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My family and I went to Crater Lake National Park for a camping vacation.  Crater Lake is this pristine lake created by a volcano that erupted then caved in.  The hole that was created was filled by rain water and snow ( 44 ft/year) melt.  It’s the most body of water I have ever seen.  It is the 5th deepest lake in the world; the deepest point being 1, 947 ft (or close to that I think).

There is only one legal way to get down to the lakes edge and that is by Cleetwood Trail.  The trail is down hill 1.1 miles with a few switch backs.  It’s a beautiful hike down.  Once you get down there, there is a boat launch that will take you on a 2 hour boat tour of the lake or drop you off at Wizard Island for more hiking.  But if you go past the dock and back up a trail, you will find a cliff that people like to  jump off of.  We had no idea that cliff existed until we saw everyone jumping.  It looked like so much fun!  I have never really given cliff diving/jumping much thought, until the opportunity presented itself.  My son Nate took the plunge and had a blast.  He didn’t even think twice.

I watched several other people take the plunge.  A group of 2 young men and 1 of their girl friends jumped.  The boys went first, but she hesitated.  After a few minutes she jumped and screamed all the way down.  I watched another “dad” consider a jump.  He was scared and nervous, as was I.  I had tried to just get to the ledge to jump and couldn’t do it.  I was terrified.  So finally, I told the man, “If you do it, I will.”  Well he did!  I tried to get up on the ledge again, but was scared.  Finally, I found a spot that was just a few inches from where everyone else was jumping.  It was easier for me to get up on.  Nate held my hand as I positioned myself on the launching point.  And I made that big mistake, I looked down!

There I was on the ledge.  There was a young man there in red swim trunks with a “lifeguard” patch on the leg.  He told me he was a life guard and would make sure I was safe.  I laughed and asked him, “How do I know you didn’t buy that at a thrift store on the way  here?”  Still I couldn’t jump.

Every time I thought I was going to jump, I would feel myself pull back and say, “NO WAY!”  Eventually that young man in the red swim trunks jumped down off the ledge beside me.  He was down in the water cheering me on.  Behind me there were at least 30 maybe 50 people just watching me.  I could hear them.  “All she has to do is jump.”   “Just jump!”  “Come on, you can do it!”

Below me in the water was the young “life guard”.  He started to clap on rhythm.  Then everyone behind me up on the ledge began to clap along with him.  I stood there with my arms open and prayed.  “God is in everything. God is in the rocks that support me.  God is in the air in which I will fly.  God is in the water which will receive me lovingly.  God and I are one.  If God and I are one, then I am one with this mountain, one with the air, one with the water.  Since I am one with all of these things I am safe and protected.”  I took deep breaths, and I began to jump.  Then I would stop myself again.

What was I afraid of?  Not jumping out far enough away from the ledge and killing myself.  That was it.  I know how to swim.  I was just afraid to jump!  I remembered walking on hot coals…I could do that over and over and over again, but I couldn’t make this jump!

I took another deep breath and just when I was about to jump, I stopped myself again.  Fear.  Funny what fear stops you from doing.  It stops  you from living.  It stops you from taking risks.  It stops you from reaching your goals.  It stops you from making your dreams come true.  Do I want to live in fear the rest of my life.  Do I want to walk away from this once in a life time opportunity and know that I let fear win?  This was the year I am facing my fears and living fearlessly; am I going to let this mountain beat me?    This is SAFE. I have seen people jump and come back up safe and sound just to jump again.  I watched my own son do this.  I CAN DO THIS!

One more deep breath and recognizing that I am ONE with creation.  This time, I felt my feet push off the ground!

This is where fear  lets go and true freedom sets in.  In that moment where you stand at the teetering edge, you can either step back or you can just jump!  You can either step back in fear or trust that you are loved cared and protected! You can play it safe or take that risk that will pay off in the end.  When have you stood on that edge and felt that?  I never expected to feel that LITERALLY, but there I was faced with this decision.  I was terrified.  All kinds of thoughts went through my head.  “You are stupid”  “Don’t take the risk”  “You don’t have anything to prove to anyone.”  “If they all jumped off the bridge, would you?”

