• Stephanie Hammond

One more fear bites the dust!



Once farmland, now a growing indigenous forest - Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park

I’m learning! Fear can be a wonderful growth experience. You’d think I’d know that by now, wouldn’t you?

And fear doesn’t have to negatively influence my actions! To be honest, I’ve nearly given up on two of my volunteer positions lately. I’ve had excuses - valid ones! Truly, honest reasons to give them up. And if I’d done that, one or the other, or both, I wouldn’t have discovered (or is it re-discovered?) some important truths.

These truths are about my personality, my inner drivers, and how blind I can be.

I volunteer as a treasurer. Now, I’m not an accountant and at this time of year getting the books ready for audit, I’m so aware of my shortcomings in that area of expertise. I don’t understand the language. When the auditor sends me messages I’m not sure I understand what he means, and sometimes he doesn’t tell me clearly and I think I’m dumb because I don’t understand. But I don’t know which is which - am I not understanding because I will never get this - or am I not understanding because the auditor doesn’t put it into the language of my finance programme - or am I not understanding because he may have asked me for a wrong report? How do I know?

And am I being rational enough to know there may be some clarification needed? Of course not! My inner critic tells me I’m dumb and it’s time to give this task to someone more qualified. So it’s at this point I realise that I could explore what’s really going on for me.

I’m not qualified. I’m trying to learn. OK. So when have I been in this situation in the past? OK got that! And I learnt then. I can learn now.

I’m scared of making a drastic financial mistake for my organisation. Whoa there! There’s the auditor looking out for my organisation - isn’t that what he’s there for? Why the process of auditing was set up? I feel myself relax.

I’m scared I’ll make a fool of myself, I’ll fall flat on my face and look stupid in front of my fellow committee members. Aaagh! Now we’re getting to the crux of the situation. Of what’s going on right now in both my volunteering positions actually.

My other volunteer job is very dear to my heart. Our local council has opened its 10 year funding process to public submissions.

I put in a submission to support funding for putting in facilities at the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park so that the Park can be opened for the public to enjoy this area of regenerating growth. I’m proud of my involvement at Waiwhakareke which began in 1990 when I was a planner at the Council. Now I volunteer at the bi-monthly working bees where we plant native plants, release young plants from weeds, and weed the established areas. I also coordinate the volunteer group, Friends of Waiwhakareke and look after our Face Book page.

At this current time there are a lot more demands than usual relating to my coordinator role and as I’m trying to get over my fear of speaking to the Council about my submission, I’m feeling stressed about my role. Am I forgetting to send out email reminders, can I rephrase the requests to get the message across more succinctly. Can I send out the right amount of emails and time them so busy people read the emails and don’t feel frustrated by too many emails. Can I put the relevant information on our Face Book page? Aaagh! Again! And so the self talk continues and the same type of questions about my ability to do this work come up.

And I come to the same conclusion - I’m scared I’ll fail and fall flat on my face in front of my peers and that I’ll damage the work already being done by the organisation and I’m bad at this anyway!

I’m starting to feel grateful for this very uncomfortable situation - because it’s an opportunity for healing an event that happened to me when I was 11 years old and which I wasn’t even aware had such power over me.

And getting to feel less fear is a process. A process I recognise from past ‘fear releasing’ processes. And yet I seem to not engage in this process until I’m neck deep in the fear! And that of course is part of the process! And these steps aren’t ones that I can rationally set down on paper and start ticking off. They’re organic and it’s only in retrospect I can see them more clearly. Yet, I’m putting them down now in the hope that I’ll be able to slot into the process earlier in the future!

First step: I seem to have to get at or near rock bottom, be totally immersed in the negative emotion. I get to a point beyond just quitting what I’m doing and focusing on something else. I get to a point where I’ve just got to get some resolution, some freedom from this fear, and I start looking for help.

Second step: I get help. And that’s not a rationally defined action either. It’s more appropriate to say “help finds me”. Every morning I read the astrology section of our local newspaper. I call it my ‘thought for the day’ and I’m surprised how relevant my thought is. Here’s what it said yesterday:

It’s easier to settle in when circumstances are not all that much different from the ones you already know; however, you didn’t come all this way to repeat the same pattern. Accept the discomfort as part of growth.

Well I was feeling the discomfort! And I love growth, so a glimmer of a thought was forming. I’d work on this later. First, was my third step (only I didn’t know it at the time).

