Facing My Fear of Joy

Fear is a common challenge many of us face throughout life…fear of pain, fear of heights, fear of loss. However, there’s a fear that I’ve only recently uncovered that seems so, well…taboo.

I’m afraid of experiencing too much joy. There, I said it. Yes, you read that right…I have a fear of feeling JOY, of all things there are to be afraid of in this world.

Six years ago, my world was turning beautifully. I had a precious daughter who was my everything. I was feeling the warmth of a new and very real love like I’d never experience before. My career as a teacher had hit a comfortable phase, and I was finding new ways to challenge myself professionally. I was even quite happy with how I looked, able to see my own true beauty for the first time in many years.

Then, it felt as though the ground I was standing firmly on started to crumble as breast cancer threatened to take away all of the blessings in my life. The many surgeries, chemo, radiation, medications, and hormonal therapies seemed to slowly rip out each page of my life’s plan book and tear them to shreds before my eyes.

I found myself lacking many qualities that I’d once been able to take for granted. My brain didn’t operate the same way it once did. My nerves were so raw that the basic daily routines of life caused me to become overwhelmed, and many times, paralyzed. The exhaustion I felt by just going through the motions of life hindered my ability to keep up relationships that I’d once cherished. Life became a daily dance that started when my eyes opened each morning and discovered which intro music would be playing. Some days, it was the kind you’d hear at the end of a tear-jerking movie; others, I’d wake to hear the soundtrack that accompanies a fantastic fight scene. Never knowing how long the energy for that day would last, I was reluctant to get too comfortable in an energetic place, fearing that I would be too disappointed when it would inevitably pass.

Now, I’m past all of the treatments, surgeries, and physical healing for the most part, and I actually feel good on most days. (Minus the end of the week as a high school teacher kind of tired that my colleagues are quick to remind me is NORMAL). But this year, I found myself feeling anxious as the holidays approached. I was unable to put my finger on exactly why until now.

The anxiety I’ve felt can only be attributed to a fear of truly feeling joy. You know, the kind that can only be felt through loving connections with others…friends, family, loved ones. It seems I’ve been subconsciously avoiding that type of interaction due to the fear of losing it. There is no heart-break like the one experienced when life deals you a hand that takes you out of the game. When life goes on for those all around you, but you lack the strength and energy to be a part of it, a hole is created that can only be filled by clinging to the daily promise of God’s never ending grace.

My instinctive response to this isolation was to separate myself even further, preventing any additional suffering. However, I know now that it is my deepest responsibility to acknowledge this fear, so that it might release some of its impact on my life.

I will begin again, exposing my vulnerabilities, pursuing peace, and allowing myself to feel the joy that I’ve missed for so long. Fear will not win, and whatever the cost or the pain of future loss, the blessings of allowing life’s beauty to unfold will be the greatest gift of all.

Sharing Helps us to Fully Bloom

I am an over-sharer. I share at the risk of being judged, and sometimes wonder if I’ve shared too much. But, I continue to do so with the hope that in sharing my truth in this life, I am helping others to embrace every aspect of themselves. Connections are not developed at the deepest level without sharing, and I feel a deep connection to and empathy for all of humanity.

It occurred to me this morning that depression and anxiety (and all mental illnesses) are allowed to grow when we don’t talk about them. Not only that, but there is an inverse relationship; the less we talk about it, the more they prevail. I want you to know that I’ve dealt with these issues in various times of my life, and if you are struggling right now, I see you, I get you, I feel you. If you ever need an ear to listen, please don’t hesitate to message me here.

Our strength lies in sharing, and when we open up about the realities of our struggles, only then can we begin to truly bloom.

It’s Time to Put OUR KIDS first!

It starts with my daughter, she heard the news before I saw her.

Another school shooting…this one in Texas, so much closer.

The day had just started, kids barely settled in class.

The quiet that follows the bustling hallways through which they daily pass.

To hear them describe it brings about a palpable too familiar grief.

I can’t fathom how many were in shock, and utter disbelief.

As teachers, we show up each day because we believe in every one.

Giving all we have to guide them, help them find where they belong.

God, help us as we navigate the waters of these days.

There shouldn’t be so much fear attached to a learning place.

So many kids once sought safety not found at home in school.

But now, I wonder where they can go when their minds must be so full?

They know no different, can’t see it doesn’t have to be this way.

We must change the situation, and stop allowing the delay.

The future belongs to young people, and it’s our job to clear

The path for them to learn in peace, there’s no more room for fear.

I am a professional teacher, I give all I have each day.

To make sure the kids in my room know they matter, and help them find a way.

I show up again and do my part to support your most precious possessions.

I’m asking for your help; stop arguing and find solutions!

I know things happen, and some of them are out of our control.

But now, that excuse won’t work, we can’t afford the toll.

My calling is to empower and teach; I do not wish a weapon to wield.

I’ll never see a student as the enemy as long as I’m in this field.

So come together, make decisions; get equipment, whatever it takes.

Because we have business to do, lives to change, just do it for the kids’ sakes!

🌸Doing it Afraid, and Closing a Chapter➡️

If I said I’m not afraid, I’d be lying.

The fears that were quiet are multiplying.

I’ve felt so good lately it’s hard

To consider letting down my guard.

A barrier of protection I’ve formed,

Against outside noises that swarmed.

I can see life ahead filled with peace,

But before then, I must release.

This hold cancer’s had on my life,

All the fears, the struggles & strife.

I release the dark places of then,

Hoping to never go there again.

My body and mind and my soul,

Have finally been made whole.

So for this next round, I’m prepared.

To go through it, although I may be scared.

This step will help me to turn

All of this time into lessons learned.

My hope is to share all that’s true,

With warriors fighting anew.

I’ve shed tears, broken down, and healed.

And through it all, God’s love’s been revealed.

So if I needed to go where I’ve gone

To help you, it was worth it all along.

Poem: A Teacher’s Fear

To the kid in the hoodie whose name I don’t know,

I’m sorry about the way our interactions go.

It’s too bad no one’s taught you that we’re on your side,

Showing up every day to help you on life’s ride.

But you don’t trust easily, too many times disappointed.

Those who’ve let you down, more than can be counted.

So we tiptoe in the halls, passing without saying a word.

I just wonder how you’d feel if for once, you were heard.

Although I don’t know you, I’ve seen that look before.

And it comes with a story that’s too often ignored.

If you were my student, you could learn to expect.

That everyone deserves dignity and respect.

But we’re in such a hurry to get through every class.

No time to discuss things that won’t let you pass.

Society’s failing you, focused mainly on tests.

The scores will never matter if your mind cannot rest.

So I pass by you again, hoping you’re not the one.

That goes over the edge, and comes undone.

I’m sorry to judge, but the fears are so real.

I just want you to know, someone sees how you feel.

The unsettling situation isn’t working at all.

I pray for solution before any more fall.