I stood near the edge of the platform looking down at the trees and lush green fields. The mountains stood on the horizon and I watched the birds swoop down through the rainforest. It seemed so peaceful in hindsight. My arms shook as my entire frame tightened. I held onto the wire nervously and twitched as hiccuping sobs escaped from my throat. I was in the midst of a full-blown panic attack. The first I’ve ever had and a vicious one at that.
“Relajate, you’re going to be okay. We’ll take care of you,” he said soothingly. No, I’m going to die in the middle of the jungle, I thought and shook my head vehemently. I had to give him credit. He probably wasn’t getting paid near enough to deal with a total basket case like me, and he was doing a great job of keeping me from completely falling apart. After another moment of tears and a dozen Hail Marys after re-imagining my gruesome death over and over again , I took a step forward and jumped.
And look at me go! Needless to say, I survived. Hello, here I am! 🙂
I traveled to Costa Rica about two and a half years ago in celebration of a brand new phase of my life. I lost some weight, chose nutrition as my career, and felt like it was time to explore something new. During the trip I decided I’d go ziplining despite my misgivings about being strapped into a harness and suspended hundreds of feet in the air to glide on thin wires with nothing to protect me from fatal injury but the lopsided plastic helmet placed on my head. Oh, and did I mention I have a crippling fear of heights? But, I decided to go against my better judgement (and at the insistence of my good friend Gizelle who traveled with me) and do the unthinkable in the name of fun. I challenged myself to push fear to the side and try something new, and that experience will be with me for the rest of my life.
Aside from being a great anecdote to kick this little post off, that memory got me thinking about this past year and the origins of this blog. I started writing with no clear idea of what I was trying to accomplish, but I knew that I had something I needed to say. I felt that I could contribute to our national dialogue about nutrition while also allowing room for some debate about my own personal choices towards shaping a healthier life. Since then I’ve jumped from recipe sharing to affirmations to an analysis of public policy. Throughout it all, I’ve tried to remain true to form, honest, and as straightforward as possible about what the issues are, where I stand, and where I’d like to be. And after I got past the initial terror of opening myself up to the world in that first post, I enjoyed a freedom of expression beyond any expectations I had from this page.
The past several months have been a challenge however. The tragedies of Hurricane Sandy and the Newton massacre coupled with my own increasing struggles with disordered eating (there, I said it out loud) and overall well-being has put a serious brake on my writing high. I spent the last month letting the fear creep back in and it’s kept me from sharing on this blog and with my loved ones in a positive way. I questioned myself more and more and retreated.
My foray into mindful meditation to control my fear and sort out my emotions has brought to light the single most important lesson I’ve learned in my life. And that’s to take a jump. Take a step forward when every fiber of your being is telling you to step back. Take a risk and do something completely out of your comfort zone just to see what it’s like. We have the power to experience some pretty awesome things if we allow ourselves to do it every once in a while. I let the fear paralyze me from doing all of the things I love, including writing. It’s not easy to shake it off, but none of the things that are worth the effort in life are ever easy.
Most people spend this interim between Christmas and New Year’s to do their annual reviews. Check your spiritual bank account to see how much of yourself you’ve invested throughout the year, where you failed, and where you succeeded. If you’re one of these people, let me suggest something. Take note of the so-called failures and press on. Let them go out of sight and out of mind and focus all of your energies on what you were able to accomplish, no matter how small. Maybe your goal next year is to lose some weight, improve your eating habits, get a new job, or take a bucket list trip. Whatever it is that you have penciled in for 2013, keep in mind that unless your heart is full of love and faith in yourself, the road will be uphill and difficult. Take it from me. Dwelling on the negative can only get you so far. How about we go all the way?
I got a little lost towards the end of this year. But now I’m ready to jump.
Happy New Year to everyone out there! As always, thank you for visiting and remember to keep paying it forward. For yourself. For your loved ones. For your community. 🙂