Biggest Fears

What is your biggest fear? And why? For me, I’ve been scared of cats my entire life. I can’t say for sure why but I do have a glimpse of a bad childhood memory concerning one and an infants death. But we all have those type of fears such as snakes or dogs. What about personal fears? One of my personal fears is the fear of rejection. I actually tried to publish my first book concerning fibromyalgia with only 28 pages in the early 2000s. I sent copies to every publisher that I could. I received rejection letters from all but one Dorrance Publishing Company. At the time I didn’t have the money they required to publish with them. Now I’m trying to self publish two books, my poetry book, My Poetic Life and my book about my experiences with fibromyalgia entitled and copywritten Fibromyalgia: Behind the Walls of Silence. I’m so very happy to have the opportunity to self publish. I’m proud of my eye for photography because I have enough photos I’ve taken to illustrate my poetry book. I’m thrilled to be working on my life dream.

Am I still fearful? Of course, I am only because I’m human. But I know God now. My faith is bigger than any fear. That is the best feeling in the world. To live a life where you are able to use your faith to overcome your fears brings about a special kind of freedom. A freedom that has cleared my mind and freed me from terrible self-doubt. With the possibility of rejection being off the table, I’m grateful my faith helps with any misguided fear. When I was younger, I didn’t have control over my fears especially when life handed me one rejection notice after another.

The rejection caused meet to stop believing in myself. I stopped pursuing publication for over 15 years. Now that I’m able to refocus on myself after raising my two beautiful children, I’m giving it another shot. I want to leave them and my one-year-old granddaughter a legacy. I know poetry books do not sell a lot of copies but it’s not that type of legacy I’m trying to leave. I want this book to be a reminder to them to always pursue their dreams. Even if that means waiting until you’re 45 years old, you can always make your dreams come true. I’m making these steps so they can make their own one day, not following in mine but exceeding them. They are my legacy, my lineage, my greatest accomplishments, and hugest blessings. I’ve learned through my mother that there’s always something new your mother can teach you. You just have to be willing to still learn from her. Perhaps you will learn how to overcome your own fears by watching her conquer her own. Although I don’t think I’ll ever not be afraid of cats, that’s okay. As long as I am no longer afraid of rejection by the end of this journey, I have accomplished my goal.

I am striving to be a braver woman because I have so many other fears. To be perfectly honest, a lot of things terrify me. I have more than my share of biggest fears. I want to tackle them one at a time and overcome each one. I have only just begun. I’ll let y’all in on an unusual fear of mine. It’s strange because I’ll stress over having to be around large crowds. But once I’m out the door, and among the crowd, I don’t think anything about being afraid. I often wonder if others deal with this too. For another example, I’m terrified of meeting new people. But once I’m there in their presence talking to them, I may be nervous, but I don’t even think about being afraid. My question to myself which I will find the answer to is, why be afraid, to begin with?

So by the end of compiling this poetry book, My Poetic Life, I will have dug deep, researched and discovered what are all my biggest fears, why I have them, how to accept, cope with and conquer them all. Come along on this journey with me. It’s not just about the book I’m writing, but about self-actualization and discovery. I think, if willing, we all can learn from one another. I would love the input of my readers on this blog especially. What’s your biggest fear? How do you cope with it? If possible, how did you conquer it? Let’s talk.

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

(3 years old me)

(My mom and I (2016))

Believe it or not my mom used to say this all the time when I was a girl. Whenever she had something to do but wanted to change the way she did it, she’d say there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I found the meaning of this saying to be true. There is always more than one way to do anything. Although the saying is a visual nightmare, I thank God for her because we really learned how to deal with situations without compromising our integrity.

We’ve all been in situations with family or friends who hurt us. Some retaliate by doing the worst thing possible because we listen to our anger instead of our heart. I just went through a situation with a family member where I actually did this. If you knew what happened, you wouldn’t blame me for my first reaction. But that is not the point of the post. I can’t say I believe my response was wrong but it may have been harsher than necessary for the offense. After a week or so and praying about the situation, I could hear my mom’s saying there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Then I knew what to do. I took a different approach to the situation and got some shadowed results. I say shadow because I have to wait for the results of my decision. I have to see if it will work out in my favor. I thought about it and realized I should’ve tried this first and then if no results did something else.

My point of telling this experience is not to air family dirty laundry, but to show that we have to think about the consequences of the decisions we make every day. Whether good or bad, we should wait until the initial anger subsides before retaliating. I know that’s easier said than done, especially since I’m preaching to the choir (myself). But change is only possible if you make it for yourself. No one can change another person regardless of how much they try. Harsh consequences for bad decisions is not always the way to go when family and friends are involved. We may do something we can’t undo. I’m glad my decision was not permanent and did not affect anyone’s life negatively before I changed my mind. I’m grateful to the support I received but next time I’m going to take my own advice and pray first, calm down, take some time, and then make a decision when I’m hurt.

