Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller - Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

      For anyone that may have thought my fear of Jaws at the bottom of the swimming pool from the first blog in the "Fear in the Mindkiller" series was over the top irrational, I came across this meme of the Paranoid Parrot ...

     Once again, I'm surprised how many others that movie effected negatively.  I mean with a movie tagline like "You'll never go back in the water again," what did everyone expect?  But I digress...before I even really started my post!

      I've been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about how this whole process of writing things down to get them out and examine them is so crucial to the whole grabbing the starfish thing. I've never been one to keep a journal for cathartic purposes, but I guess that the function of many a blog in this day and age.  I started this blog a year ago with the hopes in finding my purpose in life and hopefully helping someone along the way.  The biggest thing I've learned?  I need to get out of my own way...well...that and that other people share alot of the same fears and roadblocks to the ocean.

     I guess I also really learned how to get our of my own way which is just as important as the need to do so.  Once I stripped the first two fears away, I started finding and addressing more. I have mild OCD, which I've mentioned before, and hoarder tendencies that, thankfully, are not great enough to get me on a show on A&E.  I am also deathly afraid of not getting enough sleep or setting my house on fire.  While these would make interesting stories, It's not that I don't want to tell them out of some sort of shame.  It's just that the outcome would be the same.  I now understand better where the basis for my fears come from. I've learned to deconstruct them and take small, life changing steps, to get beyond them.  When I look back, I realize I've done a lot of talking about small steps.  It's been the easiest way to overcome overwhelmedness, develop a road back to health, come to terms with past pain or really just put any plans I have into action.

    My high school friend, Geoff, recently posted a note about fear in Facebook when talking about a situation from his life.  "The human mind is an amazing and adaptive thing, and I like to think that in my life, like with skydiving I have overcome most of my fears. I still have an healthy fear of snakes, and a few other fears like that, but for the most part, I have no overwhelming phobias. ...It took me several years to overcome my fear of leaving, something I know that I had wanted and needed to do to continue my life and make myself happy, but fear kept me in that situation much longer that I needed to be in it, fear of the unknown, fear of what I would do, fear of what she would do, fear of how she would react, fear of being alone. But finally it came to the point where I had to let go of the airplane wing, and again, after a couple months of panic, I am much happier than I had been."

     "Several years" steps...but he did it.  You just have to know it's not an overnight fix, but a lifetime lifestyle change for the better if you can just get started...

     So everyone say it with me once again...
     I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
     Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
     I will face my fear.
     I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

     "Only I will remain"...I recently remembered that when I was a little girl, one of my favorite games was to splash around in a pool and pretend I was a seal.  I want to remember what that time in my life felt like emotionally. I would just swim around with excitement and a love for whatever was next on life's journey.   After the last year, I've gotten to the beach and so time to start wading in...I can't let fear and any lack of momentum stop me...unless...

     ACK!!!!!   ...remember the Jaws2 movie tagline was, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."

     Okay...that's steps...whew...

     Happy Fishing,


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller - Part 3 - The Giant Snowball

     I used to watch a lot of those Rankin Bass stop animation Christmas specials as a kid. Still do. You'd think by the title of the blog this week that I am afraid of the Bumble from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I'm afraid of someone much scarier...

     ...I'm afraid of Dave Ramsey...

     I'd assume Dave Ramsey is pretty scary to most people. If you aren't familiar with him, he's a financial guru of sorts who has helped millions of people stop using credit and get out of debt. Shouldn't be scary, right? Should be inspirational borderline uplifting, yes? Not if you have fears concerning money...or lack of the availability of it.

     I mentioned in my last post (Fear is the Mindkiller - Part 2 - The Hunger Games -April 9, 2012) how I went through a period of time in college when money was scarce. Unfortunately, this part of my life would not only create an eating disorder, but would contribute ultimately to my abuse of credit.

     According to Dave Ramsey, no one needs credit. You can live without it. You save $1000, then start paying down your debts one by one. The majority of your money each month going to one of your debts until its paid off. That's the snowball I talked about earlier. When that's done you pick another debt to snowball and so on and so on until they are all gone. Now, if something happens, as it always does in life, you use that initial savings instead of using your credit. Then you replenish the savings first before going back to snowballing. There is more to it, but that's the general idea.

     Sounds easy. Dave's a smart guy. To someone who believes that, even though she has a great job and enough cash coming in to live comfortably, she may run out of cash at any moment, using cash only is a terrifying concept.

     I have not always been the picture of perfection with finances. To make things worse, there were a few years recently of every appliance in the house giving out, every animal having health problems (they are all seniors), and my car breaking down on a regular basis. Oh, did I mention the dead animals in the attic that needed extracting, too? Anyway, it just made a bad situation worse. While these events were more of an emergency nature, I was just adding on top of the debt I already had...and there I was, just paying minimum payments because I was scared I'd run out of cash for when I really needed it...

     Many of my friend's have been through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Everyone has extolled the virtues of this man and his program. I could not conceive how, with everything breaking down and getting sick, I could even attempt this whole getting out of debt thing. Not to mention, getting over the fear of thinking I'll never have enough cash on hand and may go hungry or homeless or whatever.

     I hated feeling like this. I wanted it to stop. I ordered Dave Ramsey's book from ( and yes, I used a credit card; don't judge.). I had realized I couldn't move forward with "starfishing" if I didn't do something about this part of my life.

     I read it and amazingly I got it. Okay; saved my grand. That was easy; remember, I wasn't spending any cash money... Now to never use credit cards again... if I...uh...

     I was in trouble.  I felt so nervous.  Literally sick with anxiety over the thought of making myself not drag out the plastic.

     ...Then I took the plunge...

     I remember the first cash use only purchase.  A dog.  In the vet's office.  Again.  With the thought of regret coursing through my veins, I handed them my debit card.  The card that would go straight to my bank account.  My cash.  My supposed safety.  It was so tremendously hard letting go of that money.  I had to keep talking myself into it.  "You have a savings now.  It's okay..."

     Then I made it through the next month of bills no problem.  I could pay for everything we needed.  It really was okay.  We didn't go without groceries.  There were no earth shattering events sent straight from the heavens to wipe out my cash and put us on the street.  I was going to be okay.

     The first purchase led to more cash only purchases. Vet bills, a kitchen table and chairs, getting my hair done, getting my oil changed, clothing, a new portable P.A. system for singing through, etc.  All paid for with cash.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't have an endless supply of cash. I'm not, shall we say, "rolling in it."  I have to save up and budget for things.  The point is I'm not further in debt.  I don't keep adding to it because of my fears.  I just needed someone to show me it would be alright.

     I had a lot of purchases to make over the last week.  Specialized cat food, solution for the air conditioner drain, even a trip to the urgent care for a spider bite I got while gardening.  I did have a few panicky moments for sure because there were a lot of things I needed to purchase and I my internal dialog was seriously worried about having cash.  I would tell myself I had planned well and everything would be alright. 

     Maybe I've got this one.  Maybe I just have to keep telling myself it's okay and I'll be fine as many times as it takes.  Maybe I have to apply that to more than just my finances...

     ...Now...can someone help me do that with the whole Jaws/swimming pool thing (Fear is the Mindkiller - March 15, 2012)?

Happy Fishing!