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November 27, 2012

On fear

Fear. It’s a powerful thing.

cycling pakistan shandur passIn some ways, fear is a good thing – it keeps us safe and prevents us from doing things that might harm us. It’s fear that keeps us from venturing into dangerous places and from doing things that we’re not prepared for. A healthy dose of fear is a wonderful thing to have.

On the other hand, fear can prevent us from doing things that would be great for us – if we could only figure out a way to face and overcome those fears.

I’ve been thinking about how fear affected my life and about what kinds of things I’m afraid of. I’ve heard so many people say, “You’re so brave to ride a bike from Alaska to Argentina” and yet I don’t think I am. I think I simply acknowledged my fears and went anyway.

Way back many years ago when my husband first brought up the idea of quitting our jobs and taking off on bicycles with our children, I thought he was nuts. Stark, raving crazy for thinking we could ride bikes thousands of miles with children. I mean – that’s not exactly what parents do!

But as time marched on and he kept talking about it, I realized that what was holding me back was fear. In particular, fear of failure.

At the time, I had convinced myself that there was no way I could ride a heavily loaded bike all day and keep all four of us fed and healthy and set up the tent every evening and take it down every morning. There was no way I could do all that and still be Mom to my precious sons.

You’ve been there, right? You know you can’t do something so you don’t even try? That’s exactly where I was.

Then one day, I had my EUREKA moment. I realized that if I didn’t try, I would fail for sure. If I loaded up my bike and took that first pedal stroke I figured I had a 50/50 chance of success, but not trying at all meant a 100% chance of failure. That just didn’t make sense.

In my mind, I had convinced myself it was better to fail by not even trying than to face the humiliation and agony of defeat. But by doing that, I didn’t give myself the chance to experience the exhilaration of success.

A few days later we headed down to the store to buy bikes and the rest, as they say, is history. We spent a whole year cycling around the USA and Mexico, then another three years cycling from Alaska to Argentina. Those four years I’ve spent on my bicycle with my family have been some of the best years of my life.

And they never would have happened if I hadn’t faced my fear and climbed on that bike.

What fears do you have? What is it that’s holding you back from living the life of your dreams?

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is the “Mom” to Family On Bikes. They are just your everyday, American family who happens to be following their dreams and chasing rainbows. They are adventure-seekers and modern-day explorers who are limited only by their imaginations—and they have very vivid imaginations! They learned early to grab life by the horns and live it to the fullest—to, literally and figuratively, enjoy the ride. The Vogel Family’s most recent adventure was cycling 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina.

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