Bravery

Bravery

Bravery.

I don’t often think about this characteristic in myself or in others and yet it is one of those that seems to either drive one’s entire life or is left out altogether. What does it even mean to be brave? I am sure the dictionary has a clever definition of this substantive word, but I often like to ask myself what does the word mean to me — or to turn and ask what it means to you?

For me, bravery means you are “out on the edge of the branch” with yourself. You recognize what is safe and what is risky and, if it really means a lot to yourself, you take the chance and risk into something that is out of one’s comfort zone — that takes bravery. That takes leading life “out there” not know what will happen, but also knowing you have your own back to catch yourself if you fall rather than fly.

Is that how you would define bravery? I would be curious to hear your definition.

How do you know when you are being brave? Well, when you are scared to speak a truth or have a conversation at all — that is brave. If you are doing something for the first time that is uncomfortable and unfamiliar — that is brave. If you are risking a part of yourself to love, to create, to enjoy, and to do just about anything else — that is brave. Breaking a pattern or a way of being — that is brave.

Sometimes it is important to remind one’s self all the ways you’ve been brave in your life to date. My guess is you are already braver than you think. Make sure to take the long inventory of your life to think through how bravery has played into your life in so many of the decisions you have made. For me, I have a laundry list — heading to India on an intuitive notion and giving up my whole world to reconcile my bi-racial identity, meeting a man and moving countries to find out what we may be to one another and ending up marrying him 18 years ago, creating a start-up business out of pure passion and riding her to the end and letting go when it was long past time, facing myself both the good and bad parts and extending compassion to both.

I am thinking you have your own unique bravery list, but I also want to shine the spotlight on people who don’t care to be brave. For some, this is not how they want to lead life. Instead they value safety, familiarity, patterns and rhythms that are abiding through the ages personally and across time. This may take the shape of someone who accepts things at status quo, lives the life that was laid before them as a child and walked on through, and does not break out or away from the known throughout life. I don’t necessarily think these people are not brave, I just don’t think they prize this as a desirable characteristic.

Yet, even then, to live is brave. Even if we are to go forward with no abrupt changes or departures, we will grow up, grow old, lose loved ones, make decisions related to our careers, perhaps meet and marry and maybe raise a family. Even in the mundane, bravery is brimming over the cup. To be human, to live is to be brave. It does not have to be any extraordinary journey that we need embrace to claim it for ourselves.

To live is to be brave.If you were to define bravery, how would you frame it for yourself? From there, what has been your bravest moment in this life?

Cheers to you and your bravery.

How Helplessness Serves Us

How Helplessness Serves Us
How does helplessness serve you?

Helplessness is not something that any of us aspire to, right? To be helpless is to feel out of control, unable to make a difference, and a general feeling of being useless to improve a situation.

Not good, right? Most of us seek to feel and be helpful to ourselves and others in our community. However, sometimes we use helplessness as a defense to not have to take responsibility for ourselves and actions. We may not even be conscious of doing this, but we claim “We didn’t know,” or “We didn’t know what to do” or “I’ve never had to deal with this before,” and more.

Whenever you hear yourself or others saying these types of phrases, raising your consciousness that you have said such a thing and becoming curious about what may or may not be going on is essential. Perhaps you truly are helpless in a situation but perhaps, in order to not have to fully engage, you say these things to get distance and not have to take ownership.

All of us have taken this stance at one time or another. When we are out of our comfort zone, we often feel helpless. There is nothing wrong with the feeling. Actually, making peace with a feeling of helplessness is important. From there, instead of making excuses to gain that distance and get out from uncomfortable situations, we can move in and tolerate feelings of not knowing and how this may shake us to the core. However, it can also lead us to tolerating this state and move toward trying to figure it out so we can be helpful and feel we can do something about a situation.

With the Black Lives Matter Movement, this is a place where we may feel helpless. In feeling this, we may just close our eyes to the pain in our society, we may run away, we may try to adhere to a neutral stance, or just check out. Instead of taking these actions, feeling our helplessness and moving toward it to greater understanding can move us out of using our helplessness to keep us distant, in denial. and upholding the systems in place as they are.

Replacing helplessness with curiosity is key to openings for ourselves, our community, and to creating systems that incorporate the entire society. Next time you feel helpless instead of running away, run in and engage, open up to curiosity, and see where this may take you to a place where you can feel helpful.

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

 

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is an old-fashioned saying that sounds simple enough to understand, but difficult to appreciate without feeling external pressure on one’s appearance. Most of the time, just like this saying points to, the way we see our own beauty is through another’s eyes, the one beholding us. In a way, most of the time, we give our power over to another to judge our looks, our body, our physical appearance by another – rather than ourselves.

