one brave thing
i forget sometimes that i can be brave.
i sometimes think the countervailing forces of the world — the ones that whisper to me that i’m not good enough, don’t belong, won’t pass muster — they’ll knock me down. buckle me at the knees.
i especially hear those whispers when i’m standing at a precipice, about to take a flying leap off a ledge. a ledge like walking into a newsroom as a nurse + 1 year of grad school (as if that gave me any cred to run around the big bad city, with my reporter’s notebook flapping in the wind). a ledge like walking into labor and delivery, knowing the lump in my belly would soon be cradled in my arms and heart forever after. a ledge like writing a book from the deepest place in my heart and being afraid it will be panned.
i sometimes think of myself as a chicken. a wimp of the first order. i keep watch on folks who look to be brave, and wonder, “how, oh, how do they do that?” here’s a secret: sometimes when i talk to them, when we both unfold our hearts, i find out that they’re just as scared as i am, but they shush away those nasty whispers. or march headlong into them, never minding the awful bluster.
of course i have to remind myself — over and over and over — of that little truth. that the courage to face fears is sometimes simply plugging your ears to the noise, and deciding to hum your own little courage tune.
and just in case, i’ve come up with a back-up plan, or maybe it’s a fortifying plan. it’s modeled off the vitamins of my youth. it’s the one-a-day plan. one brave thing each day. that’s it.
i understand deeply that the trail up the mountainside comes one footstep at a time. no one’s taking giant leaps for womankind. they’re taking normal human strides, one foot in front of the other, and suddenly they’re at a point that’s halfway up. or nearly at the top.
it’s the one-brave-thing plan. i muster as much courage as it takes for one bold move — sending off the email that makes me quiver in my clogs. making the scary phone call before my voice gets caught in my throat. taking five deep breaths then plunging in.
and here’s the beauty: once you’ve done the single deed, you’re done for the day. no more bravery required. or if you do decide to fling on your bravery cape, you do so with the triumphant knowledge that you’re now in extra-credit land. (i admit to being one of those little kids who always loved the buffer zone of extra credit; more or less the shortcut up the mountainside. or at least a remarkable insurance plan, there in case you need it.)
this one brave thing can work for anyone. no matter what the commodity you’re in search of. it’s just as easily the one-blank-thing plan. say kindness is what you quest; do one kind thing a day, and you’re on your way. maybe it’s patience. same plan. fill in the blank, and tackle it one sure feat at a time.
i used to think — and often still do, truth be told — that courage was black or white, an on or off switch. you have it or you don’t. and i was pretty sure i would never be called up to the courage major leagues. but what i’m working on — trying to teach my thick-headed little self — is that, like muscles, you can build it, drop by drop, layer by layer, bit by bit.
so i’m not looking to turn into the queen of confidence. i’m just trying to start and end the day with one new checkmark in the courage column. i’ve sent off notes — one by one — to folks whose work i love. i still await reply. but honestly, the replies might not matter as much as figuring out that i can dig down deep and yank out my daily dose of being brave.
one of these days i just might glance in the foggy mirror and see a brave girl looking back at me.
till then, i’m working on it: one brave thing, my humble quota for the day.
we’re all works in progress and isn’t that the place from which our beauty comes? and speaking of courage, top of my mind this morning is a boy i love who is walking into a very big meeting but feeling VERY under the weather. he is being oh so brave. and i am offering up all my courage — and whatever else it takes — for him to glide through that meeting, unscathed.
no need to answer down below (these are private matters of the heart and soul, after all), but what one thing might you submit to the one-a-day plan? what’s the commodity you long for, and might you find it slowly surely certainly?
a bit of housekeeping: i know some of you have loved “on the wings of the hummingbird,”the blog of my beautiful friend mary ellen sullivan, who died last year. for a few weeks, it’s seemed the hummingbird was lost, but the good news is that it’s forever in the cybersphere, thank you to the great good folk at wordpress.com. and you can find it here. (it’s just a slightly longer url, but it’s all there, beautiful as ever.)
Your post shocked me today. As I have been telling my work colleagues in Riverwoods about your latest book, I describe you as the person I know who is brave enough to live with your heart wide open, and that while your second book is about to be published, you are so brave that you write a blogpost where you talk wide open about love, prayer, spirituality, and how the world needs us all to lead with those values right now.
I believe your superwoman cape is always on, and since it is constantly billowing behind you, you are just heading forward and do not often see it sailing in the breeze behind you.
You are one of my personal heroes.
bless your heart! what a beautiful way to put it. i will now begin imagining the billowing behind me. it’s just that i am right here at this precipice, and that’s when the scaries come out to taunt. i got brave and wrote this post because i think we all want to know that deep down we all share the same fears, worries, wobbles. not many i know are immune. i hope and pray it helps to know that we’re all wobbly souls, soldiering on, one brave moment at a time.
your kind and beautiful words above will scaffold me through this day and the days ahead. love that cape image. it’s making me laugh. xoxo
you are beyond courageous for making yourself vulnerable every time you write an entry in your blog. to me, that is real courage!!
we are leaving soon for spring break, but really hope we can meet upon our return.
cheers to you, sweet and courageous lady!
On Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 9:03 AM, pull up a chair wrote:
> bam posted: ” i forget sometimes that i can be brave. i sometimes think > the countervailing forces of the world — the ones that whisper to me that > i’m not good enough, don’t belong, won’t pass muster — they’ll knock me > down. buckle me at the knees. i espec” >
oh my goodness gracious — such serendipity! i was just driving down the lane last night, trying to pick out which pretty front door was yours, and thinking that now that spring has sprung, i need to wander up and knock knock knock. meet you soon!!!! and bless you….
I see you, sweet Barbie, as one of those “folks who look to be brave” and often use that as my own inspiration. Thanks for your blessing of vulnerability and beauty in the words you share. jdb
i find courage so much more powerful when i understand the work behind it, and when i see the vulnerability. it’s not a given for so many of us — and we hold each others’ hearts and hands as we march forward….
p.s. i love seeing you here. thank you. xox
What MDP said. I love your concept of one step. I am going to try. And though you may not feel brave, as MDP said, you’re a superhero. No one works as an oncology peds nurse who isn’t brave to the bone. Nor puts her heart out there in words to teach and comfort others, knowing there will be wounds along the way. You give us all courage to keep trying, one brave and loving act at a time. Bless you. Love you.
i find it so much easier to be brave as long as i’m in the shadows. and when the wounds come, i know the love i find here soothes the sting. there is strength in knowing the one-a-day plan is shared with those i love who are digging deep to find some untapped reservoir within….you’ve got reservoirs to fill the empty aching places in all the world…….
I did my one brave thing today 🙂 I thought of your post and listened to this song along the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHxRsSSeNBo Thanks for the reminder to be brave 🙂
I can’t tell you the joy that brings me. And now we have an anthem! “You can do the hard thing.”
one brave thing…one good thing…it’s all of a piece. we’re all marching, steadfastly, step by step, ever forward. oh so grateful to have you with me on my journey. xox
i love your poetic, heart-stoking recording of one good thing, day by day…….thank you SO much for circling by….xoxox
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