Conquering the enemy: Fear

A few years ago I wrote an article that was published in the Democrat and Chronicle, in which I referenced the movie, We Bought A Zoo.  It’s a great family film starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.

There’s an underlying theme in the movie that shows what happens when a person sets aside their biggest fears for “an ounce of insane courage.”  Have you ever thought of what could happen if you did that? Can you imagine what the world would be like if you just said “not today” to your fears, pulled that little piece of courage out of your back pocket and waved it around in the atmosphere?

With just one ounce of insane courage, you could ask out that cute guy from the café and he could say yes. With that same ounce you could apply for the job that you’re scared you’re not qualified for, and actually get it.  That courage could even motivate you to apologize to a loved one, or perhaps use the “L” word again, after a loss.

Or maybe your ounce could prompt you to go back to school or step into a calling you know you’re meant for, but have been afraid to try.  Or it could be the encouragement to say goodbye to a bad relationship.

And perhaps that courage is all you need to leave your day job and pursue your dream of owning your own business, or the catalyst for applying for your very first mortgage.

Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  It weighs down our potential and bears a heavy load on our possibilities. It limits your life, stifles your stamina and cripples your creativity. Don’t be obese with fear.  Lighten your load! Show it your courage and free yourself from it, one ounce and one victory at a time.

Remember: (Fear=False Evidence Appearing Real) If you haven’t tried it, where’s the proof you won’t succeed at it?

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Interview With an Old Person

When was the last time you sat down with an elderly person and asked them to tell you their story?

Two things happened this week that made me realize that I need to do this. And perhaps you should do this, as well.

During a trip to the library, I sat next to two gentleman who were deep in discussion about war. One of the men was a college student and future historian, working on his thesis. He was interviewing an 85 year-old Korean War veteran.  At the end of the interview, the veteran said “Is that it?  Is that all the questions you have for me?” It was obvious he had far more to say and, to his great relief, the young man answered “Is there more you’d like to tell?”

The veteran continued to talk, taking out pictures from the war to show the young man. He even showed videos of the war on a laptop, including videos in which other people had interviewed him. His voice was filled with passion, his stories, astonishing.

I also attended a Grandparents Day celebration, where grandchildren, young and old, told their grandparents how much they meant to them. Each grandmother was read a poem or a letter and presented with a token of appreciation from her grandchildren, and each one beamed. A woman in her 30’s told her grandmother how especially important she was, because her grandmother had raised her as her own child, never once letting her know that she was her grandmother and not her mother.  With this revelation, there was not a dry eye in the building.

These events made me think about two very important things: Our seniors need to hear that they’re appreciated and they desire to be asked about their history.

They yearn for validation that their lives are meaningful and that someone cares about their contributions to the world.  They want to know that their memories are important and by sharing them, their legacy will live on, long after they do. They want to leave footprints in the earth.  I believe they deserve this honor and it’s our duty to make sure it happens.

My husband and I both lost our grandparents in 2005.  In one foul swoop, they were gone, and we’ve lost some parents, too. If you still have yours, ask them to tell you their history.  What were their dreams for their lives? Who was their first love?  And be prepared for the answers…their first love may not have been your dad.

If you don’t have seniors in your family, ask one from the community, work, a neighbor or someone from church. Pastors weren’t always pastors, nuns weren’t always nuns and the elderly weren’t always elderly. They want to be asked.  They desire and deserve your interest. You’ll gain knowledge, insight and a lot of laughs. You’ll learn something and they’ll feel appreciated and that’s a win-win!

Make it a priority.  Make time for it.  Ask them, it’ll make their day!

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Pictured above is a great book I bought for my daughter to interview my mom.







Taming the Griper in your life

The griper.  We’ve all known one.

Some of us work with them, some of us live with them and some of us sleep with them.

The griper is that person who is just never satisfied.  They’re always unhappy about something or someone.  They’re that person who you can always count on to bring the party down.

You could give the griper everything they say their heart desires, but there’s still going to be that one little thing that isn’t quite right.  And whether legitimate or not, they plan to make sure you’re aware of it.  And they’ll likely preface it with a statement that deflects attention from the fact that they’re griping like…

“I’m not complaining, but…”
“I’m not one to gossip but…”

“I know it’s wrong to say, but…”

“Wouldn’t it be perfect if she’d just….”


These are key indicators that you’re about to hear the gripe of the day, nicely disguised as news you can use. And it’s easy to get swept up in the drama, especially when the griper is someone you can’t avoid.

So, what can you do about the griper in your life?  How do you get them to understand that you’re not interested in being part of Group Griper?

If it won’t negatively affect your paycheck, a good friendship or your marriage, you could just tell them directly. You can be bold about it and let them know where you stand.  Tell them what your boundaries are. Do a “drop the mic,” sort of thing.

But if the griper is a coworker, boss, relative or good friend, it’s a lot more complicated and requires more subtlety. And your spouse would likely notice if you unfriend them.

Some things you could try, are:

Refocus your conversations on something positive about the day, the company or how much they’ve accomplished since you met them, keeping in mind that you may need to update this every few hours because a true griper is rarely satisfied with just one gripe per day.

Share positive affirmations with them in person, through texts and your posts on social media.  And when you sense their day is turning in a funky direction, send them some more, but don’t bog down their messenger, tag them and 50 others, or give them another reason to gripe.

Decorate your home or office with art that speaks life.  This will remind the gripers that they’re entering a space that values peace. (The picture above is one of my favorite lamps). If you don’t have an office or cubicle, write it on your lunch bag, hang it from your rear view mirror, put a bumper sticker on your dashboard, make it a part of your digital signature, buy a necklace with a positive inscription or, if possible, a t-shirt.

It’s easy to get swept up in negativity and gripers know that. They don’t like to pity party alone, so they’ll try to get you to bring a dish. You must be prepared. Be intentional about being positive.

And, if this all sounds foreign to you because you’ve never encountered a griper, congratulations, my friend! My hope for you is simple… I hope YOU aren’t the griper.