The Fear, Part 1

I said I was going to get back to discussing The Fear.  Ironically enough, I’m sure it’s The Fear that’s been making me wait so long to write this post.  Here I am though.  Take that, Fear!

What is “The Fear?”

First of all, I want to point out that I don’t own The Fear.  Well, I own my version of it, but it’s something we all possess.  I think Seth Godin describes it nicely as the lizard brain.  Seth says the lizard brain is “the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise… [it] hates change and achievement and risk.”

The Fear is that moment you back out of a commitment.  It’s the silence when you should have shouted.  It’s the call you make to say you just can’t do something, when you know damn well you can.  It’s staying at a job you hate because you’re comfortable and know what tomorrow will be like, even if it will be horrible.  It’s the indecision and lack of action because you’re too concerned about what the outcome might be.

That’s The Fear I’m talking about.  And I cannot begin to tell you how many times it has gotten the upper hand with me.

Eyes Wide Open

Of course, I didn’t realize what The Fear was for a long time.  That’s probably why it had such a stronghold over me.  You have to recognize your enemy in order to take it down.  The Fear is good at disguising itself.  Not too long ago, it seemed like rational thought.  I wasn’t being afraid; no, I was being reasonable.  I was being logical, careful.  I was being (insert any word here that in the moment fooled me into believing I was anything except that which I would never have admitted to).  What was I?  Scared. To. Death.

What happened then?  How did I come to recognize The Fear for what it was?  There were moments here and there that I overcame it, but it was some time until I actually put a name to it.  I’m sure those moments did me some good.  And it was a combination of things that helped me to recognize The Fear.

I started by recognizing it in other people.  Like many, I’m good at finding fault in others before I see it clearly in myself.  You know how it goes.  You listen to a friend or family member go on about how they wished they had done something, but it never happened.  It will be quite clear to you they didn’t do whatever that something was because they were too scared to, but unless they have also come to recognize The Fear, they’ll have lots of pretty words to describe the “real” reason they couldn’t do it.  If this is some long past activity, you’ll feel sympathy for them about what might have been.  If it’s something happening right now, you’ll feel frustration in trying to get them to overcome their own fear.  Their lizard brain defense mechanisms will go up almost instantly.  I’ve found it virtually impossible to get people to see through this facade.  They just have to come to it on their own terms.  Hopefully they do.  But odds are many of them won’t.  The Fear is quite a force to deal with.

The next, even more powerful way that I began to recognize The Fear was by reading and learning about it.  I started soaking up books and blogs.   Of course, Seth Godin’s blog has been a big help.  I read quite a few blogs and many of them tackle this problem, in some form or fashion, on a pretty regular basis.  Bloggers like Karol Gajda, Chris Guillebeau, and Tammy Strobel have all touched on this subject repeatedly.  I’d highly recommend checking out any and all of their blogs for some great inspiration and practical ways to deal with your lizard brain.  I know they’ve helped me a great deal in making some drastic changes and facing The Fear head on.

Finally, like in any new pursuit, you reap the rewards of your studying and preparation by actually taking action.  I never learned as much or gained as much ground as I did by overcoming The Fear directly.  Unfortunately, I can’t say this has happened each and every time since I realized it was fear holding me back, but more and more when I am feeling that sense of apprehension, that desire to run away, I am pushing through it.  And behold, the grass really is greener on the other side!

