Today is the first of my posts based on the book “Brave is the New Beautiful.” I chose this book to read and to blog on due to a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the year to be BRAVE enough this year to dream big and to chase those dreams. My niece, Michelle Pflueger Shaw, happened to share snippets of devotional readings from this book on her Facebook page and I was hooked. My plan is to read the 17 chapters in the book and blog three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) here on my Facebook page. This should take me up to the Friday before Holy Week.
The author (Lee Wolfe Blum) of the book shares that the impetus for writing this book was an incident at a church women’s event in which she felt undervalued as a writer and as a person. She noticed, at that event, that a fellow writer was wearing a bracelet with the word BRAVE engraved on it. This woman was someone she admired and someone whom she thought was a beautiful person. The more she thought about that bracelet, the more the idea that beauty and bravery are intertwined settled in her mind. She decided that bravery is at the root of true beauty and with that in mind, she went in search of women who would share their stories with her… stories of bravery in which their true beauty shines through. That is what this book is about… those women whose stories touched her heart.
As I thought about the word “brave,” and this Lenten journey for me, I broke it down into an acrostic. This is what I envision this journey to be for me:
B: Beautiful not focusing on outward beauty but on being worthy R: Resolved determined to face what I find out about myself A: Adaptable flexible and willing to learn and to explore V: Vigorous energetically seeking answers and embracing change E: Engaged being actively involved in this process
At the end of each chapter of the book, she offers questions for reflection. If I am going to make the most of this time, I need to be transparent, so I will share the questions and then my answers.
1. Do you have a protective mask you wear when you feel shame or discomfort? What does your mask say about what’s important to you? In a conversation a few months ago, my younger sister pointed out something about me that I was not consciously aware of. She said to me that when we are in a group of people and I have reached my limit, I shut down. My body language and my facial expression changes to almost a protective armor. I adopt a “leave me alone” stance. I am, by nature, an introvert and did not realize that I showed it so obviously to others.
2. Think of a time when you felt pain by being compared to others and feeling you were lacking. How did this event shape your beliefs about yourself and /or a choice you made about your future? My older sister is almost 2 years older than me and thus was 2 years ahead of me in school. At the beginning of my 8th grade year, we moved to a new town. I struggled to fit in with a group of girls and one day we were sitting on the bus waiting for the high school to let out. A girl from the group asked me to point out my sister when she got on the bus… her comment to me at that moment was “She is cute… what happened to you?” This set into motion feelings that I would never measure up and that I was somehow inferior. As an adult, looking back, I realize that this was a “mean girl” comment and I should let it go, but that one comment is burned indelibly into my brain and into my self-image.
3. What makes you shrink from your hopes, dreams and relationships? Fear of failure is my greatest enemy when it comes to following my dreams and hopes.
4. Do you think of yourself as a brave woman? Why or why not? No, I do not. I do what needs to be done but I don’t step out of my comfort zone without being pushed.