Finding Courage


A strong word. One that requires shoulders pulled back, jaw tightened, feet firmly set, and a narrow eye on the target.

Or does it?

In my own life, finding courage has been a bit of a dichotomy, one that has required extreme determination and drive, with a soft hand and acceptance. It is intensely personal, intensely public – it is intense. Yet, many of the days where we find courage are not grand gestures or amazing feats of action.  They are quiet moments, simple, understated.

The memories I of finding courage do not include the day I jumped out of my car, running into oncoming traffic to get people just in a car accident out of their car as it leaked fuel.  They do not include the day I faced violent threats from a small mob and several slaps in the face for being a “dyke bitch.”  They do not include the time where I knowingly ran towards a gang fight in order to protect my students.  These were situations of  simple action reaction.  It is the memories where I felt resolve, strength in character, and hope where I find my courage.

It is in my first on stage ballet performance, age 7, knees shaking, head held high, repeating to myself,  “bag of groceries, bag of groceries.”

It is in my first day of high school, finding my way through labyrinth halls and the 2200 students.

It is in the writing of my first satire assignment: a seething criticism of the rules and consequences of the school.

It is in my very first campaign: for president of Key Club.  It is in the speaking my mind, my heart, my intent, going up against those much more popular than I, and winning on the merits my mind, my heart, my intent.

It is in sending in my application for a physics scholarship, on a lark, and earning said scholarship.

It is in facing my first failures, picking myself up from the rubble, and moving forward, humbled.

It is in the day I offered my condolences to the  pregnant wife of the one teacher I will never forget, Mr. Lassen.  It is in the words that I uttered to her that I believe with my entire being; he has made me better, he has made me stronger, he lives on in his students.

It is on the day when I reported my supervising teacher for sexual harassment, risking my entire future, yet standing up for what was right.

It is on the day I stood before my students for the very first time. It is on each first day of school.

It is in the day that I gave birth to my daughter; rushed into surgery;  knowing full well our lives would never be the same.

It is in the day I faced my postpartum depression, and screamed for help from the bottom of a well.

It is on the day I gave birth to my son, wondering if it was possible to have room in my heart for the new baby.  Wondering if I would face the same PPD as I did following the birth of my daughter.

It is on the day I sent my children to school for the first time.

It is on the day I took a risk on myself and started my own business.

It is on each day I open myself up and share my opinions and deepest thoughts with the world.

Courage exists in the quiet, little moments. There is no huge fanfare, no hero’s welcome. It is in the small changes that start as a small ripple, growing larger, changing little by little as the chaos theory takes over.  It is in the times I  take risks  on myself,  the courage I have to keep moving forward, to get up each morning and face the day, face life with fierce determination. It is in the moments I slow down, take stock, support those around me with a gentle hand and guidance.   It is knowing when to move on and when to fall back and ask for help. My courage comes from those that believe in me, trust me, know me, and push me forward each day to do better, to be better.   And for that, I am grateful.


This is posted as part of Momalom’s Five for Ten series. It happens to come at a time when I am facing the harsh, harsh nature of writers block, so it is a welcome change to stimulate my mind a bit.  Thanks!

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15 Responses to “Finding Courage”

  1. BigLittleWolf 10 May 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    This is a wonderful depiction of everyday courage. And I think it is not to be dismissed. Taking risks, recognizing life’s fragility, going for things, even when they’re tough, and appreciating the small gifts that aren’t small at all.
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Rescuing dreams My ComLuv Profile


  2. kate 10 May 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    i couldn’t agree more about courage being about the moments that are decided upon from a place within your heart. not out of a reaction to a situation, i think that is more indicative of character.
    your words touched me today, as i could relate to many of them. thank you for sharing!


  3. C @ Kid Things 10 May 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    You are so right. Just to see ourselves through, and then add kids into the mix. It all takes a bit of courage.
    C @ Kid Things´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile


  4. dramaformama 10 May 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Wow – you really have been courageous. This list may seem like a list of small feats to you, but this is an amazing collection of truly amazing acts of strength on your part. You’re right, courage doesn’t need to lead to becoming a hero to others, courage can definitely be the small things that make you proud of overcoming a fear that you may fail or be looked down upon. And you definitely overcame a lot in doing these things.

    Nice to find you through momalom!
    dramaformama´s last blog ..This Mom thing My ComLuv Profile


  5. papoe 10 May 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    Risk always brings the best rewards. It sounds like you’ve had a lifetime of courage and that strength will continue to live on and thrive in your children (and students). I always think that we can learn more from the little moments, as well as ones that are initially painful.

    Thanks for checking out my post as well!


  6. Kathryn @ Marbury v MadisonAve 10 May 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Yes! I agree. Courage is not so much “bravery” per se as inspiration. I’m in awe of your actual bravery, but am touched more so by these small feats of courage. Your writing is beautiful — and, like your version of courage, inspirational. So glad I found you via the Five for Ten!


  7. Terry 10 May 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    “It is in the day I faced my postpartum depression, and screamed for help from the bottom of a well.” Of all the things you wrote about, this feels big, huge, enormous.

    Thanks for sharing your thought and feelings.

    I’m glad to find your blog.


  8. Corinne 10 May 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I completely agree that courage takes place in those quiet moments.
    Can relate to quite a few on your list… am so thankful for the glimpse into your everyday courageous acts :)
    Corinne´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile


  9. ck 11 May 2010 at 5:24 am #

    “Courage exists in the quiet, little moments.”

    This post was beautiful. A calm, cathartic read. Thank you for sharing something so personal, and so encouraging.


  10. Shawna 11 May 2010 at 11:06 am #

    “It is the day I faced my post partum depression, and screamed for helpnfrom the bottom of a well”. is such an apt description of courage and sharing that reminds the rest of is that we are not alone. Thank you.


  11. TheKitchenWitch 11 May 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Oh, your description of post-partum resonated so much with me. God, it was horrible.

    Thank goodness for small bursts of courage.

    Just curious: why repeat “Bag of groceries?” :)
    TheKitchenWitch´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile


  12. Leslie 11 May 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    So many everyday challenges call on courage. I love the scope of your list of brave moments, and it’s interesting that you distinguish the slow, thoughtful, deliberate acts of courage from the reflexive. And I have the same question as TKW, above: why “bag of groceries?”
    I’m very glad you stopped by so that I could come here to read. It’s great to meet you.
    Leslie´s last blog ..Courage under love – and a little fire My ComLuv Profile


  13. Sarah 11 May 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    I have read so many beautiful and courageous posts. The theme that continues to rise and rise again is that of courage in the small moments of our lives. Moments that we look back on now as small, of course, but moments that were once very big. I love the image of you at your first recital, shaky knees, building confidence.

    I, too, have a slew of small moments that, if I squint, I can look back at and say have made me the woman I am today. The one who will stand up and fight. The one who will make it through another rocky day with the kids or another difficult family decision with my husband.

    This was lovely. Thank you.


  14. Jenn M 11 May 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    The more posts I’ve read, the more this theme of “courage in everyday life” seems to strike home. I love it, because I’ve never really thought about the energy and strength it really does take to make it through every day. You’re very right that “Courage exists in the quiet, little moments.”

    This post is beautiful, well written, and very true. Thanks for sharing.
    Jenn M´s last blog ..Without Fear My ComLuv Profile


  15. Rudri 11 May 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    I agree that courage is in those quiet little moments. Solitude makes us confront those things that we can’t ignore. It takes courage to think about those things and as you say, to push forward to be better the next day.


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