Monsters, Fears, and Moving Forward

by Lance Ekum on · 100 comments

Creative Commons License photo credit: t3hWIT

"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them." ~ Andre Gide

The Story

In September, I had the opportunity to spend several days in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado.  The scenery from my quaint bed and breakfast was magnificent!  Still…it is one thing to stop and view our amazing earth, and another altogether in becoming one with that earth.

The Devil's Backbone Open Space – a hiking/biking area was just outside the door of this little B&B.  The owner shared with me that this is all accessible near the back of their property.  On a trip I'm on all by myself, I wander out through the back yard and locate a trail that is part of the Devil's Backbone hiking area.  Perfect!  I just have to walk through some long prairie grass (and a partial trail) to get there.  Off I go, on a beautiful autumn evening in Colorado. 

I walk about fifty feet, and stop.  Stop, to check out a sound I hear just to my left.  The prairie grass is sparse but long, so I bend over to get a better look. 

What is that rattling sound, anyway?

I bend over a little further to see what's there.  (this would be a great place for you to really question my brilliance…)

Rattlesnake.  Less than two feet from me (mostly from my face, because I've bent over to get a better look)

Or, perhaps I should say:  "Rattlesnake!!!!"

Are there some things that just scare you, for no particular reason at all?

I probably did exactly what you shouldn't do.  In a moment of panic, alone in this wilderness…

I ran.

I ran as fast as I could (see, I knew that marathon training would pay off!!), watching my feet, and where they stepped, the whole way back to the driveway at the back of the B&B.

The Fears We Have

Have I ever had a negative experience with a snake before?  No. 

So, while this was a very real fear, in that moment  – it's not really that different from the perceived fears we have, also. (the monsters we think are out there)

In the case of the snake, my thinking was "I don't want to get bit!" and "Why is he doing that?". (I am obviously not a snake expert…)

In the case of our perceived fears, it's:

"I'll look like a fool."

"What happens if I fall on my face?" (literally or figuratively)

"It's such a crazy idea."

"I'm not good enough to do this."

…or any of the other fear statements we might make to ourselves. 

I have.

Have you? 

And have you let fear stand in the way of trying something?  Or perhaps, have you started something, and reverted back at the first sign of fear?  (much like seeing that snake was for me)

The Second Part of the Story

"You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?" ~ Dr. Seuss

Having seen this snake (or – call it a monster), I was unsure about going back out and exploring this magnificent country right outside my back door (or – call it your bliss).  Every step I took, I took with care, unsure of what might be lurking in the weeds. 

A couple of days later, I ventured back into The Devils Backbone Open Space.  I chose a different path this time, one that was fully a path.  Still, starting out down that path, that fear was there (I knew what I had encountered just two days earlier).  I was uneasy, uncomfortable, unsure.  Still, I kept moving forward.

Forward…and toward amazing scenery that I was now within!

Back to Daily Life

How about you?  Are there things you are perhaps missing out on…fear holding you back from taking those steps into the direction of your dreams?

Or maybe you've been trekking down that path toward your bliss, only to be setback by having some fear come up (what are the monsters that hold you back?).

Wherever you are on this path of your life, whatever you are facing today…believe in the possibility of YOU!

YOU…are AMAZING!!  Believe that always…

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

~ Dr. Seuss

Your mountain IS out there…for each of you!!   When you move beyond those fears, with courage, toward your bliss – you shine your amazing light out into the world.  What a gift that is!!

Shine YOU…YOU in all your technicolor beauty…out into the world!

Final note:  The first question my kids asked me upon hearing this story:  "Dad, did you get a picture?"  I'm sure you can guess the answer…

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny Mannion October 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Hi Lance,
LOVE this one. I would’ve ran too when I heard that rattle! Somehow snakes held by a person as a pet have me saying “ohhh” and wanting to pet them but seeing them outside doesn’t quite have that effect on me!

BUUUTTTT I am ALL for facing your fears and I LOVE that Dr. Seuss book! I am glad you went back out for that walk! I think there are 2 things here — 1) yes reacting in fear is NORMAL – we have our defense mechanisms for a purpose 😉 2) don’t let fear STOP you from doing ANYTHING! We often make things seem harder in our minds.. psych ourselves up and out of exploring or taking something to the next level. I was one of those people and would fight hard before stepping outside my comfort zone. Now, I say BRING IT! 😉 Okay – maybe not in ALL situations… but I will look at WHY I am afraid of something and try and muscle on past it…. that is how we push our limits and expand ourselves and I have to say I love it. I don’t really mind if I look silly doing something… I’d rather try it and say I did it than worry about it. 🙂

Thanks Lance… Oh the places you’ll go INDEED! 😉

Much Love,
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Hmmm…you are definitely braver than I!! (I’m not so sure about snakes that are being held, either…) (ha!)

Facing fears. Yes, we WILL be faced with those things in life that we fear (rationally or irrationally). When we can see these fears for what they are, and then move forward…we realize that what seemed so fearful…well, it was really nothing at all. And even if it is something, we come out stronger because we’ve worked through it. (usually!!) (i.e. I’m not about to go and start picking up rattle snakes tomorrow…)

Oh the Places You’ll Go…a real favorite of mine!!

And…here’s to looking silly!! Woohoo!!


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} October 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Oh Lance,
At first you had me laughing out loud , with your face 2 feet from the rattle snake..and then you had me thinking deep deep thoughts with the monsters and the fears of them lurking in our lives. Only you can do that…you know…take the reader from pure laughter to such a deep thoughtful place. 🙂
As for fears…oh I have had too many in the past…my backyard was full of monsters, and some lay under my bed too…hmmm… But in time, I have realized that I don’t want anything(not even monsters) to control me or my life. I rather do that myself. Take the reins in my hand and enjoy the ride.
As for monsters(now literally monsters)- are actually pretty cute 🙂 – I think have been watching too many pre-school tv shows with my little girl, where they make monsters such cute little furry things 😉
Thank you sweet Lance, fro this amazing story, experience and the laugh 😉
So Much Love,


Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Guess what? I wasn’t laughing at all as I RAN away from that snake!!! Okay…it’s a LITTLE funnier now!!

