"Go To War With Fear" 

"Go To War With Fear" - Brennon Peterson

We've been saying it long enough now you've probably realized it's the theme of our message. We tag posts with it, I sign emails with it, and we sing a song live called "Going To War With Fear." However, I've never really taken the time to explain what it means. To be honest, it's been a minute since I thought on it. That being said, a friend of mine recently asked me what it means to go to war with fear so I figured I'd share a little bit of my own personal definition. 

My answer to that question was this: "It means waging war on everything you're afraid of. It's not just facing fear. It's launching an all-out assault on it to fight it until there's nothing left." This was met with an additional question about what the best tactic is for doing that. My response was this: "What does one need when they go to war? They need weapons. They need armor. They need strategy. Learning tools that can help with each battle is paramount in wining. Take one enemy (fear) at a time. Analyze it. Study it. Find out what you need to fight it. When you're prepared, you set out on that conquest. It's judgment day. Start with the smaller enemies and work your way up. Like a video game. Each boss gets harder as you progress through it, until eventually you're ready and fully equipped to take on the final one."

There are very few people in the world who can wake up one day and overcome every fear they've ever had. There are many who think they can, so they start off on this grand quest to break every bad habit, end every toxic relationship, heal every trauma, and so on. In a perfect world it would be possible. I don't think I have to tell you that we are far from living in a perfect world. It takes time and patience. It takes baby steps. When you can set a small goal and achieve it, the next goal doesn't seem so daunting. I like to equate this to my days of powerlifting. My first major goal was to deadlift 600 pounds. If I woke up one day, without any consistent training, walked into the gym, loaded 600 on the bar, and gave it all I had to give, I would've found myself in a pile of broken blood vessels, bones, and torn muscles from head to toe. I carefully planned each training session. I planned each moment of every day. Eventually, the time came to put those plans into motion. Guess what happened? I picked up 600 pounds. The same happened with 650, 700, 750, and eventually 800. As the goal increased, so did my knowledge, skill, and strength. Every milestone we pass makes us level up, regardless of what we're doing. The same can be said for any fear you're facing.

If you get anxiety going out in public, don't make the first thing you do to fight it going to Disneyland. Take a walk through a grocery store and pick out a thing or two you don't normally buy. No, don't take your headphones with you. Don't put your hood up or stare at your feet the whole time. Say hello and smile to a complete stranger. Heck, make it two. You're not only opening yourself up to something you're not fully comfortable with, you're also going to make a stranger's day better. That's a win-win, brothers and sisters, and that's something you can feel dang good about. 

I could go on with literally thousands of examples. The list of things that put people in fear is endless. A lot of them are completely rational, and a lot of them are absolutely ridiculous by definition. No matter what it is, there is something that can be done about it. I know this from experience. Not every battle is easily won, we know this of war. I had to swallow a pretty bitter pill when I "bombed out" of a really big powerlifting competition a few years back. "Bombing out" means that a lifter misses their attempt three times, and they're disqualified from a competition. Remember that whole soapbox paragraph about waking up and deciding to take on the world? Well, I did that a little too much too fast, and I failed myself big time. It took quite a bit to pick myself up and decide to keep going. It's our failures that teach us the most. So if you do fail at any point during your journey to conquering fear, give yourself a break. It's hard work! It's okay to fall down as long as you get back up. Never stop fighting.

It's my sincerest hope that our message in the war against fear inspires somebody out there to conquer something they're struggling with. Fear is the dream killer. Fear holds us back from going after the things we want most in life. If I'm (we're) able to show someone they don't have to be afraid anymore, and they change their life for the better, that's the most fulfilling mission I could ever image completing. 




"We Can Adjust The Sails" 

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." - Dolly Parton

I really appreciate the fact that Dolly is the one to say this quote. I'll admit I don't know much of her music or much about her in general, but I've come to learn that her childhood wasn't the easiest. I think our struggles through adversity tend to give us a hefty dose of perspective, and it helps us help others with the lessons we learn. I'd like to add to the metaphor regarding wind and sails. Though you may be stuck trying to sail through poor winds, at least your ship is still above water. If you've got that, you can pick a direction and start sailing. It may not be pretty but at least you're sailing. And that, my friends, is much better than being so angry at the wind you lose control of your ship and sink on down to Davy Jones' Locker.

