A Fearless Woman? Me? Well…maybe!

Tuolomne RiverA friend told me that I am a fearless woman.  Coming from him, the man who is married to one of the most fearless women I know,  it was a huge compliment. And it floored me. Me? Fearless? Unbelievable! After I picked myself up, I took a deep breath and examined the statement. Could it be? I had become fearless, unbeknownst to me?
I remember picking up a book a few years ago about living fearlessly – I didn’t read it. Looking back, I think  I was too afraid to learn the lessons tucked inside the covers.  Maybe, I already knew I was fearless, but did not want to validate that truth within me, nahhh – Let’s be honest, I was fearful of what I might discover about myself. And yet, here it was – someone thought I am fearless!
As I contemplated his statement, I asked myself “What is fearlessness” and “Am I really fearless?” These questions brought to the surface one of my stories…

The year I turned forty, I had promised myself I’d jump off a 29 foot ledge into a small pool of water in the Sierra Mountains. What that jump was going to mean to me – I would have never guessed.

It took me 2 hours to jump off that damn rock- but – I jumped. Not only was the action a thrill; but the process that took me there changed my life. While I contemplated that jump, a butterfly flitted through my line of sight. Somehow, that yellow swallowtail shored up my instincts that I was doing right by me. It convinced me that to do this jump was to admit that I was alive and free. It was time for me, the caterpillar, to fly like the swallowtail. At that moment, I promised myself I’d walk away from a life of “what ifs” and into a life of “what nexts”. That change in my view of life set in motion a wildly productive time of growth, understanding and even some failures.

Fast forwarding a few years – YES! I am THAT old!  As I work with my most recent life lesson, living in the moment, my fearlessness represents me remaining present during all of life’s ups and downs. I try not to second guess decisions, and to not worry about tomorrow. For me, being fearless means trusting my intuition and being patient. I don’t believe that everything is going to work out as planned, but I do believe that everything will work out as it should.

Now, just because I am fearless, does not make me rash. Before I jumped five years ago, I definitely made sure the water was deep enough. And in the here and now, I still look toward the future while making decisions about today, always weighing a number of options before chosing the one I believe will move me along my path.

There was another lesson for me in that jump I made five years ago. Something else happened the day I jumped. I got hurt when I landed in the pool. That pain is still occasionally present in my lower back. It was truly painful during the hours following the jump. My pride in my accomplishment was tempered by physical pain – a reminder that living fearlessly may come with a price. But at the same time, my sense of accomplishment far outweighed the physical experience I was having.

As I am working through “What’s Next” for me professionally, I am reminded that every risk has a reward and a possibly a consequence. Sometimes that consequence is a new view of how to live my life; other times it is a reminder that decisions based on fear are not going to take me down the path I need to be travelling.  As I practice living fearlessly, I acknowledge that I am not doing this alone. The yellow swallowtails that cross my path remind me of that all the time.


About schetgenhaus

life is good and only getting better - looking for ways to see the heart of a person each and every day - if the chatter is too loud - simply turn down the volume - but don't tune out - you might miss something grand!
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One Response to A Fearless Woman? Me? Well…maybe!

  1. Pingback: I never… « Community House

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