Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Facing The New Year Without Fear

At the end of every year, we naturally reflect on everything that has happened and make resolutions for life improvements going forward. We mourn the loss of people who have passed during the year. We rejoice over accomplishments and victories. We make note of all the important events and wonder where the time has gone. It seems the year just began and now it is at an end. Did we do everything we set out to do during the year, or did we let our goals fall by the wayside? Was it a good year? Or did our luck take a turn for the worse?

This year has been especially difficult for me. My troubles actually began as 2013 was coming to a close. I had dislocated my elbow the day before Thanksgiving and was out on disability until January. 2014 started with a flu, I passed out twice and injured my ribs and tailbone in the falls, and suffered through six weeks of vertigo and a few months with some post-traumatic stress. The health issues and fear of more bad things happening led me to move back to Washington state to be closer to family. I didn’t want to live alone anymore. I stayed with my sister in Port Townsend for a month before moving to Bellingham, where I stayed with her again for another six months. I spent the last two months of the year housesitting, which will continue until March 2015 – ironically alone and in what feels like the middle of nowhere. 

I’m still doing work for my previous employer in Colorado on a contracted basis, which has been a blessing. However, the part-time hours barely cover my expenses, so I’ve been looking for full-time work. This has been a taxing exercise because, without a car, I need a job that will be easy to get to on foot. I’d rather not have to rely on public transportation because I’m no longer willing to give up four hours of my day getting to and from work like I did when I worked for corporate America.

My conundrum? In order to afford the deposits and moving costs required for a place to live, I need to work for a few months to save up for it. However, since I’m housesitting a few hours away from the area where I’d like to work and eventually live, how would I get to work if I did find a full-time job? I either need a car for a ridiculous commute or I need to find a second work-from-home part-time job. There are other issues that contribute to the situation, but suffice it to say, my housing options are limited. So in addition to being under-employed, I’m also on the brink of homelessness.

In my so-called minimalist lifestyle experiment, I hadn’t factored in any possible obstacles. Some might say I’ve failed, and maybe I have. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t bothered me. There have been times I questioned my decisions and found myself slipping into a depression. Should I have stayed in Colorado? If I hadn’t given in to the anxiety caused by my health issues, things certainly would be different and I probably would still be in Colorado. However, I let fear dictate my actions.

It’s easy to give in to fear; we live in a society that’s drenched in it. Most religions are fear-based: if you're not good, you'll go to hell. Our government has been operating in fear of repeated terrorist attacks since 9/11, subjecting citizens to unnecessary searches and checks and prodding and poking and removing of freedom. We’re afraid to send our kids to school because someone might decide to go on a shooting spree. We’re afraid of our food because it’s been tainted with chemical pesticides and most have genetically modified ingredients, and Corporate America refuses to tell us what’s in the food they’re selling us. We’re afraid of getting sick, so we over-vaccinate our children, which causes other health issues and makes Big Pharma richer; and we’re forced to have health insurance that many people still can’t afford despite the meager subsidies for which they might qualify.

Giving in to fear can make you do irrational things. I gave up a full-time job and a place to live and a network of people I could count on when things got rough simply because I was afraid – I was afraid I might fall and injure myself again. What if something happened and no one was there to help me? I was afraid to leave my home because the fall that dislocated my elbow traumatized me and I was terrified that it would happen again. I was afraid I would die and never see my son again. I was afraid. I was afraid all the time.

While the decisions I made based on fear haven’t ruined my life, reflecting on them certainly has helped to put things into perspective. I absolutely love being able to see my son more often, which I couldn’t do if I had stayed in Colorado. I enjoy the freedom of working from home and being in control of my own schedule. I needed the creative inspiration that the peace and solitude has given me while I’m housesitting.

Moving because I was afraid may not have been the right reason to move, but it turned out to be the right thing to do – I am where I want to be. The rest of the details just need to be worked out. In my natural optimism, I choose to believe that everything will come together as it’s meant to and that I will be fine. 2015 will be better because I will make it better, and I will try to do so without fear.

As you reflect on the kind of year you’ve had, be grateful for the bad as well as the good experiences; they helped you grow. Be grateful for the relationships that offered you comfort, the lessons that gave you wisdom, and the obstacles that made you stronger. Remember that after every storm, there is a rainbow; the dark clouds will clear and the sun will shine once more.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, prosperous and confident new year!


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