Sunday, March 7, 2010

Out of the Box

Some of the most rewarding events or accomplishments in my life have been prefaced with fear and discomfort. Here are a few that particularly stand out:

  • White water rafting in West Virginia   A natural-born athlete I am not, and I admit I did not prove to be a natural rafter, but I went on some pretty scary rapids and survived. I was quite nervous about this endeavor, and had legitimate fears of drowning or perhaps having my body bashed mercilessly against huge rocks. Despite my fears, I enjoyed being on the river, swimming in the warm water, taking in the beautiful scenery that I would have never otherwise seen, and having a rustic picnic on the banks of the river (ie: no bathrooms). As much fun as I had on my white water rafting adventure, I don't particularly think I'd like to do it again, unless it was on lower grade rapids.
  • Pregnancy Photos   When I was pregnant with Lucy, I was contacted by an acquaintance who was starting up a photography business and asked if I would be willing to have some belly shots taken. I consider myself to be fairly modest and this was way out of my comfort zone. But for some reason, I said yes. And as a result, I have some beautiful pictures that capture a really special time for me. Lucy was my third baby, and although I really wanted another baby, I don't think I ever thought it was actually going to happen. Although that pregnancy was marked with extreme sadness with the downhill turn in my Grandma's health and ultimately her death, I also remember being profoundly happy about our little bun in the oven.  I'm glad to have photos to commemerate that moment of my life.
  • Finding my Father   In 2004, I found myself glued to the television, watching news updates about the Tsunami that hit Indonesia. People were sitting on the beach soaking up the sun one minute, and the next minute swept out to sea. The message that I was struck hard with was that life is short and you never know what is coming next. Not long before this catastrophic event, I had been blessed with some information that could potentially change my life. An online acquaintance put out an offer on a cyber world forum that I frequent - she said she would be willing to help locate people, having some inside information from her place of employment. I contacted her and enlisted her help in finding my father, someone I had never met and knew very little about. With only his name, approximate age, and the name of the university he had attended, she found him. I had dreamed of finding him my whole life, but my fear of rejection had held me back. Finally I had in my hands my father's address and phone number. And it sat in my inbox for a long time. My fear overwhelmed me, paralyzed me...until I watched the horrific events of the Tsunami, which I credit with giving me the courage to write a letter to my dad. Once I made the decision, everything happened very fast. Not long after sending that letter, I was shocked to receive a phone call from my father. Just after my 30th birthday, we met for the first time, and five years later we have a rewarding relationship for which I am so grateful.
  • Visiting Family in a Foreign Land   When Chris and I were in college, we had the wonderful opportunity to go on a school sponsored trip to London, England. When my Grandpa learned of our trip, he insisted we visit his niece, who was living in England at the time with her Australian husband. I had never in my memory met this woman and felt uncomfortable contacting her. I am definitely not an extrovert, and I dislike calling people I don't know well. While in England, Chris and I ended up having a couple days with no scheduled excursions, and I really did not want to disappoint my Grandpa. So I made the phone call, and this stranger agreed to have us visit the pub she and her husband ran about an hour outside the city. Chris and I went to the train station where Paddington Bear famously got lost, bought our tickets and ended up having the best day of our trip. We were treated to a personal tour of an incredible town we otherwise would not have visited, and as an added bonus, we all drove to Stonehedge, a landmark we did not think we would have a chance to see. My long lost cousin had just lost her brother and only days before had returned from his funeral in the U.S. She was going through a bad time and had also been reluctant to meet up with us, but our visit ended up being a much needed diversion for her.
  • Riding Every Ride  I am not a roller coaster lover. In fact I don't much like amusement park rides at all. I get motion sickness, not to mention my fears of ride dysfunction and freak accidents. However, in high school I went to Cedar Pointe with a few friends, and by golly I rode almost every ride in that park. I really don't know what was going through my head at the time, but I swallowed my fears and did it. And I had loads of fun. I'm glad I did it that one time, because I doubt I'll ever do anything like that again. Much like white water rafting, it was a one time experience I'm happy to have under my belt, but I have no desire to do it again.
  • Driving  When I was 15, I struggled through Driver's Training. At 16, my mom took me to Secretary of State and I got my license. And then I never drove. My mom was a nervous wreck, which now that I'm a parent I completely understand. So it wasn't until I was about 20 or 21 that I really started to drive. A very patient and brave co-worker at my summer job started taking me driving on our lunch hour. She never yelled at me or acted like she feared for her life. I began to relax and soon bought my first car. I am forever grateful to that kind co-worker. Fifteen years later, I can't imagine my life without driving.

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