How I Tackled Life Fear
I am, by my nature, fearful of everything. Like, projecting into the near future with worry of how things are going to work out and imagining all the circumstances something can go wrong. Either I over plan or don’t plan enough, sometimes both, at the same time. Even something great, like a vacation to the east coast to stay with my son and his family, fills me with worry about how it will all happen successfully. My happiness of the trip is overshadowed by fear. “The Covid” left me worse off than before. Now there is being amongst the public fears.
As far as travel, once my backside is sitting on the plane, that’s when I can exhale and look forward with a genuine smile on my masked face! I made it this far.
This time, I had been experiencing physical problems, with my hip, for a while. I had thoughts a couple weeks before it was time to go that I might have to cancel. There was enough improvement as time got closer that I decided to go for it. What I didn’t know was if I would be able to handle the stair activity that would be required for my nice room downstairs and for the length of time I would be there. More fear.
I took a direct flight this time. It had been over 15 years since I had done so. I was amazed at the pressure it took off not having to deal with the slog of transferring to a new flight with no possible delays! I spent my flight relaxing my mind from the chatter of “what if’s and how’s” and practiced mindfulness in the moment. Reminding myself all there is…is right now. One step at a time. There would be new experiences shared with people I love. I would enjoy and soak it all up. I popped my earbuds in, streaming a living mindfully book. The airport and flight experience became one of the best I have had in a very long time. Another fear canceled.
The first thing I discovered after arriving to my son’s house was, the stairs would not be the monster I had anticipated for months! I just had to take my time and watch my feet. More worry wasted. After a couple days, my physical situation was not compromised.
We would be leaving in 3 days of my arrival to a week spent upstate at a beautiful lakeside house on Lake Winnipesaukee.
It was all about Family, making beautiful memories and deepening bonds. There was much laughter, plenty of good food shared, and yummy ice cream shop stops shared under sunny skies. Sitting, alone, on the dock, atop the lake canal, surrounded by nature. And listening to the voices, coming out of the open windows of the house behind me of my loved ones doing their busy family things…truly a blissful, blessed, moment.
The pleasure of going to sleep listening to the subtle creature sounds heard from my 2nd story room, sliding doors open to the warm summer night air. The moon rising, illuminating the lake and canal. The single loon, duck quack and bull frog, lulling me to sleep every night. A sudden summer evening show found in a thunderstorm with torrential rainfall, plenty of big booms and flashes that knocked out the power for a few hours. We are good, throw some steaks on the BBQ, cocktail time and enjoy the show!
There was adventure!
Loading up the golf cart and heading to the lakeside beach, just down the street. Armed with iced adult drinks in insulated tumblers and plenty of sunscreen. Watching the kids, big and little, frolicking in the sparkling blue waters with the newest, coolest play toys. Taking breaks from the sunny beach to kayak and paddle board past lovely homes, separated by lush trees and offshore small islands.
I loved sharing in the kayaking! My son is a very outdoorsy soul. He knows well his mother’s apprehension of trying new things. He listened to my fears, gave a moment’s thought…then told me easily…ok mom, this is what we are going to do.
I met him at the end of the lake canal where he had towed the kayak for me to use. He held it still and told me to just lower myself down. I laughed and said I was going to plop down! “Then plop, mom.” Before I knew it, I was paddling around the wee islands easily where I had watched in the distance from the beach where the others had been earlier in the day. Delight was the feeling I had to share it with him.
Thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to witness 4-year-old granddaughter try out, with joy, her first mask experience. The unicorn mask I had brought as a grandma gift. My laughter as she suddenly becomes vertical, water flying all about her jumping body and shouts “Grandma, guess what I saw!” Majick feeling for my soul.
The next day, hitting the trail for a morning hike in the forest amongst multiple intersecting trails. Which way should we go? Choosing the waterfall trail…we begin our descent. It’s an easy stroll through a lush meadow as the ground begins to slope. Then the forest thickens, and the ground begins to drop steeper, quickly. The trail widens (as do my eyes, because I can’t see the bottom) and becomes criss crossed with knobby, long twisted roots. I learn they have become natures, randomly placed, raw steps.
I continue forward, half of me enjoying the forest’s beauty and the wonderful company. The other half feeling some real distress at the difficulty my body is experiencing. Basically, it was my knees doing the protesting. The strong steady hand offered at just the right time beside me the whole way became welcomed. I am concentrating on each step when I hear, “Mom, wait right here.”
Grateful for the break, I notice my daughter-in-law and 2 kids are a good bit ahead of us. He appears with his wonderful grin and presents me with a fresh walking stick. Inside, I balk a bit thinking I don’t need that! (Ha, yes, that would be vanity.) I’ve never used one says I. Try it, he says, just do this as he demonstrates for me. It was the perfect height with a natural bend where my hand fit. Hm, quickly vanity vanishes, and I get it. It became a very handy part of me. (I left it leaning against a fence, alongside others left behind, at the end of our hike, for another soul like me to use.)
