just a smidgen

Finding Courage and Strength

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant

“To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

If you’ve been following along with me on my little “virtual” Camino of self-awareness post-separation, you’ll know that I’ve been searching to find inner peace through self-knowledge, expressing this through my poetry. Courage and strength, seemed like a good place to begin. It promised to be a shiny new “tool” to bring along on my journey, since it has always been something I’ve been told I was lacking. After all, I’ve been shamed for this, been called weak, a wimp, a poor verbal communicator, too soft spoken, incapable of having a “good fight”. I’ve been told time again that I needed  to “pull up my boot straps”, “stand strong on my own two feet” and to “become resilient, strong and independent”.

So it made perfect sense that this was something I needed to somehow develop. Having to learn to stand alone for the first time in years, I became a warrior, on guard for any and all who might come into my life to try to push me around or manipulate me. Everything in this newly “constructed” self came from a place of huge insecurity and fear. Most specifically, the fear of loss of control, suspicion of motives, and complete lack of trust in anyone but family and closest friends. Like the child bitten by a dog, all canines were potential threats.

While it never resonated as authentic for me, I continued, doggedly determined to develop this new asset that I was certain could have prevented or at the very least minimized some of the damage done in past relationships (the responsibility of both parties in a relationship).

I studied Boundaries fanatically, researched, graphed and made copious lists in my iPhone notepad. Search for the word “strength” there and you’ll find all sorts of “Notes to Self”.

I was searching for Courage in all the wrong places, I had an imaginary vision of what courage and inner strength must look like. It was confusing, since I was looking outwardly for changes that I could make inwardly that felt completely foreign.

And so I pulled on my boots, I climbed a mountain, grew, developed strength in some areas, but ended right back at the trailhead where I’d started. I’d learned so much.. but still nothing formidable had grown or changed within. Mystified I watched others who seemed to have so much inner backbone and determination, I was astounded at their ability to pull that off without any seemingly obvious effort.

I could see that it seemed as though it was just there, in them, innately a part of who they were.

That’s when it clicked for me. This “warrior” I was struggling to become did not resonate for me and I’m certain, now, that it never would. Struggling to develop personality traits that don’t “belong” and align with who you are might just have been the most colossal error and waste of time for me.. even greater than that, a betrayal of the self. And so I learned:

We are all born with gifts, this was just not one of mine.

That meant it was time to look for a “work around ” solution and I decided that there could be so many other ways to become strong, without the struggle, the fight or the need for quick defensive aggression to “protect” myself.

Couldn’t there be a quiet centeredness, I reasoned, a calm auric energy, that I’ve only just recently learned about, that could hold us steady from within our hearts.. deep in our hearts where the true spirit of our selves lives. Isn’t this also Courage and Strength, albeit much quieter, but equally as resolute?

Couldn’t our spirit rest in the knowledge that God, Buddha, the Universe and/or our angels are there for us, doing some of that work if we just allow them to. Placing faith in the unknown, letting go of control and certainty seems far more courageous and strong than the model I’d been trying to adopt.

Wouldn’t a truer strength be the ability to allow people to meet with us on our Camino, walk together for a while, learn from one another, then part ways with a blessing so that both of us could continue on our individual journeys of self-discovery. I’d like to think so.

The thing is, no one walks our Camino with us forever except our chosen God. People move, change direction, evolve into a person that may no longer align with us or they may die before us. We are blessed to have had their presence in our lives for any length of time, for their support, their knowledge shared. We are who we are because of the gifts given to us by everyone in our lives, whether we perceived them as “great” or “not so great” in reflection.

My idea of Strength and Courage then, has begun transforming into something more like a gentle letting life enter in and then releasing. It has become like the “catch and release” of fly fishing that I learned to love this past summer. Not everything lasts forever, nothing but my own life is in my control and certainly all is changing all of the time. I’ve decided to place all of this in God’s hands and just give keep giving it my best every day, knowing with absolute certainty…

that everything in my life is unfolding as it should.

It hasn’t been easy and I still work to find that quiet, certain spirit within, but every day I’m learning that to “Let Go and Let God” is the model of strength and courage that feels more genuine for me.

It grounds me, centers me and, oddly enough, is helping me to become more independent and resilient. Fierce? I will leave that one for someone else, it just doesn’t work for me.

Laying down my “bow and arrow”, entering peace through meditation and the love and wisdom found in my chosen God and my family and friendships has proven far more rewarding. It has helped me to settle much more quickly into my true self. It has been such a relief to let go of the “fight” going on in my head. There are far fewer worries and admonishments, they’ve been replaced instead with wonder, curiousity, embracing, letting go, acceptance, truth, peace, love and so much more. I let go and let God and, when necessary, I let go of people in my life when it’s time.

I practice speaking from the heart, embracing the imperfect in me and the imperfect in others.

This aligns with who I am at heart.

Love and Namaste..

Barbara

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