I was driving on the highway singing out loud (one of my all-time favorite things to do) along with the powerful voice of Dinah Washington "Today you're young, too soon you're old. But while a voice within me cries, I know heaven will answer my call and this bitter earth, oh, may not be so bitter after all". Shortly I got stuck in traffic and a bumper sticker on the car in front of mine caught my eyes. Never let your fear decide your fate. I read the words once, twice... three times. Never let your fear decide your fate. The entire world squeezed into the word "fear" and my mind was somehow instinctively going through all the moments of fear I had experienced these past months. For the longest time in my life, I had felt muddled by uncertainty and loss. I had easily let all of it prevent me from finding joy, seeing love, creating beauty. However, I had never lost faith in the goodness of life and I had never lost faith in the wisdom of the universe. I know how sometimes it is hard to follow your heart, but there is nothing worse than to let your fear decide your life. There is nothing more saddening than to vote out of fear, not traveling out of fear, not trying new things out of fear, not being yourself out of fear... There is hardly anything more dramatic than allowing fear to control your fate. I understand very well this kind of suffering from experience. And almost every time when I sense how I am using my mind to enforce my fear, I remember that summer evening when my father (who generally left to a great degree the parenting decisions to my mother who was a teacher) made my 8-year-old self go to the upper storey of my grandparents' house through the outdoor stairs, in the dark. I was crying and trembling, going back and forth, "No, I can't!", Yes! You CAN!", until I collected myself, marched up the old stone staircase, opened the door, lit the light and saw that there was no such thing as monsters... or weird men waiting for me, and my fear of darkness was perhaps a result of my imagination. My grandma used to tell this story – brutal to her opinion – with a judgmental tone in her voice. But soon after it, I realized the lesson my father wanted me to know – confronting your fears will demystify them, allowing them to be conquered. Or to use the words on the bumper sticker – face your fear and never let it decide your fate. Yes, fear is a natural part of our lives and prevents us from dangerous situations. But it is really heartbreaking when fear keeps people from achieving their full potential, especially from living a mindful life. And it is then when we lose faith in life and faith in ourselves and become fearful of what might come next.
What I also learned over the course of the months of this past summer is that the sooner I accept that life is uncontrollable, the quicker I am released from many of my fears. The ugly truth is that much of life is out of my hands and that is nothing to be afraid of. I cannot always know how things will turn out. I only know that I will always try my best. Therefore, it is imperative to let things unfold naturally and to find a way to be okay with that. Very often, due to the wisdom of the universe, events unfold even better than I expect. Besides, when I am obsessed with the outcome, I miss what is happening right now. Living in a profusion of security and predictability can create an attachment that prevents us, humans, from being awake and aware. Part of the joy of life is the surprises that pop up now and then when we exit our comfort zone.
"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them", writes the French author Andre Gide. "Don't let your fears control you and cause you to miss life's many pleasures". And life, indeed, is full of many pleasures – simple and comforting – like the smell of roasted butternut squash with maple syrup, brown sugar, and pecans;
like the beauty of a perfectly shaped light-orange pumpkin that evokes memories of love and kind living;
like a steaming bowl of homemade, warm, creamy squash and sweet potato soup that is nothing but a culinary extended hand, a tissue, a hug, a heart... And they might heal what frightens you right now.

Do you let your fear decide your fate? Do you let your fear stop you from experience life's many pleasures? How do you overcome your fear?  

 Roasted Squash, Sweet Potato & Garlic Soup 


1 sweet potato
1 acorn squash
3 shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
3 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup (approximately) light cream
salt and pepper
nutmeg (optional)
snipped chives to garnish


Preheat the oven to 375F.
Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Cut into 1 1/4- inch cubes. Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes as well. Place the squash, potato, sliced shallots and garlic cloves on a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well. Roast in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the squash and potato are tender, turning once with a spatula. 
When ready, put the vegetables in a saucepan. Add the stock and a pinch of salt. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring until the veggies are very tender. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly, then process the soup using a handheld mixer (or in a blender or food processor) until smooth. 
Return to the pan and stir in the cream. Season gently to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg (optional), and simmer for about 5 more minutes. 
Ladle into warmed serving bowls, garnish with pepper and snipped chives, and serve.