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Facing Fear Head On & Blasting Through

getting dumped out of a raft into rapids

This happy 4th of July, when we left for a visit to see our son and some dear friends in Colorado, I was looking forward to a little vacation, helping him get settled in his new apartment, maybe taking a fun hike, and focusing on friends and family. And that’s what we did.

We spent the 4th helping him get his new furniture in place and running some errands before exploring for a bit and having dinner with friends before he decided that a raft trip sounded like fun. We’ve done a few other rafting trips – the super mellow float down the Truckee River out of Tahoe and a more adventurous afternoon on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon several years ago.

He told us this one might be a little more intense, but it sounded fun. So, we headed south out of Colorado Springs toward the Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River.

The water is running high this year because of all of the snow, but they assured us it was perfectly safe. The trip started slow. Our guide taught us her commands and how to paddle properly. We went through a bunch of class 3 and 4 rapids – laughing and getting drenched. It was like a huge wet roller coaster ride.

As we got closer to the “3 Rocks Rapid,” a class 5 stretch of river, our guide told us how she wanted to approach it, and we all felt confident. In three years of guiding, she’d never had a raft tip over in these rapids.

As we got closer to the class 5 rapid, she was impossible to hear her commands. The water was so loud, and we went into the rapid sideways. This is NOT how you want to hit a huge roiling mass of water that’s moving at 3900 cubic feet per minute.

About halfway through the rapid, our guide started yelling, “Mayday, Mayday.”

What? Mayday?!? What does that even mean in a situation like that? It’s not like the coast guard could come save us, and there was no way in hell I was going into that river unless the raft made me.

Unfortunately, it did.

I was in the water for all of 40 seconds, but it was the possibly the coldest 40 seconds of my life.

The GoPro on our boat caught us tipping and going over. I went in on my 23-year-old son’s lap.
In the water!
“Swimming” a class 5 rapid!

Falling into the river was totally terrifying in the moment that I went from the raft to the water. But, once I was in the water and my life vest was holding me up, I didn’t think about the what if’s. My body used that fear to propel me toward the willows on shore.

I pretty much turned into the 49-year-old female version of Michael Phelps and swam like I’ve never swam before.

I do remember finding it hard to stroke with my life vest, so I flipped over onto my back and did a backstroke and kicked like crazy until I could grab some willows and pull myself to the bank. My son and I were the first two out of the water.

In the moment, I didn’t focus on my fear. At all. I focused on doing what needed to be done, like I’ve always done in difficult situations.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since it happened.

Vacating Our Comfort Zones

First, the word nerd in me found the word “vacation” kind of funny and interesting. It’s based on the latin root vacat – “to be empty, be void.” And the suffix -tion means “the action of or result of (the verb)” which in this case is emptying.

A vacation is the action of emptying oneself, releasing. We go on vacations so that we can relieve ourselves of stress, of our day-to-day lives and tasks, experience new things, and ultimately, refill with new creative ideas.

This sounds lovely…and it is. But what about when we, unintentionally, take a vacation from our comfort zones like this trip, when I totally vacated the raft for the rapids? ?

I like my comfort zone. It’s cozy.

But, every time I’m forced out and straight into my fear of something terrible happening, like when my husband was in the ICU for months a few years ago or I leap out on my own, I’m a stronger woman for it, more in alignment with who I am and much clearer on what I want in my life and how I want to experience in the world.

This unexpected swim has been an interesting lesson in fear and facing my fears. It’s also been a lesson on the power of vacating my comfort zones, emptying ourselves of all of those fears and just going for it.

Deep Soul Writing/Journaling Prompts for Fear

It’s definitely easier when we have no choice in the matter, like loved ones getting sick or having a raft eject you, though that paradigm is definitely shifting for me.

  • What if, when it came to my writing, my business, or life in general, I didn’t give those fears any power?
  • What if, I did things that my intuition nudges me toward anyway, before my brain starts pointing out all that might go wrong?
  • What if I just got curious instead of afraid?
  • What would happen? What COULD happen?
  • What could you do? What could WE do?

Powerful questions that I’ll definitely be exploring on the page in my deep soul writing this week.

Here are a few more for you to ponder in your journal:

  • What am I afraid of?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • What scares me but might also be super fun to do? (Rafting is in this category for me – it’s terrifying AND a super fun adrenaline rush!)
  • What am I protecting myself from by staying in my comfort zone?
  • What could happen if I got curious and tried something new?

Enjoy some time with your journal! I’d love to hear your musings (and possible adventures) in the comments below.

xo,

Amy

P.S. To get an idea of what I was “swimming” in check out this video. Had I seen it prior to our trip…probably wouldn’t have signed up!

3 Comments

  1. Amber orayeh on July 8, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Oh gosh! How scary! Glad you found your inner Michael Phelps. Haha

    • Amy Isaman on July 8, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      I’ll start praying for you now…you’ve got TWO boys to drag your butt on adventures in 20 years! And yes, I’m so glad I channeled Mr. Phelps as well.

  2. Sharon Rosse on July 10, 2019 at 4:41 am

    So thankful that you were wearing a life vest and that you found the bank and the willows! Great questions coming out of the experience. Thank you.

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