Tag Archives: Fear

Today is Different

Credit: iStockphoto

Well, to be honest each day is different but today feels more different than most.

Still have a migraine – so I guess that is still the same. But for the first time since my surgery I feel like yoga and walking. Real walking – none of that walking around the block 10 minute BS but real 3-4 mile walking.

I’d head out the door right now, except for the migraine, the house that is a disaster, the laundry that needs to be done, and a promise to myself that I would write today.

I’ve learned a few things while I was out of it. Productive procrastination and all that. While I was recovering I finished the edits on a short story and then read, a lot. You know it is a lot when it is multiple times the amount that I watched Netflix or Hulu. Drowning in visual media was a way for me to escape my migraines, when they were bad and continuous. At the time, reading took too much effort – not to mention memory.

Sorry, got distracted by the wind in the trees and the stormy look to the sky. I love walking in the wind.

So I read. A lot of fiction and a little nonfiction. You might say that my taste are lowbrow. I like genre fiction. Can’t really help it. Although I have to admit that my choices probably added to my depression. I re-read Ghost Story by Peter Straub, On Writing and Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Oh, and a few short stories. I love Straub’s Ghost Story and re-read it every few years.

Like every few years I re-read Sherlock Holmes and all the ghost stories I love so much. I like Poe, but I also like Afterwards by Edith Wharton, Green Tea by Le Fanu, A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter. There are so many more… M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, O. Henry, LovecraftFaulkner and Hemingway both indulged in tales of terror and I’ve read those too. There seems to be nothing like a good fright – and the catharsis of survival.  

I have a strange desire to read a little Hawthorne now, and James… but M. R. or Henry? Turn of the Screw is delightfully frightening. Hmmm…

As usual I digress.

I leaned a few things during my enforced inactivity. Time to think, and rethink, is such a wonderful thing. I realized that I’m not editing hard enough – I’m getting close now, this last thing was edited to within an inch of its life – but I need to focus on getting that part of the process down. My best tool, besides my friends, is reading out loud over and over again. When I’m tired I stop reading what I think is there and read what actually is.

I also realized that I’m my own worst enemy (okay, we knew that). I get afraid and I back off from the drafting process. I need to drown in it – and let it go.

There are times when I am so far into a story that it seems real and the rest of the world seems out of phase. It is a bit of a trip to go out like this, often the story will continue in my head as I wander the aisles in the grocery store. My only hope is that I’m not muttering to myself. A perfectly appropriate thing when I’m home with the cat but would cause most people to keep a wide berth.

It is funny how we instinctively avoid those displaying behaviors we dub as outside the norm.

Again I digress.

Oceans of Notions – to misquote Rushdie.

I need to drown in the Ocean of Notions… the funny thing… I think I’m ready. So much of the last few years have been taken up with figuring out how to structure my life to the best effect. Once I’m here, at the desk, and things are moving I do pretty well. But getting here, staying here, when there are so many other things calling to me – like the wind in the trees or wondering about the evolutionary value of avoiding individuals displaying odd behaviors… it is so easy to be distracted by the bright shiny objects that lay all around me.

So, I need to jump in the Ocean of Notions and let it take me. Turn on the tap and let the ideas flow – good, bad, indifferent, downright silly – letting them flow through me and allow the fear of drowning go.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~ Frank Herbert

I wonder if he was talking about fear – or writing?

I’ll see you when I come up for air. 

~ Tess


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Getting Back to Work

One of the most difficult things, after a vacation, is getting back to work.

When you work at home I think that it is almost harder. Harder to find the motivation. Harder to put those “good” habits back into place. After all, you just spent several days not working in the same space that you work.  

Today is a new beginning.

And like always I am starting from scratch. There are more things on my plate then there were before the holidays started and I have less time to do them. So this morning – I slept late – had a leisurely breakfast – listened to the news – and am only now sitting up in my office working.

So much for getting up early and exercising.

