Monday, April 22, 2013

Face Your Fear, and Kick Its Booty!

All my life I’ve been afraid of birds. Yeah, I know, sounds silly right? Well, it stems from almost being attacked as a kid when I rode my bike too close to a momma bird’s nest. From that day on, I owned this fear of birds. I owned it to a point where if I was walking down the street and a little brown bird was on the sidewalk in front of me, I would cross the street to go around it. Yeah, thinking about it…it was pretty silly.

Funny how fear of something we don’t understand can petrify us, and cripple our lives to a point of altering who we are in order to avoid dealing with it. I had friends who had birds, BIG, parrot type birds, that scared the “you know what” out of me. Out of courtesy, those bird owning friends would keep the birds in their cages for me when I’d visit. This soul gripping fear, continued for years, up into my late thirties.

Can you imagine, being afraid of something for most of your life? I bet you can. We all have some type of fear that we’ve held onto for most of our lives. However; this is where my story changes! It wasn’t until my 14 year old (at the time) came to me with his birthday wish. He wanted to get an Xbox 360 with a game called Black Ops. Now, I’m not a prudish mom at all. But for me, that game was way over the top. We argued, he tried to make me see his point of view, and basically it came down to my final answer of NO. Well, in his attempt to call my bluff he announced that if his father and I weren’t going to allow him to have Black Ops, then he wanted chickens! Yes, you read it right, he changed his birthday wish from an Xbox 360 with Black Ops to wanting chickens. Well, the last time I checked, chickens were a form of bird that fluttered, pecked, scratched and were at the top of my fear list, right up there with heights! But being the determined parent to stick to my word, I agreed that indeed, he could have chickens for his 15th birthday. The only stipulations I had were that he had to do the research and choose birds that weren’t aggressive, and didn’t flutter a lot. Oh, yeah, and there was no way I was going to have anything to do with them. They were his and his brothers’ birds…PERIOD.

Well, as promised, on his 15th birthday his auntie and uncle show up with three little birds; a Road Island Red, a Plymouth Rock and an Americana. They were cute and come to find out they needed to be held, they needed to be taken care of, and they needed to cure my fear of birds. So over the next couple of weeks, while they lived under the warming lamp in a plastic bin in my son’s room, Jared took his sketched plans for the hen house, and with the help of his uncle, cousins, brothers and dad, they built a coop for the birds. All the while I started to become invested in these little creatures. I started to see why they stretched their wings, why they squawked, why they scratched at the ground and tried to fly. Slowly I began to look at the birds as something not to fear, but admire. They had their own personalities, their own pecking order, and their own way of living. 

Eventually, our small flock of three grew to the rounded number of eight. And, yes, eight was enough. But as they grew larger and larger, I noticed I my fear of birds grew smaller and smaller. Suddenly, the girl everyone would chuckle at for being afraid of birds became the woman who loved them.

But it was the day that I came upon a pigeon on the sidewalk in front of me and I didn’t feel that twirling anxiety in the pit of my stomach anymore that I realized, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I actually watched it bob its head as it meandered its way around, pecking at the crumbs of a dropped cookie. Wow, how liberating! I wasn’t afraid of it. As a matter of fact, I actually found myself enjoying the moment I took to admire the colors of its feathers.

I know my lack of fear was the result of my being subject to my own brood of birds. I finally understood the relationship between the birds and me. It was Love! When I approached my fear of birds from Love, I was able to see through the ridiculousness of that fear. Fear is nothing more than the result of lack of Love and understanding. We fear things because we don’t understand them. We experience something traumatic, and instead of using that moment to grow, we build a cocoon around our experiences and begin to identify with the situation, which ultimately leads to a phobia or fear. But once we face the fear, dismantle it piece by piece, and eventually imbibe the remaining slivers of fear with Love, we come to see, it wasn’t the thing we were afraid of paralyzing ourselves, but our reaction to it that caused us to limit our lives.

Today, I have no fear of birds! Yeah, even my friends are amazed. Is it amazing? Not really. Losing the fear and finding the Love was what made the difference in my life. Approaching my fear from a place of Love, instead of terror was the turning point for me. Now when I walk down the sidewalk, I don’t avoid the birds…I stop and take a moment to admire just how harmless they truly are.

Thanks for hanging out and reading my ramblings.

Now who could be afraid of these little things?