Aunt Gertrude, AKA Esther Austin’s Corner


Well, hello there Everyone.  Another day, another dollar, or at this moment, for many, another cent.  Yet the beauty of life is to keep on keeping on.  Now the theme for this article is all about stepping outside your comfort zone, feeling the fear and doing it anyway.  I am sure many of you know that when fear grips you, you don’t know whether you are coming, going, or have gone.  Your head is all over the place.  It can feel like being a hamster going around its wheel.  Yet I’d like to share something with you about a situation I found myself in about six years ago and you will see how I could’ve made fear my best friend.

I had the pleasure to visit the Cameroon as a volunteer.  After landing at Douala International Airport expecting to be met by someone holding a placard with my name on it, two hours later I was still at the airport.  It so transpired six hours later when I had finally been found that someone indeed had been at the airport to meet me, HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER FOLK, they didn’t have a placard with them and didn’t know what I looked like.  When I found this out I couldn’t even look the sponsor in the eye because it was like “You what?” My parents had a saying, “They like they got more money than sense.”

Anyway, initially after coming out of Customs I remember rounding the corner into the Departure area to be met by a sea of faces and very loud voices.  A porter had surreptitiously sidled himself up to me prior to that and had stalked my cases out of my hand.  I tried to infer that I could carry my cases myself but before I could say “I aint paying ya” he had relieved me of them, flashing a rather knowing smile as if to say “I do this all the time love, it’s my job,” and then with experienced precision he was legging it out of the…space before I could shout “thief”( if only to draw attention to my plight for one brief moment.)  Had I been as ignorant as I sometimes used to be, I would’ve turned NINJA, run after him drop-kicking him in the nether regions, and then legged it to the Embassy to claim amnesty.

Anyway, as we stepped outside into the incredibly hot, noisy, humid night air, I tried to see a placard with my name on it, excited that I was on a new adventure, in a new land, not knowing what to expect.  Being only 5ft 3 at this moment in time wasn’t easy. These people were kind of huge, even the babies were like 4ft odd.  People were coming out of the departure space, trying to get into the departure space.  (No lounge here, just space filled with heaving sweaty people with loud voices).  There were porters trying to relieve people of their cases.  Taxi drivers touting their services like fleas to honey and amidst it all I was fervently hoping that I would recognise my name on a board, a piece of paper, even scrawled on someone’s forehead. Yet two hours later I was still seated at the airport, wondering if the “Kidnap Posse” had been alerted and any moment now I’d be whisked away across the border to be sold as someone’s sex slave by night and sheep herder by day.  After many attempts at trying to get a hold of the organizers by borrowing various mobile phones, and smiling sweetly at the rising cost of the phone calls, for which I did pay (and I knew I’d been ripped off.  I may not have understood the currency, but I know when I’ve been scammed). I had also been trying to contact the hotel but to no avail as no one was picking up.  The porter then kindly offered to get me a taxi and take me to my hotel.  You can well imagine how all manner of things started to go through my mind.  I was a foreigner in a foreign land, they spoke French, I didn’t understand French.  My only association with the French vocabulary back in London was the occasional “can I have a Bon Bon please” from the sweetie shop.  Then when the porter suggested he come with me, in the taxi, (the driver happened to be his friend)  I think I may have recited the book of Revelations in five minutes along with Psalms 121 whilst swearing the sign of the cross internally, and sending up prayers to all the Arc Angels and Heavenly Hosts for protection.  Yet there was a greater part of me that knew I was safe and that nothing would happen to me.  There was such a strong feeling of faith that I was protected, and I clearly remember driving through the darkened streets for what seemed like hours until we got to the hotel, hearing an inner voice affirm that all would be well.

We finally arrived at the hotel where the saga continued.  They could not find my room booking and neither did they have any rooms left to offer me.  Four hours after I had landed I was tired, hungry, cold, lost, slightly PMT’d and no longer in the mood to uphold the Queen’s English and yes, the stealthy fingers of fear were beginning to work their magic in me.  I was now getting wound up because the porter and his side-kick driver friend had been whispering that I could go home with them as they had a spare room and they would then drive me back to the hotel in the morning. They had also been harassing me for an extortionate amount of money for staying with me as I sorted out what was going on.

It was interesting because the hotel manager who had been trying to help me, told me the next day that when he heard what they were saying, he realised he had to do whatever it was to find me a room.  Then as I was about to externally combust by putting on my Mercenary Hat and wielding my extremely heavy suitcase at my two newfound “friends,” the Sponsor turned up with other members who had flown in on a later flight.  Believe me I am not into feet, but I could’ve kissed their crusty toes that night.


I share my long, drawn-out story with you to highlight that fear can serve a purpose.  It can keep you stagnant and in lock-down or it can drive you through a barrier in order to build momentum so that you do whatever it takes to resolve, transform, and change a situation.  It can put you in a place of flight or fright – galvanising you to hold tight no matter what, whilst still feeling the fear but pushing through or you can run the other way and not face it.

I had the privilege of interviewing the late Susan Jeffers’ (Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway) sister, Marcia Jeffers, on Wednesday 5th March and she shared some very down-to-earth advice that when fear comes at you simply say, “I can handle this,” and that by stepping into the fear you actually conquer the fear and that everyone at some stage experiences fear.  It was a very powerful interview with Marcia whose wisdom really inspired me.  The interview will be up shortly on

So on that note, what is it that’s holding you back today?  Simply close your eyes, feel the fear and Do it Anyway! And remember, Auntie here is walking by your side.  It’s not always easy but give it a try.  And when you are connected within you just know that you will be guided because whatever happens God/The Universe will catch you and all you have to say is “I can handle it.”   On that note, I’m thinking about getting another tattoo or doing a boudoir shoot – what do you think?  Until next Issue. In the meantime, if you would like to contact Auntie with a problem or query please email her at

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