I know what motivates me – in a general sense – but I’ve always been an A-minus type personality. Not as driven as a true A, but not anywhere as easy going as a B. I need to have a plan. Although I’m more than willing for the plan to change, grow, modify as new information emerges. But I need a road map to start the journey with.

The next few days I will be preparing for the coming year. And I admit to being terrified. Talk about putting myself out on a limb. Placing my faith in my writing and the hope that eventually the money will come and I will be solvent again.

So I’ll start where I always start.

Get out the post-it notes and start throwing the ideas on the wall. Stare at them, add, subtract, and by New Years Day I’ll have a plan. I started doing this several years ago as a way of understanding what motivated me.

I’m motivated by the need to be autonomous, solvent, and have a close knit circle of friends. And that I wanted to write for a living – which would give me control over the shape of my days and keep me out of the corporate world. I always thought I would be happier working in my own space…and I am. It isn’t that I don’t like people – I do – but the constant social demands of an office wore me down leaving me with little energy for my own life.  

This process has taken me this far. I am home, I am writing, but I am not anywhere near solvent. Now it is time to put the lessons learned in the last year down on paper. What worked, what didn’t, reviewing the projects that succeeded and failed to find out how to make the next year better.

Here is to a year of adventure – of reaching for the impossible and making it real.

~ Tess Anderson


Filed under Writing

The Stories We Tell

New York Public Library

A friend is working on a project concerning how historians are dealing with the preservation of the occurrences in the aftermath of 9/11 specifically what do we save and how do we preserve it.

Which made me wonder… what story are we going to tell?

You can take this from the level of the individual to the country to the world – and on every level tell a different story – provide a different filter – let some facts speak and lay others silently aside.  

Like the rest of the world – I was stunned and horrified at the occurrences that morning. And like many spent the rest of the day wandering through it dazed. It altered my perception of the world – my own sense of safety and security. Nothing on this magnitude had been perpetrated on American soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor in WWII.

But we forget.

We forget that our situation is not normal – that many nations deal with much more on a daily basis – look what the British and Irish went through, or what occurred in Beirut in the 80’s, or what is occurring in so many countries in the Middle East right now. Every day in the Middle East soldiers and civilians are killed – we see the numbers daily in our news feeds. Can we even imagine that being our country?

So – what story will we tell?

One story that I hope we tell is about what, in our fear, we were willing to lose. Fear is a strange thing. It makes us willing to give up so much and we were afraid and our leaders leveraged those fears. Molded them, gave indefinite fears form and then went to work on their own agendas.

We wanted answers, someone to blame, someone to punish, someone to protect us and tell us that this would never happen again. For us the world stopped – paused while the planes were grounded – and then our world started up again different.  

We are a great nation – but we were not a wise or good nation.

The most powerful fears are caused by what we don’t understand. And it takes time to understand – to process, putting emotion aside, and think through things – to look at the information through different points of view. Even then – you may comprehend what occurred but not understand.

But then how many of us are crusaders or extremists – willing to put our lives, not just on the line for a moment, but for years of planning and training. Because that is what it took – years for them to develop and execute the events on 9/11. How many of us truly understand that mentality that level of commitment to a goal that ends in death?

This is a story that has nothing to do with religion, with faith or with nationality, this has to do with ideology and fear. Their fear of us – of change – and their desire to instill fear in us.

Fear is a destructive emotion – nothing great or worthwhile has ever come of it.

And we have proved that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Our fear has changed the world – Think about it. In how many little ways has the world changed from air travel to getting a bank account. How many of us know people who have were detained, who still have a double check from officials as they enter and leave an airport?

And then there are the things that changed us as a country. We wanted the men found who had done this. Found and punished. And we didn’t care how. We demanded information and we received it. It wasn’t till much later that we asked how.

Look where we are now.

So, my friends post on FB telling about her research on preserving 9/11 made me think. What stories will we tell – and have we learned anything from them.