It doesn't matter if you take the perfect ship out in perfect weather, on a perfect sea with a perfect crew; you are going to catch a wave. You can have all of the luck and skill in the universe but you will still be met with some kind of resistance somewhere down the line. It's important in these moments to learn how to adapt. There is a way to handle every situation, so long as it gets handled. 

I recently watched the Clint Eastwood film Heartbreak Ridge, where his (Eastwood's) character was tasked with training a group of marines. Their unofficial slogan became "improvise, adapt, overcome." This handful of marines was about the worst group of misfits you could imagine. Clint, however, was the salty dog who knew how to whip those fellas into shape (or something like that). After a long standoff between the two, the group finally decided Eastwood wasn't so bad. Eventually their unit is sent on a mission and they are faced with multiple perils which require them to change plans quickly if they wish to survive. 

Luckily for the vast majority of us, our changed plans don't mean the difference between life and death. I am a creature of habit. I really enjoy routines and I struggle when things don't go as planned. You might be thinking we all deal with that to some degree, and you'd be right. However, when I say I struggle, I mean I get put out if I make a plan to drink 128oz of water and I only get 127.9oz. Life should be so hard, huh?

One thing I've tried to focus on, and I've talked about before, is making the best of each moment. Things are going to happen. Plans will change. Status quo will change. Murphy has a law and it has a tendency to smack us in the face with a shovel from time to time. The ability to adapt to that change and take care of business one way or another is an incredibly valuable skill. Not only does it make you the person people can depend on to figure out a decision, it makes each decision far less stressful for you. Sometimes you have to improvise. Once you improvise, you can adapt. Once you adapt, well, you can overcome. That's the goal of each and every hardship we're faced with. OVERCOME. 


"Do What You Can" 

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”   -Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt

The biggest tool we have at our disposal is our mindset. In any given situation, there can be many things completely outside of our control. However, the things we can always have control over are our mind and how we choose to respond to said situations. 

I have struggled with being a pessimist for a lot of my life. Some may even say I'm a professional, with a high propensity for negativity. It's something I have to work on daily, as it always finds a way to creep up on me. Recently I was faced with this decision at a performance. There were things going wrong with the sound and we were definitely not on par with where our sound has been in recent performances. It was embarrassing, and I don't handle embarrassment very well. I was angry and it showed. 

What good was it going to do me being angry on stage in front of a bunch of people? Was it going to make the band sound better? Was it going to tell the audience "hey, hang in there, we're figuring this out"? Or was it just going to look like I was some angry, brooding guitar player with an attitude? I wasn't mixing the sound. I wasn't running any of the equipment. The only thing I was doing was standing on stage with a guitar in my hands in front of a crowd. That's where I'm usually happy, isn't it? So why in the world was I letting something completely out of my control come between that happiness and me? 

I looked back at Robert. I then looked at Jordan, Peter, and Mark. They were all doing their thing, having a good time. All despite this sound thing which was getting figured out as we played. It hit me that not only was I doing myself a disservice by not making the best of it and enjoying that moment on stage, I was doing the crowd and my bandmates the same disservice by not laying it all out there. It was at least a million degrees on that stage but I decided it was time to do what I do best and just rock it out. 

After a song or two, everything dialed in and we were back in business. Guess what? That was going to happen whether or not I had changed my crappy attitude. That's the point. Whatever will be, will be. The only thing we can do is control the way we react to a situation and how we choose to let it affect us. Life is going to throw its curve balls our way and it's hard not to let them dictate our emotional response. It's a lot easier, though, if you do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Be present and make the most of every moment, and all those little things will dissolve. This will leave more room for you to work with the big tasks and your ability to handle them with your head clear and your war face on.

When you're confronted by moments like this it's important to remember that very seldom is somebody or something trying to cause you grief on purpose. People don't just wake up and decide they're going to do their worst or try to make your day harder. Inanimate objects aren't out to get you, no matter how much it seems like it. We are all human and we're all here to help each other. I'll expand on that another time, but it really helps put things into perspective. 

Go to war with fear.


"Stay The Course" 

"Stay the course. When thwarted try again: harder, smarter. Persevere relentlessly."

