Calling Out Fear

Fear, hatred, and suspicion narrow your mind – compassion opens it.                                                                                                  ~  Dalai Lama

Fear is a four-letter word and like the other “F” word, it packs an emotional punch.  A complex and destructive force, fear is paralyzing, demoralizing, and debilitating; it should, I think, be counted among the deadliest of sins. 

I’m not talking about the kind of fear that triggers my fight or flight response when faced with a life-threatening situation.  I am referring to the corrosive fear triggered by my imagination as I ruminate on the mere possibility of losing something I cherish or not getting the thing I most desire.

Intellectually, I know that money is just an exchange medium; but it too can be emotionally charged for me.  It’s a number on a bank statement, a pile of paper and metal alloy stuffed in a leather satchel or safely hunkered in the belly of my purple-polka-dot piggy bank.  It is the medium for which I exchanged 40 years of my life force and talents and I am very attached to my little piles of it.  Due to some poor planning and lack of knowledge on my part, I am now faced with a situation that may move a significant portion of my money pile into someone else’s.  The details are unimportant except to the extent to which I attach meaning to them.  “I should have known better,” is music to the ears of my fear.  “I am so stupid!” brings it even more delight.  Fear will have all of me…past, present and future.  It is imagining a future without my pile of money that really haunts me.  “What will I do when I am old and feeble and have to eat cat food?”  “Why did I quit my job?”  “What was I thinking??”     

“Legion is my name, for there are many of us” is what the demons said to Jesus before he cast them into the swine who madly drown themselves.  And legions are the thoughts that plague me when I am possessed by the demon of fear.  In the darkness of shame and silence, these thoughts consume me and rob me of my life…this life…this very moment of breath and beauty that is the gift of being human.  Absent from the present, I am regretting the past or worrying about the future and so I miss catching a glimpse of the twinkle in my husband’s bright blue eyes or the spectacularly red cardinal who came to call.  All beauty is lost to me…until I speak my truth.

It is only when I admit to myself that I have made a false god of money, when I call a friend and admit my shame and tell her my story, when I put my ego aside and show my vulnerability and name my fear that my fear is released.  It is really just that simple.

Today I am fully present, in this moment.  I have done my meditation, taken what practical steps I can and then turn the rest over to God.  For now, the demon of financial insecurity has been called out and cast aside.  Removed,  but not yet drown, I know that it will raise its ugly head again.  Armed with the light of truth, I can call that demon out again and again until all my money or all my fears are gone.

Artwork and photography by Janice Olson




Inside this clay jug are canyons and

pine mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine mountains.

All seven oceans are inside, and

hundreds of millions of stars.

The acid that tests gold is there, and

the one who judges jewels.

And the music from the strings that

no hand touches, and the source of

all water.

If you want to know the truth,

I’ll tell you the truth.

Friend listen – The one who I

love is inside.

                                               ~ Kabir

clay jar

Several months ago, I began preparing for two retreats I would be leading.  My process is to read, write, pray and get centered in my own relationship with Spirit, all of which I enjoy. Retreat leadership is a relatively new path for me and it was somewhat predictable that I would be become overwhelmed by the awesome responsibility of providing a meaningful experience for the women attending. In other words, I became attached to the outcome.  Once my ego became activated and engaged, doubt and fear were sure to follow. Rather than the still, small voice of reassurance, I began to pay attention to the voice of the lie telling me I might not be good enough.   

“If I am truly called to do this work, why is it so difficult?”, I mused.  Shouldn’t a calling mean you are “in the zone” or “following your bliss”?  While agonizing internally, I was also projecting my distress onto my husband. I became withdrawn, confrontational and dismissive.  The man has the patience of Job, but even he has his limits so when he finally said to me, “Why do you push me away?  I am not the enemy”, I had to stop and really think about the source of my anxiety and my reaction to it.

My program of recovery suggests the “spiritual axiom” that whenever I am disturbed, there is something wrong with me.  This is not an easy principle to accept or follow under normal circumstances but when I am stressed and my cortisol-soaked nervous system tells me I am in fight or flight mode, it is nearly impossible. I lash out at the nearest scapegoat, forgetting that the enemy is me.

Relationship and community are fundamental to my spiritual progress.  Without them, I cannot be shown my blind spots, be given honest feedback, neither gain nor offer support.  A true friend will not only tell me when I have spinach between my teeth, they will tell me when my words or actions are hurtful or inappropriate, or when I am , quite simply, being a jerk.  Twelve-Step programs around the world use sponsorship and community as the healing balm for battered and bewildered souls.

In a culture that relies on competition and one-upmanship to fuel ambition, I must take an active role in creating communities based on mutual trust, respect and compassion.  In the face of those who bully, blame and gaslight, I must be diligent about speaking my truth and living from my heart.  With the companionship of my husband, the insight of my spiritual director, the depth of my faith community and the unconditional love of my recovery community I am granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.    

yin yang

Photography and artwork by Janice Olson

Conscious Contact

WELCOME!  I am delighted you are here…and right on time.

This is a place where magic happens.  Where spiritual seekers are welcome and women of all ages, in all stages of spiritual development, are encouraged to live into the mystery to which they are called.

Over the course of the past two decades, two marriages, multiple jobs and moves and deaths and births, I have learned to maintain a way of living in a community that supports me from which I receive ten-fold what I give.  With the help of women who are mystics and feminists and monks and wives and daughters and friends of Bill, all of whom love God, I have slogged my way to a state of being I can only call GRACE.

Conscious Contact is my calling and my ministry.  Born from my deep desire to share my experience, strength and hope with women who are seeking.  If you are a woman who longs to say yes to your spiritual life, are commitment to personal growth and are open to new and creative possibilities, I would love to hear from you.

I offer my experience, strength and hope in the form of retreats and spiritual direction.  If you would like to be added to my mailing list for retreat and event notices, please reach out to me at:

I look forward to hearing from you, walking with you, and holding you in my heart.


Liminal Space

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an ax to the prison wall.
Escape. Walk out like someone
suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You´re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side.
Die, and be quiet.
Quietness is the surest
sign that you’ve died.

Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon comes out now.             ~ Rumi

Between me, and the me-to-be, lies liminal space.  Spirit’s cauldron; the void of unknowing in which spiritual growth and transformation takes place.  It is the space in which I say yes to the longing I cannot name. To enter is to follow the scent of mystery.

The natural order of things is to change and grow.  A snake knows when to shed its skin, a hermit crab moves to larger accommodations without hesitation. Caterpillars do not debate whether or not to transform; they simply follow their divine blueprint.  Every creature in the the natural world instinctively knows its blueprint and simply moves itself along.

Nearly every transformative stage of my life has been a painful process  of realizing something isn’t working, dragging my feet until I am ready to do something about it, and then struggling to figure out how to manage the whole process.  How often have I dreaded making change only to get to the other side saying, “Why didn’t I do that a long time ago?”

There have also been times when transformation sought and found me.  A broken heart, divorce, addiction, dark nights of the soul, a  loosening of screws that tethered me to reality.  I keep the ticket stubs of these events in my memory box; reminders that I have entered liminal space in terror and exited with gratitude.

In liminal space, I have learned to get quiet and be still; to open myself to the void, the now, the nothingness.  In the darkness of unknowing, I am draw closer to the draftsman of my blueprint; the maker who dreamed me into being and longs for me to find as much as I long to be found.

With each “yes” I say in response to the divine call for transformation, I have learned to trust that whatever I am seeking is also seeking me and that I am actually responding to the call of what is already forming for me in the next liminal space.

Photographs and Zentangle artwork by Janice Olson