Third step: I listen to an expert. Yesterday, I had my regular meeting with my writing collaborator, my daughter Phoebe (one of my experts). We have a virtual meet up every Monday morning, she in the UK, me here in NZ. We talk about our writing and about life. I published a book in 2010 and a friend asked me to do the screenplay of it. I was telling Phoebe how I’d asked one of her sons if he’d like to do that for me. And she told me about an experience he’d had that had put him off wanting to do screen writing any more. And I immediately identified with him in a flashback to a class of 11 year olds. I was to give a talk in front of the class. I’d prepared, knew my subject, and practised and practised what I’d say so I could do it without notes. Not too far into my speech I jumbled my thoughts and things came out a bit wrongly. The teacher was exasperated with me and told me that I hadn’t prepared and was wasting everyone’s time. I realised I was afraid that I would be doing that in presenting my submission. I’d been kept awake every night for the last two weeks going over and over in my mind what I’d say. Now I realised I needed to not only BE prepared, I had to LOOK prepared. So I spent time yesterday writing up a draft of what I’ll say and tidied that up this morning and printed it off to take with me.

Fourth step: I take action. This afternoon I’ll give my oral submission to the Council on why I ask that they put the funding for opening Waiwhakareke to the public.

I’m feeling a bit nervous but not fearful!

And these steps applied almost simultaneously to my treasurer inspired fears.

Step one: I was there, at rock bottom.

Step two: The astrology column was equally relevant.

Step three: My husband, Neil, is an expert with spreadsheets and I enlisted his help to interpret the process I was working through with the balance sheet. The balance sheet still doesn’t balance! I’ve rechecked all the figures and now I’m ready for Neil to cast his eye over it again.

Step four: Once he’s done that, I’ll send it to the auditor and trust the auditing process will through up the discrepancies.

I’m feeling ready to send the supporting documentation to the auditor and I’m not at all fearful.

I’m actually excited. I’ve learnt a lot more this year. I’m looking forward to this auditing process next year. We’ve changed our electronic financial reporting package and I can already see that the way it functions is much better than the one I’ve been using. Life as a treasurer can only get better!

And I know I can prepare myself for what lies ahead - in these areas.

Through this process, I’ve realised that even at this stage in life fears will come. I may not be able to curb the fear early, mainly because I won’t always recognise it for what it is, deep down inside me. I also realise that at this stage in life I have the capacity and the desire to overcome my fears, to grow and learn and be of service. I’m excited.

I’m learning! Fear can be a wonderful growth experience. You’d think I’d know that by now, wouldn’t you?

And fear doesn’t have to negatively influence my actions! To be honest, I’ve nearly given up on two of my volunteer positions lately. I’ve had excuses - valid ones! Truly, honest reasons to give them up. And if I’d done that, one or the other, or both, I wouldn’t have discovered (or is it re-discovered?) some important truths.

These truths are about my personality, my inner drivers, and how blind I can be.

I volunteer as a treasurer. Now, I’m not an accountant and at this time of year getting the books ready for audit, I’m so aware of my shortcomings in that area of expertise. I don’t understand the language. When the auditor sends me messages I’m not sure I understand what he means, and sometimes he doesn’t tell me clearly and I think I’m dumb because I don’t understand. But I don’t know which is which - am I not understanding because I will never get this - or am I not understanding because the auditor doesn’t put it into the language of my finance programme - or am I not understanding because he may have asked me for a wrong report? How do I know?

And am I being rational enough to know there may be some clarification needed? Of course not! My inner critic tells me I’m dumb and it’s time to give this task to someone more qualified. So it’s at this point I realise that I could explore what’s really going on for me.

I’m not qualified. I’m trying to learn. OK. So when have I been in this situation in the past? OK got that! And I learnt then. I can learn now.

I’m scared of making a drastic financial mistake for my organisation. Whoa there! There’s the auditor looking out for my organisation - isn’t that what he’s there for? Why the process of auditing was set up? I feel myself relax.

I’m scared I’ll make a fool of myself, I’ll fall flat on my face and look stupid in front of my fellow committee members. Aaagh! Now we’re getting to the crux of the situation. Of what’s going on right now in both my volunteering positions actually.

My other volunteer job is very dear to my heart. Our local council has opened its 10 year funding process to public submissions.

I put in a submission to support funding for putting in facilities at the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park so that the Park can be opened for the public to enjoy this area of regenerating growth. I’m proud of my involvement at Waiwhakareke which began in 1990 when I was a planner at the Council. Now I volunteer at the bi-monthly working bees where we plant native plants, release young plants from weeds, and weed the established areas. I also coordinate the volunteer group, Friends of Waiwhakareke and look after our Face Book page.

At this current time there are a lot more demands than usual relating to my coordinator role and as I’m trying to get over my fear of speaking to the Council about my submission, I’m feeling stressed about my role. Am I forgetting to send out email reminders, can I rephrase the requests to get the message across more succinctly. Can I send out the right amount of emails and time them so busy people read the emails and don’t feel frustrated by too many emails. Can I put the relevant information on our Face Book page? Aaagh! Again! And so the self talk continues and the same type of questions about my ability to do this work come up.

And I come to the same conclusion - I’m scared I’ll fail and fall flat on my face in front of my peers and that I’ll damage the work already being done by the organisation and I’m bad at this anyway!

