Friday, January 6, 2017

6 Word Memoir ~ Fearlessly Looking Forward To The New Year!

Howdy, Campers ~

Happy New Year from all of us at TeachingAuthors! We are kicking this year off with a tip-of-the-hat to Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs  More on this in a bit.

Thank you, Linda, for hosting Poetry Friday today. The link to PF is below, as is my small poem.

"The first and great commandment is: Don't let them scare you."
~ Elmer Davis

When I was young, my blood froze if I saw a spider across the room. I experienced sheer terror at the thought of a spider. When I was in college, I lived in a student co-op, with six guys and six girls. We were like a large family whose parents were gone for a very long weekend. We cooked and had dinner together each night—my kind of heaven. One of my first chores was to clean the downstairs bathroom. This was the University of California, Davis, originally an ag school, surrounded by fields and vineyards. So the Davis Student Co-op was filled with ...spiders. Of course it was. And the downstairs bathroom was apparently their party room.

How could I admit my phobia to my fellows? I could not. Instead, I made a sign that said "Charlotte," pasted it just under the big spider in the corner above the sink, and used a rolled up newspaper to send the rest to spider heaven. 
Every week I'd talk to Charlotte. I grew fond of her. With Charlotte's help, my phobia disappeared.

Fast forward to my life these days. I am afraid of a boatload of things--but not spiders. For example, I am afraid of earthquakes. So I volunteer with CERT, Community Emergency Response Team. We learn to rescue people. CERT turns neighbors into team members so that in an emergency we band together. This doesn't mean I've lost my fear of earthquakes, it means if there is one, I have a job to do, and a community of people who will help me do it.

More fears: I am a TeachingAuthor who is afraid of teaching...and of writing. Of teaching badly. Of writing something mediocre. 

I am learning to walk through these fears with the help of others who have gone before me, including our tiny village of TeachingAuthors ~ and all of you, our readers. Thank you.

This year? I am afraid for democracy. 

I am terrified.

Fear, I'm told, is the opposite of faith. I have faith in my own resilience, in the basic goodness of the universe, in a village of courageous and smart friends and fellows along the way.

So, I've decided to copy many of you who, like Irene Latham, choose One Little Word (OWL) to guide them each year. My word for 2017 is Fearless. Every day I tell myself I am fearless and everyday I believe it a smidgen more. I love the whole community of words that I could have chosen, including unflinching, unafraid, defiant, gutsy, and audacious.

In fact, is having a contest right now about hope in the new year which ends January 13th: Basically, "Tell us how you keep hope alive in six words." You can read the rules here.

by April Halprin Wayland

Hold hands.
Move fearlessly
photo credit:
What is your Six Word Hope in this New Year?

Check out a host of Poetry Friday hopes at Linda's TeacherDance

posted by April Halprin Wayland with a heart full of hope (with help from Eli, Monkey and Snot.)


Linda B said...

I enjoyed all the stories here, April, and the one that struck me was that you write about your fear of teaching, yet in this beautiful post, you are teaching us to live our lives more fully, to take on the fears and do something. That story of your Charlotte is worth a picture book I think.

"inspiration and hand-holding can climb mountains!"

author amok said...

April, I'm inspired by your practice of coping with fear by teaching yourself ways to tolerate what frightens you. As a spider-lover, I'm glad you made peace with Charlotte.

Tabatha said...

Enjoyed this post very much, April. I had to look up CERT -- it sounds like something I would like to try. :-)
Happy Fearless New Year!

Carmela Martino said...

April, I decided to choose a word to focus on this year, too! (I didn't know about Irene and others doing it.) My word is FAITH, not just in a God who guides me, but also Faith in myself and my own abilities and resiliency. Feels like a great companion to your FEARLESS!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, April - my fearless friend. Thank you for this post to help usher us into - well, I'm not sure what kind of year yet, but I'm glad to be on the same road you are.

I've become a spider-lover (to use Laura's word), myself, and have been writing about them... :0) Writing helps alleviate fears sometimes, doesn't it? Six words. Hmm.

Uncertain darkness -
Follow warmth.
Seek light.

Carol Varsalona said...

April, the world is turning upside down and fears are common place emotions but hope is our salvation. Accepting fearless as your #OneWord2017 is a bold move. Introducing the #HopeIn6Words contest in poetic form brought to mind what words can do to change the course of life. I have written Six-Word Memoirs before tonight but switching it to a Six-Word Hope in the New Year is a good twist. I will work on this and will quote you in my Celebrate This Week post that will be released over the weekend. Thanks.

CS Perryess said...

Hey April - brava to your 6 words. I'm thinking if I'm being my best self, mine might be something like...Check facts, Join others, Take action.
I'm thinking positive thoughts your way in these crazy times.

Kathleen Mazurowski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret Simon said...

This post is something I can relate to. I have an unreasonable fear of snakes. I love your 6 word hope-filled poem. Let's hold hands across the blogosphere and continue to make this world a better place!

April Halprin Wayland said...

My dear Linda B ~ your comment has lifted my spirits considerably. See? Our village gives us strength!

Laura Shovan ~ and I still feel guilty about Charlotte's siblings who I sent to spider heaven! These days I let them crawl into a jar and release them outside.

Tabatha ~ Even if I forget how to pull someone out of a burning building or how to put together wood blocks to lift a weight off someone, there are others on my CERT team who will remember. This gives me enormous comfort. I hope you find CERT in your area!

Carmela ~ Yes, Faith and Fearlessness walk hand-in-hand! And this morning (while I was in the shower, if you must know), I thought that"Safe" is the opposite of Fear, too...and so I am thinking about where I feel safe and who I feel safe with my deepest feelings (and writings)...

Robyn: Spider-lover, light-seeker and generous, poetic friend ~ that's YOU in six words!

Carol ~ Thank you for your comment and for this hope-filled post:

CS Perryess ~ I LOVE your six words. Yes, yes--Check Facts! (even whether my emotions are correctly reporting facts to my heart...)

Margaret ~ Here's my hand. Our only choice? (Which is also the final word of Sonya Sones' verse novel, STOP PRETENDING) "Better."

Heidi Mordhorst said...

April, first of all, never fear the Beige Monster--this is a perfectly-composed post and, as Linda points out, teaches by delicious example. You count for more than one of those million candles, lit, that you mentioned in your comment on my panicky, fearful, Friday morning poem.

So, a six-word hope:
be ready. (life as we know it is turning upside down)
stay steady.(yet people are fundamentally good, and I am fundamentally competent
to respond)
let's go. (so let me respond, not alone, but holding hands)

Also, I agree that it's easier to move fearlessly forward in a pink princess costume.

Irene Latham said...

Dear Fearless April, whom I adore! I love this post so much for its vulnerability and strength. Thank you. My 6 word hope for the year:

Be me.
Love more.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Heidi ~ Thank you for your six words. Wonderful. Why, yes! I hadn't thought about it IS more fun to fight the good fight in a pink princess costume!

Irene ~ Oh, oh, oh! Your six words make my blood warm up in a good way.