I’ve had those monsters, too…ones I think are there – yet, when I’ve been brave enough to face them…I can’t find the monster (or it’s not so much of a monster, after all…). And yes – some monsters really are pretty cute and cuddly (like Cookie Monster!).

Much love to you, sweet friend…


Suzie Cheel October 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I love Dr Seuss, thanks Lance for reminding me to believe in the possibility of YOU! as well as how important it is to move through the fear that can stop us realizing our dreams. I love you fear statements to

Would I have run- probably although deep in the back of my childhood memories of finding a snale in the strawberry patch and also being in proximity at other times to snakes- often harmless i know that jusy being still is important. Now I just thought I could use that as analogy for dealing with fear and be still and listen- trust our intuition- I have just come from reading a post at Jenny’s blog and heard Mari Smith say the same
in gratitude
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm

We are so filled with possibility!! And when we’re open what that might mean for us…some very amazing things can happen. Of course, we have to navigate beyond the fears that hold us back (like that snake!!).

Being still – such a great point. And the interesting thing – I was walking back on the driveway to the B&B, and there was another (much smaller) snake. This time, I stopped, I observed and then I walked slowly on. (wow, it was so much easier when the snake was small….perhaps just like when our fears are smaller, they too are easier for us to work with…)

Thanks so much Suzie!


Jules - Big Girl Bombshell October 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I have been dealing with an incredible amount of my fear reactions lately. I had one of those blissful moments and noticing the light not the darkness….Wonderful post!
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm

So awesome – having those moments of great light-ness!! Especially in the face of the fears we have, a moment like this can be a real step forward. So happy for you Jules – and thanks for sharing that here.


Eliza October 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I too just about stepped on a rattlesnake in Colorado. I was on a gravel path and the snake completely blended in. Fortunately, it was cold and he was very dopey because of it. I didn’t run. I got some fantastic photos instead 🙂

What haven’t I done out of fear? Left a toxic relationship. Did I face that fear? Yes, after a LOT of freaking out about it. Is my life better off for it?

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Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Okay…brave one…next time…YOU are my hiking buddy!!!! Was this snake I saw a dopey one?? Hmmm….I didn’t take the time to find out (wow…I don’t I look brave?!?)

Relationships. That’s a tough one – as it is truly personal. And in that – I think these are much more difficult fears to work through. So happy for you, though, Eliza – and at where you are today…

….or maybe I should call you “snake whisperer…”


Natalia October 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Lance! What a great story and what a happy ending…no Lance’s were harmed in the making of this blog post! 🙂

I read that Dr. Seuss story to J about a month ago and thought what a wonderful message!

I’ll be the first to admit it, I do let fear get the best of me! I need a good kick in the arse to get me going in the right direction!

Thanks for this post! Made me smile AND think!!!!

Take care!
Natalia :0 )
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Ha!!! Gosh, I’m smiling a great big smile right now!! Right, no Lance’s were harmed in the making of this blog post!! Although, a one certain Lance was scared BIG TIME in the hiking of this trail!! (wait…that’s NOT funny!!!)

Dr. Seuss and his messages are so wonderful…and I especially love this book.

Thanks, Natalia…so awesome having you here!


Dandy October 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I really like this post. It strikes a chord within me. The majority of my life I allowed fear to lead me. I let myself grow complacent until one day I realized it was more scarey to do nothing than to try. I do believe in the possibility of me!!!!
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I love that thought – that it’s more scary to do nothing. Yes!! Especially when that something speaks directly to our heart, what a beautiful journey we’re creating.

Keep on believing in YOU!!! Dandy…you shine!!


Dia October 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Hi Lance,

Fear keeps many people from trying new things and from achieving their goals. We have to understand that fear is an illusion and that many of our fears won’t happen. Step by step, we can overcome our fears. Thanks for sharing
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Fear DOES hold us back. And when we’re held back…especially with those things that have special meaning to us…we limit the amazing light that is within each of us…


Caroline October 18, 2010 at 10:18 pm

What a great post Lance. Fear is such a funny thing… I have this huge dog that is scared of bubbles, balloons, loud noises, etc. I always laugh and think…how silly my dog is about his fears. Then I got to thinking about my fears. And I thought, my fears are like bubbles…not nearly as scary as I think they are. And if I am lucky, I will learn to pop them one day…
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

So…size doesn’t matter! Big dogs…scared of little things. Little dogs…perhaps taking leaps of faith.

Okay – and this whole idea of fears like bubble…Caroline!! I love this thought…and how we can build up the courage to pop them (our fears)!!

And I think of the month long photography project you embraced…and one that I believe was very much stepping out into some fears (and popping some bubbles)!! Very awesome!!


Sandra Lee October 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Oh Lance, you really had me going there with the snake encounter! Totally love the Dr. Seuss quotes. Fear has been a big part of my life, but I have accomplish a lot nevertheless. So I choose to focus on the latter! Thanks again for the joy and inspiration.
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm

This snake encounter…had my heart pounding for a good couple of minutes!! (and my feet running as fast as they could!!)

And look at that…even in the face of fear – look at ALL you have accomplished!! So awesome!! And it just shines what IS possible when we move beyond these fears…


Naomi Estment October 19, 2010 at 7:58 am

Thanks for another inspirational post, Lance! Fabulous photo’s – both of them 😀 It’s lovely to glimpse that area in Autumn, only having an idea of it in winter – from skiing at Breckenridge, which was spectacular! Dave is a great one for putting me up to facing my fears – especially regarding snakes, which he loves to pick up, wild and all…


Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Now that picture of Cookie Monster…seeing that, how can any monster really be scary?? (okay…maybe they are not all that cuddly!!) The autumn season in Colorado was gorgeous. I was there probably just a couple of weeks early for the peak colors in the forests (especially upon visiting Rocky Mountain National Park).

