E very year, around my birthday, I like to do something brave. One year I got back on a bike after a 29-year hiatus. One year I drove to Manhattan by myself.

I don’t allow myself to dwell on what I decide to do. The more I think about it, the more I’m likely to chicken out. I’m not a brave person by nature; I usually remain one step away from bawk! bawk! bawk! I’m a worrywart, and if I think too much (or at all) I’ll find numerous excuses why I shouldn’t do what I refer to as my Annual Brave Feat.

There are three steps to my Annual Brave Feat.

1. Decide what to do

2. Logistics/ planning/ necessary prep

3. Implementing the plan

I hate (with a capital H) the deciding and planning, but by Stage 3, I’m filled with exhilaration and pride. I step into my birthday cloaked in a fancy, new, “I am unpredictable! I am not stagnant! I am ever-changing!” robe.

This year we went to Killington, Vermont, during our summer vacation. I watched my husband and my kids get fitted with harnesses to go zip lining and a tiny voice whispered to me: “You can do that too, Peshie.”

Who said that? Not me. Must have been a different Peshie. I laughed in her face.

Real Me: “Oh, I couldn’t. I’m scared of heights.”

Alternate Me: “Aw, it’s not that high. Your 11-year-old just did it.”

Real Me: “But zip lining is fast. And I don’t like speed.”

Alternate Me: “You liked the alpine slide, didn’t you? And the mountain coaster?”

Real Me: “Yeah, but… zip lining is sooo not me.”

Alternate Me: “You’re right. Zip lining isn’t you. I mean me. Us. You know what I mean. But this is your Annual Birthday Feat we are talking about. And that’s all about stepping out of the box.”

Real Me: “Stepping out of the box I can do. Stepping off a stepstool with some metal attaching me to a measly coil of rope and speeding over a lake at a kazillion miles an hour I can’t do.”

Alternate Me: “That’s it. You’re overthinking this. You tend to do that. Next thing I know you are going to give me your ‘It’s irresponsible as a parent to do this’ speech. March yourself over to that lady and get fitted for a harness. Now.”

Real Me who just grew feathers and a beak: “Can’t I just think this through?”

Alternate Me: “Absolutely not. No dwelling. No analyzing. Like Nike says: Just Do it.”

Real Me: “I’m too short.”

Alternate Me: “Ha! You’re not too short. Look at that eight-year-old!”

Real Me: “I think they’re closing soon. I think they’re out of harnesses in my size.”

Alternate Me: “Stop with the excuses and go. You’ll be proud when it’s all over.”

Grumbling, I set off to the cheerful harness fitter who acted like what she was doing — outfitting me for a foolish adventure — was normal. She gave me the old “hundreds of people do this each day” speech in a lame attempt to make me feel at ease. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 538)