Fear is a four-letter word to me. You name it, I'm scared of it. And like Harry Potter, I hate feeling fear. It's paralyzing, consuming, and sickening. While we all have our thoughts of which fears are the worst, I think most of us would agree fear for our lives is somewhere near the top of the list.
That ultimate fear is what Heather Von St. James endured when she was told at age 36, just afer her daughter was born, that she had mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos) and 15 months to live. She had her lung removed, and her sister named it Lung Leavin' Day. Every year, Heather and her loved ones celebrate that most frightening day by writing their fears on plates and smashing them over a fire. They turned it into a fundraising event as well and are trying to expand awareness for both the cancer and the fear-releasing ritual.
Although Lung Leavin' Day has already passed, Heather wants us all to be free from fear and right now--no need to wait for a special day to face them. We may not ever experience a life-threatening disease or other traumatic event, but we all have something in our lives that terrifies and prevents us from growing or moving on. I can definitely say I do, especially right now as I find myself at a crossroads, unable to take my first step due to fear of the unknown. If only it were as easy to overcome as smashing a plate to bits! But the symbolism behind the act is profound: recognize and name your fears, seize them, break them, and reduce them to ashes. May we all follow in Heather's footsteps and be brave.
You can learn more about and follow Heather's journey on her blog and Facebook page.