Hey, maybe I saw you at Breckenridge (well…it’s been over 15 years since I’ve skied there!)

And your husband…wow…he can have those snakes!! My wife (Lora) will sometimes pick them up, too (at least the smaller ones). Me…I’ll pass!!!


Keith October 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

Hello Lance,

WOW! I can clearly see a mental picture of you leaning over that rattle snake, and then the look of surprise/terror on your face! Thankfully, you were not bitten so therefor this makes a funny story.

You did a masterful job of using this real life experience as an illustration of the effect fear can have on our lives. Every human has experienced fear and has had to deal with it in one way or another.

For years I always “played it smart”, trying to take the “safest” route on my life journey. I finally came to realize that it was fear ruling my life. Fear of failure, fear of going broke, fear of rejection, fear, fear, fear!

To answer your question, Yes. I have missed out on things because of fear but this I will do no longer. It’s hard sometimes, I admit, but when I come face to face with fear I just think of what I could “miss out on this time” and then I jump…..

Thank you Lance. I honestly appreciate what you’ve shared here. 🙂
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Lance October 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I’m laughing right now as I read this (ummmm….I wasn’t laughing so much as this was all happening!!)!! I’m VERY thankful I wasn’t bitten!

Those fears that hold us back…or set us back as we begin down some journey…and where does that leave us? Unsatisfied. Unfullfilled. Lacking deeper meaning.

The past is exactly that, tough…past. So, in today and going forward – how do we work with these fears? Keith, it just sounds like you have this down..and that is your life experience bringing you to where you are today…and then facing those fears…and jumping! Love that!!


Keith October 20, 2010 at 9:21 am

Hey Lance,

I am loving all of these comments! You have some very awesome readers to be sure.

Love the example your life is for others. Keep rockin’ brutha!
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rob white October 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hi Lance,
Certainly there are rational fears that keep us safe… I would run too 🙂 . The insanity of humanity is all the irrational fears we harbor that keep us small. We bury our potential whenever we identify with the irrational fears of “I’m not smart enough,” “I can’t handle it” etc. etc. This gives life to the counterfeit self that is just trying to get by… like you say, the truth is we have an unlimited side that is just waiting to breakthrough.


Lance October 20, 2010 at 4:46 am

This was definitely a rational fear for me (and instinctual, too)!! Those irrational fears, though – how much do they hold us back from our potential? When we move beyond the fears, we shine our amazing light out!! You do that, Rob – and it’s very awesome to see!


Evelyn Lim October 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

I would have ran too…LOL! I am afraid of snakes…yikes!!! It’s great that you managed to venture out again. Oh yes….don’t let fear ever stop us in the direction of our dreams! Most certainly, I have felt so much lighter since letting go of so much baggage! Thanks for the beautiful message today!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 4:49 am

So, if we were hiking together…it would have been a race out of there!!

Fear. It’s there (something we have all felt). And the cool thing about fear – is when we do move past that, how good it can feel to know we’ve had that fear and overcome the obstacle.

So good to read about where you are…and the lightness you feel in your life!


Angelia Sims October 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

I would have run too. Very brave of you to trek back into that wilderness where the monster surely moved from his original spot. Eeek!

Some fears are worth conquering for the reward of the view. As you know Jason is facing the monsters inside him – illness – at a young age of 35. Seems he is a medical mystery so they will chalk it up to viral (most likely). I have faced my own monster of – can I do this? – am I strong enough? – compassionate enough?

Through it all, I know I will be stronger and so will he. Our time together bonding and just like you. When we reach our mountaintop the view and our accomplishment will be even more meaningful and worthwhile.

Great post Lance.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 4:53 am

You know…as I walked that trail a couple of days later – I was very much watching for what might be lurking in the grass (I did see a bunny…that wasn’t so scary!).

The fears you and Jason are facing right now – they are very real, very rational. Health fears can be so challenging. And yet – you find the strength to keep going. Angelia, you are doing so great – supporting and loving your new husband. And I know (know know know) that is making a difference, is making this whole experience better for Jason (as challenging as I’m sure it is for him).

Know that I’m thinking of both of you, and really your whole wonderful family.

Much peace,


Lynn October 19, 2010 at 9:45 am

I’m with you on that fear on snakes, my friend. That said, I do have a small fear of changing jobs – I tend to get in a comfort zone. But I’ve done it enough – this is my 11th job (spread out over a period of time – 7 of them were with the same company in different positions.)


Lance October 20, 2010 at 4:56 am

I’m smiling (at how you can relate!!).

Comfort zones. Ahh…great point, on how we can become comfortable in certain aspects of our life…and then fear changing from that (even when the change could be a good thing).

Thanks so much for sharing that – such a great reminder on how quickly we can become comfortable.


Christopher Foster October 19, 2010 at 11:49 am

Great story well-told Lance. Great to see a picture of that backbone trail too, was my retreat many times while I lived at Loveland. And I do recall one or two encounters with mr. or mrs. rattlesnake…One was kind of funny. I was hiking along and saw a small knot of about 6-8 people stopped just ahead.

Turned out there was a rattlesnake lazily enjoying an afternoon rest in the middle of the trail and no one quite knew what to do. Creature didn’t want to move. Finally the first brave person walked carefully around it giving as much space and deference to the snake as possible and everyone else followed including me… reminded me of a time I did a firewalk…certainly gets the adrenaline moving.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 4:59 am

So awesome to meet you, in person, when I was out in Loveland!! What a beautiful area!

