See Brave, Say Brave

365 days. One year.

I remember waking up on January 5, 2018 to a phone call from my mom. It’s unlike her to call so early (especially since she knows Nashville trails Atlanta by one time zone), so it felt important.

With my heart plummeting to my stomach, I sleepily answered the phone and asked her to repeat herself as I struggled to wake up and understand.

My grandmother was gone.

If you’ve been following along since August, you know there’s been a lot of in-between (and a lot more unshared since March). Needless to say, bittersweet memories are complicated.

I spent New Year’s Eve Day contemplating the trapeze metaphor and realizing the importance of letting go. I will never get additional answers because she’s gone. I have to accept the past; forgive the bitter, treasure the sweet.

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I like to think I’m a brave person, but I can 100% guarantee that I will not be jumping out of a plane to skydive anytime soon ever.

Bravery doesn’t always look like this in a literal sense, although the risk of vulnerability, choosing authenticity, and building connections can feel like your stomach is in your throat.

Before I crashed into bed (at 9 p.m. – no judgment), I cornered my husband. “Can you tell me 1-2 moments in my life where you thought I was brave?” My initial examples felt boring so I indulged in some shameless fishing. Hubs played along:

  1. “Marrying me, of course!” (I assumed he was joking, but he stands by this answer.)
  2. “Remember the time you didn’t have many freelance jobs lined up, but you had a steady income with a company? And you quit because you were miserable spending your days in a cubicle. That was brave.”

As a business owner, I sometimes have trouble disconnecting myself from my job. I want others to see me as brave. But is this an active decision? Am I riding along on one brave choice that I made at the start of my career? Somewhere in the middle of our chat, I realized that bravery can show up (and often does) outside the boundaries of business. There is so much more to us than what we do for a living.

Seeking help with mental health? BRAVE.

Sharing stories? BRAVE.

Forgiveness? BRAVE.

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“I never felt brave. But day after day, I just did the next thing, took the next step, said the next yes.”
— Annie Downs

I started Annie Downs’ 100 Days to Brave on January 1st. Each day, she includes a ‘Be Brave’ challenge. Day Four’s stuck with me: When you see brave, say so.

To my mother, who has exemplified such strength for her family in the wake of her parents’ passing, but who is now also modeling that it’s okay to feel grief: You are brave.

To my husband, who is so bothered by the financial inconsistency of self-employment, but sticks it out with me and our business because he believes in my passion and creativity: You are brave.

To my friend, who broke up with a vice and coped through challenging life changes without it; who makes a daily choice to keep this commitment to herself: You are brave.

To my fellow business owners, who stay true to what they stand for creatively, even if it means turning down work: You are brave.

“You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.”
— Katherine Center, Defining a Movement

When you think back on your life, what are 1-2 moments that feel brave to you?

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