Tag Archives: fear

Love Lifts You

loveliftsyouI have heard it said that there are only two emotions in our universe, not good and evil, love and hate, but Love and Fear. Fear is the source of hatred and prejudice, as man fears that which is different from him. How do we rise above fear? I’m reminded of the Scripture in 1 John 4:18 which says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives away fear. … The one who fears has not been perfected in love.”

Love lifts us above our fears. Love is like a hot air balloon that lifts us above all our earthly and imperfect fears, doubts, hatreds and prejudices. Love is fueled by our actions.

I had the joy of taking a hot air balloon excursion several years ago, and I can be afraid of heights in some situations! For some reason, I had no fears at all while in the passenger basket, even looking straight down at the treetops thousands of feet below. I think one of the reasons was that the whole experience felt totally surreal and as if I was floating in the heavens with angelic creatures! 2-14-2017-treetops

 

In this case, the most important angel was the pilot who was in charge of controlling the fuel that kept us aloft! The balloon has fuel and the pilot adjusts the fuel according to the situation, the winds, the temperatures and the atmospheric conditions. Likewise we need fuel to keep our emotional hot air balloon aloft as we sail through the clouds of life.

2-14-2017-balloon-fuelWhat is that fuel? Daily acts of love. Humanity tends to sink emotionally with the pull of the gravity of the circumstances that surround us from day to day. (You’ve heard that phrase: “The gravity of the situation.”) When we receive daily acts of love that act puts fuel into our “hot air balloon.” Likewise when we give daily acts of love, we get the fuel as well. Remember how good it feels to give as well as receive?

Today is Valentine’s Day and the media pulls most people into the “buy flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. routine.” But what about the other 364 days in the year? Valentine’s Day is not about making up for what failings you think you may have had the rest of the year. I read a blog today where the author said that her idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day was to clean the garage with her spouse! She wrote: “True love is getting up in the middle of the night to take care of sick kids.” Yes, isn’t it the small things in life that really count? All those little things that you do for your partner, friends or family on a daily basis. Being there 365 days a year is “true love.”

Hey, I’m certainly not against taking a day to orchestrate some romantic evening  (or morning) – but does it necessarily have to be on Valentine’s Day? That’s when it’s expected! Sometimes a surprise on a random Wednesday evening (“Hump Day!”) or any non-holiday can really put a smile on a face. And please, yes, more than once a year!

The love fuel is not necessarily restricted to doing for family and friends. Some of the best fuel can be when we do good deeds for others, especially anonymously. Today I was sitting on my patio drinking my morning tea and writing my blog, completely out of sight behind the wooden slat privacy fence. A sudden breeze gave me a sudden and very loud sneezing fit! Then I heard a voice from a passerby on the sidewalk outside the fence call out: “Bless you!” That put a smile on my face! I have no idea who it was, but she was inspired to call out a sneeze blessing! I smiled thinking, this is exactly what I’m writing about. Anonymous gestures.

So before the day is over, when you are driving on your way home, let that car ahead of you into traffic. Say a prayer for that person driving erratically (they may need it to save their life!). Tomorrow, hold a door for someone who looks different than you, and may not expect it. It may make a big impression. On Saturday, if you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. (I had to do that today, as I have no idea how a candy bag wrapper got in front of my gate – blown by the wind?)

Make it Valentine’s Day every day. Put some fuel into your hot air balloon of love and soar above all the fears that would drag you down. The air is great up here!

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Personal Space: Crash or Connect

3 28 16 chairsHappy Easter! Happy Spring!

I visited a new church this Easter Sunday. Walking down the aisle, I had my eye on a particular seat, but a gentleman got there before me. Impulsively, I did the one thing that most people wouldn’t do – I entered the row and sat down next to him, while at the same time smiling and making the quip, “Oh, I was scoping out that seat! But you beat me to it!”

