Joyful Simplicity

Growing up in the country as a child in the 70’s the electricity would go out frequently. Sometimes it took hours or even days to go back on. That meant no TV which forced our family to rely on simpler entertainment. Our home would be lit by candlelight. My scratchpad and pencils next to a nearby flame allowed enough light to trace images from my coloring book for hours. Oftentimes my family would agree to play board games and cards. Those family stories shared during those moments of darkness with just little flames of light are still cherished. 

While reflecting on those simpler days thinking of all the special moments where very little money was required to be happy, I remember:

  • Climbing our large apple trees and enjoying the fragrance filling the Spring air of the apple blossoms that were in full bloom.
  • Waking up to the birds’ singing in the morning with a slight breeze coming through the open farmhouse window making the sheer curtains dance peacefully in my room.
  • Being taught how to put a worm on a hook by my Dad and getting to cast my line all by myself. Even if no fish would bite during those fishing trips, I still have fond memories of getting to enjoy a picnic lunch in the peaceful silence of nature with maybe an occasional sound of cows mooing in the distance.
  • Picking wild strawberries on the side of a country road and running back home to share my exciting harvest of a handful. Or more accurately the remains of the leftovers after I ate the largest ones even before they could be washed.
  • Walking down to our nearby pond/mudhole and catching tadpoles with my sisters.
  • Going in the hay mile to play and finding a surprise litter of kittens.
  • Watching the amazing ability of an ant carry food more than twice his size for what could have been hours.
  • Getting to go along with my older brothers and sisters to pick up large rocks out of a field before my Dad and older brothers and sisters could plow the fields.
  • The satisfaction of touching a cute brown little piglet through the fence long enough to feel his coarse hair and admiring his pretty long-eyelashes.
  • Pushing the bubbles of pitch on the tar country road on a hot summer day.
  • Getting to grill out and eat with the family on a picnic table in the barnyard.
  • Watching Mom make apple pies and getting to play with the leftover dough

Making mud pies, finding toads, and embracing the feeling of grass on our bare feet while dancing around in the yard are some of the simple things of childhood that brought many of us joy. 

Now in adulthood with larger houses, entertainment at our fingertips, no time for hobbies or board games, many of us have begun taking the ordinary things for granted. Usually, when unfortunate circumstances occur, it can become a wake-up call to a larger life lesson that leads us to appreciate each other and the simplest of life’s pleasures once more.

Whatever obstacles that could be in front of us with economic uncertainty, one thing remains in our control, our attitude and outlook to overcome our struggles.  Remember tough moments too shall pass.  Meanwhile, whether it is memories of your youth or simple pleasures from today, share your favorite moments where it was the simple things that brought you joy.  Hope and optimism can conquer all fear.

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Fighting Fear

Kenyan Proverb: “He who fears the sun will not become chief.”

“If you want to win in life you must be willing to combat the fear; overcome the obstacle, and go on to become the chief you’re destined to be! What you’re after is waiting for you on the other side of fear!

The fear can get you. It can make you frozen and want to hide. Many of you may have spent many years as a child terrified. You may have had rituals where you looked under your bed before being able to sleep. You may have used your blankets to cover up your head over your ears at night to feel you were hidden from what could get you in the night.

Kids today go through mass shooter drills monthly that instill fear of the unimaginable. My generation grew up with fears of aliens and the Cold War. Stories of the Russians possibly bombing us and all the fears put in my head, made me lie frozen many nights as a child feeling terrified.

Sadly, some of you have experienced real nightmares of abuse or fear in your own home as a child. When talking about fear with a friend recently she had shared she had similar fears as a kid. She had not felt that intensity of fear for a long time until one night recently alone in a hotel room. She woke up after having a nightmare trembling.

She said she was reminded that the last time she felt that same fear was as a child and when she was a victim.  She even blocked out the perpetrator’s name from her memory. Yet she had survived and overcome her fear then. She had found power in something outside of herself to make it through and caused her to fight through it.

As an adult, she wanted to avoid the overwhelming feeling of fear so much she couldn’t watch scary movies and she couldn’t let her mind go to anything of worry. All she did was worry as a child, terrified of everything. She didn’t want to feel that way ever again she told me.

She went on to say normally she was able to grab a hold of her husband to reclaim her security. However, that night she was alone and had to find her own power to overcome that fear. She shared with me how she worked to gain control of her mind through writing. Getting it on paper made it real. It made her deal with the reality of all of it and make sense of all the voices in her head.

She shared how she regained control of the fear by asking for help outside of herself. The only thing that made her feel safe was praying to God. Praying to not let the fear take over her mind. Praying to heal from those childhood fears, her past and her nightmares.

She told herself and pleaded to God. “I am safe. Please, God, help me stay secure. Don’t let myself revert to being so scared again.” 

She then let herself go into the cause of the fear and fight back. She became angry at all those who caused her fear as a kid and as an adult. She wanted to scream at her perpetrators, “I hate the demons inside you!” ” I hate what you did!” Yet, she knew her perpetrators prayed to God for his savior and wanted to be healed too. So the anger did not last.

As a parent, after living in fear for so many years, she had tried to protect her children from evil and suffering. Yet she realized it was out of her control and recognized how she also needed to grow in her faith with God, she told me. She knew she had to let go of her worries. She began to reflect on all the times she had been scared and how she overcame her fears. It out made her realize how much she had been through as a kid and that maybe she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. Maybe she was strong after all. Others facing worse realities were able to keep their peace by giving their worries to God and they had inspired her. She used their wisdom and took a deep breath after writing the words of her story. Then she went into meditation and prayer to find her power to heal and have peace.

She continued praying, “God, I know you are there. I know you are there because you have shown me a path before. Help stop the suffering in the world. Help the world experience the joy of life and love each other so the world becomes a safer place.” That prayer helped her find her strength. She said she was able to overcome her fear and find peace to go back to sleep.

If you have fears stemmed from past experiences, or negative news, share the stories of your fears with someone who will listen and help make sense of your anxieties. Saying them out loud or writing your fears down takes the power away from them. Then ask for God’s help. Many people have found healing through this practice. May it help you overcome your fears too.

“It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.”
~ Doris Lessing

Tell yourself good stories to keep your mind from taking you down the negative downward spiral of fear.  Look for spiritual power. Remind yourself you are strong. Go fight your fear!

Photograph courtesy of Olivia Simon

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If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email:

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: