Practicing Courage

For Christmas one year I bought my husband a cushioned toilet seat and a sign that says “Kirby’s Reading Room” to hang on his bathroom door. They are still some of his favorite gifts to date. He can disappear in his bathroom and stay for hours. photo (21) When we first married I thought he had a major case of irritable bowel syndrome. Nope. Turns out he just goes in there to disappear sometimes. I totally get it. I even do it myself every now and then because it’s the only socially acceptable way of barricading myself away from my family for a few minutes.

Although the powder room will do in a pinch, my favorite place to escape is the shower. It’s always been this way for me. My dad used to gripe at me all the time about wasting water. Now that I’m an adult and pay my own water bill, I can enjoy my shower guilt free. It’s glorious. I love picking out new bath products. I seriously get excited about a new bottle of shampoo. And soap…. I LOVE soap. I recently made the switch to all natural bar soaps and I’m in heaven. Need a gift idea for me? Give me bath products (not the Bath & Body kind… you know, the fancy stuff in the gorgeous bottles) and I’ll be like a kid on Christmas morning.

Showers are my sanity breaks.  I am able to do my best thinking, come up with my best ideas,  work my way out of problems and de-stress, all while standing under a waterfall set to the perfect temperature. I can’t bring my phone with me, distractions are kept to a minimum, and I am completely alone with my thoughts.

I’m convinced that we all need these sanity breaks, to let the voices run amok, to let them have their say. The more I listen to these voices, the more I am realizing that they have two distinct personalities. There is the nagging voice, which I call ego, that is filled with self-doubt and fear. This is the voice that keeps me from moving forward, from following my dreams. Then, there is the other voice, the one that points me in the right direction. Some might call this the nudging of the holy spirit or the voice of the higher self. I like to think of this voice as my gut feeling, my intuition. Whatever term is used, we all have that quiet voice and most of the time, we hear this voice encouraging us to become fuller versions of ourselves, yet time and time again the loud voice of the ego kicks in and keeps us from moving forward because of fear.

My shower conversations go something like this: I’d really like to write more. I’d love to start working on a book and try to get some things published. I should dedicate time for writing every day. Why? You are not that talented. There are people that are much more gifted, that have a bigger following, that are changing the world with their voice. Who are you to think your voice will make a difference?

If I listen to the ego voice, every successful blog I read (and I love so many of them) seems to prove the point that my writing just isn’t as good. I become stuck. I stop writing. In doing so, I shut off a big part of myself. I stop looking at life and how it unfurls around me. I stop seeking and asking questions. I stop being an observer and a huge part of me, part of my very core, lies dormant. I feel less alive when I don’t write.

Today, I choose to look that self-doubt in the eye (again) and say, “Thanks for trying to protect me, but no thanks.” I’d rather fail miserably doing something I love than to do nothing. I doubt that anyone on their death bed thinks, “Wow. I’m so glad I played it safe my entire life. I’m so glad I didn’t take those chances. I’m so glad I didn’t chase my dreams.” No thank you. I want more.

I love these words of wisdom from writer Anne Lamott:

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans in all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

Being brave is a choice, one we have to make every day. Courage is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened daily.  So, let’s take those long showers, allowing the voice of inner wisdom to drown out the voice of doubt, and let’s strive to practice courage every day. The world needs our voices.

Here’s to wishing you strong courage,