The Path Towards Thriving | On Choosing The Front Row

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Oh for the love of Pinterest.

I saw this image the other day. Seriously, it's awesome and such a great reminder to choose the front row. I want to be those people.

Did I ever tell you the story about the time Chris and I and his parents drove from Oregon to California to pick up a dog for my parents (Wyatt for those of you who've been around a long time)? This was before the kids were born - likely sometime around 2000.

On that trip we ended up at Six Flags outside SanFrancisco. Chris and his Dad wanted to go on this big giant roller coaster - one of those ones where you are strapped in over your shoulders, your feet dangle and you go upside down multiple times. Yep. I was hesitant but moderately interested. Into the line we went.

I had to look it up to see what it was called: Medusa.

We waited an hour for this ride.

During our wait I could feel myself becoming increasingly panicked about the situation in front of me. But I stayed in line. I don't remember now if I stayed in line because I wanted to or because they were talking me into it or because I felt like I had to because I'd waited so long already.

When it was our turn the three of us climbed into position on the ride and as the shoulder straps came down I instantly knew there was no way in hell I was going on this ride.

I yelled, "Excuse me! I need to get off."

My father-in-law thought I was kidding until he saw my face. Chris could see it too.

They released me from the shoulder strap and I walked over towards the exit. The people in line behind us yelled "boooooo" and made fun of me. I didn't care one little bit - not one bit - I was so happy to not be going on that ride. It was the right choice for me at that moment in time.

LESSON | There's nothing wrong with getting out of line.

Since then I've been on more rides and have come to love the thrill. For example, the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. I love that ride. It scares me every single time but I know I'll be okay. My first time riding it was with Katie and as they were strapping us in and closing the door (!!!) I looked over at her and said, "I don't think I can do this."

But I did.

And I freakin loved it.

And I've been on it close to 10 more times since that first time.

LESSON | We can do things we think we can't.

These days I do hard things I think I can't do more regularly. It's something I have to practice and choose and choose again. I'm getting better at recognizing it earlier - seeing it for what it is - an opportunity to be brave, to grow, to stretch myself, to leap. I'm lucky that I have a friend like Katie who encourages me to keep moving forward even when she can see and hear my fear and apprehension.

Here's the deal: I've been the people in the front row and I've been the people in the third row. I'm a crazy mixture of both those people and one or the other wins out at certain times based on circumstance, fear, confidence, etc. And that's okay.

To me thriving is actively engaging in those choices. Some days I'll step out of that line and other days I'll face those fears head on because I can do hard things.

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58 thoughts

  1. Kim L. says…
    03/03/2014

    Great words to read this morning!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Ainslie H says…
    03/03/2014

    What a great reminder for us all to push ourselves a bit!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Paula says…
    03/03/2014

    Tears in my eyes, great post Ali.

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  4. [email protected] says…
    03/03/2014

    Got to love Pinterest :)
    Great post Ali, thanks for sharing.

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  5. SueTR (ys 11-12-13) says…
    03/03/2014

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you ! It's OK to push and OK to pull back. I thought riding a ferris wheel would be fun (I was in jr high)until we got to the top and just swung there while others got on…instant panic… My Dad yelled at the guy to let us off, and they did… I was so glad he stood up for me and didn't make me tough it out (he confessed he didn't much like it either) SO… I don't do heights at amusement parks…I'm the only one NOT going on the rickety old wooden coaster at FuntownSplash town but I'm totally fine with that… "it takes courage to be a chicken" one of my new mottos Have a wonderful week ladies!! xo

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Terri says…
      03/05/2014

      You can get me on most any roller coaster but a ferris wheel. Forget it. I don't know what it is about them but they scare me to death!!!

  6. Joan says…
    03/03/2014

    Awesome Ali. Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Sheila says…
    03/03/2014

    This is absolutely spot on. I find myself talking to the kids about this, especially as they get older. Sometimes we have to try new things, things that make us uncomfortable, in order to figure out what we like and want out of life. More often than not, it's the fear of not knowing that stops us short. I give them these pep talks as I drag them on a new adventure. You made me realize that I don't do the same for myself. I need those little pep talks, too, especially when I'm bored (like now) or afraid of the big giant question mark.

