Day 17 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to learn a new thing.

I work in a profession which is all about learning. At least in theory. I think much of our education has been more about grades and credits than it has been about true learning. I love learning, though, and I am currently looking for new ways to engage in learning a new thing.

Over the years, I have been able to find many formal ways of learning. After high school, which was, for me, such a positive learning experience, even if socially it was questionable, I was able to steadily learn for four years at Western University before deciding that education was important to me as a way of helping others and hopefully making social changes. So, I earned a degree in Education and began my work in Secondary schooling.

I have always tried to I still in my students a belief that the learning is more important than the grade. But who are we kidding? If there is a grade involved at all, most students are going to care about that grade. As a principal I see the obsession with grades every day – from students and parents and teachers, some of whom still want to use marks as a way of rewarding or punishing compliance, rather than as a tool for feedback about how students are learning.

Enter…me.

For all the beliefs I have about marks as a tool for feedback, I know they matter to me too, when they are my grades. When I decided to earn my Master’s in Educational Leadership, I fought hard to earn the best marks I could, because I believed that reflected how worthy I was to be in this field.

Fast forward to today. It takes courage to learn a new thing. I am stuck. I am about to finish a professional learning program, and have only to complete the practicum portion. I am considering my learning from here, and I am very aware that, unlike when I was younger, I can not just drop all responsibilities to go earn another degree. If I could, I would run off to do a doctorate somewhere far away. But I could never afford the time or the tuition at this point.

So I am a person who needs to be learning. Here are my ideas. Let me know yours.

1. Find opportunities to learn that do not involve formal education. This is something I am privileged to do regularly as working for a learning organization affords next many learning opportunities. Perhaps there are opportunities here I haven’t considered.

2. Do a Doctor of Education program. This is on my list of things I want to do, but I am not sure if it financially feasible or if I would be able to do this with young kids and my career.

3. Turn on the laptop. did you know there are many universities and other learning organizations that are putting their courses online for anyone to access? I have been working through a course online from Yale. Did you know that at Yale University, the most popular course is The Psychology of Well-Being? So, Yale put the entire course – lectures, small group talks, readings, videos, quizzes, assignments – all of it online for anyone to take the course FOR FREE. You only pay if you wasn’t the certificate that says you took the course. So, for me, it took some courage to say, I just want to learn. I don’t need the recognition. There are hundreds of courses offered for free online. If you are interested in finding out more, check out EdX or Coursera as starting points. Or contact me and I will tell you more about it.

4. Learn a new skill completely unrelated to work. Maybe through Spectrum or through the Y? But what? I could learn to paint (and that would NOT be to satisfy those few negative people who have commented that my painted backgrounds that I post with each day’s themes are not good and I should stop putting them up. FYI, I know I am not a watercolour genius. I just enjoy it and I am going to keep putting them up as an act of courage) or learn to blow glass (something I didn’t do from my 45 Things project) or to play a new instrument or learn a new language. This might be a good idea because it will require me to step out of my comfort zone more.

Other ideas? I would love to hear from you. How have you shown the courage to learn a new thing? How can I? Tell me what you are learning and let’s celebrate that!

Day 16 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to just be a person.

Ok. Now this may sound like I am just running out of things to talk about, but stick with me for a minute.

It takes courage to just be a person. To recognize that you are not the labels you give yourself…mom, teacher, friend, bus driver, banker, doctor, student. You are also not weak, powerful, brilliant, a screw-up. Those labels may describe what you do or how you interact with the world. They may describe your relationship to other people. They may describe how you respond in the face of challenge or victory. But you are just a person. You are not your accolades, your awards, your failures or your diagnosis.

You are just a person.

So where does the courage come in? It takes courage for us to step out from behind the mask of position. It takes courage for us to not “become” our labels. Being just a person is vulnerable and brave.

It also takes courage for us to see others as just people. How often do we…do I place value in someone else’s opinion or behaviour based on the label I have given them? How many times have I worn a label someone gave me because of a title they hold? How often have I written off someone else’s humanity and stuck a label on them?

It’s time to stop doing that! It’s time for us to stop hiding behind our titles or failing to see the person in front of us and not just the behaviour.

So today I will remember that before I was a teacher, a principal, a wife, a mom, and even before I was a friend, daughter, sister, woman, I was just a person. I am just a person when I have my best day. I am just a person in my worst.

