Built a Lightsaber (123/366)


“Learn about light and optics, you will …”
~ Master
Yoda

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Read Patrick Henry’s Speech, "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!" (117/366)


“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave … the war is inevitable — and let it come! … I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
~
Patrick Henry


“Give me liberty, or give me death!” is a famous American quote. People all over the United States know it, but not many people can remember who it’s attributed to, and even fewer have read the text of this extremely rousing and powerful speech. I was one of the above! I was both, actually – and that’s why I decided to find out more about this cornerstone of American History.

Patrick Henry delivered this speech in on March 23, 1775, in Richmond, Virginia, to delegates including *future* US presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Tensions were high between Britain and the Colonists, Britain had begun sending militia to America, and other states had begun preparing to defend themselves in the event of a war. This speech is credited with convincing the House that Virginia, the largest colony in America, should join the American Revolution.

Here is the full text:
MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet.

Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort.

I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted?

Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free – if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending – if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

I was surprised at how eloquent and how rousing this speech really was. The story is that Henry gave this speech with no notes, and spoke in a voice that grew louder and louder, more and more passionate, and that at the end of it, the delegates cried, “To arms! To arms!” and “Give me liberty, or give me death!” I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear this speech first hand, and what was going through the minds of the delegates. What a turning point in American history! A lot of times it’s hard to identify with the people we learn about in the history books (and that’s understandable – there are a
lot of differences between us sometimes), but reading a speech like this was a fascinating reminder for me that our founding fathers were human too – they had concerns, doubts, and real fear for their freedom and future. They sometimes didn’t know if they were making the right decisions for themselves, their families, and the budding new country they were forming – and yet they foraged ahead, and thank goodness they did. I love my country!

Related Links:
History.org – Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Watched the Documentary "Paper Clips" (110/366)


“Symbols can make us think. Symbols can change the world. And sometimes, symbols are all we have to help us maintain our resolve. Even in our darkest, and our most tragic days. ~
Peter Schroeder



Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, the day that marks the liberation of the
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps 67 years ago. In honor of this special day, I decided to watch the award-winning documentary, “Paper Clips“.

The story starts with the voice of Linda Hooper, the principal of the middle school in Whitwell, Tennessee – a rural town about 24 miles west of Chattanooga. There are basically no minorities in Whitwell – everyone’s caucasian and protestant, there are less than a handful of black students, and no other people of color.

In 1998, the staff at the school decided they needed to teach the children about diversity and tolerance since there really was no diversity at all in their small town. They decided to teach the students about the Holocaust. During one of the classes, a student, trying to grasp the concept of the tragedy and unimaginable horror of six million Jews being slain said, “What is 6 million? I’ve never seen six million.” The staff realized they never had, either. They decided they needed to find something that they could collect six million of, that could be manageable, but could help the students and themselves see the magnitude of the number.

They did some research, and found that the paper clip was invented in Norway, and that During World War II, Norwegians wore paper clips on their clothes to demonstrate their opposition to Nazism and anti-Semitism. They decided to start the Paper Clips Project – to write to all the people they knew, explaining the project, to ask for donations of paper clips, to hopefully collect six million. The project became a yearly effort, with each new 8th grade group taking on the project where the last group left off.

At first, they got a great reaction from people, and were very encouraged – they got tens of thousands in the first few weeks – but then at one point when they were at a lull, they calculated how long it would take at that rate … and found it would take 10 years. They weren’t sure how to proceed, and what would become of their paperclip project. But then Peter and Dagmar Schroeder, journalists and White House correspondents, came to the town to learn more about the project, and the students.

The kids didn’t even know what “Germans” looked like – they asked their teachers, would they look strange? How did they act? This was their first real-life lesson in diversity. When Peter and Dagmar came to the school, they were warmly welcomed by the children, and shown all the hard work they’d been doing with the project, and all they’d been learning about the Holocaust. The Schroeders fell in love with the students and decided they’d do everything in their power to help them succeed.

They went back to Washington and contacted Dita Smith from the Washington Post. She found that the KKK was founded not far from Whitwell, and that was a life lesson for Smith herself – while it had been so easy to categorize so many from the south together as ignorant and racist, these children were showing that people are people, and education is what makes a difference in the world. The buzz about the Paper Clips Project, in the tiny town of Whitwell, Tennessee, began to grow.

