Bravery and scars…



Where’s your scar?

You know the one I mean… the scar that signifies an event or moment that forever changed you.

I know very few people who don’t have scars of one kind or another.  They range from the ones we got sliding into third base as a kid to the ones that decorate our hearts caused by heartbreak.  Some are deep, some are shallow… but most have meaning to us.

Case in point: I am a 54 year old woman with a 54 year old woman’s body.  While it’s in pretty decent shape, I have scars from living the life that got me here.  Every once and a while I wish for a scarless body, but still wouldn’t trade mine. Not for a moment.  My scars make me “Me.”

I have,  for example,  C-section scars that are the result of bringing my sons into the world.  Ben was too long,  Max, too big… there was no way my birth canal could accommodate them.  While I am slim enough to wear a bikini, and have, I think twice before I put one on.  Those scars are visible.  And I suppose could be ugly to anyone who thought that an unblemished body was what beautiful looks like.

But to me, these scars are beautiful.

They remind me of moments of bravery that I exhibited in the face of pain and struggle. The moment I became a mom, which is a role that I cherish.

I would be willing to bet that you are no different.  You know your body, you know your scars and you know what they mean to you.  The truth is, many of us don’t know exactly how brave we can really be until we are confronted by those situations that leave us scarred, but stronger.

“You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.”

— Jane Fonda

I took an informal survey of my friends (thanks, y’all), asking what they thought about their scars.   Here are my take-aways from their responses:

  • Emotional scars are often harder to overcome than physical ones.
  • If the situation that caused the scar is beyond that person’s control, it can be more difficult for people to deal with them.
  • How people feel about their scars depends a lot on how well they’ve worked through their pain.

There is a saying, “Time heals all wounds.”  But for the most painful of wounds, time alone may not cut it.  Sometimes, it requires really hard work. Healing often involves opening old wounds, retelling stories, reliving moments of fear. It requires courage to lean into the discomfort and put that painful event behind you.

My brother-in-law can speak to this very well.  The survivor of a violent attack, he has scars that serve as a daily reminder of a moment that he was confronted by an almost certain death. The moments that forever changed his life and his view of the world would surely have felled another person.  But he is so courageous… David just goes; he is working on his pain his way. And while it’s not easy for him or for his family, he is making his way to a new normal not only as a survivor, but as a stronger person.

On the other hand, I know a woman that carries her emotional post-divorce scars with pride.  She is still so angry.   She touts herself as a “Survivor” but has woven her painful past so irretrievably into her present that she isolates herself from new relationships.  She refuses to engage in any therapeutic work to heal her broken heart. As a result, her scars, though unseen, are alive and well and ruling her life.

Neither David nor this young woman had a choice in what happened to them.  But they DID have a choice in whether or not to confront their pain, deal with it, accept the situation and move forward.

I ask again… where are your scars?

Hit the comment button below and share your stories and your lessons learned with our brave community.   You can be an inspiration to those that carry their own burdens, and perhaps affirm yourself as well.

Be brave.

Today, bravery looks like “Tidying Up.”


static1.squarespace-3When was the last time you “Cleaned house”?   Not just organized yourself, but engaged in the liberating exercise of de-junking your life?  If you are surrounded by piles of mostly meaningless stuff, perhaps it’s time to buck up and get on it.

How much stuff does a person really need, anyway?  Let’s be honest… On a day to day basis? Not much. That said, I totally understand why you keep the things that you’ve been hanging onto like treasured friends. They remind you of fun times, great people, major accomplishments.  As a result,  you’ve assigned them so much meaning, that you just can’t find the strength to throw/give them away.  For example…

  • The pictures you took on every vacation since 1990,
  • The 6 sets of glasses you think you’ll need if 100 people ever visit,
  • Your son’s Beanie Baby collection.
  • The clothes you no longer fit into, but hope to.

I’m not being facetious.  Well ok, maybe a little, but I’m driving the point.

