Fear(less) February: A Plan to be Less Afraid

I am not a squirrelologist (which according to the Smithsonian Magazine is a real thing).

However, on a recent walk with Maggie May, we crossed a squirrel that had either:

A. Just fallen out of a tree and was confuse

B. Just watched Rocky IV and was filled with legumes and courage

C. Just studied fear, its faculties, and devised a plan to best conquer fear

Because this bushy-tailed braveheart limboed under the three-foot-leash that separated Maggie May and I as if crossing the finish line in the first-annual Scurry the Suburbs 5k.

I jumped. Maybe let out a yelp.

In a morning minute, Maggie May lost three years of domestic training. She growled and barked and peed and pulled me to a nearby tree where the unruffled squirrel casually climbed without concern of me and Maggie and the evolutionary axiom–as old as concrete–that humans and dogs have always ruled sidewalks.

From one cool rodent to another…

In a few days, the family and I (save for Maggie May) are heading south to visit Mickey Mouse and the rest of the gang in Disney World. My youngest son, Dylan, is playing in a soccer tournament and then we are going to get our mouse ears on and make it a family vacation.

From what I’ve heard and seen, an upcoming trip to Disney World is often met– by both parents and kids–with anticipation and excitement and animated joy.

However, when you have a movement disorder you often don’t want to move and the thought of airplanes rides and monorail rides and boat rides and crowds and unfamiliar territory thousands of miles away from familiar, suburban sidewalks fills your suitcase with pounds of fear.

It’s called hodophobia and it’s the medical term for a fear of traveling.

If I’m committed to “Do More in 24” I know I must address this fear. Since my diagnosis in 2013, traveling has no longer been a source of excitement. The fear of going to an unfamiliar place–even if that place is the happiest place on earth–scares the zip-a-dee-doo-dah out of me.

And yet I know this vacation means so much to my family. So to defy my diagnosis, combat my fear and maybe help you address your fears, I’m declaring this month…

Fear(less) February

Why? To help and encourage us to do what scares us. And not in reckless ways. But in responsible, measured ways so that we may fear less and find the freedom that facing our fears gifts us.

To do this, we need a plan. The more prepared we are, the more resourceful and tactful we will be facing our fears.

So, here’s my plan for going to Disney World.

Step 1: Address (the Fear)

Fear of traveling.

I’ve found that naming your fear, becoming aware of that fear has helped to face the fear. Also naming something establishes control and dominance. And when facing fear, we need all the control and dominance the gift shop has to offer.

Step 2: (Gain) Perspective

Here’s some perspective: I’m not the only person (alive or dead) with a movement disorder. And I need to remind myself that other people with movement disorders have traveled.

In fact, I recently met Mike who has a similar disorder and had traveled to Africa and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro which is a lot more emotionally, physically, and spiritually demanding than spending a few hours in Epcot.

Chances are–your fears are commonplace. It’s not to minimize your fears. It’s just that history is rich with people who learn to overcome the same fears you have.

Also, part of gaining a better perspective is learning to ask two important questions:

1.”What’s the worst thing that could happen?

2. What’s the best thing that could happen?

Unlike squirrels, we have a tendency to imagine worst-case scenarios. And these scenarios often paralyze us and keep us from taking risks and experiencing life beyond the safety of our sidewalks.

Chances are–the worst things we imagine happening won’t happen. And even if the best things don’t either, by focusing on all that could go right–instead of what could go wrong–is the perspective shift we need to conquer our limiting beliefs and face our fears.

Step 3: (Take) Action

Our life is the result of the choices we make.

If we choose to be controlled by fear and not act, we will be mired in regret and anger and we will live a powerless, uninspired life. However, if we choose to take chances and act–despite fears–our life will be a breathing testament to courage.

February’s letters will help me prepare for the trip and will hopefully help you explore your own fears. So we can provoke our squirrel spirit burrowed deep inside us, and when faced with a winter of fear, we refuse to hibernate, take chances, and scurry to new heights.

Be well,


One Line, One Love with Author and Gratitude Junkie Chris Palmore–Episode #4: Magic in the Process

If you haven’t heard yet… my friend Gail Boenning and I recently launched a podblog called, One Line, One Love.

OLOL is a unique listening and reading experience that will inspire everyday writers, who dream of writing, to pick up their pens and write one line at a time.

This podblog format (a hybrid of a podcast and blog) is for everyday writers who–like me–often need a creative boost, a scrap of encouragement, and practical advice to unleash the writer within. Each episode consists of five wide-ranging, writer-focused questions and a weekly writing prompt.

Please check it out! And please share with any writer friends or anyone in your life who has ever considered picking up the pen.

Amazon Order Link!

Ordinary Hero is now available in hardback and available, upon request, in local bookstores or libraries, even if your local bookstore or library is in Peru.


Warm greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. I have ataxia and though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.


February Book Promos for You:

Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself?

This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors in an awesome book promotions. Click the link below:

Valentine’s Month is for Books


Jay Armstrong is a speaker and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life.

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