Getting off the Fence: Challenge Yourself

Getting Off the Fence: Challenge Yourself


When the opportunity of a lifetime comes along, but the challenge is daunting, what do you do?

I have a special invitation awaiting my RSVP.

It didn’t come in the mail. It wasn’t an Evite or Paperless Post. It wasn’t written in on embossed paper in calligraphy, or sealed with wax. It wasn’t sent via group text or posted on Facebook.

And yet this invitation is personal, intentional, selective and it involves a serious commitment. It came directly from one kindred heart to another. No, I’m not getting married (at least not any time soon, as far as I know).

The invitation came from my friend Terra, in California. For years she has wanted to run the Tour du Mont Blanc – a more than 160km trail around some of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps – and this summer she is planning to make it happen. It’s six consecutive days of running in France, Italy, and Switzerland – up to 30km a day. We’d be carrying one pack, washing out our running clothes each night, and staying in huts and hostels along the route.

I sat on the fence with my invitation, mulling it over in my heart and in my head. Could I really, actually do something like this? I’ve never run consecutive days of such high mileage before. Do I have it in me? Can I leave my kids? Am I too old? Will I hold the group back? It seems selfish to book a European adventure for myself rather than a plan to travel with my children. Maybe I should just stay home and go to summer school, and try to get my Master’s degree sometime before I have my teeth in a glass by my bed. Maybe I should do something like this later in life, when things settle down.

Sitting on the fence is uncomfortable, by the way. It’s precarious, the wood is hard and gives you splinters. It’s painful to stay on the fence too long.

I asked a few of my trusted sources – my parents, my kids, Paige, and my boyfriend Matt – if they thought I was crazy. All of them thought I was indeed crazy…not to go, that is.  It turns out that my trusted sources think that I could totally do this if I trained, that I’m not getting any younger and the future is not guaranteed, that things will never settle down, and that few things would be more fun for me than running through a beloved part of the world, with languages I love, people I love, and food and wine that I love. All excellent points.

So last Monday, when Terra said she needed to start booking huts and it was officially time to get off the fence, I took a deep breath and hopped over on the side of yes.

I gave myself a Christmas present. I said yes to an epic experience. I said yes to embarking on the hardest training that I have attempted so far. I said yes to making 2017 the Year of Adventure. I said yes to commitment, and friendship, and courage. I said oui to dusting off my love of the French language. I said yes to making memories. I said yes to creating the kind of stories I want to share when I’m old.

2016 is almost over. It’s not too late to pick out a special present for yourself. It’s not too late to get off the fence if there are things you have wanted to do or say but have held back or played small. Do it. Say no to fear, hesitation, and indecision and say yes to your life.


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