I’ve been wanting for some time now to pull together a blog entry in which I was concrete and specific about all the different principles that I believe to go into what I term “courageous living.”

But first, I’ll just briefly state what I don’t think “courageous living” is. I don’t believe that courageous living is doing all kinds of spontaneous or wild things, like you have to quit your job and move to Bali, or start parachuting out of planes, so that you can call yourself “courageous”. I don’t believe that it’s what I think so many of us beat ourselves up in the pursuit of: some version of waking in the morning, having a yoga and meditation practice and gliding seamlessly through your day, sporting the latest gear from Anthropologie, eating some really hip diet, never breaking a sweat while working at your dream job, laughing with friends, falling into the arms of a loving family at the end of the day, everyone getting along, planning a dashing getaway to some exotic locale. Let me be clear that that vision for one’s life is not something I’m knocking–it sounds great–but it’s certainly not what my life looks like and I think I’m not alone in saying that I’ve wasted a lot of energy striving to attain something that looks like that, and so have most of the women I’ve known. I don’t think that courageous living is a 1-2-3 plan, nor is it a finished product.

I believe all of us contain the capacity to act with courage. I believe that courage is feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Whenever we lean into that edge, there’s juicy stuff there. What’s the juicy stuff? What’s the leaning to the edge look like? What’s courageous living based on? Here’s a start:

Courageous living is about:

  • BEing your journey/being in process
  • A commitment to your vision for yourself, with gentleness along the way.
  • Slowing down
  • Prioritizing self-care
  • Making room for passion and play–even if it’s only 5 minutes a day
  • Feeling your feelings (no more reciting affirmations or pushing oneself to “think positive” until the very real feelings have been acknowledged and worked through)
  • Risking being seen by others
  • Unconditional love and acceptance (and that means no more hating your inner critic, calling it a Gremlin or a monster or all sorts of other names that that sad, scared, triggered little piece of the heart is so often called)
  • A commitment to your life vision, with gentleness along the way (and that means that on the days where you don’t risk being seen, or you don’t have unconditional love and acceptance, or you don’t…whatever…you step into some gentleness that you are a tender and lovely human being. It’s okay.)
  • Returning to the present moment and using it as a source of power. Coming to just breathing and getting present is the most powerful tool I know.
  • Releasing the Stories. (“Capital-S” Stories are those habituated beliefs/ways of thinking/assumptions that are so conditioned that they seem real, even if they might not be).
  • Honoring your integrity. Matching your words and actions. Aligning them with your vision.
  • This is a big one: claiming your choices, and claiming your life. Accept responsibility for all of it.
  • Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. Living 100% fully alive cannot co-exist with resentment.
  • Respectfully speaking your truth.
  • Noticing your resistance and then working with it from a place of curiosity: what do you have to teach me?
  • Creating intimacy and connection in your relationships
  • Being a stand for connection between human beings–which means, that chick that you “hate” at your office? Try out some compassion. That guy who just acted all road-ragey? Send him some love. Clearly, he needs it.
  • Dreaming big.
  • Being open to magical possibility, and, if it resonates for you, spirit/the Universe/ some kind of unseen force for good

And how does having a life vision help with any of that? My life vision is to completely and totally love and accept all parts of myself, so that I can completely and totally love and accept others, and thus facilitate healing in the world.

It’s a big life vision. It’s not something that one can check off of a to-do list.

But having it really grounds me. I can ask–in my relationships, in my job, in my financial decisions, with my body, and in the moments when I really want to snap someone’s head off–is this my vision for myself? How will I step into my vision for myself, right now?

I mentioned “feeling the feelings” up there. Right here’s where I’ll tell you that I believe that 90% of my work is actually stopping, slowing down, and getting conscious enough to ask myself, “Is this my vision for myself?” If I can do that much, chances are good that I’ll go the extra 10% and act with absolute clarity that I don’t want to act on the urge to snap at someone. (I’ll probably still want to snap at them. But even that urge loses steam when seen through the lens of my vision, and then to stay in integrity with me there are a whole range of tools that I can use to discharge the emotions–I get to have my anger, if I want to…I can just work with it differently).

The slowing down? That’s the link between self-care and all of the other stuff. It all pieces itself together, knits itself you might say. When I’m not prioritizing self-care, I don’t slow down enough. I go, go, go and that’s where my life can get sloppy.

But this is a vision I’m stepping into–and with gentleness. Lots and lots of gentleness for the tenderness of us human beings.

Another thing–my vision? Feel free to share it. I almost typed “steal” it, but of course, a vision is hardly something that can be stolen. It’s definitely something that can be shared! Or take a stab at clarifying your own vision. A life vision is a statement of what your life is about. A good hint that you’ve come across it is that it works across multiple categories–when it comes to any area of my life, from my health to my relationships to the way that I decorate my home, that desire to create a space of love and acceptance for myself that then radiates out to the world, is the foundation.

Alright, I showed you mine. You show me yours!