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What courage looks like on an ordinary day

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Self-portrait in the hall mirror: What courage looks like at my place, on an ordinary day.

When people hear that I lived in places like Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip they often tell me that they think I am very brave.

I am brave. Some days I think I may be the bravest muthafucka on the planet.

As I told some friends this morning, if you look up "courage" in my dictionary, you'll see a picture of me, resplendent in my favorite green Superhero cape.

But on an ordinary day, which means every day around these parts, courage looks less like a trip into a war-zone and more like this:

  • Showing up to a yoga workshop even though I know perfectly well that this style of yoga takes me so far out of my yoga comfort-zone that I'll probably end up crying (and not the pretty kind of crying, more the gasping, snorting, snot-dripping kind).
  • Accepting that my boyfriend invites his (much younger and much hotter) ex-lover to stay with us, not because it doesn't bother me but because it does bother me and I'm ready to face down those particular gremlins.
  • Writing the book I've always wanted to write despite the fact that I know it will never be as good as I've always hoped it would be.
  • Leading 45 people on a 30 day yoga journey despite having spent the first two hours of this morning weeping into my yoga mat (which is also green, a great colour for courage).
  • Looking at my own tear-stained face in the mirror and finding something of beauty and someone to love, even when the voices in my head are all braying for blood for my failings.

How about you? What does courage look like at your place today?

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25 Responses to "What courage looks like on an ordinary day"

  1. Alexis Grant says:

    Oh, she may be younger, but we all know she’s not HOTTER!

  2. Shaista says:

    Courage always looks like my father. He lost his sight several years ago but kept everything else – like his sense of humour, a rather dark and edgy sort 🙂 and the responsibilities of being a doctor, and a father.
    I find courage everywhere I turn.. it is one of the most inspiring conditions of humanity.

  3. JennyB says:

    Sending you hugs sister! x

  4. Beaut Commute says:

    You are brave. Courage to me, most days, is biting my tongue and breathing any resentment out. It takes me courage and energy not to hide behind growliness.

  5. Susannah says:

    do you want to take the bitch out? i know some people……. just sayin’
    😀 i love you! Courage looks like you doing yoga in my living room in Bournemouth while i lit a cigarette (happy days, eh? 🙂

  6. Courage around here is trusting myself to do the things I know I’m good at but nobody tells me it is so.
    Courage is knowing that I can lean on the people I love when I’m not feeling courageous at all. So come, my friend, and lean on me when you feel like weeping into your yoga mat all morning. I’ll be here.
    All the love in the world,

  7. Pundelina says:

    Today at my desk, courage looks like keeping on writing when I want to throw in the towel.

  8. You are amazing.
    Courage for me is facing the fact that my first grandchild is coming and the cycle of life really does keep going.

  9. Swirly says:

    You are beautiful and courageous and giving me exactly what I need right now (as always).

  10. Accepting the fact that I’m not a English teacher (I just speak English), yet my students look to me for hope as they struggle to make it in their third-world country.
    Accepting that I will never understand the hand-to-mouth survival culture of my third-world hosts, no matter how unnecessary some of it is.
    Accepting that the only thing of true value is what you give to the world from your heart, your soul, your inner-most being because everything outside of that pales in comparison.

  11. Anne-Marie says:

    Courage at my place is continuing to go to work with a smile on my face even while my professional integrity is being called into question, publicly, on a daily basis.
    I like how courage looks at your place, Marianne. I admire you so much for your courage. [And you are gorgeous even with a tear-stained face.]
    And I hope you were not crying BECAUSE of the 30 Days Of Yoga? Because I am so looking forward to that – I’ve almost finished working out my sankalpa.

  12. C says:

    Marianne, thank-you for this. I am having a hard morning and this has given me courage. Courage means struggling to learn how to write academic papers again. I sit at my computer for hours and words don’t come but still I try and show up. In a few hours I have a paper due. It won’t be as good as I wanted it to be but I will finish it and the next one will get better.

  13. Wendie Lee says:

    Courage for me today is getting through another tough day at work without bursting into tears, when I am so exhausted and sick with morning sickness that I just want to curl up in bed for the day, or in a sunny park near the beach.
    You are one of the most couragous women I know and I love you for it.

  14. cath says:

    you go girl. courage for me today looks like actually taking the day off work and giving my body the much needed rest required to kick my ear infection and sinus infection in the ass.

  15. Lisa says:

    Courage, for me, is continuing to work for peace, justice, and NONVIOLENT SOLUTIONS, in a world overrun with the opposite.
    It is having grace, patience, and forgiveness with the children in my workplace ~ as they are *truly* holding up the mirror for my own issues.
    It is choosing to stay in my 20-year relationship with my husband despite the fact that I am bored, impatient, tired, and confused ~ with escapist thoughts at every turn.
    It is being a vegan voice in a deeply indoctrinated meat-eating culture of cruelty, suffering, and deception.
    Thank you for this post. Your photo is radiantly beautiful!

  16. leoniewise says:

    courage for me some days is just getting out of bed, having a shower and putting some clothes on. others i even make it out the door!
    i love coming here. even though i don’t always comment, i enjoy the questions your writing always raises for me.

  17. courage for me today meant walking for an hour and half in nature this morning for the sheer enjoyment of it. not to burn or shrink. just to move.
    and also allowing myself to be loved and supported in the next stage of my dream.
    exactly what i needed today. and courage is just lovely on you. xx

  18. Emily Perry says:

    man, this post just makes me love you even more!
    courage for me on an ordinary day is finding patience in parenting even when my whole body is screaming in resistance. my children have been the best and hardest teachers for me. such a road, this life! xxoo
    p.s. the photo is a thing of beauty, and the book will be ‘that’ good. i cannot wait to hear more about it all! xxoo

  19. You guys are all so brave I may have to share my crown of courage with you all and add you to my dictionary entry. What colours do you want your magic capes of courage to be?

  20. a.q.s. says:

    courage can also mean compassionately showing the boyfriend and young one OUT the door. 🙂 hehe!
    you are BEAUTIFUL.
    courage is being human–truly, authentically human, which means you cry, laugh, wonder, touch, feel too much, can’t feel, deal, float, gloat, sink, swim, get hope by detour of having lost it, and do it all over again.

  21. Wow I really admire you.. As for me, courage is waking up early in the morning and working. Working for about 12-15 hours a day ( facing an ill mannered boss and swallowing all my pride)to feed my family and send my kids to a better school.

  22. Lindsey says:

    I love this. Courage is in our everyday acts, our smallest choices. I believe that so completely.

  23. It’s cool that you have so much courage. I do what I can to help, I do my yoga, I love the world… but like Woody Allen once said, “Brave men run in my family.”

  24. Bea says:

    I felt this deep in my bones. You are just about the bravest muthafucka I know.
    I love you to bits.
    And FYI: there is no bloody way she’s hotter than you, girl!

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