Yes, I will celebrate my successes…and over the next few days I will share some of those successes I am experiencing. And I will reflect on my failures. But I will also take the steps to see the person in the mirror, in my office, on the street and on the other end of the phone.

Can you find the courage today to just be a person? To step out from behind the mask of your title or to not limit yourself by the labels others place on you? Being a person is the one thing, the ONLY thing I have been since the day I was born, and will continue to be until the day I die.

Can you find the courage to boldly state, “I am just a person?”

Day 15 of 45 Days of Courage

How is it possible that today marks the one-third mark for this series? I am so grateful to each one of you who has read, commented, shared privately with me that you are getting something from my posts. I truly appreciate the feedback. ❤️

It takes courage to release control.

Yesterday I mentioned a difficult conversation I was going to have. Well, I had it. And the result was somewhere between what I was hoping for and what I most feared. Isn’t that usually the case?

So often we have expectations about how our lives will go or how our relationships will be. And we try to manipulate the world around us so our reality is more like the expectations we have. I have learned that I do this all the time. I like to make things better. I am a “fixer”. But rarely, if ever, does trying to fix the world around me bring me peace or joy.

The much more difficult and courageous thing for me to do is to trust. To release control. It takes courage to release control…of the outcome, of the other person’s response, of my own emotions, of the laws of the universe… but I am learning that if I can release control and simply accept what is happening (without my interference) with compassion, I do find peace.

Yesterday was a day for me to process. My apology wasn’t accepted, but that is out of my control. My questions were answered in a way that left me feeling more hurt and filled with self doubt than before. But today I will find the courage to release control and simply allow what has happened to be.

Is there anything in your life that you need to release control of today? How can you begin today? Take just one small step of courage with me today.

Day 14 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to say “I’m sorry.”

I am not talking about the very Canadian “I’m sorry” we all know and love. You know, the one I give to someone when they accidentally step in my foot? And I am also not talking about the flippant “sorry” you make because your mom tells you to apologize to your brother and you just want to get back to whatever you were doing.

I am talking here about sincerely apologizing when we recognize we have done something wrong or something to hurt another person. The kind of apology you know you need to make but you really don’t want to because to apologize is to admit wrongdoing and to be vulnerable.

No one likes to admit they are wrong. Especially me. Sometimes it takes me some time of working through a whole web of thoughts and feelings and playing back an insides to recognize when I was in the wrong. And sometimes it can feel like too much time has passed to apologize. But I think those are the apologies that take the greatest courage.

Today I will be speaking with someone I haven’t talked to in a long time. I did apologize for some actions that were wrong, and I don’t know if this person accepts my apology or not. That isn’t up to me. What is up to me is to recognize when I am wrong, to sincerely say I am sorry and to ask how I can make it better.

For me, that takes courage. Especially when the relationship matters. To apologize is not weak. It is a statement of strength and it takes tremendous courage. Tomorrow I will be talking about having the courage to release control of the outcome.

Do you have an apology to make? Consider the courage it will take for you to make it. Courage takes practice and this practice can repair the relationships that matter to us.

Day 13 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to stay connected.

This morning as I prepared to write today’s post, I realized I did not do a painted background for the theme. I do not apologize for this. I was out last night connecting with my very dear friend Stephanie. That time is sacred and went a little later than my nights (especially a school night) usually do.

Stephanie is one of those friends who I see three or four times each year but it feels like we are just picking up where we left off. Do you have friends like that? I have known her since grade 7 and she has consistently been, for me, the example of the kind of friend I want to be. She is steadfast and loving, compassionate and giving, and she is not afraid to tell me when I am doing something that isn’t good for me. She loves my kids and my wife and I love her family too.

And she is so courageous. She always has been. In grade 8 I was SO awkward. And I tried to fit in with my group of friends but I was so inauthentic in doing so (as many thirteen year olds are) that it was really off-putting to my friends. And, led by one girl who really did not like me, I was ostracized and excluded. It hurt so badly to go through that. No one wanted to talk to me or hang out with me. The ringleader would spread rumours about me, write hurtful notes and put them in my locker or tell others not to be friends with me.

And they listened to her. Most of them listened. But not Stephanie. Even in the face of the possibility of losing her friends, she would not follow along. She still talked with me and included me. She convinced me that if I was just myself, without apology, people would like me.

