brave

Are you being brave?

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by Katie Clemons

Katie Clemons is a storycatcher and journal crafter. She helps people celebrate their stories with her award-winning writing prompt journals at Gadanke. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana.

In all our lives, there are moments of incredible bravery and beauty. My definition of true grit isn’t the same as yours or anybody else’s because of our different experiences, opportunities, and desires. Our unique stories are part of the beauty of being brave. And the bravery you’ve exhibited in life is a wonderful, brilliant thing.

I need to you to pause a second. Stop reading, and just think about one of the bravest moments in your life. Call to mind the story and how you felt.

Now let’s celebrate it. Right here.

Our world has seen and experienced some intense hardship. We’ve felt some of it in our homes, in our work, and within our families. And it stinks.

Reaching out, attempting to do our best, and venturing to overcome obstacles so we can live in all our beautiful potential is hard work. It takes intense determination, but just as you have done it before with insane bravery, you can keep doing it. Remember…

you are brave
Art by Catina jane Arts

You always have been.

See, your dreams are worth it. You know you are not perfect, but you are so strong and so capable of great accomplishments. Don’t stop believing in yourself or taking risks. The greatest things come to us when we are brave. The truth is that inside and out…

you are beautiful
Art by Hello Little Fox

I remember when I was being my bravest. It was August 10, 2009 when I was working on my pilot’s license. I’ve never been so scared in my life, and this is what I wrote in my journal:

Two enormous airliners lined up on the taxiway, ready to take off. Then picture me, all by myself, in a little four-seat Cessna airplane lined up right behind them. You don’t have to scream or panic or anything. If I’d really thought about the magnitude of where I was on the taxiway the other day, you can bet I would have been freaking out enough for all of us. I felt like my entire plane could have been sucked into one of their engines. But I just held my brakes and waited.

Soon one commercial airliner took off. Then the next. I puttered up to the runway, and the man in the tower gave me the okay to take off… with a giant warning for quakes formed by those two airliners. In the corner of my eye, I saw another large airplane taxiing up behind me. I knew how to take off. That part was easy. The problem was everything that followed once I was in the sky. Alone.

journal
Journal by Gadanke

In those moments, I didn’t have the opportunity to feel bravery, fear, or adventure. My mind was focused on what I needed to do. I was entirely present; I have no clue what other people thought or how I looked.

When I was back on the ground, the color was completely gone from my body, erased with the fear that I was feeling. I was such a sweaty mess. (Opening an air vent didn’t even cross my mind while I was in the sky with those airliners.)

I was wobbly and then I realized…I was brave. I was capable, even when I felt so sure that I couldn’t do it. I went out there, and I did it.

Now every time I feel unsure, I remember that day on the taxiway and in the sky. I remember that confidence.

What is your story of bravery?

Don’t compare it to mine. Don’t juxtapose it with stories you hear about other people. Take your story. Relish it. OWN IT. Celebrate how it helped you become the fabulous person you are.

This year, my goal is to keep stretching myself and keep being brave. I don’t want it to be a one time thing. That’s why I have a few tricks for keeping my spirits high as I work at my desk, and I hope they help in your courageous adventures, too:

  1. I decorate my desk with posters and postcards from small shops. After all, those folks are attempting bravery of their own, so shopping with them is a way to keep encouraging their dreams, too. All the images in this post are the art of big dreamers with small shops.
  2. I keep a picture of myself having achieved my wildly brave thing. You saw that flying photo of me on the top of this post. I figure that if I am courageous enough to do my big brave thing, I can be dauntless in this next journey, too. I see that picture every single day.
  3. I keep a journal of my journey into bravery. It isn’t like “poof!” and you’re awesome at something. We know that. But as time goes by, we forget just how difficult it was to accomplish something we did. We get impatient and pick up a bit of ingratitude. That’s a reason I love my old journals. I can look at them and remember, “Oh yeah, getting to Point B was crazy hard back then. Just like it is now.”

It was actually during the bravery of my flight exams that I thought of the Gadanke journal shop. My first journals were released one month later. I guess you just never know where courage can take you when your heart is open to it!

you are alive

Art by Limey Ts

You aren’t just a capable person. You’re a beautiful person touching lives and making wonderful things. Keep encouraging yourself to take on that next brave thing. I’ll keep cheering for you, too.

What is your story of bravery?

