Live Fearless

I have a secret. Sometimes, when I’m on the back of a motorcycle, I’m terrified. I know, it probably doesn’t seem like much of a secret. Riding a motorcycle can be scary, but I’ve never told anyone this, other than my husband, and I only just told him recently.

Overall, I love riding a motorcycle. I always dreamed of marrying a man someday who had one. And my dream came true! I love sitting behind him on our Triumph, and he loves having me as a passenger. But sometimes, when we’re on the freeway or going around some bend at fast speed, I squeeze him a little tighter, breathe a bit quicker and feel terrified panic course through my body. And when nothing bad happens I relax and enjoy the rest of the ride. And the next time, I get back on that motorcycle again!

See, I’m not someone who believes in living in fear. I don’t believe we should let fear control our lives. I never let it stop me from rock climbing, even though my dad tried to. Every chance he got he would tell me about some accident someone had while climbing or how someone (who was free-soloing) fell and was killed. He used fear to try to control me, to try to get me to stop doing something I loved. Rock climbing was more than just a sport to me. There is something incredibly spiritual about connecting with nature in such a raw, physical way. And there was also something so freeing and ecstatic about sending a route, accomplishing a hard goal. So I never let it stop me. Yes, sometimes accidents happened, but when using good gear and climbing with knowledge and experience it is extremely rare.

It can be hard to do things that scare us, especially when we have anxiety. But I believe it is good for us. Sometimes I still let fear stop me, but I’m trying more and more not to let it. I’m trying to teach my kids not to live in fear. My daughter used to be scared of rollercoasters. Then, one day, I made her and her brother go on a new roller coaster at the amusement park we live by. After we had gotten on and were just waiting to take off both of them started complaining, saying how they wanted to get off, they were scared, they needed to go to the bathroom. Like any good mom (hahaha!) I just laughed at them and told them it was too late to get off. They both looked terrified, but after we got off the rollercoaster they were both grinning and asked if we could go again! I’ve told my daughter many times that it’s good to do things that scare you. And now, she loves roller coasters! And I’ve seen her confidence shine through in so many instances over the last couple of years. Confidence can help with anxiety too.

So I challenge all of us to ride the motorcycle, climb the rock, go on the roller coaster. Go to that party that you’re scared of because of social anxiety. Go on the trip you’ve been planning even though leaving your house makes you nervous. Don’t let fear stop you from living your fullest life. Live it fearless. Live it to the fullest.


No Respecter of Persons

It is five years to the day since Chris Cornell took his own life. It’s always a solemn day for me. A sad day. He was so talented and had such a unique voice. I still mourn his depression and his death. I wrote this post a couple of years ago and wanted to share it again.

Today I write in honor of Chris Cornell—three years to the day after his suicide.

I first heard Soundgarden, Cornell’s band, when I was in high school. Black Hole Sun and Spoonman. Instantly I loved them. And then a couple of years after high school I heard Show Me How to Live and I Am the Highway on the radio. The two singles from the first album of Cornell’s new band, Audioslave. I was hooked! The fact that they could write something as powerful and rockin’ as Show Me How to Live and as powerful, yet soft and beautiful as I Am the Highway was amazing to me. I went out and bought the album on CD as soon as it came out. I listened to it over and over and over again.

Many years later, after Audioslave had disbanded, I heard rumors that they were going to get back together to go on tour. I was so psyched! And then, I’ll never forget the day I heard the news that Chris Cornell was gone. It was early in the morning, I was in the car, pulling up to the gym. The DJ on the radio announced that Chris Cornell had hung himself. I was devastated. My heart ached that such a talented person had been in such a dark place that he had felt the only option was to take his own life. And I finally, really came to understand why people made such a big deal about celebrity suicides—because it shows that mental illness is no respecter of persons. So often, we think people have it made—celebrities, CEO’s, the wealthy, even our neighbors, family or friends. It’s easy to think we know what’s going on by seeing the outside, when really, on the inside, that person is struggling, suffering, dying.

Too often, I think the signs of depression get ignored. Too often, I think depression is minimized because it’s easier that way. It’s easier to ignore or give simple answers. Sometimes it’s because of the stigma still attached to depression. Sometimes it’s because of lack of education. And sometimes it’s because, simply put, depression is hard. It can be hard to understand or to know what to do, as is the case with any mental illness. And it can be hard because it’s different for everyone. And that is totally normal.

But when it comes to helping others, what’s right may be more important than what’s easy. The Mayo clinic has an amazing page about how you can recognize depression in others and ways you can help and encourage them. I can testify that even a simple smile can make a difference. I still remember a couple of girls I went to high school with who made a difference in my life. One of them always said hi to me, always gave me a smile. Another one brought me flowers because she had noticed I was sad the day before. I have a friend who easily could have given up on me because, as I stated, depression is hard. But she didn’t. Even when it scared her, she kept being my friend, and that made a huge difference. My boyfriend is a good example, too. Little things like asking questions and trying to understand what I’m going through helps so much. These things truly do matter.

Chris Cornell made a difference to me. There were so many times I was off at college that I would take off for a long drive in my car when I was feeling sad or frustrated about something, and I would crank that Audioslave CD! It always managed to either help release my frustration or remind me that I wasn’t alone. It still saddens me that I’ll never get to see him in concert. It saddens me that such a talented person struggled for so long with depression—until he couldn’t struggle anymore. But I believe we can do something about the alarming number of people who take their own lives. It starts at an individual level. Learn to know the signs of depression and learn what you may be able to do to help. And remember, a simple “hi” or a smile may be just the thing someone needs.