A Word on Fear: Let’s Not Talk Prudence while Practicing Evasion


I am writing to you this morning from a sacred retreat with some really wonderful women. I’m not having the best time. I’m in an ornery place – not the retreat house . . . within myself.

First of all, I don’t like the topic of the retreat, “Coping with Life’s Changes.”

Personally, I find this topic very depressing.

Who wants to just “cope?” If you’re stuck on “just coping” with the changes in your life, than you’re missing the whole beautiful point of flux and flow and upset and dissonance and whatnot that is at the very heart of living.

Loss, suffering, change – all of these — contain the seeds of transformation. If all you want from them is to “cope” you never get to the Good Stuff. You NEVER Reap the Magical Transformation that is inherent within every season of change.

The other “problem” (I guess I’m the Problem Child here this weekend. Well, that sure is different. Ha!) Anyway, the other “problem” I have with the topic is this – Why are we talking about change as if it’s an anomaly?

Talking about change is like spending a whole weekend talking about breathing. And not even the good kind of talk about breathing where you discuss centering and presence and how your breath is really the spirit of Yahweh, and such. (You do realize your breath is the Holy Spirit of Creation moving through you, Right?)

Life is Change. No Change? No LIFE.

Of course some changes are VERY painful. The death of my daughter, for example. Divorce. Illness. And such are very very painful life situations. But love, loss, illness, endings, beginnings – these are the very “stuff of life.”

Certainly, when you get a big kick in the gut like this, there is a season of just “coping” and muddling through. But let’s not stay there any longer than we have to.

I did.

And it was a HUGE mistake.

That “mistake” cost me 15 years of creativity – those were the years I spent with FEAR instead of ART (not the man, but creation).

This time last year, I had an epiphany about change. And I was finally, blessedly, able to see where I had made the wrong turn that “cost” me those 15 years.

I belong to a sacred circle of people who use the Serenity Prayer as a central tenet to their work.

Here’s a bit of that prayer:


God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and, Wisdom to know the difference.


If you break down this prayer, you see that we bring three “buckets” to the Game of Life – Acceptance, Change, and Knowing.

We ask our Higher Power for three gifts to allow us to fill our buckets properly – Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom.

Our part of the Great Mystic Bargain – the ACTION we commit to as co-creators with the Universe — is to Accept, Change, and Know.

But we ought not take ANY of these actions without asking for the gifts of Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom FIRST.

If you go off in life looking for your Mid-Life Mojo and you neglect to ask for these three gifts BEFORE you take action (or inaction as it were), you are going to screw yourself up royally. Because what you are going to do is take wrong action/inaction.

Remember, your part of the deal is to Accept, Change, and Know. But if you don’t remember to ask for GRACE first, you will put these actions in the wrong buckets.

Which is what I did.


I put things in the ACCEPT bucket that should have been in the CHANGE bucket. And I put them in the wrong bucket because of FEAR.

Now if I had been able to receive my Higher Power’s gifts of Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom first, I wouldn’t have stayed in my mistake for so long. Because the Grace of Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom are Cosmic FEAR FIGHTERS. They are the Holy Warriors that kick Fear on its ass every time.

Here’s one of the mistakes that FEAR caused me to make: When I became a Single Mom, I THOUGHT I “should” keep the kids in their house, with their friends, in their very same school district.

I was AFRAID that if I didn’t, they would have an even rougher time with the transition that had been thrust upon us all.

I could not really afford this choice – financially, emotionally, or spiritually – but that is what I felt I “should” do.

Basically I put something HUGE in the Accept bucket when it should have been in the CHANGE bucket.


And it didn’t work.


In order to keep that choice going, I “had” (see the victim language here – not I “chose”) – anyway, I FELT I HAD to stay in horrendous jobs with toxic and dishonest people, so that the kids could have continuity.

And none of us thrived.


A year ago, I dumped all those buckets out and became WILLING to shift things around.

The interesting thing is, we’re still in that same house, the kids are with their friends, but I became unwilling to accept an unacceptable work situation and guess what, buttercup? Obstacles were removed, unexpected resources came flowing in, and NOW I get to do my Big Dream and write for you.

Here’s how I’m going to make peace with the years I squandered to FEAR – I’m going to share my experience, strength, and hope with you in the prayerful hope that you use my experience – my mistakes – to shortcut your own.

Please, make sure if change is ahead, that you don’t let FEAR take you out of the game.

Let’s not talk prudence while practicing evasion.


Namaste and Blessed Be.


Photo: Flickr, Eva101

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24 Responses to A Word on Fear: Let’s Not Talk Prudence while Practicing Evasion

  1. Of course, you could adapt that to mean- the things I cannot change immediately….and, keep trying to change them, knowing that time will elapse.
    Because if you didn’t adopt my definition, how would women have acheived the right to vote? Or Blacks to have (almost?) equality in the US?….

  2. helen says:

    jennifer check brain connection NOW
    i have the strong feeling that you are constantly reading my mind and my heart and than write about that …
    change … my subject of the last week … and still going on.
    i want it desperately … but don.t know how.

    and i hate so much all people (by the moment) who run around: if you want it you can make it.
    maybe the mother-victim is in the game too. by the moment i have to stay at least in this town for the sake of the son … yes but the clock is ticking 😛

    and you are right: we are changing constantly, our life is changing constantly so if somebody accusses us ” you don.t want to change at all” (happened to me on friday) than it can.t be true.

    sometimes we are afraid of what is ahead but no matter what is … change will happen.

