Don’t Fear The Reaper.

I know sometimes I go a little nutty in my post introductions, so I will just tell you that THIS happened over the weekend:

face your fears day

There will be a longer story, of course, and photos, whenever I can finally sit down and process it. We drove through four New England states to get home – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and western Massachusetts, of course, and I feel like it was the ultimate leaf peeping endeavor ever, and we didn’t even set out for that. Now I’m back and alone and it’s gloomy/rainy and I’m feeling restless, rundown, bogged down by photo editing, but also, pretty darn proud of what we did. We did it.

Letting little and big dreamers dream.

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In fact, Scarlet has “Sharing Day” at school today (like Show and Tell) and she’s bringing a little moose rock we bought her in Bethel, and she’s planning on telling her classmates about our moose adventure. They might.. think we’re weird.


In the spirit of adventure and and love and dreams, and even fear, I’m excited to participate in Tuesday Ten’s “Face Your Fears Day” top ten list. My spin is, “Ten Fears I’ve Faced, But Not Always Well.” We can’t do everything full of grace..

The Liebers

..but we can sure as heck try.

Ten Fears I’ve Faced, But Not Always Well:

1. Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. I watched Wizard of Oz a lot when my father died. I was also a kid. How else can you better explain having a legit tornado phobia at age seven? I lived in New Jersey. Not Tornado Alley. I asked my mom to take down the wind chimes near my bedroom window because they scared the life out of me. She didn’t. I was on my own. And what better place to face your worst phobia, than when you’re not home and visiting your grandparents in Westfield, NJ? I was SO scared. I was shaking. We hid in the basement and heard the umbrella stand blow away. Then the storm passed and we went upstairs to survey the (outdoors) damage. I survived. Not only that, I was never afraid again.

As my childhood grief therapist said about me facing/overcoming my fear, “Yeah. No one died. THAT time.” Boom.

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2. Earthquakes. What could possibly be scary about the ground shaking underneath your feet? Umm. Everything. My first earthquake was actually in New Jersey, as surprising as the tornado. It was mild. My first San Francisco earthquake was bigger but I slept through it, because I’m awesome at that. My third earthquake was while I was at work as an Innkeeper – the only one on duty in a crowded Bed & Breakfast of 20 rooms. No big deal there. I was helping myself to quiche and heard what sounded like a freight train passing through the streets. My quiche was shaking. My plate was shaking. My hands were shaking. Everything was! I was petrified but trying to appear strong for my guests. Until my favorite family ran into the kitchen and they looked at me and they knew, and they enveloped me into their family hug. I think of you, Donna, Dan & Colton.

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3. Leaving home. Before I went to college, my throat closed up and I could barely eat. Instead of doing the rational thing, and telling someone, I relied on my magical thinking and powers of mind persuasion and sure enough, it went away and never came back. I have never taken leaving lightly. After college, I lived in NJ for several years. It’s when I moved to California that I knew, it was really real. I felt so homeless and parentless and so in-between. I never said I did it well, but I’m still learning how to leave and find home again. I’m still learning that it’s more than a place, but a feeling. That’s life, right?

4. Pregnancy and Childbirth. One of those things is much scarier than the other, and it’s probably not the one you think. Not long after I left home, (above) I went searching for it again. I knew a lot of things were up in the air, but the last thing I KNEW is that I was pregnant. And yet I was. Already six weeks along. Luckily, life gives you nine months (minus six months in my case) to prepare for the wonders awaiting you. I had zero morning sickness, I only gained weight in my stomach, and I was still running around like a lunatic at nine months. If all pregnancies were like Scarlet’s, the world would be even more full of babies. As for childbirth, I’d do it again. In fact I did. And I would do it again. That’s not the hardest part for me.

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5. Submitting writing. Granted, I definitely do things on my own time and in my own way and sometimes it feels like I still haven’t done IT, but I think IT is probably watching northern lights with whales, moose, chocolate, my kids, Tom Petty, Tim Curry, and others, and then writing a best-selling book about it. Since that hasn’t happened, yet, I should point out that I have four big, fat chapters in four books now. Half are about my most intimate of mental health thoughts. So, take that, fear.