Thanks for sharing your rattlesnake story (I think!!). I guess the thing is – this space where the snake was – it was his habitat. And a spot I (and you on your hike) were encroaching upon. And it’s not like he was the one coming out after me (or you). Just there, enjoying his (or her) day.

Good to think about – and about how we respect and treat others (creatures, people, nature, etc).


Christopher Foster October 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

You’re absolutely right Lance. A very good way to look at that particular situation. Brings up for me the matter of respect: respect for anything and everyone we come across during our sojourn here in this world. Respect even for the right of a rattlesnake to enjoy a lazy rest in the afternoon without humans cussing it or wondering if it’s the sensible thing to throw stones at it etc etc…
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Jody - Fit at 52 October 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Amazing amazing amazing post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lance, this really does say it & love the use of Dr. Seuss quotes too…… and moving forward! Right in line with my Dr. J post today & loved your comment!

Fear has been a huge factor in my life…. many times I did things despite the fears & other times not… still fighting it but better than not fighting it. Tomorrow on my blog, a bit more about my fighting it.

Thx Lance for this amazing post & that pic.. what a reward & pay off!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 5:08 am

Thank you!!!

What you bring up really is a great point – sometimes we have fears and they are easier to tackle. Other times, much more difficult. It’s worth some extra examination into those fears that are more challenging for us – to understand the “why”. And when we do that, these fears become at least a bit more okay (and doable).

Thank so much Jody!


Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) October 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm

What an exciting story, Lance! It reminds me of so much that I learned from Robin Easton’s book, Naked in Eden. She would enter the world of the snake and commune with it in the knowing of no separation.

When we go out in nature, we are not in charge. It’s humbling and so educational – like all of our fears.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 5:12 am

I’m smiling (that’s so easy to do now…although, in the moment…smiling was probably the furthest thing from my mind!).

I have thought often of Robin, too – as I think about this story (and particularly since I also had her book with me at the time…back in my room).

Oh…I love what you have shared. Yes, we are not in charge out there in our natural world. We sometimes like to think we are, yet – it just takes a small moment like this to put some of that back into perspective. It’s good, though – isn’t it. And it’s what makes nature (and life) more filled with wonder and amazement…

Thanks Gail! So wonderful having you here…


Kate October 19, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Hi Lance,
This really made me giggle, I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago – I live near a large park which has lots of deer, I was walking off the path through a field of chest high heather, I stumbled into a clearing and a huge stag was staring at me…his antlers looked the size of trees and as he started to get up I fled as fast as I could!
But I think these real physical dangers are exactly what our flight or flight reponse is for…..the running away burns off adrenaline and our bodies are doing what they were designed to do. When we have a similar response to the wardrobe monsters, the response is not right – the fears are imagined yet our bodies and minds think they are real.
Facing these fears will certainly move mountains!!
Great pics….even if they are not the snake:)


Lance October 20, 2010 at 5:25 am


There are certain things (animals, etc) that demand our attention – just by their presence. And antlers can be a tool of protection for that deer (just as the rattle is for the rattlesnake). Just think – if we had been out hiking together – what a sight that would have been!! (ha!!)

Yes, this (both your and my experience) were reactions to what felt like danger to us. And in that – we were doing something very instinctual for us.

So…here’s to facing those fears we have (the ones especially that we manufacture in our head)…and moving all sorts of mountains!

Next time…yep…next time I’ll get that picture!!!

Kate – thank YOU!!


Amy MacLeod October 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

How much do I trust that a rattlesnake will indeed give that warning RATTLE? I learned as a child running free in areas north of Colorado to continuously talk to nature. It only harms if it has been scared. What a judicious little beastie to have been created with that much forgiveness of my clamboring through its habitat.
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Amy MacLeod October 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Can I count on life doing the same? There’s a challenge!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 5:39 am

Ahh….so true. That rattle was a warning, letting me know he was there. And my intent was most certainly not to scare this creature…as he lay there resting peacefully.

So, very kind of that fellow to give a little shout out. Now…as for me…hmmm…a better approach I’m sure would have been to have slowly moved away (and I even thought that…but couldn’t stop myself from running…).

Yes, if we could get these little warning signs all throughout our life – what a blessing that would be…


Little Lessons Under the Big Sky October 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

as someone who was overcome in a big way with panic disorder in my mid-thirties, this post really resonates with me! The real life story combined with the knowledge of how fear can over take our heads and create illusions that are so scary is something so many people struggle with.

I have found that saying “yes” to things that I am fearful of continues to empower me more and more. Perhaps I have taken it too far on occasion (running marathons and backpacking where I know Grizzlies hang out) but I know that is what needs to be done to live a fear-free and joyful life.

Honestly…I would rather see a Griz than a snake though….I’m with you there!
I loved this post so much, and the Dr. Suess writings even made it more delightful!
Glad you were not injured, and that you faced your fears again so you could enjoy that beautiful western scenery!!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 6:57 am

Saying “yes” to those things that can feel fearful…how empowering that is!!! I love that!! Especially when that moves us in the directions our heart speaks.

And so cool – your marathons and backpacking (bears and all). Speaking of bears…there’s a bear part to this story too…(more on that in the near future…)

Yep, that Dr. Seuss guy…he wrote some amazing material! And – the passage from “Oh The Places You’ll Go” are some of my favorite of his.

What a beautiful part of our country – the mountains of Colorado (and that whole west…as I’m sure you are very familiar with!!)

Lot of love,


Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker October 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Lance, I have, in fact, run from my own snake as a teenager. Probably would do the same today.

This is a wonderful example of initially running from fear and then after thinking about it, going back and facing your fears. We all have the courage to face our fears – even when they look like monsters. Once faced it is amazing how many times that fear simply disappears. Each time we face our fears, the next time gets easier.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 6:59 am

Snakes…what’s the deal with them, anyway?? They are probably not nearly as dangerous as we make them out to be (…I guess I just don’t understand them well enough).

