Fear: A Silent Killer

There is a difference between fear and a phobia.  Fear is to be afraid of something.  Phobia is to be irrationally afraid of something.  That’s pretty simple, right?

The number one fear in America is the fear of spiders. Almost 50 percent of women and 10 percent of men have a fear of spiders.   I personally love spiders.  I am awed by them and rescue them from squashation before my co-workers have a shot.

Fear holds us back from so much.  Phobias hold us back as well, but they are irrational and so, only gross amounts of therapy can help us with that.  And most times that doesn’t even work.

Fear of the unknown kills us.   And in unknown, I don’t mean ghosts or extraterrestrials.  I mean the future.  I mean change.  Change affects the future.  We’re so busy trying to maintain the humdrum present; getting the same thing for breakfast everyday, driving the same way to our thankless job everyday and putting on the same after work clothes everyday.  We don’t even recognize that we’re afraid of change until…

One day someone says, “You want to go get sushi for lunch?”  And the mere thought of this is paralyzing.   Sushi?  But, I eat turkey on whole wheat with mustard every day. I hate mustard, but it’s fat-free. This thought is immediate and uncomfortable.

You say, “Thanks, but I brought my lunch.  You know, turkey.”  You feel like a dweeb as soon as the words start falling from your lips, but it’s too late.  You can’t take them back.

Most of us are so comfortable inside the box as we gaze upon the wonders of “what if” that we do not dare disturb the monotony of our world with sushi.

Have you ever talked to someone who incessantly complained about their life?  You offer ideas and feedback and all you get back is constant rebuttals of “why it simply will not work.”

I’m too old.  It’s too hard.  I don’t have enough money.  I’ll fail.  They’ll laugh at me.  Someone already thought of it. I can’t.

All of these statements say one thing.  I am afraid.

What are you afraid of?

Have you ever done something in spite of fear?  Maybe you stood up to your boss.  Maybe you told your spouse that your marriage wasn’t working out.  Maybe you, like me, decided to say “screw it” and submit one final article to a site that turned you down three previous times.   Doesn’t it feel good when you stand up to fear?  How many times have we said, “that wasn’t so bad.”

Fear kills our spirit.  It robs of us finding out whether or not we should truly be afraid in the first place. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”.   I never really understood what in Hades ol’ FDR meant by that until I decided to leave my husband of seven years.  And it hit me.  Fear should be the only thing I fear.  Fear held me back.  Fear kept  me isolated.  Fear does these same things to you.

Fear kills us for as long as we let it.

What Does Music Do For You?

I love music.  My grandmother frequently told me an interesting story about me as a baby.  When I was about three or six months old, I was lying in my cradle, crying.  She picked me up, she put me down, she fed me, she changed my diaper.  Still I fussed and cried.  At her wit’s end, she wound up a tiny Fisher Price music box and tossed it in the cradle.   To her amazement (and relief) I stopped crying.  Since I was just a wee lass, I can’t say that I remember this.   However, I know it to be true.

At my grandmother’s, there was an organ that once belonged to my mother.  I would sit at it every chance I got and play whatever songs were in the sheet music book.  I got bored with that easily.  To resolve my boredom, I began sitting under the organ and reaching up to play the songs without looking.

Music has always been my outlet.  I have tried my hand at a few instruments.  I played the flute in grade school but didn’t like it.  I switched to the violin, and played that for four years.  I gave up the violin.   I went into junior high school and none of the cool kids had instruments.

Eventually, I wound up lying in front of the clock radio in the back bedroom with pen and a notebook.  As I listened to the radio, I would write down the songs that came on.  I once did this for an entire weekend only getting up to eat or pee.  Hot hits played twice an hour, semi-hot hits played once every sixty to ninety minutes and the rest was up for grabs.  I must have had 30 pages of songs.  Yes, I was that dorky.

As I progressed into early adolescence, I found that I could release any emotion I was feeling by listening to music.   If I wanted to stay sad, I’d put on some Pink Floyd.  If I wanted to be happy, I’d pop in some 80’s pop or rock.

Since I had trouble speaking my mind as a young girl or showing emotion, I found that Def Leppard or Simple Minds could do a better job.  I would tape record songs and push rewind and play at least thirty times so I could write down the lyrics and eventually sing along.