I understand the angst involved in the keep/toss/sell/give away decisions because I have moved four times in five years, “Cleaning house” each time. The first was when, newly divorced, I moved out of our 4,200 square foot home and away from the mountains of stuff accumulated over 25 years of marriage.  The last was in my move back to the Northeast last year when all I owned could fit in my car and an 8×6 ft storage pod.

There was a world of difference in my state of mind between the upset of the first move and the freedom of the last. The difference was in the level of associated “importance” of those things that were, in the end, just things.  It really is amazing how heavy things weigh when we think they matter, even when they don’t, and how light we feel when we let it all go.

Some of us are forced to eliminate the extraneous in our lives through situational changes such as divorce, job loss, death of a spouse. Others choose to do it as part of an intentional shedding in an effort to simplify our lives.  If what my friend Tony says is true, stuff falls into two categories; the things that matter and the things that are waiting to be thrown out.  A very rational approach… but we still need to find the courage to begin the process.


Case In Point:  My Wedding Dress

I referenced my many moves since my divorce in 2009.  The first wore at my sanity, as I dispatched 25 yrs and 20 rooms of stuff in a 3 week period.  The vetting process began emotionally and ended surgically.  Vetting began with what I was keeping, the rest fell into several categories: Yard sale, give away, online auction and throw away.  I worked my way through furniture, my children’s drum kit, our ping-pong table, our dishes, our tools, books, glass figurines…. while painful, those were the easier things to release.

There slowly amassed a 6th category, the  “Kryptonite” items. Things that hurt too much to deal with… like my hope chest (full of memorabilia), my sons’ childhood artwork and awards from school, our paintings and pottery, wedding album, etc.   So the conversation was like this::  Toss, sell, toss, sell, give away… damn (kryptonite). Over and over until I’d worked through everything.

My dear friend Ellen offered to take the more sensitive things “Until I was ready.”  Fast forward 4 years, and my decision to move back to the Northeast, and I was finally ready to confront and deal with those things.  Again, keep toss, keep, toss, give away… it was a brutal but complete process. After Face-timing with my sons about which favorites to keep, and making courageous decisions about what little I still wanted from my old life, I’d gotten us down to maybe 6 boxes, and packed up my car.  I was SO over it all.

As I  turned to give Ellen a hug, she said, “You forgot a box.”  I could not believe it… I’d been through everything.  But yes, one small, flat box left.  Thinking it was one more box of baseball cards, I pulled it open and almost dropped it when I found… my wedding dress. Ironic, right?  The dress lovingly sewn by my cousin Anne, still a beautiful, delicate, almost ethereal ivory.   An iconic symbol of marriage; and of course, in my case, the symbol of a marriage ended.

I admit it.  I totally imploded. It was more than this human could bear.

What ensued was a tug of war over that box that will always remind me of the power of friendship.  “I should keep this, right, Ellen?” I’d ask, pulling it towards me, “You don’t need it any more, Lisa,” Ellen said, taking it back.  “But I should keep it, right?” I’d plead, and gently she’d say, “No, you really won’t want this again.” Finally, the absurdity of the situation hit me, and I realized that what Ellen was trying to say was this: the dress was not important any more.  It had no meaning.  It was just a beautiful dress… and someone else could use it.

That realization clicked the entire process into place for me.  What were things, really?  Nothing.  It was me, and how I felt about myself and my new journey that was important. I was sobbing as I drove away… sobbing, but feeling more powerful than I ever had in my whole life.

There are two stories you can tell yourself when you shed your old things; stories of loss, or stories of change.  The bravery of letting go of the things that don’t matter will enable you to find room for new things, a new YOU.  Space to create a new way of moving forward without the weight of the past.

I have talked with other people who need to undertake this often monstrous task, but find it too overwhelming.   I’d suggest you grab a friend, take a deep breath and get moving.  While you will have “Wedding dress” moments, you too will find your way through the mess.  You can do this.

Do you have stories of your own to share related to cleaning house?  I’d love to hear them.  And as always, you will find comfort in the brave community here.  We’re all in this together.

Be brave, let go, tidy up.

Why a starfish, and other brave thoughts…



There was a time I seriously considered getting a tattoo.