The Beginning

Yes, there have been many instances in my life where I did overcome a bit of fear, but I think most of them pale in comparison to my decision to have a home birth.  That was monumental for me.  Not only is home birth in general unusual for an American woman (less than 1% of U.S. women give birth at home currently), it was almost unheard of among my family members.  Even to my then-husband, as much as he was into nature and spirituality, the idea of a home birth was insanity at first.  His first two children had been born in hospitals and with much complication.  He was very scared about the idea of not having immediate access to all the medical equipment.  He even went so far as to scream at me once when I was beginning to insist upon birthing at home, “Fine!  If our baby dies, it’s your fault!”  Imagine hearing that from the man you love.  I might have backed off at that point, but for whatever reason, I was really determined.  I did my research and dragged him to a home birth midwife to discuss the risks and benefits.  He still wasn’t entirely convinced until I called him on his hypocrisy.  “You say you walk a natural path and trust in Spirit, yet you want me to have our child in a Western hospital because you’re afraid of what might happen otherwise.”  That was the kicker.  I had hit the sweet spot and his lizard brain backed off.  We were going to have a home birth!

Or were we?  Understand, when you’re going to have your first child, it’s not just you and the child’s father that are involved.  You’re bound to hear many opinions on the subject.  After Savannah’s father, my mother was the loudest voice of opposition.  I remember her exact words when I told her I was going to birth at home.  “Oh Krissy (she calls me Krissy), surely not.”  Mom would come home from work (she’s a nurse and was then employed at Albuquerque’s largest hospital) with stories about how the doctors she spoke to about the home birth were horrified at the idea.  I tried to assure my mother with my research and the fact that my midwife was very qualified, but in the end, she’s a worrier, and that’s all there is to it.  I decided she couldn’t be at the birth; I was afraid her fear would be palpable to me.   And fear during labor and birth is not a good thing.

I’m happy to say that down the road, my ex-husband had another child who was born at home with his new wife.  I made him a believer.  As for Mom, she once said to me when Savannah was a little over 2 years old, “you know, I think Savannah’s so smart because you had her naturally at home and breastfed her for so long (2 years and 5 months, to be exact).”  I converted my two strongest opponents.  That’s the power of overcoming The Fear!

That was all about my family’s fear over the home birth.  What about mine?  Oh, it was there, believe me.  While statistically for a low-risk mom a home birth is just as safe as, if not safer than, a hospital birth, there is that ever-so-slight chance that something will go horribly wrong, and nothing short of an immediate, emergency Cesarean birth will save baby and/or mom.  I knew that.  Like I said, I did my research.  That fact was with me throughout the pregnancy.  And it scared me.  What if my baby did die?  Was I prepared to not only deal with losing a child, but also deal with the backlash that surely would have come from friends and family who had been hesitant over the whole idea?

I don’t think I would have dealt with either of those things well, so I tried my best to dismiss the idea.  I kept reassuring myself that the risk was low.  And I truly believed that the hospital posed a greater threat.  I will never forget working as nurse aide in the pediatrics department of a local hospital.  A woman was there with this beautiful baby girl.  Beautiful, though she was extremely jaundiced.  Her liver was failing.  Nothing short of a liver transplant was going to save this little girl.  When I asked her mother what happened to her, she told me it was during the time in the hospital following birth that she had become sick.  It was believed that a nurse or doctor hadn’t washed their hands and the child had in turn gotten a terrible infection.  I’ve worked in many hospitals.  I know the studies that say many hospital workers don’t wash their hands properly or often enough.  (If you’re ever hospitalized for any reason, insist that the nurses, doctors, and any other staff caring for you wash their hands in front of you.  They’ll think you’re a pain in the butt, but it will cut down on your risk of infection.)  Hospitals are dirty places full of many nasty germs.  And that threat was much more real to me than any slight chance of the need for a Cesarean.

What about fear of the pain?  You can’t have pain medication during a home birth.  Wasn’t I scared I couldn’t handle it?  Well, yes and no.   For a long time during my pregnancy, I was convinced it wouldn’t be that bad.  Near then end, when I was a good 30 pounds heavier, I realized I was going to have to get that baby out of me.  I started getting apprehensive about the idea.  Birth, however, is one area your lizard brain can’t do much about.  I had put the baby there, (well, me and one other person, anyway) I was going to have to get her out.

