Don’t let fear win

So some cowards want me to be afraid. But I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take up their fear. I’m going to keep loving people. I’m going to keep loving strangers even. Just because some idiots want me to be afraid, doesn’t mean that I have to. If fear is contagious, then so is kindness and hope. Sometimes hope is a harder mountain to climb, but I like a challenge.

I know it’s natural to catch the contagion of fear. It’s human. I may feel the fear but I won’t let it poison me.

I’ve been here before. After 9/11, I felt the collective fear. At that time, I’d wake in the morning and wonder if it was all a bad dream. Or I’d lay there and just wish that years would pass quickly so that the tragedy would be only a mild ache instead of a a pervasive pain.

And yesterday, I felt that poisoning pain again.

Still. I’m not buying fear. Instead, I’m buying the instinctive hope of the people who rushed to help. I’m buying the hugs and calls of loved ones checking in on each other.

I will always remember the line, blocks and blocks long, of people who wanted to donate blood to Red Cross after 9/11. Millions more people wanted to help than hurt one another.

Healing, like creating, is hard work. It takes a minute to destroy and years to rebuild. Still, I’d rather be in the business of rebuilding: lives, loves, hope.

Living with someone who’s chronically ill, I live with fear and worry. Parkinson’s Disease has challenged my husband, affected his posture, his walking and more. But I’m not going to let Parkinson’s win either. I’m not going to let a fairly inevitable trajectory of decline ruin my hope for him or for my family. Not today. I have hope today that from the ashes come some sort of new life and some inevitable spring.

I am going to hug my darlings close, write, teach, try to make my small corner of the world a little better than I found it. That’s what I’m doing today. And then tomorrow, I’m going to get up and do it all over again.

Because fear doesn’t win. Love wins.

In times of stress, I know I have to:

  • Connect with friends and family more
  • Work out more
  • Do more self care
  • Eat and sleep well

How do you cope?

at Harvard
Last month the kids and I visited Cambridge and Boston.

worry is contagious — so is hope

At our social media mania workshop in Albuquerque yesterday we had an awesome group — a lot of knowledge and a lot of support for each other.

Outside the San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque

When Beth (Buchanan) asked for questions on post-it notes, one participant, S., wrote, “My mom cyber-stalks me…I’m scared to blog-because she’ll read it.”

After the workshop, I looked for S. but didn’t find her. I wanted to chat about her question and reassure her. Then I realized I hadn’t called my mother in a week so I called Mom to tell her how great I’m doing.

But Mom had feedback for me. She’d read my recent post on Getting Help. And I have to admit I put the phone on speaker as she spoke and pushed back my cuticles. She said, “You should get more help. The Michael J. Fox foundation will help you get care for Chris and the kids.” She is always after me to contact the Fox foundation for help.

“Mom, I think it’s true that the Fox foundation is a caring organization,” I said. “But I think their money goes into research and not into hiring home health care for people with Parkinson’s. And, as I mentioned in that blog post, I am getting help for Chris. Although, yes, it’s hard for me.” (Did that sound defensive? Um, yes, a little.)

Mom said she’d seen Michael J. Fox on Letterman or some late night show and that Fox reminded her of my husband. “He is not doing well,” she said.

Hmmmm. Here I am at this wonderful UMAC conference, wanting to brag about how great my presentation went. And I want to be worry-free (and free) from my little family for a few days and now I’m getting worried all over again. And I’m worried about worrying, because what if Mother reads this? If you do, you know I love you and I thank you for having good ideas, concern and love for me! 😉

But here’s the thing — worry is contagious and I don’t want to catch it.

The view from my hotel room. The sun was so bright, I had to look down.

I stopped writing this post this morning to think. I went out to my little patio to look at the sunrise. The sunlight blew me away. The sun is much bigger and brighter and closer in Albuquerque than in New York City. There is something valuable, beautiful and worry-free in a big bright morning sun.

I did find S. after this morning’s session. And S., Beth and I talked about the challenges (and joys?!) of having tech-savvy mothers who read our blogs, tweets or updates and then praise, worry or comment.

I vowed to Beth and S. to be a mother who does not cyberstalk her kids on social media. It may be impossible. Like my own mother, I want to protect, get help for and read them well.