Forgetting that Fear

*WARNING: This is from my heart.

I've distanced myself for the past few days, as my mind has been clouded with all sorts of worriment that should have only been contemplated instead of dwelt upon. I can't help it though, sometimes, I'm that guy. As some of you may know Friday was the photographers reception in which the winners were to be announced for the competition. I am saddened to report, that neither of my photos were selected for any awards, no category winner, no special mentions, or people's choice award......Nothing! I'll admit that the defeat was disappointing for me, until the end, my hopes were high. In retrospect, I feel lucky to have even been a part of the competition at all - and I am deeply honored. The whole process brought upon so much anxiety for me, choosing the photos to enter, waiting to hear whether or not they were selected, framing the ones that were actually chosen, going to the shows grand opening, everything.........but I took a chance, and I did it! For most of my life, I've been quite afraid of putting myself out there for fear of rejection.


There was a point in my life when I was finally able to let that go. Last night, I realized when that was, and how exactly that was achieved.It took a gigantic leap of faith for me to move nearly 500 miles away from my family and friends to a place I had only been once, Boone. I honestly feel that I was drawn here by some divine force that I have never really been able to explain. This is my home, and I belong here. My life has changed so much since the summer of 05 and with every step, I never really knew what was going to happen, but I stuck it out, and I stayed. Almost two and a half years later, I am doing things, and living in a way that I didn't really imagine for myself back then.

After the reception, we picked up the free tickets I was awarded to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival movies that go on every year here in Boone. They are always everything you expect them to be out of the festival contestants. The caliber of movies they show are always on a level that really touch me in several different ways. One in particular that we saw last night, really hit home, it was called "20 seconds of joy". The 60 minute film was about a girl named Karina Hollekim who was a BASE jumper, an extreme and upbeat girl who was living her life to the fullest. From the start of the film, I knew that it was going to strike a cord with me, and in the end, I knew that I would be crying. I was short of a sniffling baby when her life was flipped upside down. I identified with Karina's story, because I too had been deeply involved with something that I loved so much, to only have it taken away before I was ready for it to end.

What happened with Karina, is that she suffered a terrible landing on a particular jump, and shattered her right leg in several different places, and has been through many surgeries in attempts to restore her leg. Our particular injuries can only be compared to a certain extent, and neither one can be measured the same way. After overcoming tremendous odds, Karina asked the question that I knew would break me, "Will I ever be able to jump again?", I started shaking and tears flooded my eyes..........I too remember asking my doctor prior to my neck surgery whether or not he thought I would climb again.......I felt her pain.

It's been since Sept of 06 that I climbed, and I think about it on occasion, I miss it so much sometimes. If I see photos, my hands will start sweating, and my heart will start racing, I can recall exactly what it felt like to be on that rock. Earlier I mentioned that there was a point in my life when I learned to let go of the fears that I was when I became a climber. Aside from being in the best physical condition of my life........I felt stronger all around, my mind as well as my body were well conditioned. I pushed myself to do things that I never imagined I would be capable of physically, but when I was finally able to achieve my goals, those accomplishments influenced my daily life, and gave me the courage to go that extra mile - I could do anything if I put my mind to it.

Climbing was my life, I did it four days a week, watched videos, was all I cared about quite frankly. But like Karina, in a matter of days my life was changed. Unlike Karina, I wasn't injured while climbing or in her case BASE jumping, but it happened four days before I was going to enter a rock climbing competition, something I had been working toward FOR MONTHS! I was crushed. I have come a long way since then, and I accept the course my life has taken.....Will I ever climb again? Well, I sure hope so.....Do I have any regrets about anything that happened? No. Would I do things differently given the chance? Probably not. However, I do need to continue my fight to overcome those fears that I have on a daily basis and against all odds stay motivated and driven by the desires I have for the chapters in my life story. Right now, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

Be Strong. Stay Determined. Find Inspiration. Never stop pushing myself.


  1. I wouldn't let it get you down about the photo competition. Your photography is amazing! You don't need to win an award to know that. Just let this experience make you push harder, take more and better photos. Most competitions aren't usually about what they should be anyway. Most of the times they are popularity contests. Who knows, who and such.

    As far as the climbing goes, I'd try to remember all those good feelings you had when climbing. Being the strongest you've ever been physically, mentally, etc. and take those feelings with you when you climb again. Not the fear. I do know how debilitating fear can be.

  2. I think your photos are brilliant from what I can for you climbing again, well I certainly hope you can! I will have to read back a bit more to get some history on this...but facing fear is the first step. I love your bravery!!
    (Don't you love it when a movie resonates with you like that?)
    Hope you had a bright and beautiful Sunday

  3. It's better to try than to just sit and watch... (like sooo many other people do) even if you don't get the results you expected...

  4. A brave post Jessica. You are a conquerer no doubt about it.

  5. What a great post. I know you will enter other competitions and win some and lose some. But just keep trying.

  6. HI j.m. you said you are doing it.Don't look back.go all the to you and cody.

  7. For starters, your photo contributions to the competition were breathtakingly beautiful. Sometimes the experience becomes more rewarding in itself rather than accolades that may follow.

    I appreciate your honesty in your struggle with fear in relation to your injury. As you know, I'm slowly getting back to running after knee surgery. It is a fight on a daily basis. You're so right -- you have to push yourself. No one else can do it but you. I wish you well and complete healing.

