This Halloween, 10 Ways to Eat the Fear

Something wicked this way comes… and no, it’s not Halloween.

Although then again, Halloween was a harbinger, which started looming ominously round about last August when costume “super stores” and pumpkin-scented candles started cropping up all over the place, replacing the sunscreen endcaps before the last rays of summer had remotely dwindled.

This whole “rushing the season” thing in my book is one of the scarier aspects of modern life. We all know that time is precious, so why the hell do we as a society push forward into the next (selling) season so quickly? I swear I saw a phantom of a Black Friday sale this past week, and it was only a Tuesday.

But I digress. In fact, I notice how much I digress lately, and I realize that is something scary. I reach for words, or try to remember what I was supposed to do, and there’s nil. Zip. Nada.

Even scarier is boredom. Ever notice how much you end up trolling Facebook or Twitter or other social media; zoning out to some screen or another, engaging in endless, mindless folly?

I heard something on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast recently that totally resonated with me. He said a therapist once told him, “There is no such thing as boredom, only fear.”

Ahhh, Fear. You know that thing my New Agey friends say is just False Evidence Appearing Real.

I think about fear a lot, as any guru (or actually Eleanor Roosevelt) will tell you that facing down what freaks you out is the best way to break through. Like you’re supposed to do one thing a day that scares you, and that supposedly will shift the quality of your life.

Having lost my long-time consistent day job gig over the summer, I’ve been doing a lot of fear facing of late.

Or, more accurately, thinking about it, anyways.

Too old, know too much, don’t know enough, stuck in a rut, that comes from my gut, that shows on my face, oh man, what a disgrace… and so on. Please pass the hooded costume — I need something to disguise my malaise.

With Halloween in da house, I figure now is the perfect time to open wide and swallow that fear whole, so the rest of this Fall season can be about forward movement, growth, and leaving all that false evidence in the dust.

Before you can say boo, here are 10 ways to eat the fear:

1) Commit to something big: Sure everything starts with baby steps, but look around: There are many opportunities to go big before you go home. Take for example, Nanowrimo — National Novel Writing Month, where you’re challenged to bang out your magnum opus is just 30 days. I’ve got a couple of those suckers laying around already (HULLO, speaking of fear, why not self-publish?), so my goal in November is to kick out a screenplay. (Thanks to my lady writers group, I’m doing something called “Zero Draft Thirty,” which is in the spirit of hunkering down and kicking out the jams).

2) Commit to something small: I dabble in ab work as a part of my BBF’s “100 a day” group on Facebook. That’s 100 sit-ups a day, plus a couple of minutes of planks, and it honestly only takes five minutes a day. For the next 30 days I’m back in and digging the discipline (which will be very helpful in working off all the candy I’m gonna eat in the next week.)

3) Free your mind: And they say the rest will follow. Seriously, when they say it’s all in your head, it’s true. And meditation is one excellent way to kick out the cobwebs and banish the jams by quieting your keppie. Just five minutes a day’ll do it. (This is one of those things that scare me, along with puppets, clowns, and carnies — but I’m gonna try =)

4) Try some tricks: This isn’t necessarily literal, unless you need to employ drastic measures — sexy or otherwise. But how about approaching whatever trips you out with a Jedi mind trick — look beyond the thing, ascribe it to someone else, or even change how you see yourself. If you were your own client, how would you want to be treated?

5) Speaking of treats, make sure you include them on the to do list. Get outside, take a walk, get that double latte with regular milk — go on, you deserve a break. Really, you do.

6) Just say yes. I’ve had a lot of great things happen when I say yes, and so when some oddball offer comes your way, accept that it can change your course.

7) Chose a disguise: You know I’m a big fan of faking it till you make it. So why not go as a confident person with something to say and all the right answers?

8) Don’t answer the phone: You know how in horror movies when the heroine answers the phone, she inevitable ends up chainsaw meat? I’m not saying this literally, but I am saying that you can let it go to voicemail, skip checking emails every five seconds, put down the damn Words with Friends (ok, my problem, maybe not yours), and stay focused. When you hang up on the little distractions that can kill your momentum, you take back the power.

9) Get in the spirit: One of the best things about Halloween, next to free candy, is it’s fun. It’s also thrilling and exciting. These are all good ways to approach things, especially the stuff that scares you.

10) Take it in bite-size pieces: Chunking out whatever it is you have to do is a really good way to get it done. Maybe you hack at whatever you need to do for just 15 minutes a day. Or you write 1,000 words (one of my regular goals), clear out one drawer, etc. It’s much easier to tackle the big when you go bite-sized first.

So if you see me taking off my grim reaper disguise and going as a cheerleader instead, just know that I’ve taken a big bite o’ fear, and it kinda tastes like Reese’s Dark Peanut Butter cups. After all, as the fake horror that is Halloween teaches us, fear is just a mask, and what’s underneath is where the magic happens.