I was 49, newly divorced, and intentionally put everything about my identity on the table for consideration.  The “Old me,” married for a very long time, was fairly sedentary and a creature of habit.  The “New me”, was thrust into the new dating normal, dancing up a storm and remembering how much I loved to shoot pool.  Mine was a classic reinvention moment that I took very seriously,  which meant “Trying on” both smart ideas and really bad ones.

So a tattoo did cross my mind more than once. I mean, really; if there was ever a moment to get a tattoo, a reinvention moment was that time. If I was giving my new identity a shot, why couldn’t the new me have a tattoo?  While I was really thinking it through, I wondered which single image I’d be willing to carry with me until death.  What one symbol could capture what I was about as a person?

Then it hit me… a starfish.

There were two reasons I thought very seriously about getting a starfish tattoo.  First of all, starfish regenerate. If they lose one of their arms, they usually grow them back. Like the starfish, I, too, was transforming, recreating my life… regenerating, if you will.

Secondly, I am a big fan of a starfish allegory that goes roughly like this:

An old man is walking along a beach at daybreak as the tide rolls out, and sees what looks like a young boy dancing in the distance along the retreating surf.  As he gets closer, he notices two things:  There appear to be thousands of starfish that have washed up on the shore, stranded without life-sustaining water. And that the boy is not dancing, he is throwing the starfish into the water, one by one.

The man is struck by what he feels is a futile effort, and asks the boy, “Why are you wasting your energy? You won’t make a difference.”  To which the boy responds, “I made a difference to that one,” and throws one back.” And that one,” and throws in another. And so on.



This story is very personal to me because that little boy is, for all intents and purposes, me.  Married or divorced, young or old, in Nashville or Memphis or DC, I am a person that is here to make a difference.  The starfish reminds me that there is great work to be done to improve the future for people, communities, and organizations, and it is time for me to get to it.

My dreams of getting a tattoo ended the day I sat with my youngest son while he was getting one on his shoulder.  I was leafing through a book of sketches when I looked up and into his pain-filled eyes… deciding then and there that perhaps a tattoo was not for me.,  But when it came time to launch my new web presence, the only logo that made sense was a starfish.

So welcome once again to my brave journey.  I welcome you here to me and to this new space for our brave community.  I look forward to hearing your stories of resilience and bravery, in whatever form they take.

Be brave.

The art of choosing “One Thing”


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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5d4/73972831/files/2014/12/img_0157.jpgToday, bravery looks resolving to do only one thing. The one thing that will make today different from yesterday, the one thing that will be a contribution to you and to your life in the coming days. Yes, only ONE thing.

Some people use a marker such as New Years to stake their resolution flags in the ground. Others use birthdays. Still others, anniversaries. Milestone events are as good a moment as any to say, “Today will be different”.  The truth is, though, it’s less about naming the thing you want to do differently, it’s about actually making it happen.

I welcome the chance to think about what I want to change and state it as as a resolution for action. It is a positive, energizing process. When I know what my resolutions are, I just KNOW I will do THIS. And… this.  And… this. As you can imagine, I’m a very productive “Resolution maker.” Unfortunately, I’m also a very poor “Resolution doer.” Ah, the humanity.

To be completely honest, I’ve forgotten what my resolutions were from last year. Since they pretty much repeat from year to year, my guess is that they probably looked like these:

  • To lose weight
  • To improve relationships,
  • To strengthen my finances
  • To reduce stress
  • To be a better person

Do my resolutions look at all like yours? Do you wonder why if they are so meaningful at the time, do they keep reappearing?

Perhaps there are simply too many and while worthy, too complex. While they look REALLY good on paper, they are doomed to failure, simply because the energy that drives the birthing of those resolutions quickly runs out of steam.

It’s time to renew that gym membership we’re never going to use


After years of failed resolutions, here’s what I know:  Doing one thing really well is worth more than tackling a lot of things that eventually go by the wayside.

