Back in 2011 I was asked to be one of the very first participants in something called The Revelation Project. It was the brainchild of two friends of mine, Monica and Robyn*. The initial idea behind it was to empower women through photography. It has since morphed into a full journey of self-discovery through life coaching and journaling. When they asked me to participate, I was reluctant. I was scared that people would view me as a narcissist. I was afraid my husband-at-the-time wouldn’t like it (but somehow deep down I think that actually made me want to do it more. Maybe I was challenging him to ask me not to do it…or to just care).
At the time I was the stay-at-home mother of a five year old and a two year old, and I was just beginning to realize my marriage was in big trouble. During the day I felt like I never had a moment alone. Yet at night, with my husband, I felt incredibly lonely.
I could not remember the last time someone took a photo of just me…as an autonomous human. In fact, who the hell was I without my children attached to me like barnacles, anyway?
It was scary for me to think about being seen. Would I even recognize myself?
I did it, though (and I have the above photos to prove it) and that snowballed into other “brave” acts…like starting a business, moving out of my house, advocating for myself…
Last year on this very day I embarked on a four day backpacking trek into Yosemite National Park. We hiked about sixteen miles total, at high altitudes, wearing 40 pound packs. It was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done, physically. I am not exactly what you would call an “athlete”.
We were on a guided tour with a group called Balanced Rock. I was with my cousin, Lynette, plus two guides and six total strangers. I was scared to death that I was going to at best embarrass my very fit cousin, or at worst – DIE. I especially thought the latter while we were zigzagging up a narrow path on the side of a granite cliff in blazing heat.
“Goodbye cruel world…”
Of course, once I made it to the top – and I caught my breath, which admittedly took some time – I felt like the queen of the damn universe.
Obviously there are many definitions of bravery – and even how I define it as it pertains to myself has evolved as I have grown more confident, discovered more about who I am, what I truly enjoy, and what I may have to offer the world.
It is up to each of us to discover what we consider to be a personal act of bravery. I’ll give you a hint, though, it probably will make you feel one of two things…
FOFU – Fear Of Fucking Up
FOLA – Fear Of Looking Assinine
If you experience FOFU or FOLA whilst debating whether or not to do something, you are probably on the right track.
This summer my personal act of bravery is a “camping” trip with my kids. Me, two kids and a dog, being dropped off to a one-room cabin, on an island in the center of a lake in Maine. No other people, no electricity, no running water (there’s a water pump, but we have to boil the water before drinking it or cooking with it), and a composting toilet (which from what I can gather is essentially an indoor outhouse).
I’m super excited. I’ve also got a dab of FOFU and a splash of FOLA.
I think that makes for a perfect summer cocktail, and I can’t wait to taste it.