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6. Photographing a wedding. Or four. If, at any point two years ago or more, you had told me I would photograph weddings, somewhat comfortably (if you call intense nerves beforehand comfortable) I would never have believed you. And yet, it’s coming together so oddly and magically. And who knows? Maybe I’ll even do three in one year. Someday. Or four. Or more!

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7. Vomit. Do I really have to talk about this, boss? Well since I’m the boss of myself, I’ll let it slide. Let’s just say I have Emetophobia and I also have two kids – one with my stomach, and one who barfed all night twice last year. NOT FUN.

I survived. I will survive.

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8. Traveling, Restaurant, Movie Theater Alone. Not only did I face these three fears in my 20’s, now it’s gotten to a point in which I desire them. I desire to be by myself. I may even see a movie alone today. Pan. I heard it’s bad. Oh well.

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(It’s ok if you want to say it. If you want to say that this photo doesn’t look like me. I had gotten a free spa gift card and they did this to me. It took awhile to wash away the makeup so I needed a photo first. Also, self-care time is fabulous.)

9. Flying after September 11, 2001. Not only that, it was technically an international flight on Cathay Pacific. The plane was going to Hong Kong, but dropped us off in Vancouver so we could get through customs and then go find some otters and glaciers. True story. I was so nervous for the flight that I had plane crash dreams starting three months before my trip. My doctor gave me Klonopin just to get on the plane. I never touched it. And during the flight, I experienced the worst turbulence of my life. I’m talking the plane falling out of the sky a few hundred feet, or so it seemed. And calmly, I looked out the window and ate pretzels. I guess I had already paid my dues during the three months of bad dreams? Cassidy says I’m an enigma wrapped in a mystery, or is it a mystery wrapped in an enigma? He’s right, but I want it to be wrong.

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10. Letting people in and out of my heart and life. What’s harder than that? And I’ve done it and I’ll do it again, and then again, and then again. And I think I’ll survive each time, even if it feels like I won’t. And there it is. Fears I’ve faced.

Some are still there. Some have gone. Some weaker. Some stronger. Some will never come back. Some have yet to form.

What fears have you faced?

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    1. I can’t wait to write about it!
      I’m so bad with turbulence. I always look at everyone else and they all look calm, which is nice, but then I wonder why I’m clutching the armrests like my life depends on it! Which it seems!

  1. I still haven’t faced the fear of going somewhere alone, glad you brought that up and have faced it. Vomit, yes, I don’t know what I’ll do if my little turns out to have his dad’s tummy – I didn’t puke my entire pregnancy because gross. Great list here, I nodded to quite a few!

    1. My mom told me that when you throw up from pregnancy, you don’t feel better afterwards. Or at least she didn’t. No, thanks! That sounds horrific.
      With my second, I did feel seasick for several weeks. I’m totally terrified of a third.
      And my daughter is just like me – rarely gets stomach sick and when she does, it’s not terrible. But she gets the respiratory things like mad!

  2. I was SO freaked out over flying after September 11th as well.

    And your photographs are amazing. I know I always say that. But they are. If we’re ever in that area, please take our photos. Or just mine and the kids. Tom can be stubborn.

    Yay for moose!

  3. You have faced fear admirably, Tamara!

    Sure I’ve faced some fears. I sometimes wonder why humans have it in the first place. It’s never easy. Here are two sayings that have helped me. My primary mantra is “Fear is the mind-killer.” Saying that focused my mind when I thought I was going to die flying my plane into a heavy rain storm. The other saying is “Fear is a stern master, if you live in its house, you will be its slave.”

    When I was attacked by a pack of pit-bulls I was never afraid. I had no time for fear, only action. Fear came later. Came later with that plane time too. The best way to handle fear in many situations is to stamp it out immediately. Later we can process it.

    1. I love those mantras. I have a few that have worked well for me, but more with anxiety. The pit-bulls story is so scary and it’s so nice to know that in a crisis, you’re action-based, instead of fear-based.

