Joy in the Brave

I’m going home from a nearly three week long trip. I’ve traveled from the west coast to the east coast, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, by plane, car, and ship, and I’ve learned some things about myself and about traveling. I’ve learned some things about life. And it’s good.

I’ve been so eager to share with you all. You strong women who battle hard things on a daily basis and maintain your joy and humor through it all.

You whose child has autism, you who has constant dizziness, you who lost your mother and is still learning to navigate life without her, you who is fighting cancer they say may be terminal, you who lives with severe daily pain, you who fights the urge to starve your body or overeat, you in a stressful workplace;  you who lost a friend, you who is a single mother while your husband is deployed, you who grieves the loss of a child, you who is climbing the mountains of your own war.

You the collective brave.

You are strong women, and it’s my humble pleasure to hear from you, to learn your stories and trade encouragement.

I’m writing this post on a seven hour flight. My daughter is beside me, her arms embracing two stuffed bunnies and a cat. I sip cranberry juice and peer out the window at clouds beneath the wings of this mighty metal bird.

I think of each of you and your stories, and I am grateful. I’m grateful to have gotten to know you, and grateful for your emails and support of Live Art.fully, my cyberspace corner. Live Art.fully is like a little cottage where you’re welcome. You’re invited in for warm muffins and hot drinks in the winter, and lemonade in the summer. You’re welcome to recharge here and tell me your story, and I’ll tell you mine too. As Pooh and Piglet agree, “It’s friendlier with two.”

As I told you in my Attraversiamo post, traveling hasn’t been a strength of mine. I’m not afraid. I know people who suffer from anxiety when flying or driving, and that isn’t my problem, it’s just that I feel off-kilter and unbalanced when away from home and what’s familiar. The last few times we flew, I had a baby along each time, and my idiosyncrasies and weaknesses became amplified by jet lag, time zone changes, and sleep deprivation from a teething baby or a toddler unfamiliar with her new sleeping quarters.

To tell the truth, I was afraid of my own ability to handle traveling so far, for so long, staying in a house with so many people and not having the solitude I’m used to. I was worried about my pain levels and whether I’d be too ill to manage two cross country flights. I didn’t want to be problem for those around me. I didn’t want to be miserable. I didn’t want to make a scene.

It’s with relief and deep gratitude that I share that the trip went well. AS didn’t stay home; I still had pain every day. I still had to manage stiffness and fatigue. Some of that was worse, given the beds that weren’t my own. It was hot where we went, at least compared to what I’m used to, and muggy. I was thankful for air conditioning and ceiling fans in the rental house we stayed in with my husband’s family.

We ate out and cooked in, and rode the ferry and swam in the ocean, and stayed inside out of the mid-day heat some days. We got grape slushies and ice cream, and visited the marina to look at the water and boats, and walked the island and looked in shops.

One day, our last full day on the island, my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law and I went shopping. My knees were bothering me and I was running low on energy. I found a public hammock and “hung out” between stores. Only on an island can you do that, a shopping mall just doesn’t have that same perk!

After shopping we found a restaurant screened in like a porch.

“Four for dinner?” asked the hostess.

“Four for dessert,” we replied, giggling.

It was a special time, sipping our decaf coffee and laughing. We ordered all four desserts on the menu and split them each in quarters to share. It was the day after International Chocolate Day and we celebrated aptly with mocha swirl cheesecake, chocolate chess pie, and chocolate pecan fudge cake. It was glorious, the hours of being with women and only women.

“It’s so much easier [browsing shops] without the kids,” I commented to my sister-in-law.

“I know,” she replied, "I haven’t had to tell you to behave yourself even once.”

I got to meet nieces and nephews, and get to know my husband’s siblings better. I loved that.

I wore a swimsuit and went without makeup and got in the water and did many things outside my comfort zone. And you know what I realized? I realized that there is joy in the act of being brave. Not just relief in getting through it, not just pride in having done it, but JOY on the other side of the fear. You might get knocked over by a wave and get water up your nose and scrape your knees on the abrasive Atlantic ocean floor, but when you come up out of the water, you haven’t drowned. You’ve survived.

If you pass by your chance to be brave, you may miss the unexpected joy that is waiting for you.

Some of this may seem trivial, but another thing I realized is that fear is fear. My fears and discomforts may be vastly different than yours, but they are no less scary and uncomfortable. When I rise above my fears, I am being brave, even if the same thing would not require courage for you. It’s good and right that we celebrate our victories, big or small.

There were hard times and good times, magical moments and moments I was desperate to go home and could not.  It was a long journey. But I found my joy on the other side of being brave, and that was perhaps the most unexpected gift of this trip. It was my gift by the sea.


  1. sounds amazing. We should all be so brave as to step out of our comfort zone more often. You inspire me to take a step forward in that journey.

  2. I am so happy that you had a magical time. I have been praying for a great vacation for you guys. Welcome home.

  3. First of all what an amazing trip! I long for the same experience and am determined we will make it happen- you have reignited my belief! What a great lesson to share with us- and I am sure there are more yet to come as you process the trip in the days to come... love this- "found my joy on the other side of brave" Brilliant :) Hugs sweet girl!

  4. Sounds fun!! Just found your blog on beauty that moves.

  5. Thanks Vicky! So hoping your dream can be a reality.

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Theresa! Hope to see you here often.

  7. What a beautiful and wonderful post! I'm so glad you were able to go on a trip, and I'm thankful you were able to find joy in the brave. I laughed at the snippet of conversation about shopping. So nice that your sister-in-law didn't have to tell you to behave yourself! Haha!

  8. Great post, masterful writing! Made me tear up and made me laugh aloud. I've never thought this way about hard events in time. I have thought this about hard wars in my journey, the joy I have that I survived A and overcame B and kicked C's butt. It's exhilerating to come out the other side of something that was supposed to eat you alive, but with perserverance and the grace of God, you're still standing after the storm. But I never thought of that in regard to hard events. Usually I'm just mad about it during and glad it's over after. I hope I can remember this. Thank you for sharing!


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