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Comments

  1. I think these might be good to write down and keep track of. Acts of bravery in my life. It might help when I feel tiny and scared to look back on the big steps or leaps of bravery. I like the idea of keeping a notebook. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Your post really inspired me to take a look at my own acts of bravery and motivated me to want to do more. Natural childbirth was definitely my bravest moment. I’m afraid of getting shots and I (somehow) managed to give birth to a beautiful baby girl with no painkillers. I did it for her and I’m so glad I did (although I’m not so sure I’d ever do it again)!

  3. My bravery story? I joined the Army. Then, even as I suffered debilitating bouts of self doubt, I became the first female Company Sergeant Major at the Royal Military Academy. Then I became the first female Troop Commander from Australia to serve in Afghanistan. Was I scared? Bloody oath. Did I do it anyway? You bet.

    But they are not my bravest things.

    The scariest thing I’ve ever done was walk away from a well remunerated career, that I was good at, and put my faith and future in the hands of my husband while he supported us in raising our two daughters. Terrifying.

    Bravery is totally subjective!

  4. Katie, I love your thoughts here. I’ve been noticing recently how when it comes to brave things, the worst part is starting–because like you say, once we’re doing the thing it requires ALL our focus.

    Cute cards!

  5. avatar
    Marina Bromley says:

    My acts of bravery have not been so monumental; but none the less huge in my scale of life. Most of them involve life situations, owning up to poor choices, confessing and repenting and accepting the consequences; or keeping my FAITH front and center while facing the questions of “what if?” – “what if my child takes another step away from God?”, “what if my daughter/SIL are “caught” evangelizing?”, “what if it’s cancer?”.
    My one word this year is “BRAVE”, and it really scared me to think what He might bring me through to learn it. Your blog has shown me it may not be the BRAVE of the future I need to come through, but the BRAVE of the past I need to recognize. To celebrate. I honestly never perceived those as moments of bravery…

  6. I really like the idea of writing down our acts of bravery. Mine have revolved around facing and conquering some life situations when I felt like running away and hiding.

  7. My bravery story. I completed a sprint-tri. Yes swimming, biking and running are not hard, but you see I have a fear of crowds, a fear of deep water and a fear of dark water. Those first minutes (well 16 actually it took me a while to do it) swimming I had to overcome an avalanche of fear as people were kicking and slapping me as they tried to swim by me, as I looked down into dark muddy water, and as my feet got to depths it could no longer touch. Finally I turned over onto my back and started doing the back stroke, staring at the beautiful blue sky helped, as well as chanting “I have not given you a spirit of FEAR but of LOVE, strength power and a strong mind” over and over. As I climbed out of the water at the end the first words I said were “I DID IT” followed by “I did not die”. This summer I want to do it again!

  8. I love this story. I have a fear of heights so I don’t think I could handle flying alone! Most of my moments of bravery occurred during my first years as a physician. I can’t tell you how terrifying it it to run your first code. The pager goes off in an SOS signal, and as senior resident, I’d sprint to the hospital room of someone trying to die, responsible for directing every nurse and doc in the room on what to do to bring that patient back. I had to ignore the blood everywhere, the alarms going off, the family in the hallway sobbing, and focus every bit of my mental energy on saving that patient’s life in those few critical moments. After running my first few codes and stabilizing people on the brink, I gained more confidence, but I was always so aware of His grace being sufficient in my weakness.

  9. Your Journals inspire me. It is inspiring to write down those brave and not so brave things for reflection later.

  10. This is a lovely post, thank you for sharing. My bravery story? 4 1/2 years ago, my husband and I made the decision to discontinue medical care for our 190 day old youngest son. He had a severe congenital heart defect, had survived two heart surgeries and suffered extensive neurological damage after a stroke. WE made the decision to let his living be determined by God and not medical care and were blessed to love on him for 10 days more before God took him Home. I can remember the nurses telling us at the time how brave we were.. I didn’t feel brave then but I knew it was the right thing..

    (My most recent brave thing? sharing this. I don’t tell people about Seth’s end of life often because I fear the judgement that comes from people thinking they know better).

  11. avatar
    sandy king says:

    I always read your posts, but don’t often leave a comment . This one was great .. struck a cord today especially. Thanks for this.

  12. I just finished my story of bravery last week when I completed my first half-marathon. Less than two years ago I was a couch potato, a total non-runner. I hated running. Then came my first mile, my first 5k, and someone convinced me to train for a half-marathon. 29 weeks of training with coaches and encouragers, along with multiple injuries and setbacks. I was unsure of whether I could really do it, but to quote Jon Acuff, I punched fear in the face, went out and did it anyway.

  13. Katie, this post really spoke to me!!! I loved reading it, and I loved your ideas. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I feel like I’m always living in some brave life phase. And honestly, I’m tired! Thank you for the reminder to keep chugging along.

