What is Courage?

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers the fear.

Nelson Mandela

Allied troops prepare to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 74 years ago today.

My dad, who was one of those troops so many years ago, once told me that only fools are never afraid. Being afraid doesn’t make you a coward, he told me. Brave people learn to go ahead despite being terrified.

This applies to all of us, he made clear at the time, and now I can see what he meant…me dealing with trauma therapy, my friends and family who have faced cancer, my friend who was suddenly widowed when her husband died of influenza several years ago…countless painful and scary situations, that so many of us from somewhere, deep down inside, find the wherewithal to face and overcome. I think that we are, all of us, braver than we realize.

Courage is not simply having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.

Theodore Roosevelt

Charlottesville 

What happened in Charlottesville was evil. Pure and simple. The same evil my father fought in WWII, now come home to America, complete with swastikas, seig heils (including “heil Trump”) and chants of “JEWS won’t replace us”, and, in the end, murder. The KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, spewing their hate, were out in full force. 

This is not a partisan issue. It is not about who you voted for in November 2016. It is about good versus evil, love versus hatred, and every American who believes that we are all, each one of us, created in the image of God, must have the courage to speak out against the dehumanizing tactics and beliefs of the evil that had arisen in our midst. 

the sad times…

I am feeling horribly fragile today, as I have been on most days these last months. Fibromyalgia pain, worsening back and neck pain from arthritis, migraines, foot pain, and depression, a nasty depression relapse that just goes on and on and on…Are my medications not effective any longer? Are changing hormone levels playing a role? Am I getting worse as I get older? Did breaking my foot so badly throw everything off? Or all of the above?

It’s hard to say. But none of my usual self-care strategies seem to be helping anymore. My gratitude journal, guided meditation, walking, losing myself in a good book…all of my long honored tried-and-true comforts are failing me. I’m also having a tough time reaching out to friends because I don’t know what to say.

And part of this, I know, is the ongoing pain of childlessness. The gaping, supperating wound that never heals. It’s always there, a dull ache that crescendos to a roar at times, like around Father’s Day, which is this coming Sunday.

I don’t quite know what to do with so much pain, both physical and emotional. My husband has been wonderfully, incredibly supportive, I have terrific doctors, but it’s as if my usual coping mechanisms have run dry. So all I can do for the moment is to hold on tight to the love I know heals me. From my family, my husband, my God. And force myself to get out of bed every day, to get dressed, to sit out in the backyard with the sun and the flowers and the dog, and hope that eventually healing grace will start to take hold.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’

Mary Ann Radmacher

staring fear in the face

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  (Eleanor Roosevelt)

 

 

 

top ten things i learned from my mother

THIS IS FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO KNEW AND LOVED MY MOM:

Top Ten Things I Learned From My Mother
(In No Particular Order)


  1. She always told me that love is the only thing that really matters. You can lose your possessions, your job, and your health, but you can always hold on to the love. And in the final analysis, it’s the only thing that makes life worth living.
  2. Decorate your house with bookcases, because you can never have too many books! Nothing ever seems quite so bad if you can curl up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa.
  3. Class is not determined by money or social position; rather, a truly classy person is one who goes out of her way to make others feel comfortable and special. Classy people are warm and gracious.
  4. You’ll never get old if you are always interested in other people and continue to learn new things.
  5. Life isn’t fair. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be good, even wonderful, if you retain a sense of gratitude and remember what really matters.
  6. God does not send us tragedy and pain. But he does give us the strength to bear them, the courage to face them, and the grace to learn and grow from them.
  7. Listen to your heart and follow your star. You never know where they might lead you!
  8. Yes, you are your brother’s–and your sister’s–keeper. Always remember that “whatsoever you do unto the least of them, that you do unto me.”
  9. What others think of you doesn’t matter. It’s what you think of yourself that counts.
  10. It takes more muscles to frown than to smile–and holding a grudge takes too much energy.
  1. Never, ever, take the people you love for granted. And never hesitate to say “I love you.”
  2. Tough times don’t last. But tough people do.
(NB: This is from the eulogy I gave at my mom’s funeral on April 19, 2007)

 

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