Somewhere around the transition from junior high to high school, I discovered heavier rock and eventually heavy metal.   Little angels sang in my head the first time I heard Judas Priest singing “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”  It turned out those little angels were the voice of metal god Rob Halford.

I am still hooked.  I went through a brief rap phase, I went through a briefer country phase but still there were some songs that I truly loved from both genres and I have them on my ipod.   I suppose they are my guilty pleasures.   Hell, I even tap my fingers sometime to muzak when I am on hold.  I know, I know… so sad.  But so true.

What does music do for you?

Do The Worst First…Save The Best For Last…

I’ve given this a lot of thought.  Never the go-getter type, I have gone through life  on a lackadaisical kind of cloud.  Sometimes that cloud is puffy and white, other times pink and fuzzy.. still other times dark and foreboding.

We all need different textured clouds in a rainbow of colors.

I finally decided I am going to do what I want for whatever it takes.  A loaded statement, I know.

Hear me out.

This does not mean I will tread blindly on others while hoisting myself to the top of the proverbial ladder.   Quite the opposite.  The more I give, the more I receive.  That’s sacrifice.

I could have blown off this blog entry and took a nap like I wanted to.  It is Sunday afternoon, after all.  I always take a nap on Sunday afternoon.  I most likely still will.   But I have to prioritize.

Something I have learned over the years.  Get the big stuff out of the way first.   Kind of like a reward system, if I get the big stuff out of the way, then the smaller tasks are almost like a treat.

I learned this when I was seven and my mother used to make brussels sprouts for dinner.  I hate brussels sprouts.   At first I used to eat all the yummy stuff and save the grossness for last.   I dreaded eating those bitter, green balls.   Even more, I dreaded sitting at the kitchen table for two hours wishing them into dematerialization while my mother glared at me.

I had an idea.  I would eat the disgusting brussels sprouts first… then I would eat the meat and save the best for last: mashed potatoes.  Dinner done and still time to go outside and play.. bonus!

Since then, I’ve really tried to follow that self-imposed law.  Unfun stuff first.  Fun stuff last.   Chores, then writing.  Food shopping, then relax.  Work, then play.  Dinner, then dessert…

It makes things much more meaningful.

Getting Through The Day

Today we have way too much to do.   We have our career, and some of us have a second job on top of the demands of the career.   Some of us have children while some of us do not.   We have our routine, from which we rarely deviate.   Some of us have gone back to school either to get a degree or to get a better one.  We do the laundry, shop for groceries on a budget, make the meals, help with homework, do our own homework, meet deadlines, write blogs, go to yoga class, do laundry… well, you get the idea.  We do too much.

Where is our “me time”?  Where is the payoff?  When are we going to say, “I am taking the day off” and actually take the day off. Not sort of take the day off.  Not “only work a little bit” ( we know this never goes the way we planned!).  When are we really going to learn time management and make it work to our advantage?

I have found that in order for me to get through my day I must block time.  No, I don’t mean squint your eyes really tight and pretend like time does not exist.  If there is anything I’ve learned (begrudgingly) is that no one, not even me, can control time.

But we can monopolize it to the fullest extent and get what we need from it.

Sunday is my only day off.  But it feels like I never sit down on Sunday.   I have a lot of chores to do, rewrites to write and new articles to post.  I have pets that need attention and I have to take care of myself.

So when I have to make a meal, do the laundry and go food shopping, I need creativity.  I throw the laundry in the washer.  While the clothes are washing, I make the shopping list and do some tidying up.   After the clothes go in the dryer, I go to the grocery store, stick to the list I wrote (important to stick to the list), get out of there and get home.  I usually have about ten to fifteen minutes left before the clothes are ready to come out of the dryer.  I use this time to put away my groceries and start on a crock pot meal that will cook for a good 4-6 hours leaving me time to fold the laundry, jot down some ideas for articles and maybe (if I am lucky) take a twenty-minute nap.

On top of everything in my week day, which is Monday through Saturday, I need to recharge.   Recharging gives me the energy I need to get through the day.  Recharging will give you energy too!

