The Reality of Fear

The Reality of Fear

F-E-A-R, a thought-provoking, four letter F word that walks alongside us can either be a barrier or the motivator. It depends on your perspective. Whether in life, love, your job or your self-image - to feel fear is a natural human instinct of perceived self-preservation. You see danger is real, we learn to identify it from an early age - it’s what stops us from putting our hands over a flame too long in case we get burned. Fear on the other hand is the seed planted in a way of thinking that clings on to the worst case scenario of the spectrum.

#60 Still Falling For You

It’s that age old question - what’s the difference between being in love and loving someone?

I had this conversation with Ian (we met at his cousin’s wedding) - asking him what he thought the difference was between the two. Without hesitation, he said that to him, love is love. He didn’t see a difference between loving and being in love. It would have been easy to dismiss it. To him, if you love someone, being in love is how you share that with your partner. When you first start to date someone, that feeling of lust and constant desire to be in their orbit is normal.

What if love is all the same, and what we describe is how deeply we feel or receive that love?

I see being in love as the outward expression of emotional intimacy, not just the act of physical desire. It ebbs and flows throughout a relationship, and how we express this with our significant others is through intentional action. It can be a simple hug after a hard day, a kiss goodnight or a stolen moment in a sea of strangers. In this sense, don’t you then have to love someone first to be able to show that you’re in love with them?

Many see loving someone much like the responsible older sister of the more unpredictable act of being in love. To love is described as enduring, outlasting disappointments and frustrations, to compromise, as well as providing companionship, security and obviously someone to share your life with.

If being in love and to love someone are on opposite ends of the spectrum, then why do we use the word love at all in the former, couldn’t we have created a new word that describes “love” in its desired context?

As for the guy I’m dating, today we became ‘social media’ official. I hope to fall for him slowly - to make time to explore each other and to be genuinely curious. To love deeply and completely after a broken heart is a leap of faith - I hope he’s there to catch me when I do.
— STUCK: Friends, Lovers and the Obscurity of In Between


At the end of the day, regardless if we are describing a physical desire or a genuine emotional connection, it’s our intentional thoughts and actions that can develop those feelings beyond lust, to become our idea of love.

Sister, Sister

My older sister and I didn’t always see eye to eye growing up, most likely because there’s only 18 months between us but I didn’t have the same maturity level as her - and we’re also both strong-willed. Looking back are memories of endless arguments - she starts yelling, I start yelling, and tears and death stares soon follow. I resented how she would growl me for my life choices. As adults we have a different kind of relationship and a greater understanding of our differences.

We began talking about a guy I’m currently dating (the guy I met at my friend’s wedding). I was pretty surprised with her advice and insight.

I told her how he isn’t like most men I’ve dated this past year - so far out of the “normal” type of guys I’ve been attracted to. Don’t get me wrong, I find him physically attractive, yet I know what makes me stay late to talk to him on the phone (he lives overseas and currently two hours behind me) is because I find him very interesting, intriguing and he’s a really nice guy. My sister laughed, apparently it’s exactly how she felt when she first met her husband. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity - it’s certainly not the giddy kind of puppy love I remember in my twenties. Besides, really nice guys lasts much longer than a hot guy - put it this way, all the guys she thought that were hot aren’t in her life anymore.

Then I told her how I’m making life changes, and that by the end of this year I will be waking up to a very different reality. To have what we want, it has to have room in our lives to grow, and right now my life is saturated. She found that a lot of people go for success in their career and try to be super mums and super wives, just so they feel like they fit in the “normal” box. In reality it’s all just stress and busyness and affirmation from other people they get. By concentrating on one or two life priorities it has worked out much better for her and it also makes her care less about what other people think and expect.

“Not saying that you shouldn’t work if you want to be a mum, but just keep in mind that if you want to go hard out in your career, somewhere along the way it makes it harder to live up to being a “great” mum as well. It’s all about priorities and acceptance of the situation and consequence.” She’s right. In this phase of my life, I know I want children, so what in my current life am I willing to let go to make room for a family?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the situation at all. My heart felt lighter after I first told my Mum, so I know that it’s the right decision for me. By finally verbalising it, it feels real and I can focus my energy on my present.

