Creative Freelancer & Writer

The Potent Blend of Inspiration & Fear

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Woman Falling From the Treetops

Have you ever daydreamed about embarking on an life-changing adventure to only stop dead in your tracks in fear and think, “What the hell was I thinking? There’s no way I can do this.”

That’s what sailed through my mind when my husband and I started talking about becoming location independent with our businesses. I own my own graphic design business where I’m the head pixel alchemist (graphic designer /photo retoucher/website creator). My self-employed husband is a lifelong computer pro (he actually beta tested Windows 95 before its release.)

We thought detaching ourselves from geography was so cool we even created an acronym for our future endeavor.

L.I.F.E.R. | Location Independent Freelance Entrepreneur Renegade

Armed with 5 dry erase boards, we brainstormed all types of work that could be done via a laptop and an internet connection. We’d be able to detach ourselves from geography and work whenever and wherever we wanted.

It sounds like an incredible adventure doesn’t it? Full of excitement and inspiration.

But for me there was a catch. This adventure would come with ginormous side order of fear in the form of a 44 inch tall, 45 lb. little boy named Toby.

The Party Started Early

Fearfully Tiny - Toby Wearing Daddy's Wedding RingToby’s arrival scared the hell out of my husband and I. He was born 3 months early in October, 2007 via an emergency c-section. He weighed a mere 34 ounces. That’s a little more than 1,000 grams or 2 lbs., 1.8 ounces in layman’s terms. A little more than the weight of a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven or a large drink at McDonald’s. He measured 11″ long – the height of a letter-sized piece of paper.

His extremely early entrance into the world almost claimed my own life in the process due to undiagnosed HELLP Syndrome.

For seventy nine days in the NICU, as I looked at him through the thick glass of his incubator. I was only allowed to hold him 10-15 minutes per day. I held my breath waiting for him to take his next. I watched the heart monitors beat the rhythm of his tiny, premature life.

My life became preoccupied with thoughts of what kind of future Toby would have and whether or not he could have physical, mental and/or emotional delays from being born so early.

Even through numerous transfusions, x-rays, CT scans, eye tests, blood work, Toby amazed the doctors and nurses. He was discharged on December 31, 2007 at a whopping 6 lbs, 4 oz. and 19 inches long.

Once safe at home, Toby’s tiny body never left my arms. He slept on my chest every night so I could rest assured he was still breathing and his heart was still beating.

After 6 months, the constant stress, strain and lack of true sleep took its toll lead to anxiety, then to panic attacks, and then to a complete emotional breakdown. I inevitably became broken to a point where I was afraid to even hold my own baby. I battled guilt every single day for not feeling anything for him. Medication to treat the post-partum depression and the post-traumatic stress disorder made me suicidal. My husband checked me into a psychiatric hospital where I ended up spending my very first Mother’s Day (hence the reason I don’t get excited about that particular holiday.)

THAT Kind of Mommy

I’ll admit it, I’ve got some pretty deep scars from Toby’s birth and the subsequent breakdown. Recovering from depression, even post-partum, takes a long time. You don’t “get over it” with a flick of the switch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy about my son Toby – but in a good and a bad way. There’s times (more often than not) that I become completely consumed with his well-being because no one can tell us definitively what issues Toby may or may not have. I suffer from the merry-go-round of “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop” to “I’m just over reacting and everything’s just fine” to “I wonder if there will be any lasting effects from the severe prematurity” back to “I wish I could just enjoy my son without worrying about him every second.”

I’ve often wondered if it is possible to have a heart full of joy and be completely terrified at the same time. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I do worry whether my friends and family think I’m a big mountain of cuckoo who’s about to erupt and spew molten crazy.

So the thought of being around, watching over, and taking care of Toby 24/7, in addition to homeschooling him while we’re on the road, makes me more than a little nervous.

Here’s just a few of the thoughts that rattle around in my head on a daily basis:

  • Will I be able to spend every single day around my son without losing the captain of my brain ship?
  • Is it even a good idea to spend that much time together.
  • What if I start to resent Toby instead of enjoy him?
  • Do I have the chops to cut it as a homeschooler while on the road?
  • How will Toby react to not living in a house. Will he adjust to being “mobile friendly?”
  • How do I keep the nagging Nellie’s out of my head that plant the seeds of doubt whether I’m keeping Toby’s best interest at heart.
  • Is it possible to balance being a wife, Mommy, business owner and freelancer or am I doomed to fail at all of them?
  • Will people think we’re nutty fruitcakes to get rid of everything we own and take to the open road?
  • What if we end up losing everything?
  • What will we do then?
  • What if, what if, what if?

But what if #myfearfuladventure proved to be successful? What if I was able to finally put the past behind me and enjoy my time with my little Sweet Pea. We’ve both come so far and have gone through so much. How could I live with myself if I didn’t at least try?


Our fearless son Toby celebrating his birthday at the beachToby is now 5 1/2 years old. I thank God that he’s happy, healthy and full of the funniest giggles and facial expressions you’ll ever see. There’s still some lingering language and social issues, but we’ve come up with some pretty innovative ways to work with him in a way that suits him, not us.

I daydream about the awesomeness that would result from providing our son with real world experiences. How cool will it be to be able to watch National Treasure and then head off to Washington, D.C. to see the sights and explore the history of our founding fathers. I’m 43 years old and I’ve never been to Mt. Rushmore. Toby and I could see it for the first time – together. And don’t even get me started about the grandness of the Grand Canyon. Woah!

My motivation for sharing all of this with you is help me conquer this fear that scares the living be-jeebies of me. It’s facing my fear, giving it a swift kick in the pants and telling it where it can go with a one-way bus pass to get there. I’ve decided to let this be my declaration – by writing about it and then putting it out here for everyone to read (and hopefully understand and support.)

We’re already working towards getting this show on the road. In April, 2013, my husband and I launched Happy Little Shopper where we share common sense tips for uncommon savings.

How about you? Do you struggle with a particular fear? How’s the battle going or have you conquered it. Please share your story in the comments below.

Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.”

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…

Colleen Conger

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