Luckily, along with The Fear, I also possess The Stubbornness.  I had something to prove with this birth.  Not only to family and friends, but more than that, to myself.  Not to mention the fact that I had an obligation to my baby not to drug her or subject her to other unnecessary interventions.  And besides, I figured labor pain is not like being stabbed with knife.  You’re not going to die from shock or anything like that.  The female body was made to do it.  All I had to do was go along for the ride.

And that’s what I did.  29 hours of facing The Fear directly in the face.  It was very empowering.  I highly recommend natural birth, even if at the hospital, to any woman, not only for the health benefits to you and your baby, but also for the empowerment it brings.  Once you have a natural birth, you very much feel that there’s nothing you can’t do.

It turns out that there are always things The Fear will try to deter you from, even if you have faced it down before.  It’s something to manage on an ongoing basis.  In part 2, I’ll tell you about my next big hurdle and how I once again dealt with The Fear.  Until then…

1 Sunday, 2 (very different) Churches

I know I was going to write about overcoming my fear with regards to the India trip, but this came up today, so I thought I’d come back to that.  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  I will tell you about “The Fear.”  Muahahahahahaha…

Anyway…

Some history on this situation…

A few weeks back, I decided I wanted to go to church.  There were a few reasons for this, not the least of which being a desire for community.  I also want to introduce my daughter to different religions, not to mention bring her up with some solid values, so I figure it’s time to start taking her to some kind of church.  I wasn’t sure where to go, but I recalled that my friend Chris, whom I hadn’t seen since high school, was a worship pastor at a local church.  I emailed him to ask about it and he was quick to respond and tell me all about service.  It was good deal for me, too, because I’d get to go to church and see an old friend, all in one day.  Efficiency people, efficiency!

So, Savannah and I headed out to the Sagebrush Community Church.  Their main campus is located out on Coors, a good thirty minute drive from my place, but I figured, what the hell?  (Can I say that when I’m on my way to church?)  We arrived and I was a bit shocked at how massive this place was.  So many people!  And we were running a bit late; how unusual for me, right?  😉  Somehow I got parked and inside, then had to get Savannah checked into daycare.  They have this elaborate system.  The first time you come, you have to fill out some paperwork for your child, but after that, you get checked in at these little kiosks they have.  The last 4 digits of your phone number pulls up your child’s information, prints out a name tag and a corresponding number for you.  If, during the service, your child is in need of you, the number will flash on a screen in the front of the church.  You can then quietly slip out and attend to your kiddo.  Pretty cool, eh?  I thought so.

Of course, as soon as Savannah realizes I’m leaving her, the tears begin.  It took a few minutes to get her to go with the 2 nice attendants in the 3-year-old room, but she finally did.  I then headed out to the church, but found out the main sanctuary was so packed, I would have to sit up in a room in a separate building and watch the service on a live feed.  No big deal.  I headed up there.  The service was very good.  I enjoyed the band, and my friend Chris even had a solo, which was rockin’.  I was quite impressed with the church’s sound system and 3 huge screens.  Very fancy stuff.  And the pastor, Todd, is a really great speaker.  I enjoyed the sermon, and at the end of the day, Savannah even liked her class.  All was well.

Or so I thought.  The next week, I wanted to go back to the church, but Savannah wasn’t having it.  She said she liked the adults, but not the kids in the 3-year-old room.  Fair enough.  I don’t want to twist her arm and make her resent having to go to church.  So I backed off.  It wasn’t until this weekend that she came around again.

Back to today…

I found out from Chris that he was going to be singing at the El Dorado campus, located at El Dorado High School.  I couldn’t quite understand how the church was at the school, but once again I figured, what the hell?  Savannah agreed to go and was in quite good spirits this morning.  (She should be.  I gave her Benadryl to sleep through all the bug bites she got while with her dad.  The child was well-rested.)  On our way into the school, er church, she asked if she was going to class.  I told her I wasn’t sure (I couldn’t see how they’d have a daycare here, though they certainly did, complete with kiosks and all), but we’d find out.  She told me she wouldn’t cry at this church and true to her word, she gave me a hug and a kiss and was off to class.  And I was off to the service.