As for the guy I’m dating, today we became ‘social media’ official. I hope to fall for him slowly - to make time to explore each other and to be genuinely curious. To love deeply and completely after a broken heart is a leap of faith - I hope he’s there to catch me when I do.

# 46 When We Were Young

Moving house is different to moving things into storage - moving into a house is exciting and though it can be hard work, you see the rewards in the short-term. When you have a storage unit, it feels like you’ve been put on hold at a call centre, and they have the same some play over and over again. Two ways to look at what it feels like to move on, both is the process of change, but one certainly feels better than the other.

Back at the old house I found photos, yes printed photos! There were some funny ones, like my Year 12 high school ball photo, or my 17th birthday in Paris, getting my portrait drawn at the famous artist square down the hill from Sacre Couer at the Monmatre. These were the days before social media, which makes you think how long before a generation won’t know what it means to hold and flick through a photo album, let alone taking a roll of film to be developed.

As I sorted through which ones I wanted to keep, a familiar yellow envelope fell to the floor. I knew it was there, and I asked myself, as I did when I found it a few months ago, whether or not to keep it. I took the letter out from the worn yellow envelope, and studied his familiar scrawl. The letter was typed nine years ago, written by my ex-husband before I left New Zealand. I was 24 and set out on my Asian OE, travelling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and working in China for three months. It was an incredible time of my life, and during this time I was also very much in love. I was also newly engaged.

The language he used to describe how he felt about me was very different from our text conversations these days, which is mostly a necessity to get the house on the market. You’re probably wondering why I kept it, and if he was reading this, would also be asking the same question. Some people reminisce to feel, for my marriage at least, reminisce to learn.

When we were young, we were best friends and lovers. Now that I’m older, I look back on that love, not in pain or regret, but with honesty. Like that letter, we set out on our journey together with genuine intentions, and as the years rolled by, that love didn’t evolve with us.
— fivefootronna

I wanted to read it one more time, to remember what it was like when we were young. To see how different we were. We did do most of what he wrote about - move in together, get married, buy a house. The one we couldn’t tick off was to be ‘together forever’. I came home earlier than  planned, after five months I was back in his arms. At the time I thought the reason I came home was for him, but now, looking back I realised it wasn’t.

I came home because I knew that the longer I stayed, I would soon begin to find my feet, and living in a foreign land would no longer feel foreign. When was the tipping point before I could call China home, no matter how temporary? Would I soon give in to my natural wanderlust and not come back at all? He put a ring on it, but deep down, I knew this was a point of contention with our life together, even if he didn’t see it then. How long would he have waited for me to satisfy my craving to travel.

Back then there were so many places I wanted to see, and still do, and letting me go meant I no longer had to choose. I was never really going to be a stay at home wife, and I guess he saw that over the years, he just didn’t know how to tell me. He saw what I didn’t want to see in myself, and in a screwed-up way, helped me to recognise the woman I was supposed to be all along.

When we were young, we were best friends and lovers. Now that I’m older, I look back on that love, not in pain or regret, but with honesty. Like that letter, we set out on our journey together with genuine intentions, and as the years rolled by, that love didn’t evolve with us.

We didn’t quite make it to forever, but at least in our own way we’re both happy.


# 45 The Stone and The Balloon

I knew I took the wrong bus, but I didn’t care. My head hit the pillow at 5am on Sunday morning, and I was up at 9am. It was a sunny day in Auckland, a long weekend, so I felt I should at least see some of the city. Not sightseeing, just be somewhere outside of the motel walls. Cas and I had driven up to Auckland on Saturday morning, and I get lost a lot. A wrong turn took us somewhere into Pyes Pa, but we eventually headed back into the right direction, adding a few more kilometres to the journey.

Sometimes getting lost is good for me. In my day-to-day where I spend the majority the time organising, planning, being in control - it’s the not being in control, and not caring has the greatest appeal. Eventually this bus took me back to where I needed to go, it was just the long way round.

