Facing fears head on

Facing fears head on

As promised, today I am discussing Facing Fears Head On.

This is a follow up post to 5 Lessons Learned About Fear and thank you to all of those who joined in the conversation.

Let’s begin today with a warning.  There will be some of you who do not like this post. I understand.  This is my journey, and I tell it in case it will help someone else.  If it only helps one person, then it was worth it to share the story.

Facing fears head on

First, I want us all to acknowledge that the word “reckless” has a different meaning to each individual.   That would be the same for the word “risky.”  I look at this picture I recently took of people parasailing out over the ocean.  At this moment in my life, I see that as reckless and too risky for me.  I am learning not to say that I would never do something…it is a sure invitation that I will find myself faced with it.

I choose not to ride motorcycles.  I see it as too risky and I hate speed.  But I also know there are readers in this audience that ride and love them…and I would never tell you not to do it.  My choice is personal to me, and I promise not to judge you because you do something you love.  In fact, that is worthy of applause!

Facing fears head on

As I stated in the first post on fear, I traveled often in my youth and was much more adventurous.  However, my travel was only in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  At that time, you could go to Canada and Mexico without passports.  So….(now don’t spit your drink out)…I have never owned a passport.  I know that is going to be a lot for the seasoned travelers here to take in.  Hope you will stick with me.

Last January, life was still normal, and I was still employed in a day job and working as a blogger.  At that time, Mr. B informed me that he had arranged for us to join his sister and her husband in Puerto Vallarta in January 2021 for a holiday.  If we went, it would cost very little to us.  He knew exactly what he was asking of me…the wife who did not like to travel…the very one who possessed fear- of -flight issues, and owned no passport.  He gave me all of the reasons why it was so important to him that we do this…together.

Facing fears head on

So, I agreed at that time to consider the trip.  Then a pandemic hit.  My first thought was…”there is no way he will want to continue going on this trip.  I won’t mention it…it will never happen.”  But he persisted to insist that I get the passport and we would watch what happens one day at a time.

With every passing day, I cried out to God to help my husband see how ridiculous it was to continue thinking we would go on this trip.

In the meantime, I did get the passport and I began to work on my immunity…big time.  Which was important to do whether we stayed or traveled.  I improved our intake of foods with zinc and Vitamin D and was faithful with my supplements.

Facing fears head on

I honestly believed most of last year that the trip would never happen.  I believed God would not ask his child with anxiety issues to walk into a situation she hated…much less, in the middle of a pandemic.  However, I have learned that God loves me more than that.  He loves me and wants me to trust Him with everything.  I knew at one point in prayer that I needed to do this for me, to bless my husband and to learn true trust in God. 

So, in January, it was abundantly clear, we were headed to Mexico.  However, the trip was not a reckless venture.  We wore double masks on planes, and in airports.  The resort where the time share is located has many, many strict safety procedures.  We stayed at the resort on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta and did not go into the city.  Under different circumstances, we would have enjoyed the city…but not at this time.  I think I used enough hand sanitizer to peel off my skin. 

Facing fears head on

I was reassured by the manager of the resort who insisted every possible precaution was followed…she said, “It does not help us if you do not return or leave with a bad experience.  This is our livelihood.”  Our hearts did go out to the people working there struggling to make an income and so happy to see someone show up.  They were precious people.

Facing fear head on

I felt safer on this trip than I did teaching 16 years of high school with kids who had full blown flu sitting in my classroom.  One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that hopefully parents will no longer be able to send their children to school sick.  The flu is also deadly.  There were very few people there and the beach at times was bare.  It actually was a perfect time to go.

The laws have changed since we were there.  Now, everyone must be tested before returning and if a traveler tests positive, they cannot return until well.  I am not going to do anything that gets me stuck in another country, so I will not return until that changes.  I still draw lines with what I will and won’t do.

facing fears head on

We have not as of yet received the vaccine, but when it is available to me I will get it.

Facing fear head on

Because I dug deep and chose to do this, I had powerful quiet times listening to the waves of the ocean; I renewed a relationship with my sister-in-law and her husband; I blessed my husband; and I saw new beauty and hope in the world at a time when I needed to see it. 

I even purchased a daily planner about Bravery with inspirational messages and verses to help me grow in this area.  

The blessings of facing my fears and choosing to go were…

  1. I learned how unfounded some of my travel fears have been.
  2. I learned that with proper preparation and research I can be prepared for different situations.
  3. I learned to cover each moment- by- moment steps and decisions in prayer and thus find peace in any situation.
  4. I learned to be vulnerable and ask others to share what they have learned in similar situations and to be on my prayer team during the time of the trip.
  5. I am breathing easier and have not felt panic in a very long time.

