Challenge Yourself!

by jeanieransom on May 23, 2013

Smilebox_12912159On a trip to Iceland last summer, there were lots of new things to try, from rotten shark dipped in something called “Black Death” to walking on a glacier blackened by ash from a recent volcano.

Each time we were presented with something new to try, our guide encouraged us with what would become our mantra for the trip: “Challenge yourself!”

And I did. Until halfway through our river rafting excursion, our guide said we were making a stop to do a little cliff-jumping. I don’t think she really expected many of us – maybe not any of us – to climb up and jump off into what was literally ice-cold water

But as we watched a few brave souls – a very few — from other tours take a turn at the cliff jump, I decided I was going to climb up and “just take a look.” Our guide smiled. “Challenge yourself!” she said. What an understatement.

You see, I am scared of heights. And not just a little bit. A lot of bit. So for me to look over the edge of a cliff, let alone leap off of it, was pretty much the ultimate challenge. It had to be safe, or they wouldn’t let us do it, I thought. So I did.

About halfway down, I thought, “This was a really bad idea.” Shouldn’t I have hit the water by now?

Then I did. And for just a few seconds, I was in over my head.  Then I popped up, swam back to the boat and my smiling guide. “You did it!” she said. I had. And strangely enough, I wanted to do it again.

I doubt I’ll ever get over my fear of heights. But one thing I don’t doubt. I won’t stop challenging myself to try new things, whether on vacation or at home or in my writing. In fact, I started writing my first middle-grade novel soon after my Iceland adventure. It’s a real stretch to write thousands of words when you’re a picture-book author. But if I can jump off a cliff, I can write this book.

And how about you? How will you challenge yourself this summer? Whether it’s biking twenty miles, reading a stack of books, or writing your own novel, I’d love to hear from you!

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