“Fear is an idea-crippling, experience crushing, success-stalling inhibitor inflicted only by yourself.”
-Stephanie Melisa, Sales Barista
The next time I am paralyzed by fear, I will remind myself of the day I zip lined seven lines thousands of feet above the jungle in Belize.
Other than doing an occasional cartwheel, my fear of heights keeps my feet on the ground.
July 4th weekend, I drove 12 hours from Hotlanta to the shores of South Jersey. Two days later, I sat in Row 16, Seat B flying to Placencia, Belize.
The trek to Jersey was planned but Belize was a bonus filled with surprises and lessons. Belize is south of Miami, Florida and is only an hour and forty-five-minute flight from there. The small country is located in Central America, south of Mexico, east of Guatemala, and north of Honduras.
We (My bestie and God-daughter) arrived in Belize City but our accommodations were in Placencia, so we needed to take a short flight to get to our final destination. Quick flights and short destinations mean a small aircraft.
After seeing the 14 passenger Cessna, two of us were apprehensive about going airborne on such a small aircraft. Tropic Air has an excellent safety record but I was still afraid. On a single-engine turboprop, you see and hear everything. The security of being surrounded by 40+ rows of seats on a 737 disappears. On this plane, I felt naked and afraid.
The last and only time I flew on a similar airplane was in the late ’90s and I swore I would never (never say never) do that again. My nerves, calmed by a strong cocktail from an airport bar, helped me and my girls board the plane.
My friend and I sat behind the pilot; my brave god-daughter sat in the cockpit beside the pilot. Takeoff was slightly un-nerving, however, the view was breathing taking.
The scariest part for me is flying so low that you see everything on the ground and that set my imagination in motion. Oh, Lawd! What if the plane crashes? Whelp, my thought was, if something happened, at least I died doing something fun and joyful. When you are above the clouds you know you are thousands of miles above the sky but the fluffy white clouds take the sting out of it because you cannot see the ground.
This was the takeoff on our return trip. Scary but beautiful.
The drive from Belize City to Placencia is two hours so by flying, we saved time and experienced the most astonishing view over the Pacific Ocean. I am thankful that fear did not stop me from living out such amazing moments.
A doctor could not have prescribed a better getaway. Naia Resort And Spa is phenomenal. If you are looking for leisure time away from the hustle and bustle of over-crowded resorts, this is a wonderful option. I almost feel like I am giving away a secret. Hahaha! The staff is attentive, super friendly and passionately cares about your stay.
Sometimes during the best times in life, you will synchronously face unexpected and trying ordeals but when this happens you have to decide which mindset you choose to live in. Wallow in the negative energy and bitch about everything or celebrate and appreciate the goodness in your life. We always have a choice.
For most of the trip, I relaxed by the pool or the beach and did a lot of reflecting on my life. I took in the sights and sounds of the ocean and allowed my mind to select its destinations.
Power lives in stillness. Not too long ago, someone in my tribe told me that I needed to sit still. You see I am in constant motion. Taking care of home and family. Full of ideas and to-dos. Building a business. Familiarizing myself with my new community. Always interacting with someone or something. Belize was just what the spiritual universe ordered.
So yeah, I partook in an activity that I never wanted or planned to do. I zip-lined for the first and last time in Belize. My girls eagerly planned the tour. My body language told them I was cool with “the plan,” but my private thoughts spoke differently. “Hell no! I ain’t doin’ that sh**!”
The day came. We dressed for the jungle and jumped on the private shuttle and headed out. In my mind, I am still thinking, at the last minute, I will just back out.
Whelp.. that didn’t happen.
False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.
The above is so true. I had to be pushed off the landing by the guide (all 7 times) because I could not bring myself to leap. Why? Because I falsely believed that I would either have a heart attack (no known heart issues) or fall to my death.
Even after getting stuck on a line and did not experience heart failure or die, I was still convinced that on the next line, my fate was inevitable.
The reason I got stuck was that my left hand gripped the line too tight. The looser the grip the faster you go. The tighter your grip, the slower you move along the rope and you risk stopping. Hence. My problem. Ugh!
Giving up was not an option.
I later learned the guide asked my God-daughter if he should come and rescue me. Her reply was, “No, she is strong!” She saw A different type of courage and strength in me that I did not see in myself. This common for many people.
Aside from being stuck on a zip line, I was in an unusual and peculiar place. The tables turned. Instead of me coaching someone through fire and off of a ledge, I was being coached to the landing.
N’Talia’s loud and commanding voice instructions… Auntie! Put your left hand upon the rope, now put your right hand over your left… Like a drill Sargent in basic training, she literally screamed the instructions (more like ordered) to me. You know–the kind of voice that suggests you don’t have options.
Her voice compelled me to do what she said. Thankfully, while manually pulling myself toward the landing, my back faced them, so I could not judge how far out I was.
Eventually, after manual pulling myself along the lines, my feet touched the ground (the small deck like landing). While my feet were on the ground, my legs shook uncontrollably like they were cold and I had been buried in the snow for hours.
I fought back the tears. I made it safely but felt like I experienced the greatest scare of my life and almost died.
Frederick Douglas once said, if there is no struggle, there is no progress. When I realized that six more lines remained, the internal struggle began. I thought I would zip one (1) line and be done. You know… one and done. Nope.
I quickly learned not to grip the lines and made it through the remaining lines without incident. Toward the end, my eyes slightly open, I tried to enjoy the beauty above the jungle. I tried. It was difficult. But I tried.
I am glad I did it. I am stronger because of it. Today I face new fears in other ways. But I will forever keep the courage I gained in Belize in my heart.
I have way too many pics to share with you from my trip to Belize but wanted to share a few images from the spectacular trip.
Facing my fear of heights thousands of miles away from home was worth the trip. And although the fear still exists, I am confident that I have the gumption that can push through other fears. Being stuck is a mindset that we accept. If ever I feel stalled, I will remember that acceptance of my perceived inability to move forward is a choice and you should remember the same.
Finally, frequency in confronting your fears will help you to gain self-confidence to try more new things. The two are synonymous with success. And when I write the word success, I do not mean everybody else’s version of success for you. I mean your beliefs and your convictions of what it takes for you to live a happy and fulfilled life. Averting your fear will stall your progress and keep you in a space where you will constantly wonder, what if? What if I had taken the job? What if I had taken the photography class? What if I had traveled to (you fill in the sentence)? Why would you want to do that? Create new memories where you learn, grown, and change for the better.