It is my hope that what ever you gain from reading this post, you will be reminded that you were born brave and that we are all in this learning to live a brave life together.
My 5 ways to living a full & brave life:
1. We must get over the idea that courage is about being fearless. It’s 100% not. I feel the secret to courage is all about learning not to avoid fear, but to metabolize it. You know, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." I have repeated that numerous times throughout my life over the last several years. I am pretty sure it's the only way I was going to continue to move forward with my life after I finished graduate school. No joke. Deciding to take the leap into marriage. Deciding to have a baby. Deciding to try again for another baby after the passing of our first born infant. I feel it's OK to feel scared sometimes in life. Especially when life throws you some nasty curve balls. The important thing is that you step back into the batters box even after you strike out.
2. We must remember to practice. Something I thought when I started down the BRAVE journey after the loss of my baby was that courage was innate. Either you were or you weren’t brave. I now believe that is a lie. After several months of hard grieving, (still grieving) I realized that every body was born brave. Really we were. At least I think we were born with endless possibilities of living a brave life. How can we have been born into a world, where so many trials can come our way in a lifetime without a strong foundation to begin. I feel we have experiences that cause us to become timid or unsure, leaving us less brave for a moment. It is then that we need to go to work and practice. Like any acquired behavior or skill, practice makes all the difference. Practice makes permanent. Practice boosts our confidence making us more brave then we could ever imagine.
3. We must lean on our friends. Over this past year, especially as I was carrying our second baby boy, (rainbow baby) being brave was as infectious as being afraid and often my courage felt much more communal and more attainable than I could have ever imagined. Why you ask? Something I found to be the most influential to my "positive thinking" through my stressful pregnancy journey after loss, was the support of good friends. New found friends who have walked in my infant loss mama shoes and friends who just love me and who have always been there for me. I truly believe that I have been able to draw my strength from others and in return they have drawn strength from me. I feel we are all in this together. The journey called life that is. It's important to find your "tribe" and love them to pieces. Even if its simply a support group. I love the quote, "We are all just walking each other home." I believe that with all of my heart.
4. If in doubt, we must fake it. I believe without a doubt that when you ACT more courageous than you actually feel, that is where the real bravery begins. (I like to think as if I'm putting on a superwomen costume and going to work) There’s a reason they call it ‘putting a brave face on’ and, by the way peeps, it totes works. No really, it kind of really helps. There were so many times I literally had to force myself to take those baby steps after my baby died. It was in deed difficult attending my first baby shower following his passing. I remember feeling extremely uneasy, and I actually had to leave during it. I drove away bawling my eyes out and that really sucked. But! I did it. I know it's something I had to do and wanted to support my good friend even though it was extremely painful. I really was happy for my friend, but Just super sad for myself. My first time holding a baby after his passing, I cried. I kept slowly doing these hard things I eventually forced myself to do, in time it seemed to make it a little easier and easier the more frequently I took those little steps forward. I really simply put on my brave face and went to work. Faked it a lot of the time but even with all the tears, it got easier.
5. And we must breathe. You’d be amazed how many very different sorts of brave people in this world have relied upon a few slow, measured breaths to get them back on track when the going got tough or prepared for them for their moment to shine. I imagine a combat solder at war has needed to take some large deep breathes. A laboring mother. Someone singing the national anthem in front of thousands of spectators. A tight-rope walker or a lion tamer. The baseball player who's team is down by one run, bases loaded with two outs and needs to produce a solid hit to tie or win the game. This strange list could go on. All of these individuals I'm sure needed to harness a phenomenal power to calm and channel their breathing to make it through. We must breathe even if we are suffocating and scared. Do it. Right now! Take a huge breath in and exhale. Repeat. I cannot express how this has helped as I have had to breathe into difficult events over the last year and a half. Not only in uncomfortable situations as I have grieved the loss of my son, but new happy situations with the baby that was growing inside of me. I was terrified throughout most of my pregnancy and each Dr. visit I felt really uneasy that something might be wrong or could go wrong. I sure had to take a lot of deep breathes. Trust me.
I will add one more thing. Some may think this is silly, but it's something I look at to remind me to be brave. My jewelry. NO JOKE! It helps me be brave errrr day. I don't think I have left the house very often in over a year, without a piece of jewelry that has symbolized my baby boy in heavens brave life. Whether it has his initials, his name, or simply the word BRAVE on it. Now I am grateful to add our new baby boys name to my collection also. The journey to get him here made me realize, I can do hard things.
Thank you so much for reading and following my BRAVE journey.