I have this quirk about myself where I can’t hold grudges. I’m still upset and will be for a while because I felt betrayed and was shocked that this even happened. But I don’t hold ill will toward the person. In fact, I really wish them the best and hope they change their ways and become the great person I thought they were in my mind. I hope they are able to see who’s really there for them and separate themselves from bad influences. My love will never change regardless of what they do. That’s just who I am.

It seems that I get hurt for looking for the best in people. I’ve had so much bad happen to me this year and now this, that I told myself I’m not doing that anymore. But I think the point of getting through bad things is to not let them change the good in you. People will try you and life will try you but before you step out of character to deal with it, remember that usually, your first plan of the attack immediately after an incident is not the right one. Take some time. Think and pray. Then remember what I told you that my momma always says that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Then choose the wisest way to deal with the person, not the most hurtful. I hope this helps someone in conflict who’s broken hearted and kind to remain kind.

Written by: Valerie Furr-Collins
(cc, October 19, 2018)

Going through

We all go through storms in life. Sometimes it feels like we will never get out the rain. But believing in something greater than yourself can get you through. I believe there is a God. I believe in the power of prayer. I have witnessed my own prayers being answered for myself, my family and friends. But when you are going through battles, it is easy to forget to pray. The troubles get so big that you forget there is someone to talk to when no one else will listen. And this someone is constant and unchanging.

I know there are those who don’t believe in God because of all the terrible things that go on in this world and in our lives. But I’m the person who believes that although we go through the worst things in life, we are never alone. When people say, if there is a God why did He let this happen it that happen? My answer is one of two things. Either it is a test to build you up for greater or man-made whatever happen but God is the one who got you through it. Either way, God is in the midst. Babies die, cancer kills, good people die, hurricanes come, etc. There’s no explanation for these things except to know that in the middle of it all, there’s someone who will learn from each tragedy. It doesn’t have to be you because it’s you going through the trial. A new NICU nurse may need to learn how to gently tell a family their baby died. An estranged family is brought together through the loss of someone with cancer. A family member left behind recalls how good their loved one was and strives to be a better person. Or a community leader has to learn to be strong so they’re able to bring their town together after a hurricane hits. You see how you may be the one to lose something or someone but the lesson may not always be yours?

Life is too short to sit around and try to figure out why things happen the way they do. I believe you never question God. I’ve lost so many people. Our toughest year as a family was the tragedy that struck us in 2009. My father died in the hospital under suspicious circumstances with no proof under the care of a hospice doctor who wanted to euthanize him because he was on a ventilator. I know that lesson was for her intern Dr. Law. He knew something wasn’t right. It’s up to him to have learned to be cruel like her, or to stand on his own conviction and respect patients and their rights. That June, my oldest brother died from an accidental overdose. I think that one lesson was for me so I would never slip back into over medicating myself as I did in the past to mask my pain. Also, the lesson was for my siblings so we could come together as my mom had always wanted. Then that December my grandfather died at the age of 92 years old. I think this was a lesson for us all to not fear age and to live our best life to the fullest.

We all grieve in our own way. People say time makes it better but I don’t think it’s the time that comforts your heart. I think it’s God. Somehow after a great loss, we find peace with it. I’m terrible at dealing with death. I often dream of the person. I’ve even seen the person who’s passed and talked to them for days until God brings me peace. Then they disappear. I thought something was wrong with me after seeing and talking to my sister in law, brother and father, so I asked my Pastor about it. He told me that everybody’s mind processes trauma/death differently. God gave me them until I was emotionally ready to let go. Then He gave me peace. Yes, it still hurts even after nine years but holding on to peace and comfort from the Lord will always get me through.

I’m going through a different type of battle these days. I’m struggling with myself to make a really hard decision. Decisions like this are especially hard when you’re dealing with family you’ve loved your whole life. Changing the course of their life lies in my hands. Either I make this decision now, or someone, not family makes it later and worse on them. I’m praying about it and will do what God tells me and not what vengeance requires of me. states Romans 12:19 (ASV) Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath [of God]: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. I had a friend to remind me last night to stop worrying over this situation and give it to God. So tonight I will go in my mental war room and pray. I hope many of you will do the same when you find yourself going through. Prayer works.

Written by Valerie Furr-Collins

(cc, October 12, 2018)


My daughter at maybe 2 yrs old and son around 9 months old. They are almost 23 and barely 21 years old respectively now