Tom Brokaw reported on the project in 2011, and over a period of 6 weeks the students ended up with over 24,000,000 paper clips and 25,000 pieces of mail. People sent paper clips, but they also sent letters, and stories of loved ones lost in the Holocaust. The children got to read stories first hand, making even more real the lessons they had learned from books before. There was even a suitcase that arrived, all the way from Germany – inside were notes, all attached with paper clips – addressed to Anne Frank. A class of students like them, but in Germany, got together and each student had written a message asking for forgiveness and denouncing Hitler and the Nazi regime. It was an extremely touching gift, and a meaningful connection between the two groups of students that while with miles, languages, and cultures separating them, found themselves to be very similar to each other. A Holocaust survivor group from New York even came to visit the students – the whole town came out to greet them – and they shared their stories with everyone.

A while later, Linda Hooper was meeting with the staff on the paper clips project and they were trying to figure out what to do with all the paper clips they had collected – they had far surpassed their goal of 6 million – and they wanted to honor all of the stories they had heard, all the people lost, and to give them a memorial. Linda had a thought that she had pretty much dismissed as impossible – she thought what if they could get a real German cattle car from the time, to make a monument out of, and to place the paper clips in. Peter and Dagmar heard this, and decided again that they’d make the impossible, possible. After searching all over Germany, and hearing over and over that all the cars were destroyed after the war, they finally found one. They had it shipped to Whitwell, all the way from Germany.

The kids at Whitwell Middle school had collected over 29,000,000 paper clips. When it came time to fill the car, they wanted to honor as many people as they possibly could, and decided to put 11,000,000 paper clips in the car – 6 million for the Jews lost, and another 5 million for the homosexuals, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others known to have died in the Holocaust. They restored the inside and roof of the car, and built memorials including paper clips and the suitcase from the kids in Germany inside the car. They also planted a garden around it, and decorated the space with sculptures and paintings of butterflies – symbols of freedom. The car and garden stand as a memorial today, and the kids from Whitwell teach children from other schools all they’ve learned about the Holocaust, but also diversity, tolerance, and how even small things, when joined together, can be an amazing force for good.

“I think that there’s a far greater power than the people at Whitland Middle School in charge of this project … and if not you tell me how we got this far.”
~ Linda Hooper

Related Links:
Paper Clips DVD
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial

Read Jason Harvey’s Book, "Achieve Anything In Just One Year" (103/366)


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
~
Martin Luther King, Jr.


In searching for an unrelated title on Amazon.com today, I stumbled across “Achieve Anything in Just One Year.” I thought it was a bold title, so I checked out the reviews. It has tons of 5-star ones, so I was intrigued enough to read the first chapter (they have it available free on the book’s Amazon page). After the first chapter, I was hooked, and bought the Kindle edition so I could read it today.

“Achieve Anything in Just One Year” is a daily guide book with a quote each day, and daily exercises for you to follow to stay focused on your goals, and to mold yourself into the kind of person who achieves them. I found it very exciting and inspiring. Most people realize that success takes hard work, but a lot of people don’t realize how much of that hard work is just having the vision and tenacity to keep at it. This book reminds the reader every day, in different ways, that they are, and their success is, a work in progress.

Some cool notes:

For one week, the book focuses on “the wisdom of children” and one of those entries reminds us, “When we become adults, we have a funny way of complicating simple situations.” The reader is encouraged to simplify decisions. “If something doesn’t work, fix it. Don’t worry about what others will think of your failure. Just find a better solution … be direct in finding solutions to your problems … the route to success is undeviating. Stop trying to complicate it with detours to save face.”

For one week, the book focuses on meditation and its benefits, and helps the reader through a few meditation exercises. I thought this was really cool, especially since a lot of people think of meditation as “New Agey” and sometimes “spiritual mumbo-jumbo” but I think meditation is an excellent tool for centering your thoughts and energy, de-cluttering your mind, and gaining new insight and energy to keep going with renewed motivation.

The book talks about how important “play time” is to having a balanced life and reaching your goals. I am somewhat of a “Type A” personality, feeling like I need to be accomplishing something every waking minute. Ha ha ha, this doesn’t mean I actually DO this, but I *feel* like I should be. I don’t often give myself license to “play”, whether that be enjoying a movie I’ve wanted to see, or going for a run when I’m behind on a deadline. But specific break and play time is extremely important – not just for sanity, but also for productivity.

