“Courage is about getting up and climbing the cliff beside the one you’ve just felt like you’ve fallen from.” Julie Stephenson
I had an epiphany last week… one of those moments when the threads all came together to weave an understanding about a quality which has been my companion and guide for my whole life.
I was sitting on a local mountain and just reflecting; after preparing an outline of my life for a professional submission. Rising out of all the things I have done – my achievements; my inadequacies; my experiences – was the word “courage”.
I then heard my mum’s words when she told me that she named me after a young girl mum sat beside on a long train trip to Melbourne. This girl had polio, and mum said that this girl was the most courageous person she had ever met and inspired mum to remember her name enough so that if mum had a daughter, that little girl would be her namesake. A couple of years later my mum had a daughter, and another ‘Julie’ entered the world.
Courage for me, encapsulates so many aspects and includes qualities of strength; wisdom; tenacity; compassion; integrity; faith; determination; surrender; resilience; love; acceptance… and all these qualities at different times have enabled me to lead a ‘courageous’ life.
Courage for me isn’t about being ‘fearless’. For me it is about fighting for what matters to me; and then having the wisdom to know when to surrender and walk away. I have found it has sometimes taken far more courage to surrender something than to actually fight for it.
I have come face to face with incredible loss. I have been in a position where we nearly lost our farm twice due to financial circumstances; have been told that our eldest son was very lucky to survive a childhood illness; have faced the ‘white light’ from my own personal health issues with my heart and a neurological disorder and complications from surgeries; have experienced the grief and loss of a dear friend; have faced my own perceived inadequacies; have supported our family whilst my husband dealt with alcoholism and depression; have held our youngest son on the road after a motorbike accident and not knowing whether he would survive his next breath.
Everyone has their own story and narrative of experiences and mine is little different from others. I have recognised that the quality which is the thread woven into all my experiences which has enabled me to live such an incredibly enriched and nourishing life; one where I am flourishing and able to love – is that of courage.
It has been my ability to fight for what matters and keep continuing to dig deep to fight with what is in alignment with who I am and what ‘feels right’… what is in alignment with the essence of who I am; that has been a demonstration of my ‘courage’.
It has been my ability to climb up the cliff beside the one I feel like I have just fallen from…. not to climb up the same cliff – because that would mean that I have not learned and I had not taken notice of my own inner and Universal guidance to take another path.
…It has been my ability to find alternative ‘solutions’ to keep working toward a goal.
…It has been my ability to step outside the box of ‘ordinary’ and travel the world and experience myself in challenging circumstances; to swim in the oceans with dolphins, whales and sharks; to climb mountains and volcanoes; to walk the deserts and sleep under the stars.
…It has been my ability to be ‘true to myself’ in the face of social ridicule for my ‘gifts’ which are not understood.
…It has been my ability to learn skills; work hard; extend myself lovingly; be generous; be selfless; …. to care about things which matter to me.
Courage is where I have recognised the difference between hurdles which provide the opportunity for courage to dust myself off and get on with it; and when those hurdles are actually road blocks which are there to guide me to another path. It has taken immense courage to use my wisdom in recognising this difference; and realising it isn’t a failure – but rather a courageous thing to do to have learned and used my wisdom to let something go that I was resistant to surrendering.
I realised last week that I am a courageous woman. Thank you mum for calling me Julie.
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