The band was already rockin’ out by the time I got in there (did I mention I’m often running late?).  I figured since this was a different campus we’d have a different pastor and I had to admit I was a bit apprehensive about whether I’d like whoever was here.  Like I said, Todd is really good.  Much to my pleasant surprise, Todd did the sermon at this church as well, via live feed from the main campus.  It occurred to me that I really like this pastor and I’ve actually only ever seen him on the screen.  The sermon, or teaching, I believe they call it, was great.  It was about relationships and communications between men and women.  Boy, could I relate to a lot of what he had to say!  The music was also excellent, probably even better than the first band I saw at the main campus.  All in all, I think my second experience at Sagebrush was even better than my first.  Savannah would probably say the same.  I decided I wanted to get more involved and left my name and number on a tear out they have in the program.  I should be getting a call from a pastor sometime this week I believe.  I’m looking forward to that conversation.

And then there was the Catholic church…

Following the first service I went to, Chris and I chatted a bit, and we were discussing some of the differences between Sagebrush and the Catholic church.  Our conversation centered on the facts that we both liked the rituals (Chris used another word that I can’t recall) of the Catholic church, but that the content is often not very relevant.  I told him the Catholics needed to take a lesson from Sagebrush.  And I’m not kidding.

So later in the afternoon, I asked my mom and dad if Savannah and I could join them at mass.  They said yes, of course, and picked us up.  We arrived at Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish a little before 5:30 PM for the hour-long service.  Turned out it was going to be a bit of a long hour.

Now, please know, I knew what I was about to get myself into.  I was born and raised Catholic and was an active member of the Church for 15 or 16 years.  However, seeing it with fresh eyes, and the eyes of a single mother no less, was a whole new experience.

First of all, my biggest beef with the church is that there’s no daycare.  And that bugs me.  This is a religion that forbids birth control, yet they’re not going to assist their congregation with childcare?  It’s stressful trying to keep a child under control when you’re at a worship service.  To her credit, Savannah did very well for the first half of mass, though she was running around in the back of the church.  I kept an eye on her and was, for the most part, pretty distracted from the service.  I finally had to take her out and even trying to keep her in the little room with a viewing window to the service was to no avail after a while.  We spent the last 10 minutes of mass outside, waiting.  Not fun, though I suppose it would have been worse in the heat of the day.

My other big issue?  The sermon wasn’t good.  Well, maybe it was, but the speaker, a deacon, was no public speaker and I didn’t stay engaged at all.  I vaguely recall what he said, but this is in sharp contrast to the fact that I can pretty much tell you Todd’s entire sermon.

The other big problem with Annunciation versus Sagebrush is the sense of community and feeling welcomed.  I felt very welcomed at Sagebrush.  People were friendly and several people introduced themselves by name to me.  This didn’t happen at the Catholic church.  Sure, people smiled when you looked at them, but other than that, there was nothing inviting in the way they approached you.  All in all, I just didn’t feel very welcomed there.  And I think the truth is, I’m not.  I’m not Catholic anymore, and that is a big problem if you’re attending a Catholic church.  You’re excluded, no doubt about it.  Oh, you can come to service, pray, sing, etc., but no communion for you!  And if you don’t already know people there, don’t expect to by the end of mass.  It’s just not likely to happen.

Now, I grant you, I wasn’t trying all that hard.  I’m kind of back in my figuring-things-out phase.  Making new friends isn’t on the top of my agenda at the moment.  I’m trying to decide where I belong.  But rest assured, if I had to make a decision based solely on my 2 church experiences today, it’d be Sagebrush, hands down, if for only the daycare situation alone.  That is just that big of a deal to me.

Now what?

