Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Goes Google-Ta-DAAAH


Confessions of a Fraidy Cat has made the #3 spot on the Google search engine. You no longer have to type in the url address to find me on the web. You can just type "Confessions of a Fraidy Cat" into the Google search box, and up I pop.  Excuse me while I drop my professional persona for a few seconds:

What a fitting way to begin a post about a fraidy cat eviction. Yep, you heard it, there was an eviction today.  My fear of technology is on the run. I began to vanquish my techno-fraidy cat to the stunned amazement of my resident techno-experts.  When you live in  a house where all things technological are 'intuitively obvious' to everyone but you, it seems technology becomes increasingly daunting. Remember, I'm the one reduced to tears if an icon on my desk top is moved or changed even if I can't figure out which one it is/was.

Every once in a while, it does a girl good to leave her resident testosterone units speechless. Thanks to each of you, I have done it several times this week. Not the least of which is when my little page clicker clicked right on past 1,000 hits around lunch time today! I'm thinking I'll need to get out the smelling salts before I tell them that I'm #3 and vying for the pole spot in the race to Google #1. I may even install web cams to catch their unguarded reactions for your viewing pleasure since you are helping create a love sick monster.

You can't imagine the fun it is to watch a 20 year old's jaw drop in true amazement at the news I've managed to capture a screen shot. I must give credit where credit is due. My husband  (who wishes to be referred to as an "Alien Geen" vs "nerd" or "geek"...sigh...I cannot MAKE this stuff up...) did teach me how last night. In a moment of radiant genius, I actually remembered how to do it after 8 hrs sleep! Not only that, I used it to create a tutorial page for my blog so that you readers can share the fraidy cat experience. Sometimes, I'm so slick that I amaze myself. Today was one of those days.

If you want to rejoice with me, you can visit my Fraidy Cat Goes Techno page right now! I think it is time for me to give my heirs the gift that keeps on giving: embarrassment! Coming soon to a Utube near you! Me dancing! Can you blame me?  I conquered a huge fear of technology today. I hear you. You are dancing too, aren't you? Hey! We could do a dancing fraidy cat flash mob! (Note to self: plan flash mob in spare time.) But, I digress.

I got so carried away with myself that I added other pages to my blog! Just click on the links up near the top of the page to bask in the glow of my battlefield victories. Find out all about me...or at least as much as I'm willing to admit to. My stint in the witness relocation program was omitted for obvious reasons. Need to know basis only...and you don't. Yet.

In a sweep of courage that is sure to send my other fraidy cats into a frenzy, I uploaded a page about my soon to be launched writing business. Who knew that when I went to the writer's conference it would unleash my inner tiger and drive out fraidy cats that had taken decades to get smug and comfortable?

If that isn't enough to keep us all busy, I've been studying on my Fraidy Cat Homeschoolers idea for about 3 years now. I'm almost through studying and about ready to launch that blog as well. Go tell all the unsocialized homeschoolers you know that I'm about to be unleashed on the world.  It'll give 'em time to run and hide. 

Yep, it's been a pretty satisfying day all in all.  Now if I could figure out one teeny-tiny little thing.  How to stop following my own blog.  Stop laughing. It was for the benefit of the advancement of technology.  In the process of creating the tutorial for those of you who are even less technologically sophisticated than me, I somehow opted to follow my own blog.  And, before I end up famous on TMZ or the cover of the National Enquirer, let me dispel the rumor about my multiple personalities.  They have all been integrated, so don't go telling people that my me-follower is actually one of my alters signed up to follow me as me. I mean, really, who would believe that anyway?

Come back tomorrow and bring a friend.  You know it ain't gonna be boring around here by now.  Doncha?

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Fraidy Cat in the Mirror- Part II

I clasped her hand wishing I had the right answer to the groans of her soul. In the mirror of her eyes, I saw my own gaping wounds.  I heard the echoes of my soul. I heard my cries as they echoed off the heavens while I waited on a silent God. Answers don't come easy to some of us, and I wasn't going to pretend they do.

Along with her, I tasted the bitterness of acting upon what I believed God desired of me. I knew what it was to follow that path of obedience and see my life implode even as I yearned to do more in his creation. The path behind me is now littered with the debris of my efforts.  Ahead, I see the path of others attaining my milestones with out breaking a physical, emotional, or spiritual sweat. So, when she weeps over the same reality, I know her pain. Some of those folks look back and beckon while assuring us that the path is easy. Yes, I understood each tear that dripped unashamedly down my sobbing friend's cheeks.

I have looked at the chaos of my life while the fraidy cat whispers, "See! The path has been easy for them! They were meant to be! You? You can't even wrestle your way up into the lap of the God who created you.  He's always swatting you aside for the prettier girl with the magical faith and 'picturesque-implication-of-a stress-free kind of life' blog."  My soul screams, as does my friend's, to know that your God loves me as much as he loves you.  We put on our masks and pretend we are just like you. But we are fraidy cats.

I too had craved a silent God only to see him draw close to others around me. Their lives seemed so much less complicated than mine. My need for him so much greater. Yet, they basked in his glow while I labored alone in the dark and cold of the night shift. Their finances were fancy. Their kids were uncomplicated and excelled on the sporting field, in the classroom, and with their peers. I wrestle to prove to mine that they are fearfully and wonderfully made despite their unique challenges. The vigor of  other families mocks me as I watch my husband struggle day to day while we wait on doctors who have no answers.  I watch as their goals become realities. I have no goals left other than to survive. It seems they could do no wrong while I could do no right. I knew what it was to hear the voices of the multitudes chime in on their solutions even tho' they'd never understand my life. I look at my friend. I see myself in the mirror with every word she speaks and tear she cries.

I thought of Job's 3 friends and how they droned on and on in their wisdom so certain of themselves. Yet, they were clueless regarding the story God was telling thru Job's life. I thought of how Job's friends got it 100% right when they first sat with him for 7 full days while not uttering a single word.  They left him room to wrestle with his own grief and loss and didn't require that he snatch up his mask to make them feel better.

I thought of how weary Christians can make each other.  I knew that when we left the haven of the coffee shop, I wanted her to feel safer and more energized than she did when we arrived. I gently explained that tho' I wished it so, I did not have the voice of God for her that day.  And, even tho' I knew her pain as intimately as I knew my own, I knew that God loved her.  Then, because we needed a laugh, I said, "I have it on pretty good authority that he loves YOU more than he loves me!"