We self-quarantined for two weeks when we returned and have been fine.

Facing fear head on

I am not encouraging anyone to take risks you do not feel comfortable taking during this time.  I am encouraging you to take baby steps outside of your “fear-zone.”   Only you know what a baby step would be…sometimes that means we open up to a loved one about our fears.  It doesn’t mean you go out in a pandemic if you are not ready to do that.    I would not have taken this size of step if it had not been for my husband and his reassurances that we would make it work with the utmost care. 

This trip did not convince me to do anything different than I am already doing to prevent catching the disease.  I still wear masks, use hand sanitizer, social distance and go places when I know the crowds are the lowest.  I am at home more than I am anywhere else.  I would not recommend to anyone to do this unless you have taken the proper precautions we did… personal immunity building; protections; assurance of protections at the destination; awareness; and information gathering up to the moment of departure.  (A note about the picture taken on the beach.  The only time we went without masks is when there were no other people near us.  On that day, there were only four of us on the beach!)

I also have learned not to judge others for their choices that I might not make.  I will not call you reckless for doing or trying something I would not do.   A reader left this blog audience because she wrote that I am reckless going out and about…well, this post would have sealed the deal!

facing fear head on

I hope no one will leave but will understand that my journey through fear needed to take this route.  I am glad that I did.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and for joining me in all my journeys.

KEEP SMILING, EVERYONE!!

By Pamela Lutrell

66 Comments

  1. I love this! What a wonderful trip Pam, and look how it helped you conquer some fears. As one who has been going out right along (just couldn’t stay in the house for all this time), travelled safely, I am glad you are writing about this. Fear can take more of a toll on me than going out! I love the photos…the ocean is the place where I feel grounded and at peace. That parasailing picture…we took a family vacation to the Florida Keys, and my DIL called me before we left to ask if I’d consider parasailing. I am terrified of heights, so fear kicked in. I told her I needed to do it, so yes. It was a thrilling experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was silent up there, except for the wind. I went up with two of my grandsons, she and my other DIL went with grandson #3. I have felt since doing that, that I can get past fear with the help of God, and I rely on Him every day as things come up. Life is too short to stay in my little comfort zone. I’d rather get out and enjoy life than live in fear. Some things are harder than others (I’m an introvert), but life is just too short to give in to fear. Just my opinion, not imposing it on anyone who thinks differently!

    1. Well, now you have me considering the parasailing…it helps so much to hear from others who have done it! And yes…life is too short to live in fear!!

  2. I’m glad you went and came back safely without anything negative happen. Sometimes anxiety just helps us be more careful and that’s good. It’s when it paralyzes us that we are in trouble. Baby steps to learn how to trust. Congratulations!

    1. I agree with you that anxiety can help us to be more careful…I think this whole experience is teaching me how to “balance” my own anxieties. Thanks Janet!

  3. Pam, thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you went and had a great time. Maybe next time Mr B wants to travel, it will be easier for you.

  4. Bless you! Such courage in the face of fear. You’ve opened my eyes to a couple of issues —plane travel which my doctors have indicated is the worst idea. Yet you were successful with proper masking and did not become ill. I’m happy you had a good tine there and will travel again. Love the pictures! The second issue is leaving things in Gods hands. Great advice I’d say.

    1. Thanks Paulette. At the time we went, the airports were not crowded and it was easy to stay to ourselves. The airplanes and airports were my biggest fears and it was much easier than I anticipated.

  5. Pam, thank you for sharing your journey. There is much for us here to learn from. I like your encouragement to rely on prayer, seek God, and take baby steps. I relate to your fears, though mine look a little different. Interesting that you describe them evolving as you’ve gotten older. Mine too! Perhaps our fear gains a foothold and picks up steam as we age? Blessings to you as you face yours head on! I might do the same 🙂

  6. well, i enjoyed that one.
    as an airline retiree, people traveling has kept a roof over my head, and a dependable car in my hands since 1978. i giggled at the passport line, thats one of my prized posessions.
    when its all said and done, please consider Barbados and Aruba, a bit longer plane ride for you, but i promise…their beaches and hospitality can renew a tired spirit, give you hope and energy, and that pure air, paired with great food, and wonderful bartenders, its all unbeatable. its been over a year now, since ive been anywhere but a county away, and its trying on my mental health, but no way do i want to get sick in a foreign country, as much as i love my favorites, their healthcare is not like home…Cleveland Clinic is so close to me in Florida, that we are on the same power grid, and if we lose power, its right back up….i look forward to reading how others face their fears.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Sheryl. We did this trip because of the opportunity to be in the time share with his family. This same group has opportunity in Cancun and Cabo…perhaps that will be the next step sometime. But Barbados and Aruba sound lovely!