Well, I’m going to wait to hear from the Sagebrush pastor.  I want to sit down and talk to him.  I don’t think it will be Todd, but rather some pastor from the El Dorado campus.  That’s ok.  I’m not exactly sure what I want to say to him, but I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  I can talk religion for hours.  No problemo.  😉

And I’m also planning to go talk to the priest at Annunciation.  I want to discuss the daycare issue more than anything.  I’m not going back there if I have to try to keep an eye on Savannah.  I just don’t want to end up sitting outside near the end of service each time.  And I have some other things I’d like to ask the priest.  Maybe I’ll make up a list before I go.  I like lists.  🙂

So that was my Sunday, in a nutshell.  A pretty big nutshell.  I’ll keep you posted on the church happenings.  And any thoughts, suggestions, hell, questions for a priest, let’s hear it!

The India To-do List

I’m trying to keep straight what I need to get done and I have it written down in another document, but I think I’ll write it down here, too.  I’ll update this post frequently.  If anyone else thinks of something I need to do, let me know.

  • Get prescriptions filled
  • Make travel medicine kit, according to Dr. Olmstead’s advice.
  • Call my bank and credit card companies to a) let them know I’ll be using my cards out of the country and b) determine which one is going to be the best choice for India
  • Call Bank of America 48 hours before leaving (for whatever reason, that’s when they said they want to be notified.
  • Get traveler’s checks
  • Get new cell phone service (although I might just pick up a prepaid cell once I’m there; I’m still looking into this)
  • Organize documents that my family might need in my absence (Savannah’s health insurance info, bank info, where I’ll be staying and how they might contact me, passwords for some of my accounts, etc)
  • Send in application for traveler’s medical insurance (I already have it picked out, just have to apply and pay for it)  Bonus:  It’s super cheap! (ok, at least I think it is; I have no basis for comparison)
  • Buy a new camera and memory card
  • Buy Hindi phrasebook and possibly a guide book, too (anyone have one lying around?  I’ll take it) Got this done 6/21/10.  Also bought Lonely Planet’s India since I had a 40% off coupon for Borders.  The more I read, the more excited I am!
  • Get 2 more sets of passport photos
  • Pack once well in advance of leaving so I know it all fits
  • Get a Skype account
  • Buy a lot of little things I need

  1. Sleep sack
  2. Mosquito netting?
  3. Small quick-dry towel
  4. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
  5. Shaving oil
  6. Hiking boots?
  7. aLokSak
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Tampons
  10. Power adapter
  11. Travel size toiletries and 3oz plastic bottles
  12. Travel Ziplock bag
  13. Toilet paper (Funny, right?  It was recommended in one of the books I have about India.  Apparently, it’s not necessarily readily available.  So what are you to wipe with?  Your left hand.  I do want to try a lot of the things that India has to offer, but some I can definitely do without.)
  14. Ear plugs and eye shade
  15. Rick Stevens bag and messenger bag?
  16. Something for water purification, but only if it’s not too big and expensive
  17. Hair ties
  18. Notebook
  19. Headlamp and batteries, once again if not too big and expensive

1 Month to a New World

I’m leaving for India in 4 weeks.  I almost can’t believe I’m making that statement, but it’s true.  The flight is booked.  I have approval for the time off from work.  And I’ve been trying to get all the little details settled, though it seemed like many things had to wait till this month to be dealt with.  The pressure is on now.  There’s so much to do, and really, considering everything else I have going on, there’s little time to do it in.  But I’ll get it done.  I’m rockin’ under pressure.  😀

Why India?

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that…  I keep trying to put into words why I want to go there.  It’s hard to say.  I’ve felt drawn there for some time now, probably ever since my first yoga class at UNM.  However, the exact reason for India’s appeal escapes me.

I do like a lot of what India is about; it seems to me it’s a very spiritual place and we’re lacking that here.  Oh sure, we have churches and all, but it seems to me that spirituality is lacking in day-to-day life.  From what I’ve read so far, spirituality is very tied into life in India.  I’m sure not everyone is like that there, but probably more so than here in this country.