All the world over, women look to form their ideas around beauty by looking at others, holding them up as beautiful, and then striving to look like them. Unfortunately, the standards we uphold are often unrealistic and not even attainable. Most of these images are air brushed to perfection. Something that always sets up someone to fail, as perfection does not exist. However, to be one’s best self in the eye of her own self is not even considered as we are always looking to the other for validation and admiration of our beauty.

Although it may seem a part and parcel of one’s life – i.e. the idea of how much the other’s eye is on us and is important to us – we are hardly aware of it at all.  We wake up, work out, eat right, dress up, and make ourselves up to fit into what society and the other deems acceptable. It is very difficult to actually sit down and think about whether we want to do any of these things for ourselves – not just for the beholder. We are taught to not consider our own eye.

Unfortunately, this leads to undue pressure on ourselves – often pressure we simply live with and acclimate to each day of our lives. Stepping out of these expectations is a novel idea. To live one’s life looking upon our beauty from our own eye is a radical concept. To consider our appearance, our bodies, and how we care for ourselves along what expresses our own truth and makes ourselves happy is novel.

Yet, in undoing and letting go of other’s ideals of what is beautiful is a bold first step to living a life true to ourselves. First, think intentionally about your own appearance. What do you love about your body, your face, your hair, and any other features you want to focus on? How does your love of these parts of your body make you feel? Perhaps you want to accent them and focus on these parts of your beautiful self. And it may not be in the ways that society says you should embrace them. Let’s say you love your eyes. You can choose to do them up or go natural. Which way makes you feel beautiful?

Being able to look at beauty standards around the world and then intuitively think through what feels right to you is the important next step to define your own beautiful standards. Living out the truth of your own beauty is what we are then called to do to feel good, look good, express confidence in ourselves, and ultimately to embrace our unique beauty.  

Beauty begins within and not with the eye of the beholder. Let’s take the brave step to reimagine this phrase in this way and embrace our authentic beauty.

Treat Yourself

It’s the first Monday of February Nothing is really special today. I woke up to realize it is still winter. Still gloomy. Still rainy. We are in a Leap Year, so February offers us 29 days this year – still short by a full day. February always feels short and sweet to me, but it is indeed regular time.

So, why would today or this week be one where you would treat yourself?

Well, exactly for this reason! Life is not offering up a particular holiday to celebrate, spring is still a ways off, and a month of 2020 has already slipped away. To capture the day and the moments in these ordinary days, it is important to make them memorable in your own way. Treating yourself is good for the soul on days like this.

What is a treat? I actually looked up images for treats and all it showed me was Halloween Tricks and Treats – what? Is that all American society thinks about when we hear the word treat?

For me, a treat is anything that I look forward to –perhaps it is that special coffee drink that you indulge in occasionally, or a piece of your favorite chocolate, perhaps it’s giving and receiving a foot massage, maybe you are going to whip up something delicious or – better yet- eat something sweet and rich.

A treat is something – big or small, can takes a lot of time or mere moments – but it is something special fo you to indulge in right in this moment.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and treat yourself! (No tricks needed!)

Who Are You Living For Anyway?

Life Your Way

I often hear people say they are living life for others. It’s so common that people say it without even giving it a second thought. It’s also something people say in plain, clear language:

  • It’s the kids I live for.
  • It’s work that gives my whole life meaning.
  • My spouse/partner makes my life worthwhile.
  • My parents need me.

It’s so common in American society — and actually this is true in most parts of the world – to live for anyone but yourself.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I live life for me.”

If you have, what was your first thought? I can think of many first thoughts in response to this little phrase, including:

  • Gee, that’s selfish.
  • How does he do that?
  • What’s wrong with him?
  • How shallow – no wonder he is alone.

Somewhere along the way living life for ourselves in our unique way became a problem for most people. Perhaps it was our parents who taught us and modeled for us being responsible and adjusting ourselves to please others? Perhaps it is easier to give one’s life over to some outside force, such as work, to not have to make decisions about one’s life? Perhaps we have experience with handing our power over to our partners and living for them rather than ourselves?

There are any number of reasons we live for everyone else and thing rather than ourselves. To put ourselves first is risky as we may be seen as selfish and unable to handle the responsibility called life.

So, how do we live for ourselves while also not being seen as “bad” or a “lone wolf?” Well, it’s all about you. We can never control how another will think of us, but we can control how we think of ourselves. Living life for you doesn’t mean you are selfish, but rather that you are embracing the highest form of you to contribute to the world, your community, and relationships. By being true to yourself, you aid the world in moving one step closer to authenticity. You also serve as a role model for others who are striving to do the same, i.e. to live an authentic life.

It is all in how we frame it for ourselves. Next time we are asked what or who we are living for, pause for a moment before you reply.

Who are you living for today?