In the end, I realized that I had to JUST JUMP!  I had to welcome the change in my life.  I had to take the risk in order to grow!  I needed to let go of the fear and FEEL the FREEDOM!!!

There is total freedom in letting go…in free falling…and in being welcomed by the loving arms of the cool lake.  Once I was immersed in the cold water (50 degrees) all I could think about was how amazing the jump was..how amazing the water felt around me…and I had better have enough air to get back up to the top. *laugh*  Once my head broke the surface of the water, I gave out a shout and a whoop!  So exciting!  I thanked the guys that were in the water cheering me on.  .

Once I was in the water, I realized that a 10 year old girl named Hailey was at a lower jumping point, and she was scared.  Her brother, Aaron was in the water trying to coax her in, but she just wouldn’t budge.  She saw me on the ledge before my jump.  She saw how scared I was.  She saw me do it anyway.  So there I was in the cold water…treading water and cheering this little girl on.  “C’mon, Hailey, you can do this!  You are one with the water; it won’t hurt you.  Just jump!  I’ll be here for you in the water to make sure you are safe.  You are not alone!”  Finally, she jumped!  There she was jumping fearlessly into the water, and I was right there to make sure she could swim right back up and to the rocks to get out.  Once she was out and safe, her mom, Jackie, thanked me.  Little Hailey and her brother thanked me.  And we all climbed up the rocks and out of the water.

Everyone congratulated me as I climbed out of the water, and I felt amazing.  I had faced that fear!  And I got to help a little 10 year old girl face hers!  It was an amazing journey!  Did I mention that I have an extreme fear of heights?  Ya…I faced it!

The long 1.1 mile walk back up the mountain was hard, but it was made a bit easier by the thrill of  knowing I did something that I would have never been able to do before this year of living fearlessly and living fully!  On our walk back up, Hailey, Jackie, and Aaron caught up to us.  I told Hailey how proud I was of her.  And her mom told me that my  jump had inspired her, and she decided to face her fear and jump too!  *I* inspired *her*!  Amazing!

I had just finished reading the book The Alchemist, and there was a passage in there that said when you listen to the soul of the world and you make yourself better, you are making the world better for other people.  By helping yourself, you help others.  And then this jump happened.  By facing my own fears, I was able to not only help little Hailey, but I was also able to help her Mom!  Amazing the ripple effect we have on others.

This is Hailey, Jackie and Aaron in the parking lot at the trail head.  We were all smiles.  We exchanged pictures.  Complete strangers before the jump, and family after the jump.  Strangers passing on the ledge of a cliff became important parts of each other’s family vacations.  I love how the universe works!

Today in church, Rev. Jackie told a story about 2 frogs who fell into a deep hole.  It was so deep they had a hard time getting out.  The other frogs stood at the edge of the hole and shouted down, “You are going to die down there!  There is no way you will get out!”

The two frogs continued to jump as high as they could.  The other frogs continued, “Why are you jumping?  You are going to break your legs then you will NEVER get out of there!  You are just going to die!”

Unfortunately one of the frogs did die, but the other just kept jumping higher and higher and higher.  Eventually he jumped right out of the hole!  The other frogs looked at him in amazement.  “Couldn’t you hear us?  We told you to stop jumping because you were going to die!”  And the little frog replied, “really?  I couldn’t  hear you.  I thought you were just cheering me on to jump higher to get out!”

What and who are you listening to?  Are you listening to the other frogs in your life telling you that you will  never make it?  Are you listening to the fear in your head that tells you the jump will kill you?  Or are you choosing to hear the ones around you that are cheering you on?  Are you listening to those who are clapping and cheering?  Are you listening to your heart that says, “Just Jump!”