  8. 1218: I'm over it already! And thank you for the encouragement. You're right, fear is's a far cry from not being scared to do anything!! I'll find it again.

    gillian: Thank you :o) The history is a car crash, neck surgery, substituted photography for climbing! (in a nutshell) I do love when I am moved by other peoples stories, our emotions are so powerful.

    nuri: You're exactly right! You have to at least try if you're to get anywhere :o)

    sian: Thank you :)

    greg: Thanks for the vote of confidence! There most definitely will be more to come.

    POD: "Go all the way", that's a good motto :)

    meridith: It was very rewarding to be a part of it all. Plus, the prizes weren't all that great, haha, just kidding!
    Your post was inspiring and definitely touched me, to read about how you were pushing yourself made me think about how I haven't been doing so myself, physically. The road to recovery is paved with many obstacles I hope that we both learn from as well as overcome them! Thank you :o)

  9. wow, what an amazing post. my eyes are all teary so i pre-excuse myself for typos.

    i know what you mean when you mention losing something dear to you. better than that, i feel where you are at. and it hurts.

    but i believe pain is the cornerstone of growth. and - this is wildly optimistic of me - maybe everything really is for a reason?

    congratulations on the contest. you can't win if you don't play, and that experience will prepare you for the next time you take a risk. i always try to expect the worst and hope for the best -

    thank you so much for this beautiful post. two days ago one of my dear friends passed away... i really needed to hear your hope and experience.

    have a peaceful monday.

  10. A very touching and courageous post, my dear. There is nothing broken about your spirit, which is the most important bit. You have soul, you have love, you have hopes and dreams, talent and health and wealth - and you have us to keep reminding you of it every day ;-)


  11. These words, at the end of your post,
    say it all:

    Be Strong. Stay Determined. Find Inspiration. Never stop pushing myself.

    You know exactly what to do to get back what you lost, and then some.
    DO IT!!!

  12. jessica can you show what photos came first. if poss.

  13. I don't care what the judges think, "Fantasia" was just spectacular. Try again next year, let them know you're there, and maybe you'll get extra notice.
    And I didn't know about the neck surgery (although I do know about car crashes) or the rock climbing. Much respect to you for ever doing that at all. I could see myself trying some day, I have no fear, but I do have a wife and, just for her, I made a promise to myself to not take so many chances anymore (well, as few as possible without totally chickening out, lol) so I guess I'll stick to bouldering.

    But yeah, don't give up on getting back in the saddle. If you want it badly enough, don't waste any time regretting not trying. You never look back with fondness on all the times you were wishing you could do something.

  14. You're such a brave and talented person Jessica.
    This is a wonderful, honest post and I am sure you will suceed in whatever you choose to do in your life.

  15. My heart is with you about your accident. I tumbled over the edge of a disused quarry, just over a year ago, whilst walking in some local hills. I tumbled the first 50ft, then freefell 40ft and landed on my right shoulder. I was rescued by the mountain rescue team, firebrigade, police and ambulance service and after several doses of morphine I was collared and put on a stretcher then winched into a helicopter to be taken to hospital. My shoulder was completely shattered and a couple of weeks later I had the bones removed and an artificial shoulder joint was fitted. Because of this I have lost about 50% of the movement in my right arm. I also lost my confidence and self esteem. The good news is that during my recouperation, I discovered the blogging world along with a passion for photography... there is always a silver lining.

    I truly do hope you manage to go climbing again soon, and just remember that there are a lot of people around the world (inclduing myself) that will have you in their thoughts when you do take that first step up...

  16. a little bird: You're right, everything does happen for a reason, and some good has come out of my experience, that I am certain of. Hang in there :o)

    TD: You are the best, thank you ;)

    biker: I WILL....

    POD: I looked but they haven't been posted anywhere, and I don't remember the photo that did win the categories. I'll keep you posted.

    GG: "You never look back with fondness on all the times you were wishing you could do something." Great insight.....I'll keep that in mind! And bouldering is my favorite :)

    jacky: Thank you so very much for the kind words, I really cherish them.

    getty: WOW, your story sounds horrifying compared to mine.....that's a long way to fall! Glad you're alright :)
    You're right there most definitely is a silver lining, I also discovered photography in a whole new way after my accident. Blessings in disguise :)


  17. I had no idea. :(

    I think there should be a "Plan B" organization. I'd be in it too.

    It's devastating to lose the ability to perform in something you've only known ambitiously.

    I stopped snowboarding after my concussion, and going back to the hill is so hard because I want it to remember me the way I was- eager, competitive and awesome- rather than a broken, fearful, fragile person. :(

    Plan B's not terrible. Just unexpected.

  18. okay this post made me cry... I haven't been there physically with you but mentally I been there...I was with you before you moved.. talked on the phone with you while you were gone.. visited you.. I honestly don't know who you would be if you had stayed in florida... I watched my sister grow and mature.. and follow her heart which has gave me the courage to do the same.. I am proud of who you have become.. I feel like the rock climbing gave you heart and strength to make it thru what you were going thru.. and when that was gone you became more absorbed into photography.. and now look at you... i know i said it already.. but I am very proud of you.. and even though you are shorter than me I look up to you..