For the last four years I have chosen an intention word at the start of a New Year. In 2013 I almost gave that tradition up, having chosen the word “courage” during 2012. That word led me down a path where I began to think that you get what you ask for and, it seems you ask for what you need—even when you don’ t know it—at least that was true for me. I clung to that word—courage—it was a life-line. I wished more than once that I didn’t need that damned word. But I did. It was the year for digging deep and finding courage. Fear faced with courage takes you to new places.
In life you are not always in charge of your circumstances. You are always, though, in charge of your response to circumstances. And I found myself in a circumstance I would never have chosen or believed would happen to me. But it had and I covered myself in a mantle of courage, laced with the strong support of friends who figuratively carried me, as I walked through a very difficult period in my life. With courage and with friends I maneuvered through a very difficult path with integrity and resolve.
The summer of 2012 came with a venture of sorts. As a way to fill a void and to honor the courage I mustered during the winter and spring prior, I participated in a week long adventure called Leadershape. Twenty men and women went into the Adirondack Mountains to build their leadership skills through physical challenges and team work. We began our day with Tai Chi and open-eyed centering and we continued through the day, completing physical and mental challenges together.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I really didn’t. And as we moved through the week, I grasped tightly to my word courage. Two events changed me during that week, one of which I will write about today. I am a large woman. And I get along fine, thank-you with my life as it is (so I say—or even more importantly, so I said). On the second morning of our time together, we arrived at one challenge that we were asked to consider for the afternoon. They didn’t ask us to consider any other challenges that week, but they did that eventful morning. The challenge was given to us as a choice. We faced a 25 foot wall and the challenge was for all of us to get from one side of the wall to the other (with a number of parameters—one of which was the way to the other side was over the wall). My response…No way! This isn’t the challenge for me. Period. One other person and I took that stance. The other 18 thought it looked like a possibility.
We came back in the afternoon. Again given choice. No way. Period. And the team (all 19 besides me) decided that it was a go. But we are a team and I said no. Oh, well for me. My choice. I sat on the sideline as the team strategized about how to complete the task (sans me). And I pouted. I can’t do this. It is too hard. And I watched.
Where was my fear? In allowing others to lift my large frame over that 20 foot frame. If I could do it myself, I wouldn’t have needed my courage. It was impossible, though, to do alone. I needed support and that support made me vulnerable. Sitting there, watching as the first one went over, I garnered my courage. I went to the team and said, “If I am going over, I better go over now, while the strongest have not given up their opportunity.” (They could only lift three according to the parameters). The team cheered and they gladly lifted me. I covered myself in a mantle of courage, laced with the strong support of friends who literally lifted me over a wall.