Thursday, October 22, 2015

Creating Bravery

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I was asked what is the bravest thing I've ever done?

I was standing in Smith's Gallery  in downtown Duluth, GA talking to Larry the artist and co-owner about painting and how I've always wanted to learn how to paint but it scares me.

He asked, "What is the bravest thing you've ever done?"  
I gave the answer that I usually do: "I jumped out of an airplane at 12,500 ft!"

We laughed and he gave me the upcoming workshop brochure and said be here on the 14th!

I was thinking about our conversation throughout the day and I realized that even though I had answered a true and funny statement it really was not the bravest thing I've ever done.  

You see my Aunt Joan was the Master Jump Master who drilled me for 2 days on the how to's of skydiving (when everyone else got less than 2 hours) and statistics show that skydiving is MUCH safer than driving a car.  So I asked my self again, 

"What is the bravest thing you've ever done?"

The answer:  Having children and parenting them.

Yep. Truth. 

This is so tender for me right now.  Alex turns 18 this year.  She's making plans to leave the nest.  She is blooming, she is growing and I am...

 Scared, excited sometimes even downright terrified!  Did I do enough?  Does she know enough? Is she ready?  Am I ready? 

Brave? You bet it was brave.  I recently read an article about the crazy stuff that is spouted at working moms from the parody and perspective as if it was said to dads.  It was both funny and sad.  I've been there - if you're a mom I bet you've been there.  If we're a full time stay at home mom we hear about it (been there), if we're full-time working moms we hear about it (been there) and if we do a combo of both we hear about it (currently doing it).  Geez.  Not only do we question ourselves and our choices about parenting but we have what feels like the whole world questioning them too from family to acquaintances.  

I've always felt like my job as a parent has been to love my children and to protect them to the best of my ability. 

Have I done that? Yes.  

Have I made mistakes?

Have I done a whole bunch of things right?

I love Brene Brown's work and when I read my kids the following Parenting manifesto they said, "Mom, that sounds like you!"  

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions--the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.
Picture by C. Gautreaux "Wish"
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

It made my heart warm and made me realize that I have dared greatly in this lifetime in many little ways and many big ways.

I'm also thinking about the upcoming painting classes that I want to take since I can't be there on the 14th (because I'll be teaching survival skills in the woods to my Cadette girl scout troop).  Watercolors? Oils? Acrylics?  So many choices and so much fun stuff to find my courage as an artist and learn a new medium.

Wrapping you around with infinite love, courage and gratitude,


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