So true – when we face our fears – they almost always aren’t nearly as bad as our mind makes them out to be. And the more we do that, the easier it all becomes…

Thanks so much Patricia…


Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker October 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for the dream about snakes that I had last night. It has been awhile since I dreamed of snakes. Snakes in dreams can be about sexuality and/or spirituality. I got bit on both my forearms by the snake in this dream. Don’t think I have ever been bit before in a dream. I guess, this time, I didn’t get away from facing my sexuality and/or spirituality.
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Lance October 21, 2010 at 7:11 am

Thanks for sharing about your dream. I don’t think I’ve ever been bit by snakes in a dream (yikes…just the thought scares me!!).


Tim October 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm


Wow, what a great inspirational post! Funny you should mention fear. I had one of those epiphanies a few weeks ago that I sometimes get when I’m walking. I started to think about fear. Then I started to think about how fear sometimes rules my life and prevents me from experiencing things in my life. I made it a point at that moment to start journalling about fear…needless to say I put it off a few weeks. But I think if we can think about fear in a fully rational way, we can begin to realize how often it gets the best of us. And once we realize this, we can make changes that will help us to confront these fears more often. Lance, thanks for painting a great picture with your words and really reminding us about fear and how it is healthy to face our fears.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:05 am

Ahhh….walking can be good in so many ways. I find that, too – I’ll go for a walk to just clear my head, and it becomes such a great time to get the creative cells flowing.

And funny that you should mention journaling – I spoke with my life coach about that recently. About specifically writing down the fears – and then also writing down what I can do about that. It was a really good exercise (and one I should really get back to doing!).

Tim, on this journey you are on…know that these fears you are facing (just like the fears I am facing) are a lot more like Cookie Monster and less like Frankenstein. (I’m going with that thought, for sure!)

Have a great one, my friend!


Adrienne October 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Lance, this is just awesome! It started out so awesome with two of my great loves…hiking and Colorado. Man, I was so sad when your journey got foiled by the snake! Similar things have happened to me before while I’ve been off exploring. Everything is looking so surreal and wonderful…then suddenly a swarm of bees ruin the day (I have an unnatural fear of bees :-P). My favorite example is a time when my husband and I were out hiking (his first overnight backpacking trip) and he was like, “Ahh, this is great…bonding with nature.” Then, “AHH, what the #$%$?!” as some bug went buzzing by his head. We were both cracking up. 🙂

I love how you applied this to “real life” too. We’re off chasing our dreams when suddenly something gets in the way. Sometimes it’s enough to keep us from ever going back…which is really sad. I’m happy to see you ventured back out. And wow, that picture is amazing! Definitely gave me goosebumps.

Keep chasing those dreams, Lance! And try not to let the rattlesnakes keep you off the road less traveled. 😉
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:18 am

My wife thinks Colorado would be a great place to live (even with the snake!!!). It really is such a great place, though – the scenery is breathtaking! On another day, as I was out hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park – amongst the mountain ranges – the vastness and beauty of our earth was just touching me deep within my core. I felt so connected to Mother Earth…

Adrienne, I’m loving the stories you have shared here – how quickly our thoughts can shift. And…by something so small (a bug, a bee, a snake…). Bunnies…I’m not so afraid of bunnies…

Right – it’s about venturing back out there in our life, especially in those things which speak to our heart. And in that – facing our fears, becoming okay with them – and then moving beyond to something greater.

There’s something about exploration (our external world and my internal world) that is so freeing, for me… So, I’ll definitely keep chasing the dreams, exploring more deeply what life means…and traveling the roads that speak most deeply to me.

And for you, Adrienne – may you too, also continue to explore what life is for you…and continue to reach into your beautiful heart…


Robin Easton October 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Heeey Lance-man!! You posted it!! YEAH! I LOVED this story and the photo with it made me laugh out loud! And your writing even made me laugh out loud. You are so funny, even when you may not be trying to be funny. I’m laughing and hugging you while writing this right now. 🙂 🙂

Well, I guess YOU’LL never forget the sound of a rattlesnake. LOL!! 🙂 As you know, I’ve been around and even handled some very potentially deadly snakes. They were one of my greatest teachers in the rainforest. They are incredible teachers if we open to them and learn to understand them. They taught me to look at, explore and face my fear. Oddly I never had a fear of snakes, only really poisonous ones. But I later learned that my fear lay only in my imagination, and was not about the supposed monsters in the forest. My fear was inside me and had little or nothing to do with the poisonous snakes and other poisonous or dangerous creatures. Once I faced my own fear, I was better able to see the world through new open and calm eyes. I was able to distinguish between fear and awareness.

One thing you might do that will help you better embrace rattle snakes as a teacher is to get a book about them or go online and research them a bit, and see what they need. Snakes can’t hear you coming through air borne sounds, only through ground vibrations. He probably felt the ground vibrate and was warning you that he was nearby. That is good thing. He’s letting you know he’s there BEFORE you step on him. LOL!! 🙂 🙂 (Are you laughing yet??) Some snakes are very shy and retiring and will be gone long before you ever see them. Others that are slow moving or more at the top of food chain, are less likely to move. A snake that is at the top of food chain in his environment is less likely to move, because he has little fear. They are the ones to watch for. I suspect that rattlers are nearer the top of the food chain in their world, and may not be as fast as some whip thin snakes. They have evolved a wonderful warning device.

If you google them you can learn about body posture that will let you know if they are in a “strike” position, which in many snakes is a retracted S shape with head slightly lifted, and in the case of a rattle snake, his rattling tail. The other thing you could research is to see if they are nocturnal, diurnal or arboreal, or if they are near water or not. Some snakes hang near water, others don’t.

