The Fear of Success

The fear of success is an authentic human experience. Yet, the emotion seemed to have no source when I was crying with my morning coffee.

The Fear of Success

What brought on this sudden tearful episode? Then I had one of those aha moments when the ray of sunlight shines through. I had recently experienced an example of success and conquered the fear.

Was it a Walk or a Hike?

The weekend before, I joined the Blue Ridge Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society for a hike. This event allowed me to get out and meet like-minded people, surround myself with nature, and exercise.

In my mind, it wasn’t clear whether I could complete this opportunity. There were a lot of unknowns. For example, how long is the hike? What is the difficulty?

Even so, I was excited to give it a try.

Was Nature Testing Me?

Waze showed it would take me about thirty-five minutes to drive to the Bluff Lodge parking lot in Doughton Park, where the hike began at 11 am.

As I’m ready to step into the shower, I see two young wild turkeys in a panic, caught inside my backyard fence. Mama turkey and two siblings are encouraging them from their freedom of the pasture.

The decision was clear; take my shower and deal with the turkeys afterward.

With focused determination, I completed my grooming, put on my clothes, and assessed the situation by the back door. My bird dog, Sugar, was on high alert. How could I open the fence gate and shoo the turkeys toward it while keeping Sugar at bay?

As soon as I opened the door, the young turkeys flew toward freedom over the fence. So all the worry before was wasted energy. And I was still on schedule to make it to the hike on time.

The Meadow Stroll

Our leader, Annkatrin, had structured the day with two opportunities. The first part was a stroll through a large meadow filled with blossoms, tall purple spikes of Liatris, yellow Coreopsis billowing below, and occasional milkweed in bloom.

Although I felt gratitude for this hour, I wanted more. So, talking with Annkatrin and looking at the map of the longer hike, I decided to try it. Three of us drove to the parking lot at the end of this extended portion, and a fourth followed to bring us back to the meadow. The drive back to the field was the perfect opportunity to tell the funny turkey story. We all enjoyed a good laugh.

The First Section

With my hiking boots strapped on, my walking poles in hand, and a day pack with water, I was enthusiastically ready to start.

hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen

Our route took us down a path toward the road, Annkatrin pointing out a few flowers in the shadows. As we trekked along the shoulder of The Blue Ridge Parkway, the variety of native plants exploded up the embankment. In this photo, there were three unusual finds; Hairy alumroot, Allegheny stonecrop, and reindeer lichen.

Traffic was light as we quickly crossed toward the Visitor Center. Luckily, the line for the portable toilets was short, and we soon observed another meadow. This time it was in a raised bed next to the parking lot by the park restaurant.

Annkatrin remarked, “I could spend hours here on the varieties of lichen alone.”

As we left the parking lot, another meadow of milkweed emerged. There wemale monarch on milkweed saw the only Monarch butterfly. We poised our phones and snapped photos and videos while he sipped nectar hungrily as he walked the flower clusters.

“We know it’s a male. He has white spots along the hind wings. Let’s hope he finds lots of eggs to fertilize. Since Monarchs are territorial, he’s staked out this entire area to defend.”

The Middle section

Halfway through the hike, two people turned around. So our original group of eighteen during the meadow stroll was reduced to eight. At that point, I felt good. There was a fantastic vista of the mountains with meadow flowers surrounding us.

The Final Miles

As we left the meadow with the incredible vista, I saw the trail meander up and down an area of tall grass before disappearing into the pine forest.

“The difficult section is coming up,” I thought.

It still was never as difficult as I feared it could be. The rain forecast had held off, mud was nonexistent, and we were in the shade. However, the hour was growing late. It was 3 pm, and we still had a quarter of the hike left. I had forgotten the opportunities to sit and rest might not show up. And I had been standing or walking for four hours, except for the short ride back and forth to the parking lot at the hike terminus. Three of the hikers in the front opted to press on, leaving Annkatrin, another couple, a young man, and myself at a slower pace. In the past, I would have berated myself for apparently holding up the hike. Annkatrin understood the consensus.Carolina lily

“We’ve seen a lot of flowers today. But, unfortunately, it’s put us a little behind schedule.”

Annkatrin’s words and this beautiful Carolina Lily gave me the strength to know I could still do this.

The Conclusion

Annkatrin and I emerged from the forest and joined the remaining three participants, who rested on the stone walls or foraged blackberries. First, I stretched my hamstrings and quadriceps after taking a long drink of water. Then, I stored everyone’s backpacks and my walking poles in the back of my Subaru while Annkatrin took the opportunity to continue her walk in nature.