Assuming you know this as truth as well, perhaps we can change our thinking right now. Whatever your resolutions, I invite you to choose only ONE, considering the following:

  • Which one hurts the most/will bring the most benefit?
  • Which is the most doable?
  • Which is the one most in our control?

Which one can you start today?  This moment?  Going back to the idea of “Resolution moments,” perhaps you can consider that while New Years, birthdays and anniversaries look like obvious opportunities to say, “The time is NOW,” perhaps every moment gives us a chance to resolve to be different.  To do differently.  To make something different happen.

You can do this, but it requires bravery.  Without all the distractions of the other things we hoped to do, choosing “One thing” is an act of bravery because it forces us to choose and commit, for real.  That kind of commitment can be scary, but exciting as well. The power that is waiting here for you is worth that kind of commitment.  And of course, the chance of actually accomplishing your resolution is its own reward.

So… what is your One Thing?  Feel free to stake your claim right here. I look forward to hearing about you and remind you that your comments will shore up others along their own paths.

Be brave. State your resolution. Choose One Thing.

The art of asking for help


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“Help me.” “A little help, please?” “Can you help me with this?”

This is what asking for help looks like.  But how many of us do so willingly?  Or rather, how many of us ask for help before we’re drowning? If, like me, you take on more than you can handle and have a hard time asking for help, there is help for you.

I have a very dear friend who is way overbooked, a “Go it alone” person. As a result, her life is, basically, hell.  She is frazzled, cranky, unhappy, on the run, out of shape, out of breath… you get the idea.  Yet when I tell her to ask me for help as needed, she blows me off, forges on. Brushes past my offer with an impatient, “I’m okay.”  Even my noticing that she might need help is offensive to her.

I love the girl to death, but also worry for her peace of mind. I would bet that if you’re not asking for help, someone is probably worried about you, too. It’s always easier to see that behavior in someone else than it is to see it in ourselves, let alone correct the problem.

I’ve done a little surveying of why people don’t ask for help, and here’s what I heard:

  • We think asking for help makes us look needy.
  • We hate to inconvenience someone else.
  • We have deluded ourselves into thinking we can get it done.
  • Our work ethic doesn’t recognize the value of receiving help.
  • We have control issues.

Both the “Bootstrap” thing and the challenge with control issues are really confronting for me.  I am a self-starter, proud and independent; I have a hard time trusting someone else with an important task, or when a timeline is involved.  Giving things over to others is next to impossible to me, even when I am obviously overburdened.


No one likes to admit they need help, which is why doing so is such a brave act. To move forward, we need the courage to let go of the “Story” of what it means to ask for help, the “I’m weak and incompetent” story.  It’s so, so hard for those of us independent-minded folks.

How, then, when we are so conditioned to go it alone, do we ask for help? Here are some tips for asking for help:

  • First acknowledge that you need help.
  • Picture what will happen if you don’t ask for help NOW (e.g.: your disappointed coworkers faces if you drop the ball).
  • Identify a trusted person who you know won’t judge you.
  • Remember that people LIKE to be asked for help, and you are honoring your relationship with them by doing so.

I dug around a bit and found a resource in the wonderful Brene Brown’s 2008 blog post, Confront me if I don’t ask for help.” . Knowing she was overwhelmed, she created an “I know things are bad when” list, full of signs so unavoidable that she was overdoing it that even she knew when she had to ask for help.  A great idea and very doable.

First and foremost, pay attention to your mindset.  Instead of beating yourself up about needing help, congratulate yourself.  Admitting you need others is a strength, not a weakness, and embracing this new way of being is a major step in a more productive, centered life.

If I can help you at all, I hope you’ll ask me. We are all in this together, and the “Brave Community” that we are calls all of us to lean on each other now and then.

Be brave. Admit your need.  Ask for help.

The art of saying “No.”


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Raise your hand if you’re too busy.  If you’re an “Uber-doer”, and multi-tasking is a way of life. If you are perhaps reading this blog while reviewing your to-do list and/or thinking about your day’s schedule.