~ Tess Anderson

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Filed under Politics, Random


I was thinking about the migraine that’s been sitting behind my left eye all day. It made me remember last year when I had a migraine that lasted 31 days (yes DAYS not hours).

That made me think about Healthcare.

You see, I’d never really thought about healthcare until I needed to get help for my migraines. Real help! The kind where you know that you can’t keep going if you don’t get some assistance. Nothing I was trying was working and I needed a specialist. Plus I was concerned that if I didn’t get better I would lose my job.

I did get better – then I got laid off. It could have been worse.

But while I was suffering through the maze of healthcare and HR I realized that it was the most inefficient system I had ever seen in my life. My friends and former co-workers know that I don’t do well with convoluted systems – and from what I can tell my experiences were mild compared to most – but the system is broken. But fixing it… that is all about change and as much as we may rail about the system, it is our system, we are used to it, and on some level it works.

I don’t think the Healthcare debate is really about Healthcare. I think it is about change – and it is rare for people to embrace change. We may also have used up our ability to handle change after voting in President Obama. That was change on a grand scale – and it took unprecedented visionary leadership – and guts. Guts for all of us to believe that change was possible.

We are the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare. You can read all the stats on who’s covered, who isn’t, all the horror stories of healthcare gone wrong, all the stories of waste and malfeasance. But none of those are going to make you change your mind… because for a lot of us, what we have works for us and we are afraid that by moving to a different system we will have less.

Fear is what keeps us here. Fear of change.

Isn’t the first thing you do when your company changes healthcare providers is check to see if your doctors are on the list? Or when you change jobs? Who wants to change? To walk into the unknown? Even though change is usually… what?

When something changes… how often is the change bad, good, or just more of the same? And the corollary – where do we have to be before we actively pursue change?

I like that… where do we have to be before we actively pursue change?

If it is our health – is it the X year class reunion, when your doctor says you are going to die of a heart attack in 2 years if you don’t, a major milestone of a birthday, or something else. What tips you into changing your behaviors?

If it is the Presidency – did we really have to go into freefall before the country woke up and said “No More!”

If it is your Healthcare – how bad would it have to get or how good would the option have to be to get you to change? And are you looking at this from a personal standpoint or from what is right for the Nation as a whole?

I could quote you more statistics here but as Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Although 1+1=2 in stats numbers are a lot like words, and words can say whatever you want them too.  

The question is what do you want? If we could find the top three things that defined a vision of Healthcare that spoke to everyone – could we then change? Right now we are bandaging the scrape on the knee when the leg is broken. This is a fix. What we need is a reimagining of the whole system. Something that I’m not sure we are capable of.

Our Founding Fathers did a great job making sure that any changes of a momentous nature to our country were slow. The system, with all its checks and balances and division of powers, is meant to make sure that all aspects of a problem are weighed. I don’t think they ever imagined how huge and convoluted our government would become. All systems do this – they build complexity until they drown in it.

No one can wave a magic wand and make this work and without a clear vision we don’t know where we are going – and that scares us.

It took me two months of daily migraines to get a referral to the Neurologist that finally helped me. Would I have gotten in to see him sooner if the system changed or would I have been left waiting for months? Migraines are rarely life threatening so I’m not so sure where I would be on the importance scale.

The thing is – I’m ready to face the change, even if it causes inconvenience for me in the short term because I believe it is where we have to go. We need everyone to have access to Healthcare – everyone to have access to preventive care – well baby checkup – screenings for breast cancer/colon cancer/diabetes/heart disease – whatever you are at risk for. Then we can catch things early – save money on late stage care – and start providing preventive rather than reactionary care. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Healthcare system was about keeping you healthy rather than just fixing you when you’re broken?    

So yes, I want change. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pain free. Hell, we may go backwards before we go forwards – but where we are will just collapse in on itself costing us more and providing us less.  

 ~ Tess

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