I know that on that teetering edge upon that cliff, I heard both of these voices.  I heard “Don’t jump, you are going to die!” and I heard, “Just Jump! You are loved, cared for and protected!”  I had to  make a choice, and I chose, “Just Jump!”

Rev. Jackie told us today, “Your tomorrow is created by your conduct today!”  What is your tomorrow looking like?  What are you creating TODAY?  Are you choosing to live in fear…..or are you choosing to live life to its fullest, taking those risks and celebrating the victories that come from it?

JUST JUMP!!!!!!

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Leave it to me to find a spiritual connection to Roller Derby.  *laugh*

Okay, Roller Derby itself may not have a spiritual connection but when I plug into and the circumstances surrounding me and the Derby are considered, then there is a spiritual connection.  And I just have to write about it!

Ever since I was a little girl living in a roller rink (a rink rat) doing figure skating, speed skating, and disco skating I knew I was meant to be on 8 wheels!  I watched the roller derby on TV and told my parents I wanted to do that.  Instead, I was put into soccer and softball.  Okay, I understand that there are no youth leagues for roller derby so joining at the age of 10 might have been a bit impossible.  It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think my parents liked the idea.  Let’s face it, the outward appearance of a roller girl is a little rough around the edges and the sport itself (especially back in the 70’s) looked brutal!  What Southern Belle mom would want that for her little princess?

Fast forward a couple of decades..okay..almost 3 of them.  Boise started its own roller derby league, the Treasure Valley Rollergirls.  I remember when they started announcing this and looking for league members.  I thought, “Wow!  That sounds like fun!”  I’m pretty certain Tracy encouraged me to try out for it then.  But truthfully, I was scared.  Over weight….hadn’t been on skates in almost 10 years….and really knew nothing about it.  Then every year after that, when I heard they were training for a new season, I would say, “I really want to do that.  I have always wanted to do roller derby.!”  And every year Tracy would say, “You should do it.”  Scared.

Okay, so here is where the spiritual stuff comes in.  You know I have been reading tons of books, right?  I mean that is why this blog got started.  52 books in 52 weeks:  The God Project.   A blog about self-discovery and my spiritual path and finding my own answers for God in my life.  It was going to be about more than just the books; it was going to include my experiences too.  So I did a firewalk centered around breaking through fear; and my intention was about breaking through the fear of starting my own roller rink/community center for children. I read a couple of books and heard a couple of sermons/seminars about FEAR.  Fear is there to protect us, but it is also a false emotion.  It doesn’t just protect us it keeps us from taking risks that help us grow!    It keeps us from change.  “What if I fail?”  “What if I look like a fool?”  “What if I get physically hurt?”  “What if I die?”  Die?  Seriously?  I was once told by a teacher to first consider the worst (death) and then expect the best!  Deep down, our biggest fear is that whatever we are afraid to do is rooted in the fear of death.  I don’t think Death is high on the “injury lists” for roller derby!  I think my chances are death are higher just crossing the street!  So with the worst considered..its time to expect the best!  It’s time to face my fears and show them who is boss!

I went to my first “Fresh Meat” (that’s what they call newbies to roller derby) practice a week ago.  RaeZer (the coach) worked me hard.  She told me I would hate her at the end of practice. (I didn’t.)  She kept telling me that she was working me/us harder than she has all season, and for my first day I was doing really well.  I kept hearing from the other league members that were there hanging with the Fresh Meat that I was doing really well and I had natural skills that could be polished. (Boy am I glad I grew up on skates!)  It felt great.  Then at the end of practice I was told that I should be at 2 practices a week.  Fresh Meat practices are Wednesday 6:30-8:30 and Sundays 10:00-12:00.  Rut roh!!!  I can’t make Sundays; that is church day (and time).  RaeZer said, I could come to league practices on Tuesdays.  Great!  I will do that.  Then it dawned on me:  “I just signed up for my Science of Mind class at church and I am committed for the next 9 weeks!”  I was upset.  I just got my nerve up to do Roller Derby.  Mike bought all of my gear.  And now this…….

