Going Anyway

June 3, 2012

In my 20’s I travelled the world. I never baulked at jumping on a plane or planting my feet on unfamiliar soil. I had navigated hundreds of airports since I was a kid. I was a global citizen. It was second nature to me. I was fearless.

Something changed when I got cancer 8 years ago. Cancer isn’t just an event that happens for a few months while your veins get pumped with chemo. If you’re lucky enough to survive, it gives you  an ongoing  insult to your psyche. A little souvenir to take home with you. A little something that insidiously eats away at your resilience and confidence. A daily reminder that paralyses you with fear and anxiety.

I’ve spent the last few years wanting to cocoon myself at home. Frightened to travel. Anxious about the risks. Comforted by predictability.

But I long to be fearless again. I truly ache for it. How do I get there again?

Last year I got on a plane for a 1 hour and 20 minute flight with my two small kids to see my family in Sydney. The unpredictability of my sparky kids nearly sent me over the edge. Months later we did the trip with my husband aboard to help – and even then our kids almost annihilated both of us. I’ve built up a bit more strength since then, but God help me I’m planning on doing it again on my own next month. I’m missing my family so much that I’m biting the bullet. I’m going anyway.

After booking those plane tickets the other day I was suddenly reminded of a woman who has no fear of travelling with kids. She reminds me of my 20’s self.  Her name is Jill and she’s one of the gutsiest women I know. Right now she is backpacking across Asia with her 5 young children. Her youngest is a baby and her oldest requires a wheelchair. If you need a heavy dose of inspiration, click on to her blog: Going Anyway. Make sure you click on all those tabs at the top – the FAQs, the Who are We. This family have endured hardships and achieved greatness in ways I can only imagine. If you think you can’t travel with a baby, check out this gorgeous post: Traveling is like being a baby. What I like best about Jill is that she thinks outside of our Western constraints. She thinks about things that actually matter, not seemingly matter. She is in the business of making unbelievable memories for her children. She embraces her dreams. And she jolts me out of my fear every time I read her words.

A couple of days ago I was chosen as an honoree for BlogHer2012 Voices of the Year for a little post I wrote a few months ago called Blossom Bomb. I’m still gobsmacked. BlogHer is the world’s biggest social media conference for women. 110 honorees were chosen out of 1700 submissions. It was one of those things that I nearly didn’t enter. I submitted at the last minute after reading this motivating post by Eden Riley. She gave the blogging community the collective balls to enter. And I’m so glad I did.

Being on the list of honorees is a huge confidence boost. Though I feel a little unprepared. My writing career is just on the brink. I’m only just finding my voice. I believe in my own potential, but I’m still ripening. My best work is yet to come.

With the thrill of being an honoree, I’ve also let myself dream the crazy dream of going to New York this August, to attend the Community Keynote reception at BlogHer 2012 where my ‘voice’ (among 110 others) will be honoured.

I’ve known since I started blogging that I will attend at least one BlogHer conference in my lifetime, but I’ve let my anxiety talk me out of attending this year. I convinced myself that I have responsibilities (and I do!), but am I using them as an excuse? I have a responsibility to my son, who I know in my heart is too small to leave at home. I have a responsibility to my family, who’s finances I’d be pillaging to get there. And who do I think I am getting on a plane to New York if I can’t even survive a plane ride to Sydney (that is, if I take my son with me)? Is it bad timing? Can you put some dreams on hold?

Or can I overcome the logistical hurdles with a dash of creative thinking and a tonne of fearlessness? I wonder what Jill would say?

Will I be brave enough to say I’m going anyway?