As fall settles in and I reflect on our travels over the past few summers, I’m reminded of the ways in which life continually provides me opportunities to celebrate moments, embrace challenges and tap my courage. We are now officially an RVing family and have created some of the most amazing memories from the comfort of our 390 square foot traveling home. As a family, and individually, we have overcome obstacles both with planning and flying by the seats of our pants, knowing we all are our own self-rescuing princesses at one time or another.
I recall one moment last summer while we crossed the expansive west where the mountains soar to over 12,000 feet and then for miles and miles and miles, you could see nothing…and I mean nothing. Everything is on a massive scale and Mother Nature’s grandeur is evident in everything from the landscape to the sky and, most importantly for this story, the elements…
Journal Entry: August 4, 2018
Just as this amazing trip has been filled with breathtaking views and sites, there have been challenges: Tons of driving that can feel endless, oppressive heat and children that wonder what is so damn interesting about looking at valley after mountain and mountain after valley. I continue to tap into myself, my abilities and trust that I will be just what I need to be in the very next moment, in the face of an ever-changing landscape.
Today that was challenged as we continued west on Route 80 through the incredibly windy desert of Nevada. Always wanting to “pull my weight,” I kept pushing through my turn of driving, relying upon my strong driving skills to navigate the crosswinds, in the 75 mile per hour speed zone, driving a 40 ft. rig, hauling a Jeep. I was ever conscious of the huge vehicle beneath me Periodically I was blown a bit to the left and a bit to the right. It was unnerving but I held my own. My husband Michael continued to remind me to go only as fast as I was comfortable. I could hand the reins over to him at any time. There were no expectations – only what felt right for me. Out here I wasn’t enjoying the driving but felt capable.
Then suddenly a fierce gust of wind slammed into the bus. I felt like I was going to lose my hold and possibly go off the road. It was terrifying. I felt the surge of adrenaline, like an electric shock, course through my body. Was I going to be able to stay on the road? How was I going to regain my steady position without quick, jerky movements that a vehicle of this size couldn’t handle?!
A million such thoughts ran through my mind in a split second as I feared the unimaginable all while I was driving. I’m not sure I took too many breaths in those few moments although my heart pounded fiercely. Then I recovered, managing to maintain control and continuing forward.
However, I felt so rattled. The rush of potential consequences of losing control of the vehicle that carried my heart…my family… the most important people in my world was overwhelming. The tears welled behind my eyes. Staying composed, I slowed, safely pulled over and handed the wheel over to Michael.
Then I cried…really hard. Maybe I cried from fear or maybe from the barrage of all the “what ifs.” I felt the rush of fear as I thought about how, in just one moment, things could go so very wrong. When I calmed though, in came relief; the relief that despite the circumstances, I had kept us safe. There was no accident. We did not go off the road but had, in fact, moved only a bit.
Now, as I reflect, I’m struck by the import of trusting myself: I need to trust in my abilities to do things I’m capable of and listening to my gut when I have crossed the line between skill and feeling like I’m going on a wing and a prayer.
Today is a good day…a great day actually. That moment could have gone very differently and I’m thankful to be here to share my experience and further my connection to my abilities and boundaries.
Maybe I’ll drive again today, maybe I won’t. If the wind continues as is, I guarantee you not. However, I will tomorrow or maybe the day after. I’m not really sure but I do know the right time will come and I will get back in the saddle. Possibly a bit tentatively, I will reach down, grab the courage I need and once again, get on the road and know that I’ve got me.
After that day I did get back in the saddle. My comfort for driving the rig didn’t come again until we were east of the Rockies where the winds were calmer and the terrain became flatter. I tried to give little attention to that nagging voice in my head that said I needed to drive again right away and should be sharing more in that responsibility. However, I knew navigating the winds and mountains of the west was beyond my comfort zone and our safety was at the top of the list.
I also knew that I’d never reach that level of ease if I stopped driving. Reaching that marker was a process. It would take patience and most importantly, patience with myself. Although I might not want to drive in those challenging conditions, I do want to be able to if necessary.
There are an infinite number of scenarios in which one’s courage can show up. Maybe it’s a critical situation like mine or possibly it’s how you handled yourself at a meeting at work. Or maybe you found your voice at a time when it felt really hard and you spoke up, despite your fears.
For me the definition of courage is not so much facing danger without fear, rather it is facing danger despite the fear and doing what you must to come out the other side. Turning to me, counting on me doesn’t come easily. It takes effort and a specific focus on intent. It takes work. Although I know it is easier for me to turn to others for assistance, there is nothing like knowing I’ve got me.