There’s nothing like watching kids at the beach to remind you of what it means to be truly alive.  For one week I witnessed Emma and Phoebe become totally immersed in the world of sand and surf.   No (Ok, limited) TV, no computer games, no God-awful plastic toys that require four C batteries in order for it to induce seizures flash fluorescent lights and/or speak Spanish…no distractions from living fully in the present moment.

And while it’s always entertaining to watch Emma in action with other kids, (“Hello, I am Emma from Pennsylvania!” I’m not sure if she is destined for politics or beauty pageants) it was Phoebe, a barely 2 year-old beach newbie, who blew me away with her total fearlessness.  The moment her feet touched the sand she was off to the water, waded into the bay up to her chin, turned around and announced, “Mommy!  Look at me! I swimmin’!  I SWIMMIN’ IN DA WAWA!” 

Watching both my girls dive into new situations without fear of looking stupid or, umm, drowning, made me ask myself: When was the last time I did something that scared me, just for the sake of experiencing something new, for busting out of my comfort zone…for the sake of feeling more alive?

(Getting my colon out doesn’t count). 

Serendipitously, my beach-read this year was a book called Joy For Beginners.  The novel involves six women, one recovering from breast cancer.  As a celebration of life, the women make a pact to complete one new task – to take on one fear- in the spirit of grabbing life by the balls personal growth.

When I think about the event/moments in my life when I felt truly alive, a few things come to mind:  Getting married.  Having babies.  Completing a triathlon.  Running a marathon.  A week-long yoga teacher training in the Catskills. Skinny dipping.  Dancing.  Writing.  And while these examples may seem random, they are linked by one shared trait: Vulnerability.  Each example involves relinquishing a certain amount of control in order to take a risk, whether that be physical pain, looking like an idiot, or a (naked) ride in the back of a police car.  But the act of taking the plunge and living to tell about it…well -that’s the juicy part.  That’s the center of the Tootsie Pop.

Is there something that scares you shitless, but the act of doing it will in some way set you free?

Ok, I’ll go first.

Bungee jumping, you ask? 


Getting a tattoo? 

(Already have one).

I, Jessica Leigh Power Braun, hereby commit before all (ten) of you loyal blog readers, that I will undergo the challenge of taking on one thing that scares me shitless, and report back in one week’s time.  And this daring feat is….drumroll please….

Eating Pizza. 



I have not in eaten pizza (REAL pizza-not counting a low-fat Boboli) in 13 years.  Which would make the year 1998…which means I was a senior in college…which means my swan song to pizza was most likely Dominoes.  Which is kind of sad.

Why, you ask?  I am not really sure.  About six years ago, I spent some time in the looney bin an inpatient facility for eating disorders.  While that seems like a lifetime ago, and I definitely consider myself -for lack of a better term- “recovered,” pizza has remained what is referred to as a Fear Food. 

Scared of pizza?  That is ridiculous, of course.  But taking the risk of appearing ridiculous is all part of this exercise, now isn’t it?   So if you don’t have anything nice to say….

Why would I choose this as my fear to overcome?  It’s not as if I need pizza for survival.  My avoidance of this one food doesn’t keep me locked in my room or make me a candidate for any show on the Oprah Winfrey Network intervention. 

But what it does is rob me of an EXPERIENCE.  Pizza is more than a food-  it is an event, a community builder, a breaking of bread.  You SHARE a pizza.  Ordering a pizza is a way of saying, “I would rather relax and spend time with you than cook.”  It is easy: delivered magically to your door with no utensils required. Vegetarians can partake in its gooey goodness.  It’s the perfect solution to Friday night dinner during Lent.  I have even seen dairy free/gluten free options popping up at local pizza places.  Pizza, in many ways, is universal.   So what do I do when pizza is on the menu?

I order a salad.  Which requires a fork.  And is never included in the coupon. Can you say party foul?

Now I am not saying Salad Is Bad.  If you truly want a salad, order a salad.  It’s not the love of the salad but the fear of the pizza I am addressing here.  I want to overcome the feeling of anxiety – that little flip-flop of the stomach – that occurs when someone says, “Hey, you wanna just order a pizza?” 

For once, I am saying “Hell, Yes.”

How about you?

Where in your life can you say yes? (and Hell Yes, that is a direct challenge).

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