Fear, empowerment, and why you should do the thing that scares you the most

Ice fishing is my greatest passion. Not because of the fish. Not because I feel closer to my late husband. None of that. 

Ice fishing is my world because of the connections and friendships that have come from it, because of being outside in the fresh air, and, most importantly, because I have faced my biggest fears, stepped out on the ice, and come out stronger because of facing those fears.

Ice fishing empowers me. 

The first time I went ice fishing after my husband Jim died - I was absolutely freaking terrified. I wept hysterically in the back of a bombardier as it took us to a secret crappie spot over the Canadian border on Lake of the Woods. Here I was in one of my ice fishing dream destinations, and I was in desperate need of Valium, kleenex, and paper bag to breathe in to. I seriously questioned my sanity. Why in the hell was I in this small, boxy vehicle on the ice in the middle of nowhere? 

women on ice

Half an hour later I was busy catching huge fish with a huge smile on my face - but crying tears of relief at the same time because I remembered who I was. A person who needs to be outside on the ice as much as possible.

If I had given in to fear, said no to that trip, and not gone to Lake of the Woods, I would not be where I am today. I would not have remembered how much I LOVE ice fishing. I would not have remembered how much I love being with my friends out on the ice laughing over stupid jokes, and I would not have remembered how much I love pulling ginormous crappies though an 8 inch hole in sub zero temps. 

Hannah on ice

To be perfectly honest, the beginning of ice season still sends me in to a spiraling loop of panic sometimes. I refuse to let that fear control me, however. I use it to my advantage - and I get better every year. It is why I continue to speak about ice safety. Is it scary to talk about how my husband died? Of course! But it gets easier every time I do it, and I am, maybe, saving someone's life in the process.

We grow from fear every time we acknowledge it and step past it, regardless of what actual fear we are addressing. Small, large - it does not matter. We grow.

If we let fear control us we stop growing. We stop connecting with others, and we stagnate.

So, if you feel stuck - ask yourself - what am I afraid of? Find the thing that scares you the most. 

Acknowledge it, embrace it, then do it. That fear turns into empowerment. 

The empowerment that comes from facing your fears can lead you to the most interesting places, like a documentary about ice fishing with a bad ass group of women who I truly love, and who have seen me at my worst. Take a look at Grass Fed Cinema’s film about Women on Ice (the actual group I was busy weeping in front of in a bombardier on Lake of the Woods).

Edit - We are now filming a project about my return to Lake Superior ice this past January. Cannot wait to share that!