Facing the Spooks

“Does planning a show of this magnitude give you anxiety? What is your biggest worry when planning Portraits of White?” What a great set of questions from a fan!

How about this for an answer?

I am mindlessly sticking my hand in the peanut chocolate M&M bag and stuffing my mouth with various colors of the delightful candy. I don’t know when I started developing such a fondness for these little temptations. My husband and I ration them out. If Tom gets five, I get five. We even try to keep the colors the same in each pile.

Somehow, over the past year, we’ve departed from that tradition. I’m probably the one to blame for this lack of equality in distribution. On this particular day, to which I’m currently referring, I am actually eating this candy without even realizing it. Doesn’t matter what color or how many…I just eat.

In frustration, I sit down on the green chair in my living room to take a moment and reflect on why I’m doing this, again. I know the pattern. Something about my life feels out of control so I do something that I can control. I turn to food. I eat. It’s the only area where I feel as if I am “in control”—which is quite self-delusional. Yet, somehow, I believe it’s true. I can control what I put into my mouth. But in this moment, I eat uncontrollably. You probably know the feeling. 

I talk myself through it and remind myself that it’s Portraits of White season. Things get kind of stressful right about now and sort of “spooky” (in keeping with the Wizard of Oz theme). This year, it’s a little above and beyond the normal spookiness because of COVID. Like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz when he sees the big owls with glowing eyes in the haunted forest, I want to run the opposite direction. The Tin Man and Scarecrow have to literally pick him up, turn him around and carry him. I could use some “carrying” right about now.

There are a lot of things that can make me want to turn back. It can be the tiniest thing, but usually it’s a combo. The music arrangements are pouring into my email box. I’m trying to organize all of the parts for the musicians, suggest changes to the arrangers, check the notations, create demos, memorize songs, practice the piano, keep my voice in shape, stay away from colds and viruses, think about how to make the whole show cohesive and meaningful… I’m also trying to follow up with businesses regarding sponsorships. Are they willing to support the show again this year? How much? If so, can they send in their logo/ad soon so we have it in time to print the programs?

By December, I’ll be fine. It’s just this in-between stage that can be rough. So, if one M&M equals one spook, perhaps eating them one by one is the answer. Or not.

Back to the original questions. “Does planning a show of this magnitude give you anxiety? What is your biggest worry when planning?” Normally, I’d say it’s SNOW that’s my biggest worry.

This year, you can add COVID to the list of concerns.

When it comes to facing fears, I think you can break “spooks” into two general categories:

1) Inside things (Your soul)

I have found that some of my biggest fears are actually within me. I’ve done a ton of soul-work around my inside fears and it’s paying off. I love the growth I’ve experienced because I’ve paid attention to them. 

I used to try and stuff my fears, or just ignore them completely. Doing something as courageous as putting on a Christmas show brought me face to face with some of my biggest fears, like fear of rejection. I found myself afraid that people wouldn’t come. Duh. We started in 2014 and people have been coming EVERY year. 

An even bigger challenge in the beginning had to do with facing intimidation. Questions like, “who do you think you are?” would wake me up in the middle of the night.

These days, I find that facing these fears head on works better than stuffing and ignoring. And oh, by the way, I’ve learned that as soon as I deal with one fear, there will be another one that pops up. It’s the nature of being a dreamer. Your heart knows what it wants to do, but your brain simply freaks out. 

The other spook category has to do with:

2) Outside things (The circumstances)

In this category, there are circumstances that are absolutely beyond my control and unfortunately, they can really raise quite a ruckus in my brain.

Things like…the WEATHER! Snow. Ice. Blizzards.


Pandemic. CDC restrictions. 

Here are a few steps I take to help me deal with the inside and outside spooks:

  • Identify the fear. (What am I afraid of, specifically?)
  • Say it out loud. (There’s just something powerful about naming it, out loud.)
  • I ask myself, what is the worst thing that could happen? (If my fear would come true, what would that look like?)
  • Could I be ok with that? (This can seem like you’re giving in, but personally, I have found the greatest peace comes when I release control and choose to be ok with whatever the outcome might be.)

Do you remember the phrase, “Let not your heart be troubled?” It always reminds me that heart trouble is a choice. At least, this kind of heart trouble. Ouch. That’s challenging, isn’t it? However, I believe that like anything else, it just takes practice. Sometimes I just have to say, “heart, we’re not going to be troubled about this!” 
Using techniques such as praying, journalling, singing, quietness, reflection and confession can all be effective in facing the spooks. It’s also nice if you have some friends who can pick you up and carry you through the spooky places.

This week’s video.

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