I'm not a brave person.
I remember the time my friend Diana and I were on the strange island of Molokai, a former leper colony, trekking down a deep ravine. We arrived at a place where we could go no further without leaping over a vast expanse with rushing water beneath. I was petrified.
Diana Meistrell, a former ballerina, peace corp volunteer + wild world traveler, is fearless. She leapt like a proverbial gazelle over the gulf and there I was shaking and sweating on the other side. "Come on!" she called impatiently.
But all I could think about is what would happen if I didn't make it in the one big leap. Lacerated calves. Crushed ribs. A shattered skull. Wounded pride. (The least of it).
I couldn't quite get my head around the IDEA of getting to the other side. I had to shake off my old notions of can't, impossible, no. And put on the cape of possibility.
Then I leapt.
In that moment I had a whole new notion of myself.
Bravery comes in many forms. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love just publicly announced her romantic love with her best friend.
Yes, sexuality is fluid and wild and unpredictable. She fell in love with a man. She fell in love with a woman. She leapt into love both times, full heartedly. I admire her commitment to creativity, curiosity, and love in whatever shape it comes in, no matter how unexpected.
There are all kinds of bravery.
My friend Andrea Scher marks her brave acts in her blog. And she's giving a course in how you, too can be brave in blogging about your declarations, your descriptions, your destiny. Put your courage on paper.
There's also bravery in allowing ourselves to earn what we're worth. My friend Tommi Wolfe (with her lilting South African accent) has some advice about that.
Then there's bravery in how we think, what we say and what we do.
What if you can do one brave act a day, no matter how small to build your bravery?
I may not do it every day, but I'm looking for ways that I can inch my way toward a braver life. I was invited to submit a workshop proposal for the Aiki Extension conference, about Aikido in action in our everyday lives off the mat -- and then was paralyzed when they accepted it. The other presenters are third, fourth, fifth, sixth dans (degree of black belt) and I'm the only one who is just a first degree black belt (Shodan).
My topic: How to use verbal Aikido in business and media interviews. I've never created such a workshop before and since I'm terrified I'm over preparing. Which is how I cope. I challenge myself to think of everything that can go wrong and then I map out what I would do in such a circumstance.
Does this bolster my bravery? No. But the actual doing of it will. It's only the doing of it, the getting it into your bones that inches you toward a braver life.
So I'll continue in my little inchworm ways in challenging myself to do brave things so eventually I'll become a more courageous person.
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