Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Question that Changed my Life

A couple of weeks ago, my darling friend, Devia, asked me a question that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since she presented it to me. Quite honestly, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind because I have not been able to develop a real answer to the question that was posed to me on that late Saturday night-early Sunday morning.
To me, the question was so profound, so deep, so probing that I was left somewhat speechless when she asked me the question. And this morning/tonight (Yeah, I haven’t been sleep yet.), the question still leaves me void of any words to pain an honest, in-depth answer to her question.

Here’s the question:
What would your life look like if fear wasn’t present?

When she asked me that question, I shuttered as a blast of light quickly rushed into my head. In less than what felt like a second, I realized that my life, which is seemingly speckled with acts of courage and defiance, would look incredibly different if my enemy, fear, was not allowed to intimidate me so often.

I quickly skimmed over my life, and in a flash I saw opportunities that I passed up, challenges that I avoided, books that I should've published, plays that I should've produced, speeches that was supposed to be made, business ventures that I have delayed, places I didn’t go, people I chose not to meet, projects that I ducked, phone calls that I should’ve made, money I could’ve earned, and relationships that I safely/fearfully/apprehensively approached. And it was all because of fear.
I realized that my life, a life that is clearly ornamented with medals of accomplishments and triumph, had and still has room to further blossom if fear wasn’t allowed to push me around.

After thinking about fear in the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that fear can only have as much power as we allow it to have. Fear in itself is powerless. But it becomes powerful beyond measure if we fuel it by responding to it, obeying it, and shrinking because of it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was faced with the challenge of facing one of my fears. I was so afraid of the approaching challenge that my body had started responding to my fear. I developed a headache, I couldn’t sleep, and I was feeling nauseous. I spoke to a few of my friends about this monstrous fear that I knew I had to face. They talked me into standing up to my fear, looking it straight in the eye, and shouting to the world that I will not be a slave to fear.
I did just that. And I was triumphant in the end.

I discovered that most of the time fear is not based on reality. Most of the times, it is based on imagined possibilities, often derived from a mountain of “what ifs”.

I still don’t know what my life would look like if I hadn’t allowed fear to stomp all over me in the last 20 years. I’m still trying to figure that out.
But what I do know is that I refuse to allow fear to control me/intimidate me/shackle me from this day forward.
Like I said in a
previous post, I am a slave to God. I’m certainly not a slave to fear.

Free from the shackling chains of fear,
Angela Braden

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chicago: Part I.

**Okay... As much as I don't feel like it, I know I cannot and should not avoid writing about my Chicago trip. I have so much I should say about the trip. So many lessons I learned... So many creepy tales to just vent about... So many experiences that I felt so fortunate to be apart of...
Overall, the trip was outstanding. But there were some parts of the trip that left me drained. I guess that's why I didn't have the energy to write about it when I got back to Houston. But starting right now, I will tackle it.
But I can already predict that my narrative about my trip will have to be broken up in a few posts. But that's cool. Trust me, if I fed the entire trip to you in one deep dish, you would walk away from reading the post feeling as nauseated as I felt when I was going through it.
So, here goes... One spoon at a time…**

When my friend, Miko, told me that she was going to Chicago at the end of June, I freely expressed to her that I would love to go. I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago. And I always love hanging out with Miko. So, I felt that a trip to Chicago, with the added pleasure of hanging out with Miko, was worth me spending my hard earned money to make it happen.

Always a lady, I did the polite thing, and asked Miko to ask her friend, Tiffany, if I could join them on their trip. Because it was basically Tiffany’s annual pilgrimage back to her hometown, I felt that it was only right if I got her permission to join in on the party in Chicago. I am totally against going anywhere I'm not wanted. That is why I wanted to make sure that Tiffany wouldn't have a problem adding one more chick to their weekend breakaway.

For some reason, I felt a little uncomfortable asking Tiffany can I kick it with them in Chicago that particular weekend. I wondered was my discomfort spawned by my usual anxiety about meeting new people, folks that are usually unfamiliar/not used to being around someone with a disability. But I pushed my discomfort aside and hoped that Tiffany wouldn’t have a problem with me hanging out with her and the people that she did invite. And I also hoped that she wouldn't trip too hard about me being blind.

I really needed a vacation. I really wanted to go to Chicago, a city that I had never been and always hoped to visit. And I really, really love hanging out with Miko.

So, pushing past my discomfort was one of those necessary things that I needed to do to make sure that I got a chance to do something that I really wanted and needed to do, get a vacation in a town that I always wanted to visit, with my bestest homegirl in the world, Miko.

A few days later, Miko called me and told me that Tiffany said it would be okay for me to join them in Chicago. Miko invited me to stay in the hotel room with her and to split the cost. Of course, I was down. Yeah, I was still feeling some trepidation about the trip, but I ignored it. (Mistake #1)

When it was time to purchase the ticket, I made several attempts to finalize my purchase on Southwest Airlines’ website. But no matter how much I tried to give Southwest my $320, the computer kept giving me an error message.
(Was that my second sign that I should’ve backed off the trip? Not sure…)

I finally tried to purchase my ticket one last time. I promised myself that if the purchase didn’t go through this particular time, I was going to scrap the trip and inform Miko that I would just come to LA later in the summer. Well, this time, the purchase went through, and I got a confirmation message.
(Was that my message that the trip was okay for me to actually go on? Again, I’m not sure.)

Something else happened that was quite interesting… Three weeks before I was scheduled to go to Chicago, I fell down the stairs and fractured by large toe on my right foot. I went to the emergency room, got examined, and walked away from the hospital with a new fashion accessory, an orthopedic boot to protect your girl’s achy toe.

I wondered if I should just go ahead and let the Chicago trip ride. The idea of going to Chicago with an orthopedic shoe on was not my idea of fun. Plus, I couldn’t hardly walk on my foot without feeling pain. And since I knew that this trip would likely require me to do a lot of walking, I really considered if I should just let the trip go, and stay at home and let the broken piggy wiggy rest.
(Was my foot injury a sign that I should’ve kept my behind in Houston last weekend? I’m not sure. Interesting thought though…)

Despite all of the hindrances to my trip, I still boarded the Greyhound of the sky, Southwest Airlines, and flew to the greatest city in the Midwest.

**more later… Trust me, this gets good.**