Mutual laughter mingled with tears as I said, "You know...I have to cling to one thing of which I'm sure. God doesn't make mistakes. Because he is God, he is sovereign over our mistakes. I'm not sure why you made the decision you made that now seems so costly, but God does. He knew you made it out of an obedient heart. He will take what was ruined and redeem it in his time."  A phone rang, and life snatched us apart while there was still so much more to say.

In the days since we laced our coffee with tears, my phone has buzzed. The text display reads, "God called. He wanted you to know he loves YOU more than me!" And, we laugh together because we don't need a mask anymore.  I pray for my friend. And, when I do, these words echo thru the chambers of my heart:

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Sees Herself in the Mirror-Part I

(Author's disclaimer:  At 3 days old, I napped on a piano bench while my mom played the hymns, and my dad shared the good Word. I've been in church at least 5,000 times in my 53 yrs. Don't take what I'm about to say personally. I've met a lot of folks in that time. Just remember that fact while you read. I'm not aiming my shotgun at you while offering a blindfold and Marlboro. I'm just as guilty of making some fellow traveler equally as weary.  And, knowing me, I'll mess up and do it all over again tomorrow. Hope not. But, I'm afraid so.) 
The morning rush had quieted. We settled into our booth for a coffee laced heart to heart. Our personal masks had slipped during a brief exchange several days before. We knew we each had yawning aches paralyzing us with fear. Those fears were locked in the secret places of our souls. Folks around us often have a hard time looking us in the eye once we admit our frailties. Somehow each of us realized we didn't have to be perfect or have perfect faith for each other. So, here we were. Ready to risk the truth. Would it be worth it in the end? 
Sometimes, Christians make me w-e-a-r-y. I grew up knowing the sad, old truth about Christians shooting their own wounded.  Where I've walked, they do the wounding. Then, if you are lucky, they shoot you and get it over with. If not, they just wing you and add to your misery.  Most do it while telling you about the love of Jesus. If you live in the south, they will add, "Bless your heart, Honey,"  just to underscore their sincerity as they walk away from your bleeding, quivering carcass.

In the courtroom of life, my inner fraidy cat always hauls some folks up before me as exhibits to prove that Jesus probably loves YOU more than he does me.  He'll pummel me with how much more faith exhibit A has than I have. You know the type. They come bouncing in as energetic as a cheerleader conducting a Zumba class saying: "My house just burned down, my husband just had an affair, my child was just diagnosed with heebie jeebie disorder, but.....IT'S ALL GOOD!"  The variation on the theme is a somber, professorial, sanctimonious, "God is good. All the time."

I confess, those folks make me groan while I roll a secret set of eyeballs tucked away in my head.  In the track and field games of life, I'll never be able to jump that bar. I'm exhausted at the thought of measuring up to the perpetually cliche. I know the ad campaign says, "Never let 'em see you sweat," but if you don't break out in a good old fashioned sweat now and again, my friady cat reminds me that you will never understand me. Chasing your impeccable faith makes me weary because I'll never catch up.

Maybe you've met Exhibit B? This loving, sincere friend leans forward and intones something like, "I believe I have 'a word' for you..." ? In Christian-speak, that means God has granted them some kind of wisdom for or about you that you apparently don't have the good sense to absorb for yourself. It makes me weary to think I'm so stupid or disobedient that God has to use a go-between. Why does he like them better? Why are they smarter or more trustworthy? Not that I don't appreciate our ability to be iron sharpening iron. I lean on my friends all the time to make me smarter. But, there are just some times and places when that approach drains the living life out of me.

I had good reason to think of these personal experiences as my friend and I sipped coffee. We shared back and forth agonizing over past mistakes while anticipating future efforts.  At one point she leaned forward and said, "Are you saying you think God is telling you that I should ________________?"

Later, when it seemed we were in calmer territory, she suddenly burst into a torrent of tears and gasped, "I've ruined EVERYTHING! I should never have listened to my friend.  I stepped out in faith like she said, and I ruined it all!" Grief and feelings of self-betrayal washed over her.  She grieved the loss of hope and wrestled with the inequities of life. In one last gush of angst, she made herself my spiritual twin. She said, "I'm not sure God loves me as much as he loves you."  Here's the clincher: she had NOT read my blog.

I hope you'll come back tomorrow and bring a friend.  Maybe one whose courtroom of life includes Exhibits A&B or others that are similar.  There's more to say about this story. And you know me, I'm not thru talking.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Takes on Technology

Technology brings out my fraidiest cat. I have a former secretary that will attest to the fact that her most frequently uttered phrase was, "Step away from the copier. Step slowly away from the copier."  She used to stand behind me when I typed my own documents just so she could heckle me. I remember her fondly despite the abuse! Really, I do.

If my husband changes so much as an icon on my desktop, I am reduced to tears. I can't tell you WHAT he changed, but I know he has been up to something as soon as it boots up. After twenty-two years of marriage, he has learned to tread softly on my computer. It has saved him a lot in alimony payments.

I used to believe I had found an ingenious answer to my phobic avoidance of all things technological. I married a nerd and birthed two of them.  (The youngest one will drolly correct me when he reads this blog with the reminder, "MUUUUTHER! I am a geek NOT a nerd."  Who knew there was a pecking order?) I sauntered along rejoicing in my smug satisfaction until I went to the writer's conference.  Boy! Did that mess things up.

In short order, I learned that we famous writers-in-waiting have to have "platforms".  At first, I felt a mixture of confused relief.  I never knew I had to be a carpenter to be a writer, but I know my way around a few tools. So, I thought I could bluff my way till I had taken a vocational course or two.  But, nooooooo! These platforms involve websites, blogs, twitter, business cards w/ scan-able little splotchy thing-ies that smart phones can use to jump to your website. The list made my head swim. I had just survived my close encounter with those three Flannery O'Connor inspired locksmiths.  I was already traumatized without this new technological reality. AURGH!  I had a choice.  Embrace my geeky side--I must have one since I birthed 2 of them--or abandon my life long dream of being a real writer.

Imagine my relief when one of the faculty pointed out that no matter how far we lag behind the techno-curve, no one can really keep up with it.  She further pointed out that someone will always be coming along behind us making us an expert to those who follow us! HAH! I was a virtual expert in the making! I am a genius!

Today, as I was contemplating my future, I announced tonight's blog title to my three testosterone units. All three burst into laughter.  Son #1 asked, "Whacha gonna do? Master the light switch?" I'm thinking about how close he is to NOT seeing his 21st birthday. He is going to want me to remember him fondly when I get famous and all. Lucky for me, son #2 is a GREAT teacher whom I will remember fondly when I'm at my first book signing with my first mega-millions advance in my pocket. He taught me how to text message.  The week before the conference, he taught me how to use a flash drive.  Which can also be called a thumb drive but not thumb nail. I point out this distinction to spare you some embarrassment in social situations if you are making polite dinner conversation with a group of engineers. But, I've said too much already.