  4. So many of the above, too and you already know how much this twin hates vomit, so I was seriously smiling at that inclusion here! Seriously, we are twins and the vomit itself bonds us and proves it more than ever LOL! 😉

  5. OK, wind chimes freak me out. They give me all of the horror movie feelings. The weather doesn’t bother me, just the wind chimes. Odd, yes? Also, flying…flashbacks of a trip across the Georgia Strait in a Dash 8 during stormy weather. I was terrified yet strangely calm while eating every package of peanuts in sight. Loved this post. LOVE the moose!!

    1. That sounds like me! Terrified and calm. And snacking! I think it settles the stomach on flights. Or the nerves. Usually I can’t eat when I’m nervous so this was so opposite.

  6. New Jersey brought some crazy things your way. I watched the Wizard of Oz quite a bit too when I was younger, but have yet to live through a tornado. I guess there is still time. We had an earthquake here about 6 months ago, but I didn’t feel a thing.

    1. We had an earthquake here that I forgot to write about. Probably because I was playing with Scarlet upstairs and Cassidy comes racing upstairs. Apparently we didn’t feel it upstairs but it was very strong downstairs.

  7. wow super cool – can’t wait to hear about the moose

    my parents got divorced and I had nightmares when I was little – I was scared of peter pan disney movie for some weird reason and then some other weird movies. I never did therapy but I think it’s because my biological father was a total jerk so I probably was just afraid of him. (too deep?) lol well glad you faced your fears xoxo

    1. Never to deep here! You know that! I often talk about pain from my biological dad’s death.
      Peter Pan is scary, though! I love it, but getting taken from your bedroom window? Shudder.

      1. or the the part when they tie the kids up and are going to burn them at the stake – lol
        I remember being scared at that too 🙂

  8. Awesome as always my friend! I am so happy that you got to see moose! Tornado’s are a familiar occurrence in my area, and supposedly we have had earthquakes, but I don’t remember feeling them. Moving out was definitely scary! And so is being a mom, but so worth every scary moment! Hope you have a great week!

    1. Tornados are just so scary! I think it’s because they have proven to be so dangerous time and time again. I was so scared. I’ll never forget that feeling!

  9. Beautiful post, Tamara. The photos are stunning. I recognize the mountains (my part of the world)! Congrats on the moose!!! As for fears, I try not to focus on them too much, therefore a post like this would probably do me some good. I have to say I faced my fears when I decided to leave my husband. The fears took a long time to resolve and they came and went, just like you mentioned at the end of this post. I face them though, so they can suck it.

    Your photos are gorgeous!

    1. Yes, those mountains were outside of Vancouver! Somewhere out there. So gorgeous. It was a grainy film in an old camera. I miss that camera.
      I think what you did is SO incredibly brave. Much kudos.

  10. You have a magical way of presenting the fears you have faced in a very fearless way, and you faced them admirably indeed! I’m going to try to do that. My first biggest fear happened when my Dad suddenly passed away at age 50 when I was a 13 year old 8th grade student. Am I expected to be the man of the house now? My Mom never put that pressure on me but I did, and I tried my best to be mature and responsible beyond my age to make our situation easier for her. My biggest fear now is will I be able to support myself when I’m old? I hope I’ll be able to. I plan on skipping a few birthdays to give myself a little more time to prepare for that!

  11. Love the way you listed these – how they came about and where they stand now. You have definitely overcome a lot. I can’t wait to hear more about the moose!

  12. Barf! I have had every. single. family. member in this house barf on me. True story. I can still do without it.
    Pushing publish on my blog sometimes generates a bit of fear, but I muster through, and thankfully get pretty good feedback 🙂

    1. What?? Your husband barfed on you too? You may have to explain that one.
      I get that. I used to get sick with fear every time I hit the Publish button.
      It still kinda happens.

  13. I have so many fears. The thing is, I’m actually pretty good when it comes time to face them, and I’m always stronger than I think I’ll be. It’s the anticipation and anxiety before hand that gets me. Always working on that. But the moose!!!!!!! So excited for you – and that is an awesome picture. Can’t wait to see more!

  14. I can totally relate to some of the things on your list. I am scared of earthquakes. Remember that big one that hit our country? and the hundreds of aftershocks? That was one of the worst things! But so happy you guys finally found your moose! Or two. Or three of them. Can’t wait to see the rest of your photos!

