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Daring Greatly


Last week I started reading a new book, Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. She is a fabulous author and I know her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, will be a regular read for me. This new title jumped out at me since I’m not the most daring person I’ve ever known and I can usually use a little push (okay, maybe a big shove) to get me going. I’m wonderful at planning and plotting and preparing. But daring to take the actual plunge, dive, or risk is a different matter entirely.

The title of the book comes from a quote taken from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt. That quote was Brian’s #1 favorite; he wrote it down in numerous places, reminding himself he was the one in the arena of his life and the armchair quarterbacks in their comfy seats shouldn’t get him down. I had to chuckle a little as I read the very familiar lines from that speech, words I have read many times before. In a way, it felt like Brian sending me another message. It took me back to that talk in the hospital when he told me to write, to tell our story, and to chase after the things I wanted.

My own inner critics like to talk to me all the time, reminding me that I’m really not good enough to do the things I dream of doing. They like to let me know I’m too short, don’t speak eloquently, lack an adequate education, am too introverted, and I’m definitely not daring enough. Through some coaching, I’m learning to talk to those critics… out loud sometimes… and put them back in their place. They actually have names. Laugh if you want, but it’s easier to put a critic in her place when you can call her by name! One of them, oddly enough, is named Eleanor after that other Roosevelt’s wife.

Daring Greatly is about vulnerability, one of the scariest things in the universe. When I wrote my first journal entry online when Brian got sick I felt so exposed. Journals are meant to be locked and protected from prying eyes, after all. But it was necessary to keep friends and family posted on the circumstances – it was practical. Knowing those couple dozen people were reading my thoughts made me a little queasy. I had no idea at the time that it would lead here. Being vulnerable is frightening. It has meant telling people I don’t know what I’m doing, that I feel angry, unworthy, quite uncertain, and afraid. Being vulnerable has also meant saying I’m sorry, I’m lonely, and I’m sad. I’m not done reading the book, but I can already give it two thumbs up and a big Joyful on Purpose endorsement (if I dare greatly enough, someday that might be a big deal ;)). Thanks for letting me dare, dream, bare my soul, share my grief, and pass along my joys.

Daring = Joy



A little over a week ago, Jordan had his post-surgery follow-up with the surgeon who spent seven hours getting to know an unconscious Jordan as he lay with his chest open on an operating table. He delicately removed the mass that had entangled itself in Jordan’s chest for 17 ½ years. After wiring his sternum back together and closing Jordan’s chest with a clean row of stitches, the surgeon let us know he had the feeling all would be well. And it is. Jordan recovered very quickly and has been given the go-ahead to resume normal activity. He’s been doing 1000 push-ups a day and is breathing easier, his attitude as carefree and positive as ever. If not for the stainless steel wires in his chest and the scar that marks the experience, you’d never know he’d been through such a frightening ordeal.

This morning I made the final drive to Children’s Hospital. Jordan and I grabbed a couple drinks at Starbucks on the way (sorry, Bob and Frankie…) and talked on the way there about music and the goofiness of some words in the English language. We walked into the doors and headed up to the Infectious Disease department. The nurse did the usual height, weight, blood pressure check. All is normal and, in fact, he is two pounds away from his pre-surgery weight! The doctor then looked Jordan over and questioned him about his experience with the antibiotics to take care of his bacterial infection. It was a quick visit. We headed downstairs to the lab for one final blood draw. Two months of needle pokes and lab work finally came to an end.

When we left the hospital, we were both glad to be done with medication and doctor visits. A few days ago, Jordan posted a picture of his scar on Facebook with the following words: “This surgery was probably the hardest thing I’ve gone through, but in a weird way I’m glad I went through it.”

Last night we talked about why he said those words. He wasn’t exactly sure, it was just a feeling he had. I told him it might be because no matter what happens in his life from this point on, he knows he can handle it. He agreed. It puts life in perspective. He has been through a lot in the last six months. So has his brother. So have I. Unlike Brian and me, however, Jordan has something tangible and vivid to remind himself that he is resilient, that he can face adversity and tragedy and overcome it.

In response to Jordan’s Facebook post, I shared the following quote: “There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.” (Harry Crews) I am happy for the scar that remains and what it will mean to Jordan, to Brian, and to me. It’s beautiful.

Scars = Joy

In the Words of Others


Many years ago I had a couple of journals that were filled with quotes I had collected, sayings that had touched my heart or mind. Somewhere along the way, in one of our many moves, those journals were lost. I’ve started collecting quotes again. I like little nuggets of wisdom that make me think or serve as reminders about what is important, what is true, and what is beautiful in this world.

Last night I was reading Aspire by Kevin Hall, a book about the power of words. One of my favorite quotes, one I keep in my phone of all places, was in the very first chapter. It is a quote by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. ““Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” It’s easy to be profoundly affected by the words of someone who endured something as horrific as the Holocaust, but his words are for anyone, in any time, in any place. Every single day we are faced with circumstances that test our patience and many people fail to recognize that they have the freedom to choose how they respond to everything. Every. Thing. I prefer to choose joy and, while I don’t do it perfectly, I am happier and lighter when I look at my circumstances, however great or small, in a positive way.

Just as choosing your attitude can be a chore, so can choosing to be yourself. It is easy for me, and probably most people, to get caught up in trying to please everyone or trying to conform to what the world, or even just our circle of influence, feels is proper. I ran across a quote by E.E. Cummings not long ago and it sums up how I feel about being an individual. “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make  you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”  It really is a battle. There are so many expectations we struggle to meet. What if we gave up those expectations, of ourselves and others, and just enjoyed being individuals? Sounds easier and far more interesting to me.

I have probably collected more quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson than almost any other person. He was a believer in journaling, something I have struggled with through my life, but have come to find as life-changing in the last year or so. I appreciate Emerson’s lack of nonsense. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely.” Yes, every day has its screw-ups and crap, to put it bluntly. But every night we get to put that day to rest as we put our heads on the pillow. I want to be content every night knowing that I did my best, did what I could, and tomorrow is a chance to start again.

Quotes about nature can be particularly moving to me. The world is filled with wonder and so much for us to discover and enjoy. It is also filled with things we don’t appreciate…like garden pests and weeds. My kids and I loathe yard work and I think, perhaps, A.A. Milne did too because he said, “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” Yes, it’s possible that he was talking about something much deeper than the impossible task of keeping a yard up to HOA standards, but I appreciate the quote for what I see at face-value as well as the more profound interpretation. There really is beauty in a dandelion. You can make wishes with one before it blooms, after all, and they are a brilliant shade of yellow. They are a lot like people; we have to get to know them and really see them before we can see their every aspect of their beauty.

This morning as my mom and I walked, we appreciated the grass, trees, and sunrise. Nature is remarkable. It is easy to see the grandeur of the mountains, but the simplest of things contain so much joy. When I come back from a walk I appreciate the way the sunlight peeks into my bedroom and makes the windows glow. I enjoy the quiet, where you can actually hear the sound of birds outside. “A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked” (Anais Nin).

Quotes are small morsels of bigger truths. They can be a source of help in a hurried day or a sentiment to comfort us in difficulties. I love words and the power contained in them, the way we can string them together to spread wisdom and happiness and joy.

Quotable Quotes = Joy