On the Saturday night we watched the teens division of a dance competition called ‘Grounded’, presented by Triple8Funk. It’s new to Auckland, and the concept was brought to life last year in Melbourne. The concept is to have the competition within a theatrical format, with the main criteria as creativity. Last year’s theme in Melbourne was ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, and this year it’s ‘Prop Masters’. How can a choreographer tell their story using their assigned prop?

The Sunday night competition were for the adults and pros. Not only was the skill level incredible, each piece was thought provoking, and some felt like an intricate social commentary. As time goes by, we wonder if there is anything new to discover, a new perspective on the familiar, and the answer is yes. Creativity is only stale when we stop evolving, when we stop pushing boundaries, when we keep old thoughts and ideas about ourselves as our safety barrier - a comfortable, worn out blanket. It serves its purpose, just. Creativity stops when we stop learning.

The idea of the stone and balloon piece came to me in two stages: Sitting in the theatre during the Saturday night competition, and on the bus killing time. It revolves around a bad habit of mine that I’m trying to overcome...hitting the snooze button.

That person that wakes up in the morning, hits the snooze button, begging for one more minute of sleep. But to sleep one minute more, means a minute less of the rest of your life, where you can be living instead of dreaming…
— fivefootronna

The stone represents the anchors of comfort, living in the same town, hanging out with the same people, staying in the same job. As for the balloon and string, it represents trying to overcome fear and the struggle to change. This helium balloon only has a finite amount of gas because time is limited. What are the anchors in your life, why are you settling for a bit of happiness, instead of being happy? I don’t want to give away the ending, but I know it will be thought provoking for many.

Someone asked me how you can love one person for many years, then one day wake up and not feel that same love for them? One conclusion I came to is that throughout our lives, we are continually evolving. Our priorities, our measure of success and happiness, they change too. Learning to adapt that love, to give it space and energy to move and grow with us, that’s what helps relationships stay together. Human connections aren’t stationary or rigid, and sometimes it outgrows even our own perceived expectations, of ourselves and our significant others.

Like the helium balloon tied to the rock, the elation of euphorical love is finite. There will be a time when that honeymoon period ends and we have to adapt that love, evolve it, as our lives change. At times it may feel heavy, and we may feel that the rock that once anchored us, is now a burden. Do we cut the string before we can no longer fly?

I’m learning how to undo bad habits, and doing my best to pick up better ones along the way.

P.S. I’ve been single six months this week, and the book is four chapters along. A few friends have had a sneak-peek and the feedback is that they understand my voice, which has given me the encouragement to keep going. There are so many raw ideas that just to be moulded into paragraphs, and that just takes time. So I will make time.

# 32 Thinking Out Loud

It's always 3am somewhere in the world, right? It seems I'm a woman of the world, because my body loves to wake up at 3am.

Last night I went to a political campaign launch for our upcoming local elections. I felt rather adult turning up to such an event, and even wore heels. Then I saw the eclairs and turned into a nine year old drooling over chocolate cake at a birthday party.

I struck up a conversation with a woman in her 60s - she had chosen to leave a loveless marriage, yet she feels like she's the one being ‘punished’ for wanting to be happy. That one choice took away the family home, the holidays, financial security and to some extent, even though she didn't miss him, the warped version of companionship.

She meditated, extensively. The theory of ‘letting go’ is ingrained in her thinking, but admitted it was a struggle to see her friends enjoying, living, the life she so desperately craved. In her pursuit of happiness, she found loneliness and fear. Where to from here, how much more does she need to learn before it felt like she would get a break? Perhaps it wasn't about letting go, it was more seeing that the ideology of ‘fairness’ is self serving.

Self serving, yes I said it. I just think trying to qualify what is ‘fair’ is subjective, and biased based on how it affects each party. That's just how I see it, doesn't mean it's right.

She had to take a phone call and our conversation was interrupted. By the time she returned, she had to leave the campaign launch and I didn't even get her name. I would have loved to hear more of her story, if she asked, I would have offered this advice.