  7. Thank you for this post, Pam. I so appreciate your honesty and sharing your story with us.

    I developed a fear of flying years ago, and have not been on a plane in 20 years. However, I realize that I am missing out on life experiences and getting on a plane is on my “list.” I’m going to wait until I am vaccinated, but flying again is one of my goals.

    Your post today gives me lots of encouragement!

  8. So often when we face our fears, we realize they were just stumbling blocks that if we overcome, make us stronger. My risk-taking adventure your blog brought to my mind occurred while I was with two other teachers taking a group of students to Costa Rico on a Science/Spanish Club trip. We went to zip line at a beautiful location, and it took me a long time, perched on the end of that first platform to decide what to do. I could have climbed back down, but decided I would be brave enough to try. After that first zip, I was hooked! I loved it, and was so thankful that I had taken advantage of the situation. I was fortunate enough to go back to Costa Rico on a mission trip, and the students wanted to go zip-lining. When we got on the first platform, the guide asked who wanted to go first. No young person volunteered so I did! I lead the way, and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. I’d love to go again. Facing our fears can lead to wonderful adventures, and forever memories.

    1. I love this Celia! I know when I taught high school I was much braver because of the energy and bravery of my students!! I think when I left that world I allowed my fears to grow even more. This whole experience has helped me to balance it all!

  9. I too have been crippled during this pandemic. My anxiety stems from my age as well as a medical condition that could prove very dangerous if I contracted the virus. This has left me feeling so lonely, depressed and more anxiety ridden than if I had safely met at the Holidays with my wonderful grands home from college. Since we saw so little of each other, it was awful. I have and am vowing to remain safe, take all precauctions and LIVE without fear. I won’t be going overseas during this pandemic, but I refuse to be alone and lonely when my family is near! I will be getting my first vaccine next week. Hopefully this will add more confidence and lesson the anxiety I experience. Thank you for this wonderful blog, I greatly appreciate your honesty about overcoming our fears, it has given me the strength I needed.

    1. I understand exactly how you are feeling and I am glad to know this has helped some. I am also excited for you to get the vaccine and perhaps get out with others a little more.

  10. Facing fears is so important, yet so individual. I have had panic attacks for over 40 years and some times the cognitive training works and other times not so much. Good for you for getting on that plane and actually enjoying yourself. By the way, I love those sandals by the pool. One of our grown children refused to get a passport and said she had no need to travel, until after 40, when we took all the kids and spouses on a vacation a few years ago and was forced by all of us to join us. She too enjoyed herself and the experience.

    1. Thanks Diane…tell her she has a friend! The shoes are Born brand and I originally bought them at Marshall’s years ago! Thanks!

  11. Oh Pamela, I so wish you would get your poor feet fixed. They look so painful. I know foot surgery is hard but the results are life changing. Please consider doing this for yourself.

    1. I think about it a lot, Kay. In the last 2 years I have had two sinus surgeries and about to have a skin cancer removal. It keeps following to the bottom of the list!

  12. I honestly feel that anyone who would leave your blog community based on this really shouldn’t have been here in the first place. You are kind and compassionate and a true bright spot in the day for so many of us. If they can’t feel that, then this is not the place for them. Their negativity needs to find a new home. How will we ever learn anything if we dismiss the people we disagree with from our lives?
    I would not feel safe taking the trip you did but am so happy it was good for you! We all need to do what makes us happy and helps us feel hope….and what wonderful memories you now have!
    Though I have would have to think long and hard about parasailing, I do find I am trying new things as I get older. Conquering fears helps us grow!
    Have a wonderful day and keep giving us all joy by being you!

    1. Linda said it perfectly! Any one narrow minded enough to leave your blog is losing out. Your blog is a delight and a reprieve from reality and negativity. We are all entitled to our opinions but have no right to cancel culture or cancel opinions that differ from ours. We love Puerto Vallarta and area. Good for you for going AND for sharing. Love your photos. You will have wonderful memories forever. Bravo to you! The airline and hospitality industries need our support.

