#leapfear Day 5 – Dawn

2016-02-05_0009.jpgSo I have a confession.  I was TERRIFIED to actually start this project.  The response to my call for women to apply to be part of #leapfear was huge, humbling and and had me paralyzed.  I was afraid to mess this up.  I wanted to honour each woman’s story with truly beautiful images that would help them see themselves the way we do.  I was doing this as a tribute to my Mom, so I also did not want to let her down, or my family.  Was I up to the challenge?

SO I finally fought through the fear (did I mention I was scared shitless??) and started contacting these women to arrange their photo shoots. I had to make a decision who I would shoot first.  Dawn’s story spoke to me at so many levels.  Her entry was articulate, passionate and her story was so fascinating.  She really handled her fears in such an astonishingly simple and impulsive way.  It changed her life.

It also helped that we figured out that I had already “met” her years ago.  She was in the same extraordinary production of Suessical with my daughter (my daughter’s first local theatre appearance).  So I felt an instant connection to Dawn. She was a theatre person.  Through my daughter, I felt very comfortable with theatre people.  Her session was booked.

And then she TOTALLY rocked it!  I was sending my photographer friends some of the images from the session.  Then I showed a few local people.  And I kept hearing the same thing, “Oh! Dawn!!  I know HER!  She is AMAZING!”  Seriously!  Does she know EVERYONE in London!?!?  SO highly regarded and admired.  I think they are all correct.  And I only spent a couple of hours with her:)

Special thanks go to my amazing makeup artist Lindsey from BeYOUtiful Esthetics.  

 

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What changed that made you realize you were living a life of fear?
I have been cognizant of the fact that I live in a constant state of stress/anxiety/fear for several years now. However, that feeling of living in fear peaked mid-2015 when I moved to a city after having started a new job. Major life transitions can cause severe levels of anxiety, and being out of my comfort zone and away from my support system made me realize just how vulnerable I was and how much fear I was living in on a day to day basis. It wasn’t until my pillow of comfort was taken away that I truly became aware of my state of mind. And I’ve been learning how to overcome those high levels of anxiety since.

 

 

Once you realized that you were living a life in fear, what stopped you from moving forward? What held you back for so long?
Like I said, I’ve been aware of my fear and anxiety problems for a few years, but I had a strong support system, a routine, and a sense of constant familiarity. Thus, I was used to always being in that state of stress, and didn’t recognize that I need to do anything about it. When I moved, I took all of that away and had to face my anxiety on my own. And that wasn’t manageable, even in the short term. Even if I felt I needed to work on positive changes in my mental health, I had been so complacent for so long that I was used to it. I didn’t move forward until I absolutely had to.
2016-02-05_0006.jpgOnce you did take the leap, what did you have to let go of?

2016-02-05_0005.jpg I had been working with a counsellor for a few months but felt that I just needed to do something to break free. So I chose to pick the country at the top of my travel bucket list and go there by myself. My fear, where my anxieties are rooted, is in the unknown and the unfamiliar – I always assume the worst case scenario is going to happen, I anticipate every little thing that can go wrong and assume that it WILL go wrong, or that a situation I’m in will get exponentially worse. So for me, travelling is just a multitude of problems waiting to happen. When you travel with another person, you have someone else to rely on and to help you get through problems (and to remind me that things will be okay). When I took the leap to travel alone, I had to let go of that need to control every single element of the trip. I had to accept that things might go awry and I would have to deal with it, come hell or high water. And I had to let go of that idea that anyone could help me out of a situation but myself. Those are hard things to let go of.

 

Once you let go, what did you find on the other side that was worth taking the leap?

It may sound cliché, but a newfound sense of strength, and a glimpse of peace. I still struggle with anxiety, fear, and control, but I have a much easier time recognizing those feelings and reminding myself that I will be okay, and things will be okay. When I let go of those fears and travelled to Italy by myself, I got to spend some time getting to know myself again, and that was probably the best gift I could ever give myself. The opportunity to learn and explore and try my strength and let the world surprise me was such a blessing. I remembered that I was a smart woman who was savvy enough to navigate through challenges and even if I was in a stressful or scary situation, I could protect myself. And most importantly I experienced moments of the most sublime beauty and was filled with a sense of peace. And that was my ultimate reward for taking such a risk. When you’re sitting in a lemon grove in Positano looking at the Mediterranean Ocean, you realize that small mishaps don’t matter, and sometimes enduring stress reaps amazing rewards.

 

What would you tell someone whose fears are still holding them back?2016-02-05_0008.jpg

You really do have to take a breath and jump. There’s always a safety net, but sometimes you lose sight of it. And more importantly, you are strong, and no matter what happens, you can pick yourself back up if that leap turns into a fall. But sometimes that leap lets you fly, but you’ll never know that until you take that jump.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?

I so deeply appreciate the opportunity to share my story through Anita’s Leap Fear project. I hope that other’s can identify with it, and that maybe I can help be a stepping stone on someone else’s journey in overcoming their own fears in life. Sharing this has been a wonderful outlet for me and has actually helped make my experiences in overcoming my fears and anxiety much more tangible. Thank you so much Anita!