One place everyone should have the courage to go

The customs lady asked me two million more question than she did the couples before me. She sensed my annoyance and offered that she was “doing her job,” but the bewilderment in her brows and disbelief in her tone hinted at her personal bias against vacationing alone. My taxi driver inquired, rather dramatically, “How can you enjoy your own company [on vacation]?” In the quiet time I took to figure out if he was joking, he asked me again. I guess he wasn’t. I had every intention of writing an article about conjuring the courage to travel alone — by...
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35 Lessons for my younger self (and other girls)

I turned 35 today, and like a few other milestone birthdays, this one brought with it an irresistible charge to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. Here are 35 of them I’d relay to my younger self and other girls. Remember to play. Everyday. Follow your curiosity. Concern yourself more with feeling good than looking good. Be careful who you tell your dreams to. Spend more time doing than dreaming. Force nothing … not your foot in a shoe, not your self in a relationship. Cook more than you eat out. Feed your creative soul. Learn how...
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To Act Courageously, Build a Better Relationship With Fear

Fear is a deeply ancient instinct and an evolutionarily vital one … but it ain’t especially smart. – Elizabeth Gilbert I read Eat Pray Love when I was 27. The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s culture and countryside painted pictures of detailed wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies in my imagination. And I was there. In the middle of it all. Shining in the sun, marveling at nature’s grandeur and breathing in the freedom of being halfway across the world by myself, just like author Elizabeth Gilbert. Then, I snapped out of it. The last thought produced a panic...
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The Importance of Courage in the Development of Girls

Adolescence, the awkward transition period between childhood and adulthood, gives girls a choice to assert themselves or conceal themselves. The latter may be easier than the former when girls’ body and personality changes intersect with oppressive norms and gender stereotyping perpetuated in social circles and the media. Their fear of standing out or being inadequate is enough to silence their voices … unless they’ve developed courage as a behavioral response. Courage is considered the foundational virtue of every other virtue. Aristotle called courage “the first human virtue.” Poet Maya Angelou declared, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues,...
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The Courage To Cut It Off

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide. – Marva Collins I spent several moments in front of the bathroom mirror with my hair pulled tightly back, angling my head from left to right, imagining how I’d look with a short, coily style. I hopped up on the counter to get a closer look at my new growth and to try to determine its pattern. I held pictures of beautiful, natural women next to my face to decide if I could pull it off. I was 19 when I considered cutting my...
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My ABCs of Freedom

I’ve learned that when I have difficulty maintaining freedom (of thought, expression and response), I have difficulty acting courageously. So, I wrote personal ABCs of freedom as a reminder to myself that my life is my own. (You can download a blank template at the bottom of the page to create your own ABCs of freedom.)   Photo credit: CATMAX Photography Save

Courage and Freedom

Volition. It is the first of three core components* of the concept of courage, outlined by courage researcher Dan Putman. It means that an actor, by her own power and free will, decides for herself. She neither gets a cookie for doing what she is told to do nor a gold star for doing something out of fear of reprisal—no matter how difficult or risky a circumstance may be. Courage requires her to choose freely. And freedom requires her to be responsible for personal choice. In this way, courage and freedom are closely linked. But recognizing their connection is much...
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My 92 Year Old Aunt Describes Courage

I sat on the edge of a plastic covered antique couch across from my great aunt. She slouched in a wingback chair that she obviously cared much less about preserving. It was a favorite spot in her living room, which had looked precisely the same for the past few decades except for the 42” flat screen TV both of us were watching. The Chew had gone to commercial break, so I decided to ask her a question. But not just any question—the question I frequently dropped on unsuspecting subjects at appropriately random moments. “Aunt Kathleen, what is courage?” She slowly...
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