- John Wooden

This is a really great quote I just stumbled upon. I knew the message I wanted to send, but didn't have the exact quote to send it. I was happy to find it, and even more happy when I realized Coach Wooden and I share the same birthday. We've all heard the many different versions of this quote. I've always believed in getting up after falling down. However, I've always seen it as something that only applies to big situations. As I've reflected on the last week of my life, I'm realizing more and more how applicable it is to every single day, regardless of events. 

I started last week off with a completely new mindset. I've been trying really hard to make changes in my life to be a better, more productive person. It's my life's ambition to improve the lives of those around me, but for the longest time I didn't much care to improve my own. I sit here and talk about all of the fears everyone should fight, but haven't always walked the walk. How can I sit here and tell you to take control of your life when I'm hitting the snooze button for an hour every morning, only to then scroll through social media for another hour? It's preposterous. I decided it was time for that to end. 

I developed a morning routine. Wake up, make the bed, drink water, make breakfast, write in my planner, read, and then face my task list for the day. This is all while my phone sits silenced in a different room, where I left it the night before. I made the decision that the first and last hours of my days will no longer include any screen time. I crushed it the whole week. I got so much done. Things I had put off, things I had been thinking about doing, and things I should've been doing every day anyways. I'd plan my day out the night before, I'd wake up and write my goals and journal during breakfast, read something useful (if you know me, reading has never been much of a hobby for me), and proceed with my day. I felt unstoppable. 

Well, after waking up and getting the day going on Friday, I started to feel a little sick. My ear was hurting and I was feeling some congestion. It's not uncommon for me to get a sniffle when the seasons start to change. No big deal, I've dealt with it before. It was a big deal, though. I let it get too far. I let it get in my head that I was sick, and it was all downhill from there. One negative thought can cause a chain reaction when dwelled on too long, and I made the fatal mistake of dwelling on this one. My routine went out the window. It fell apart as quickly as I built it. 

When I went back to work last night, I put it in my head that today (Monday) is the day I restart. This was big for me. I'm not usually so quick to realize I've strayed from the path. Typically by the time I realize it, it's a hundred times harder to start it again. That's where this quote comes into play with daily life. Every day should be seen as an opportunity to do something better than the day before. So if you go a little outside the bounds of your routine, it's not a big deal. Get stepping back inside that boundary and pick up where you left off. For me, I'm back to my routine with full force, because I want to feel like I'm on top of the world again. I want to set the example for the message I am sending to you.

Can I tell you a secret? My Monday hasn't even started. I'm typing this still as part of my Sunday night. I just got off work and it's 04:15 in the morning. I almost talked myself out of it. "It'll be fine if I don't post a blog this week." "People probably don't even read it anyways." "Maybe I won't do a coffee break with BP tomorrow either." You see how freaking quickly one thought takes you completely off the path? It's absurd, but it's very real. So here I am. I'm typing this because I've made a commitment to get these blogs out every Monday. I've made a commitment to try to improve my life and your life. And I'm here to tell you that despite whatever has you discouraged right now, you have the absolute power to change it. You've fallen down, and it's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse. You have goals and you're not going to achieve them by giving up. You owe it to yourself to see it through. Persevere relentlessly.


"In Order To Be Free, We Must Learn How To Let Go" 

"In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain the old pain."

-Mary Manin Morrissey

There are inevitable times life is going to hurt us. There are undeniable times we are going to hurt others. There's never been a person on this earth who has gone through life unscathed or without causing some form of pain to someone else. It's not possible. Intentional or not, it's going to happen. We may not have a choice in this pain, but we do have a choice in how we respond to it. 

It's so often when we're caused some kind of pain we hold on to it and allow it to dictate how we move forward. This can be in situations presented to us, the people we allow in our lives, how we treat others - the list goes on. The past is the most defining factor of the future. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as we remain conscious of the impact it has on us. 

If you stand too close to a fire, you're very likely to get burned. What did we learn from this? We learned that getting too close to a fire can hurt us. It's a great lesson, right? It's important to learn from the things that hurt us so we don't let it happen again. The problem is that we tend to dwell on the pain we received, and ignore all of the potential good from whatever hurt us. Fire can keep you from freezing to death. Fire can cook food and keep you from starving. Fire can be a light in the dark when all other lights go out. Even though fire has the ability to destroy an entire mountainside, fire can clear out so much dead and rotting material, making room for new, beautiful life. 

