It’s All About Courage

 In Author

As I reviewed my blog post from last January, I noted the writing goals I’d set for 2019 and my word for the year—commitment. My gut reaction was: total fail! I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish, including finishing Thirty Years to Alaska. But then, I took a step back, remembering that despite terrible health and family challenges, I did manage to release my third book, Stars on Ruby Mountain. And that’s something I can be proud of. As for commitment, well, at least I’m grateful I was committed to survival! Sometimes we have to adjust our goals based on circumstances.

For 2020, my word is courage. I’m not exactly sure why courage pushed itself to the top of my list, but I’m guessing it’s because I’m going to need it. I immediately thought of the scene from the Wizard of Oz where the Cowardly Lion gives examples of courage, then asks “What do they got that I ain’t got?” to which his companions reply “courage.” Yeah. I can relate to that lion.

I’ll be the first to admit, I can be a wimp. I go out of my way to avoid uncomfortable situations, and I don’t like upsetting people. Chaos and change bring me nightmares. Seriously. I don’t even like to rearrange the furniture. The couch, the chairs, my desk—nothing moves. If the current arrangement works, why not leave it alone?

Dr. Seuss wrote a story called “What Was I Scared Of?” about a character who spies a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them. By the second time, he sees them, he’s terrified because the pants are strange and different from anything he’s ever seen before. After a third encounter, he screams and hides, nearly paralyzed with fear.

“I said, ‘I do not fear those pants with nobody inside them.’ I said, and said, and said those words. I said them. But I lied them.”

Finally, he confronts the pale green pants and realizes his fears were unfounded. Often the things we fear are not as big as we imagine them to be. I’ve asked myself many times, what is it that I am afraid of. Failure? Pain (physical-emotional-mental)? Contention? Yes! All of the above! Can I really take courage and rise above my fears?

This Christmas, my husband surprised me with a stuffed blue octopus. For those of you who’ve read Stars on Ruby Mountain, you may remember that a blue octopus figures prominently in the story. It wasn’t until I examined the animal more closely that I discovered a hook and a sword clasped in his tentacles. (You can probably tell from the picture he’s a pirate octopus!) This guy will be my mascot for 2020. In my mind’s eye, his hook represents a tool to grab ahold of my goals and not let go, and his sword serves as a weapon to fight off all the obstacles and distractions that get in the way.

So I’m taking a break from writing science fiction this year to finish Thirty Years to Alaska, a soul-searching memoir about my mother that I’ve been working on for more than twenty years. Will this be the year I finally finish this project? It’s all about COURAGE! Happy New Year!     

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