  15. MOOSEN!!! OMG, you saw them! I can’t wait to hear your moose adventure recap. Also I love that Scarlet brought a moose rock in to show and tell day. Who cares if her classmates think she’s a bit out there–that’s the fun of walking to the beat of your own drum 🙂

    I have never heard of the word to describe intense fear of vomit but I can imagine what that’s like. Sometimes if I hear someone gag it triggers that reflex. Let’s stop talking about vomiting for the time being. LOL.

    You are my hero for facing so many of your fears and showing them who’s boss. You GO, girl. XOXO

  16. I’m so happy that you got to see your Moose. No need to come to CO after all to see them but you know you can always come to visit us. 🙂 As for fears I have a few of those and my anxiety won’t leave me alone. I had none flying after 9/11 and still don’t. Can you believe I’m deathly afraid of heights? Yeah we rappel down buildings during military training but I was always the last to come down with my eyes closed.

    1. I still need to see a CO moose!
      Would you believe that heights are one of the few things I have zero fears about? I can’t do spinny things, though.

  17. I love this, Tamara! Because we all have fears, but the best of us get up and keep going anyway. That’s what you’re doing here. Way to go!

    1. Yes!! I didn’t share any fears I had never faced, although I have them too.
      I think many of these were things I didn’t CHOOSE to fear, but ah, what can you do?

  18. This was lovely! In so many ways you’ve overcome fear!

    That’s funny, I have a fear of tornados. We’ve only had a few here in Alberta but there was a massive one (an EF-4) which ripped through a community just ten blocks away from my house. I was home alone and only 12 years old. The tornado took 27 lives and I’ve been scared of tornadoes ever since. I don’t fear earthquakes but I’ve never been in one. I hate flying but I haven’t flown since 2007 – so maybe that’s improved?! (I hope)

    I hate vomit. Blah!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. 27 lives! That’s a lot. We had a tornado here four years ago and a few people died. Even just one person dying.. was so sobering to my community.

  19. Congratulations! And such professional shots too 🙂 I have a huge fear of earthquakes too, living in Cali. That’s probably my biggest fear, well natural disasters in general but of course earthquakes hit close to home here (literally). I’m always looking for my exit strategy wherever I go haha.

    1. Thank you!!!
      I would definitely fear them more if I still lived in California, but every so often, New England gets hit by a natural disaster that we don’t usually get. I’ve seen too many of those.

  20. You know what I love about this? Me reading it and nodding and knowing you… those deeper fears that you so beautifully describe in your words. I nod along as if we are dear friends. I listen and love and understand so very deeply, every part of what you share…

    And yet, I find new morsels of you each time we connect. Like your story and fear of earthquakes. It makes so much sense, and what a profound transformation after your survived one that fateful day. WOW. That story is incredibly moving to me. Your life- is incredibly moving to me.

    I’m so grateful for knowing you, and discovering more and more about you each time we visit together. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

    1. I think we ARE dear friends.. my dear!
      Your life is incredibly moving to me too. Sharing all these fears and hopes and dreams is astonishing. We are all like.. growing up together. And our kids too, of course.

  21. Goodness I almost want to ask you more about #7 but you probably don’t want to talk about it anymore than you have. You should see my face as I’m typing this and we’re not even talking about it.

    Moving on….

    Do fears you have face count if you don’t think you could do it all over again? Like Zip lining? I hadn’t planned it. I thought Christopher was going to chicken out and then I’d have to ride back down the mountain with him. But he didn’t chicken out and I couldn’t. I zip lined like a boss. But I NEVER want to do that again. The experience has completely worn off like I never did it and can’t believe I did. I don’t like heighty things. The things we do for our kids.

    Hopefully the sun will come out for you soon. We finally have sun and at least 7 days of sunshine to follow.

    1. I’d be fine talking about it! I do here and there. And I remember your story about Christopher’s bug last winter! I don’t have that contagion effect thing, but I do get petrified and paralyzed by fear. I’m not sure what’s worse.

      Enjoy that sunshine!

      And yes, it totally counts if you faced it but you’re done. Totally. You did it. You did it like a BOSS.

  22. Right now my biggest fear is the unknown. Where I will be in a year, where my baby will be and if she will be happy. What I will do with my life when I’m an empty nester.

