My brother and his family are currently mixing pleasure with business in the USA. Every so often I will receive a photo or three with a brief rundown of their adventures, and I love it.
The last batch of happy snaps included one of my 6-year old nephew standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon (pictured above - with my head to a. protect his identity and b. add a bit of humour to this post).
My brother assured me that the photo was not a trick and my nephew was in fact standing on the edge. This immediately made my heart palpitate and a wave of anxiety came over me, followed by a sigh of relief - all in the matter of a nanosecond.
If you were to ask my husband Patrick, you would learn that such a reaction to being near an edge is not unusual for me. In fact in reality, I am afraid of most edges no matter how far off the ground they are. I become paralysed and require a great deal of self-coaching, combined with deep breathing, to overcome the situation. It's completely irrational, embarrassing and ridiculous.
So what is it about standing on the edge that overwhelms me? Does it go deeper and impact other areas of my life? My guess is that it does.
To me, an edge is a tipping point. Once you go over, there's no turning back. Standing on the edge means taking a risk, no matter how big or small. It's not the damage that scares me, it's the fact that you can't go back.
Right now I'm perched on the edge of making a real go of my life. I have big plans, set goals and am excited about what the future holds. Very excited. One of the actions I have to take in order to reach my goals is to make phone calls - a whole bunch of them. To me, that is like standing on a cliff face in the Grand Canyon - it completely terrifies me.
My fear is so great that I have organised my house, got my administration in order, created an entirely new social media network and identity (Trailing Grace) and tomorrow night I am starting a women's support group at my local gym - all in the name of avoiding an edge dubbed 'I have to make those phone calls'.
Oh my goodness am I insane? Is there anyone else out there like me?
Before I descended on myself and beat myself up for being pathetic, I took a hold of myself. I went to the photo of my 6-year old nephew (the original picture, the one without my head) and looked at his expression. There was a wary alertness in his eyes as he wore a cheeky, joyful and playful smile. Perhaps that's how I ought to approach my next edge.
Until tomorrow, do not judge yourself and your fears. Instead, learn to understand them and find an alternative way to overcome them - with a wary glance and a cheerful smile.