These past couple of weeks I’ve been musing about fear in a different way. It’s a singular word but there’s so much meaning in it. You can be afraid of so many different things and to varying degrees.
A quick google search of ‘what is the true meaning of fear?’ defines fear as… 1a) an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. 1b) an instance of this emotion. 2a) a state marked by this emotion. 2b) anxious concern: solicitude. 3) profound reverence and awe especially toward God.
Isn’t that interesting? Playing with those words, to understand fear more deeply, I’ll shape a poem.
On Fear Often strong unpleasant anticipating and aware all in an instance solicitude manifest – a caring something of profound reverence moving toward an awe of God
So, fear, huh? Pretty damn special and powerful. Let’s go, 2022. Let’s see what FEAR brings and reveals, how it directs and strengthens.
I have a feeling that leaning into fear – directly experiencing it and not numbing out – making choices and moving forward through it, is what LIVING is all about.
I spent the first two hours of 2022 in an emergency room getting stitches on my toe. It was my first time ever needing stitches and my first time ever being treated for something in a hospital. Warning – some mildly graphic toe imagery follows.
Basically, here’s what went down. It was 2 minutes till midnight on New Years Eve in Montana, and I was walking through a dark hallway. There was a broken frame and a huge glass cover sitting in the hallway and as I rounded the corner I accidentally carved my index toe on the glass!
I initially thought I had just stubbed it bad, but after turning the light on I realized nope I have in fact sliced my toe a bit. It was more bloody than painful, and there was a bit of skin flap situation going on. It was unclear how deep and close to the bone it got. My boyfriend came over and immediately was in damage control mode – helping me stop the bleeding. I’m incredibly grateful that he was so supportive cause I was pretty rapidly going into a mild state of shock.
The way my body systemically reacted to the situation surprised me. I got extremely anxious and started to feel the beginnings of a panic attack. Then I threw up and felt better although was now pretty embarrassed. I would have thought cause I’m a woman and see blood monthly I would be less squeamish… but there we go.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend was on it (again) and made the call that a hospital would be best cause no Urgent Care was open and my toe had a deep enough cut that it was better to be safe and get it cared for professionally. Surprisingly, my toe really didn’t hurt that much. We wrapped my toe up in a bandaid and a clean sock and I wore a pair of his shoes since my toe couldn’t fit into my own without further damaging it. He drove me to the nearest hospital and since there was literally no other patient in the waiting area I got seen immediately. I’m super grateful for that and it occurred to me that if this had happened in NYC I would have likely needed to wait quite a bit longer.
They irrigated my toe – basically flushing it out with water. Then the doc came in checked it out and recommended stitches. The anesthetic was more painful than the actual stitches – which means it did its job well. I avoided looking at the procedure while it happened for the most part cause I was worried I was gonna be sick again.
After leaving the hospital I kept the toe clean and regularly applied a topical antibiotic ointment. 10 days later it was time to remove the stitches. You can opt to have a doctor or Urgent Care help you take it out – but the ER doc had assured me you can do it yourself too. I opted to do it myself cause it would be less expensive… But it was a freaky experience involving a tweezer, scissors, a lot of patience, and a little bit of nausea. I freaking did it though. And it’s healing up really well.
Learned quite a few lessons from this one but most importantly that THE BODY IS AMAZING. Seriously the way it can heal is nothing short of miraculous. We just need to give it a fighting chance.
Check out my IG for some footage of me removing the stitches from my toe… if you’re curious. But totally understand if you’d rather pass ;-).
I used to be scared of flying on an airplane. For both reasonable and entirely illogical grounds.
It started after September 11, 2001 – after the horrific terrorist attack on 9/11. I grew up in the Bronx in NYC and we could see the Twin Towers burning from our middle school’s hallway window. I remember our class had just come back up from the gym and we took turns peering out the tiny window at the smoke billowing out of our city’s skyline.
We filed into the classroom and our teacher had us pull our chairs semi-circle around a radio. It was a surreal break in our middle school routine as we sat huddled listening to the horrific news – planes had crashed into the Twin Towers. The school PA system kept coming on every 5 minutes calling students to come down to the office as parents came to rescue their kids from a horrifying new reality in droves.
For obvious reasons, what happened on 9/11 terrified me and I fundamentally didn’t trust air travel from that point on. While that early collective trauma we all went through was the start of that fear for me, here are some of other (somewhat illogical) reasons flying makes me nervous:
We need to trust a complete stranger to get us through the sky to our destination safely. THANK YOU PILOTS, YOU ROCK. I find it hard to acknowledge that I’m in fact not in control – and I’m truly truly not in control on a plane – nor would I want to be in control of flying a plane, EVER.
An accident in a plane while WAY less likely than in a car is 100% going to be a more deadly affair. I realize that the stats are against me on this one happening. THANK GOD. Still freaks me out.