You know, life has a way of throwing curve balls at you.  When you are afraid of doing something, and you set out to do it, it doesn’t mean it’s going to come easy.  It doesn’t mean that all the obstacles will fall away.  However, if you follow your heart…if you listen to your intuition…and you do what is right and best for you, everything will fall into place.  The Universe does not give to you what you can not handle.  It will  not give you a challenge without an answer; you just have to be open to it and step out in faith!

I had this challenge in front of me. I had to make a decision.  My spiritual life is so important to me.  Obviously…look at my blog!  Yet at the same time, Roller Derby  has been my dream for my entire life!  There had to be a way!

So I made a decision.  I emailed the rollergirls and explained my situation.  I decided I would make every Wednesday practice and I would make every other Sunday.  I never did hear back from them.  So I went to practice last night.  RaeZer told me, “Church is very important.  I understand if you can’t make it.  Just show up when you can.”  I knew I had made the right decision, and by doing so, the Universe gave me the confirmation and life is great.  I can have my church and derby too!

Have you ever seen roller girls?  Alot of them are “thicker”, “stockier”, “bigger”, “solid” girls.  Yes, there are some thin and very fit girls, but I think this may be one of the only sports where a girl my size can play and even feel comfortable playing.  Last night as we practiced and I did my drills, I could hear the other girls in the line saying, “Look at Martha go!”  “She used to be a figure skater.”  I could hear them saying good things about me, and after one of the drills I got back in line to hear two of the league members trying to find a roller girl name for me.  I’m not gonna lie, that felt great.  AND…..I realize that I must not get cocky.  I do not say these things out of boastfulness, but out of a knowing that I found my spot in the sporting world.  It was just another confirmation that I am in the right place at the right time!  A girl can’t afford to get cocky in Derby, you will get your arse kicked…especially if you are Fresh Meat AND cocky!  Not a great combination.  A “tough humility” is a good thing :).

It feels amazing to be my size and living life to its fullest.  To find a sport that I love and seem to be a natural at.  I was never very good at soccer, softball, volleyball or even tae kwon do.  I’m not a great runner, even if I did finish a marathon (by walking of course).  But roller skating?? I am pretty sure I was born with 8 wheels on my feet!  So here I am 236 lbs and finding a sport accepts my size and doesn’t blink twice.  It encourages me to get out there regardless of my size or even skate ability.  They will train you.  They will get you in shape (not to get you in shape..but to help you become a better roller girl).  Losing weight, getting stronger, getting leaner will be a natural extension of a sport you love and practice.  This is the way life should be, in my opinion.  Instead of being called obese or fat, you care called “solid” and praised for having hips!  Jammers can’t knock you over or push you out of the way because you are “bigger” than they are.  I guess its kinda like the guys on the front line of a football line up…ya know those guys who want to be 300#….  No I am not looking to be 300# and I’m certainly not looking to stay my size, however, I am thrilled to death that there is a sport that I seem to be good at and I love…and I can do at my size!

Remember when I read the Geneen Roth book Women Food and God and there was another one that I can’t remember right now, and they talked about the “waiting game”.  I gotta lose weight before I can do that….and always putting your life off until “it” happened.  Well I am no longer waiting.  I don’t care how scared I am.  I don’t care how hard it may be to make those laps around the track.  I don’t care how silly I might look while trying to get my “derby legs” underneath me.  I am doing it NOW!!!!