    Also, rodents.

  23. I share the fear of letting people in and our of my heart and life. That’s a big one that has been present since I can remember. My first earthquake was the big 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. Talk about memorable! I remember the floor moving like waves. And I can’t wait to hear more about the moose!

    1. I wonder if we have that in common for similar reasons. Either or, kindred spirits!
      Wow, the 1989 earthquake! I only remember hearing about it.

  24. It’s nice to read about your fears and how you were able to overcome them. I didn’t know how I survived leaving home. I wasn’t too afraid I guess but I know there’s fear of leaving at the back of my head. Just like riding a plane, I always want to appear strong or to not be afraid but I know somehow the fear is there.

  25. Yay, moose!
    I too have an irrational fear of tornados. And I periodically dream I’m stuck in them. Awful! I definitely fear natural disasters, and I can’t say I’ve really faced them.
    Fears that I have faced? Sharing my writing with people! Childbirth. Public speaking. I’m sure there are other things but I can’t think of them at 4:53 am.

  26. Who knew that NJ could be that weird, huh? Since we moved here, in fact in the first couple of years, we had a pretty bad earthquake and hurricanes Irene and Sandy – time to move? 🙂
    That photo of you, I was looking at it and actually see quite and resemblance to Lindsay.
    And I love the moose! Now I want to ‘shoot’ some, too!

    1. Every now and then you can tell that we’re sisters! It’s cool.
      As for Irene and Sandy, yes, it might be time to move! Just kidding. But if you move to California, I want to visit!

  27. It may sound funny, since I am 13 years in, but marriage was one of my biggest fears. I just didn’t want it. Or….you think you don’t, right? The truth is you’re just afraid. ONE choice!!! Like how? How do you choose just One!!?? And then the making it stick part — I didn’t grow up with the example and figured I was probably doomed to repeat the legacy. Doomed. Yeah – not the word that should come to mind when thinking of your Prince Charming. But, in the end, once it was the Right One – those things just didn’t matter anymore.

    1. I’m seven years in! It was a fear of mine too. Not that I thought it wouldn’t happen, but I was always afraid of the anticipation ending. Like, the thrill of seeing a moose is partly the chase. But then it got to a point where I’d be really sad if I didn’t see any. I didn’t like the chase. I just wanted to snuggle with my moose and be done with the running.

      So you see. Cassidy is my moose.

      1. I remember that moment when my mom and I were sitting on the front porch, waiting for my than fiancee-now husband to drop in for a visit on his break, and then he pulls up in his white cruiser with the lights flashing, jumps out and comes a-saunter over, looking all fine in his uniform…. and my mom turns to me and says; “remember when you said you don’t believe in fairy tales? because no hero was going to come charging on his white horse, sword drawn and sweep you away?” And I was like, oh… yeah. damn.

        1. Oh boy. That must have been insane. You know those moments in which you’re so impossibly giddy and in love and it’s still kinda new but old enough that you know you’ve got them.. like with a ring?
          So. Good.

  28. Some of these fears are very familiar to me. I’ve experienced a tornado, earthquake and hurricane. Turbulence? I absolutely abhor it. My stomach clenches into a knot, palms get sweaty and I am counting down the minutes until the plane lands.

  29. That’s a lot of fears to have faced and pretty successfully! Earthquakes really scare me…and we’ve now lived through 2 (very teeny tiny). Hopefully never again, though.

    1. Wow, earthquakes for you too! I once heard that New England is one of the safest places to live if you start thinking Doomsday stuff – like a big SF earthquake, a volcano at Yellowstone and major hurricanes down south.
      And yet, since I moved here six years ago or so, we’ve gotten a lot of pieces of major things!

  30. Leaving home is a fear I’ve faced. for sure. There’s fear in leaving and there’s fear in facing.

    I had a rough flight from Atlanta to Charlotte in a little plane. I’m talking La Bamba little. The women next to me squeezed my hand while lightning flashed all around our plane. Then we landed safely and awkwardly left with those who came to get us.

    I think i fear losing what I have, whether it’s relationships or ability or moxie or the ability to get out of a chair and not groan.

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