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The Resolution I Kept - One Day Late

I resolved when 2011 became 2012 to stand on The Ledge at the Willis Tower. It took me until 2013 to make it happen.

I am afraid of heights. I haven't always been afraid of heights, heck my first year in college I was a musical theater major and I regularly climbed up on scaffolding for light design and set design, etc.

But these days, I don't even have to be standing high up for that to hit me. I thought I might pass out right on my couch watching the opening scene of Cliffhanger.

My fear of heights, though is not so straightforward. Going up the elevator in Willis Tower (which even now is still the Sears Tower to me), was a little unerving. But, once I was at the top and just looking out the ordinary windows, I was fine. But then there was The Ledge. According to the Willis Tower Web site, The Ledge is a glass box that extends 4.3 feet from the Skydeck, 1,353 feet up from the ground. Typing that description makes me cringe - even after I gathered all my bravery and stood in that box.

The Ledge was added to the Skydeck at the tower in 2009. Immediately, my braver friends headed downtown to check it out and began posting photos of their feet standing on the glass box more than 1,000 feet above the city. Every one of those photos that popped up in my newsfeed made me cringe a little more - stomach wrenching, tied-in-knots cringing. Then, 2011 happened. That year pretty much sucked for me. But, as is usually the case, all that misery made me realize that I am stronger than I think. So, I resolved to face at least one fear. When 2011 became 2012, I resolved to go stand in the glass box in the sky before the end of 2012.

I was one day late.

And let me tell you about the box. Those of you who are afraid of heights like me will understand my less-than-graceful entrance into the box. You would have thought I was cliff-diving or hang-gliding or somehow doing something in which no part of my body was touching the ground. I said, (in between the oh-my-gods I uttered as I frighteningly entered the box), they say when you are up high you are not supposed to look down. Who came up with this idea?!

So you walk into the box. There are other people in the box with you. They must have thought I was crazy, oh-my-god-ding my way through. I stood there, I turned around. I was afraid to touch the sides of the box - which makes NO sense at all. And while I faced my fear and stood on The Ledge, I could not pose for that photo shot that lots of people braver than I capture. I could not crouch down in the corner while someone else took my photo that looks a little like I am floating above the city - more than 1,300 feet above the city.

So, now 2012 has rolled over into 2013. And, like 2012, I need to come up with some resolutions, some things that I need to do to prove that I am strong than I think, that my fears are unfounded and that I can take a deep breath (or a number of very shallow ones) and do something I thought I could not do.

I already signed myself up for something in 2013. I bought a Groupon for an acro-yoga class. I signed up with a friend of mine who is also afraid of heights, but whose bravery in facing her fears is nothing less than an inspiration. I am fairly sure the introductory class we both bought will keep us on the ground. But with each of use inspiring the other to push our limits, maybe we will both end up airborn.

And let's not forget the most important part here. I promised myself to go in the box before the end of 2012. Scheduling ended up putting me there on Jan. 1, 2013. There are those that say that what you do on New Year's Day sets the tone for the rest of the year. If 2013 means that I grow stronger because I choose to conquer my fears along the way, on my own terms and in my own time, this could be the greatest year of my life yet.

Bring it 2013. Bring it.

Marilyn Donovan January 03, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Dawn: I give you a lot of credit for attempting this feat. As usual, you take after your mother in fear of heights. Sorry. I would no t have even thought about attempting this .Good going...Mom
Julie Miller January 04, 2013 at 03:01 AM
I hate the ledge too, though I'm not especially afraid of heights and I've even jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I have to restrain myself from snatching my kids back off from it. I saw a guy doing a handstand in it once. <shudder>
Ruth Vanderventer January 04, 2013 at 03:39 AM
I, too, was afraid of "the ledge" until I did Rehab Institute of Chicago 's Skyrise Chicago walk up the Willis Tower in 2010 & 2011, after that I was no longer afraid. Helping someone else makes everything easier.
Jacki McHale January 04, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Proud of you, Dawn! One day late or not. You did it. Me on the other hand I can't wait to get in that box. My fear? Open spaces. It's like the opposite of claustrophobia. Thanks for the inside story!


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