I am taking the Science of Mind class, and we were just talking about Affirmations this week.  I was feeling a little down on myself about my fitness and health routine.  For whatever reason, I just have a hard time staying committed.  I went to therapy for this last year.  And here I am again.  I have gained alot of the weight I lost last year back.  This doesn’t make me happy. I am obviously missing something; I’m just not sure what it is.  So while we were working on affirmations Tuesday night, this was what I was working on.  Rev. Jackie said that everything we want has already been created and is already there, just waiting to be revealed to us.  My perfect health and perfect fitness are already there, I just have to first believe it and it will be revealed!  This I know to be true.  So I go forward with my derby practice and I hear them tell me how good I am.  More importantly, I FEEL how good it feels to be doing these things well.  The more physical things I do, and do well, the more I feel my body’s perfect health and fitness coming into being!  So my  new affirmation:  I am grateful, excited and KNOW that my perfect health and fitness already exists and are within me!

And how do I know this????  Because I am a roller girl!!!  I participate in a sport that uses and stretches my muscles and my stamina.  It uses and stretches my emotional well-being.  It uses and stretches my intellectual well-being.  It builds my self esteems and I KNOW I am in the right place!!!!

I love the fact that I can take seminary classes at church AND be a roller girl!!!!  My life is truly blessed!

On May 7th, 2010, I turned 41 years old!  It was a party; as a matter of fact, I partied for about 2 weeks!  I absolutely adore my life and celebrate it every day!  And this last year  has been one of the best years ever!

When I was approaching 40, I thought, “I’m gonna lose enough weight to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for my 40th birthday.”  It didn’t happen.  Instead I started my birthday out right with a birthday party filled with laughter.  I had a laughter fitness instructor deliver a laugh o gram, and my whole party joined in the laughter.  We wore silly hats and had a great time! My husband and my best friend bought me a ride in a Nascar Race Car on the Las Vegas Speedway.  I got in the car with a professional racer and went around the track at 245mph!  I was excited and scared all at the same time, and when the car started moving all of that fear went away.  It was fabulous!  I loved it!  And while we were in Vegas we saw Jimmy Buffett and partied all weekend.  It was awesome!  It was a great way to start off my year.

So between my 40th birthday and my 41st birthday, life has changed dramatically.  Until just before my 40th birthday, I hardly ever laughed.  Now I laugh all of the time.  I smile all of the time.  I actually feel JOYFUL 98% of the time!  I know this because in 3 weeks, in 3 different settings I have had people come up to me and tell me that I am radiating love or happiness.  The first time this happened was right after my husband and I joined our church.  One of the church members came up to me at the end, and said, ‘I just had to hug you because you radiated love from up there on the podium.”  Then the next week at a Tropical Cowboys show, the drummer came up to me to give me a hug and told me the same thing, “I see you all the way back here radiating love.”  Then just last weekend, on our way through the security line at the Boise airport (on our way to Vegas again) a TSA lady came up to us and stopped us.  “Where are you going? I just know it has to be some place fun, because I have never seen people rush up to the security line with such smiles on their faces!”  We told her we were going to Vegas.  And she said, “I have never seen 2 people so happy!”    Funny thing is, we weren’t near as excited and boisterous this year as we were last year heading to Vegas.  *laugh*  It’s just that I have changed so much!

So what happened????  To say I really don’t know would be a stretch I guess.  But I can’t tell you one specific thing that has changed.  It is just a matter of things accumulating I think.

1)  I learned to laugh and not take myself so seriously!

2) I found work that I take joy in (being an Independent Beachbody Coach)

3)  I work out alot more..almost every day

4) I have lost weight (not the amount I had always strived for) and I have gained some back, AND I am happy with who I am!!!  As long as I FEEL good that is all that matters!

5)  I take risks!!!!  If I am scared of something, I make myself do it! I don’t let fear keep me down!  I started living FEARLESSLY!

6) I KNOW & TRUST that my highest good is always being taken care of….worrying is wasted energy.

7) I am growing spiritually and intellectually through all of this reading I am doing.

8) I have learned to say “No” and “Yes” at the appropriate times!

