Courage Rising

For the past two weeks I have been commuting to a new job.

  • Warming up the car in sub zero weather.
  • Hat, gloves, earbuds, lunch bag, and snacks.
  • A lanyard with an ID and building pass.
  • A highway drive to a parking lot, two trains, and a short walk.  

All told: It’s about 2 1/2 to 3 hours per day, four days a week, enmeshed with humanity. This is a big change for me. I am reminded of sending my youngest daughter off for her first day of kindergarten and she didn’t want me to take a photo. I was excited for her.  She was scared.

One of my intentional words for this year is courage. Researcher and storyteller, Brené Brown reminds us that the root word of courage, cour, means “heart.” Writer and social activist, Glennon Doyle, reminds us the courage also contains the word “rage,” where heartbreak can be turned into action. Both teach that vulnerability is a key to connection and transformation — and is necessary in order to be brave when facing the small and big moments in life.

The silver lining in the new commute is that I now have time to listen to podcasts. I find myself laughing aloud or shedding a tear. I use this as my time for meditation and education. In a recent interview about courage with Glennon Doyle and her partner, Abby Wamback (On Being with Krista Tippett), Doyle shared the following:

We say all the time with our kids, everything’s a pattern. It’s first the pain; then, the waiting; then, the rising — over and over and over again. Pain, waiting, rising. And when we skip the pain, we just never get to this rising.

Glennon Doyle

I loved this phrasing. Pain, waiting, rising. It reminded me of Fred Rogers as I was picturing my daughter with her little backpack all those years ago; and me now carrying my backpack and embarking on a new, uncertain journey. How we must we rise to the occasion in spite of fear. It has to do with the word “encourage,” which means to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to hearten. Mr. Rogers said,

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has — or ever will have — something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.

in The World According to Fred Rogers

That’s how I feel about my work when counseling and coaching others. We are all sparks of the divine, and sometimes we need to shine our light on other’s hidden gifts with our presence, patience, empathy, and encouragement. Can we do this for ourselves, too?

First Day

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