I remember an interview I did with Dr. Vasant Lad when I did my internship at The Ayurvedic Institute.  I’m paraphrasing here, but basically he said he would go to India a few times a year to energize himself.  He told me how the people there, despite many of them being so poor, were happy.  Now you have to understand, back then I was 22 years young.  I hadn’t wrapped my head around the idea that stuff doesn’t make you happy.  So I just couldn’t understand why people would be happy if they were living in poverty.  I think I get it now though.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to live in poverty, but I’ve come to realize that in buying things to try to make yourself happy, you’re really just trying to fill up this bottomless void in your life.  I spent many years trying to do that.  I would always feel like if I just bought this one more thing (whatever it was that week), I’d be happy.  I had the credit card debt to prove the depth of my conviction, too.

So here I am now, becoming a minimalist, happier than I’ve ever been.  Go figure.  And yet I still feel like something is missing.  Is it a spiritual lacking?  Possibly, and to tell you the truth, that’s what I’m thinking.  But it might be something else.  Maybe it’s simply a desire to be on my own (I’m 3 hours from my place of birth and my parents are a 5-minute drive from here; not a bad thing, but I’m definitely not on my own), to try something new and outside my comfort zone (doesn’t get much further outside my comfort zone than the other side of the planet), or maybe something else I haven’t yet considered.  Whatever it is, I’m hoping to get some clue of it in India.  And not to say I couldn’t figure it out here (it’s probably some internal thing going on), but figuring it out in India sounds a lot more intriguing to me.  Besides, how many times do I get to take off and explore the world?  For all I know, I only get this one life, so it’s time to starting living it.

Missin’ my baby…

The second question I’ve been getting asked – am I taking Savannah, my 3-year-old daughter, with me?  I considered it at one point.  Even though I’ve been apart from her for a month before, it wasn’t like we were on different continents.  It’s really hard to leave her for this long.  I already give her up for 3 days every week, and though I won’t lie and say it isn’t a nice break (as awesome as that kid is, she’s still a 3-year-old and a strong-willed one at that, and I’m still a single mom working 40 hours a week; it’s an exhausting combination some days), I also miss her like crazy.  She’s my angel!  And it was difficult last year when she came back from being on the road with her dad for a month.  He’s a good father, but we have some fundamental differences in how we raise Savannah, so when she comes home each week, I start all over again in getting her back on my schedule, on my way of doing things.  So you can imagine how amplified that will be after a month.  Luckily for us, I built in almost 2 weeks off work once I come back just so she and I can hang out.  Hopefully, that’ll be enough to get us both settled again.

So with all that, why don’t I just take her?  Two things: money and physical safety risks.  While it’s cheap once you’re in India, getting there is a different story.  My plane ticket was over $1300 (although it would have been cheaper if I had learned a few things from Chris Guillebeau sooner; I have 3 free domestic round-trip tickets coming my way when I get home).  That would have doubled with Savannah in tow.  As for physical safety, I was concerned both with the logistics of being a single woman alone in a foreign country and the risk of disease.  As incredible as I’m hoping India will be, it’s still a third world country and sanitation is not a top priority there.  Not exactly a good thing for a 3-year-old who can’t be trusted to keep her hands out of her mouth.  I’m hoping in a few more years, maybe when she’s 10, I can go back (if I like it this time, that is) and take her with me.  She’ll appreciate it more then anyway.  For now, she’ll be staying with her dad and having her own little adventure till I get back.

The Fear…

I’ve had  a lot of fear to contend with during the whole process of planning this trip.  I’ve been pretty proud of my reactions to it.  I’ll talk about that more in my next post.  For now, suffice it to say, there’s been a lot of stumbling blocks to get over and it’s been a huge learning curve for me.  I’m getting there, though.  And soon, in less than 28 days, I’ll be there.  I’m starting to believe it.  I’m going to India!  India, baby!  Whoo hoo!