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Courage Over Fear...What Will You Choose?

courage-over-fearFear…it can make us do strange things.

A couple of weeks ago I took my daughters mountain biking in the Northumberland forest. A hidden gem just 25 minutes from Peterborough.

When we set out it was a beautiful sunny day.

Upon arrival the sky’s had changed. Not unusual for this Ontario summer.

I probably should have checked the weather before we left.

Determined to get into the woods and into some much needed exercise I wasn’t going to let a few dark clouds ruin this opportunity. Shortly into our ride there was a low rumble of thunder in the distance and without hesitation we turned back.

While the kids and I sat in the car waiting for the storm my husband rode off to “check out the trail”.  He wasn’t going to miss a chance to expand his lungs and it was clear that whatever was brewing was still in the distance.

When he returned he suggested I “check out the trail” as well. Mildly apprehensive he reassured me “it was fine” and I did want to get my heart beating. So did my daughter Kate. She has always loved riding her bike and so off we rode.

This being only our second time in this forest the trail was new to us. Kate rode ahead enjoying some rare alone time with mom. It’s not easy having a younger sister. Bringing up the rear I kept one eye on the trail ahead and another on the dark clouds above.

It wasn’t long before we needed a rest. As we stood contemplating the next hill a sudden clap of thunder rumbled. This time much louder and much closer. Rattled I looked over and saw the look of fear in Kate’s eye.

Primal in nature the body has a hard-wired response to fear. Mediated by the nervous system the body responds to fear by going into the fight, flight or freeze response.

This is the stress response and it can be triggered by real threats such as being out in a thunder storm on a bike or it can be triggered by perceived threats. The kind that seem to be coming at us from everywhere these days. The constant messaging that we are not safe makes it increasingly hard to decipher what is real and what is perceived.

When we heard the thunder for a split second Kate froze. The classic deer in headlights response.

Then her flight instincts mobilized her into action.

Only instead of riding back toward the safety of the car she started riding deeper into the trail.

This is the thing about fear.

While our instincts are trying to protect us…they don’t always lead us down the right path.

Fortunately I was able to calm my frightened daughter and reorient her so that we could get back to the car safely and despite all of the excitement the looming storm never came.


I share this story because it got me thinking.

As a healer who has devoted my life to helping people live more optimally (in both body and mind) I find myself needing to help my community reorient to safety as well.

We are living in an age of fear.

Some of it real…much of it perceived.

It is causing people to do strange things.

It is creating division and hate.

It will not lead to a better world and it will definitely not lead to better health.

So what do we do?

We acknowledge our fear…and we meet it with courage.

Here is what I think courage looks like right now:

Courage is … taking responsibility for yourself and your health.

Courage is … putting the time and effort into understanding what is necessary to get healthy and stay healthy.

Courage is … taking ACTION and making the necessary changes in how you eat, think, move and recover so you can be healthy.

Courage is … doing this hard work day in and day out.

Courage is … accepting the consequences of not doing the work.

Courage is … trusting your body and its incredible systems that work behind the scenes whether you think about them or not.

Courage is … honouring the differences that will always exist between humans and respecting those differences in your friends, families and neighbours.

Courage is … standing up for what is right.

Courage is … choosing connection over hate.

Like fear…

Courage is a choice.

What will you choose?

Until next time…

Live well for life.

Dr. Ange

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