As an adult she willingly stepped in at the last minute to stand by my side at my wedding when my brother stepped down. I will love her forever for that.

And on the day I posted something very concerning online, she called to check on me and even went as far as driving from Waterloo to Woodstock to stay with me until I could get an appointment with my therapist.

Stay connected with your people. It takes courage. Stephanie is my example of courage today. Thank you, my friend, for showing up, for telling me to rest when I need to, for helping me through my childhood, for forgiving me when I was a jerk. Thank you for sharing your family with me and for being brave enough to call me when you need to talk. I want you to know that I will always be here for you.

So today, I encourage you all to be courageous, make that call. Connect with someone who you haven’t seen in a while, with someone who, when you are around them, encourages you to be better.

Day 12 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to admit you are not okay.

Let me start by saying that today, I am okay.

But I wasn’t always. And I know there are days to come when I won’t be. And that is okay.

A year ago today, I was really not okay. I was overwhelmed with things happening in my life. I was struggling to carry the trauma I was working through while also holding space to hold the pain of others who shared so bravely with me. I wanted to believe I could do all of it. But I couldn’t. And I was too afraid to tell anyone. I was afraid I would look incompetent to lead and do the work I love. I was afraid that admitting I was not okay would be a burden to those I love and would hurt my wife and kids. I was afraid that admitting I was not okay would be seen as weakness. So I kept all of the pain and the fear and the anxiety that was lying to me about who I am, and it built and grew until it all came to a head a year ago. And it literally nearly killed me.

Thankfully, something pulled me out of that tunnel and not only did I find the courage to walk away from the path I was on, but I found the courage to admit I was not okay and I needed help.

Asking for help is not easy for me. It never has been. I have always felt ashamed to ask for help because I believed it meant I was not capable or enough. That is wrong. I am capable. I am enough. I just needed help. And even though my first attempt at asking for help that day left me feeling more ashamed and dismissed and judged, something I am still trying to work through today, I kept asking. And it got easier to admit I was not okay. And eventually I found the help I so desperately needed.

In my work I see so many young people who are on that same path. They are desperate to find connection, for someone to see them and tell them we see them and that it is okay to not be okay. It is brave to admit you need help. Sadly, some don’t ever find that courage to admit they aren’t okay.

When I talk to my children I hear the same resistance to admit they aren’t okay and I realize I have modelled for them that saying “I’m fine” in the face of overwhelming pain is not only acceptable but expected. And I need to change that.

To you who saw beyond my “I’m fine”, thank you. I am learning to admit when I am not okay.

To you, who may be reading today, feeling overwhelmed and desperate, be brave today. Tell someone. Tell anyone who will listen. If you don’t know where to turn, ask someone. Ask me. I will help. I will never dismiss you or not believe you when you say you need help.

You are brave. Lets take a step of courage together today.

Day 11 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to step into the arena.

Today in Canada and in many places around the world, we will stop to remember the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have taken up the call to battle for freedom. Some of us will attend school gatherings. Some will attend ceremonies at a local cenotaph. Many will go about their daily business but will stop for a minute at 11:00 to silently consider the price of freedom.

There is no way for me to make a comparison between the courage it must have taken for these young people to walk away from everything they knew to fight in a war on the other side of the world and our own call to courage. To do so would be both insensitive and disrespectful.

But what I will say is this… we live in a world where injustice and cruelty are often dismissed as just part of our society. But it doesn’t have to be. That is not the vision of Canada our young men and women fought and died for.

When I stop a young person from making a racist or sexist or homophobic comment, I am honouring their sacrifice. When we write to our politicians to insist on better funding for the services we deserve and which benefit our society, such as health care and education, we are honouring their sacrifice. When we have the courage to ask the person near us in the grocery store to honour the minute of silence at 11:00, we honour their sacrifice.

Any time we step into the arena, that place where we are vulnerable and visible to all the spectators, where others may shame us for our faults, or laugh at us for our errors, we honour their sacrifice.

For them, stepping into the arena meant literally putting their lives on the line. For us, stepping into the arena will likely not mean life or death. For us, having the courage to step into the arena is a choice to get messy, to possibly stand alone, to speak up for what we believe to be true and good and right. For us, stepping into the arena will probably not be met with an enemy holding a gun. But we may be met with an enemy who uses our words against us, who reminds us of our past and asks, “who do you think you are?” There will be critics. That I can guarantee.

