Courage, For Crying Out Loud!

The word of the year is going to have to be courage.

I tried strength, but I worry there is blindness in just muscling through.

I was debating between manifesting and allowing, but that just proved how confused and addled I have allowed myself to become.  Will I be coming or going in 2010?  Forcing it or just letting life happen to me? Ugh, too much stress to solve THAT in one word.

I need a middle road that keeps me an active player in my fate and yet allows me to surrender to the larger forces of the Universe.

And so, instead of trying to craft a yearlong strategy, I will focus on how I will face life as its challenges and mystery emerge.

With courage.

Growing up, I was never aware that moms could cry.  Since Moira’s birth I have been blessed with tons of quality time with my mother and she has told me plenty of stories about being a fully human mommy to my sister and me, occasional tears and all.  I don’t want to start weeping in the pantry, but at least I have some validation that it is possible to be frail sometimes while still keeping your kids secure in the (perhaps mythic) idea of the Power and Might of the Mommy.

The tidal waves of hormones through pregnancy and the “fourth trimester” have been ample excuse to dissolve into sobs.  It’s time to change that.  Not because I want to start bottling up my emotions or because I want to stop dealing with my feelings (impossible anyway), but because I need to take on the world with all my wits about me.

This is such a confessional turn (more than usual, even) for the first day of the year, but I do not think that I am alone in this.  For all that we may be proud of how aware we are, of how good it feels to “get it” about so many things, there is still a tendency toward leading with our weaknesses.

We have examined our pasts, our spirits, our souls, and we feel pretty comfortable there.  Light has been cast on the wounds and the failings and the idiosyncrasies that make us weird and wonderful.  All this plumbing of our inner depths can leave us holding buckets of pain and pounds of explanations for why we react the way we do, why it’s ok that we’re broken.

All this self examination does no always bring us to the place of wholeness, to strength, to courage, to passion, to forward momentum.

That takes another kind of work, a fiery kind of work that requires more energy than it might takes simply to look within and endlessly ask “why?”

I know a lot about who I am, and I know why I behave how I do.  Now is the time to act on that knowledge, cultivate the behaviors that serve me and abandon those which do not.

Now is the time to turn outward to not only look upon the world with courage, but to move through the world embodying the Damn Fine Courageous and Outrageous Mother that I know I really am.

Courage in the Gathering Light

Because I am still trying to work with this unique period that I described yesterday, when we are swirling through celebration even as we are plunged into the darkness of the dying year, I sought out a yoga podcast that is rooted in this particular time. Over at Hillary’s Yoga Practice I found a class from December 23, 2006. I needed to find words that were wrapped in winter, offering the wisdom of this season. Her topic was courage and I realize that it was exactly what I needed so that I could establish the proper perspective as we move away from the Solstice into Christmas and then onward to the new year.

Upon examining my preoccupation with mortality over the past several weeks, I realize that though such emotions were valid, I was walking a line between exploring such territory and wallowing in the darkness. I allowed myself to become unmoored in my ruminations and I forgot to call upon the resources that can protect me from sliding too deep. Now, it appears that the element that eluded me was courage.

Caroline Myss speaks often about our addiction to victimhood and the ways that we allow our “wounds” to control our experience as well as manipulate those around us. I see such patterns in my own life, and I know that they were at work when I invested in bleakness disguised as contemplation. Something as organic as courage would have been the lamp in the night that saved me from becoming entranced by the waning cycle rather than looking to the hope on the other side. It just seemed too difficult to flex that sort of muscle at the time, however. All too often, courage seems to go out the window when it is most required because acting courageously would almost certainly upset the mundane balance that marks the lives of so many of us.

Yesterday I was taken with the way the joyful, bustling holidays are at odds with our animal instincts that demand we honor the absence of the life-giving sun. Today I am less interested in that paradox, in dwelling on how hard it must be for us to deal with the conflicting messages of nature and culture. Instead, I am drawn to that very human emotion called courage that causes us to seek and create light from darkness. Beyond that, I am awed by the power of the Divine that roots such a power in our hearts and shows us again and again the constant rebirthing of the universe.