Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Yesterday I bought a table saw. I resisted this purchase for over a decade. While building the cottage, I used circular and radial saws. I have also used tile and jig saws, but when my son told me I needed a table saw to do the rip cuts on my vinyl plank flooring project, I balked. I was confident I could manage with a jig saw. And I did, for the few rip cuts required in the dining room and kitchen. But the hallway presented a challenge. Twenty-four, four-foot rip cuts. I did the first one with my jig saw and realized it was impossible to get the cuts straight and smooth.

Headed to Lowe’s, I did my best to quiet the ominous voice: “You’ll cut your fingers off!” Remember the movie, A Christmas Story? Remember the constant warnings Ralphie received? “You’ll shoot your eye out!!” That was pretty much what was going on in my head.

As I was unpacking the 10″ Craftsman table saw, I began to hear my father’s voice, “Don’t Touch! Don’t Touch!” As I turned the handle to raise the saw blade, my breathing got shallow, and my heart started to race. Gut wrenching fear. “Don’t Touch! Don’t Touch!”

I donned work gloves, sure that the blade would be so sharp it would cut off my fingers before I even knew what happened. Mind you, the saw was not plugged in. In fact, the cord was still encased in plastic and bound with a twist tie. I was not taking any chances that it might plug itself in, turn itself on, and come after my fingers!

The fear was so intense and so irrational that it astounded me. There was a part of me that was unpacking and assembling a much-needed power tool. There was another part–I’d say she was about four years old–that was reacting to her father’s admonitions to stay clear of HIS table saw. I know I was really young because in my mind, I could see a table saw high above me. I would need a step-stool to reach it. It seemed so big. The reality of MY saw, sitting there in front of me, was miniature and toy-like, by comparison.

There was a time when I would have said to myself, “Quit being so silly!” But I know better now. I am well acquainted with that fearful part of myself. She needs reassurance and understanding. She needs to feel protected and safe. I sat with her for a bit, reassuring her, calming her, and loving her. “I know Daddy said not to touch. We were young then. It was good for him to make us afraid. But we are grown up now. We can do this. We will be VERY careful. We will read the directions and follow the safety precautions. It’s okay. We don’t need Daddy to protect us. We know how to protect ourselves.”

So I did it. I ripped my first four-foot piece of vinyl plank flooring. Smooth and straight. Wow! So easy! Today I can’t wait for my capable, carpenter son to give me a thorough Safety Talk (via video chat from Montana) before I cut and lay the rest of the pieces.

I wonder just how many of my irrational fears were perfectly rational at one point in my life and then never got updated, much like an old software program looping in the background regulating a dial-up modem while I’m busy with a high-speed internet connection.

Updating internal software requires compassion and patience, not harsh disdain. Irrational? Now, yes. But not always. Honoring the original intention of the fear goes a long way toward releasing its hold. I’ll end with words I couldn’t image saying just a couple of days ago: “I own a table saw, and I know how to use it!”

This is me with my new saw … being as safe as my inner child needs me to be.

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Photo of red sky

The sky was so red this morning, it looked like the forest was on fire.

I woke up this morning to a tornado watch (red sky at morning, sailor take warning). It was no surprise. Yesterday was 70° – tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow. There’s so much energy in a transition like that. “Conditions are favorable for severe weather.”

I wish my consciousness were evolved enough to issue emotional weather alerts … conditions are favorable for severe bitchiness. There would be levels of alerts: The Watch, The Warning, and The Seek Shelter NOW!

With just a little more focused attention, this just might work. After all, I have over fifty years of “storm watching” experience!

Conditions like overworking and neglected self-care would certainly prompt a “watch.”

And any major holiday is good for a warning or two.

Even good things, like vacations, can create a flurry of activity that can easily escalate to storm proportions. There’s usually at least one squall accompanying any trip that involves air travel. I know this about myself.

I’m thinking this would make a great app for my smart phone! It could be integrated with the calendar. Just a few individualized profile settings and I could not only receive high alerts on my phone, I could have them sent to my family members, too.

Overworked Mom Warning … remove boots before walking on carpet.

Restless Wife Watch … approach with caution.

My husband reminded me this morning that he and our son have had a coded alert system for many years. Oh, I remember now: “BAM Alert!” they would whisper to each other, signaling the need to steer clear until the storm passed.

Getting to know and take care of our own physical and emotional needs is such an important life skill. I don’t really need a phone app. I can feel it in my body when conditions are favorable for severe emotions.

The difference between a storm of fear and a tornado is that it does no good to run face first into a tornado. But facing fears head-on . . . well, it’s the only thing that does help.

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