On fear

wicked_witchSome of my favorite childhood memories are of lazy weekend days spent watching movies with my brothers and sisters. In addition to some terrible bootleg copies of Disney movies, we also had a smattering of films that we had taped off of the TV. One of those movies was The Wizard of Oz. When it was my turn to choose, I almost always picked Dorothy and Toto and the ever-delightful yellow brick road. But each time we watched it, and the Wicked Witch of the West arrived on the scene, I began to regret my choice. I mean, that lady was scary…her laugh, her terrible green face, and don’t even get me started on the monkeys. I was afraid. And yet, time and again, I made the same choice. Why?

When we’re children, there is something kind of great and exciting about being afraid. We love roller coasters and ghost stories and sometimes even wicked witches who torment young girls in ruby slippers. But as we get older, fear takes on a whole other life. Our fears become much more significant and real. We fear things like disappointing our families, losing our loved ones, or messing up our kids because of our own issues. And it is all too easy to let those fears rule us. I know this because for the last couple of months, I have let worry and anxiety lead me. Fear has been the boss of me. I wrote a little bit of my story when I visited Elizabeth Stevens Omlor’s blog in November. If you read what I wrote there, it sounds like I had a little panic attack, made some changes, and things were all better. But I am learning that the battle against fear is not so easily won.

It’s a new year…a time to make resolutions…to choose words and taglines and symbols that propel us toward growth. It won’t come as a surprise that mine is…


Parker J. Palmer, in his wonderfully enlightening book, LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK, says that this call to “Be not afraid,” doesn’t mean that we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear. But it does mean that we do not need to BE the fear we have.

We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well–places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety. As we stand in one of those places, fear may remain close at hand and our spirits may still tremble. But now we stand on ground that will support us, ground from which we can lead others toward a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.

So here’s to 2013. A year to choose hope and not fear. A year to let faith rule. Lift high your buckets and toast with me, to a year of dousing the wicked witch until she melts into nothingness. Cheers!

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  • Romelle

    Yes, let’s drench that witch with our buckets…of water. A toast to HOPE! Happy New Year, Amy.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Happy New Year to you, Romelle! Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://bildebok.wordpress.com/ Cathy Mealey

    During a bout of holiday insomnia, I was watching old episodes of PBS’ “Call The Midwife” series:  http://www.pbs.org/programs/call-the-midwife/  After a newborn was left on the orphanage steps, someone asks tearfully “Why would anyone do this?” The wise old nun replies, “In my experience, there are only two reasons behind the actions of all human beings – love or fear.”

    So along those lines, choose love!  Love of writing, love of picture books, love of children!

    Wonderful, thought provoking post Amy.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Love that, Cathy! Choose love. Thanks so much!

  • Kristin Gray

    Hear! Hear! I’m all for it. Amy, just want to say, too, how much your post on learning to say No resonated with me. In fact, I did so today re: a luncheon tomorrow. I hope all is well with you.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Hi Kristin! I am so glad the post on saying no was helpful. It really makes sharing things that feel vulnerable worth it. Happy New Year!

  • gemma

    Great words to live by, Amy. Thanks for sharing this very thoughtful post. And all the best to you and yours in 2013!

  • gemma

    It isn’t “gemma”! The sign in did that. I’m Dana Carey. :p

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       lol, thanks for stopping by, Gemma…errr, I mean, Dana!

  • Mirka Breen

    didn’t have “terrible bootleg copies” (or any other kind) of movies
    in that faraway land I grew up in. So my first view of The Wizard of Oz
    happened many years after it came out, and I was already eighteen.

    it was scary.

    metaphor of melting the scary is used beautifully in one of my favorite PBs,
    TIM AND THE BLANKET THIEF by John Prater. I re-read it at least once a month.
    Never too old.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Hi Mirka! I haven’t read that PB before, will have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    Here, here, Amy!  Be not afraid!  But whether you’re afraid or not, you’re never alone – we are always here for you!  (BTW, I also had a love-hate relationship with The Wizard Of Oz – loved when it was on, but was SO SCARED of the witch that I hid behind the living room chair whenever she was on screen :))

  • Leslie Gorin

       Great post, Amy! It makes me think of another book I’m finding enlightening and encouraging, ART & FEAR. One of the authors, David Bayles, in writing  about our fear of not performing as well as we wish to, tells about his studies  with a master pianist:

       “David lamented to him, ‘But I can hear the music so much better in my head than I can get out of my fingers.’ To which the Master replied, ‘What makes you think that ever changes?’
       “When he raised David’s discovery from an expression of self-doubt to a simple observation of reality, uncertainty became an asset. Lesson for the day: vision is always ahead of execution–and it SHOULD be. Vision, uncertainty, and knowledge of materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution…and uncertainty is a virtue.”

       Didn’t mean to go on for so long, but I just found that passage so liberating, and your post about learning how not to BE the fear we feel–and from this perspective, even see it as an ally–inspired me to share it. So there ya go :0)