‘Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee…. ‘ Isaiah 41:10
I have a fear of heights and bridges. I can remember many years ago on my honeymoon getting upset at Ken for not listening to me as he parked in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to take photos. H took a very cute photo of me sitting in the car while he stood bravely on the edge. I was so young and stupid back then. Now I think nothing of driving across that new tall bridge to go onto Topsail Island! You just have to face fears. Several years ago I traveled to the J. W. Marriott Resort and Spa in Phoenix Arizona for a Pilot International Convention. One evening at dinner a group of us were approached to go on a sunrise breakfast hot air balloon ride the next morning. After much prodding, I said Ok … I would risk my life to have some fun with my friends. They picked us up very early the next morning to take us to the lift-off site. I was terrified … scared to death! But I hung onto my friend and crawled into that little basket. I must say the ride was fantastic … I will remember it as one of my favorite adventures. However, when we landed, I could hardly climb out of the basket. The thought that I had just hung out of a little basket, a mile high, taking photos hit me like a ton of bricks … almost to the point of hyperventilating. I could not believe I just did it … I faced my fears and it was amazing!
“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” ~Unknown
I don’t know about you, but too often I allow fear, worry, and doubt to dominate my actions or reactions. It is easy to allow them to steal our joy, sleep, and even our dreams. It would have been so easy to have declined that Arizona adventure … and then missed that amazing experience.
As a young woman I actually made up my mind that I would always try to face my fears no matter what. I can definitely say that in doing so it has blessed my life in so many ways. Scary decisions are really hard to make … but usually those scary decisions are the right decision. One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was when I was only eighteen years of age … thankfully I made that decision … the right decision … and I have been blessed for doing it! It was my first really big leap of faith!
My life has been filled with adventures … only because I decided to always let my motto be “Faith over Fear.” I have several tee-shirts with that written across the front. Last summer while visiting a friend and his family, I actually fought back the fear of water, and let him take me on a ride on his jet ski … it was so much fun … but I was terrified. I might even try that adventure again.
Lesson learned: If you want to know happiness and realize your dreams, you have to be willing to take a leap of faith despite being afraid. Too many times we hold back and play it safe in order to avoid feeling embarrassed, looking silly, being hurt, and facing rejection or possible failure … all of which never would have happen. We tend to hang onto those fears we grew up with from our younger years. We cling to the fears from our childhood, traumatic experiences, and the negative actions. Like how Linus clings to his security blanket in the cartoon strip “Peanuts!”
So what’s the answer … maybe that it’s my responsibility to admit, face, and get rid of my fears? Now here’s the big question: Am I willing to begin now … to find the courage to do all the things I was meant to do during my lifetime, but have not begun? Are you ready to begin now too? OK … then let’s figure this out!
So here goes … my thoughts on living boldly, facing fear and taking that leap of faith!
- Did you know that fearful thoughts only bring on more fearful thoughts … it’s a merry-go-round! Instead of expecting the worst, I’ve trained my mind to always expect the best. Be positive … about everything! I can tell you truthfully that being as positive as possible during my cancer diagnosis had a huge impact on my health today. I’m almost a nine-year survivor of the most aggressive breast cancer and came through surgery, chemo and radiation with laughter and tears … by being positive! It also helps to have positive reminders around. I love wearing this bracelet that my grand-kids gave me during cancer treatment. It’s words “Let your faith be bigger than your fear” is a great reminder. Doesn’t it look really great on my old wrinkly arm?
- Don’t give up any of your energy to fear! I find that when I fear something … I move toward it. Sometimes just the action will give you the courage to face it. If you don’t take action in overcoming your fear then many opportunities will just pass you right by … which doesn’t feel so good. Remember how a hitch-hiker looks when you zoom right past him … well that will be your look if you miss out on something great because you feared stepping out of your comfort zone! Just think: “This fear will pass!” Every time I overcome a fear my world expands. OK here’s a silly example. All of my life I have had a fear of someone touching my nose … really silly … right? My kids love to see me panic when they try to grab my nose … and don’t you get any ideas when you see me next! Before COVID lockdowns, Edgecombe Community College offered Esthetics/Cosmetology services at a discounted price. I love any type of massage so I knew that I would love a facial if I could get over the fear of someone touching my nose! I am very happy to report that before COVID, I had a facial every week for the last ten years … and my nose hasn’t fallen off and I can still breathe! Have the courage to face your fears. Because of facing that fear, I have found I can breathe with other treatments. This was last Wednesday, during a test at UNC Medical Center. I passed and didn’t pass out with that weird thingy on my nose. I did look a bit silly. Yes … face your fears!
- Reflect on your life and every single success that you have experienced. Reflect on all those fears that you have come face-to-face with and overcome. Allow these successes to inspire and motivate you to develop the courage you need to face anything! Just thinking back … after Ken passed away I learned how to change toilet seats and start a lawn mower. These activities were huge successes. Believe me when I say there were definite fears that I would never survive without him … but I’m here and thriving!
- Many of my fears came with the death of my husband and then being diagnosed with cancer. If it were not for my family and friends, my amazing support group, that provided inspiration, praise and encouragement every step of the way, I might not have come through it. They continually reminded me of all the trials and triumphs that I had come through. To help you … ask your loved ones to do the same for you! Quoting Robert Fulghum: “When you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Sticking together makes tough times easier and easier times more fun!
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt also made a great statement about fear: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If there is one thing that I have learned during the past few years is that life is way too short to let fear keep you from doing something you want to do ….. even if you know that it will take you way out of your comfort zone and perhaps make you look like a fool!
I can live fearless and boldly … I really can! While I was going through cancer treatment I was able to travel to Wilmington to attend the play “Annie” that my granddaughter Abby had a role in …. she was Mollie! Before the play started the director came out on the stage to welcome the crowd. Then she stated that she had a gift card to “Learning Express” to anyone who would be willing to come up here and sing a few lines of the song “Tomorrow.” Everyone in the audience just sat there. Like a fool I raised my hand and of course was chosen. So bald head, pale and all … I marched down the aisles to the stage and tried to sing “Tomorrow” … with the help of the director on a few lines …. Remember I do have chemo brain. Not only did I forget a few lines …. But I forgot that I didn’t know how to sing either!!! But the audience was really nice and clapped anyway …. Probably to get me off stage! Yep …. I had completely lost my mind …. But I sure had fun doing it …. And I received a gift card for Abby to boot! Too bad no one wanted an encore …. I was getting ready to belt out a few bars of “It’s a Hard Knock Life” ….. I know that song word for word after my life’s roller coast ride! OK … my life has really been pretty darn good and blessed with all of its ups and downs!
So in the words of singer Taylor Swift … “Live Fearless …. Live in spite of those things that scare you to death.” So during that play opening I lived fearless … and I remember that it really felt good … and it really made me laugh … which felt even better! Life is so beautiful when you step out of your comfort zone, face fear, and really have fun!
Well those are my thoughts on living boldly and facing fears. We have the power to do what it takes to break through any fear or obstacles that stand in the way of our goals, our dreams, and our happiness. All we need to do is step out of that fear and dream really big!
Just saying …