And so tonight, I'm setting some goals. I intend to boldly go where none of my former secretaries thought I could go..even if my three Doubting Thomases are dubious. I'm looking at webhosting sites. I'm reading up on how to make my blog more like Ree, the Pioneer Woman, Drummond's.  If I could figure out how to say something in 140 characters or less, I'd sign up for Twitter while typing this blog entry.  That'll take a while.  No comments from the peanut gallery. I know who you are and where you live!
When I'm done, I'll sell a book about the experience, and Katie Couric will call since Oprah isn't doing that any more.  Oprah's really gonna be sorry she never met me in time.  Really. Until then, I'm going to start a support group for the technologically challenged.  There is a test for membership.  One question: What is a flash drive? If you answer it, your membership application is refused.  I AM a genius!

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am a Friady Cat, Hear ME ROAR...meow....

I'm like a teenager in love. Remember how you used to count every week of a new relationship. If you count my blog life in teenager years, today is my 2nd anniversary. Meaning -- I've been posting for 2 weeks today. I'm pretty pitiful.  I check my clicks about 14 times a day.  If it hasn't changed in a while, I begin to hyperventilate thinking 'my public' has abandoned me.  I tell myself I have a public. Don't pop  my bubble!

My older son accuses me of checking just to make the counter go up. I had to show him that I had my blog edits set so that it would NOT count my click when I logged on! That boy needs to remember who taught him how to read and write, doncha think?

I realized today that I had not been looking at one of my stat pages like I should and nearly fainted when I saw that my little blog has gone intercontinental.  I don't know WHO you are, but if you live in India, Germany, Canada, or the UK, YOU ARE MY NEW BEST FRIENDS!  Well, right after the friends here stateside that convinced you to click on my link.  I don't know what they told you about me, but I'm pretty sure it isn't true...except for the good parts.  Those are completely reliable! Yea, uh-huh, I promise!

It's a good thing I'm not on Utube because the dance I did when I saw those international clicks would utterly embarrass my children and their children on into perpetuity.  Some folks leave their future generations millions. I leave mine embarrassment. I think it's in the parental handbook that I have the right to do so, and I intend to option that right at every opportunity! I figure since teenagers are going to treat us like we are embarrassing no matter what we do, we might as well live up to their lofty expectations. 

My 14YO tried to let me down easy when he saw my exuberance.  "Mom," he says, "I don't know how to tell you this, but sometime I click a link and end up some place I didn't mean to go.  I think that might be what happened.  You know how it is. They opened up your blog, realized their mistake, and just went on over to where they meant to go. They didn't really read your blog at all because it was just a mistake. And...they won't be back either."

You can kinda tell those 2 are related, can't you? With supporters like that, I'll never be too proud to stop and sign autographs.  Or to stand at the intersection of  3rd and Main St. in a fraidy cat costume with a sandwich board begging more people to come find me on the web. Like I said, I'm pretty pitiful like most teenagers in love. By the way, I'll be appearing at Haywood and Pelham tomorrow between 2 and 4 if any of you locals want to come out and support me! Reckon my testosterone units will be embarrassed by that little trick?

As you can imagine, I'm a pretty insecure blogger too. Hence, the fraidy cat moniker.  Will they like me? Will they like my blog?  Oh..that girl over there...her blog is fancier than my blog.  She follows the 400 word count rule too.  (My teacher always said I talked too much on my report card.)  I bet she was the teacher's pet in school! Yea, you know the drill.  Fear jams its foot in the door and lets all his sandy cohorts come spilling into the room rubbing me raw in places I didn't know I had!

If you are a fraidy cat newbie, you'll have to look back at my archive to catch up with the references to sandy fear-critters. Not that I mean that to be a subliminal suggestion or anything. But, if you are suggestible, you are now hovering your finger over the archive button to find out what you missed! And, you need to know I am also swinging a watch back and forth slowly in front of your line of vision. If you are not suggestible, maybe you are prone to hypnosis?

If I were anyone else tonight, I might be brave enough to R-O-A-R mightily and declare my blog experiment a roaring success.  So, pretend you hear me saying, "meow" thru an amplifier the size that Mick Jagger would use during a live performance.  If you are too young to imagine him, pick a younger rocker dude's amp and listen closely. That's me you hear.  I'd roar, but I'm too scared of my own amplified voice. I might scare you away!

What you hear me saying is, "Thank you. Thank you for coming. You honor me by spending a few minutes a day reading the stories that pop out of nowhere onto my keyboard."  Even if you came by accident and don't plan to come again, you brightened my day today. Again today, each of you has emboldened my inner roaring lion. He has not evicted the fraidy cat yet, but he's mapping out his battle plan. The truth is (but don't tell the boys): I do hope you will shock the sons of my old age and come back again. I hope you will tell your friends to come along with you! Even if you came by accident the first time. Especially if you came all the way from another continent! It's a hard thing to up your creds with your kids. And, thanks to you, I have!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Fraidy Asks, "What Do Oprah and a Clothesline Have in Common?"

A clothesline will soon be a curious anthropological artifact. That simple, almost forgotten solar dryer whispers of a simpler time and place where neighbors knew each other by name. Shoot! In some towns, your neighbors were your cousins and grammaw! Today, your neighbor is just a waving hand behind a passing steering wheel. In those bygone days, yards backed up to each other in an expanse uninterrupted by privacy fences. Clotheslines peppered back property lines. Toddlers chased butterflies, and moms gathered for a quick chat while wrangling clothes drying in the wind. Those days slipped away bit by bit till no one even has a clothesline anymore.

As I watched the Oprah departure effect wash back and forth across facebook, my mind wandered back to those almost forgotten images. I thought about how the world has changed and how those changes set the stage for a hero like Oprah to emerge. I confess, I watched her debut show. Over the years, I enjoyed quite a few more of them. The last few years, her appeal waned as her philosophical bent diverged from mine. As I've pondered her departure, I realized what drew me, and probably many others, to the show.

Didn't she have the power to make you feel like you had gathered at the clothesline with a few of your best girlfriends? The chores of the day were less tedious because you had her. Every day, she came into your home and diverted your attention from the wearisome details of life. Oprah reassured you that you were not alone in this big scary world. No matter what pain you hid behind your scairdy cat mask, she and her guests eventually met you where you lived. Oprah had the power to instruct, reassure, chide, encourage, rebuke, amuse, challenge, entertain, and comfort all of us from the safe and antiseptic distance of her studio.

