In our series of "Excerpts to Inspire" we take our lead from our founder and SEO, Tom Henn. His father, Bill, and mother, Lois, had a family of five sons and two daughters. Lois was exceptionally gifted at parenting such a large family and his memories of her ways can be read in his book "Lois and her Irishness" which can be bought as a book or eBook online. Here is an excerpt to get you thinking:
Son Tom remembers his mom mentioning some fears she had. One fear she had was of dogs when she was young. Even if a dog was being walked on a leash Lois would cross the street to avoid it. Tom is unsure how the fear started.
“Maybe she saw a friend bitten by a dog or a wild dog was around the neighborhood back in the 1930s or she simply had the fear. My hunch is someone she knew got bitten. Usually fears are grounded in some previous experience” he offers as a thought.
Despite being a big family with her future husband, Bill Henn, they never had a dog as a pet. When Bill was a boy, he had a parallel experience; a family dog that died made him so sad that he never wanted another one.
The second fear Lois had was driving a car over a bridge. Moving from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area in later life meant a lot more bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Bridge, The San Mateo Bridge or the Dumbarton Bridge - if you want to get places in the Bay Area, more often than not you will need to cross one of these. Lois was terrified she'd drive the car straight off the bridge and into the water. Tom believes this fear was grounded more about heights than of water.
“I believe she was uncomfortable with the sense of falling a long way and getting hurt” he commented.
His experience of Chicago’s iconic John Hancock Tower reasserts this. If you are dining at The Signature Room on the 95th floor and you happen to look out the window, you very well may feel like you are about to fall. Your fear of falling is amplified if you elect to do the TILT attraction on the 94th floor. The floor extends out over the Magnificent Mile tilting downward with views from 1000 feet up. You cannot help but feel like falling. A similar sensation occurs inside the glass block in the Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, where it extends 4.3 feet from the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. Many people find themselves frozen in fear, unable to even walk inside.
Lois grew up in a time conducive to fear. During the Great Depression, crushing poverty influenced every family that had the misfortune of experiencing it. While already having strong deep-rooted fears, it is understandable how Lois quickly acquired some others as well. But for Lois, there was good news to follow; she overcame her fear of dogs, and, as her children grew up and started families of their own, she grew to love their family dogs.
Overall, Lois changed her relationship with fear. Slowly, but surely, she grew beyond her comfort zone – and with it, came wisdom. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it succinctly when he said
“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”
It was in 1933, during his first Inaugural Presidential Address, when he took on this unusually solemn and religious tone. And for good reason—by 1933 the depression had reached its depth. Roosevelt outlined in broad terms how he hoped to govern and reminded Americans that the nation’s “common difficulties” concerned “only material things.”[i]
[i] Franklin D. Roosevelt. Inaugural Address of the President, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1933. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. National Archives ref. 197333, p. 1.
Editor: Barbara B