Except that morning I was far from relaxed. I woke that day desperately missing my little girl, stressed about the amount of work I was missing, and generally miserable but also desperate to not be one of those girls who cries on the reality show because she misses home and quits early. But I won’t lie, I was considering quitting early. I am prone to anxiety and panic attacks, and though I work very hard to not let it limit me, it’s difficult when you’re in the throes of a panic attack to think rationally. I choked down half a breakfast sandwich at Tim’s and tried to join in the joking in the van on the way to location, which, sitting with Owen and Scott and Andrew, was pretty entertaining. And then we pulled into the parking lot of a sky diving school. If you saw my face, you know how I felt.
I was never the girl growing up who had courage come easily. Like my daughter does now, I tend to wait until I’m sure that I want to try something before I do so. However I wasn’t far into my twenties before I realized that that sort of fear can become limiting, and fearing fear itself makes life narrow quickly. Courage might not be something you’re born with, but like a muscle you can chose to exercise it.
I was pretty quiet most of the morning but as I saw Beth and Andrew jumping and loving it, I knew that if I didn’t jump I would regret it for the rest of my life. And I knew that if I want to teach my daughter to face fear and do it anyway, that I couldn’t let the opportunity go. And I hear Owen talking about how he raised his boys to try the things that scared them, so no matter how he felt or how grey he looked, if he could he was going to do it. He was right. But I warned them that if they made me jump I would flip them the finger from 9,000 feet. I warned them.
So I did. And I cried a little, and I was proud. I’m pretty sure that after Daniel said “you were brave for your daughter, yeah?” he went back to the control room and got high fives for making me tear up. But the best part is that for the rest of the time I was shooting the show I did not feel panicky at all.
If that day was perfect, the next day was awful. In fact, I have really struggled with whether I wanted to talk about the rest of this episode. It was terrible for fighting and drama. The argument between Ben and Owen and Scott carried on into the parking lot, and carried on for days, and affected the rest of the show. I’d forgotten until I watched Monday night’s episode how that distrust, anger and ugliness almost ruined the rest of the experience. Competition doesn’t just bring out the best in people, it can bring out the worst. In retrospect I think I was too nice, and made too many allowances. And worst of all, it ended with my friend Beth, someone I admire greatly, going home.
My favourite comments from friends and family this episode:
“The best letterer-er? That’s not even a word. Dummy”
“I had to stop drinking after your swearing after half way through.”
“Less than three minutes and you’ve said %$?* twice.”
“Really, you go all the way to Canada’s Greatest Know It All to play glorified boggle?”
“Where the hell are you?” “I forgot my cell phone at home.” “Canada’s Greatest Moron” (That was my sister)
“Must have been using the Whisper2000 to catch Owen`s comment.”
And best of all, at the end of that day, lying on the grass, Beth looked at me and said “Hannah’s mom is badass.”