A great reminder is presented in one of the entries – that everyone fails, and that no matter what you have failed at, “The beauty of life is that as long as you’re breathing, you get a do-over. You have an opportunity to change the way things are every single day, and every single moment.” I thought that was an important fact to point out. People get so discouraged with their failures, and sometimes end up seeing themselves as the failure, when the truth is that it’s never, never too late to make a change and keep going.

There’s a wonderful entry about famous actor James Earl Jones in the book, and about how as a youth he had a horrible stuttering problem. Can you believe that? He says he practically gave up speaking until one of his high school teachers found out that he secretly wrote poetry. His teacher praised him on his surprising and excellent work, and noted that the other students wouldn’t even believe he’d written it – his teacher then encouraged him to read the poem in front of the class – and because of that vote of confidence from his teacher, he was determined to overcome his stuttering and read his work aloud. He was able to read the whole piece without stuttering. And look at the talent that the world has enjoyed because he overcame that great obstacle! What an awesome story.

There are plenty of other really cool entries in this book – but like I mentioned before, it’s not just a book to read – there are exercises, and you’ll need to get a journal that you’ll have with you, all the time if possible. You’ll get the true benefit of this book if you’re able to do all the exercises. I know for a lot of people, getting a journal and carrying it around, journaling every day and following this book every single day for a year sounds like a lot of work … but as Nick said when he started I’ve Never Done That last year, “Anyone can do easy, right?” I plan on following this book for a year, and seeing what awesome changes I can make in my life and myself. If you’re skeptical about this book doing anything special, remember it’s not the book that does anything – it’s the person willing to change, learn, and grow. I think this is an excellent tool for accomplishing that goal.

Related Links:
Achieve Anything In Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish Your Goals

Made a Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano (100/366)


“Cooking is chemistry … it’s essentially chemical reactions.”
~
Shirley Corriher


Back from the crazy culinary weekend we had, I feel a little like I did after coming home from summer camp as a kid. We had a lot of fun, had super highs and hardly any lulls in excitement, experienced a roller coaster of new things … and honestly it all was a bit emotional! We all get home a bit torn, wanting to do so many different things: part to decompress and relax, part to share all our exciting stories with others, part to just quietly process by ourselves, and part to relive our experiences by going back in some way.

Tonight, I wanted to celebrate chemistry and cooking in something I’d always wanted to do as a kid but never got a chance to. When we went to the Exploratorium’s After Dark event, “Gastronomy,” I saw a science and chemistry kit for experiments using ordinary kitchen items. One of the coolest experiments in the kit (in my opinion) was a baking soda and vinegar volcano. I’ve seen kids make volcanoes for science fairs in tons of movies and I’d always wanted to make one, but never had the excuse to (we never had a science fair like that when I was in school). Yeah, it wasn’t a huge volcano, but it would do the trick.


The kit included instructions, and descriptions about the chemistry that was created during each of the experiments. In this case, it also talked about what happens when a real volcano erupts. I thought this was a cool feature in this little kit.


This is all you need to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano!


I added the baking soda, a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and a few drops of red food coloring. The dishwashing liquid and food coloring help to slow the chemical reaction, and give the “lava” its cool color!

Slowly pour the vinegar in, and … eruption!


This was neat! Like I said in my post about
brining my own corned beef, I used to love Mr. Wizard when I was a kid. I think being able to do science experiments in your own house with stuff that’s already there is super awesome. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart yourself), I highly recommend getting a few home science kits or looking up cool little experiments you can do with everyday items. It’s so fascinating to see how science works all around us, and really neat to see how it’s always at work, even in something as familiar as the kitchen.

Related Links:
Kidz Labs Kitchen Science Kit

Gone to an Exploratorium "After Dark" Event (96/366)


“Come eat with your eyes, taste with your nose, and savor through your fingertips … explore how surprise and innovation can transform our experience of food.”
~
Exploratorium, After Dark Presents: Gastronomy


We have a special weekend coming up, and it will involve eating – and a little bit of molecular gastronomy – which is the study and practice of using the different chemical and physical transformations that take place in foods as they are cooked and combined with various ingredients, to create new texture and flavor experiences. What a mouthful! As we prepare for just that, we thought it would be fun to take in the Exploratorium’s monthly special “After Dark” event, where they open the Exploratorium just for grown-ups (21+) and have a special theme and exhibits, as well as all of the normal exhibits that are usually on display. It’s a really cool opportunity to be able to “play” in the Exploratorium without feeling bad that you’re hogging an exhibit that a kid could be enjoying. And like the CalAcademy’s “NightLIfe” events (which we went to for the first time last year), they also set up a few bars, and even feature a few specialty themed cocktails. This month the theme for After Dark was “Gastronomy.”