Why was this unusual? People in our American society like to put at least one space between them and a stranger. When we go to a movie theater we have our row that we like to sit in, but what if someone is in our territory? Do we compromise our desires and sit elsewhere or fight that isolationist instinct and sit next to or close to the stranger? Hey, they’re really not a stranger, they are another Star Wars fan who likes to sit up close to the screen too!

I remember years ago when I rode the bus back and forth to work, each seat would be filled and people even stood, hanging onto poles or straps. Then, the luxury of isolationism fell away. Of course now wherever you go, whether on public transport or in public places, people shut out others by wearing ear pods to listen to music or talk to others on the phone. (As if I really want to hear your private conversation, lady!)

We put up “walls” all the time, while maybe deep inside we wish we could feel free to touch another human in kindness. A very sweet woman who I met at the art museum last month ended our conversation by giving me a little hug, a kiss on the cheek and said: “I’m Latina! I hug!”

Was that an explanation of her actions as way of excuse or a strong statement about her nature? What made her feel the need to say that? I knew she was Latina and knew that was characteristic of the culture. I loved the warmth of her expression. It needed no excuse or reason.

Each culture is different as to their etiquette on personal space. There is no right or wrong, no global standard, so we must be aware to respect those differences. Suffice to say that whatever enables human beings to relate to each other with openness, love and trust – that is the way to act. Be culturally aware of acceptable behavior and how personal space is defined, but don’t feel like we always need to fear interaction.

In the powerful 2006 Best Picture Oscar-winning movie “Crash,” the term “crash” is a metaphor for the collisions between strangers in the course of day-to-day existence; a social commentary on the interconnectedness of life in the big city of Los Angeles.

In the opening line of the movie, a main character reflects: “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Do we crash into each other? Not in cars, but in outbursts of rage and emotion because we keep so much emotion unexpressed and we feel out of touch? Are we surrounding ourselves with a bubble, not of metal and glass, but of chair spaces and social media obsession?

We can Tweet and Link and Friend, but do we really spend quality time with each other? The human psyche yearns for a true connection. Science is now proving that real human interaction, touch and compassion is nearly as vital to healthy existence as food and water. Human touch is scientifically proven to change physiology.

I cringe every time I see a family or group of friends at a restaurant table and everyone is on their cellphone instead of conversing with each other. Don’t we all need some human touch?

There is so much fear and violence in the world now. Just this weekend with the Easter bombing in Pakistan added to the recent bombings in Europe, I was shaking my head in disbelief.

We need to overcome our fear that masquerades as shyness and reach out to our fellow members of the human race. Show a genuine interest in the book your fellow bus passenger is reading. Surprise someone by buying the coffee for the person behind you in line. Take your nose out of your smart phone and look at the beauty around you and the people around you. You could be in line at Starbucks and catch the eye of a cute guy or gal in line – but only if you: “Put the phone down!”

People are hungry for human contact. I wonder about all the people committing crimes against humanity and wonder when did they last feel love, feel compassion, or receive a hug?

Let’s stop crashing through life and make a real connection with our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet.

As Albert Schweitzer wrote: “Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”

Find Your Voice

8 25 14 microphoneI was a quiet child. Remember how they used to say, “be seen and not heard?” That was pretty much me! Although I do recall getting in trouble in grammar school for talking in class! What was I thinking? However, I don’t think students get in trouble for talking in class anymore, they are texting each other!

Which leads to a question, are children learning how to communicate in the true sense of the word? Are they learning how to speak and listen and get a message across, face to face? What does the future hold for the communication skills of this generation? That could be another blog, but today I address the adults.

How are YOUR communication skills?

It is commonly said that the fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the world. You don’t have to have the goal of being a motivational, platform speaker, but in today’s world, you should have the confidence to answer your boss coherently at staff meetings or make a toast at your sister’s wedding.

I have a theory that this fear stems from a source that is unique for each person. There is a reason for that fear, and it takes some introspection to get to the root of that fear. It usually goes back to childhood. I believe that in general we feel that the audience staring at us is somehow better than us. We deny our own self-worth.

