For a lot of folks, flying high means freedom from the gravity of fear, a chance to explore the blue vastness of life's possibilities, to look at clouds from the other side, and to see with heightened awareness a panoramic view of God's creation...
But for some like me, flying can be a scary proposition. It's sad that a fear of heights keeps some of us from getting airborne, from fulfilling our dreams and our life's purpose. Then again, I guess we're not so much afraid of heights as we are of falling.
I'm pulled in from the very beginning. Stowe speaks so honestly about a fear that I recognize within myself, and I immediately connect with her. I trust her to reveal to me the secrets of how to let go of my own fear and fly high.
Over a two-year period, Stowe and her former husband Peter Shockey met with Calvin on Monday mornings to write a book about Calvin's life -- about his successes as a young millionaire and city developer, his failures and crashes, and the faith and spirituality he employed to ride through it all like a winner.
Writing about Calvin's experiences and his philosophy on how to rise above adversities, Stowe reflected on her own life. Intertwined with Calvin's stories, she wrote about her own journey - about her hopes and dreams, and about the fears and insecurities that kept preventing her from living the life she was created for.
Then, Stowe was diagnosed with cancer. It brought her tremendous suffering, but it also turned out to be her wake up call. One that helped her to "move through the fear" and find the courage to "fly high."
"I felt like the sadness that was in me grew into cancer. And said: if you're not gonna live your life, you're gonna lose it," Stowe says. "And I got that in such big way."
A Second Chance
I meet with Stowe at the house she and Peter had built together. She still lives on the same gorgeous property south of Nashville, but in a guest house now that she moved into after their amicable divorce.
We sit on a comfortable couch and chat before our interview, and I look around and imagine the scenes from her book. I try to imagine her life in this house, in love with Peter, enjoying motherhood after leaving the pressures of her successful songwriting career. I imagine the girls growing up and Stowe sitting at the desk writing Flying High, playing the upright piano and longing for for her old life of music, but letting fear keep her down in her comfort zone. I recall the passages where Stowe dealt with her cancer diagnosis, and lay in the sun-room thinking she was going to die.
Stowe's eyes twinkle at me and bring me back from my thoughts. I can see how different she is today, sitting on this couch, than she was when she started writing the book. She is not afraid to be herself. She is transformed. She is at last set free from the fear that if she showed her true self she would be judged, rejected and unloved.
"Fear doesn't stop us from dying," she says with a radiant smile. "It stops us from living."
I tell her how it seems like she has truly conquered fear. But she corrects me:
'I still experience fear... I keep setting things up for myself to do that seem fearful and then I show up. And I move into them. It's like, feel the fear and do it anyway. So, it's like I just move through it.'
Determined to live, and armed with the prayers and support of her family, Stowe began to recover. She and Calvin finished Flying High, which was now richer with Stowe's own experience of rising above adversity.
After her surgery, Stowe returned to writing music, co-writing and performing with her long-time friend and fellow songwriter Karen Taylor Good. Humorous, courageous, and above all herself, Stowe inspires thousands of people through her music and talks.
Toward the end of our conversation, Stowe picks up her guitar and sings A Second Chance.
"I got a second chance to laugh and love, to sing and dance.
And oh, I know it's a sweet and precious gift, a second chance to live."
As I listen, I feel a deep desire to laugh, love, sing and dance with her. I want to fly high and experience the abandonment and power she talks about. I, too, want to learn to move through fear, letting love and grace carry me through.
I wonder if I should cut my hair into a pixie cut or get a tattoo. I might.
Today I'm making a decision to find enough courage to just show up as I am. Me. No longer letting fear scare me.
As Stowe says, 'Flying high... it's not just for the birds and the brave. I believe it's what we all are meant to do.'
Stowe Dailey is a published songwriter who has co-written with such legends of country music as Garth Brooks and the group Shenandoah. She is a published author and motivational speaker. Stowe and her co-writer Karen Taylor Good have formed the duo StoweGood to share their messages of hope and recovery with the world. Flying High is available on Amazon.com