The point to all this is that it’s a bit like driving a car, the more we can learn about how it works the less scared we are to get in and drive it. We begin to understand it. Poisonous snakes in the rainforest and now in NM teach me great awareness. They constantly remind me that I share the world with others.

I find this post an AMAZING story, and am so so sooooooo touched that you told it honestly. You are precious and incredible Lance, not everyone could tell it so honestly. And with warm humor and wisdom to top it off. I am so very proud of you. I really am. Oh Lance, you are a good one my friend. Such a good one. Much love, Robin


Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:24 am

I’m smiling (and laughing) right now!! You are so fun (and funny!)!!

So true – I DON’T understand these creatures. And with that – my fears are based upon my assumptions I’m making (so thank you – yes, it would be very good for me to more fully understand these amazing creatures).

Robin, I have been reading your book. So, I know of some of your snake encounters. In fact, I had your book with me on this trip to Colorado (how ironic – I had just read the opening of your book a couple of days prior to this…and then I see a snake). You, sweet friend, are BRAVE!!!!

I love that you have highlighted the word “awareness”. How key this is – when we become aware – of how we view our world (internally and externally).

Robin, thank you so much for all your very kind and caring words (and your laughter!!!). You make me smile (and laugh out loud!) so much!! Beautiful….

Love always,


Evita October 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Hi Lance

Oh this was such a fun read, right from the photo, the Dr. Seuss quotes and of course your stories!!!!
The scenery where you were is so good for me to see, as we have nothing like that here…. and we don’t have rattlesnakes either! I guess that is a good thing.

And yes, isn’t it amazing how paralyzing fear is, even when we run, it is still a paralysis on a deeper level from being able to “be” with something. Naturally I am not saying what you did was wrong. There is no right and wrong in a situation like this, or any other really…. but it is amazing to reflect at all of our conditioning and the fears that hold us back from so much in life!

I think it is good to examine all of our fears on a regular basis to not get too caught up in them or paralyzed by them for life. Sometimes life makes us do this… as in the case of yours above, and this is a good thing I believe 😀
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:30 am

The scenery in Colorado is just so breathtaking! And I loved this photo for the rock formations it showed – even though it didn’t highlight the mountains that were off in the distance.

See…you are making me want to visit you even more!!! (the “no rattlesnakes” part of your comment)

Evita, that is so well said. Yes, when we run from our fears – we are not able to “be” with them. And it’s in being with them – that the fears we have (often imagined in our heads) begin to dissipate. Sometimes that might mean retreating. Or going in a completely different direction. Or facing it… And whatever we choose – however we proceed – it is all good and right (and where we are, at that moment in time…)

Evita, thanks so much for you very wonderful thoughts…


Clearly Composed October 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Great googly moogly how I adore this post! I saw a snake the other day and ran back in the house. After thinking about it, I don’t think I was scared of the snake but more by being startled, shook up. I made the snake scary because I was surprised he was there, not because this lil snake was going to do me any harm. It makes me wonder what else I think I am afraid of when it’s really the idea of it more than what I think I am afraid of. My inner brave girl and I will work on that.

Your post is like champagne…delightful, sparkling and satisfying to the very last drop…er…word! Bravo, my friend on hitting the nail on the head and with such style too. Suess ROCKS! 🙂
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:35 am

Great googly moogly to you, too!!! <-- I love that!!!! Okay - startled is a good word (because I WAS startled). Although, I'm pretty sure, in that moment, I was scared, too!!! (it wasn't the garden variety grass snake we sometimes see here in Wisconsin...) (ha!) I like that, though - that I make the snake scary in my mind. Honestly, he was probably just letting me know he was there. (and that's a good thing, so I didn't step on him) Where else do I do that? (make things scary in my mind) Oh...that is really good stuff, Emma. Because I know I do. And when I limits me. My inner brave girl (or...let's make that "guy" for me!!) will work on that, too... Emma, thanks so much - you always add such meaningful thoughts to the conversation...


Eliza October 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm

@Clearly Composed … Great googly moogly … bwhahahahahahahahaha … LOVE THAT!
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Robin Easton October 19, 2010 at 7:59 pm

ELiza!! You are HOOOOOOT!! LMFO!! 🙂 🙂


Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:36 am

Eliza and Robin (and Emma),
You three are crazy ones!!! ALL of you!!!

P.S. I love it!!!


Audra Krell October 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I grew up in Colorado and never heard a rattlesnake, nor saw one. Now I live in the heart of diamondback country, and still have been blessed to not see or hear one, as my friends battle them multiple times a month. I feel like God knows I cannot handle it! : )

But, in Colorado two years ago, I was sitting in a very public park at dusk when a bear came lumbering out of the bushes. I ran like heck. Totally not what you are supposed to do. I’m confident in my ability now, to outrun a rattler. So see the good that comes from that????

Love your story. So glad you had a good trip, and learned a little something along the way.
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:41 am

You know I’m visiting the heart of diamondback country very soon (what are trying to do – scare me?!?!?!?) Yikes!!!!!

Seeing that bear – what an experience that must have been!! They look so cuddly in the zoo, though…(behind a fence!!). And here’s the interesting part of this whole story above (and which I haven’t written about). There’s a bear part to it, also – and more on that soon. Let’s just say that on this one particular day – in the span of about twenty minutes – I was shocked more than once!!

Maybe I should call you Racer Girl!! Faster than a bear, faster than a snake…and faster than me!!!

Thanks for being here, Audra!! You are a dear, dear friend…and it’s always so good to soak up your words…


Emergefit October 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

This touched me for a couple of reasons Lance:

1) I grew up about 20 miles from the scene of the would-be snake bite. Glad it didn’t happen, and I appreciate the metaphor.

2) I appreciate the metaphor also, because 3 weeks ago I woke up to see a scorpion walking across my bed in the middle of the night. Screamed like a little girl in a house full of bad guys and boogie men.

