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My Turn: It takes courage to embrace your fears

My mom always told me fear was a good thing. Fear is an internal warning, an S.O.S dissuading you from doing something you’ll regret, either for a short time or forever.

Some never overcome the least intentioned mishaps from a lack of being a bit afraid. If you know a storm is threatening, put off errands for another day. If you’re somewhere and your situation doesn’t feel safe, just leave.

Fear of becoming ill and the prolific fear of what poor health habits can bring should be a flashing red light to start taking care of yourself. Educate. Vaccinate. Meditate.

There are things we cannot control. If we become afraid, we have good reason to be. Fear may prompt you to take action. Find a cause you believe in that will help alleviate your fears. Donate, join a committee, volunteer, find others who feel the same way and talk it through.

Eating a healthy diet can give me an advantage for staying well, but I feel powerless that I can’t control the water supply, the air I breathe or the safety of the places I go, for there are more guns than citizens, more shootings and fewer survivors.

Why is it so hard to breath in April, when the trees and flowers bloom? Why is brown water coming out of my tap every so often. Why must water be filtered? Why must we lug around cartons of bottled water? Is water so contaminated that it isn’t safe to brush your teeth with it?

I am at the point where I worry about my grandchildren being safe in their classrooms. Any area with crowds sets off a distress signal to me to beware of gunshots. It’s not a rational way to live.

The media has played a big role in making us scared. Is there a network television show that is not interrupted every 10 minutes by Big Pharma urging you to try this drug or take that brand-new pill for some condition … on and on. How are we to know which drug is right for us? Isn’t that the job of the doctor? Should I Google myself to wellness? The people in the ads don’t look scared at all. They are boating, skiing, dancing and having a great time. Who would believe they even need drugs? These ads don’t make me feel good, they make me want to throw away all the processed foods in my kitchen and get on the treadmill … I get scared!

How did all those people get so sick … what can I do to save myself? I wonder if I were less knowledgeable about health, would I become a couch potato, lying around all day with pots of coffee and a kitchen full of chocolate cake?

If I weren’t so scared of every illness on television, I would probably be more reckless. I am a product of indoctrinated fear, which may turn out to be a blessing.

Mom warned me about fear when I was young because she didn’t want me talking to strangers, wandering off, swinging way up high on the swing or climbing to the top on the monkey bars.

She never could have imagined all the fear I live with today. Yet her advice is still well taken. Do the best you can to survive and know that if you feel afraid … you probably have good reason.

Phyllis Weinberger,

Valley Stream

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works (of up to 600 words) by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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