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How brave are you?

As the daughter of a Bull Rider, I don’t know that I’ve ever really FELT brave, but I have had a lot of opportunity to practice.

This crazy cowboy is my Dad in college. My folks met through Rodeo Club and even planned to have a rodeo team of children. That’s 3 boys and 2 girls… They ended up with an extra two boys, but we still love them. LOL!

I like to think my Dad got smarter thru his education in College and eventually left the hazardous sport behind when he married and started raising a family. However, I have no evidence to support or deny that claim! Now, as a parent myself, I’m not sure parenting is any safer than bull riding! Bull riding today, however, is a totally different endeavor!

I do know it takes courage to strap yourself onto a bull! Even more to nod to the guy that pulls open the shoot to release you and the bull for the ride. It’s a courage I’m not sure I have, let alone understand how you build that kind of courage. My guess is: you practice doing it.

Truth is I don’t know a lot about bull riding, despite my childhood participation in rodeos and my genetic disposition. But I have learned a thing or two about being brave (you did see that I have 5 brothers!). It takes a lot of courage to show up for life. Showing up as an authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect human requires the most courage I’ve ever had to muster. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of practice getting comfortable with my own imperfection!

For me courage is choosing to act bravely. In other words, courage might be enough to get me to the rodeo, but it’s the act of bravery to climb on and nod to say, “I’m ready” that makes the cowboy.

When I was about 4 years old, I returned to the corral from riding our horse Ginger in the pasture behind our little South Dakota home. I loved to ride! I was a little thing (maybe 30 pounds soaking wet!) with big dreams of life on my horse. I wanted so much to impress and please my Dad. Anyway, this day as we thundered into the arena, I wanted to turn left toward my Dad but Ginger turned right. I didn’t stand a chance moving that beast with my little legs. Ginger won that decision and I landed hard in the dirt.

Dad came running over to check on me, abandoning the chores. He asked, “Are you ok?”
I wailed, “NO!!!!” (You really should hear my Dad tell this story. He does a way better job!)

Without missing a beat, my Dad, asked, “Do you want to get back on?”
“Yessss!!!” I cried with tears streaming down my dirt stained face.

Of course I got back on. That is the cowboy way. In fact, we had a saying that you weren’t a “real” cowboy until you’d been thrown from your horse.
I wasn’t really thrown, technically, it was only my ego that had been bruised. But I wanted to be a real cowboy. Dad affirmed. He told me I earned my stirrups that day! I don’t think he has ever been prouder which is probably why he tells this story to everyone who knows us both!

Courage is the choice to act bravely.
Courage is giving the nod, accepting the path, saying “yes” despite fear, risk of pain and injury, regardless of a guarantee. Courage is about doing what it takes to be the kind of person who says “YES” to life’s opportunities.

Courage is showing up at a crossroad and deciding, “I want to be the person who lives on the other side of this junction.” Then doing what it takes to get there.

What are some of the courageous things you’ve done? What have you said “YES” to because saying “No” wasn’t an option for you in your authentic self?

Some of my favorite courage examples include:

  • Saying yes to a first date with my now husband (way harder than saying yes to marrying him!)
  • Accepting help and financial assistance during my accident recovery.
  • Saying goodbye to my daughter for her first non-family vacation (she still mocks me for this!).
  • Pregnancy, delivery, parenting… the whole thing is a courage marathon!
  • Walking away from a toxic relationship.
  • Changing careers… again!
  • Starting this business.
  • Saying, “I’m sorry.”

I know my courage heart is growing stronger because I used to struggle with saying “I don’t know”. In fact, I once thought unknowing was the scariest thing I could imagine. My greatest fear is no longer unknowing, but rather now my courage challenge is to be okay with my own unknowing and my own limitations. I continue to explore the edges of what I know about myself so I can continue to clarify and identify my most authentic self. That is why I show up every day. I want to be the kind of person who shows up with a nod and a smile!

How do you want to show up for your life?

May you breathe deeply, move freely, labor lovingly and live vibrantly.