When we got there, it was a little after 6:30pm (the event runs from 6pm – 10pm, the first Thursday of each month). It was pretty crowded already.


The Exploratorium Store had a cool selection of items featured that were “gastronomy-inspired” – we spent quite a bit of time in there before heading out to see more of the exhibits.


There was a station where “
Dippin’ Dots” style ice cream was being made by dripping ice cream mixture directly into a vat of liquid nitrogen. These were “Kahlúa and Cream” flavored.


Some of the authors of the “
Modernist Cuisine” had a cool display of cross-sections of different cooking environments, and they did a talk on how science-inspired techniques are revolutionizing the art of cooking. There was even a presentation on how a sharp knife is “more than meets the fingertips.”


There was a presentation by “
Cooking for Geeks” author Jeff Potter on how time and temperature matter in cooking. Check out all the eggs behind him! He was showing how eggs cook, for example, at different temperatures over different periods of time.


Man, people always crowd around when there’s free food. Too bad for these guys it was just tofu …


There were other tasty treats around, like Mealworm Toffee. Yeah, made with real mealworms …


The hall was seriously packed. Can you find Nick?


Overall, this was a cool event, but it was just way too crowded. We felt like we didn’t really get a chance to see as much as we’d have liked, because there were just throngs of people everywhere. We talked to one of the guys at the store, and he told us this was probably the busiest After Dark they’ve had (second busiest was “Sexplorations” – eh, I guess it makes sense then). I think it might have been cool to either have duplicate exhibits spread over the hall or maybe to split this event over two nights – I know that doesn’t really go along with the format of After Dark, but with all the neat things they had to watch, touch, and taste, it would have been cool to be able to do more. It was fun though, and we became members (After Dark events are FREE for members!) so we’ll definitely be coming again – I’m sure the less crowded events are awesome!

The Exploratorium is moving out to The Piers in 2013, and After Dark is going on hiatus in September of this year in preparation for the move. If you haven’t checked out an After Dark event yet, you totally should. It’s a great way to experience the Exploratorium – and these last After Dark events will be your last chance to do so in the original building!

Related Links:
Exploratorium.edu/afterdark
Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food
Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

Read Thom Rutledge’s Book "Embracing Fear" (81/366)


“To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom”
~
Bertrand Russell


I’ve always been kind of a worrier. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive about it, but I’m certainly not as laid-back as Nick is. For example, in making an important decision, I always like to do a ton of research, collect all the information I can possibly get, weigh as many possible outcomes of a situation as I can, and then make an informed choice … but many times, it seems like all that work just causes me more anxiety. I guess I get wrapped up in “analysis paralysis” and then when it comes time to make the decision, sometimes I feel that, while I’ve done all this research, and that I am making a good decision, I also partly just make one to get out from under the avalanche of information I’ve piled on myself – and then I can’t help but second-guess my choice.

I also worry about my family and friends and their well-being, about the future and what it holds; all the unknowns in life. I guess everyone does at times, but I do feel that there have been occasions when my worrying, or that fear of the unknown, or fear of failing, has caused me to hold back, to not push myself as hard as I knew I could, and I very well could have missed out on great opportunities because of that.

I think part of this habit of worry and fear of the unknown comes from being the youngest child, and being the only girl; although my parents raised me and my brothers pretty equally, I was for the most part more protected than the boys. I still remember one occasion when my parents wouldn’t let me go see a special screening of Walt Disney’s “Bambi” at the neighborhood theater with the kids from the family next door, even though I was older than their youngest boy, and he was allowed to go.

A few years ago, I saw the book “Embracing Fear” by Thom Rutledge at a Borders bargain table, and thought it looked interesting. It had been sitting on my shelf ever since, and I had never gotten around to reading it until today. Well, there’s no time like the present, huh? I cracked it open this morning.

One major note: I really appreciate how Rutledge’s style is not the stereotypical namby-pamby, “love your soul, think happiness and light and it will manifest itself with no effort on your part, wrap yourself in a magical blanket of protectiveness” self-help drivel or psychobabble. He’s been through a tough life, he knows that you have to work at happiness, and though he’s been a mental health professional for decades, he doesn’t claim to know all the answers – he notes that learns just as much from his clients as they do from him plenty of times – and that attitude toward life and knowledge is one that I share. That being said, if you’re at all interested in reading this book, you can rest assured that while the points I outline below may seem silly to the skeptical, they are effective (Rutledge talks about that in the book, too – some things may seem corny at first, but if they work, they work – and goal is progress).