Step into the arena with me. Today, find the courage to speak up for what you believe in. Stand up for what you know to be good and true and right. Today, let’s remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy. And let’s continue to honour their sacrifice with our words and actions.

And PLEASE take a moment to stop and silently remember today.

Day 10 of 45 Days of Courage

It Takes Courage to Rest…

In our society which rewards doing more, which applauds busyness and which encourages us to “find something to do,” we have forgotten how to rest.

So today’s post will be short. Because I need to rest. And so do you. Because it is brave.

It takes courage to stop all the doing, the side hustle, the email replies, the planning for next week, the lunch making, the form signing, and the homework helping to just rest and replenish. Many of us don’t like to rest. The thought of not actively working toward something makes us feel anxious.

And yet, science has proven that we are more productive, more in tune, more able to make good decisions and make better connections with others when we take the time to rest.

I just finished reading the book Brave, not Perfect by Reshma Saujani. In it, Reshma offers up an entire chapter about the importance of rest. I heard her speak on a podcast just before I read the book and she made a statement that has stuck with me.

“You can’t be brave if you are tired.”

So, my readers, today is a day to rest. Dinner is already made. Lunch will be up to the kids. I will attend church this morning and then give myself permission to rest this afternoon. The only question today is, will it be a beer and football or a tea and a good book with a favourite blanket kind of afternoon? Will you join me in finding the courage to rest today?

Day 9 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to tell your story.

If you are alive, you have a story. If you are an adult, you have survived childhood…so you definitely have a story. If you have ever loved another, you have a story.

We all have a story but many of us are afraid to tell ours. We worry that others might judge us or that if we share our story, we might break down. But what if we don’t? What if people don’t judge us but instead they feel a connection to us?

Not all stories should be shared with everyone. I started this blog as a way to share my authentic self with other people. It has been a healing journey and while I most certainly hope my story has helped some people to find some courage and some peace in their lives, it has been a healing and powerful journey for me.

There are, however, parts of my story I have not shared publicly, and likely won’t, at least not in the near future. Parts of my story deserve to be heard only by those who have earned that privilege. The same is true for your story. There is nothing more healing and transforming than sharing your story with someone who can listen, without any judgement, and who can then share your pain or your joy or your fear or your excitement and honestly tell you they see you.

What keeps us from being brave enough to share our story? For me it is the fear of judgement. I have had the experience of sharing the darkest parts of my story, to be met with judgement, to be dismissed, to be called “attention seeking” when I was asking for help through my story.

I hesitate to share the awesome things happening in my life, especially when those awesome things are happening because I have worked hard and achieved good things because I worry that others will think I am bragging or that I am showing that I have an inflated sense of self importance.

But, our story is our story. And we need to tell our story because it matters to us. Maybe our story will give someone else the courage to face their own challenges. For me, I will continue to share who I am through this blog. Some people will read it. Some will not. And that is ok. It is part of my bravery journey to share my story. It is not part of my journey to worry about how others will accept it.

So take a step of courage today. Tell someone you trust an little piece of your story. And if someone has the courage to share theirs with you, hold that story with love and care. Thank you, my readers, for gently holding mine.

Day 8 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to accept change.

I don’t particularly like change. I prefer comfort and predictability. But I also know that change is one thing that is constant in life. When we were in Taiwan, we learned from the amazing Buddhist monks with whom we stayed, that Life is Change. There is not one minute of any day that looks exactly like any one before it.

One meaningful act of courage comes when we accept change. When we want our lives to stay the same, but we accept it will change, that is courage. My son is preparing for high school in September. While part of me wants to keep him in elementary school, a bigger part is excited for this change in his life and ours.

In many industries, change is an annoying reality. For me, as a high school principal, change is the norm. Students come, and grow, and leave. Teachers change. Other personnel change. Curriculum changes. A new challenge presents itself.

As a parent lots of changes are coming. My kids are growing up. And while I am looking forward to watching them grow and become the adults they will be, it’s a change. Am I happy for them? Absolutely! And I worried for them? You bet! Do I know this change is good and necessary? Heck ya! Am I looking forward to the changes that will come? Not at all. But I will find the courage to accept the change and I know things will turn out exactly how they are supposed to.

Life changes constantly. One moment to the next we are living in change. Relationships change. Jobs change. We start new businesses or take on new roles. Friends go on new adventures and the dynamics of those friendships inevitably change. What we believed would always be, will not always be, at least not in the same form.