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  8. Jenny A says…
    03/03/2014

    You are awesome. That is all ;)

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Lori says…
    03/03/2014

    That photo... wow. Thank you for sharing. And your words were very meaningful to me. My OLW for 2014 is "brave" and I have lots to think about after reading your post. So appreciate your candor.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Debbie S says…
    03/03/2014

    I REALLY needed to see those words this morning. That was truly inspired! Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Emily says…
    03/03/2014

    You have been given such a gift with words and an open heart to share with others. Thank you for listening to your heart and responding and sharing your gifts with so many strangers and friends. This post touches a tender place for me!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Laura says…
    03/03/2014

    We went to Disney in Florida this past year and rode Splash Mountain. Hated, hated, hated that ride. Stuff like that is just not my thing and I'm okay with that. I can still strive to enjoy other parts of life like those ladies in the front row, but sometimes I'll be the one taking pictures from the sidelines and that's ok, too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Teal says…
    03/03/2014

    Love this. So much!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Angie Hall says…
    03/03/2014

    Oh, Ali! I love this post! Right now in my life, I am having to do some incredibly hard things, and often, I feel like giving up. Not just stepping out of line, but running out of the park altogether.

    I used to live in So. Cal. where I could see Six Flags Magic Mountain from my bedroom window. Now when I think about that home, and that park, I'll think about your post and about doing hard things…leaning into the discomfort of it all, and hanging on.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Mary in IL says…
    03/03/2014

    Yep, I am NOT one to step out of my comfort zone if I don't have to. I am probably missing out on some things because of that too. I want to say that if I had gotten that far in line I would have just closed my eyes and screamed the entire minute or two that the ride actually took but in reality I would have done exactly the same as you. Thanks for sharing so honestly about yourself Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. michelle t says…
    03/03/2014

    Thank you for a very timely read. Michelle t

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Beth Quiroz says…
    03/03/2014

    Ali - have you ever seen the movie "Parenthood?" It came out in 1989 and starred Steve Martin. There is a scene at the end where his extremely elderly grandmother walked in on an argument he was having with his wife and told a story about loving the excitement of roller coasters. Its a great scene - watch it if you have never seen it (you can get it on YouTube).

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Kathleen says…
    03/03/2014

    Ali, I have been a tutor trainer for Literacy Volunteers for several years. I train people how to teach English one-on-one to a non-English speaking adult. I always begin the class with a quote from Neale Donald Walsh: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Then I ask them to take this mental test about trying new things: If all you feel about this new experience is fear, then maybe it's not for you. If you are feeling a mixture of fear and excitement, then let's get started. You can't grow as a person without some risk involved, but total fear can also guide us away from things where the risk is too high. You're absolutely right...sometimes it's the front row...sometimes it's the third. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Dana Nichols says…
    03/03/2014

    I do love all your posts, but seriously, this one is the best! Maybe because I needed it right now. But, whatever the reason, THANK YOU. Really, thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Kamie says…
    03/03/2014

    I don't usually respond to your posts but your blog has been a daily ritual of mine for years now!)

    I just want to take the time to say "thank you" for your post today! I needed it...right now!

    I hope you have a great Monday!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Kim says…
    03/03/2014

    ME too! Totally okay to be a mix of both rows. Knowing when to say when & when to cut loose is a good thing. Great Post! Thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams says…
    03/03/2014

    Great post. It is totally OK to choose the front row sometimes and pull back at other times. So often I think the trick is in discerning which is which. Thanks, Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Cathy L. says…
    03/03/2014

    I have to admit, my heart started racing just READING that you MIGHT get on a really scary roller coaster! I remember a few years ago,we were at Silverwood. There was a roller coaster that I was really tempted to ride (I am terrified every time I ride Space Mountain at Disneyland). I watched it several times and realized it couldn't be that bad, the ride only lasted a couple of minutes for crying out loud! But, I just couldn't summon up the courage to ride it. I don't know if I will ever be able to...I hope so.

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  24. julie says…
    03/03/2014

    I'm glad I read your post because I laughed when I saw the ladies and their skirts flying. and I thought I love the smile and excitement,enjoyment as an adult. I thought you were going to saying sometimes you have to let go and have fun even tho you may be older (obviously what I am working on). I'm finding I'm having trouble aging….so that's what I took from the picture.

    But your point of view is always interesting and thoughtful and for that I am grateful that I read it today.

    Julie

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. alexandra says…
    03/03/2014

    so thankful to read this. thank you.
    P.S. go Ali go
    xo

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