30 September, 2011

Feel the fear and do it anyway

My shoulder has been hurting for the past four days, and now the pain has moved up my neck. My head is also splitting, but that probably has more to do with a margarita and dinner out with the in-laws than actual physical problems. But enough whining, let's get to the important thing. I just finished another great non-fiction book. It is called My Year with Eleanor, by Noelle Hancock - and I LOVED it.

When Noelle Hancock is laid off from a lucrative job as a celebrity blogger (well, someone who blogs about celebrities), she has some time for introspection and she realizes that her life has become ruled by fear, worry, and anxiety. Shortly before her 29th birthday, inspired by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt (Do one thing every day that scares you.) she decides to follow that advice.

She goes cage diving with sharks, flies a fighter plane, does karaoke and stand-up comedy. She faces her fears of illness, rejection, and death. She actually climbs a mountain. And she writes about it all honestly, admitting the times she disappointed herself, or wanted to back down and quit. My Year with Eleanor is very funny, in addition to being inspirational. I laughed out loud (notice, NOT lol) quite a few times.

I learned a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt from this book, since Ms. Hancock became a huge fan of Mrs. Roosevelt, and used her as her inspiration in her year of facing her fears. I am now inspired to read a book about Mrs. Roosevelt, to learn more about her.

I am also going to be doing some reflection about how I am letting fear control me. It's a problem. I think my Mom and Mrs. Hancock, la mere, have a lot in common. They are both worriers who passed on their fears of how dangerous and unpredictable the world is. It must be terrible to be a mother and feel that the world is so dangerous for the children you love so much, but if all you ever do is say, "Be careful, be careful, be careful," your children can start viewing the world as a very scary place.

From page 88:

"My mother was a worrier. After I'd gotten my driver's license, every time I'd left the house, my mom would say, "Watch out on the road. There are a lot of crazy drivers out there." Even now she rarely lets me drive my little sister anywhere, afraid that if there was an accident, she'd lose us both. You can never be too careful had been a common refrain when I was growing up. You could, actually. According to Dr. Bob [her therapist], overprotective parents, in their attempt to raise conscientious children, were constantly sending the message that the world is full of dangers that will surely get you as soon as you let your guard down. Kids become trained to find risk in every new experience. My mom had drilled these warnings into my head when I was growing up; after I left home, her voice had become the voice in my head."
I could have written that. I didn't, but it expresses a thought I've had a lot these past few years. I am afraid of a lot of things, and I, like Noelle Hancock, find that doing something I'm afraid of feels great. Like last summer when Thomas and I went on the big swing thing at Six Flags over America.

When you are strapped into the big harnesses and they crank you high, high, high in the air, and you are waiting for the command to pull the cord, it's scary. When you pull the cord and you do a brief (and I do mean brief, it lasts maybe 2 seconds) freefall, and your stomach feels like it's about to leave your body, it's scary. But when you FLY up in the air with your arms out like SuperMan, screaming and shouting, and you can see all the way across the park down onto the teeny people down below, IT'S AMAZING. And fun. And the feeling you get when you have done it, it's the best.

So, y'all, go read this book.

Here's a picture of some people (not us) ready to fly on the big swing.

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