On what it is to be brave,
There have been times in my life when people have told me that I was brave, that I was strong….when I divorced, when my mom died, when I had my heart surgery.
I didn’t feel particularly strong or brave in any of these instances.
In fact, people’s encouraging words in part frustrated me because it felt like I had no other alternatives. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving through my days, my life, doing my best to work with the hand I had been dealt.
What courage, I thought, is there in that,
not realizing that this ordinary brand of courage, this gentle strength, is momentous in its own quiet but important way.
And ironically, I now hear myself saying and thinking these same words to friends who are struggling with or facing their own life-altering events,
‘You are strong, you are brave.’
And I mean these words. And yet these friends deflect my sentiments in the same way that I once did.
I now realize, though, that it in fact takes tremendous courage to simply move through a life. And when it is done with honesty and open-heartedness, I am in awe.
In such lovely and ordinary ways, we are brave.
My friend who is terrified of flying still gets on that plane because she cannot deny her yearning to explore and travel the world,
and she who is grieving her spouse or parent does so with authenticity, expressing her tears, her anger, her laughter, despite the fact that our culture does not like to talk about grief.
This woman says what needs to be said in that meeting, what no one else will say, even though her heart feels like it will pound right out of her chest when she begins to speak
or another friend doesn’t speak up, because sometimes it is better to be kind than right.
Another woman says no to joining the committee, despite her overwhelming feelings of guilt and obligation, because she knows it is just too much
and she who is overwhelmed asks for help.
My friend leaves her marriage because it is the best thing, the only thing, for herself and for her kids
while another stays in her marriage for the same reasons.
And this one follows a path that few understand or support, yet with deep determination he keeps doing his art and persists in his vision, his passion,
whilst another takes a job because it will pay the bills and that is the bigger priority.
A mother I know watches her child walk right into a difficult situation even though it breaks her heart but she knows her child needs to navigate this particular storm on his own,
and this friend uproots and moves away because she knows deep inside that it is the right next step for her, even though it means leaving so much.
Another has the courage and confidence to shine when the moment asks for it, but also knows when it is time to stand in the background in a supporting role.
This woman shows real and uninhibited exuberance and delight in her daily encounters despite this world that presently seems to favour cynicism and guardedness,
and he who has worked for so long in pursuit of his goal finally reaches the finish line and accepts his rewards with grace, while another friend understands when the time has come to walk away.
My friend who has cancer shares with us all her reasons to smile and describes the cherished places where she finds gratitude and hope, just as she expresses her feelings of helplessness and gripping fear,
and another brave soul silently processes the news of her illness because that is her way.
We are brave.
How I almost burned the house down
My dear life-long friend and I were recently able to get away on a quick and much long-anticipated weekend getaway. I was finally able to see the vacation home that Charlotte and her husband have built along with 3 other couples, a lovely getaway in the mountains.
After arriving Friday evening we awoke Saturday morning eagerly anticipating our day of cafe breaks, walks, and early Christmas shopping. While Charlotte was showering, I went downstairs to put the kettle on for my tea. Mindlessly, as this is one of the most routine behaviours of my daily existence, I filled up the kettle with water and put it on the gas stove. I then grabbed my phone and dialed Dan and the kids to have a quick chat, and see how their night had been.
As I was chatting with Olivia, I began to smell a combination of smoke and burning plastic. I looked over at the stove-top, and noticed that the entire bottom of the ELECTRIC KETTLE, exposed wire and all, was on fire.
Yes, readers , I put an electric kettle on a gas range and almost burned the house down, and not even my house, but my friend’s house that she shares with 3 other families.
As I was throwing bowls of water on top of the stove, I was half-panicking, half-imagining how I would tell everyone what I had done. And as the smoke alarm was going off, I was weakly calling Charlotte’s name, not really wanting her to come down before I had attempted to peel off the hard pieces of melted kettle off the burners.
The most embarrassing part of this whole story, though, is that neither Charlotte nor Dan were entirely surprised by what I did,
but they both still love me.
So, if you see me randomly bursting into laughter in the grocery store aisle or while waiting to pick up my kids,
I am probably just remembering what I did.
I have a few projects on the go right now, and often wonder at when and how they should intersect. They inevitably do intertwine, though, and so it feels right to extend an invitation to my readers to my PeaceCard evening slated for an evening in late November.
For at least the last ten years, I have imagined such mini-retreats~ times set aside for honest connection, meaning, and simple and artful play. I know so many of us crave this, and I also know it lacks in many of our lives.
Women have always gathered. My mother and her friends used to gather so often, whether to quilt and craft, or talk and plan. This is women’s play and it is essential to so many of us, to our well-being. To find out what I have dreamed up for this first evening of its kind, please message me for the details.