Pier For FEAR Post


Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us…your playing small doesn’t serve the world.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


It was Christmas and my third-grade class had drawn names for Secret Santa. I pulled Nancy Walker and was delighted—there were so many things I admired about her! I begged Mom to take me shopping for her gift immediately, and I chose a small doll that even resembled her. I designed a special outfit for the doll and Mom, quite the seamstress, sewed it for me. I dressed the doll in the special ensemble and placed her in a carefully wrapped box. I was certain Nancy would love her!

The day of the Secret Santa reveal finally came. I received a pretty, small cloth purse with a candy bar tucked inside. Nancy opened the doll and smiled at me. I knew she’d like it!

By the time library period came, my stomach was aching from the several snowflake cookies I had eaten at the party. I ran to the bathroom, sat in the stall clutching my stomach, my saddle oxford shoes not touching the floor.

The door swung open and I heard footsteps, then Nancy’s voice: “At least you got something good! All I got was that stupid doll Susie gave me. I’m throwing it away as soon as I get home.”

My eyes watered. “How could I have been so dumb?” I sat in the stall until they were gone, wiping my eyes. Trying to convince myself I didn’t care—that it didn’t matter what she thought.

This story is true, and has stuck with me to this day. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet I have to wonder if it laid groundwork for future fears of: am I somehow missing the mark?


In 2013, Prodigal Magazine published a story I wrote. To my surprise, it went viral with over one million views and these stats:

Facebook:   721,000 shares

Twitter:         2,500 shares

Google+:         234 shares

Pinterest:      1,127 shares

Email:               644 shares

It prompted my then literary agent to write a piece on tracking trends. My Facebook and Twitter blew up with messages as it circled the globe, reestablishing connections with people I’d lost touch with years ago.

Happy? Umm…sort of.

Until I read the Comments—all 802 of them—and these were the ones the magazine moderator didn’t consider mandatory deletions. Most were kind—but there were some that were nasty and hateful, and others threatening. These the magazine moderators worked desperately to remove. My husband signed on with an alias to “monitor” a woman who was personally threatening me because she thought I was deleting her Comments: “Bitch, I’ll hunt you down!” … and worse. I wrote a blanket reply stating only the magazine had authority to delete a comment. But she kept coming at me and I finally retreated, “I can’t read them anymore. Can you just monitor this, and let me know if we need to contact the police?”

How could a story about empathy and grace cause such a reaction?


My tiny crack at fame exposed my fear, and it stunned me more than a little. As an introvert and perfectionist (both major ugggghs) it shouldn’t have surprised me that I felt violated both personally and professionally. And why was it I couldn’t remember any of the over 750 nice comments, but could recall with precision the two dozen nasty ones?

I’m not alone. Oil painter Randy Blasquez talks about when her passion for painting “got real”—she landed a prestigious gallery show in Carmel, her work began to sell and people commissioned pieces. “This felt like the curse of death,” she said. “Suddenly I was under pressure, and felt a bit judged.” She eventually pulled out of the gallery and regrouped. Today, she has a completely different perspective on her work: “I just try to show up and stay out of the results.” The results are pretty fabulous, as you can see here.


Abundance, 22×18

  View more of Randy’s work HERE.

First In Line, 30×24


There are fear demons living inside every one of us. What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failure? Of success? Of giving 100% of yourself to your relationship? Of taking the big risk? Of stepping off the highest precipice and doing that thing you believe with all your heart you are called to do?

Then ask yourself: what would it take to quash my fear and do it?

The world is rife with trolls and fake friends who thrive on negativity. The transformation necessary to propel us forward happens once we realize it’s a waste of time to evaluate our worth by other persons’ reactions—be it negative or positive! David Bayles in Art & Fear says, “The only pure communication is between you and your work.”

Show up and do your best work.

Try to stay out of the results.

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.” – Unknown

Know that I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way.

All good things,


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  1. Hope SquiresHope Squires04-28-2017

    Thank you for this powerful message — one I needed to hear. Your story of the secret Santa gift made me gasp (girls can be so crushing in their meanness). We all have childhood weights and fears we carry with us. Thank you for encouraging us to move past them.

    • SusanSusan04-28-2017

      Hope- I’m so happy the story encouraged and hopefully, empowered you — it felt so vulnerable to write this (but what else do we writers do but bleed all over the pages?) hah. It has always made me sad that the secret Santa story impacted me, but you’re right — we all have those childhood memories — the positives we can pull out of them are the lessons that help move us forward in life.

  2. Cathy JorgensenCathy Jorgensen04-28-2017

    Love your story Sus, I had a restroom experience as a child too that to this day stings a bit when I think about it. I was at Jerry Gentile’s 8th grade graduation party. He was my friend since age four and lived across the street. The party was huge and held in a hall where weddings sometimes are held. He grew up to become one of the popular kids, I did not. Sitting in the stall in the restroom, I heard 2 of my classmates talk………”How did Cathy get invited to this party?”, the other answered, “Oh, her parents are friends with his parents, he had to invite her”. The two girls giggled as my heart sank and tears fell, leaving me feeling “not good enough”. This feeling comes up quite often to this day. Thanks Sus for bleeding all over the pages, you touch more people than you will ever know! God Bless you, Cat Rat

    • SusanSusan04-28-2017

      Oh, Cat! Words have such power to hurt or heal!–and middle school is rough for everyone.Those experiences do color our views of the world and ourselves, but I’m sure they serve to make us more compassionate to others in the future. And you? Not good enough? You’re one of the most caring, intelligent and spiritual individuals I’ve ever known. You’ve carved out a successful career as a doctor. Anyone should be honored to have you in attendance at their party, today or back in 8th grade. Thanks for reading. Love you much. XO S.

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