I's February. And these are Halloween pictures. But aren't these two just so cute in a horrifying and creepy way? In my family, we have enjoyed several years of Halloween princesses, fuzzy animals, peter pans, Harry Potters and other beloved characters from childhood literature and film.

And then came October 31st, 2014, when my niece and nephew became of an age to spurn the cute and fuzzy, and demand instead, bloody bullet holes.

Yes, I suppose eventually, cute must be traded in for scary and horrifying. It's just so hard to admit that they're growing up. And it's hard to realize how many new fears and worries are looming just ahead for these little people. Real fears that actually do include bloody bullet holes. I, like their parents, would love to keep fear out of their lives. To shield them from all those awful possibilities and responsibilities and inevitabilities.

In life, there are two types of fear: the fear of things that might happen and the fear of falling short. 

And the second is by far the worst. 

You aren't really afraid that there's a monster in your closet. You're afraid that if there is, you won't be able to face it. You might fail. You might get hurt. You might make the wrong decision. You may have to think and work and sacrifice and do things that are difficult. Those are the fears that come as you grow - harder to face than any imagined childhood boogyman. 

But there will always be monsters of one kind or another. So it's pointless to be afraid of them. The only real courage is the courage to believe that you'll handle it. Whatever it is.

The problem is, we live in a world obsessed with monsters. Seriously, by watching the news you'd think we were completely overrun. But the real threat is the fact that we are so darned afraid of not being able to deal with them, that we don't deal with them. We try to deflect the danger with warning labels and countersuits, diversionary bells and whistles, heaps of political rhetoric, carefully crafted speeches and sophisticated remote control bombers so that we don't have to get too close to the carnage we cause. But most of all, we toss around excuses meant to relieve us of the responsibility. To cover our butts in case the monsters win. So we never have to be wrong.  

What it all comes down to, is being afraid of ourselves. Have you not read "the Monster at the End of This Book"? Read it. It's enlightening.

We face plenty of monsters every day, those figurative and those shockingly literal. But empowerment doesn't come from knowing that you are the best - it comes from knowing that you'll do your best. Invincible people can never be brave, only vulnerable people can. You want to know how to defeat monsters? You know and love yourself and you know and love your life.

Monsters. Schmonsters. Let 'em come.

Let them look me in the eyes and know me, and then they'll be afraid.