Permission to be ourselves

Please enjoy this excerpt of
Braving It: The gentle art of living boldly
…coming in June!


At the time the idea for Braving It was taking shape in my mind, fueled (as all Blossie’s books are in one way or another J) by my own heartfelt experiences and those of the people I love, an amazing book crossed my path: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Written by Bronnie Ware as a series of reflections on her time providing palliative care in people’s final days, this amazing book traces the many ways in which Bronnie herself was transformed by the gift of getting to know these people at this time in their lives.

Especially striking is the number one regret Bronnie heard people share: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Sitting with that for a moment is nothing less than earth-shattering. Really — to say so late in life, actually at the very end, that you feel sad enough to make a statement this huge about your life was just jaw-dropping to me. When I read that I thought it had to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. That it’s possible to feel that after having been given the gift of a heartbeat, the gift of a life to create, that at the very end we did the opposite — we didn’t create it, but simply re-created it based on the experiences of other people, their expectations, their filters, their biases, their goals, their experiences.

Also interesting is the way in which this is articulated as a matter of courage. I agree! It does take courage to swim against the tide. In fact, sometimes that may be the most courageous thing we can do. The tide is so strong, there are so many expectations of us, so many opinions of what constitutes a worthwhile life, a good career, a good parent, the kind of car we should drive, the kind of house we should live in, what we should look like, how we should spend our time…this list can go on for 300 pages!

Living by joy

Sometimes when I look at a person in their 50s or 60s who made a life out of their art, or a special needs teacher who made a life out of taking care of children, or an oncology nurse — these kinds of professions fill me with appreciation, respect, and I mean this sincerely: awe.

Because honestly?

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Thank you!

I know that choosing these kinds of careers required sacrifice — lots of it. In some cases financial sacrifice, but also spiritual sacrifice — the knowledge that they were creating art that would in all likelihood (at least initially) be criticized and even rejected, the necessity of being able to appreciate the most minute improvements in a special needs student’s performance, the joy of keeping a seriously ill person out of pain even for just a little while, dealing with difficult parents and family members who are trying to help but sometimes can’t do so effectively. And still these people stuck to their passions. They lived according to their own joy and built a life around it.

The tides of same and more

They had the courage to brave their lives and their passions and swim upstream against the tides of same and more. And I isolate those age groups in particular because while the alluring “siren song of more” as author Julia Cameron calls it, was screaming in the background in the 1980s and into the 1990s especially when these people would have been coming of age, the pressure to “succeed” by making ungodly sums of money however you could, owning a palatial mansion, and driving an expensive car was enormous. The tide facing them was more like a tsunami.

And so with humble thanks to Becca, Isadora, and finally Bronnie, I set out to write Braving It, a book about finding ways to literally give ourselves permission to be ourselves, and then to enjoy our lives from this vantage point — from the inside out. To savor our uniqueness and enjoy our lives far from the reach of judgment of other people (which is nothing compared to the harsh ways in which we tend to judge ourselves — here’s a hug, and let’s get started).