Have you ever seen someone rappel backwards down a building or a huge-ass cliff face (you know, when they step backwards into the abyss attached to ropes and maybe another person)?
I have. I’ve seen it on TV many times. I hold my breath each time I see someone take that first step over the edge. I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would willingly do that! I totally get that there’s a rush of adrenaline involved which fuels many crazy adventures, but this one just seemed insane to me personally.
Growing up in Brooklyn, I definitely experienced some exciting moments. I developed street savvy at a very young age and saw things that I was probably too young to see or even understand. But when it came to physical adventures, I never really had the opportunity to take on daring challenges and overcome my fear of falling to my death!
I did a few things that were scary but exhilarating, like parasailing in the Caribbean, horseback riding on some crazy steep trails and even some skiing (ok … it was mainly the bunny slope, except for that time I took the wrong lift and had to come back down a black diamond hill!!! Yikes! Yes, I took off my skis and had the ski patrol give me a ride … totally worth it … they were cuties!).
The things I enjoyed were more focused on endurance and coordination, like yoga and dance. But there was nothing that really pushed me to the edge physically and emotionally in a profound way (other than pregnancy and childbirth … but that’s a whole other blog post).
So when our friends invited us for a family hike and climb to Mt. Erie, a local mountain in Anacortes, Washington, on the last gorgeous day of summer here in the Pacific Northwest, I thought, YES that sounds amazing. I’ll climb a little, hike a little and enjoy the gorgeous views with good friends. Little did I know I would be stepping off of a cliff and pushing through my own upper limits.
As soon as we got there, our friend (who is a professional rock-climbing guide) said that rock climbing would be easier if we tried rapelling first. OK! Breathe. What???
In that very moment, as my 8 yr old son and I looked at each other, I realized that I’m gonna have to mom-up here and show him that being scared and doing it anyway can be life-affirming. I wanted to be honest and brave at the same time. I knew hiding my fear was not an option … and I wanted to at least try rappelling!
Up we went. We walked up the trail higher and higher to the top of a cliff face that was about 100 feet above the trail below. I could feel my heart racing the entire way up and as I looked over the edge.
Joseph Anderson, our friend and owner of Peregrine Expeditions, asked his 8 year old son to go first and he disappeared over the edge quickly and with a smile. (This amazing family recently spent a year traveling, camping and rock climbing across the country with their 2 yr old, 8 yr old and 12 yr old kids … so they are well versed in all things climbing – You can check out their amazing story HERE).
Next, Joseph asked if I was ready … I wasn’t! But I was going to try. I slowly made my way over to the edge and looked down. OY!!! From way up top you’re able to see the ocean below, the tippie tops of the trees and it all looked so far down!
I looked back at my son, who was watching me. I said, “Ok, I’m really scared … but I’m going to keep breathing and try.” At this point, I actually started crying a little bit. I felt a surge of emotions bubble up. Thoughts flashed through my mind: moments of bravery, things I never tried, realizing how I would feel if I didn’t do this and even some excitement about rappelling. These thoughts began to come through my fear.
My mind felt strangely calm but at the same time was racing through a myriad of questions …
Am I going to die?
Am I going to chicken out?
Do I really want to do this?
Can I do this?
Do I trust my body … this harness … my these ropes … my guide?
These questions were rapid firing in my mind and I quickly remembered a quote from my favorite book, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks.
“the difference between fear and excitement is breath”
So I kept breathing.
I tried to focus through my fear as Joseph talked me through getting the rope tied up just right … so I don’t FALL to my death. He showed me how to release the rope little by little, where to position my feet, and how to hold my body. I was ready. Mostly.
So I got in position and I breathed deeply.
I began stepping backwards little by little. I could see my son looking at me with an expression on his face that was a mix of shock and awe. I also saw pride in his eyes. I cried a little more. That is how I want my son to see me … as a brave person willing to try … even when I’m about to pee my pants from fear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you go put your life on the line to prove your bravery to other people. There are plenty of things I don’t have the need to experience. But I wanted to know what it feels like to step off into my personal unknown and learn to TRUST myself, my body and the experience. And I did just that.
As I continued with each step, gripping the rope with my vise-grip of death, I realized that I was doing it. I was DOING it! I was able to breathe deeply and look around. Holy gorgeousness. There was the glittery ocean to my right, hawks and falcons flying below me and my husband at the bottom of the cliff telling me how proud he was of me.
This was an amazing moment. I was SO proud of myself. I knew that I could trust others and myself completely in a new way. In a way that took into account my spiritual path, my trust in the divine guidance that supports me in all things at all time.
I KNEW that this was an experience that was going to shift my life lens in a new and profound way.
It’s been less than 24 hrs since I stepped off the cliff. But I KNOW, I can feel it deeply … that this experience is going to be a milestone that I will turn to for a long time when I need to summon my inner-goddess of strength and fortitude.
And I will do it again because DAMN it was fun!
What about YOU?
Have you felt the call to step out and be brave in your own way?
I’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment below and share your past experiences of bravery or committing to something you want to experience. And remember, being brave shows up differently for each of us.
Make sure you join my growing global community of women supporting and inspiring each other to become the #1 asset in life, business & the bedroom!