Some neat key points in the book:

“Personifying” Your Fear ~ There’s a normal, healthy type of fear that keeps you (hopefully) from jumping off the roof of your house “pro-wrestling style”, and then there’s irrational fear – the kind that keeps you from going for that promotion at work because you think you won’t get it, or even worse, that keeps you from even applying for a job because you feel you’re not good enough. Rutledge says that giving these two very different types of fear personas – the healthy one being your “Ally”, and the irrational one being more of a “Bully”, helps you to define them more clearly, to separate them, and to see them for what they are, instead of wrapping all fear together into a confusing mass, or wall that hinders you from making good choices for yourself.

Saying “No” To Fear ~ Fear will always be a factor in life; there’s no denying that, and it’s silly to think otherwise. People with absolutely no fear are known not as fearless to most … rather, they’re probably thought of as foolish – or at the very least, kidding themselves. Saying “no” to fear means that you feel the fear, understand and accept it, and respond to it rationally. Instead of, “I can’t ask for a raise – I won’t get it. I’m worthless. What’s wrong with me? I’m a loser,” processing the fear you might experience will result in something closer to, “If I ask for that raise, I may not get it. I’ll feel disappointed. I may feel embarrassed. But if I don’t get it, I can ask what I can do better. I’m going to ask for the raise.”

The “Ladder Technique” ~ Rutledge uses a technique with his clients to help in breaking down fears, and getting to the bottom of them. Like the example above, if the person gets denied a raise, the fear is that they’ll feel disappointed and embarrassed. Sometimes just identifying what specific fears are involved helps when trying to process what might be holding you back, and sometimes they lead to deeper fears, which is where the ladder technique is really valuable. The same example from above might be more like, “If I ask for the raise, I may not get it. If I don’t get it, I’ll feel like I’m not valued at the company. If I feel I’m not valued at the company, I’ll feel I’m not valued at all. If I’m not valued at all, what am I doing with my life?” It may sound silly, and that ladder might seem a bit extreme, but I think we’ve all had similar, irrational thoughts like that, and a lot of people push all that aside and either try not to think about it, or some unfortunate few wallow in it – and yet, really don’t go through the process of evaluating it. The ladder example here may mean that the person’s main concern is not really the promotion, or the job even, but his or her direction or purpose in life. The ladder technique helps to point to the bigger issue – the initial issue is just the tip of the iceberg – there may be a fear acting as a vague vice constricting us or dark cloud hovering over us – and finding the base of it all can truly be enlightening, and empowering.

Pushing Through The Wall ~ A very powerful exercise Rutledge uses with clients (here in a much more brief explanation than in the book) is to have them imagine a brick wall in front of them – to make it as real as possible in their minds – to see the texture of the bricks, to “touch” the wall, to imagine what’s on the other side … then to think about how the wall is big, but the bricks are small, and that the mortar is of their own making. They then imagine what would happen if they destroyed that wall – would they step through? How would they proceed? Finally, they’re led to put their hands on the wall … and then to push through it and see what’s on the other side … to revel in that, and to see that there is a horizon … and there are also other walls. The neat thing about this exercise is that in a nutshell, the mortar is fear, and the bricks are life. And there isn’t just one “Wall of Fear” that Rutledge is leading you to believe you have to push through, and then your world will be fear-free and perfect. There will always be walls, and you have to learn to push through them. And the best way to do that, is to understand your fears, to be able to embrace them, and accept them, to feel the fear, and to not let it stop you from going forward.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m glad I finally read it. It’s nice to see examples of a lot of things I’ve thought about, in black and white, to know that I’m not the only one who feels these things, and also that there are plenty of great ways to be able to Face, Explore, Accept, and Respond to the many exciting challenges in life. I really feel the concepts I’ve read about in this book have helped me to understand my relationship with fear, and that I’m much better equipped to handle challenging (read: scary) situations now. With practice of the techniques in this book, and an attitude of embracing fear, accepting it, and moving through it, I’ll learn to not worry so much. I’d definitely recommend this read – even if you don’t feel you have “issues” with fear, there’s something in it for everyone.

Related Links:
“Embracing Fear” (Amazon, Used)