So how is it these minimalist creatures evoke such fear in us? Because we are susceptible to fear — fear is what keeps us safe, from physical monsters such snakes, and from that ugly ugly monster we call not being good enough — loved enough — appreciated enough, etc.

Since my scorpion encounter, I have thought a great deal about Epicurus; that we should forget fear because no moment is unavoidable.

Thank you for this lovely post!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

So you’re a Colorado man in your earlier years!!! Very cool!! It’s a wonderful place – the mountains are incredibly breathtaking!

Okay – the scorpion would have made me scream like a girl, too!! (did you take some ribbing for your screams?!?!?!?)

So, you bring up a great point – what we fear doesn’t have to be big to cause us to retreat (or avoid altogether). Not being good enough, or loved enough, or whatever other fears we have – these are ugly monsters that we – all too often – let into our lives. When we move beyond them – there is so much good…for all of us…

No moment unavoidable…wow, that really is a great thought. Moments…we will all have them (one way or another). By avoiding one thing – something else will be in its place…

Roy – love your comment – all of it (okay, and especially the scorpion part!). Such great, great thoughts…


Andrea DeBell - britetalk October 20, 2010 at 12:17 am

Hi Lance! First of all, I love the cookie monster pic. It made me laugh. 🙂 Second, I would also have run from the snake (that’s for sure).

I can totally relate to your story because, yes, there has been many many times in my life when fear stopped me from doing something, even something I loved. Fear is a funny thing. It appears out of nowhere (or so it seems). The good thing is that I’m more aware of it and this allow me to face it head one. I no longer allow fear to stop me from doing something. I can’t say that I’m totally fearless. But I can honestly say that I’m working on it.

Thanks for this lovely post! Loving blessings!
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Lance October 20, 2010 at 7:53 am

Hi!!! Cookie Monster is just such a huggable, lovable, squeezable monster!! (that’s the kind of monster I like!!)

And I was even thinking – as I was running from the snake – “this is exactly what you shouldn’t do”. Yet, those thoughts surely didn’t stop me!!

That’s it – when we let fear stop us from doing something we love – we limit the light we shine out into the world. (and I know that one, too) Facing it (fear) head on – what a great way to recognize your fears and then move beyond them (and in that process…conquer that fear).

Andrea – your words reach me deeply. Thank you.

Much love,


Tess The Bold Life October 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

I’ve seen people freak out while hiking ( I almost stepped on one) and while golfing over rattlesnakes. On the farm we learned how not to be afraid of any animal or insect due to my mom. She could come across a hornets nest and they wouldn’t touch her. My made up fears in my head are more threatening to me than any reptile, animal, insect etc:0) I really think it’s all about energy. When there is no fear they don’t even notice us.
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Lance October 21, 2010 at 6:57 am

Your mom is very wise! And…very awesome that you have a peace about all creatures. (I’m obviously still working on that…) I do believe that animals can sense our energy, and in that – they also create their energy based upon that (and I surely did not help things out by running).

Hmmm…I’ll work on this, Tess…

Thanks for your thoughts and wisdom.


Jannie Funster October 20, 2010 at 11:40 am

What?? You didn’t stop to get a picture of the rattler? 🙂

I really like this post a lot, Lance. When I look back at any monsters they all seem like shy little mice now. We do tend to let them build up to much more than they really are. I have whooped mine a lot, but could still whoop some more.

I am wondering if there’s a rattler under our fridge. It’s making a very very weird sound. I’ll have Jim check.

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Lance October 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

I know…no picture. And I HAD the camera with me, too!! (I’m such a slacker…or a scaredy cat…)

Yes, we make those “monsters” in our life out to be much bigger and scarier than they really are.

Keep whoopin’ them!!

And definitely…send Jim under the fridge!!! (good luck to him…you wouldn’t catch me going there!!!)


FatFighterTV October 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm

OMG. I just have to say that I am TERRIFIED of snakes and now I am going to have nightmares.
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Lance October 21, 2010 at 7:08 am

Hey Sahar!!
Ummm…me too!! What is it with these creatures, anyway??

Sweet dreams…tonight!!! Think Cookie Monster….


Lori October 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Hi Lance,
Lookie, lookie! I love the graphic, so fun!!
Ha ha, about getting a picture. I loved that final note. 🙂
I know what you mean about rattlers. They were plentiful where I grew up, and just hearing that sound sent chills up my spine. They never bothered anyone, though, I’m sure they were as scared as I was.

I hear what you’re saying about trekking, then having something come up, and letting it get in the way. I feel that way a lot. For me, I think it’s my physical journey that I’m trying to keep in a good place. And, maybe, this is going to be my life lesson. To find a way to live in this body.

I love the images here Lance, great post!


Lance October 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Cookie Monster is such a FUN monster!!

Life can have moments of great joy…moments of deep pain…and all sorts of in between. And in all of that – there can definitely be some fear that comes up. Lori, you shine at living life, and at just going out there and tackling whatever’s in front of you. I know that it’s not always easy. And yet, you do it. You do what’s needed. And because of that…you shine. And honestly, you shine so brightly in my life. It is an honor to know you…to know you as deeply as I do.

Much peace and lots of love,


Adrenalynn October 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Fantastic post, and such a great analogy. And what a beautiful place! Fears? Ohyeah, I have those. You and I have chatted about this before, haven’t we. But today you’ve helped me see what may be waiting for me if I just take a step beyond my irrational fear! Thank you!
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Lance October 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Colorado IS a beautiful place!!! Now…if I just didn’t have to be on the lookout for snake…hmmm….

Mmmm….yes, we have chatted fears. And you know what – just having those conversations is so good for me. Because when we talk – I feel more connected. And when I feel more connected, it’s like some of those fears start to melt away (the beauty of friendships…).

