In the company of bees

“Fear can make a moth seem the size of a bull elephant.”
― Stephen Richards, Releasing You from Fear

I used to be scared of bees. And I mean terrified. I’m talking run screaming, arms flailing, there-might-as-well-be-a-swarm-pursuing-me, full-on meltdown. It’s incredible how something so small could cause such a powerful reaction.

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According to my mom, I stepped on a bee when I was a toddler and I suppose that one painful experience was where my fear began. But I got older and figured out my fear was unnecessary and unfounded. I watched with awe as others handled a bee’s presence so casually and calmly, and began to practice it myself. I started to see bees for their gifts instead of their stinger. And I stopped being afraid.

And you know the funny thing? I was never afraid of spiders. Ever. I’d flee from a bee but walk right up to a web. As far back as I can remember, spiders and other creepy-crawly creatures enthralled me. Hold a tarantula? Yes, please! (They did, however, completely freak my sister out. On more than one occasion I was called upon to kill a spider if one was discovered lurking in her room. I still feel kind of bad about that.)

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Fear is fascinating, remarkably individual, and also very deceptive. What one person thinks is cool will make another person’s hands clammy. ‘Fess up, do you cringe looking at that spider picture? I get it. No judgment. (Well, I don’t get it because I think the spider is gorgeous, but still…no judgment.)

I share all this because I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. About my own fears and how I have let fear rule much of my life. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Some fears are understandably born from bad experiences, situations that stung. But, if I’m really honest, something that isn’t always easy to do, most of my fears are based only on conjecture and the darkly creative imaginings of my own mind over “what might happen.” Cue ominous music.

“Men are not afraid of things, but of how they view them.”
― Epictetus

From fleeing bees to not pursuing my passions and dreams to not speaking up and speaking out, fear has held me back. And don’t even get me started on the seeds of fear planted by my parents and others around me: It’s hard, it’s stupid, it’s not possible, that’s not how it’s done, only the lucky or special few find success, and on and on.

Fear has filled my head and kept me from trying because the possibility that I might be hurt or fail or make a fool of myself was enough to prevent me from living fully, exploring all I am, and allowing others, and my own mistakes, to teach me.

Fear can be a gift; it’s meant to keep us safe. But focus too much on fear and it will turn on you and become a walled fortress of reasons why you can’t and excuses why you won’t.

“Overcoming what frightens you the most strengthens you the most.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo

Once upon a time, my mind took a single sting and blew it into a fear so great that any encounter with a bee was the equivalent of being chased by a monster with a hacksaw. It sounds crazy even writing it, and yet that’s exactly how I remember it feeling. But our minds and emotions are powerful and can send us down rabbit holes of doubt, dread, and despair. And boy, have I let mine play me like a fiddle.

You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.
– Morpheus in “The Matrix”

So what is really true? The truth is a bee is simply a bee. It’s not out to get me. Yes, it may sting if it feels threatened or a need to defend itself, but it’s just as likely that it won’t. And, after all, aren’t we all a bit like that too?

What might I uncover if I allow myself to dig deeper and wonder what else is possible? Is this fear really a threat or is it imagined and based on assumption or misperception? Maybe if I simply stand here and breathe and be calm, the bee will fly off, maybe the right answer will come, maybe I’ll learn something I didn’t know, or maybe, even if I do fall, I will be more than I was before more because I tried.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think or question or allow for some skepticism in life. Just that I have to think and question myself and my deeper motives and assumptions – and fears – as well. At least that’s what I’m trying to do more of every day. Because I’m finding the real danger lurks within me, among the swarm of fears buzzing around in my mind.

You are love(d).

PS – The above “covered in bees” gif is courtesy of Giphy.com and features my favorite comedian, Eddie Izzard. To see his hilarious bit about beekeepers and being “covered in bees,” visit this link and enjoy his brilliantly absurd take on, well, everything: https://youtu.be/Xs-tl6GBOBo

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Hello, World. Welcome to mine.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”  ― Joan Didion

When I was young, my mother used to call me her little brown mouse. I can understand why. I was shy, skittish, and hugged the corners of hallways hoping to escape within the walls. As desperate as I was to be noticed, I dreaded being seen even more.

An outgoing, extroverted woman who came out of the womb joining clubs and volunteering, my lovely Mom didn’t quite know what to do with quiet, introspective me. I never really did either. Well…I had ideas, but never the gumption to follow through on them.

8 years old

 

I’ve spent a lot of my life in the shadows, occasionally daring to venture outside the comfort zone of my mouse hole, only to duck back inside when things got messy. When depression and disease set in. When what little confidence I had was shredded.

I’ve lost my voice twice in life. First figuratively, by allowing others to speak for me. Then literally, to a disease for which I was told there was no cure. Thankfully, the disease in my body is gone; the dis-ease within my mind, however, still likes to rattle the bars of its cage.

It’s time to turn this around. It’s time to be seen, even if only by my own eyes.

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Because I may have been quiet, but I’ve been paying attention. And I’ve got a few things to say. I’d like to think I’ve stored up some wisdom over all these long winters, though I may be the only one gaining from it.

Because there is so much swirling in my head that I want to sort through and too much in my heart wanting, and needing, to be expressed and released. I know I’ll feel better for finally giving voice to both.

Because there are things that piss me off. While this hippie chick’s goal at the end of the day may be peace, kindness, and compassion, I’m also a rock ‘n roll girl at heart so there will be attitude and there will be swearing. You’ve been warned.

Because maybe I can provide a little comfort for those who, like me, have felt alone, different, afraid, and ashamed of any or all of it.

I have no idea how this grand experiment will unfold. Perhaps no one will read any of this. And that’s okay. Sometimes the message is really meant for the person sharing it. What I do know is it’s time for this little brown mouse to find her voice.

So, welcome to my world. As you enter, please note the greeting on the door. It’s a simple truth I wholeheartedly believe and yet think we so often forget. At least I know I do, but I’m working on it. From my soul to yours:

You are love(d).