The Facing 50 Fears Year in Review


Happy New Year! I’m just home from a run and a polar bear plunge and I think it may be time (since my birthday is January 5th) to tell you, my friends, where I am on this Facing 50 Fears adventure.

I didn’t get the whole list done this year. In fact, I didn’t even come close. Don’t worry. I intend to finish what I started, and I hope to finish sooner rather than later. Why? Because I’m finding that with each fear I face, my world expands. What I believe I’m capable of doing swells. And that gladiator sleeping inside of me, gets more and more awake-used to doing battle, accepting failure and preparing to fight another day.

Over the summer I bought a magnet at a little coffee shop in Iowa that says: Everything you want is on the other side of fear. -George Addair. I wake up every day hungry to get to the other side of fear.

So why will I only have half my list done by March? Why am I arriving at my 51st birthday with just 17 fears done? Well, for one thing, don’t forget, a big part of me does not want to do them! I have to fight and struggle to do them because, um…they scare me.

But there’s another reason, too. This project is about running toward what scares me. This year, other stuff stepped between me and this project that demanded my attention and delivered its own defining challenges. In 2015 I applied for a artist residency, I recovered from a fall that fractured my ankle and gave me a concussion. I stewarded my kids through another year of teenage-dom. I helped a friend through a year-long health crisis. I got an idea for a new television project and dropped everything to write the pilot. (And I finished it yesterday!) All of these things were off-list. All of them demanded my attention and all of them benefited from my new mindset: this may be hard to do, but that’s okay. I do hard things.

So the end of 2015 leaves me with this one identity-changing gift: I do hard things.

And the beginning of 2016 arrives with lots fear-facing in-progress. Curious about specifics? Here’s the Facing 50 Fears status report:

  1. Ride in a helicopter Not done. No plans. Still scares the bejesus out of me.
  2. Go white water rafting-Not done. Have learned about some pretty rivers though…
  3. Hold a big snake DONE
  4. Jump into water from a height Not done.
  5. Fix something in the house by myself DONE
  6. Talk to a homeless person-for a while Not done.
  7. Travel to a third world country in a rough way-Not done. Might take another whole year to organize/finance.
  8. Watch an operation-Not done. Doctor friends have told me it might be impossible because of HIPPA laws.
  9. Ride a bike-Not done. Can you believe it?
  10. Ride on a motorcycle-Not done.
  11. Ride on a roller- coaster-DONE Arnold’s Park in Iowa, blog post coming
  12. Ferris Wheel-DONE on my last birthday
  13. Eat a bug-DONE Blog post coming…
  14. Volunteer at the VA hospital DONE and ongoing. Blog post coming.
  15. Climb a mountain (big)-Not done. Will tackle this one after running a marathon (#42).
  16. Ice skate-Not done. But about to be done.
  17. Do a flash mob-Not done.
  18. Sing karaoke-Not done. But this is my birthday plan so next week it should be done!
  19. Take figure drawing classes (again)- DONE, blog post coming
  20. Get a mammogram-DONE
  21. Get a colon test-DONE, sort of, blog post coming
  22. Give blood-DONE in that I’m done-not allowed to give blood.
  23. Downhill ski-Not done, but hope to go skiing soon.
  24. Ride in a small plane-Not done. Ugh…
  25. Smoke or eat pot-Not done, but plan to soon.
  26. Give a TED (type) talk-Not done. But I compose this talk in my head all the time!
  27. Write/perform a stand-up monologue-Not done.
  28. Take the trainer certification test-Not done
  29. Throw up-Not done. My record stands. I haven’t thrown up since 1984.
  30. Travel to the American South-Not done but came close by visiting Virginia last summer.
  31. Have a drink at a dive bar-Not done but have some vague plans.
  32. Eat an Oyster-DONE on my birthday last year.
  33. Hike out of the Grand Canyon-DONE. Amazing…
  34. Take public transportation at night, not (really) done.
  35. Visit (volunteer) at a prison, not done.
  36. Try on contact lenses, DONE for now (can’t wear contact lenses according to my eye doc), blog post coming.
  37. Submit FN screenplay to Wayne [my entertainment attorney], not done but super close.
  38. Submit Free Range Fitness book proposal to Wayne or K.R., not done, but formulating…
  39. e-publish a book, not done but might happen in conjunction with #38
  40. Submit poems to the New Yorker- DONE
  41. Learn to play catch-DONE
  42. Run a marathon (finish)-not done but attempting this soon. Stay tuned. This one has taken up scads of time…
  43. Do a Kickstarter campaign not done
  44. Go rock climbing-DONE
  45. Get arrested for a good cause-DONE
  46. Big rock concert, go to one, not done
  47. Write an advance directive, not done.
  48. Shoot a gun-not done. And very reluctant. But I’d like to understand pro-gun folks and maybe this will help.
  49. Gallop on a horse-not done. Hugh suggested this one..
  50. TBD

I want to thank all of you for your support. So many people have come along on this ride, both literally and in spirit, and it’s been wonderful. I’m excited about what’s coming in 2016 and hope you’ll stick around to see what’s next.

Are you planning to face fears in 2016? Tell me about your plans, below!

P.S. You can find me, Facing 50 Fears on Facebook

© Mary Elder, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “The Facing 50 Fears Year in Review

  1. Re the “watch an operation”– I got to stay awake and watch an operation on my knee. So if you happen to need an operation, that does take care of the HPPA issues. But here’s hoping that you don’t need an operation, and no one else you know does either. Do videos count?

    A great list, and sounds like you will have fun with some of these. Plus, you will continue to do all of the other amazing things that you do so well (many of which are probably on someone else’s list of fears!).

    Love your blog, and here’s wishing you well for the next year. Kudos on the TV pilot; best of luck! Happy new year to you and Rod and kids —


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