Remember what the wise man said…there’s nothing to fear…

It is so easy to give a “thumbs up” to the quote “Do what you are afraid of.” The most popular of the overused yet under realized current online “positive messages”.

I include myself in the group of individuals who have kicked themselves out of a self-imposed safety zone and stepped into the land of fear.

Do not for a moment confuse this with recklessness.

Fear comes in all forms. Confronting fear does not always include a danger to your personal safety. Speaking in public can be as debilitating for some as the rattlesnakes I face.

Due to the pride I feel, the free education I receive, the friendships I have formed and sense of community that comes from volunteering at the Superstition Mountain Museum, I will not give up  simply because the reality of where I will be doing it might be unsettling.

Volunteering in the barn requires me to face my greatest fear as a life-long desert kid. I will see live rattlesnakes on a regular basis.

The quote “Oh someone else will do it.” should actually be what gets hundreds of those easily given “thumbs up” online.

“Someone else” seems to live in a magic land “somewhere” and shows up magically when everyone else decides not to bother or care.

You see, magic individuals moved the barn I stand in piece by piece over to the museum. Each slat of wood numbered so it could be rebuilt exactly as it was before fire destroyed everything around it. The barn holds memories I am now proud to help protect.IMG_0701

For free.

Why should I get paid to stand in that amazing old barn for a few hours every Saturday? In an air-conditioned shop, selling trinkets and ice cream and watching Elvis, why should I receive anything when around me are people who don’t and have given so much more?

Because there are rattlesnakes and “someone else” can do it.

Well guess what?

No, there isn’t a line of eager people who can seem to give a few hours of their time. Nope. Too busy. Plenty of excuses. Someone else can.

My most recent encounter with a very aggressive rattler had a profound effect on me physically once it was all over. I don’t want you to think for a moment it didn’t.

Facing your fear is bigger and means so much more than a stupid “thumbs up” from a stranger online.

As evil as I can be at times, being completely alone facing a rattler who has reared back is not anything I would wish upon anyone.

Blessed with a combination of born and raised desert instincts, prior Zoo training and being a Mom, fear stepped into another realm so focus could slide in. Though I was alone, the Museum grounds were not closed, so an unsuspecting person could walk up at any time and I can guarantee they will be wearing flip flops. The rattler was in direct route of me getting help and at the entrance to the barn. My boss was not answering his phone so once the rattler settled back down and started to move on,IMG_0392.JPG I made the decision to RUN as fast as I could to get help while still trying to watch the snake to see where it would go into the Blacksmiths area. I am the only one who knows where this loaded weapon is and I have to get help and get back over there before a child finds it.

In steel toe boots I am a blur across the desert.img_8533

When all was said and done, I sat in my car to go home and I burst into tears. I am not for a moment going to let you think I am some non-feeling desert robot. I got home and threw up. The reality of what I had dealt with, including a sandal wearing idiot who insisted upon leaning over the wooden Blacksmiths counter to take a picture of a loudly rattling snake before the Fire department could arrive, had set in. This man was really lucky I used my stick to move him back and not knock him up side the head with it.IMG_0397

It took hours for me to feel relatively normal again.

Now after that story, not even complete with all of the details, and knowing this was my third straight week in a row of facing a rattler, I am positive there are plenty of you who would say I have every reason to not go back.

Except I am needed and qualified. And as it turns out I am one of those “someone else” who can be counted on to show up not because she’s getting paid but because she said she would and picked up a few more shifts because no one else did.

“Do what you fear…”

So, what are you afraid of really? Less time in front of the T.V? Less computer time for you to give a “thumbs up”? Weight loss?

Afraid of an ounce of inconvenience? A minute of un comfort?

Are  you afraid to sweat?

Or are you afraid I am talking honestly and directly to you and you now feel a need to answer…well don’t. I’m not looking for your thumbs up or your why.

I have two shifts this week…you can put money on it I will see at least one rattler.

Remember what the wise man said…there’s nothing to fear…

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so what did you do this weekend?

Have you ever been so tired from talking at work that your face starts to hurt? But you keep going because you still have another hour and a half left. Your head hurts. Your neck hurts. You feel like you have heard yourself say the same thing way too many times?