  15. All week I’ve been thinking about how scared I am, but now I realize that I am actually very brave. What a perfect word to describe my current journey. I’ve just recently learned that my husband had an affair. I had three options: stay and make this marriage work, leave and get a divorce, or NOT make a decision quite yet. I have NOT made a decision yet but I am brave enough to take the journey. I choose to LIVE…with him or without him!

  16. Katie,
    I really needed to hear this today. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

  17. I was hurt terribly ( to put it nicely) many years ago. My one brave wish is to walk on the street again without fear. Maybe someday my heart will give me the strength and wings to do so.

  18. I can’t think of a major moment when I was brave, but I know that I’ve made decisions in my life that required quite a bit of bravery, from learning to let go of toxic relationships, to believing in myself.

  19. Some of the acts of bravery here seem to make mine seem small by comparison! But I do feel that when I started speaking frankly and openly about my depression, it took some bravery for sure. But it also set me free, and enabled me to see how many others deal with the same issues.

  20. My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer in July, and immediately underwent a surgery they feared would leave him incapable of talking. He came through it well, but in the months since, with chemo and radiation — neither of which are expected to cure him, only to prolong his life for a year or two — every single minute feels like my bravest one.

  21. avatar
    Elizabeth Kane says:

    I really like this quote: “I was brave. I was capable, even when I felt so sure that I couldn’t do it. I went out there, and I did it.” I’ve found I can’t I wait around forever for bravery to strike. That perfect moment of feeling completely “ready” is a bit mythical. Just like you, I find it somewhere in the midst of when I’m doing the scary thing. Awesome pic of you in the plane!

  22. Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” —Mary Anne Radmacher

    I feel like the above quote describes my bravest moments. When I’ve failed or I’m embarrassed or I just didn’t handle a situation well, and all I want to do is run away and never face it again, and then I resolve that I must. Feels like bravery to me, and I appreciate the need to remind myself that in all the times I’ve done it, it’s never killed me.

  23. Hi,
    I am being brave right now, right since September 2012. I am investing my time, my money and my efforts in my project: Mychildworld. It is not my field (I work in an administrative office), it takes the most of my free time away, I am trying to reach a target in another country but I really believe in what I am doing. I will most probably fail but I don’t mind! I will fight and build and learn and move forward till I can, till I realize there’s non more space and time and hope. But till then, I am here against any “Too difficult, impossible, no way”.
    Thanks for this article! Everyone of us has is limits and fears but it’s good to know we are not alone :)

  24. I fought my way through anxiety and depression and agoraphobia several years ago.
    I homeschool my four children.
    We adopted a seven year old boy from foster care. The depth of love he needs requires bravery every day!

  25. Great post – love the idea of writing down our acts of bravery – big or small. When I was young and single I decided to keep my baby and I like to think that was my biggest act of bravery. I need to remind myself of what I have done so I don’t get caught up in the doubts that plague my mind these days. Your post makes me think of that line from a Jewel song: “Fill your lives with love and bravery and you shall lead, a life uncommon.” Thanks for writing on this topic!

  26. My times of bravery are synonymous with leaps of faith. Spending a year in Mongolia when I was 15 with my friend and her family that I hardly knew. Trying out surfing in the great Pacific on our way around the world. Moving our lil family of 4 cross-country when the hubs lost his job. God is absolutely the rock solid foundation–any bravery I can muster, is because of Him.

  27. Bravery is something that has always been important to me, but something that in the moment, I don’t realize I am doing (or needing).

    The time I felt the most brave was when I was pregnant with my third child. I had a torn placenta at 12 weeks and thought I had lost him. Thankfully, not. However, it was necessary for me to change my plans to have a homebirth with a midwife to working with a high-risk OB and a regular OB.

    After weeks of bedrest, prayer, and great nutrition, I was given a clean bill of health by the high-risk doctors. The tear was completely healed. I ended up going back to my midwife and having a homebirth (at her home, near the hospital). My son was 9 pounds and perfectly healthy when he was born.

    I had never been so at peace with such a HUGE decision in my life. But everytime I look at my son, I know I did the right thing. And I’m really proud of myself for having the faith to walk forward when the stakes were high.

  28. Wow! Inspiring. Thank you!
    My story:
    I left a six-figure job to start a farm on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere… with a toddler and a preschooler.
    And I failed.

  29. Katie, I love your thoughts here. I’ve been noticing recently how when it comes to brave things, the worst part is starting–because like you say, once we’re doing the thing it requires ALL our focus.

    Cute cards!

  30. Wow! Inspiring. Thank you!

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