What is Bravery?
Bravery can look like a lot of things to a lot of people.
I don't think bravery can be defined the same way for every person.
Brave for me means stepping out of my comfort zone, choosing to ignore the tapes that play in my head, and forging a new path.
This month has been a month of brave for me.
I set off on a faith journey to the distant land of........ O-hi-o.
I forged new roads, made new tapes, and I met some great people.
Let me take you back a bit to a little over a year ago, because that is where this story of bravery really starts.
As I was reading the comments of a blog I saw my name and thought, "when did I comment on this?" It was not me though, but another Karmen with a K. I was thrilled and had to let her know I existed. This was my first step of brave; putting myself out there and introducing myself.
From there we began an online friendship through facebook and our blogs.
The more I learned about her the more I wanted to meet her.
I battled the tapes in my head telling me that I am not worth getting to know and broached the topic of meeting. She was game, so we made a plan.
At O Dark thirty in the morning, otherwise known as 4 am, on Friday October 3rd I hopped into my husband's truck and started my long drive from CT to Ohio.
Sometimes, you don't even realize that you are being brave.
Allowing someone else to do the leading let me conquer something that if left to my own devices I never would have thought I could do. (Bigger life application inserted here.) I was big and brave and stronger than I thought! I felt like Super Woman in a white pick up truck.
As the hours and miles went by I would push out the creeping thoughts of "what if she doesn't really want me to be there?" or "what if they think I am weird for coming all this way?" and would replace them with how I would feel if someone were to think so much of me to do the same.
That is another step of brave, hearing the old tapes, ignoring them, and recording new tapes to replace them and then play those. And not just play them, but choose to believe them.
When I pulled up she came out and we hugged like old friends and I was welcomed into her home with the ease and comfort of walking into my own. Her daughters were also wonderful, engaging, and also inviting.
Her sweet dog, Nigel, and I made fast friends. The day I wore capris he couldn't stop licking my legs, I think all the sugar I consume must make me taste extra sweet. If I could have brought him home with me I would have, he is just the sweetest little guy. I mean seriously how could you not fall in love with this face?
That night we went to dinner and I got to meet many of her friends, all of them were just as lovely as they appear to be on her blog.
It was kind of surreal actually. Imagine one of your favorite books, now imagine getting to step into that world for a weekend and live in it with all of the characters from that book. That is kind of what it felt like, but not, because, you know, they are all real people.
I loved being allowed into her world, wanted even.
Although a part of me wondered if before I had come she was like, "Hey, friends, come have dinner with this lady in case she is a total nut case and I need back up!", but I told myself that it was probably more like, "Oh my gosh the other Karmen is coming and she is so Ah MAy Zing that you must come and dine with her, because it would be selfish to keep this much awesome to myself!"
I am guessing that the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle of those two.
The whole weekend felt easy and wonderful. I felt able to be myself. Even when being myself included dumping insane amounts of ice all over her kitchen floor, because the ice had not been falling into my water bottle like I had thought and instead was backing up into the chamber from whence it came, so when I pulled my bottle away all the ice fell everywhere. (If there is a way for me to make a mess and be a klutz at the same time, you can bet I will find it.) Or the time when I was getting ready in the morning I whacked the towel bar with my arm and sent the rod clanging, LOUDLY to the tile floor. Myself is a bit loud, and messy, and imperfect and it all felt OKAY. (Another brave, accepting me as being me and not belittling myself for it.)
When bravery changes your armor.
On Sunday, I went with them to church. I was new, but I didn't feel it. Everyone was so welcoming and warm, I was greeted with hugs and smiles. During the service I felt right at home. That to me is the mark of a good church. No matter what denomination it is, if it is God loving and Bible preaching the same Spirit should be present within it. If it is, then it will feel like home, even if the "decor" is slightly different.
By Sunday night it felt as though Karmen and I were old friends. Chatting freely and deeply. At one point her husband came into the Kitchen and said that we were in there solving all the worlds problems. We were. Get ready world, Karmen and Karmen for President & Vice President 2016! (okay not really, but we would be awesome! We could throw the world an awesome party and solve all its issues at the same time. Of course I am too much of a flighty creative to hunker down and get to business, so it is probably better if I just stick to blogging and kitchen table conversations.)
When I came back home my Sister told me I was brave for going. I was, and I am. I am brave.
It is an evolving bravery.
It is giving me a new armor. It is a process of shedding my old armor of walls and fear and replacing it with an acceptance and comfort of who I am. And with this new armor I am gaining with it an army. An army of people who also accept me and bring me comfort and who are helping me to remove those walls that I hid behind and are inviting me to go with them into this brave new world of freedom to be m.y.s.e.l.f.