By Jessica Williams, www.LoveParentingLA.com
When I was eleven years old, I was slated to fly by myself from Los Angeles, California, across the country to Baltimore, MD, for a three-week holiday with my aunt and her family. My aunt was a curator of art and would take me to museums in Washington DC and even all the way to New York City for a cultural tour. I was adventurous by nature and thrilled about the trip.
As my departure date neared, and my parents explained the details of my itinerary one more time, I heard something that concerned me: mine wasn’t a direct flight from LA to Baltimore; I had to change plans in Pittsburgh. For some reason, this really scared me. I could wrap my young mind around my parents seeing me off in LA, a nice stewardess, and then landing in my aunt’s waiting arms…but not changing planes alone in Pittsburgh: getting off of one plane, tracking my carry-ons, finding a new departure gate, the rush to board the next plane, new stewardesses, and a new seat; this felt like to too much.
Suddenly, any thoughts about my trip were only about “changing plans in Pittsburgh,” and that began to usurp my focus surrounding the entire trip. The thrill of New York City, the pool at my aunt’s house, a houseful of fun cousins, and the journey of a lifetime, faded into the background of my mind and I was consumed with trepidation about “changing plans in Pittsburgh.”
At this point, my father, a gentle-hearted, optimistic, anxiety-free man began to take notice that his first-born, fearless daughter was faltering. He took me aside and with all the love in the world told me, “You know, Jess, sometimes when there is a big thing happening with a lot of change and a lot of opportunities to feel afraid and many things to worry about, we focus on one aspect of the unknown as a way to contain the fear. Rather than fretting about everything, we worry about one thing as a way to put the fear into one place and therefore gain control of the fear that threatens the whole thing.”
This may seem like a sophisticated concept for an eleven year old, but it is a conversation that I have never forgotten. A way to manage the fear, of course! My mind was putting the anxiety into one place as a survival mechanism so as not to be overrun by fear in every arena.
So, I boarded the plane. And, truth be told, the changing planes in Pittsburgh was stressful; the stewardess did not accompany me all the way to the new gate and I remember running because the first flight was delayed and the cross-over was tight, but I made it. I made it to Baltimore, to a lake house in Pennsylvania, to historic monuments in Washington DC and the Statue of Liberty in New York City. It was a trip that informed my personality, my confidence, and my connection and commitment to family.
Here’s to managing fear with empathetic awareness, and soaring to the other side.
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About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.