Love trumps fear. Every time.

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
~ John Lennon

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.
~John 4:18

Saturday I went to the August meeting of the Georgia Romance Writers, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America. It was the fourth anniversary of my very first visit. During these four years, I have attended almost every monthly meeting, workshop and conference offered by Georgia Romance Writers. I have learned a lot; mostly, I have discovered how much I have yet to learn.

On Saturday, for example, our featured speaker Maggie Worth talked about fear and how we let it stop us from living fully. Maggie shared deeply from her personal experience in this powerful, inspirational presentation; it really helped put things into perspective for me. The next time I am tempted to  be less than I am capable of because I am afraid I might make a mistake or someone won’t approve? The next time I am on the verge of throwing myself a big ol’ pity party because of my sorry lot in life or my failures of the past? I am going to think back on all the things Maggie said, get over myself, and do the next thing.

And one of those things is finish the book. Since I began this writing journey, I have spent too many weeks and months sitting on my hands, paralyzed by self-doubt. But on Saturday, Maggie challenged us with this: “Out there is someone who needs to read your words, otherwise, you would not have been given the words. You were put here for a reason.” So two full months after submitting to the Unpublished Maggie Awards for Excellence contest, I am back to work at last on my manuscript that finalled in the young adult category. Called Finding Home, it is about a sixteen year old girl who suddenly finds herself homeless. I believe this is a story that needs to be told, one that might really make a difference to young readers. Although I still have long hours of hard work ahead of me, I am truly about finishing this story and sharing my pitch at agent and editor appointments at the upcoming Moonlight and Magnolias Conference. With less than seven weeks between now and the Maggie Awards Ceremony, I have no time to waste.

But that’s not all. I have 44 piano students on my teaching schedule, a November piano ensemble concert to prepare for, three conferences to attend, and jewelry to make. I can feel one of two ways about all this: desperate and overwhelmed, or motivated and excited. One response is fear-based; the other is love-based. One attitude leads to anxiety and exhaustion; the other leads to anticipation and euphoria. As long as I remain in alignment with my true purpose in this world – to use whatever talents I have to help others along their paths – I will find the energy to do the things that need to be done, and the work will feel like play. The moment I start to struggle, the moment I begin to feel like I am drowning in water over my head, I will STOP, figure out what excess weight is pulling me under and LET IT GO. Otherwise, as long as I keep my body properly fueled and well rested, I should be just fine.

Also on Saturday, I was awarded a purple rose from the Unpublished Maggie Awards for Excellence chairperson in recognition of being a finalist in the contest. My heart pounded and my hands trembled as I made that long walk to the front of the room. But the happy cheers and warm applause from my fellow GRW members brought a smile to my face and thrilled me to my very core. As long as I keep doing the work I was put on this earth to do, approach it from a place of love, and keep my heart open to my fellow travelers, I will end up exactly where I am supposed to be. And find joy in the journey.