      1. You are so right, Lana. There are many people who do need the support and are suffering. It is a different type of suffering but just as bad. Thank you for the kind comment.

  13. Oh, HOORAY for you, Pam!!! I am so glad you told your story, and am happy to see everyone in support of your trip and the bravery it required for you to do this. We booked our first trip back to Mexico for this upcoming November, which will make it two full years away . . .so I can’t wait!!! As someone who loves travel, and enjoys a good ATV ride through the jungle or up the side of a mountain, and can’t get enough time out on the water wave running or sailing, I too have learned to strike a balance between Fear and Fun. Whatever form your next adventure takes, Enjoy! 👍

  14. Hi Pam – Thank you for sharing! I too, lost my job (of 17 years) this past July. I stumbled across your blog this past fall and have found it very inspiring and comforting to know that their are others from our generation going thru the same thing. I have deemed 2021 my year of “self-rediscovery” and finding joy again in those simple, every day aspects of life that I had “lost” over the years. Thank you to you and everyone else participating for allowing me to be a part of this amazing journey!

    1. Tracye…thank you for being here! It can be an amazing journey despite the times we live it. So glad you commented.

  15. Wonderful story Pamela! Thank you for inspiring us with your candor and vulnerability. Also – I recall a post at the beginning of covid when wearing a mask made you feel panicky. Now you’re double masking on a plane! Look what a body and spirit can do! You’re really a bright spot for me.

    1. You are right, Barbara. Time has healed that wound. But, I did purchase the N95 masks and placed them under the cloth (fashionista) masks. That improved my breathing immensely. As I said, I sought advice from others and the travel tips did help…one tip was wearing the double masks. At the time of our trip, dual masks were not really discussed so I would not have thought of it on my own. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. Thank you for this honest & valuable insight into your process, Pamela; it holds promise for many of us to shift our thinking..and thus our feelings…..in new & important ways, opening us to a more enriched life & relationships. Much appreciation..!!

  17. Thank you for talking about fear. It was very timely and gives me comfort I am not alone in this interesting time. You always inspire me and I look forward to reading your blog each day. God bless you Pam.

  18. I’m glad you worked through your fear. That is important, as is being a full partner with your husband. I would never travel now, as my son and daughter in law, who are physicians, highly recommend against it. They are not rigid; we found a way to safely have a holiday together, but they feel strongly about travel and most precautions. I don’t go out and about as much as you do; that said, I have not been at home as much as some friends who are extremely worried. I have not ended relationships, nor have they, over our individual choices … rather, we respect them. To leave a blog over a disagreement over personal choice (that hurts no one … you quarantined) simply shows how intolerant of other people’s differing views we have become, and that’s sad. Write what you want to write about. You are talented and interesting. Just as I don’t always love a particular outfit, I don’t have to love every topic or choice to continue to enjoy your blog.

  19. Good for you, Pam! I have lived by the motto “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and have had a long adventurous life. Love this topic, thank you.

  20. Walk towards the fire. Something my Dad used to say. I still hear it when I’m getting on my own nerves about something. Fears and anxiety grow together. He used to say that too, LoL

    Happy that you went on that trip! That’s so empowering!

    My little (humongous to me!) fear is spiders. Now that I’m living in the South-well, they’re huge! My younger friend (I consider her a daughter I never had) helped me learn about a “spinner spider” and how they are harmless. He was allowed to stay on the outside of my window for a month. See, there was a benefit to being stuck at home last year! I observed and marveled at him. I finally understood one of God’s creations that I had so maligned. Now, it hasn’t cured me entirely, but I no longer want to burn the house down when I see one!

    One step at a time….. another Dad-ism😊

  21. I got a passport 5 years ago so I could take a trip to the Holy Land. I ended up not making the trip but having my
    Passport made it easy to travel to VA last Oct. It’s easy to let Anxiety win but God is my constant and He
    Balances my life. Today is my 76th birthday. I’m sitting in a skilled nursing facility regaining my strength after spending more than 2
    Weeks in the hospital w pneumonia. I have no idea where’/when I came
    Down w Covid . I’ve been careful but
    Obviously it wasn’t enough—that’s
    Ok because my life —including my anxieties—are in Gods hands!