Without change there is no life. We are entering a new season. Winter brings changes to routines and activities. It requires changes in what we wear, how we travel and even how we eat and spend our leisure time. And without winter, we can not experience the joy of life that comes in spring.

Our health changes and we must adjust. Our priorities change as we age and our families grow.

I am convinced that every sad song ever written is actually about change. Loss and grief and disappointment are the result of change. We need to have the courage to not avoid change, but to walk boldly through it, knowing that on the other side, when we accept change, we will be right where we need to be.

What changes are you experiencing or preparing for? Can you accept the change? How can you dig into your courage to know everything will turn out exactly as it should?

Day 7 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to believe you are worthy of love and belonging.

My son has been experiencing what many teenagers experience…exclusion. He is 13, preparing to go to high school next year and he inspires me every day with his strength and resilience.

So today I want to do something a little bit different and share with you the story of a young man who has overcome greater obstacles than most his age, who struggles daily, and who is so resilient it makes me cry.

When E was born, he was destined for struggle. He came into the world having been exposed to alcohol and spent the first months of his life neglected, under nourished and under stimulated. He was fortunate to have a wonderful and loving aunt and uncle, who remain positive and loving family members and friends to our entire family, who tried to help and support E. But the challenge was far greater than anyone could imagine and before E was two, he was moved out of his birth mother’s care.

E then lived with other family members who were also not equipped to care for him, and later, for his sister. He tells me stories of food insecurities, of not going to school, of being hungry and having a constant sore mouth because there was no toothbrush for him. He spent his first years living in constant stress, feelings responsible for the safety of his little sister, never sure who was coming into the house, whether there would be violence or drugs, and not having a place to go that wasn’t so cluttered or filled with ashtrays and garbage so he could just relax.

A kind social worker tried to help. And eventually, the kids went to live in a foster home.

And while the couple who took E and his sister in gave them all the love and care they needed, that placement fell through because E, at six, was just too old. We were their next (and final) home.

When E and T came to live with us, at 6 and 3, they had never had their own room, had never had consistent meals or access to snacks. He had to learn how to brush his teeth and navigate clean clothes and went to school for the first time. It was a struggle for him.

And he learned. He learned to count, to read, to share, to feel secure. He learned about love and belonging. Our greatest day as a family was April 10, 2015, when a judge announced that we were officially and forever a family.

And now, at 13, E excels in math. He loves to read. He loves sports. He is an Air Cadet and has aspirations to be a pilot. He is protective of his sister. He brags about his mom’s baking and is helpful and kind.

That all sounds good, right?

E is also very small for his age. His early start to life left him underweight, shorter than all of his peers and he struggles with learning, a combination of the effects of FASD and a learning disability. Yet E doesn’t let any of his challenges stop him.

He plays on his school’s basketball team, and is really talented on the court. He runs cross country and track, plays hockey and volleyball. He reads everything he can get his hands on. He flies gliders, attends survival camps and impresses the officers in his Cadet squadron with his dedication and passion. He is getting ready for high school and has a deep desire to be a part of our board’s Aviation program.

But even with all these accomplishments, E comes home many nights and cries. Why? Because at school he is excluded by his peers for…get this…being short. At lunch he is told he is too small to play soccer or basketball. He has been told by kids on the volleyball team that he should just quit because he is too short to play. He has been told by his peers that they don’t want him to hang out with them because he looks like a little kid. The saddest part is that he believes he deserves to be excluded for his size. This kind, loving boy, who would never exclude another for any reason and who truly fights for fairness, believes he deserves to be excluded because he is small. I would like to take a moment to clarify that this exclusion comes from a group at school, but that the cadets he spends time with are welcoming, encouraging and they include him. If you want a positive group of young people for your kids to spend time with, consider the cadet program.

I desperately wish the kids at school could see the strength and the courage this boy has. I wish they knew that he has never let anything, including his size, stop him from going for it and excelling at the things he loves. And I wish E was able to truly see that he inspires others with all he has overcome, with the positivity he shows in the face of challenge.

So, my readers, I share my son’s story for two reasons. First, please remind your young people that everyone is going through things they will never know. Teach them to see the strength to overcome and the resilience it takes to persevere and to not let the challenges stop someone from trying. Please, please, please teach them not to tear down a person for the thing they can’t control.