I volunteer at the Superstition Mtn. Museum. A big part of my role at the museum is helping our guests understand the history behind the Apacheland Movie Ranch memorabilia we have. Apacheland filmed movies, TV shows and commercials from 1960 until it burned down on Valentines Day 2004. The only structures unharmed were the barn and the chapel and they were moved to the museum grounds.img_4250

I work in the barn in the General Store on Saturdays and for the last year I have watched the western movie “Charro!” as I sell ice cream and trinkets. Elvis made “Charro!” at Apacheland in 1969. He plays a gritty cowboy. There is no singing in the movie. Elvis does sing the opening song but you don’t see him. It’s a fun movie. I watch it roughly 2.5 times a shift. I have the t-shirt for it. I am in a unique club of people who have it memorized.  So far, I am the only member I know of but I’m sure there are more of us out there.IMG_0701

This weekend we had a big event at the museum. Amazing artists came for three days to showcase their work.IMG_1402

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The museum also has a lecture series on Thursdays while the weather is fabulous. You get to learn all kinds of cool stuff for free. Hundreds of people show up to these lectures.img_8527

I am told this past Thursday they talked about Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead and asked the artists if they wanted to put up a display/altar for this weekend. They did. It is fabulous. It is in the Elvis chapel.

(Side note for any out there not familiar..Dia is celebrated Oct 31, Nov 1 and 2 and this is March 10,11 and 12.)

I said yes to volunteering an extra day, going in on Friday and Saturday. I was told I would be a “wrapper” (…of course I rapped…badly…at my crispy but adorable boss. Apparently, that is the standard response and his blank face at me made me enjoy my stupidity even more.)

I get over to the barn and start sweating profusely when I really realize what they are actually asking me to do. Oh, that hand painted one of a kind pottery people are paying lots of money for? Yeah Stace, wrap it up and bag it while they go pay and make sure you give them the right bags when they come back. Don’t drop, chip, bump…breathe…..!!!!!IMG_1424

The wrapping station is in the barn in an old movie prop Saloon area that is too small for me and the elderly volunteer couple I am assigned with. IMG_4264 (1) (actual space…yes we moved the props, no those are not the other volunteers)

The barn is filled with artists showing original works, some worth thousands.IMG_1399

I’m terrified.

My boss comes back about five minutes later…I am needed elsewhere.

Halleluiah thank you baby Jesus! I can’t get out of there fast enough.

“Where am I going?” I ask but honestly don’t care.

As I am being escorted over to the Elvis chapel I am given the edited, ridiculously shortened, a third of a readers digest version of why. The Dia display combined with the Elvis chapel is making some of our guests brains explode (not exactly my bosses wording but…)IMG_1439

I had no idea what this weeks lecture was about. Bad volunteer me I didn’t go. Spank me. All I knew was we had three days of artists coming and it gets busy.

I am also “half Italian and half some form of English Irish mutt mix” is what my dad used to say, who knows. But I’m not Mexican, so no, I can’t give you a museum level run down on Dia de los Muertos on less than a two minute notice with no prep. Sugar skulls are cool. Dia isn’t in March. It’s a celebration. That’s the extent of my Dia knowledge.

But I sure as hell can tell you about Elvis in Charro! and my boss knew it. Plus, he knows my sense of humor and how shy I am….

Throw Stace into the Dia de Elvis Chapel for two days and see what happens.IMG_1441

Instantly its go time.

About two hours in there’s a lull in traffic and I’m alone. A banana falls from the top of the altar sending fruit and candles tumbling onto the floor. My completely inappropriate response to this is to quietly whisper/yell “fuuuuucccckk!!!!”as I am diving to the floor for the fruit and candles.

I have no clue how to put it back and now of course people are coming in. I hastily put the fruit and candle over to the side, positive both my dead grandma and mother just knocked me upside the head from the grave for messing up an altar and cussing at it.

The “Elvis Chapel” is only in the background of the Elvis movie and the top gets blown up. They did not film inside of it for Charro! but I am told Elvis did go inside during breaks.

Combining Elvis with the fact that this chapel didn’t burn down when practically everything else at Apacheland did, well, you will never convince a die-hard Elvis fan that THAT chapel isn’t special. Add hundreds if not thousands of weddings performed to date in the chapel. It’s a special building.IMG_6237

The outside of the chapel photographs beautifully with the Superstition behind it. The chapel is famous in it’s own right but most of our guests have the facts all wrong. Two days of “ no, Elvis didn’t get married here….”, “no…this is not Apacheland this is the museum….” “…you’re right, today isn’t Dia de los Muertos….”

My face hurts.