Putting Fear in Its Place

There was a gem of an idea stored deep within me in a box I had labeled “Wishful Thinking”.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m starting a new business venture & now it’s close to becoming a reality.  I’ve had to remind myself that no matter what happens, the only failure is in keeping the dream confined in that musty old box & not giving it a chance to see the light of day.

The stages I’ve experienced as my business transforms from dream to glittering reality- inspiration, motivation, & trepidation- are similar to those experienced by anyone preparing to birth something new, whether it be a baby or a Broadway musical.

The moment of inspiration is ecstatic!  The mind, heart, & soul unite to generate ideas as we revel in the possibilities of what might be.  Dreams expand to fill the universe because, at this stage, absolutely anything is possible.  This is the “fun part”.

Then, we are motivated to make the dream come true.  We roll up our sleeves, accepting the responsibility of being the co-creator of our existence rather than a passive victim of circumstance (i.e. fate).  Called to action, we take steps to manifest the dream in our life.  There’s no denying the amount of blood, sweat, & tears that go into birthing something healthy.  However, dreams, like babies, can be born prematurely.  It’s only by listening to the messages our intuition is sending us that we know how best to proceed.

What are the signals?  They are those unexpected signs such as the right opportunity revealing itself, the right people coming along to support your vision, the money appearing just when you need it, etc…  Synchronicity.  Pay attention.  Take notice.  The signs to proceed are there or they’re not.

This is usually the point where fear stalks the psyche.  We question everything.  Am I forcing this?  Is the timing right?  What if it’s rejected?  What if it’s a success?!

That’s the funny one… “fear of success”.  Why are we afraid to let our light shine & be all that we are capable of being?  Ultimately, I believe, it goes back to a fear of rejection.  Look at famous people who seem to have it all.  They still have insecurities about being seen as frauds or of the fame, money, & material possessions disappearing one day.  We’re only on a pedestal long enough to be knocked off, right?  What if that’s not right?

What if the Universe (Source, Great Spirit, God, Goddess) wants us to be happy?  What if all we had to do was “show up”?  Suppose the only expectation is that we live lives of integrity & AUTHENTICITY.  How liberating!!!  No fear, just the understanding that we have to be present & be our best selves.

When fear strikes me, as it does all of us at one time or other, I remind myself that no woman ever gave birth to a fashion designer or marine biologist.  She gave birth to a baby who evolved over time.  No plant bears fruit before its roots are established & it has time to mature.  No book springs from the author’s imagination ready to be published.  See where I’m going with this?

Don’t force yourself to run before you can walk.

Take baby steps if giant strides seem too much to bear.

Do anything but stand still.

And most importantly, give your dreams the chance to manifest in your life.



After the Quest

I hesitate writing about my Vision Quest so soon after the experience, knowing that my initial response to it will resemble spaghetti sauce right after combining the ingredients– good but not nearly as good as it will be if I let it simmer for a while.  My view of my Vision Quest hasn’t gotten the richness, depth, or complexity it will have after it “simmers in me” for a few weeks or months, but I want to share it with you anyway, for these early realizations have merit of their own.

At the campsite, our spiritual guide prepared five of us for our quests by quoting Ralph Blum’s “Druid’s Vow”.

I honor your gods.

I drink at your well.

I bring an unprotected heart to our meeting place.

I hold no cherished outcome.

I will not navigate by withholding.

I am not subject to disappointment.

Intellectually, I got it– no expectations, no disappointment.  What is meant to be will be.  Spiritually, on the other hand, I was to find out that the message hadn’t made it into my heart.  (More on that later.)

Our guide suggested that we take a few things with us- a rattle, objects for an altar, writing materials, & art supplies.  I felt very uncomfortable taking a journal because I wanted to “turn up the volume” on my intuition without the critic in my consciousness interrupting.  She explained that we aren’t to analyze what we experience, merely record it so we don’t forget details that may be of importance to us later.  I questioned the wisdom of that for me, “Can I record without judgment?”  Eventually, I made peace with the idea.  She’s right.  There are so many subtle signs & messages in nature that I may want to jot them down so I can reflect on them later.  My journal & pen went into the backpack.

After what was a sleepless night for some of us, we rose to begin our Quests with a profoundly sublime purification ritual that connected us to one another, our inner selves, nature, & the benevolent spirits around us.  Following the ritual, I practically ran to my place in the meadow, eager to get the logistics of setting up the site over with so I could begin the spiritual aspect of the Quest.  Almost immediately, I heard something greater than myself correct me, “There is no separation of logistics & spirituality; it’s all part of the Quest.”  Chastised, I changed my attitude, walking into the meadow with humble reverence.

I created a sacred space by fastening prayer ties in the north, south, east, & west, invoking the spirits of the directions, then set up my tent & lay out an altar of objects that are deeply meaningful to me.  I raised my voice in prayer, “I’m vulnerable & open to accepting & acting on any message of love you send me for my greatest & highest good.”

There I sat on the mountainside overlooking trees, wildflowers, & the vast expanse of sky I needed to establish a serene sense of connection with all that is.  The nearby brook, babbling noisily over the rocks, was a comforting companion.   “I’m part of this & this is part of me”, I sighed, taking notice of the ground literally vibrating with ants, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, & other creatures whose entire world is this mountaintop.  “This is all that matters to them– being in this place at this time”, I thought.

While countless species of insects accompanied me both day & night, it was the grasshoppers who stood out from the rest.  At any given moment while I was awake, at least 6 were simply hanging out on my altar.  Sure, butterflies landing on my knee & ants crawling on my skirt are to be expected when I sit in a meadow,  but 6 or more grasshoppers sitting silently on an altar seem a bit out of the ordinary!  I got out my sketchpad & drew each one, noting how different they were.  No two looked alike.  Every creature is unique… it’s not a quality reserved just for the human race.

(Once home, I referenced Ted Andrews book Animal Speak to find out the symbolic meaning of grasshopper.  He wrote, “When grasshopper shows up, there is about to be a new leap forward…  Grasshopper can show up if we are not listening or if we are afraid to make the leap off our mound… Remember, a grasshopper always leaps up or forward.  It doesn’t leap backward… Trust your inner voice.“)

My Vision Quest had both peaks of joy & contentment & valleys of doubt & fear.  At times, I felt at one with all around me & other times I felt like a fraud for even attempting this highly spiritual experience that stretched me far beyond my comfort zone.

Remember what I wrote about having no expectations & not subjecting myself to disappointment?  I have to confess that I did both… I expected a spiritual epiphany in the form of a burning bush or some spiritual being hovering in blindingly white light before my eyes.  After all, I fasted, drove hours from home, & slept in the dark among the deer flies & mosquitoes… didn’t I deserve a spiritual epiphany?  When that didn’t happen, I was disappointed, accusing myself of being a bad Vision Quester.  Really?!  I’m going to beat myself up because I didn’t get a miracle?  That sounds ridiculous but that’s what happened.

I was human.

At that moment, I realized a purpose of my quest… to face my Shadow, the Perfectionist.  I didn’t get a lesson from an angel, Native American spirit guide, or even my power animal; instead, my teachers were the insects all around me, for they knew better than I to live with no expectations & hold no disappointments.  Simply be your authentic self.  That’s all that is asked of any of us.

I knew that… I just needed a reminder.