Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Courage of Your Convictions

This month I was interview by Megan Raphael, author of The Courage Code, on her monthly call, Conversations with a Woman of Courage. I enjoyed my time with everyone on the call. Thank you, Megan. You can visit Megan's website and listen to her courage conversations at

So I've found myself musing about courage. My dictionary tells me, that courage is "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear." I don't believe it. Who are we kidding? When did we learn that courage means without fear? I must have been absent that day. Why can't fear sit side by side with the valor and victory we associate with courageous acts? And how did this definition get so distorted? A quick trip to my etymology dictionary tells me that the Latin root of courage, cor, means heart, “which remains a common metaphor for inner strength.” When I am being courageous, my courage comes from my heart in spite of my fear, not instead of it.

In more primitive times, our courageous acts were merely a fear-induced survival instinct to fight or flee from an immediate danger. We survived because of a nice, healthy fear. Today, mostly, we fear the consequences of imagined things yet to come, not anything real and looming. So today's courageous acts are our willingness to move through our contrived fear. That kind of courage comes from a softer more intuitive and “heart-felt” feeling that our conviction about what we desire is greater than our imagined fear. When we have that sense, that knowing from our heart and not our mind that our convictions are right, we don't need to fight or flee. We simply flow.

So as 2007 ends, take a look at your manufactured fears and use them to do something courageous, something heartfelt, for yourself. I’ll smile and wave as I see you bouncing downstream and flowing gently into 2008. Cheers!

Here are a few Courage quotes to take to "heart."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmoon

"Courage is tiny pieces of fear all glued together." Irisa Hail

"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway." John Wayne

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Boo Boo Antics

Wow. It has been a short month. And a short year, for that matter. Oh, when I reflect on my comings and goings of 2007, it seems very full indeed. It's just that when I remember back to early January without snow, ice fishing in March, Spring and Summer trips to the far north in search of "the big one," and the wane of summer into fall, it all feels like yesterday.

This year we have snow in December. My walks with the dogs take a little longer and a little more effort. I'll have to break out the snowshoes soon. But the dogs will persist in taking me on their walk each day. Their routine rules in this household.

Last Sunday I took off my mittens to use my camera. Later, about 400 feet down the trail, I discovered I was missing one mitten. After traversing that 400 feet many times I could not find it. Now my big black lab, Styx, has a reputation as a thief. In fact, his nickname is Boo Boo because, while he has a big heart and wants to be good, he just can't. So I was pretty sure he was the reason I could not find my mitten. I searched my trail and every spot along the trail where dog prints wandered into the woods. I went home with only one mitten and it snowed heavily that night. On Monday, I gave Boo Boo a stern talking to and we made a beeline for that same spot on the trail. The big brat went right to the base of a pine tree and dug up the mitten he had buried the day before.

I'm never too angry with him. Years ago the vet told me his hips were so bad he'd likely have to be put down by the time he was five- or six-years-old. He'll be eight this coming May and manages three to six miles a day with me. His energy is boundless and I'm so grateful I didn't spend the last few years fretting and in fear of his outcome. I did, however, spoil him rotten and I'm gladly paying the price now.