One reason you are too busy may be that you can’t say “No”.  If so, I feel your pain.  I, too, am an uber-doer.  It’s been me wide awake at 3 in the morning after remembering that I was supposed to bring snacks to my kids’ classrooms in 5 hours with no brownie mix in sight.  Chances are you were probably awake, too, wondering how you were going to hit a pressing deadline.

It’s a miserable feeling, right?  How in the world did we get here?  Why can’t we say “No”?

  • We think we can do it, even when we know how busy we are.
  • We’re afraid that saying “No” will make us look bad.
  • We feel it’s important and worry that it won’t happen if we don’t do it.
  • We think we don’t have a choice.

It’s also quite possible we like being that busy guy/girl.  Society has informally labeled “Busy” as “Good,” so we think that the busier we are, the more invaluable we are. This, of course, is flawed thought, obvious the moment we drop the ball.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.


What kind of life do we have when must-dos outnumber want-to-dos?  An unhappy one. The costs are numerous. “Too busy” gets old fast; it’s mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. And because we are human, we are going to mess up, and so are bound to disappoint others and ourselves.

If any of these costs feel familiar to you, it’s time for a change. As you know, change requires bravery, especially if you are afraid of looking bad or letting someone down.

Here are some ideas to manage your way to “No”:

  • Reframe your “Busy is good” mindset and focus on quality over quantity.
  • Be honest with yourself and release those tasks that aren’t doable before they become a problem.
  • Give yourself permission to complete the tasks already on your plate before taking on something new.
  • Evaluate new opportunities in terms of what you can really do.
  • Then, say “No” as needed.

If you are worried about turning someone down, soften your response.  Say that you’ll do it another time, to indicate that you really do want to help. Offer to take a small, manageable piece. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find the right words, but if you can’t, say “No” anyway. You’ll notice that while people may not like it, they really will understand.

Don’t be afraid to a stand for yourself and the kind of life you want to have. The things you have to do will always be there, but saying “No” will give you the freedom to pick and choose the things you really want to do, as well.

Let me know how it goes.  None of this is easy work, but if you share your stories, you will help others in our “Brave Community” tackle the difficult challenges they face.

Be brave. Choose your life.  Just say “No.”

The art of “The Stretch”


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Today, bravery looks like making a stretch.

When was the last time you tried something new?  I mean really new. The kind of new that felt so foreign that you might as well have been jumping out of a plane. If you can’t remember it, you’re long past due.

What are you waiting for?

Most of us are victims of the mundane. Life is busy, but an often unchallenging routine holds little in the way of surprise or growth. This comfortable life is easy and familiar, but in many ways also restricts us.  Comfort, in its way, is a trap. The result: we don’t know what we’re truly capable of.

Stretching beyond the norm makes us ache, pushes us, makes us think, causes us to stumble.  We are tested and reminded that we are MORE, can be MORE. If this is true, why don’t we stretch more often?

  • We’re afraid to try something new for fear of “Failure.”
  • We don’t realize we’ve gotten into a rut.
  • We don’t want to look stupid/like a beginner.
  • We are rewarded for who we are, and thus don’t feel a need to stretch.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Maya Angelou

To break with comfort requires bravery.  To risk looking foolish? Bravery.  To redefine our lives through challenge? Bravery, most definitely.

I mentioned parachuting out of a plane, but any stretch is still a stretch.  For example, until recently, I hadn’t driven in New York City. Years of harrowing cab rides had me fearing for my life in my own car. This summer, tired of being afraid, I planned my trip in.

I was beyond nervous as I approached the Lincoln Tunnel. Ok, I was freaking out. And praying. But when I noticed the other drivers making their way into the tunnel I realized something really important:

One person’s first time is another person’s normal.

There really is a first time for everything, and this was mine. Yes, it was an awkward moment, as most firsts are.  Once in the tunnel, I was fine, and as I drove out and into the city, I was feeling pretty damn accomplished.  A new, brave “Me.”

So what is the one thing you’d like to try but never have?  What is your “Lincoln Tunnel?”

