me and my family. I was making her a promise that day: to walk beside her and carry this burden with her until we ALL had safely passed through it.

Today, I watch leaders of all kinds pay more attention to the numbers and outside goals, then they do to the needs of the people they serve. I listen to volunteers and workers speak up, voicing challenges and concerns, only to be regarded as complainers and whiners.

When our greatest desire is to listen, we will make it an art. It is the art of listening that can lead us into greater understanding, greater unity, greater compassion – and ultimately, a greater expression of care for one another.

Delia Nichols_21

M

Life Essential: Communication

Think about this: communication (social interaction through messages) is not a static thing. It is not a fixed action that produces expected results. Communication is actually a process. The process of communication requires a series of dialogue.

Within these series of dialogues, when we choose to communicate, we are stepping out into the unknown and engaging in an unpredictable process that holds uncertain results.

That is so exciting to me! I can recall instances that I worked overtime to set up the parameters of a difficult conversation. I practiced my script and laid out the bullet points in my mind. There was winning to be had and I was going for the gold.

For some of us, just thinking about a difficult conversation creates a strong sense of fear and anxiety. Where will it go? How will I respond?What will come out of it? All too often, our desire to control the situation can leave us paralyzed or walking away in fear. And when control and fear buddy up, hope becomes the third wheel; hope trails behind like the goofy little sister. You really do love her, it’s just that…well…sometimes she jeopardizes your ego.

When we step beyond our fears and choose hope for a relationship over ego, we become hands free of agenda and motives. Hands free means arms wide open. This is where relationships find strength, this is where a voice gains practice, this is where we get to trust in the process of communication – not for the outcome, but for the developmental process that occurs in spite of any outcome!

The human mind was designed to continue evolving, continue growing and developing. Our thinking was created for curiosity. It’s fear who stands at the door and says it’s too hard, it’s too risky, and it’s just too much work.

But we can do this. We were made for this. If we would only be willing to try.

Here’s a challenge: the next time you feel tempted to block, unfollow, disengage, or divide, consider the process of communication. Consider that it requires a series of dialogues. Or simply ask for the willingness to emerge in your heart that would allow hope and bravery to lead you into communication that is unpredictably and incredibly, wonderful.

 

 

Fragility

Fragile.

We write this word on boxed up china and glassware. If something is valuable, we do whatever we can to prevent it from breaking, don’t we? To even consider it breaking makes our little hearts hurt, doesn’t it? Like my vintage lady head vases. I will wrap them three layers deep in bubble wrap while my child’s pottery gets one page off the sports edition. We heavily pad these treasures with insulation to prevent it from shifting or jostling.

Truth: as white women, we do this to ourselves and we do this to each other.

We have turned our “tribe” into a Lord of the Flies island of fan-clubs where we enjoy our white supremacy like a circle-jerk, and we feel no shame in eating our own when we feel threatened (or if we’re just hungry for attention).

We use our wolf pack as a shield to protect our horrendous behavior from reproach and then hide out in our clubhouse when we are called to the carpet. White women, you know we do this.

We have made ourselves insulated and untouchable. You think POC and the LGBTQ community is who we aim our discrimination at? Ha. We don’t need race or sexuality to define our targets – our target is any living thing that gets in our privileged right-of-way.

We are so fearful to speak out of turn, that we judge those who do speak freely and then disappear when brave women need our support. We walk on eggshells around others, while we criticize those who do not cater and then rally around whoever cries first. Some of us have learned the art of manipulation through a Precious Moments figurine.

Privileged white women: our feelings are paramount, aren’t they. Our position is imperial, isn’t it. And we have our white, hierarchical patriarchy to back us up, no matter fucking what. You know those boys, the ones we serve, the ones we see as having power and prestige; the ones who faithfully defend our horrendous behaviors and remain complicit to those we intimidate. Our husbands and our sons. We love our boys club and the boys club loves us.

White women. We are fragile monsters.

If you cannot agree with me on this, then you are completely checked out of what is going on in this world, what is going on in your town, and what is going on with the people around you. Hey sleepyhead, it’s time to wake up.

White women: it is time to step down and it’s time to shut up. Your days of misleading are over.

Besides a few exceptions like Brene Brown, and Glennon and Abby Wambach, I have personally given up on seeking white mentors. Over my entire life, the only thing I have ever  – ever- learned from white women in leadership is the extent of damage they are capable of creating, the depths of deception they are willing to live with, and the heights of arrogance they have perched themselves upon in order to remain out of reach. Out of reach in order to avoid challenges; out of reach from the discomfort of revealing poor character. And all these years of trying to stay out of reach, has made us white women completely out of touch with reality.

Done. I’m done listening to, hearing from, and looking at white women who *think* they have a message of hope, but all they really have is a fan club with a sticker.

In my house, my family reads daily words of wisdom from women like Malala, Maya Angelou, and Oprah – women who unapologetically live their truth, who have impacted the world out of pure humility, women whose desire to nurture humanity overrides any desire to make a name for themselves.

If you are a white woman, your days of leading me and mine are over. Thank God.

Yes, thank God.

In fact, I’m pretty sure He has everything to do with this – at just the right time, and in the most important of days, He is elevating and highlighting the fierce women this country needs to lead humanity towards stronger unity and empowerment for ALL people.

Thank God.

This post is inspired by Danielle Slaughter’s article, “The Most Dangerous Person in American is the White Woman”.