Actual Size

Well, I did let a month pass before writing here, but I have a rock-solid excuse: we moved, and I’ve been scurrying around setting everything to rights. Admittedly the last time we moved the computer was warm to the touch practically because I wrote about the whole progress, with big color photographs. Since I’ve started university my efforts are concentrated in that direction, so this space has suffered from neglect. 

Another thing that’s kept me busy has been a fluctuating tide of anxiety. Some days it’s barely there, trapped like a bat in my ribcage, and other days it’s full tide, washing away most of my good thoughts, changing my personality into something dark and jittery. I’ve written about my anxiety in more lyrical and beautiful ways than this before, preferring to cloak it in characters, or prose, or hide it behind haiku. It felt better to turn worry into art. I used to think that was productive. By beating around the bush I was creating something new and beautiful out of something old and raw and terrifying. It was a cop out. By not staring the demon right in the face I continued to feed him. By addressing him by name without throwing flowers at his feet I can make him smaller. Remember that Buffy when Gachnar the fear demon overtook the frat house on Halloween ended up being such a tiny, tiny little demon that the Scooby Gang could was able to taunt it and squash it? I need to start seeing my fears and anxieties as small and squashable in the universe. I need to see them as as insignificant as Gachnar.


What has helped me squash the fear demon? Walks, a bit less coffee, listening to music, traveling to places that make me calm, spending simple, honest time with my family. This new house is calm. It’s house number is a six in feng shui numerology, which means that it has no negative influences that need to be offset. The only negative influence so far, has been me and my monkey-mind. My worries generally revolve around money, the fear that we’ll run out, that we’ll be poor again, that I’ll have to leave school. These are not completely irrational fears, but the way that my mind spins them out of control is anything but rational. 

I’m trying to focus on the bright spots instead of the dark. Here are some of the bright spots from this past week. 

WilmaRudolph Coulter Grove

Xander’s “house” at his new school chose this quote from Wilma Rudolph to be their house quote, and also chose Wilma Rudolph to be the person that embodies their house theme, which is perseverance: 

“I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble is too difficult to overcome.” 

Xander made the “E” in “Trouble.” 


A sunny moment in our new living room. 


Xander hiking yesterday evening along the water that feeds the historic Mingus Mill on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains. We are so lucky to live here, and our new town is so much closer to spots like this. 


An overlook somewhere between North Carolina and Tennessee. This land of Blue Smoke is our home. 


Tell me, what quiets your anxiety? 

6 thoughts on “Actual Size

  1. I empathise with the bat in the ribcage feeling. We have been having a hard time lately and I have been trying to get a new job to sort our money fears. No luck so far and my natural optimism has been quite brittle. My way of calming myself is walking the dog or playing with the children. Drinking tea with Lawrence and just remembering all the small things that make us so happy, that are nothing to do with money. Sending love from England x

  2. Dear Ruth,

    Here’s hoping you find something that will sustain you and fulfill you as well. Remembering the small things is, I think, the most important part of life. Good for you for focusing on that. Sending love back from Tennessee!!

  3. Nice that you had been thinking about the Feng Shui before moving into a new house! Definitely can only bring you positive energy. I have been recently dealing with Feng Shui, but only a little so far, trying to find out which of the tips suit me well and which can be rather omitted at my home. What I find quite amusing, though, is the new trend of negotiating the real estate price based on Feng Shui energy. Sure it works like that in the Eastern cultures, but here in North American continent? I hardly think so.

  4. Always so good to see you here. Another thing is that when you write honest about your anxiety others if us see ourselves, I see me in every detail and that helps me feel less alone. And that quiets my brain a bit. It also makes me wonder if brains like ours are simply programmed to write as it is often my best therapy. Thank you for this post.

  5. Angella I always get so excited when I see that you’ve commented! I’m learning that “just me” is okay when I write; it’s something I’ve long admired in your writing.

    No worries on any typos — my phone typing skills are really dreadful. My husband always scratches his head at my texts which read things like, “Do yao neid amytn at stoR?

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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