The not so dreaded Lincoln Tunnel

The not so dreaded Lincoln Tunnel

Here are some tips to remove whatever barriers stand between you and your new experience:

  • Identify something doable.  You are more likely to tackle it.
  • Ask a friend to help.  Having support will ease your way.
  • Remember that “Just doing it” is an accomplishment. Anything else that happens is a bonus.
  • Channel the courage of your inner child.  We weren’t nearly as fearful when we were kids.

And when you are done? CELEBRATE! Trust me when I say that joy outweighs fear when you take on something new. The pride, the redefinition of who you are and realization of what you are capable of is enormous.

Let me hear what you are up to, and how it is changing you.  You are not alone in your fears, and you will find support here in our Brave Community.

Be brave. Give it a shot.  Make the stretch.

The art of the “Courageous Conversation”


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Not -The Talk!-

Today, bravery looks like having “The Talk”.

Though I consider myself a “Brave Girl,”  I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than intentionally take on an uncomfortable conversation. But because this is a “Brave Community,” and because we can embrace our fears safely here, let’s just do it.

“The Talk” is a difficult conversation that is needed to address a problem that arises, but no one wants to talk about it. Here are some examples:

  • You’re dating someone that isn’t a good fit and you need to end the relationship.
  • Your kid is doing something that you know is harmful and you need to discuss it.
  • You have an employee that is not performing and you need to put them on notice.
  • A friend is gossiping about you behind your back and you need to talk it out.
  • You co-lead a project with someone who is not doing his/her share and you need to address it.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?  Or at least the implied discomfort?  For most of us, “The Talk” = Confrontation, and we will avoid it for as long as possible. And because inaction feels better, evasion often appears more logical, for example:

    • Saying something will create a bigger problem
    • It could put the relationship at risk
    • It isn’t necessary as the situation will probably go away on its own

Don’t those sound more logical? They might, but the truth is that we can only dodge the problem for so long.  When things feel this bad, we know that avoidance is a short term bandage when an action-based solution is called for.

It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

Yogi Berra

What situation in your own life needs addressing? What person do you need to have “The Talk” with?  If you are ready to dive in, I have  5 Tips to Ease Tough Conversations:

  • If the relationship matters, say so, at the beginning and throughout as needed. It will remind everyone that there is more at stake than the conversation alone.
  • Communicate what you want to achieve; this goal will be the ballast if things get off track and will keep you both centered.
  • Be ready for a reaction, as you’ll probably get one; it pays to think through how you can validate them without agreeing with them, and again, hold to the goal.
  • Pick a protected time and place for the conversation. Privacy is important, as is the ability to focus without distractions. TVs, cell phones off.
  • Take a deep breath, stop talking and listen.  Discomfort makes us over-talk, and these hard conversations are better when there is space for someone to react.

I call these “Courageous Conversations” for a reason.  They require bravery and a willingness to risk discomfort in favor of a greater goal.  Win or lose, just having these difficult conversations often makes us stronger… and making them happen successfully can result in all manner of positive outcomes.  Win/win/win.

If you’ve been there, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you are going to try it, let me know how it goes.  Your experiences will be a continuing contribution to our “Brave Community.”

Be brave.  Make it happen.  Have “The Talk”.

The art of being fearless.


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Today, bravery looks like being “Fearless”

“Fearless.”  It’s one of those words that just by speaking it makes me feel like anything is possible. And as someone who spends a lot of time thinking about bravery, the word “Fearless” has become a part of my vocabulary in a way I could not have imagined.

I introduced this blog by talking about my discomfort with being told that making my own leap of faith was brave; that bravery was a concept I associated with first responders, firefighters and those fighting battles with illness. Today I am going to revert back to that first interpretation and talk about my friend Angel, and anyone else that is fighting the battle of their lives.  Today, I am writing for the “Brave Ones.”

I got Angel’s news through Facebook, a breathtaking recounting of her visit to her doctor after feeling pain under her arm. She had written it off to an infection, but it wasn’t; it was the worst news instead. She is facing a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy in the coming days. Today, with a lot of miserable moments in front of her, Angel is the bravest person I know.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. ” — Rabindranath Tagore

I know there are others who are fighting their own battles.. like chronic depression, pain or anxiety. Losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, a job loss. These are each debilitating hurdles that could make just getting out of bed in the morning an almost insurmountable task. But many get up and get moving anyway.