And the second reason is to tell my son how proud I am to be his mom. You, my brave and sensitive son, inspire me. You are teaching me to be brave. You are teaching me to persevere in the face of struggle. You are teaching me to never let another person’s unkindness keep me from being kind. You are teaching me what courage looks like.

In the words of one of my favourite writers and researchers, Brené Brown, “You are imperfect. You are wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.” May all of us, whether 13 or 46 or 70, remember that. And may we all have the courage to believe it.

Day 6 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to take care of yourself.

What? No it doesn’t.

Yes it does. How often do we neglect our needs so we can care for those we love, those we serve and those we want to help. But at what cost? We are told that we can’t pour from an empty cup and yet, we seem to be able to take a single drop and use it to quench the thirst of so many around us. The cost, though, is that we are so depleted that we crash, both mentally and physically.

So what do I mean by taking care of ourselves? I am actually not talking about bubble baths and chocolate cake (but let’s not kid ourselves…both of those would be lovely right now). Rather I am talking about actually caring for ourselves. That takes courage – the courage to choose to care for your needs and risk someone else having to wait for you to take care of their needs…or even to risk them having to find a way to care for their own needs too.

It takes courage to go to bed at a decent time, to get all the sleep you need. It takes courage to drink the water, maybe even saying no to the wine. It takes courage to take the time to shop and cook healthy meals instead of whipping through the drive thru. It takes courage to move your body every day. It takes courage to slow down and be mindful, to savour a moment of beauty, to show gratitude.

It also takes courage to show yourself grace and kindness when you have that extra glass of wine, get take-out for the third time in a week and binge-watch Netflix because THAT is what you need at that time.

And having the courage to take care of yourself also means not saying yes when your heart says no. It means asking for help when you need it and accepting the help when it is offered. Whoa! That one is tough for me. It’s the one I really need to work on. Please call me out when I try to do everything on my own. We all need help sometimes. If you are like me, accepting that help may be a huge act of bravery.

Be kind to you. Take care of you. Because you deserve it. And because it is your responsibility. We don’t have to get it perfect. So let’s step out in courage and commit to doing one thing today and each day to take better care of ourselves. What will you do today?

Day 5 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to believe you are enough.

That’s right. Just as you are, right now. Without changing anything.

You are enough. Without being thinner or richer or more successful. You are enough when you get frustrated with your kids or when you feed them pizza for the second time in a week. You are enough when you can’t quit the bad habit you have been trying to overcome or when you can’t stop playing the hurtful words someone said to you over and over in your head.

You are enough when you know you are enough. You are enough when you can not possibly believe you are enough. You are enough on the easy days and on the days of struggle too. When you jump out of bed ready to face the day, and when you cry all the way to work, wishing you could just go home again because you are sure you are making the lives of those you serve much much worse.

Today you are enough. Yesterday, you were enough. Tomorrow you will be enough. There is nothing more you need to do or be to be enough.

Read all those words again. I know I will. I need to read them all, and find the courage to believe them. Can you find the courage to believe that right now, just as you are, without any doubt, you are enough? Let’s take that step of courage together today.

Day 4 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to let go.

Yesterday I reflected on the courage it takes to regroup and start over. Today I am considering how it takes courage to let go.

I like to feel a sense of control. All the time. This has served me well in many situations throughout my life. Holding tightly and being responsible gave me the endurance to do well in school, to push for a career I love. I need to have a certain amount of control in order to be effective in my job and in parenting my children.

But the need for control has also made my life difficult. I find it hard to trust others. I hold on to the harsh words people say, and I take it personally. I find it difficult to let go of control and just know that people can handle their own lives. I live with anxiety and often feel overwhelmed with worry. It can be crippling.

And when I am in a situation over which I have no control whatsoever, I struggle to know what to do. Right now, for example, I am waiting to learn when I will have surgery to remove a tumour from inside a bone in my leg. It is painful and scary and I have no control over it.

So I have no great example today to demonstrate how I have shown courage and just let go. I only know that it does take courage to let go, to trust that the things I worry about will turn out fine. The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t trust. I am afraid. I am afraid of what is happening in my body. I don’t know how to let go of the hurtful words someone said to me last year. I don’t know how to release control and just let people take responsibility for the things they need to if it might affect my life or the lives of my loved ones.