Once I figured out where my fear came from, I experienced a breakthrough. I was afraid of speaking in front of a group because in grammar school the other students teased me. Today they call it “bullying.” Why did they tease me? Essentially because I was “the smart kid,” the “teacher’s pet,” or now what they might call “nerd” or “geek.”

OK, so now I’m thinking: if I am the smart one, then why should I care what they think about me? Light bulb moment!

But just like a garden, it takes some watering and nurturing of this confidence in order for it to grow. I found that supportive and nurturing environment with an organization called  Toastmasters International.

There are Toastmasters chapters, or clubs as we call them, in 126 countries around the world. This past weekend our World Convention culminated in a speech competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking. These are grand and glorious conventions. The speakers at Finals level are phenomenal! But it all starts at club level, a “speech laboratory” where one can practice, get feedback and grow as much as you want to. Your development is up to you.

Are you lacking self-confidence? Do you wish to be a better speaker and leader? My manager wrote on my performance appraisal 25 years ago that I had to join Toastmasters. It was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Now, I am coaching and mentoring speakers who are aiming for that World Championship. One of them said they’d like to see me on that stage. Hmm, why not?

Don’t wait for your boss to make that move to push you towards personal development. Take some steps to find your voice. Determine the cause of your fears. Find a supportive environment to vanquish those fears.

Find your voice, because it’s those who can use their voice who change the world.

Supermoon and Moonshine

SUPERMOONI hope you all got a chance to enjoy the supermoon last night. I was at my friend Suzy’s birthday party, sitting on the eastward facing deck watching the moonrise, surrounded by good company, enjoying scintillating conversation. The candles were glowing, the frogs croaking and it was a night for life lessons and stories told by new friends.

Suzy’s brother, Larry told us a story of an adventure he had during the time he lived in North Carolina. The locals warned him not to travel north and into the “wild country.” The people up there, they said, were likely to kill strangers!

Being skeptical of this harsh assessment, and being relatively fearless, armed with his faith in God, Larry drove off one day in search of adventure and the truth.

Driving through the woods he came upon an old house that looked like one of those haunted houses you see in a scary movie, but he decided to stop. An old woman sat in a rocking chair on the porch, her shotgun and bottle of moonshine at her side. Upon his approach, she stood up, picked up the gun, spat her tobacco juice and said in a deep, menacing, woodsy accent, “What der ya want?”

Facing down the shotgun, Larry cheerfully replied in one long breath, “Well, I’ve been told that the people up here are mean and nasty and more than likely to kill a stranger, but I don’t believe that. I believe that the folk here are really nice people if you get to know them, so I’m looking to meet the nice people who I believe you are one of.”

The old woman stared at him a moment, spat again, lowered the shotgun and gesturing to the other chair said, “Well, come on up!”

They sat on the porch together for a while chatting about simple things, until she asked, “Ya want sumptin’ to eat?” He was not going to refuse her hospitality even though he was certain that what was on the menu was most likely not vegetarian!

Just then, a rickety old pickup truck drove up the road and pulled over to the house. Two scruffy looking men jumped out with their shotguns. They glared with hostility at Larry and shouted, “What are ya doing?”

Immediately Grandma jumped to her feet with her gun in response and yelled back, “Shut up!” She spat, “This here’s my FRIEND and we were just fixin’ to eat. Now git up here if you want to eat!”

Their faces immediately softened and they said, “Well, alright then.”

It probably was possum for dinner.

What lessons can we learn here?

One lesson is: our perception creates our reality. If you meet someone and decide to focus on their negative qualities, then you will begin to notice more and more negative qualities. If, however, you meet someone and choose to focus on the positive, they will not seem as fearsome or troublesome.

We always get to choose how we see a person, place or a situation. Our perception determines our experience. Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Another lesson: perfect love casts out fear. With love in his heart, Larry ventured into the unknown and emerged victorious.

What are you looking at that you perceive as negative?

This week change the way you look at situations or people. Look at them with more love. Put a little love in your heart. And the world will be a better place.

Listen here:  Put a little love in your heart.