At the beginning of the year, I had this word floating around in my brain. It kept pushing and prodding me, calling me into account:
At the time, my husband was experiencing what we think was a mild case of Guillain-Barré syndrome and I was weeks away from delivering our fourth child. So I was afraid that the word’s persistence meant that we were really in for it.
I had a feeling, though, that even if circumstances didn’t take a nosedive, I was being called to something. There was something I was supposed to face, something I was to work on within myself. Here’s what I wrote back then:
“A woman begs for money outside the grocery store. I hand her some cash but hardly look at her, aware as I am of how awkward the situation is. I should make eye contact. I should smile. I should stop being a wimp long enough to wish her a happy new year. I should be brave.
Touchy political and social situations rise to the forefront of the news and… I falter. I write a few paragraphs, I ponder the words and ideas as I go about my daily tasks, but I fail to commit to them. I worry more about causing trouble than I do about speaking (my small slice of) the truth. I should be brave.
I encounter the normal hardships of family life (and indeed human life) and I rebel. I act like things somehow aren’t supposed to be hard; I rail against the difficulties until I tire of doing so, and then I just cry. Instead, I should be brave. I should face my troubles, engage them, work through them, and keep my wits about me as I go.”
For several months, as my husband improved and my baby was born and we learned how to function as a family of six, I forgot that I needed to be brave. I was too busy with life to pay attention to that tug on my conscience.
But then a few weeks ago I remembered the Write 31 Days challenge.
For those of you who didn’t come to here from there, Write 31 Days is “an online writing challenge . . . where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.” (Follow the link to discover loads of great writers on a variety of subjects.)
Every. Day. Every day. Thousands of people commit to writing every single day in October, while I can generally only pull off one post a week. Normally I’d laugh at the suggestion that I participate in such a thing, but this time I felt something pushing me into it. Suddenly, one morning I woke with the understanding that I was supposed to use this opportunity to explore the concept of Everyday Bravery.
So here we are.
Every day in *October I’ll be publishing a blog post that has something to do with bravery. Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. I want to explore the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives: Standing up for our beliefs, sticking up for someone who has been treated unjustly, taking the big steps we feel we’re meant to take, pushing back feelings of discomfort and fear in order to help someone in need.
This is how I think it will go: On Saturdays I’ll post a picture from a time in my life when I was feeling brave. I’ll write about that moment, those turning-points where I went from fearing the unknown to looking forward in confidence and peace. On Sundays I’ll reflect on the day’s Mass readings, zeroing-in on the passages that feel to me like calls to bravery.
One day a week I’ll post an interview with a person I know or know of, whom I admire for their examples of everyday bravery. One day I’ll write about my attempts to raise my children to be brave. One day I’ll write a real everyday everyday kind of post, a humorous take on the bravery it takes to just keep on doing what we do as parents, neighbors, and friends.
One day a week I’ll post a link to The Space Between, my blog at the Catholic Review, where I’m trying to be brave in my analysis of this no-good, horrible presidential campaign.
And here’s the kicker: one day a week I’m going to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and hit “publish” on what is likely to be a controversial post — one I’ve been trying to write for years but have been too afraid to share. I won’t get it (them, rather) quite right and I’m sure they’ll make some of you unhappy. But they’ve been nagging me long enough; it’s time to send them off into the world.
Each day I’ll update this post with a link to that day’s post. (See below.) So if you miss a day or few, just come back here to find the full list.
I have no idea how I’m going to manage this. I have three little kids and an infant and many days we seem to just barely make it through. But I feel like I need to try.
*[Edited to say: I could NOT manage it! I mostly made it in the first half of the month and fizzled out in the second. But I’m going to keep pushing through into November until I hit that 31-day mark.]
This Everyday Bravery thing is a lesson I need to learn. I’m occasionally brave; I can do bravery in spurts. But there are so many more times I wimp out. Things seem difficult or uncomfortable or embarrassing, and I recede.
I want to be the kind of person who steps forward. I want to be brave right here, right now, in my real, everyday life. And I’m hoping this project will help me get there. If you want to get there too, or if you want some company as you ponder the bravery you encounter in your everyday life, I hope you’ll come along with me.
Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge
Day 1 — Introduction (See above.)
Day 2 — For God Did Not Give Us a Spirit of Cowardice
Day 3 — The Kids Are Alright (And the Parents Are Too)
Day 4 — Talking About Hard Things (With Kids)
Day 5 — The Post I’ve Been Wanting to Write on Race
Day 6 — Tipping Point
Day 7 — Snapshot Saturday: State of the 31
Day 8 — Dare I Approach?
Day 9 — The Everyday Brave: James Yamakawa
Day 10 — Loyally Yours: A Letter to the Republican Party from Pro-life America
Day 11 — Snapshot (Not) Saturday: Fits and Spurts
Day 12 — Don’t Turn Away: Attempt the Politics You Really Want
Day 13 — The Everyday Brave: Abigail Benjamin
Day 14 — I Want My Kid to Be the One Who Sticks Up For Your Kid: Empowering Children to Stand Up to Bullies
Day 15 — November 8 is Not the End: Sympathy Leading Me Forward
Day 16 — Why You Should Vote — Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make a Difference
Day 17 — A Prayer For Our Country
Day 18 — An Insufficient Response to the Election
New here? I’m glad to have you! My name is Julie Walsh. I’m an outgoing introvert, a procrastinating perfectionist, a disorganized overachiever, and a stay-at-home mother to four children ages six and under. Before having kids I was a lobbyist for the Catholic Church; now I scratch that itch by offering my political thoughts right alongside my cute kid stories and musings on motherhood.
Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.