So, Lynn…know that these chats have been so much a two-way street, and it’s been so good to have them…

Sunshine and hugs,


Erin S. October 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Hi Lance, nice photos and great Dr. Seuss quote. I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains right now and love it. Change is coming in my life, and I may be leaving Colorado for a while. We fear change, and yet we don’t always notice how is confines us and holds us back. This post really spoke to my heart. I must press on through the fear and go with the changes ahead and trust it will all work out.


Lance October 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Well…I was out in your neck of the woods!! (…or your “foot of the hills”!!) Lovely, lovely part of this world!!

Change. Erin, as much as that fear is there (and that’s something I am all too familiar with) – there is good that is out there – wherever these changes might be leading you to. Of that, I am sure. That, of course, doesn’t just magically make any of this any easier, though. It’s in going forth, with faith (something I know very much speaks to you, my friend)…

And I know you will…and it will be beautiful…


Peggy Nolan October 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi Lance!

I saw this when you posted the link on facebook – and how very serendipitous! I’ve been interviewing people on my radio show about fear, what scares them, and on being fearless. As I re-read your post again, I thought to myself, how cool to have Lance on my show! Let me know if you’d like to be a guest…I have an open date in December!

Lots of love,

(no snake picture?)
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Lance October 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I’m smiling!!! Yes, you serendipitous!! Fear is something so, so many people can relate to (in some fashion).

I’d love to be on your show – it would be an honor!! I’ll get in contact with you via email.

Love to you, sweet friend…

P.S. Ummm…NO snake picture!!


Peggy Nolan October 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

YAY! You’re going to be on my radio show! Super fabulous!!
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Lance October 23, 2010 at 6:00 am

Double-YAY!!! I’ll get to talk to you as a part of this!! Woo-Hoo!! So looking forward to our time together in December!


Jannie Funster October 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hey,Lance! Guess what? The sound under the fridge was just a candy wrapper that had worked it’s way into the fan intake! I didn’t send Jim in,tho. I did it myself! Brave, Brave Jannie. 🙂

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Lance October 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Jannie!!! You ARE brave!!

Candy wrapper??? Has somebody been getting ready for Halloween just a little bit early?!?!?



Farnoosh October 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Dear Lance, I would have screamed and ran away from the rattlesnake too ;)! But speaking of fears – in your beautiful words and now in my simple words – I have faced quite a few recently. The cycling thing has been a big challenge but I have faced the fear of becoming athletic. Yoga and dancing were never athletic type activities but when I stepped on that bike again after 8 years, I realized how out of shape my heart was for intense cardio and I was filled with fear…..53 classes later, I fear nothing and I can keep up almost all the time :)! Then in Bali, I managed to make friends with a varanussalvator (look it up ;)) – It is a humongous lizard that would hang out outside our private villa – we named him Dennis. And this is from a girl who screams at the sight of tiny frogs. I faced my fear, and there really was nothing so liberating as doing that…..Now I am going to face another fear or two (to be announced in the future )! Keep up the gorgeous writing, dear Lance!
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Lance October 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

So, had we been hiking together…that would have been quite a sight (us running…and screaming!!)!!

You ARE athletic! You are also a deeply soul-connecting person, too. (and I feel that very much both in your presence in my life and as I think about your yoga journey) And in all of that – I see you as strong and confident. Farnoosh, in you I truly see that you make a difference in this world (and in my life). And that is in you and all that you are doing…and how it all is moving you into continually wonderful places.

(okay…and that IS one very bit lizard!!)

So looking forward to what’s next for you on this journey of your life. You shine!!


J.D. Meier October 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm

You reminded me of a scene when I was a kid. A friend of mine tried to convince me there were no snakes in the woods (I don’t actually mind snakes.) But this scene was just so ridiculous …

We’re on the road and she bends down to look into the grass. Then a 2 foot snake slithers right past her. Then she says well that was just a little one. Immediatley an insanely fat snake, closer to five feet follows right behind. It was like a “call” of the wild. 😉

I think of fear as input and it can definitely be our best friend or worst enemy, depending on the scenario and how we use it.
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Lance October 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm

A “call” to the wild!! ha!! (wait…what am I laughing about?!?!?)

Fear and how we use it…I love the thought – and how it reminds me that fear can be a good thing, too…


Renee October 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Dr. Suess can sum up some things so perfectly.

So many little things get under our skin starting from such a young age that they manifest themselves in all sorts of things, from snakes to tests. Most people can’t be free to explore the world or even their thoughts as a child would.


Lance October 25, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Dr. Seuss was one very wise guy!! (who knew how to write a very fun story around that wisdom!)

Free to explore…you know, that is something so worth a deeper examination. Even this idea of our thoughts…and are we really exploring them…such a profound statement. Renee, thank you for this, and really in that – making me think more deeply in where I am with all of this…



Mindful Mimi February 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

Lance, that’s my favorite Dr Seuss book. I ordered it in Dutch so I could read it to my kids.
2012 is my year of being REAL, of looking my fears into the eyes and conquer them.
So far I am doing pretty well. I have a women’s retreat taking place in Marc, I will speak at, I have a tandem skydive jump scheduled…
Yay for doing things scared!


Lance Ekum February 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

So great seeing you here today!!!

I love that Dr. Seuss book, too – it’s fun for kids, and fun (and meaningful) for adults…

So cool –> you, speaking at TEDx!!! I want to see the video when it’s all done!! Keep me in the loop on that…and know that I’ll be cheering you on!!

And – skydiving!!! More coolness!! I did this a few years ago – and it’s something that was very liberating for me (and definitely moving beyond some fears I had!)!


Carrie February 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

The greatest part about talking about fears is that A. everybody has them and B. The fear of failure (which you discuss) is important to be aware of because most successful people have failed many times before getting it right. Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, all failed before succeeding. We don’t often hear about their failures because their success was so massive, but fearing failure is only going to keep you from succeeding.


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