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Zip Lining—Women Stepping off the Edge

I started working for a zip line1 company this summer. As a guide I was trained to step off a platform and fly through the trees at thirty miles an hour. This was terrifying for me as a Jewish woman. I had to face my fears of death while focusing my attention on learning all the proper safety techniques. I also had to trust the equipment, the other guide, and myself.

In Co-Counseling sessions after each training day, it was helpful to tell my counselor, “I’m still alive. In fact, I may be good at this job.” By the end of the season I felt proud of myself for having let go of old patterns I had thought were keeping me safe, such as “I am a woman so I don’t take dangerous risks” or “I’m too nice and quiet for this kind of job.”

I wanted to share this feat with my mother, Ruth Jacobson-Hardy, a Co-Counselor who turned sixty this fall, so I organized a zip lining trip for her and nine other women Co-Counselors ranging in age from twenty-two to sixty-five, including my sister. We had a short class before the trip, did mini-sessions halfway through, and gathered again after the trip for appreciations and more discharge.

I felt comfortable with the zip lining. However, some stuff2 came up about other people trusting my ability to do my job and how disappointed I would be if my mom or others decided not to complete the course.

I had everyone watch me as I set up. I usually avoid nervous feelings and self doubt by working quickly so that nobody notices me. It was scary to have everyone paying attention while I worked. It was also a great contradiction3 to have a group of women with me who believed in my skills.

I noticed how I usually distract zip line guests with jokes and small talk to keep their attention off flying through the trees from platforms forty feet off the ground. On a normal trip, there is not enough time or resource to counsel every person. In contrast, we Co-Counselors emphasized being present. We shook, laughed, screamed (loudly and frequently), cried, and cheered each other on each step of the way.

When we women take on4 challenges, we are often good at looking calm and collected while on the inside we may be terrified or lack confidence. This time we did not have to “hold it together.”5 Some of the women had been zip lining before or had participated in other adventurous activities, and this time they could actually notice their feelings. It was empowering to show ourselves fully while trusting the equipment, the guides, and each other. The adventure left me feeling hopeful about women’s liberation.

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA

Both during the trip and in a recent session, I had access to material6 that I had needed to discharge decades ago. Thank you, everyone, for the attention and support you gave me up in the trees and down here on earth!

Marikler G. Toensmeier
Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA

I was thrilled to get this chance to “step off the edge” with each other. It was both terrifying and empowering every time I took that step. I will remember this day forever. We did it together. We were brave and loud and fully present. We each brought out the best in all of us, and we have each other like never before. I can see that the decade of the sixties is going to be one of joy, closeness, stepping off a few edges, and being alive!

Ruth Jacobson-Hardy
Florence, Massachusetts, USA

1 A zip line consists of a pulley on a cable that’s mounted on an incline. The user holds on or is attached to the freely moving pulley and travels from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable, propelled by gravity.
2 “Stuff” means distress.
3 Contradiction to distress
4 “Take on” means undertake.
5 “Hold it together” means stay calm and not show feelings.
6 “Material” means distress.

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00