When Fear Washes In: Health Anxiety and Other Fears of Death

Fear is a part of life. Sometimes we can keep it at bay, but eventually, with certainty, it will creep in like a red tide on an otherwise calm beach. We try to run, but it’s faster than we are. We try to hide but it discovers all of our hiding places. Eventually we realize that the only way to effectively work with fear is to turn around and face it and to cultivate practices that push it back out to sea where it’s reabsorbed in the great vastness of those bigger waters.

Fear can show up in many ways, with many faces. We fear for our children’s health. We fear that we’re in the wrong relationship. We fear that the strange lump we’ve just discovered is cancer. I can’t tell you how many of my clients struggle with health anxiety on a regular basis. “Every time my throat hurts … Click here to continue reading...

The Need for Certainty

Last Tuesday we were riding our bikes in gorgeous, 70-degree spring weather. On Wednesday we woke up to a foot of snow and a power outage. There’s a saying in Colorado that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes.” This is true every day of the year, but it’s never more true than in spring.

I find the temperamental weather here both fascinating and disconcerting. Growing up in Los Angeles, where it’s 65-70 degrees practically every day of the year, I came to rely on the consistent weather as a source of comfort. If I went to school wearing shorts, I knew I would come home wearing shorts. But here, we can leave for the day wearing shorts and come home wearing full winter gear.

Yet when I drop into the teaching, I know that living with these weather patterns has furthered by ability to deal … Click here to continue reading...

In the Flow of this Uncertain Life

Last weekend was a challenging one for my family. The week of unrelenting rain here in Colorado created overflow in the creeks, and we were faced with a situation that was frighteningly close to the floods of 2013 as the normally gentle waters behind our house surged and swelled into a serpentine river and began to bite off large chunks of our land. Once again, my husband stayed up most of the night for several nights and worked all day fortifying our land. And once again, the boys and I helped where we could but mostly stayed inside, where I tried to calm their anxiety while tending to my own.

Living this close to nature brings the precarious position of our planet forefront into our consciousness. In the midst of this scare, my mind that longs for certainty was already planning our escape: we’ll sell this house and move to … Click here to continue reading...

A Good Depression

If you live in the Western Hemisphere, you’ve just walked over the line of the Winter Solstice. The days of diminishing light have bellied over into days of increasing light, and while this might give a ray of hope to those taken down into the muck of winter’s darkness, we still know that we have months to go before spring blows her first warm breath through the bare limbs of the trees. Spring sleeps like a bear in her cave; it’s time to witness another season at play.

Winter is the season of introspection. It’s a quiet season when we’re called to curl up into the dark places of the soul and sit with the runes of discovery. We won’t emerge with the fully developed runes until spring; now is the time to simply sit in the stillness and silence and ponder, without judgement or conclusions, the seeds we find … Click here to continue reading...