This is how we need to perceive the pain of our past. It's meant to teach us something, not to remove the good completely. It is so important to let go of that pain and focus on the good in every situation. Much like the fire removing the dead and rotting material and creating new, beautiful life. It's much easier said than done, but cutting loose that dead weight allows you to move forward and heal the way you need to. When we dwell on the past, we tend to develop repetitious cycles and habits that keep us there, in the illusion of safety, rather than allowing ourselves to process the pain and move forward. I know this has held so true in my own life. I've spent a lot of time dwelling on the things I've been through, but mostly the negative. I struggle with seeing the silver lining. I struggle with letting go. I lived so many of my teenage years focused on revenge and numbing the pain I felt that I carried it well into my adult years, and allowed it to hold me back from so many potentially good opportunities. I'm speaking from experience when I tell you it's absolutely liberating to JUST LET GO! You'll be amazed at what happens if you stop letting the fear of getting hurt get in your way. To quote Babe Ruth (and one of my favorite movies A Cinderella Story): "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

It takes practice. It's extremely hard. There are wounds that go so much deeper than the surface. There are scars that will never go away entirely. You may think to yourself there are situations that never had any good in them. They were nothing but bad. You know what? You're probably right. The situations themselves were devastating and catastrophic while they were happening. Probably for a while after they were over, too. However, did you learn something from it? Even years later? If someone treated you a way you most certainly did not deserve, did it make you tell yourself "I'm never going to treat anybody like that"? THAT is the good that came from it. And in that instance, you deserve to let go of that pain and take pride in the fact that you treat people better than you were treated.

You're going to slip up. You're going to hurt somebody else, too. It's human, and humanity is inevitable. This is where it can be even more difficult to let go. It's hard enough to forgive somebody or something that caused you pain, but when you're the one who caused it for another and you have to carry the guilt around, forgiving yourself can feel next to impossible. But you HAVE to do it. You've got to learn from your mistakes and move on. I know I've made more mistakes than I'll ever be able to count, and I'm definitely not done making them. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on trying to do things better the next time. It may take making the same mistake several times over before you learn the lesson life has in store for you, but understand that is why we make mistakes. That is why others make mistakes. It isn't always fair, but there is something to be learned from every situation. This is why it's important to let go of the pain and move forward with your lessons learned. Something my brother taught me that I'll never forget is "Always moving forward, never falling back." I believe this comes from his experience in the military somewhere, but it's applicable to life in general. 

Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget. Forgiveness doesn't negate or justify the things that were done to you. Forgiveness means you've stopped letting it hurt you. That will give you more power than you can imagine. I'll say it again: JUST LET GO! There's a force in the universe that will make everything right in one way or another. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it's going to happen. If you're out there doing your best to apply the lessons you've learned, regardless of which side of the pain you've been on, this force will recognize and reward you for it. I truly believe that. 

I'll rearrange the original quote and leave you with this:

"Refuse to entertain the old pain. Release the hurt. Release the fear. We must learn how to let go in order to be free."



"It's Better To Be Hated" 

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”  -Andre Gide, Autumn Leaves 

I first heard a paraphrased version of this quote when I was very heavily into Nirvana and Kurt Cobain about ten years ago. In fact, I had his version in vinyl stickers up on my bedroom wall (sorry, mom and dad). It read: "I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not."

This is something I’ve always struggled with, especially in the areas of my life I’ve really invested in over the years. I’ve always wanted to stand out, but at times I’ve wanted to fit in with whatever crowd my hobby lined up in. I wanted to be one of the guys on my little league team everyone wanted to be around. The problem was, despite my talent, I didn’t eat, breathe, and sleep it. It’s not like I couldn’t make friends on the team, I was just sort of the outlier. Fast forward a couple of years. I wanted to be one of the skater kids. Well, I didn’t want to smoke. I didn’t want to swear. I didn’t want to destroy property. I was trying to be a clean cut, respectful kid throwing himself into a mix of otherwise trouble makers, and it just didn’t mesh well. I could give a dozen more examples of times in my life that are carbon copies of this particular scenario, but let’s get to the point. We'll save all that other stuff for a therapist. 

