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How I gave up my fear of falling and learned to walk like John Wayne

My sweetheart and I have gotten into the COVID habit of taking walks around our cozy little town for a daily dose of leg stretching. Yesterday we got about a foot of snow and so our walk was a little different. You may be familiar with that sloshy feeling with each step that makes you feel like you could slip off the face of the earth? That’s what I was experiencing.

The thing is, my sweetheart was not having that experience. He is a massage therapist, trained also in the healing work of Barbara Brennan. Calling on that background, he has long advised me to ground myself more, concentrate on my feet and commit to each step. Being the heady personality type that I am, for years I really didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.

But last night, I got it. As we walked along the snowy sidewalks, I noticed that I was taking lots of short quick steps while he was walking normally. Given my history of broken bones, injuries, and my age, I am growing vigilant about falling. On our walk, I realized that my fear of falling had gotten my shoulders all bunched up which shifted my center of gravity up, which added to my teetering sense that I was about to fall with every step. I consciously began to let my shoulders relax, and my weight shifted down around my rib cage. With each step, I focused on moving my energy down, ultimately to my hips and legs, letting gravity do its thing. My stride got longer and slower - basically, I was walking like John Wayne, swaggering through town with my new cowboy style.

As I was contemplating my newfound sense of groundedness, I started wondering how that happened to me. And why did I never put this together before? I got curious about my fear all bunched up in my shoulders. And that led me to think about the fear that most women hold in their bodies from a young age. We’re taught not to go out alone, be watchful over each other’s alcoholic beverages, be alert in parking garages, and don't rent on the ground floor. When #metoo bloomed, I spoke with the men in my life about all of these and many more fear factors that they were oblivious to.

Contemplating that fear, I am reminded of a workshop where we had an assignment to write a prayer. Mine was very short - I remember it was something like, I mentally take the athletic position, I’m ready. That’s not a very comforting prayer. There’s no recognition of anything bigger than me, no greater wisdom to call on. It's a pretty lonely prayer. As I reflected on my writing, I realized that fear pretty much ran on automatic in the background of my mind all the time. Fear for my children, financial fear, relationship fear. I can point to so much of my dread stemming from the fear that comes with being a woman.

That fear was running my life. I had so much apprehension about almost everything and I didn’t even know it. No one that knew me would have said, “oh yeah, Pam, she’s a real nervous Nellie”. Nope.

Once the bottom fell out of my life I saw that I could and did deal with EVERYTHING, I got over the fear. I knew that I was enough for my life. Money, kids, work. I was good to go. No savior required.

But the bottom doesn’t have to fall out of your life. You can come to Costa Rica and find out what’s running your life. One of our retreat alums said the shedding-the-story part of the retreat was the most life-altering part of her retreat experience. It changed her life in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. The story that she’d been carrying around since she was a child had been motivating her career choices, where she lived, and more. And she had no idea, not an inkling. It was an amazing experience to be in the room with her when this transformation occurred. You can hear her talk about it here.

She had been living a life based on a family mythology from her mother. She had no idea this story had so much influence on her decisions in life. After the retreat, she began to focus on creating a life that felt life-giving to her on her terms, and she now says even with the pandemic and two years of isolation her life is really good and she doesn't remember ever being able to say that before.

And that, ladies, is walking (John Wayne style), talking transformation. So, seriously, come to Costa Rica with us in June. Don’t you want to be able to tell a story like that?

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