  22. Congratulations on this monumental step! I am not a good traveler under the best of conditions, so I can relate to the courage this must have taken. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  23. Just as some others have said, while I may not agree with all your posts, or even love every outfit, I won’t be leaving because you talk about your life – in fact that’s why I stay, I get something out of every post, even if it’s “oh, I would do that, wear that, etc, differently”. I learn and grow and get new tools from posts I choose to read to improve or enhance my life. I applaud your facing your fears and reading about how to tackle issues that you are facing, gives me hope that I can do it too, even if I’m not young and as “fearless” as I once was. I appreciate your blog, glad to be here.

    1. Thanks Kathleen. I really don’t show outfits because I want anyone to dress like me…I show them to encourage you to find your own style and own it and love it and get confidence from it. Showing my style just gives us a discussion point which I hope does inspire readers to take care of themselves and enjoy life. I really appreciate your comment.

  24. You have been so encouraging and I thank you for sharing. Can’t understand someone opening their heart to share and being called reckless.
    Thank you
    I so look forward to each blog.

    1. Thanks Barbara…it is almost humorous that someone would call me “reckless”…at least my family would laugh at that!! I have been a bit of coward for so long…

  25. Your overcoming your fears of travel is a worthwhile accomplishment. Travel expands one’s perspectives and knowledge of the world around us. I miss it greatly. I must admit however that I feel it was very disrespectful of all doctors, nurses, front line workers and your community to do so during this world wide epidemic. If you were to have someone in your family who followed all the given recommendations but still got the virus and died, you would have had a very different view of the risks that you took. I accept though that everyone has to make their own decisions on the level of risk they are willing to take and I will continue to visit your blog as it usually brings me joy.

  26. This is my favorite post of yours ever! Don’t judge is what I took away. I have travelled, we eat out daily, but in safe modes. I take this virus seriously but I think we can live carefully with it. Your husband was the recipient of your love and bravery. My sister was diagnosed today with lung cancer. I am joyful for all the trips we took and the relationship we have. It takes time and commitment and you put family ahead of your fears. love

  27. I travel extensively and exactly the year before was on the Diamond Princess–the ship and passengers on the international news–who were stranded in Asia with COVID. “There but for the grace of God go I…” My husband and I were still grateful we had taken that cruise even though it could have been us with COVID through no fault of our own. Why do some feel the need to judge and comment on other’s choices? Could it be to justify their own fears and actions? I discovered that when I expand my own limits, I enjoy the experience more. I choose to listen to others so I may understand and empathize. You are brave in many ways that I am not. You share your family, pictures, thoughts, ideas, beliefs and fears. I follow you because you are different and sometimes exactly like me. Thank you Pam!

  28. I’m laughing (as I suspect you knew I would be 🙂 ) because while I have no problem blasting around on a motorcycle at Warp Speed, I have my own set of fears. Cindy mentioned spiders. I’ve chased bears out of my yard with a broom & got growled at by a cougar a couple of years ago while hiking, but get me in a showdown with one of our big coastal wolf spiders & I shriek & run a mile! And even my love of motorcycles has changed over the years; I’d much rather be a passenger on my husband’s big Harley than operate my own. He’s a very tall, wide-shouldered dude who’s been riding bikes for 45 years & has the physical strength to control one even in a bad situation, & I am not. (I admit I drive my car pretty fast, but I’ve always loved driving & am good at it & have 4 wheels on the ground.) So, like you, I believe there are some fears born of good sense that we need to listen to, & others we can cheerfully defy!

    But you’re braver than I am to travel anywhere these days! I’m not too frightened of Covid here at home — we have low infection rates where I live but stringent safety protocols that are strongly enforced & we follow them to the letter — but a family friend who’s a retired airline pilot has convinced me to not set foot on an airplane until this thing is under control & I intend to listen to him. We’re perfectly content puttering around home entertaining ourselves & each other, so it’s not likely to be an issue. And I have to admit my biggest fear is that we’d get outside Canada & there would be a new outbreak & we wouldn’t be allowed back in! Glad you enjoyed yourself & thanks for the glorious photos! And thanks, too, for the little push to step out of our comfort zone when we have the chance.

  29. Good for you for overcoming your fears. Not an easy thing to do.

    We have travelled on a plane, stayed in a hotel, toured a U.S. city. I have no fear of Covid ( that being said, karma will get me and I will probably come down with a nasty case) for two reasons. 99% survival rate and my life is in God’s Hands. I try to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. I would rather live a short life fully than a long life of loneliness, sequestered from the people I love.

    No vaccine for me—too experimental. Even with the vaccine, they are still advocating masks and social distancing. So what protection does the vaccine give?

    Just my thoughts. Everyone must do what they are most comfortable doing.

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