But I need to. So today I will dig deep and find the courage to let go. Of one thing. And I will show myself some compassion if I can’t let everything go. One thing, one step at a time.

As I look outside, it is impossible not to see that nature gets it. The trees hold their leaves while it serves them. And when the fall comes, and those leaves are no longer helpful, they let them go. They need to let go to embrace the next season of their lives. Maybe that’s what I need to do too. How about you?

What are you holding on to? What is no longer serving you but you just haven’t been able to release it? Maybe it it control, or expectations, or an idea how how things should be. It takes a lot of courage to let go. We don’t know the outcome. It may not turn out the way we planned. It might turn out better. Will you try this with me?

Day 3 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to start over.

But doesn’t that sound a lot like giving up? It can feel that way. When I am invested in something, whether it is at work or in my relationship, and things are not going the way I planned, I want to fix it, to push, to fight to make things better.

But sometimes, the most courageous thing to do is to start over.

I don’t believe that starting over is giving up. Starting over is regrouping, giving some space, hitting the reset button and trying again. Sometimes with another. Sometimes on your own. And all of that takes courage.

This past summer, it took courage for my wife and I to agree that things weren’t working in our home and our marriage. It took great courage to stop trying to fix all the individual issues and to make the decision for me to move away for a while. It took courage to remain hopeful and optimistic and to hit the reset button on our marriage. And it took great courage to take the leap and choose to start over, together. We are stronger now than ever. And we no longer take each other for granted. It’s not perfect, but I don’t want perfect. I want to be brave and joyful and imperfect and messy.

In my job there are many days where I leave at the end of the day feeling like I have made a difference, where I know I am helping people and doing good work.

And there are just as many days when the students have left, I have completed my paperwork and rather than feeling like I have made a meaningful contribution, I feel absolutely defeated. Young people are going through heart wrenching challenges and despite our best efforts, we just can’t help. Parents, in their frustration, call and personally attack. Sometimes, we just can’t seem to get the work done that we need to get done and I wonder if I am competent to do what I have been entrusted to do.

And in that moment, I have to make a choice. I can give up. I can desperately try to fix what can’t be fixed. Or I can show myself some grace, know I did the best I could do that day, and have the courage to try again tomorrow.

Is there something in your life you are trying desperately to fix because you are afraid to start over? What small steps could you take today to courageously explore starting over?

Day 2 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to wish the best for someone who hurt you.

Having been on both sides – hurting another and feeling the sting of being hurt by another – I have learned that some of the greatest acts of courage are seen in the choices and actions of the one who has been hurt.

Many years ago I did something that shattered the trust my now wife had in me. It took a long time to rebuild that trust, but even in the pain I had caused, I saw courage as she wished only the best for me.

Over this past year, I have experienced betrayal and have been on the receiving end of some biting words and judgments, which I am trying to resolve, but the person who has hurt me is also refusing to talk to me. And I am finding it very difficult to wish only the best for them. What I want is for them to feel exactly how hurt I feel. What I want is for them to understand the depth of the pain they are causing me. Yet, this is not courage.

Courage is being able to see that someone who causes pain must be in pain. Courage is recognizing their humanity. It is being able to see beyond what may be directly in front of us, and into the soul of another. Courage is wishing only good, only light, only joy and only peace for the person, regardless of whether they ever “get it” or whether they ever make an attempt to repair the relationship.

Is there a relationship in your life that needs a little courage? When have you seen the kind of courage that wishes the best for someone who has hurt you? What could you do today to wish someone the best, even if you don’t fully feel it right now?

Have courage my friends. Wishing you well.

Day 1/45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to follow a dream. Especially if that dream may seem impractical or impossible. But dreams are the soul’s way of showing us something new, something that is possible and something our world needs. It is you. Taking up all the space you need in this great big world. To do or be whatever is in your heart.

There will be stumbling blocks. There will be paths that are easy and others that feel like a sign to stop. And always, there will be people who support you, and those who ridicule you. Follow your dream anyway.

I have dreams and passions that I have followed, put in hold, given up on, picked up again. I have often been concerned about whether I am good enough. This blog is a small way of following a dream I have always had to be a writer. It is my step of courage.

Consider your dreams, especially the ones you are unsure of or afraid to follow. How would it feel to take one small step toward following your dream? Is there something you can do today to begin building the courage to take that step?

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt Disney