Two years ago the band decided we were going to get consistent again, after quite a hiatus. We started playing a lot, getting together more, etc. I loved it. I’ve always chased the dream of being a professional musician and this seemed like the way to get there. One of my biggest strengths and flaws, is that I dive into everything I enjoy headfirst. I built a website, made merchandise, got all streaming platforms up and going… the list is endless. The issue is that once I had it all, I had zero idea of what to do with it. So, like anybody else would, I googled different ways to get music out there. Naturally there was a bottomless pit of information, spanning across hundreds of pages. 

Most of them had the same answer: social media. That’s a bit of a no-brainer, right? In this day and age, social media is one of the only ways to bring awareness to a brand (or band) and get yourself out there. I tried all of it. ALL OF IT. I made TikToks, I memorized dozens of hashtags, and I looked at trends people were doing. I tried to mimic what popular artists were doing. I tried most of it, and some of it got a comment or two, but it wasn’t “me”. 

My goal with music has always been to help people. I want to share my experiences through inspiring messages. I want to encourage people to persevere, and make them know without a shadow of a doubt that they can overcome anything. Music has saved my life more times than I can count. Well, how was anybody supposed to know that’s what I’m about if I’m out there acting goofy and making a fool of myself trying to sell a t shirt? The answer is simple: they’re not. They had no way of knowing because my heart was not in it and I wasn't being genuine.

We had decent engagement on social media throughout this time, but it wasn’t until I decided to start really explaining the music to people and giving personal details to them that they started to comprehend the message. As this unfolded, I also began to be much more open and straightforward in the way I write music, rather than trying to be cryptic behind a catchy tune. And guess what? It worked. It's still working. People are hearing this message. This isn’t just a band of background noise. This isn’t just something to turn on. This is a movement. This is a reckoning. It's high time we bring this armageddon to fruition.

I’ve been afraid of showing who I truly am off and on for so many years, but I’ve always tried to inspire people to be themselves. How am I supposed to tell someone to be true to themself if I'm lying to my own self? You know when they say “you can’t help anybody until you help yourself?” That is as real as it gets. So it’s time to be vulnerable. It’s time to stop being a hypocrite. It’s time to face that fear of rejection and misunderstanding, and be as authentic and real as I can be. Because if I can do this for myself, maybe I can help others do it for themselves, and that’s what all of this is all about. 

It’s not about money. It’s not about fame, fortune, and everything that goes with it. It’s a war. It’s a spiritual war. It’s a war against fear. The only way to be the strongest warrior you can be is to risk being hated for who you are, rather than loved for who you aren’t. Because at the end of the day, that true person is going to draw in real, genuine people who will make their life a million times more fulfilled. And those people who hate them? They were never really worth the time in the first place, because they weren’t seeing the real, amazing person behind the mask. 

I’m not a master of this yet, but I’m trying harder every day. I want you to do it with me, because I know you can, and I know it’s worth it. 

Go To War With Fear. 


"Our Deepest Fear" 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson 

I can't think of a better quote to align with "Go To War With Fear". And it's true. It's easy to sit in our own feelings of inadequacy. It's easy to hang out with our familiar demons and the things that hold us back. What's hard is change. What we're afraid of is failure. We allow so many of these things to keep us from chasing after what we truly want, that the darkness becomes routine and we fear stepping into the light. I'm here to tell you right now: the light is blinding. It's blinding because when you stay in the dark for so long, you don't understand the light. It's hard to see when it finally comes out. It IS scary. It IS different. But it's good. It's so good. Find something small, and risk that failure. Risk that difference. And then the next thing will be a little easier. Before long, you'll be surrounded by a light you never thought you'd know, and you'll be so proud of how far you've come to get there. 

I've spent a lot of time in the dark. I still spend quite a bit of time there. I'm an artist - it's my life! I am confronted by fear in so many different ways every day. I'm an anxious wreck before our shows. I get nervous interacting with people. Not because I don't like them, but because I want them to keep thinking I'm a cool guitar player and not the awkward Krelboyne I tend to be most of the time. I get nervous about messing up a single note. I get nervous about not being able to sing on pitch or hold a scream. And that's all just stuff with music! We won't even get in to my fear of rubber bands. 

The point is, you will hurt yourself a million times over if you don't take a chance on yourself. Comfort is great, and in a lot of cases it shouldn't be sacrificed. But to quote one of my favorite films (Deadpool) "Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you're offered a choice - to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend, spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away." If you take a chance on even one of those moments, to go against comfort and challenge yourself to face a fear, it could change your life for the better forever. And that's what really matters.