How many of us could be that strong?

When I ask the “Braves Ones” where their fearlessness comes from, I hear:

  • My faith,
  • Support of friends and family,
  • To show others that if I could do it, they could, too,
  • Because I had to, and
  • I was not going to let my problems get in the way of living my life.

Whatever the reason, their forging forward despite their burdens is a powerful lesson for the rest of us. And makes me hopeful.

While we can’t choose our fears, I think we CAN choose how we manage ourselves through the hardest moments (at least most of the time). That choice is a game-changer, an opportunity to take back our lives with courage. Those of us that can embrace our fears, our worst fears, and “Do it anyway,” model what “Fearless” looks like for the rest of us.

Angel would want me to close with a reminder to the women-folk to get your mammograms done.  Considering how miserable a process that is, it might require a level of fearlessness on your part just to take that task on.  But get on it anyway.

As always, I welcome your stories of bravery, in the face of fear, or otherwise. Your contribution will make a difference in our “Brave community”.

Be brave. “Do it anyway.” Be fearless.

The art of forgiveness


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Forgiveness... (1)

Today, bravery looks like forgiveness.

What is it about forgiveness that makes it so difficult?  I’m not talking about saying, “I’m sorry”… to me, apologizing is easy (for anyone who is willing to admit they’ve done something wrong).  But asking for forgiveness, and actually forgiving someone, pushes us way out of our comfort zone.

Forgiveness, the real kind, gives both the offender and offend-ee an opportunity to get complete; to clean up any emotional unfinished business and move on with a clean slate. Conversely, if we don’t ask for or grant forgiveness we stay connected to an unsuccessful moment.  It’s hard to move forward when niggling resentment is a constant presence.

So… what stops us from engaging in forgiveness in a healthy way?  Here’s my (very remedial) take on a healthy  “Forgiveness loop”:

  • Someone does something wrong,
  • they then apologize,
  • they then ask the offended party for forgiveness,
  • they then are granted forgiveness,
  • then both parties move on.

Anyone who has been forgiven can speak to an improved connection with the person they hurt, and those that forgive are brought a sense of peace that hearing “I’m sorry” doesn’t give.

Here’s the more typical, unsuccessful model:

  • Someone does something wrong,
  • they’re guilt-tripped into apologizing,
  • they say “I’m sorry” (when they don’t mean it) and then
  • both parties pretend all is fine but carry resentment forward into the next interaction.

Wow!  Really… how awful is that.

You’ve been there, right? That moment when you’ve heard “I’m sorry”, then someone mumbles, “That’s ok,” and each person walked away thinking, “Oh sure, like he/she was sorry. I don’t think so”. And right there, that moment is the birth of unfinished business, or the stuff that haunts the relationship.  There’s a difference between “That’s ok” and true forgiveness.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections

Why, then, when it feels so good to forgive/be forgiven so difficult?  I think it’s because both asking for and granting forgiveness makes us vulnerable, and being vulnerable is a hard place to be.

If you ask for forgiveness, you risk hearing “No.” You are literally hanging out there in a state of insecurity, waiting for someone that you care about to release you, redefine your relationship moving forward.  If you grant it, you are agreeing to release any resentment or anger you have about the person or their actions. Some of us would rather hang on to resentment… there is some power there, especially when we’ve been hurt.  But the healthier exchange frees everyone involved to move on.

As we’ve previously discussed, bravery is present when we intentionally move into a vulnerable space to make great things happen.  Forgiving/asking for forgiveness requires a brave heart and a willingness to put yourself at risk.  But transformation happens in that space, as relationships can be transformed by this single act.

I’d love to hear from you and about your own journey in forgiving/asking for forgiveness.  As always your willingness to share will strengthen our “Brave community.”

Be brave, lean into discomfort, engage in forgiveness.