When we finally make it to the bottom of the ravine, we turn the corner to cross the little bridge over the flowing, mossy rock ridden, stream. We see the rest of us, smiling encouragingly, sitting patiently on a bench. Taking a deep breath of grateful personal accomplishment for making it to the bottom, with the aid of my trusty sidekick, I begin to take in the beautiful vision we are in the middle of. Tall green leafy trees canopy above us below the clear blue sky. Smooth moss-covered rocks line the walls of the ravine down to the flowing clear water.
We follow it to the tall water fall along a boardwalk at the end of the ravine. Brilliant! Effort greatly rewarded. At that moment…I understand why people do this!
I waited on the bench while they hiked up further to find out where we went next. I was anxious and fretted about the return…wondering if my body would cooperate. I tipped my head back with eyes closed and my mind went quiet when I heard the subtle rustle of leaves high above my head. It was soothing. My ears picked up on the stream sounds in front of me. Opening my eyes, I realized I was alone. No other hikers wandered by. I felt nature wrap its beauty and wonder around me. Without words, I heard the Universe let me know I would do this and be alright.
I took a slow cleansing breath and walked to the stream with my cell phone on camera. I wanted to take it all back with me.
Later, I heard my 14-year-old grandsons voice behind me. “Are you ready to go back now?” He had gone ahead of the rest of them. Which way are we going back? He says, the same way we came. Are you sure? I ask. Yep. I was confident and energized. I told him I was going to get a head start. He looked back up the trail where he had come down…not seeing them…he looked back at me with concern. Don’t worry hon, says I, I will be fine and get a little head start. Wait for them here and you guys will catch up to me in no time.
I was about 5 minutes into the steep walk up when I passed a party of 5 hikers coming down. I was encouraged with observing a couple women, about my age, had the same bit of strain on their faces as I surely had coming down. I guessed they were fellow not seasoned hikers and was happier knowing I was on the upside!
Shortly after, my people caught up with me. As on the way down, daughter-in-law moved ahead with kids, and it became the two of us. It was challenging to be sure. But once again, we made it together. I appreciated when my water bottle was empty halfway up, he produced another. My mind wanted to just keep going but I listened to my body to take breaks. My son was very patient and a couple “you’re doing great, mom” did not hurt. He always makes me laugh! Because, knowingly, I just had to keep going! : )
When we met up with the rest of us, on level ground, it was with the same feeling as I had making it down, only better. I felt so much love for my people and grateful for the experience with them. And, for all the patience for this grandma! Even knowing what I know now about the trail, I would still do it again. Although, perhaps next time, the trail might be more in my realistic range. (grin)
Honestly, going in, I had a feeling I might have been biting off more than I was truly capable of physically. However, my desire to share this adventure with them allowed me to ignore that. Also, my packing did not include proper hiking shoes. In retrospect, the totally flat, unsupported sneakers I wore…had I worn the proper footwear might well have made some difference for me. Not to mention, my life does not include any kind of hiking activity at all.
Living far away from loved ones is tough. It makes me appreciate every moment when I am there.
Raising a family takes so much multi-tasking with focus required on so many levels. I love this grandma stage where I can watch and appreciate where my son is now. And enjoy getting to know my grandchildren as they grow. It’s quite awesome!
It’s also about a special friendship eternal and spending precious time with her. We are the self-named Thelma and Louise…we ride again whenever I get back there. For those that know, reference to the movie that came out in 1991! Although, I must admit on this end of time, our experiences have mellowed a bit!
One of our adventures took us on a hike of a different nature in another setting. Sometimes we struggled with our protesting bodies, but we did it together…as sitting in the same boat. When we got to the top of one leg of the trail, we were surprised and pleased to find a food truck selling gourmet clam chowder and lobster rolls. Only in New England! The chowder was $8 a cup. At that point, who cares! It was the best I think I have ever had, and I was bummed when the last drop was gone!
It was wonderful and the scenery was so beautiful. There was the kind of laughter you only experience when you’re with a best friend who knows you so well and likes you anyway!
Having arrived inside my 60’s, I am learning to accept my body’s limitations, where I am right now. What I used to be able to do is done. Also, understanding what I can work on to improve going forward. The most basic is…keep moving! I am truly blessed with people in my life that encourage me forward, without making me feel stupid or incapable, and seem to understand more than I when I can do more than I think I can.
It’s also about living with fear and not being ruled by it. I know its an ongoing practice to intentionally allow the negative chatter of my mind to pass and just “listen” to the quiet. Because in that silence…I know what needs to come next in what I can do now…not about what might or not happen in the future. Hitting the age I am at, fear has become a true enemy, on different levels. Do what you can now and go forwards.
I can try new things and discover wonderful fun times today, with those that know and love me…sort of like I did, with much less fear thinking, in years gone by.
I count my many blessings for the loved ones in my life!