Yes, you deserve to be happy, and you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting that

I heard her say, “Deep down I don't feel I deserve to be happy.” There it was, her stumbling block. Why did she feel like she had to settle for a lesser version of true happiness? Her husband may have also been unhappy, but he didn't leave. That's her gift to him, it may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but by no longer being together, opened up the doors to their own versions of a more fulfilled existence. Right now she sees the reality of her material existence, and it’s sh*t, but that's her ego talking. Who I saw was a woman that was so close to being free. All it takes is self-love, forgiveness and time.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action

Her world was her family, more so her children. She did feel a lot of guilt for leaving, and held on to the marriage a lot longer than she should have. Maybe she needs to start by forgiving herself.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action. I started by realising that this ‘moment’ in my life, and the emotions I felt, were temporary - a mini-chapter in my story. The labels that come with it, the stigma, they will fall away, and it's up to me how long they stick, if they do at all. Persistent action.

By making the decision to forgive, we choose happiness over ego. It no longer matters who is right or wrong, but simply that you are moving on. Trying to lay blame just keep you swimming in that toxic thinking, we make those choices everyday.

Most days I am excited about how my life has the potential of a blank canvas. Some days it's daunting, the starting over part. Then I get tired and get too much in my head. I know the hardest part has already passed, so after I get through that episode, I smile.

The best advice given to me by a friend was this: Forgive, release, let go.

Forgive the person, situation, even yourself. Accept that the past is only a constant heartache if you try to change it. Life lessons can harden you, or it can make you better.

Release the emotions, ALL of it, if you're sad, let the tears come. Angry? Go run it off.

Let go, don't let it define YOU. You are not a situation, or the emotions you feel. However, you can allow it to CHANGE you into a better version of yourself.

A better version of myself, yes indeed. Today may feel like growing pains, but each day gets easier and the ‘not so good days’ visit less and less.

I am like the arrow, shoot me forth and I will go.

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 31 All The Single Ladies

Exploring the old mining ruins at Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

Exploring the old mining ruins at Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

When you find yourself single after a long-term relationship, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to jump back straight into one. I resisted that urge because, let's face it, I'm just not ready. When you're dating, there are so many unanswered questions that it can drive even the most level headed woman crazy, aka this one. I thought I understood men, but now I second guess myself.

I went to Elemental Potential’s ‘Yes To Love’ workshop on The Body Language of Love and Attraction on Thursday night. It catered for singles, as well as those in existing relationships. Run by my friend, Steph Holloway, it was held at a bar on Fort Street, Auckland called Rich Heart, and was an intimate group of eight women, and one man. Dan, who worked at the bar, floated in and out, but his girlfriend was with us. It was an interesting mix of women, who had their share of stories and woes.

Most of what was covered I already knew, but a refresher was still handy. The most interesting part were the tell-tale signs of deception, and how to spot a player. I also picked up a couple of new dating terms like ghosting and benching. Ghosting is where the other person just cuts off contact completely. Benching is where they have a few people on the go, and will only contact you at their convenience, aka the player.

A common misconception about body language is that it's the physical reaction to your thoughts, when actually it's the emotional response. You can learned to mask it, but if you know what to look for, people tell a whole different story to what comes out of their mouth. It's certainly fascinating to me.

When you're feeling down, let it be

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself today, not sure why, maybe I’m just tired and can’t be bothered with the world. Then it hit me. Her profile popped up on my recommended list. Yes H-E-R. Her old profile had me blocked, so I guess she made a new one, and you can’t block people you aren’t already friends with. I saw it, them together. I could be sad, but I’m not. Relieved, yes. That they’re finally putting it out there. Still, sucks to be single.

Maybe sometime in the future I’ll be ready to date, just not yet. I thought about organising those “Singles With A Cause’ type of events, where singles mingle while volunteering for a charity. Sounds like a cool way to meet genuine, caring people. There’s bound to be less awkward moments, or the need for pointless small talk, and you get to see the good in people. I think I will look into that!

Most days are good, some days I crash. At the end of the day, as long as I’m moving forward, no matter how slow, that’s better than yesterday.

P.S. I'm sure single men, or men in general find woman just as confusing. That fear of rejection is REAL, just try not to be creepy. If you don't know your level of creepy or don't know when a woman is just not into you, find an honest wing man. Nothing feels more like a kick in the ovaries than a guy being creepy who is hitting on you. Word.

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.