It may be the ultimate oxymoron that the more we become interconnected via technology, the less we feel intimately networked to those around us. Families are spread across the globe with Skype to connect them. Friends stopped calling and moved on to email. Now facebook and email are going the way of twitter. Text messages masquerade as conversations. Cards and letters are museum pieces.

Oprah stepped into the void and became a candidate to be our best friend by proxy. A best friend that most of us will never meet. We know Oprah, and she knows us. Life is a mess, and she could be our friend without getting messy in the process. Now that Oprah's gone, who will fill her void? Maybe we could take a chance on each other. Why wait until an F5 tornado wipes out our community to realize we need each other and have something in common behind our fences and masks and fears?

So, for today think of life as a clothesline. Find a friend and encourage her with this thought:

Hebrews 10:24- "...let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."  (NIV)

If we do, the world will be a better place even tho' Oprah is no longer there to fill her time slot in our lives.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Faces Life Without Oprah!!!!!

(Editorial note: Grief stricken Oprah fans: the following content may be unsuitable for your delicate sensitives given the gravity of the day. Consider the spirit of satire in which this article is intended. Do not write the owner of blogspot to complain. The following views do not reflect the philosophy or convictions of Al Gore (the inventor of the internet), so don't call him either. For goodness sakes, if Oprah is one of your facebook friends, do not roll it over to HER wall. Hmmm....maybe you can. . I'll never get a chance to appear on her 'books you can't die without reading' show anyway. Not like I can shoot myself in the foot on that one, can I?)

In Biblical times, families of the deceased hired mourners to provide displays of public grief. The shrieking and wailing your hear coming over the horizon are NOT officially hired mourners. I'm making all that racket. As some old rocker dude would say, "I don't need no hired help!"

How did I NOT get the memo? Yes. I was out of town for week. I did come home and get straight into my end-of-the-world bunker. Yes, I had packed up my fax machine to take with me so that all you folks left here after 5p last Saturday could get in touch with me after I was gone. But, really! HOW DID I NOT GET THE MEMO!

When I realized it was safe to come out of my bunker, the buzz quickly became a roar: OPRAH IS LEAVING! In fact, I think she already left the building here in my time zone. I had no time to prepare. No time to stock pile her favorite things. No time to DVR her last precious words. No time to make a list of all the celebs that came to mourn with me. No time.. no time...no time...echo...echo...echo......

What is a fraidy cat to do? I was just getting brave enough to put one timid paw forward into the world that Oprah made go round. So, she picks NOW to pull the plug! Are you kidding me? How in the WORLD am I going to know what my favorite things are? How will I know which new psycho-guru is the one I should listen to since Dr. Phil is getting a little long in the tooth? Where will I look for another Dr. Oz to take me to the next level of health? But, enough about me.

What will the chefs of the world do now that they no longer have the hope of working for her and leveraging their job into a best selling cookbook? What about the poor girl that spent a year Living Oprah (Robyn Okrant)? Whose advice will get her through another year's worth of book material? And, who...oh... WHO.....is going to understand my love/hate relationship with food the way Oprah does? Oh wait...that was about me again.

I am bereft and va-klempt. I am undone! Talk amongst yourselves for a minute while I inhale some chocolate dust. The future stretches out in front of me--a yawing abyss of unguided uncertainty. I was just getting my tiny little paws under me. I know, I just KNOW, that if she had hung around long enough to find my blog, she would have LOVED me. I would have been her next favorite book-thing. In fact, she might even have helped make me, a harmless little kitty cat, at least 1/10th as rich as Harry Potter and all his crew. Alas, the door is shut. The book is closed. I will never gain entry into that magic fairly-land known as 'Oprah's 15 minutes of fame which gets you bumped immediately to the top of the NYT's best seller list'.

SHHH! The men in white coats are at the front door with police right behind them in case I don't go willingly. My counselor just signed the papers. I am a total wing-nut after all. It is Oprah's fault. Sorry if I misled you with all those promises about my sanity. That was before I got the memo.

Wait. What? What's that? Katie? Katie Couric is going to be her replacement in afternoon talk show land? Oprah has her own NETWORK now?!?!? GULP! I'm so embarrassed. I always wanted Katie to interview me anyway. Never mind! 'Scuse me! I need to go make a phone call. These hired mourners are costing me a fortune. What? You didn't really think it was just ME making ALL that racket, did you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Fraidy Cat on the Run.....

"My second day of not having to go anywhere or do anything...and suddenly I have time to feel both grief and relief...."

How would you fill in the rest of the statement?  I hear the echoes of rapid fire answers  as each of you thinks back to a time when life demanded that you  keep putting one foot in front of the other past the point of exhaustion. And still, you kept on going. 

The facebook status update stared back at me. My friend finished the sentence reflecting back over her recent walk thru the valley of the shadow of death.  Her status set off a series of emotions in me that were nothing short of dominoes racing to see which one could fall first. Her journey has been far different from mine. But, I know that sense of, "Uh-oh...I've been still too long!"

When I learned that I had a diagnosable case of PTSD's close cousin 'severe trauma reaction', my counselor soon helped me see that I simply couldn't be still.  She asked me to do one thing. Sit in a rocker for 15 minutes  a day and just rock.  Don't map out a grocery or to do list. Don't read. Don't use the phone. Just rock.  I tried it once. I made it to 3" and started to feel like I might hyperventilate or cry.  No siree Bobbie...no rocking for me! I jumped up and started folding a load of towels.

Next session, I hung my head in shame. I had failed rocking chair 101. In sharing this detail, I feel as if I need to start faxing you copies of my counselor's disclaimer:  "She AIN'T crazy, I promise!"  Just a little prone to mild panic attacks.  Which she's been having for years without knowing that is what was happening because she never stopped moving long enough to know.

I'll tell you how scary life was.  When I was preparing for the trip to the writer's conference, I went to what I now laughingly refer to as the 'pre-game warm up'.  It was a meeting with other first timers to find out how to best approach the week.  It was here, 6 days before D-day that I learned it would be a good idea to think about dressing business casual and carrying a clutch of business cards.  If that weren't enough, I had to think about meeting 1-1 for FIFTEEN minutes with professionals in the Christian publishing industry.

Hey! I did NOT sign up for that. I signed up for the invisible fly on the wall class audit plan. Next year I'd move up to wall flower status of attendance.. If the stars aligned right, I might sit on the front row of a class by the 3rd year! Talk to someone about work samples? These people are crazy!