I recharge during my work week by making it a point to take twenty minutes for myself.  This means no cellphone, no kids, no work, no boss, no television.  It is walking in a park (I am fortunate to have one close to my office) and thinking of nothing.   I breathe deeply, look around inquisitively,  and leave my mind blank.  That is when the ideas come.  That is when I am able to truly be grateful for things I may otherwise take for granted.

After my walk, I am able to finish my day.  Satan could come up from the bowels of hell, an after my piercing scream I’d say, “I got this.”

Find your “me time”.. you’ll love how much more you can accomplish.

Technorati – What It Means For Me

I have been writing for years.  At first it was just for fun.  I want to take it to the next level these days.  And yes, it is still fun.

I always fancied myself a fiction writer.  I love to make up stories and share them with others.  However, I am digging the article side of writing at the moment.

That brings me to Technorati.  A great site that publishes your articles after review.  They must be a certain word length, not more than 250.  There is another Technorati site that publishes longer articles.   But I haven’t ventured around that corner… yet.

The other great aspect of Technorati is that when the article posted gets shared, and it almost always does, then other people share it, and more people still.

For example, I wrote an article about the tragic death of former bassist Mike Starr.   That article has been shared on Facebook 198 times.  I was and am still astounded.  I know there are a lot of people who get way more tweets and shares on their articles, but to date that is my biggest one yet and I am loving it.

Do I have dreams of some magazine editor happening across my work and saying, “Ms. Steelman, we’d like you to write for us”?  Absoposolutely!   In reality, I know the chances of this match evenly with my cat having coffee ready for me when I come home from work one of these days.  Hey, a girl can dream, can she not?


Angry Birds Flock To Facebook

Parents, you have been living without technology if you haven’t heard of Facebook. Yes, the hottest social media site to find old friends, make new friends and market yourself, all free of cost. Besides chatting with friends, posting funny thoughts, videos and quiz results, you can play games. Highly addictive games.

Games like Mafia Wars, Farmville and Petville were the craze when they first happened onto the scene within the last few years. And just when you thought you beat your Facebook game junkiedom, here comes a new one.

The game is called Angry Birds and will be available on Facebook next month. Angry Birds, hatched by Rovio, started as an iPhone game then graduated to other handhelds before showing up on PC’s and PSP’s. There is even talk of an animated series and a movie tie-in.

The game is essentially a 120 level revenge game. There are angry birds with unique powers of destruction that will destroy the castles of Green Pigs who steal the Bird’s eggs. Although it sounds like evil birds causing mayhem, the birds are actually the good guys in the game.

Angry Birds is set to debut next month. The game will have, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed says,”completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced in any other platform.

Renewing your Facebook game addiction is easy. Nick Thompson, Senior Editor at the New Yorker says, “Angry Birds is easy to get into and hard enough to play for hours and hours.”

If you dare to play Angry Birds, be sure to have lots of caffeine on hand and nothing to do in the morning.

How I Find Blogging Ideas

In the blogger world – pretty much all topics are covered.  Food, sex, media and worldly events are topics written about every day.  The trick is finding a new way to tell the story.

I get my ideas from articles, commercials, other blogs and magazines.  Sometimes I get my ideas from something someone said to me or in my proximity.  Then I pounce.

There is a website “100 Blog Topic I Hope YOU Write.”  That is where this topic came from.

Writing is hard work.  I’ve wanted to write since I was in my early twenties.  I wrote a lot of poetry.  I filled a binder with over one hundred poems in less than two weeks.  The words would not stop pouring out of my mind via the pen in my left hand.

Then life happened and truth be told, I got lazy.

My focus is the big picture.  Right now the big picture is blogging and article ideas.   The big picture is telling stories and reporting events.  The big picture is the more I write, the better I write.

Blogging ideas come from paying attention, listening and reading.  Blogging ideas are everywhere.  They are right in front of you at this moment.

If you need blogging ideas, eavesdrop in your local coffee-house.  Pick up a magazine at the checkout.   Watch a television show.  Listen to new music.  Read a book.  Go to the mall and people watch.

Or you could just sit in silence and let your subconscious do the talking.

Whatever you decide will work.  It works for me.