One day, while I was walking through the supermarket, a woman walked up to me and said that she liked my hair color. She followed up with the fact that I was brave for walking around like that. As usual, I downplayed it like many of us do when it comes to compliments. She was adamant about it, however, repeating herself a little louder and stronger, “no, you are very brave for walking around like that.” It made me take notice. I replied with a polite thank you before she walked away. I knew at that moment that her words would stick with me. I went home that day, looked into the mirror, and began to repeat, “I am brave, I am brave, I am brave.” I wanted to see the bravery that this woman saw. I knew what the woman meant by saying what she had said, but after all, it was still just hair. Did I show such bravery in deciding to let my real color come through? I am all for defying the laws of humanity when it comes to cultural portals, although it was an emotional journey. I don’t recall it being hard as much as it was a process. My hair was also an outward attempt to express my authenticity, not to mention the fact that I couldn’t bear putting any more hair dye on my head. However, when one thinks of bravery, you usually think of physical bravery. All the people who put themselves in harm’s way, or those who are braving an illness, or in some pain or significant life struggle. I know enough at this stage of self-awareness that it is not about comparison. In reality, for me, it was the universe saying you got this, and where else can you exercise your own power in your life?
Three years ago I decided to do a figure competition. I searched for a coach, we picked the competition date, and I set the wheels in motion. For six months I was focused, driven, and on some sort of high. No matter how grueling it got, I was determined, and loving every minute of it. From the moment I made the decision, the universe was in full support, and everything fell into place. When competition day came I remember already feeling like a winner and knew that anything above that would be a bonus. When I took 2nd place in my first and likely only figure competition, it was fun and exciting. Not too long afterwards I was having a conversation about my whole competition experience and once again someone told me that I was brave for putting myself out there. I never really thought to look at it that way.
By me putting myself and my passions first, I allowed myself the experience. I remember thinking to myself that this is really how life should be lived. There is something to be said about feeling on top of your game and performing at your optimal capacity. Going towards what you are passionate about, allowing the experiences and the authentic you to be expressed instead of being attached to what someone else’s version of what life should be like. We can express bravery by going inward and pushing past some of our mental barriers. So many people are miserable, angry and frustrated with life, seeking to blame outside forces and not understanding that it’s reflective of themselves. Everyone needs to practice the skill of self-awareness; Self-awareness helps you to see your own life with clarity, confidence, and creativity. It’s all a lifelong process, very much like learning to live with intention. Sometimes we need to be brave enough to allow ourselves to just be, detaching ourselves from the outcome.
Dr. Joe Dispenza defines intention as having a clear vision in your mind of what you want minus the control of the thinking mind and its inability to let go of what it wants to control. It’s learning to turn your mind from a record of the past into a pathway to the future, with your emotions as a vital part of the process. The more I practice this the more I have moments of pure joy that are not connected to a person, a thing, a place, nothing, and when I am there I feel settled into the peace and the joy that is, knowing that everything in life will work out the way it is supposed to. Not only do I find myself smiling for no reason, but I know every cell that makes up my body is smiling with me.
Bravery didn’t exist inside me until someone came along to tell me it did. I had no real fear of putting myself “out there” in those situations, but if you asked me to describe myself, I would have never used the word “brave.” I thought that bravery and courage meant the same thing, but upon some research, it seems as though bravery falls under the character strength of courage along with honesty, perseverance, and zest. Bravery is following through with no fear, while courage is confronting your fears and still following through despite the end result. Bravery makes you capable of handling what comes your way in life, it’s mental toughness.
As for intention, it is the road map for where you want to go in the future and what brings clarity to what you truly want in your life. They are the seeds that help you to manifest your goals and dreams. The key is to not focus on the future outcome but to live in the present moment as if it already exists. Buddha’s teachings call it “ground of intention”; it’s the mental footing that you can refer to if you get caught up in disappointment and confusion. It’s a more mindful path to relationship, health or career goals as well as goals to be happier, more content and focused in life.
I had a solid piece of advice sent to me one day via a text message, cautioning that I should take baby steps in a situation I was in. I remember how much that advice meant to me based on the context in which it was given. It had a significant impact on me at that moment, and anytime I feel like a situation seems larger than me or a goal seems out of reach and my frustrations get the best of me, I think to myself: “baby steps, Joanie.” Sometimes brave baby steps are a better approach to what you want, it takes away the uncertainty. It can be more grounding and effective than being caught up in your emotions and your own reactive mind. Either you lose touch with yourself and the intention may not have been grounded in the heart or you try to control the situation, caught up in fears and insecurities.
To sum it all up: are you brave enough to show up in your life and ask for what you want? Are you brave enough to allow yourself to dream? Do you know what your goals are and can you see and feel yourself living them in the present moment until they manifest into your reality? Be brave enough to put them out there, and to trust in the process and practice it often. Bravery is a character trait that everyone has on some level, own it and work on it. We know that not everyday will be a feel-good day, and that is a piece of the beautiful flow of life, but that is why it is good to work on planting the seeds of intention, and practice them daily, so it becomes automatic to reconnect with your inner self and road map to live your best life. Action is a vital part of this process. Act everyday on your intentions with baby steps.