Suddenly, the truth dawned on me. I had been catapulted into the stratosphere and would finally have to believe in myself as a REAL writer...and act like one.  I broke into a sweat and began to do the math.  What was I thinking to get myself  into this mess, and how could I get out.  The short answer was--I couldn't. The week had been paid for in full by a brother who had sacrificed to do it. I heard golden handcuffs snap shut and knew my fate was sealed.  I was a goner (who would eventually lock her keys in her car upon arriving at the hotel).

So, I did what most fraidy cats do. I kept tap dancing so expertly that they never noticed me break out into a heart pounding, hyperventilating fit! I held myself together and tried not to tremble and cry in front of everyone. I got in the car with my stiff upper lip and swore I'd make it home before I fell apart. The take no prisoners,  never stop moving me snapped into action. I started making calls for moral support at the same time mapping out a battle plan.

My 20YO son happens to be a photography/design student.  "Oh, Mom! We'll have a card done by tonight. It will get you thru this event, and then we can do the 'real' one when you get home from the conference."  My husband concurred and shifted funds around for some of those nifty new business casual clothes to replace my homeschooled-my-kids-for-the last-13 years clothes. (Don't picture a Birkenstock and peasant skirt wearing, vegan cooking girl.  I was more the blue jean and t-shirt wearing, drive thru/take out  kind of mom.)

I efficiently began to work thru my list. Cards--check. Clothing sales--check, CHECK.  Then, wouldn't you know it, I hit a traffic light on red. Oh no! I'm only 4 blocks from home! I almost made it! But, it was too late. The tears began to roll. In the past, I would have thought I was just taking another ride down the horMOANal roller coaster.  Now I know you can't blame everything on those little suckers.  The panic I had been outrunning since I burst out of the door of Panera headed for my car caught me at the light.  By 2 blocks from home, I was a blubbering idiot.. I reached over awkwardly to try and fish a tissue or fast food napkin or piece of paper out of the glove box to corral the tears.  And......lifted my foot off the brake just enough to rear end the car in front of me!  WHACK! What a fraidy cat!

A mere week later, I did the unthinkable. There was a break between sessions.  I had a choice.  I could mingle and mix and stay on the move. Or I could go back to my TV-less room and be still.  I rode the elevator with a delicious sense of anticipation. I went into my room and looked around trying to decide if I had done the right thing to choose to be still.  I walked over to the bed and plopped down.  I stared up and the ceiling and felt utter calm wash over me.  And for the next 20 minutes, I stared at the ceiling and never once felt the urge to make a list, do a chore, squeeze in a phone call, map out the next class.  The fraidy cat in me had stopped running. And, it felt good.  And, that rocking chair?  It is looking better all the time.  Stay tuned. Film at 11p!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Pauses to Reflect....

One can hardly begin to absorb the pictures and video coming out of Joplin, MO.I shudder to hear that the chance of storms for that area are as high, if not higher, tomorrow night.  I've lived thru 3 hurricanes that made landfall at night. I don't even want to think about a night time tornado.

Since my home away from home, Chattanooga, TN, so recently suffered the same sort of trauma, my sense of sadness is perhaps more heightened.  The horror of what has happened in the last 30 hrs has all but erased the news of the flooding along the Mississippi River.  In any other circumstances, we would be transfixed by the news coming from those areas.  Fear is a relative concept. 

 (So thankful for friends who make me believe that my meow sounds like a roar!)
Every once in a while, our own lives are put into perspective.  If the trauma being endured in the south and midwest does not rise to that level for you, consider my friend whose husband has been out of work for 18 mo. Their son just graduated from college last week and, w/i the next few days, discovered that he  has diabetes. His student insurance expires this week, and he has no job w/ insurance benefits in sight.  Consider the director of the writer's conference I attended a few days ago.  He lost a granddaughter within the last year. Now the 3YO sibling of that little one has just had brain surgery.  Fear is relative.

And so, for tonight, the fraidy cat in me pauses and takes a deep breath. My fear is relative...relatively insignificant by comparison.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has something that has the power to scare them almost literally to death.  God bless all those who have been in harm's way as they try to make sense of what has transpired in their lives. God bless all those who will rush to into harm's way to aid those who suffer.

God bless all of you who have become part of my little corner of the cyberspace universe.See you again soon. Thank you for all the times you've hit 'share' or 'send' to get the word out about my blog!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Says There's a New Sherrif in Town...

I'm still thinking on how much fear reminds me of ivy!  What about you?  I'm thinking about the tools I need to rip it out and kill the roots.Tonight, it seems like a journey too arduous to tackle. It feels like fear has won. Today has been a fearsome day.

My husband gets a little sicker every day.  No one can figure out why.  He finally has an infectious disease consult on the calendar next month. Before that, he has surgery to look forward to. One doctor thinks he might have a rare form of a neurological disorder.  No one really knows. I feel the pressure of needing to develop a writing business by next week this time in case he gets too sick to work....or worse yet, dies. He missed a good chance 2 wks ago.  If we'd have been a little longer finding him, I'm not sure he'd still be here. I've hit the ground running, but going from 0-60 at my age is a herculean feat. I'm not sure I can run fast enough to beat what's ahead for him.

I'm worried that my almost 14 YO Aspie son is in some measure of emotional, spiritual, and even physical danger because of bullying. I'm concerned that parents don't talk to each other the way they did when I was his age.  So, trying to approach the ones involved is not an option. At least not a friendly, helpful one.

I'm afraid that starting this blog was about the dumbest idea I've ever had, that you will grow bored with me, and that you will make a solemn oath in the mirror to tell your friends about the Pioneer Woman instead of me! I'm worried I'm not funny enough, or spiritual enough, or insightful enough, or instructive enough  to keep you coming back for more. I'm afraid to go to the monthly breakfast the local writer's group has scheduled for tomorrow morning.  I'm sure they will see the word 'loser' tattooed on my forehead. I'm afraid I'm not really a writer no matter what they say.

I'm afraid my boys will marry and move on to be closer to their wives' families instead of being close to us. I'm worried about growing older.  I'm worried that my husband and I will never have the marriage we could have had because of his family history of abuse. I'm afraid he will never be free of that specter of abuse.

 I'm afraid God loves you more than he loves me. There. I said it. 

As you can tell, my life is full of ivy! The way I figure it, the world we live in cultivates ivy. Kudzu grows up to 8 ft a day in the summer.  I'm thinking fear can grow at triple that rate.  Osama's dead, but fear didn't die with him. The stock market is back up, but the price of gas is up too.  They say unemployment is down, but I bet you know at least 1 person for whom that has made no difference. The world was supposed to end yesterday. It didn't, but now some people will worry that the Mayans called the right date for the end of the world instead.

