It wasn’t too long ago people often told me how brave they thought I was.
I’d like to get back to that space again. That space of daring, of going beyond my comfort zone, of living life a little differently than other people, of expressing myself without reservation. THAT is true bravery. Doing whatever feels brave to you is true bravery. Expanding your horizon a little bit more each and every day. Telling others how you really feel. Being open and vulnerable. Growing and changing and learning and being enthusiastic. Working towards your dreams one step at a time.
That is brave.
This morning I woke up well before the sun. When I groggily looked out my window I could still see stars through my sleep-filled eyes. Unable to convince myself to emerge from the warm comfort of my nest, I curled up tightly and dared to ask myself:
“If you had exactly just one year left to live, what would you do?”
It’s a hard enough question to ask for the fact that it made me consider my own death, but to consider how to live my own life knowing how fleeting it actually is, that’s a little bit scary. Death is our reality. Even though we all know we are here for one itty bitty blip of time, we still let ourselves become lost in illusion. We still let ourselves get stressed out about things that don’t really matter much. We still get wrapped up in our own dramas, our own self-pity, our own fears. And we still spend so much of our precious time doing things we don’t really want to do.
And for what? What is the point?
If I had just one year to live, I would let go of illusion and stress and busyness.
I would fill my life to the brim with family, friends, leisure, love, celebrations, exploring Wyoming, traveling the world, practicing yoga, teaching yoga, telling my story. I would spend all day in bed if I wanted to, and demand that my coffee and breakfast be served to me on one of those cute bed trays with a little vase of fresh flowers. I would read all the books on my shelves. I would laugh and dance and sing constantly. I would eat my favorite foods every day. I would shamelessly get tipsy off that second glass of vintage red. I would let that indulgent last bite of dessert linger in my mouth until it melted down my throat. I would spend more time outdoors. I would think twice about paying bills. I would send that letter. I would say I love you. I would say thank you.
I would finally live life slowly and mindfully.
I would finally be brave enough to live the life of my dreams.
How much better would life be if we could just step back for a minute and evaluate what is truly important to us? If we could come to know what really makes us light up with enthusiasm. I we could come to know how precious our lives are. How precious we are as individuals. How precious each and every moment spent on this earth truly is.
It’s such a blessing to be alive! To breathe! To FEEL!
How much better would life be if we all committed to being brave?
How much better would life be if we all committed to living our dream?
The first brave thing I am committing to is authenticity.
Being myself. And knowing myself well enough to know when I am being authentic and when I am not. The little details of myself are constantly changing, but at my core I think I know pretty well who I am, what I want, what makes me tick, and what ticks me off. And I am ready to express myself in fullness.
The second brave thing I am committing to is pursuing my dreams.
I have wild aspirations that sometimes seem completely out of my grasp. But deep down, I know that through a balance of faith and action all things will come to me in the right moment. I struggle at times with patience; I finally ask for something and then, well, dammit… I want it NOW! But then I realize it doesn’t work quite like that.
The universe will give you everything you ask for, but you must be ready.
The third brave thing I am committing to is not giving a shit.
And I don’t mean about everything. I don’t even mean about most things.
I mean… I don’t care what you think. Sure, I want the satisfaction of pleasing everyone and inspiring everyone and making every single person love me… I want it very badly. But that’s not realistic and I just can’t care what you think of me anymore. I don’t give a shit if no one actually reads this. I don’t give a shit if a million people read this. I don’t give a shit how much money I have in my bank account. I don’t give a shit if you think less of me because I didn’t receive a college degree. I don’t give a shit about the fact that I have said shit seven times in this one paragraph.
I do, however, care about being the best I can be every day. I do care about treating people with kindness and respect. I do care about the people in my life. I do care about making a small imprint on this earth before I leave it. I do care. I care a great deal.
The fourth brave thing I am committing to is breaking out of my comfort zone of solitude.
Although my writing portrays an open and expressive individual, if you know me in ‘real life’ you know that I am a bit reticent. I like to quietly observe. I like to keep my opinions to myself. I like my alone time, very much. But there is a season for solitude and a season for surrounding yourself with other people, with new experiences, with challenging situations. I have spent much of my time recently in solitude, allowing for deep reflection, allowing for dealing with my own bull shit, allowing for growth and transformation. And now I am ready to step out into the world and share what I have learned. I am ready to provide for others. I am ready to be open to all relationships. I am ready to love. I am ready to be loved. And I can tell you, that is definitely something I have not been ready for… being loved. Because that requires openness and vulnerability… and… shoot. That’s just like really scary isn’t it!? Yeah, it is! And that’s why it’s brave to be open. That’s why it’s brave to step out of solitude and into the world as your truest self.
The fifth brave thing I am committing to is to create.
I have called myself an artist before and it’s simply because I like creating. I like making stuff. I like painting and drawing and writing and dancing and building and cooking and photographing. Maybe I will never be a master at any of these vocations, but the purpose for me isn’t really to become a master at just one thing. It’s to become a master artist of life. To make my life into a work of art. To making living an art form. To express myself through as many mediums as I fancy. I greatly respect the master who commits his life to his art and who makes a living through his art. But I also respect the process of creating for the mere purpose of creating. Expressing to express. Because we all have this amazing, individual story that only we have the power to express in our own unique way. And that’s all I am really trying to do here… express my story in a way that no one else has.
These commitments aren’t necessarily what I would have considered brave a few years ago. What I used to think was brave was flying across the world to travel foreign countries by myself. What I used to think was brave was going into the wilderness to hike great distances. What I used to think was brave was being self-reliant. While those things most certainly were brave and shaped me in the most profound ways, my bravery is now coming from a more subtle place.
My bravery is coming from vulnerability not valiant deeds.
My bravery is coming from openness not independence.
My bravery is coming from commitment to my word not selfish motives.
My bravery is coming from the desire to live life like I mean it.
What is bravery to you?
Are you brave enough to Be Brave?