Up until quite recently I just dealt with that fear and took flights when I needed to.
Here’s the thing, I used to maybe fly once or twice a year MAX, but I’ve recently started traveling a lot more than I used to. In the last 3 months, I’ve flown 7 round-trip flights! The increased travel is for a combination of reasons – both personal and professional and it’s been a whirlwind. Initially, this increased travel also caused me increased stress. It’s historically been one of the scarier things for me to do, and gradually gradually I can feel this shifting.
Tonight I’m flying back from visiting my boyfriend in Montana and I’m literally writing this blog entry in an airport as I wait for a connecting flight to NYC. And later this month I’m flying out to Oregon to attend a film festival where my film is screening and won an award! So much plane travel.
Here’s the REAL KICKER – I’m starting to actually ENJOY it – WHAT?!?!?!?!
The sheer frequency of travel has lowered my fear of flying. To the point where I’m writing about my plane fear rather than just sitting in it. In the past, I would have probably just been praying right about now as I waited to board my plane. Meh who am I kidding, I’m probably gonna pray soon as I finish writing this but my fear has truly lessened. Mostly because I’m realizing it doesn’t do anything. When something becomes more routine it feels like you don’t have the patience to indulge fear… feel it sure, but not indulge it.
On the way out here to my connecting airport layover – my initial flight had a freaky moment. The plane was rocking – no other way to describe it – back and forth. And we even had a moment where the plane kind of tilted a bit. Freaky shit! And then the pilot didn’t even hop on the intercom to give us a little ‘well, that was a little bit of turbulence, folks and we’re cruising’ note nada. Which was even more freaky. I was spooked but happy to report that the rest of the flight went super smooth.
. . .
Okay – I just boarded my second flight, and I’m typing in my seat as I wait for takeoff. There’s a kind of excitement that comes along with this part of the journey. The bustle of the plane getting ready. It’s amusing to observe people finding their seats and settling in. As we get closer to it tonight, I’m realizing I even sometimes get a bit of a thrill when we take off. Which used to be the most terrifying part of the whole journey for me.
Now it feels more like an epic start to an adventure. We are literally launching into a higher altitude – elevating our existence with our heads amongst the clouds for a while. I’m realizing it can provide an epic reset on overall life perspective too.
And as our pilot just announced on this flight I’m on right now, it’s a clear night and the view as we land in NYC should be beautiful. And that doesn’t hurt. . . .
I’m sitting in a warm cafe in a wintry Montana, sipping coffee and writing my first personal blog entry in two years. I was gonna sit down and work on my new play Primordial and I just got hit with an urge to do this first. January’s got a special kind of encouraging magic to it, right? I love how the start of the year offers up a moment for us to reset mentally and clean-slate it.
My New Year reset always includes taking a moment, just before midnight on the 31st, to write out resolutions. They’re geared towards things I actually want to do and are not about restricting current habitual behavior. I think of my resolutions as a roadmap to remind me of what’s internally important.
One of my biggest goals for 2022 is to get a production agreement signed and a production scheduled for my new theatre play Primordial. It’s my second full-length documentary (interview-based) theatre play, all about pregnancy and childbirth. I interviewed 44 different people about their experiences and then I turned about 1000 pages of interview transcripts into a 50-page play.
It’s been a powerfully illuminating experience for me and I’m incredibly excited to share the play with the world. I’m finishing up my fourth draft of the play this month (or this week?!), weaving in a couple more perspectives and feeling through the ending and where it wants to go.
Creating this play has very much felt like standing on the precipice of a great mountain absorbing a breathtaking view and then trying to capture it. I have a sense of anticipatory frustration almost. The topic is so grand and historical and there are so many vantage points you can approach it from. Can I do this justice? Can I get what it wants to be down on the page? The truth is, I can’t not do it. My heart and my soul demand I finish it and get it out into the world.
I LOVE IT when I feel that inner sense of urgency and drive. When I don’t feel like I have a choice. It’s in motion and I’m committed to it no matter how scary it gets.
I started this blog in 2016 – which is bonkers. I haven’t regularly written in here over the years but I want to really go for that this year. All these years later I’m still facing fear, and I will until the day I die. It’s a choice I’m making to do that. Again, I can’t fucking help it.
While this blog is still about my journey facing fear, I’m hit with the realization, this January of 2022, that it’s also about commitment. Speaking of, I’m gonna commit to a weekly entry on here this year and see where that takes me.
The Universe says: you want it? Great. Just commit to it and you can have it. No matter how scared ya are.
Happy New Year, friends.
ps: I’m realizing I accidentally just drank a caffeinated coffee instead of my regular decaf. Whoops. Time to go drink some water. Helloooo 2022.