    (what a silly idea doing a workshop about it)

    i am done with coping … want to get rid of that.
    bring in the candy and cream to embrace art and change and design 🙂

  3. Caron says:

    The serenity prayer got me through some tough times, too. Many things occurred that I couldn’t change. Trying to make things stay the same or to mold them the way you want them to be molded rather than letting things naturally flow can be very futile at times. Control is an illusion and futile. I’m not saying that we just let life happen to us, I’m saying that some things just are not meant to be and maybe we ought to be letting them go and learning from them rather than slowing ourselves down by dragging them along with us. Insert metaphor of dead horse here.

    Kudos on questioning the authority of your retreat topic and thinking for yourself. How easy it is to accept that what someone in an authority position says (especially if it’s someone/something we put credence in) is going to be beneficial to us.

  4. Laurie says:

    Well, I guess this retreat wasn’t for you! Maybe that feeling you had before you left was not that you feel guilty about leaving your family, maybe it was your gut saying, you don’t need this.
    My motto in life is ‘I thrive in chaos’. Why? Things, like you said, are constantly changing. For months, I had wanted to move. I didn’t like my aprtment, nothing worked, caretakers were pretty lazy. Well, a new company took over, my rent cheque bounced (old caretakers always did deposits on Friday, new ones, right on the first). So, I was evicted. I managed from Feb 16-Mar 1 find a much nicer place, pack, clean and move. I was devastated when I got the eviction notice, but I am ever so thankful that I did. Unfortunately, sometimes, we have to make our own changes. The retreat should be “an attitude for change”, not coping. And well, maybe this is a sign…you should run it. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, Laurie. Actually, it was a wonderful weekend, once I realized why I felt the disharmony within myself at the topic and could let go of it all. And THANK YOU for your vote of confidence about the leadership thing, too. I’m putting together a retreat package now, so, of course, you’re right on schedule with your intuition! Love, J

  5. Ah the old serenity prayer. My mother used to say this to me when I wasn’t getting my way. I thought she made it up just to piss me off. As the years went on and I began to have some awareness–a soupçon mind you–about the role I was playing in the results I was getting, I began to use the prayer as an excuse to be in victim mode. “Oh lord, please help me get through this awful situation, with these awful people I cannot change, and give me the wisdom not to make this mistake again.” Comical except that it was this kind of thinking that allowed me, like you Jennifer, to throw away years I could have been loving, changing, growing in wisdom, and seeing the gift in all of what came my way.
    At fifty something the prayer has magically transformed. Or is it me? Of course it is me and those few short pleas are powerful indeed. When my mom died, when divorce was my choice, jobs and friends who took leave, all of those turned into growth and gratitude moments (eventually) because I learned to pray.
    As for coping, it sounds like an exercise in exhaustion. A sentence of unknown duration to suffer. I applaud you for being willing to say how you feel about this retreat and for bringing this discussion to the table.
    Let’s evade nothing. Let’s face things squarely and pray for the courage to know when to let go of a situation, feeling, or person, comforted in the idea that we can’t get this life wrong. We can only have experiences which fill up the canvas of a life well lived.

  6. Beautifully said and written. Thanks for being so transparent. Change= the ebb and flow of life…Kathleen

  7. Jenny says:

    WOW. Just–wow. 40 must be the magical age when you realize you’re dropping things that should be changed into the ‘accept’ bucket. Remember the old adage: fake it till you make it? Right before my 40th b-day (Sept. 2011), I decided that I was tired of faking it, and that I’m going to make it if it kills me.

  8. Jeanette says:

    I love how life validates our journey…what beautiful symmetry to be at a retreat for something and realize your work no longer requires attendance, but attending brings clarity to the distance traveled. That must have felt great! I have to say, that finding you at lifebyme was like that for me. The humor (and the accompanying wisdom) that can be found in the changes inherent in life make it easier for me to go with the flow…not to say that I wouldn’t change the changes happening on my face-those budding jowls are favorite signs of all this! However, I can see the humor, the love, and the wisdom that comes with the straying lines (lines, yes, jowls…NO!); illustrations,each, that change ‘Is’ and how we deal with it is ours to decide. Thank you for your humor and candor, the reminder that not only is change good, but inevitable.

    • Jeanette says:

      regarding jowls…should read ‘NOT favorite signs’ dart!

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, I adore you!!!! I wish you were HERE right now and I would make you cocoa and we could laugh about it all. In my eRetreat, the very last day’s assignment is this, to know that “You Are YOur Own Guru.” At this point in life, we can own that we know ourselves. Thanks for affirming, love. Jennifer

  9. Louise (from Thelma & Louise) says:

    I so identify with this topic! I too have a “serenity prayer coffee club” and life certainly gives me opportunities to practice it.
    Like you, trying to figure out which bucket the issue I’m dealing with belongs in is pretty difficult. When I get it in the right bucket, such amazing things happen!

    During the past 5 years, I too worked in a toxic environment with some nasty people. I thought if I worked hard enough, I could change it and make it better. What happened? I worked harder and longer hours. I felt like I was on a merry-go-round spinning faster and faster with my family, friends and hobbies on the sidelines.
    I kept praying for things to get better and for the merry-go-round to slow down. Instead, it got worse and more toxic and the merry-go-round kept going.
    I then asked my higher power for guidance on how I could make it better. It took me a long time to hear the message- “It wasn’t my job to change them and make it better. It was time to jump off the merry-go-round.”
    For my whole life I thought that hard work could fix anything. Failure was a sign of weakness and lack of hard work. I had bought into the “hard work equals success.”
    So- what happened when I jumped off the merry-go-round? The dizzying sickness stopped. I was able to focus on what was really important- my family, friends, hobbies and my emotional, physical and spiritual health. I re-defined what success is to me.

  10. Pingback: When the Horse is Dead, It’s Prudent to Dismount. | Life After Tampons

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