9) I love freely and share that love with everyone I meet

10) This is  my favorite..jsut the other day, when one of my class mates was asked, “What part of God do you see in Martha?”  her response was “Authenticity”  When we moved to Idaho, it was my goal to live openly and be authentic with who I am….And her reply was exactly what I needed to hear to know that I am living my life the way I have always dreamed of living it!

Sure I have challenges.  Sure I would still love to be a lesser physical weight.  Sure I would love other things to change.  However, I LOVE MY LIFE NOW!  In this moment, right where I am, I LOVE IT!  I have one of the best marriages I have ever seen.  I have 3 beautiful loving strong children and one  just as beautiful loving and strong daughter in law!  I have volunteer work that fulfills me.  I have a job that keeps me active and encourages me to be better.  I belong to the perfect church for my life and it is filled with so  much love it is palpable!  I am making new friends who love me for me!  It’s perfect!

And for my 41st birthday, that same friend who helped with the race car ride, bought me my roller derby gear.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be in the Roller Derby.  3 years ago when Boise got its Roller Derby League, I told my hubby that is what I wanted to do.  And every year since, when I start seeing their advertising, I say the same thing.  “I want to do that!”  Well, yesterday was my first practice as Fresh Meat for the Treasure Valley Roller Girls.  I was scared.  Here I am..41 years old, well over 200#…and just started roller skating again after not skating for over 10 years!  I put on my shiny new speed skates, and pads and got out on that track!  I was scared to fall; what if I looked stupid?  What if I couldn’t get up?  What if it was all too much for me?  What if I am too out of shape?  To heck with the “what ifs”  Just get out there!!!!  So I did.  When it came time for practicing our falls, my new friend Crash told me “you have great knee pads, just trust your gear and trust yourself.”  I did.  And guess what?  I didn’t get hurt!  When it came time for endurance practice, they cheered me on!  When it came time for weaving drills, they cheered me on!  I was told, “You have great skills to build on!”  “You are a natural”   “You must have been raised on skates.”  And when it came time for backwards skating, I blew them all away. Even the non-fresh meats.  I skated circles around them.  “Wow!  Look at Martha go!”  I’m not gonna lie, that felt damn good!   I was exactly where I needed to be.  It was the perfect fit for me.  The only sport I have ever felt comfortable in was a sport that included roller skates!

There are sooo many lessons to be gleaned from yesterday’s Fresh Meat practice.  Living fearlessly:  Fear is there to keep you safe, but if you are already safe, it is just a hinderance; it’s a lie!  Taking risks is how we grow!  It’s a must!  Learning to trust ourselves and trust “our gear”.  Let go and trust God.  We will never know how great we are at something unless we give it a try!  We will never know the joy of accomplishment if we don’t take that first step!

On mother’s day this year (which was 2 days after my birthday) my  kids gave me this huge card that had this granny woman doing the splits on the cement.  When you opened up it played one of my favorite disco songs.  (My kids know me so well.)  But what they wrote inside of it was so touching.  My 17-year-old son told me he was proud of everything I have accomplished this year and encouraged me to keep it up.  My 10-year-old daughter told me basically the same thing.  That is such an amazing feeling.  They see all the changes I have made in my life this year.  They recognize this brighter side of me.  I know I am setting a great example for them.  I know what I am doing is right!

If you are sitting back in that comfortable space of fear.  If you are afraid to take risks and would rather live a “safe” life, then I challenge you to make some changes.  Take a step outside of that box you have built for yourself.  Get out there and enjoy this life.  We are here to experience it and live it..not to watch it float on by us like a parade!  Get up and join the parade!  Dance with the clowns!  Play those blaring horns!  Maybe even do some juggling.  And remember, even in a parade, there are people who have to pick up the horse manure!  It’s not always going to be fun and games, but it is always worth the risk!!!!!

I’m in the front left hand row with the white shirt.  This is at my first Treasure Valley Roller Girls Fresh Meat Practice…learning to skate in a pack and listen for verbal ques and directions.  So  much fun!