It doesn't really matter if the fear you fight comes from within or without. The results are the same. Carry it around long enough, and you become less of who you were supposed to be. You might do like I did for so many years. You put on your Sunday go to meeting face and convince the rest of the world that you have your act together. In some cases, so together that people wish they were you.

I think that is why I have such a love/hate relationship with Ree, the Pioneer Woman, Drummond.  Her blog life is what I call the 'picturesque implication of a stress free environment'. I think that's why so many of us are so captivated by her blog. She is probably not afraid of anything and probably has nothing to be afraid of! I wonder.....truth be known, behind her mask, she is probably a fraidy cat too. 

And so, I sit here tonight in the quiet of my home making a conscious decision to get up tomorrow and hack at the ivy of my life one more day. I will bask in the glow of other writers in various stages of their development.  I will contact this week's blog guest.  Here's a hint: she survived septic shock but lost her fingers and legs in the process.  I'm guessing she has a thing or two to share that will make the fraidy cats in my closet shiver in their timbers and start to pack. Whether they believe it or not, there is a new sheriff in town, and their days are numbered!

Come back tomorrow and bring a friend. I am so completely humbled that, here at the end of my 1st week of blogging, I have almost reached my 1 mo goal of 1K hits. Thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. Till we meet again, consider this encouragement:

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fear is Like Ivy - Cunning and Invasive

I love ivy, don't you?  Nothing says stately like some old mansion all adrift in layers of ivy.  Just makes you want to be rich so you can have your own ivy tumbling all over itself like dollar bills spilled out of an armored car.

Today, I discovered I like your ivy--not mine.  I spent the better part of the afternoon yanking and clipping away at the ivy threatening to take over my house.  Between spending most of 5 mo in a wheelchair/walker and almost 3 more watching over my mom in a long term ICU unit, I had almost forgotten that I had any ivy. We got reacquainted again today.  It was not pretty.

It took me almost an hour to uncover that trellis. Those sneaky little tendrils had latched on to my screens and started making their way up to the roof. My  porch used to be tranquil and mosquito free. That ivy may as well have opened up the screens and screamed, "Come on in boys, the eatin's fine!"  as it forced its way between the mesh and wedged itself into my turf.

If you've never had the joy of going to war with ivy, let me give you the 411.  That stuff can grow for YARDS without any evidence.. Reaching for the abundant leaves at the end of a strand, you pull and pull and pull  till the sweat beads become rivers. A single strand comes up out of the dirt leading you on a wild scavenger hunt.  You follow that strand out of bushes, from the midst of liriope, out of your own back pocket, and from under the the neighbor's crawl space before you are done. A sinister laugh echoes as you keep pulling knowing the more you pull, the more you'll find to pull.

It imbeds into wood, brick, and mortar till they are fused as if God fused them at creation. When you manage to pry a tendril as big around as your thumb loose and start to pull it off the house, it starts to rain debris. Dusty, cough inducing debris.  About the time you think you are winning, it snaps off  3 feet above your head dangling just out of reach. "Whacha gonnna do now?" it mocks. 

At the point of exhaustion, I had a sudden thought.  Fear is just like ivy.  It can grow for yards without detection. Would your friends know that you are a quivering mess?  It wraps around and around and around until you can't figure out where to begin to rip it up so something else can grow.  Maybe you've carried it around for years so that you no longer know who you were without the fear. 

Eventually, ivy takes over and kills so that it can keep on growing.  I uncovered mounds of lirope that had become rusty. The ivy was slowly draining the life away from those once vibrant shade dancers. Maybe you no longer dance in the sun or shade because fear is slowly draining your life away.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
No one likes to go into battle alone. I'm so thankful you've come by today. Every time I see that counter click up a notch or two, my inner fraidy cat trembles a little bit. You embolden me.  I hope the same is true for you by the time we finish our visits. Today, I overcame the fear of writing another post. Did you take a stand against your inner fraidy cat today? I'm waiting to hear. See you again sometime maybe? And bring a friend?

Deuteronomy 31: 6 (The Message)
Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because 
God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Takes a Fraidy Cat to Know A Fraidy Cat....

Life has been perplexing this last year or so. Honestly, it got perplexing in 1997 and hasn't let up since. On the Fujita-Richter scale of perplexity, picture an F4 tornado, CAT 5 hurricane, and 8.0 earthquake combined.  
courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Lately, I reached a point of thinking that I was some sort of freak of nature. So freaky that there was not a soul left in the world that could relate to me. There were days I even began to wonder if I was on the verge of crazy. No, not the, "That girl is C-R-A-Z-Y!!" kind of crazy that makes you roll your eyes and laugh. The kind of crazy that makes you avoid eye contact and flee to another aisle in the grocery store if you see me coming. Maybe even apply to the witness protection program just to be safe!

Intensive counseling enabled me to understand what was going on. The multiplicity of crises have piled one on top of the other resulting in a severe stress reaction. In fact, if I had checked 2 more symptoms on the diagnostic chart, I would have been right up there w/ vets returning from war with PTSD. I had no clue!
My counselor assured me that, while my life has been crazy-making, it has not made me crazy. Whew! I'm relieved and now have a certificate to prove that I am NOT certifiable. Just in case you want documented proof. I can fax you a copy...for a fee...in American dollars.

My counselor gave me a copy of a book called Night Shift. (I know Stephen King comes immediately to mind. Scratch that. For the life of me, I can't remember the author's name at 1:30a nor can I put my hand on the book. I'll give you the 411 later.) The premise of the book is the important point for tonight. Simply put: God has some folks serve him on the night shift...when it is dark and cold and without the light of day to illuminate the way.

Working in the cold and dark is a lot more arduous and lonely than working in the warmth and light of day. The author put into words what I had decided about me. God had no use for me. Every dream I had ever had about serving him was in smoking ruins all around me. Then, I got to rehab--aka the writer's conference. I began to listen to the conversations around me. Stories at least as horrific, if not more, than mine echoed all around.

Jim Watkins, acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing, gave a keynote. He had us turn to each other and say, “You are just a mess.” And then, he said, “As a writer, I don't have tragedies, I have anecdotes!” He shared his anecdotes, and this Fraidy Cat found a friend. Well, we haven't met yet, but he knew me w/o meeting me.

Today, this fraidy cat found herself sharing her anecdotes when she least expected it. The response was, “I am so thankful I started talking to you. I'm not sure why I did. But, wasn't God wonderful to prompt me to talk to someone who could hear me without judging me and know the depth of my pain..” I could have kept on my mask and pretended I had no clue what kind of pain she was in. That's what my inner fraidy cat wanted to do. Today, the fraidy cat lost. Know what I mean?