I’m starting to feel grateful for this very uncomfortable situation - because it’s an opportunity for healing an event that happened to me when I was 11 years old and which I wasn’t even aware had such power over me.

And getting to feel less fear is a process. A process I recognise from past ‘fear releasing’ processes. And yet I seem to not engage in this process until I’m neck deep in the fear! And that of course is part of the process! And these steps aren’t ones that I can rationally set down on paper and start ticking off. They’re organic and it’s only in retrospect I can see them more clearly. Yet, I’m putting them down now in the hope that I’ll be able to slot into the process earlier in the future!

First step: I seem to have to get at or near rock bottom, be totally immersed in the negative emotion. I get to a point beyond just quitting what I’m doing and focusing on something else. I get to a point where I’ve just got to get some resolution, some freedom from this fear, and I start looking for help.

Second step: I get help. And that’s not a rationally defined action either. It’s more appropriate to say “help finds me”. Every morning I read the astrology section of our local newspaper. I call it my ‘thought for the day’ and I’m surprised how relevant my thought is. Here’s what it said yesterday:

It’s easier to settle in when circumstances are not all that much different from the ones you already know; however, you didn’t come all this way to repeat the same pattern. Accept the discomfort as part of growth.

Well I was feeling the discomfort! And I love growth, so a glimmer of a thought was forming. I’d work on this later. What I did next was my third step (only I didn’t know it at the time).

Third step: I listen to an expert. Yesterday, I had my regular meeting with my writing collaborator, my daughter Phoebe (one of my experts). We have a virtual meet up every Monday morning, she in the UK, me here in NZ. We talk about our writing and about life. I published a book in 2010 and a friend asked me to do the screenplay of it. I was telling Phoebe how I’d asked one of her sons if he’d like to do that for me. And she told me about an experience he’d had that had put him off wanting to do screen writing any more. And I immediately identified with him in a flashback to a class of 11-

year-olds. I was to give a talk in front of the class. I’d prepared, knew my subject, and practised and practised what I’d say so I could do it without notes. Not too far into my speech I jumbled my thoughts and things came out a bit wrongly. The teacher was exasperated with me and told me that I hadn’t prepared and was wasting everyone’s time. I realised I was afraid that I would be doing that in presenting my submission. I’d been kept awake every night for the last two weeks going over and over in my mind what I’d say. Now I realised I needed to not only BE prepared, I had to LOOK prepared. So I spent time yesterday writing up a draft of what I’ll say and tidied that up this morning and printed it off to take with me.

Fourth step: I take action. This afternoon I’ll give my oral submission to the Council on why I ask that they put the funding for opening Waiwhakareke to the public.

I’m feeling a bit nervous but not fearful!

And these steps applied almost simultaneously to my treasurer inspired fears.

Step one: I was there, at rock bottom.

Step two: The astrology column was equally relevant.

Step three: My husband, Neil, is an expert with spreadsheets and I enlisted his help to interpret the process I was working through with the balance sheet. The balance sheet still doesn’t balance! I’ve rechecked all the figures and now I’m ready for Neil to cast his eye over it again.

Step four: Once he’s done that, I’ll send it to the auditor and trust the auditing process will through up the discrepancies.

I’m feeling ready to send the supporting documentation to the auditor and I’m not at all fearful.

I’m actually excited. I’ve learnt a lot more this year. I’m looking forward to this auditing process next year. We’ve changed our electronic financial reporting package and I can already see that the way it functions is much better than the one I’ve been using. Life as a treasurer can only get better!

And I know I can prepare myself for what lies ahead - in these areas.

Through this process, I’ve realised that even at this stage in life fears will come. I may not be able to curb the fear early, mainly because I won’t always recognise it for what it is, deep down inside me. I also realise that at this stage in life I have the capacity and the desire to overcome my fears, to grow and learn and be of service. I’m excited.


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LDIA cover.JPG

Last Days in Atlantis. (Young Adult Novel)

Mari is thrust into a position of responsibility as the warrior leader of the Atlantean Hill People before she's ready. She strives to make choices that are best for her and her people against a backdrop of deception and intrigue. She becomes entangled in the power struggles between her people and the rulers of the City of the Golden Gates. 

Events test her trust in the traditions of her people and her confidence in those who are dear to her: the Elders, her mother, and the young man she is expected to share her life with.  Mari believes she has failed the task and struggles to overcome her feelings of grief, guilt, and betrayal as her very survival is threatened. 
 

I have written two children's stories about Beatrice, a young angel-in-training with one large wing. The first to be published, Beatrice Learns Compassion, was illustrated by my granddaughter, Bella, when she was 10-years-old. Bella is currently illustrating the secon book, Beatrice Spreads Joy. 

The Beatrice book is available on Kindle. It's suited to young children. Print copies are available to purchase through the contact page