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Chris Linnares, Published December 25 2013

Linnares: Finding a dose of sanity for la vida loca

Life can be crazy, and we all deserve a dose of sanity – especially this time of the year when our motivation seems to plummet like the temperature and our to-do lists seem to pile up as deep as the snow.

Every holiday season I give myself a theme for the year to come, a declaration by which I will live my life. I am personally not big into a “New Year’s resolution,” but rather, a New Year’s REVOLUTION – where I like to note the areas of my life I need to revolutionize to create a year worth living for. For 2014, I am declaring a FEARLESS YEAR!

I know from experience that there is no better way to overcome our fears than to boost our faith. For all my friends who stay away from talks of faith, don’t leave yet! I am talking in terms of not only belief, but of science, too.

Authors Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman, authors of “How God Changes Your Brain,” have scanned the brains of the actively faithful – including Franciscan nuns in contemplative prayer and Buddhists meditating. The study shows the powerful effect that faith has on our health and the well-being of our brains.

Faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof. When we have faith, we are able to take a leap into something we can’t foresee or predict but can only imagine. I believe an act on faith can help us achieve our deepest dream or even a simple wish.

Two weeks ago, I was able to accomplish a lifelong wish – one that I always wanted to do but was terrified of. The wish was simply to walk on a frozen lake.

For my North Dakotan friends, this is no big deal and doesn’t require much courage. But for this Brazilian who gets terrified when the temperature drops to a “mere” 30 above, it’s a huge deal to think about walking on a frozen lake that, at any second, could crack open and gulp up anyone who dare tread it.

At least that is what the American movies of my memory told me! For my Brazilian tropical mind, walking on a frozen lake is so surreal that if I tell my my Catholic Brazilian family I saw a man walking on water on Detroit Lake they would think the Messiah had finally come back!

After buying all the proper winter clothes needed for my arctic adventure – including a face mask that made me look like a bank robber – I was amazed at the price I paid to keep myself safe from a frozen death.

With this price I could easily buy a ticket to Mexico. But hey, I am getting ready for my Fearless Year. Evacuating to Mexico wouldn’t fit with my strategy to revolutionize my mind and soul for the year to come.

As I took my first step on the lake, I could hear the fearful voice asking, what if? What if the headline of The Forum read “Lost Brazilian frozen to death in Detroit Lake?”

The fear I am talking about is not the natural survival mechanism we all have, but the voice that tries to hold us back. Luckily, another voice was beckoning. The voice of faith was asking, “Why not? – Why not walk on water today? Why not let this simple act be the beginning of an amazing fearless year?”

That day on the lake, my faith was bigger than my fear. My belief that everything would be OK overcame the feeling of despair, and I walked on a frozen lake for the first time in my life, even after living in Fargo for almost eight years.

From my leap of faith I went to Facebook – I couldn’t help but share my proud moment. My Brazilian friends were posting: “You are crazy! I can’t believe it! This is surreal!”

My North Dakotan friends were saying, “What is the big deal? I’ve been doing this since I was 2!”

Each one of us has an area in our lives where we can challenge ourselves to take a leap of faith. It can be as simple as a walk on the lake or as daunting as the dream to write a novel. Beyond each wish and journey, you will encounter the voice asking, “What if?” and giving you excuses to walk away. You can also tune your ears to the call of faith’s voice asking two simple words: “Why not?”

In this New Year, I wish for you, no matter how crazy life gets, a fearless year where your faith will not just improve your health, but allow you to achieve your deepest dream and walk on water.

Why not?

Chris Linnares is international author, psychotherapist and founder of Women’s Impact, formerly Diva Connection Foundation. Originally from Brazil, she lives in Fargo with her daughter and husband Bill Marcil Jr., publisher of The Forum. To suggest a woman for this column, email chris@womensimpact.org. For more information on Linnares’ work, visit www.chrislinnares.com.