2 Cor 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (NIV)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Hits the Wall

Today, I hit the post-writer's conference wall. I woke up sure that I have bitten off more than I can chew. My life seems much too complicated for me to devote enough time to the process it takes to be a 'real' writer. I am overwhelmed before I can get off to a good start. And the sands of fear keep collecting.

I'm afraid I won't be able to build a writing business fast enough. I'm afraid my husband will die before I can support my 13YO and myself and get my 20YO thru college. I'm afraid you won't keep coming back to read my blog or recommend it to others. I'm afraid you'll think I am too spiritual or not spiritual enough. I'm afraid the day-to-day realities of life will drain me of the energy and resolve I found at the conference last week. It is enough to make my head hurt...and it is!

What is a fraidy cat to do? Besides whine on blog paper and hope you'll come read about it? I have decided to get out the shovel and dig at this mound of sandy fear again. This junk is like sand at the beach. It gets in crevices you don't even know you have until you are rubbed raw! Fear rubs you raw. You know that, don't you?

I'm going to think about the interview I did yesterday and begin to frame it for tomorrow's blog entry. I'm going clean 4 rooms and cook a meal. My Apsie kid had an Asperger's Day every minute of our schooling time today,. I'm exhausted before I've even had a chance to think about my big, fat new life as a professional writer! But, I'm going to have a business meeting w/ my older son so that we can continue to work on our business plan.

I don't want to do any of this today. I want to curl up in this chair and take a nap that lasts till tomorrow and start over again then.  How 'bout you? What is your paralyzing fear today? Are you at the bottom of a sandy, fear-filled hour glass wondering if you can take another breath much less grab a shovel and dig?

Well, don't just lay there! Start moving! I'm not gonna make all this effort alone am I? It is quiet and lonely out here in cyberspace! Don't leave me out here all alone. Leave a note and tell me that you came by. Tell me about a fear you chased away! Tell a friend about our little community! (Humor me here. I did say “little”!) Link my blog to your f/b wall. Spread the word because, the way I hear it, the world is full of fraidy cats. I just happen to be the one that will talk about it!

Tomorrow, I'm going to introduce you to my friend, Dana. I met her at Startbucks yesterday thinking I was going to talk to her about her journey to adoption and all the fears she navigated during that process. Before I knew it, we were talking about an entirely different set of fears that were much more daunting. They say everyone has a story. I found out she has two!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Fraidy Cat has a Panic Attack

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
It was inevitable since I'm a fraidy cat. I woke up this morning in a panic. I mean a heart pounding, sweat beyond the point of glistening, make your head spin off your shoulders panic. My panic is so palpable that I bet you can feel it leaping out of the computer screen at you, can't you? Simply put, I am afraid of Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. There. I've said it. In all my transparent glory, I confess. She scares me to death!

How, you ask, can I be afraid of such a genteel, well spoken, witty, talented, fairy tale of a woman. Uh...because she IS all that and because she has a blog that you'd probably really rather be reading! Let's face it. She has pictures to die for and a Marlboro man and kids riding horses and photo contests and publicists and books and recipes and cool clothes, and a speaking itinerary, and cool friends following her. Do I need to go on? In fact, you probably aren't even here any more because you got to the part about sweating and bounced on over to her site because she probably never makes you think about sweat!

Then, there's me. I have 4 posts counting this one and a few hits. When I say “few”, let me draw you a picture. Few means: not even 1/1,000,000,000 of the number of hits that you-know-how has had. But, whose counting besides me? Maybe the 3 brave souls who have signed on as my official followers, God bless 'em. The way I see it, it is me against Ree Drummond. And today, she is winning!

My learning curve is HUGE. She set the class curve before I had a clue about the power of the blog. Don't you remember HATING the kid that messed up the grading curve? G-R-O-A-N. (Insert image of me slapping my head on my forehead in a sudden epiphany regarding where I am on the bloggers hall of fame curve.) Now, don't get me wrong...I love her. I admire her. I want to BE here when I grow up. But, today, she made me afraid. I'm appalled at myself for rejecting my fraidy cat core and deciding to do what does NOT come naturally—ignore the fraidy cat within.

Well, you know how fears are, don't you? Once one jams its foot in the door, it holds the door ajar so that all its buddies can come piling in like sand pouring thru an hour glass. So, I woke up afraid of Ree Drummond and before I knew it, I was laying at the bottom of an hour glass filled with little sandy critters of fear. I decided to have some coffee because you know what they say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.....” Apparently, one cup of coffee was not enough because the wider awake I got, the heavier became the weight of all those sandy critters. It was Tuesday – meaning the glow of my stint at the rehab/writer's conference was beginning to wane.. And it was raining. And I was up late last night dealing with a teenager in the throes of being a teenager.. And, I woke up afraid. G-R-O-A-N.

I can see you. (But the story of my special powers is a story for another day, doncha know?) I know YOUR dirty little secret. The one behind the mask you wear. You are afraid too. Because as weird as I am, I'm not that weird. I know because my counselor told me so! And, I trust her to tell me the truth!

So, come on troops. It's time to face the day. Or night. Or tomorrow based on whatever time you read this blog...after you bounce back over from Ree Drummond's. Let's do this thing together. We can call ourselves Fraidy Cats Anonymous and dig out from the sandy bottom together. Here's a shovel for you:

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord is kept safe.(NIV)

And to show you I mean business, I'm going on out into the day and face my fears. I'm going to interview a couple of folks with uncommon courage. Come back and see what they have to say! Will ya?

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Goes to Rehab--Part 3

Oh my WORD! You came back. Glutton for punishment, huh? Well, fraidy cats usually are, but that story is suitable for another day! So, where were we? I was telling you about the improbable road that led me to rehab. I mean the writer's conference.

When I got there, I felt like an imposter. Here were hundreds of dynamic dynamo's (redundancy for emphasis in case you are wondering)...and...well....me. Little ole me adrift in a sea of ______________. Here, you may, dear reader, insert ANY negative descriptor you can find in a thesaurus. To get you in the spirit, I'll give you a few starter words: insecurity, incompetence, confusion, etc. Oh yea, I knew there were a multitude of other newbies, but I was the one hopeless case among them. To prove it, I promptly locked my keys in my car as soon as I set foot on the conference center grounds. LOSER.

I think I will one day look back on that horrific moment of realization as the car door slammed shut, laugh, and write a HI-larious story about the Flannery O'Conner inspired, local business trio that came to my rescue. I didn't laugh last week, and I still AIN'T laughing today. That moment was pivotal for me because it was a nutshell representation of my life. I can't even get out of a car right!

