April 18, 2014
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, – not the absence of fear.
Today I am reflecting on a bumper sticker that reads “Remember Who You Wanted To Be.” It reminds me of the excitement I felt over the discovery of freedom and space to be myself when my marriage ended. With the pressure of working on a relationship and analyzing myself intently removed, I could breathe again.
As time moved on, this exhilarating experience lost its luster and I was faced with the task of rediscovering myself in this new life. Without titles and associated responsibilities as my compass, who was I now?
My life had been a process of self-creation starting with college. For 17 years, I had been highly influenced by my family and their traditional roles. In college, I discovered my wilder earthier side. From preacher’s kid to hippy, I ran wild and free intoxicated with the realization that I could discover myself and grow into whoever I wanted to be in this life. Psychedelics were helpful in this pursuit.
So how would I recapture that sense of adventure in order to create any life I chose for myself? How to feel 20-ish rather than cautious mid-40ish? I was determined to rebirth that youthful spark of fearlessness.
In pursuit of living true courage, I am learning so much. One thing is my worries are born of life experiences that my indestructible 20-year-old self knew nothing about. Life experiences had made impressions on my heart and mind. Maybe that is what I am observing when I see people taking less risk as they grow older; quietly moving into their comfort zone.
I am also learning that it is not about being fearless, it is about pushing through the fear. To stop challenging and discovering myself would be to begin a slow, quiet death. That’s just not my style.
When new challenges come my way, such as surfing, kayaking or waterfall repelling, I can feel myself hesitate. My heart feels grabbed with uncertainty. Then I fortify myself with thoughts of how sad I would be if I missed out on the fun and the thousands of people who have done this before me. Once I am on the board or headed down the waterfall, only joy fills my heart. In these courageous moments, I find my core essence that strengthens me.
There are also other day-to-day times that surprisingly require courage. As an example, even though I have pulled my horse in his trailer many times, the potential for danger is always present in my mind. Some days (for reasons I cannot determine) this is scarier than others. And yet, this is something I love to do. Will I really allow trepidation to get in the way of something that fills my heart completely? No…I will not.
My choice is to either allow these experiences to freeze me up and keep me safely home with my predictable routines or use the wisdom of my life to walk into the adventure of living my dreams even if I am afraid. In these moments I choose to focus on my courage rather than my fear and appreciate myself for doing it. This practice opens my heart rather than constrict it with fear.
This applies to so much, not just the physical adventures I’ve described. Many things in life can invite fear. Making a significant career move, investing time in a dream you’re not sure will work out, going out into the world, speaking your truth, being your authentic, going back to school, risking your heart in love…truly anything where we can cannot predict the outcome. This is living.
I encourage you to follow your heart and not be deterred by the possibility of success or failure…pleasure or pain. Do sports players hesitate before a playoff game reflecting on the pain they will feel if they lose? I doubt it. The only way out is through. Face the fear, name it, own it, and push on.
Is fearlessness wasted on youth? Nope. Let them have it and I’ll keep my wisdom spiced with life experiences. Perhaps the fear keeps me awake and aware of all I have learned. These challenges are educations that stretch and deepen my love of life and self. I choose to be undaunted and live with voracious courage.
What will you do next that has scared you?
What challenges have you that you tackled and survived?
What did you learn about yourself?
Go out there and live wild and free!
September 10, 2013
When you choose adventure, you need to be ready for whatever comes down the road. It may feel good. It may feel strange. It may feel awful. The guarantee is that you will feel something and learn more about yourself and life. That is why it’s an adventure!
Recently, while on a short vacation with my daughters, an unexpected call came. It was a friend offering me an amazing opportunity. She wanted to know if I would be willing to go to Costa Rica, be taught to surf, and blog about my experiences with the company that was organizing this trip, medAge and Dr. Laura Ellis.
To say I was stunned is the least of it. This offer was the answer to many questions and prayers that had been on my mind and heart all summer:
• I was curious about some changes in my physical body. Why do I feel so tired? And noticing changes in my cycle? Am I going into pre-menopause? Why does my body look and feel different when there is little to no weight gain?
Part of the offer would include full body blood work including hormones. Check!
• My work out routine had become boring and uninspiring. I craved a new goal, outside support and guidance, and perspective on how and why my body was changing.
A trainer and nutritionist was also part of the deal. Check!
• Since being on my own, each year I’ve had a traveling adventure on my own. This year, financial resources went to buying my youngest a used car for college and taking the three of us on a long overdue vacation. It seemed my personal adventure would wait till 2014.
Now, a trip to Costa Rica (where I’ve never been) was being offered to me. Check!
I pinched myself often over the next 24 hours while I contemplated this opportunity. How could I say no? Everything I had been asking for was there and the only answer was “YES!”
Over the past weeks, I’ve been preparing for this trip, with the strong support of Dr. Laura Ellis and her team at medAge, and getting geared up to surf in the Pacific Ocean. A gift had been given and now it was time for me to ante up and do my part.
Nutritional guidelines and a strong exercise routine were in order. Even when I was out of town on family business in rural Kentucky for a week, I took my balance ball and free weights with me. Getting up early every morning to continue my workouts and maintain my fitness for this adventure felt crucial. I did it.
Now as the departure draws near, I am facing my fears and concerns. Can I really do this? I’ve never tried anything other than a wave board in the ocean. What will I face? How will I feel?
Then I remember how that this IS the adventure! It is the unknown, the uncontrollable and unpredictable. It felt right in my heart when I made this decision and so I am surrendering to what will be in Costa Rica.
After all, it’s not like I’m a pioneer headed west with the possibility of Indians scalping me. These risks are calculated and minimal. And they are real for me.
You don’t get a chance to be brave until you’re afraid.
This girl is saddling up and heading to Costa Rica for a date with a surfboard!
I hope you’ll follow my journey and find inspiration for your own adventure.