After dropping Will, the youngest hiker, at the Visitor Center parking lot, I continued onto the Bluff Lodge parking. Bob, Catherine, and I talked about the hike and the native plant organization for a few minutes.

I felt it was time I voiced my disappointment in keeping up with the pace. It wasn’t a rant. Instead, it was a compassionate relation to the situation.

Then Catherine said, “Currently, we don’t offer less strenuous opportunities for our field trips. So perhaps it’s time we did.”

Her statement filled my heart with gratitude. Any kernel of guilt I felt dissolved. My difficulty opened new opportunities for myself and others. In the end, the fear of success and the sore muscles were minor considerations.

Is the Grass Greener Over There?

Is the grass greener over there on the other side of the fence or anywhere but here? There were many times in my life I believed this common euphemism.

Is the Grass Greener Over There?

Often, the grass is indeed greener in the neighbor’s yard. But is it because they spend more time, money, or energy grooming their lawn? Or perhaps it looks better because of our perspective.

jumpinoff rocks trail
Mountain Azalea

Last week, I shared my walk along a trail in the mountains with my newsletter readers. The photo in the email was a wild mountain azalea with buds. I hoped to return to see it in full flower, but the weather and a busy life got in my way. Then something unique happened.

My dog, Sugar, insisted that we go along the road in front of the house for a walk. So rather than take a solitary walk on the distant Jumpinoff Rock Trail, I indulged her.

mountain azalea
Mountain Azalea

Soon, we passed a shady steep area on the north side of the road. It is covered with an invasive multiflora rose. As we walked past, I noticed a flash of pink. Then, looking closer, I saw a wild mountain azalea in full bloom.

More Treasures Await

Although I always look for flowers on my walks, it amazed me how many new plants greeted me. Some were utterly new to me. Others included the hope of future fruits. And all these treasures allowed me to research their names, which is one of my joys in exploring nature.

Final Thoughts

flame azalea
Flame Azalea

For me, the grass is greener right where I am. So walking out my front door, exercising myself and my dog, I found a long list of new flowers. And it helped me see more treasures as I explored the country roads nearby, like this flame azalea blooming on the roadside.

The next time you think beauty is something you have to find elsewhere, slow down, observe, and discover wonders within your grasp.

Seven Weeks Later it Happened

For me, seven weeks later, it happened. You think you are progressing well in your grief journey after losing a spouse. Even with the daily bouts of crying, life is returning to ‘normal.’ Then, something brings the sadness back with a vengeance.

Seven Weeks Later, It Happened

For me, it was a phone call from a bereavement counselor with the hospice provider, Compassionate Care. However, the ring had nothing to do with my husband’s hospice. Instead, it was a friend, Jeanne, whom I knew because of my husband. Wayne dated Jeanne, and they remained friends.

Jeanne had asked me long before to act as her health surrogate. In my usual role as caregiver, I readily agreed. As often happens, Jeanne’s cancer didn’t work as expected. She endured for years. As I left Wayne’s memorial service, I received the phone call that Jeanne had been admitted to hospice. She passed eighteen days later.

A Simple Question from a Stranger

Anne, the bereavement counselor, called me last Monday morning, one week after Jeanne passed. She introduced herself and why she was calling.

Then Anne asked, “How are you doing?”

I started to answer when the sobs interrupted me.

Sometimes We Need to Talk

As I talked, Anne listened. She said very little, mainly offering support, honesty, and understanding during the thirty-minute phone call. The truth is that most people don’t want to hear about your grief. They want you to get over your grief and return to the person they love.

Furthermore, your friends want you to be happy. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger who isn’t vested in you. Still, it’s up to us to find how best to move through our grief.

How to Start Moving Out of the Heaviest Feelings

One way is indulging yourself in what has made you feel better in the past. Be aware that sometimes you might have been avoiding the grief. As someone expert in avoidance, I don’t recommend it. However, there are some universal ways to feel better while honoring grief.

  • Get outside.
  • Find ways to feed your personality.
  • Have compassion for yourself.
Claytonia virginica

I’m an extrovert who is creative, observant, curious, and loves research. So my way of moving out of my heaviest feelings was to take a leisurely walk in nature.

Star chickweed

 

Even though the trees were bare, a few flowers peaked out amongst the leaf litter. If you click on the photos, you can see larger photos.

 

Cutleaf toothwort

My self-compassion came when I realized I had overextended my physical limitations. So I stopped often, sat on tree stumps and boulders, and laughed at my attempts to take a selfie.

Final Thoughts

When you feel the grief has returned at a higher pitch, try to flow with it. Give yourself a break. If you are the friend of someone who has lost a loved one, be patient and supportive. We appreciate you more than you know.