Have you ever seen a Tsunami? Who hasn't since the one hit Japan several weeks ago? Well, let me tell you, Tsunami's don't just originate at the seaside. Because in the moment that car door slammed, I looked up into the mountains around me and saw a Tsunami of icy fear bearing down on me from the tippy tops of those peaks. And I knew I was T-O-A-S-T! I had been exposed before I'd even gotten to the opening session. LOSER!!!!

I was afraid of meeting new people. I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid of sounding 'too southern'. I was afraid to say, “hello”. I was afraid my clothes looked funny. I was afraid I was too fat. I was afraid my hair was an embarrassment. I was afraid I couldn't find my way around. Most importantly, I was afraid to go to bed w/o my daily fix of home made hot chocolate. (And that too is another story suitable for another day and another rehab blog!) I was afraid that professionals and peers alike would get a tiny peek at my writing, laugh at my loving friends - and all their high minded opinions of me - and send me packing, tail between my legs, knowing what I already knew. And can the people say together: “”She's a loser!”

I stood there in the heat and humidity, matched only by my humiliation, while my O'Connor characters drove off praising Jesus for their success with my stingy lock. I sure didn't feel like praising Jesus. I just wanted to get in my car and cry all the way home. Loser.

And then, the fraidy cat in me did something fairly unfamiliar these days. She took a deep breathe, stopped slouching, squared her shoulders, and marched determinedly into the future. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Class by class. Meal by meal. New friend by new friend. And, as the week went on, that fraidy cat decided to take some chances. To live a little larger than I have ever tried to live before. To believe that I can be a fraidy cat who boldly goes where no fraidy cat has gone before. And...you don't even have to feed me catnip to get me to try! Not today at least. We'll see about tomorrow when it gets here.

I hope you've come here for a reason and that you'll keep coming. My head is full of people I want to tell you about. If you stay around long enough, you might just get to be the 1st to read the HI-larious story I write about my locksmiths x3. (Insert ominous organ music that hints of foreshadowing.) Share me on your facebook. Link me to your blog. This friady cat has no shame. You may even see me on the corner w/ a sandwich board asking people to follow my blog. I would...but I'm too afraid!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Goest to Rehab--Part 2

The last year has been perplexing for reasons I won't go into just now.  Suffice it to say that the sum total of events left me shaken to the core. I became doubtful that I was the person I had always believed myself to be.  Even more alarming, I concluded that God loves YOU but that his jury is still out when he thinks about me! So, I guess you could call this struggle my biggest philosophical crisis since I came to mature faith about 23 yrs ago.

Being the hard headed, take no prisoners gal that I have always been, I decided not to take my discouragement lying down.  Well, I didn't lay down till I just couldn't stand up any more. Rhetorically speaking that is. My battle cry became Genesis 32:28. "Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.' "

Not the stereotypical life verse by any means, huh? It just seemed to fit.  Everywhere I looked in my life, there was a struggle with men and with God. I was determined to be like Jacob--the last man standing.  Till I fell down and couldn't get up.  Believe me when I say, it was not as amusing or as sanitized as the commercial on TV with the same dialog. I just didn't have any fight left in me no matter how hard I tried to keep wrestling.

On the darkest day, I reached out to someone whose vision was clearer than mine. She began to walk with me to reclaim the territory of my life. There was even some to re-re-re-reclaim. Territory that I have gained and lost repeatedly over the course of my life. As part of the process, I gave her things to read. One thing quickly led to another when she insisted..ok..demanded...that I apply for a scholarship to an upcoming writer's conference in our area of the country.

The idea was so financially overwhelming that I didn't really think beyond that point. Doing what exceptionally caring brother's do, mine stepped in the gap and booked my registration and accommodations before I knew what hit me and before the scholarship committee could say yea or nay! Next thing you know, away this fraidy cat went on the adventure of her life. Doing the bravest thing she'd ever done. Opening up a creative process to professionals with the power to critique you to ribbons, is akin to jumping off a cliff w/ no 'chute! Funny thing about jumping without a chute...the fraidy cats inside us tend to run away as fast as they can.

I thank you for being intrigued enough to drop by. I hope you will keep coming back to check on my rehab progress. Along the way, maybe you will confront a couple of your own fears. If I only talk about me on these pages, I fear I will win the prize for the most neurotic blog on the web. So, in the days ahead, I plan to introduce you to some folks I've met who have what I think must be uncommon courage. I hope to learn something from them which will help me chase away the fraidy cats in my life. I hope you will too!
See you on the flip side. Leave a comment if you want to. It's lonely here in the quiet of cyberspace!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Goes to Rehab...Wanna Come Along?

Hello. I guess my daily title caught your attention didn't it? My name is Carol Anne, and I'm a fraidy cat. I don't think you'd suspect that if you saw me walking down the street. But, behind the mask I wear beats a heart of pure, weak-kneed jelly. I'm afraid of snakes. I'm afraid of making a fool of myself in public. I'm afraid of going where no fraidy cat has gone before. I'm afraid my children will learn my fraidy cat ways and become fraidy cats in their own right. I'm afraid of making mistakes. I'm afraid of not fitting in. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of success. I'm afraid of rotten grapefruit. (I'm not sure, but I don't think there is a name for that phobia. Can one of you check?) I'm afraid the past will come back to haunt me.

Now that last one got you to sitting on the edge of your seat, didn't it? Well, lean in closer because here's my deepest, darkest secret: I'm afraid that all the work I did in 12+ years of homeschooling will come back to haunt me when and if my children fail to thrive as adults. Whew! I'm glad that confession is over. You can sit back now. It doesn't get any juicer than that. At least for now, I guess.

In honor of that last greatest fear, I will soon launch a blog called Fraidy Cat Homeschooler. But, this one--this one is for you whether you homeschool or not! Whether you are a fraidy cat or know a fraidy cat, whether you are a closet fraidy cat or have come out of the closet, whether you know for sure that you are a fraidy cat or just fearfully suspect you are one, this little corner of cyberspace is just for you! A place where everyone knows your name: fraidy cat. A safe haven for you to come in from the fear and breathe deep and easy knowing you are among friends.

This blog is a work in progress. I hope you'll come by from time to time to check on me and to check on your own progress in your own fraidy cat rehab. In fact, I'm afraid you won't. I hope you'll tell your friends to come by. In fact, I'm afraid you won't. I hope you'll learn to laugh along with me as I enter into fraidy cat rehab. (There'll be lots of chocolate. BYOC, of course.) Somewhere along this journey, I hope we will both feel a little less fearful than we were today.
Shivering in my timbers...