Brave

Another first day of school has come and gone and although I’m a woman of words not numbers, I sit in our silent house and count. My son has only two more “first days” before he graduates from high school.

My daughter, three.

When I took a leave of absence from teaching, they were in elementary school. How is it that these babies have grown so much while I still feel so very much the same?

Five years ago I sat at the computer, my days somewhat flexible for the first time in my adult life, and set goals I hoped were attainable. Among them, these:

-          Be the best mom ever!

-          Be the best wife ever!

-          Write the best book ever!

Okay, that last one was lofty.  And yet I approached the road to becoming an author with confidence. I believed I could do it. I would do it. After all, I’d waited forty years for these stars to align. I was prepared for this next step. Our family was ready. Eager, even.

So I wrote. I write. I’ve written.

First a memoir. Then a YA novel. A Women’s Fiction manuscript. Short stories and essays. Blog posts. Words for other sites. Still, the days are short and finding a publisher is long.

Especially when you’re afraid.

Of what, you may ask? Well, pretty much everything. But I’ll start with this:

That my manuscripts won’t find an agent (this happened). That I’ll find an agent but no publisher to buy my book (this also happened).

That I’ll sell my book but people won’t buy it. Or they’ll buy it but give it bad reviews. Or they’ll give it good reviews but I’ll have a deadline for the next book I’ll miss. Or I won’t miss my deadline but my second book will flop and everyone will discover I’m a failure.

(These things did not happen but I frequently lie awake at night afraid of things that have not happened.)

So. I fold laundry and wash dishes. I pack lunches and supervise homework. I walk the dogs, restock pantries, mark calendars. I create lists and check clocks; seek things to accomplish, notice what needs shifting, focus on what remains to be done before before before.

I’m very busy achieving the easy stuff. As for the hard?

I wait. And wait and wait.

“Once my guestroom closet is organized, I’ll begin…”

“After Thanksgiving, I can revise…”

“As soon as we’ve unpacked, I might finish…”

“Until the kids are back in school, I really shouldn’t…”

In the meantime, years go by. Half a decade. A chunk of this lifetime during which I’ve convinced myself I’m suspended – held captive by other obligations. This “other” holds me back from accomplishing what remains. I can’t take risks now because because

Because.

It’s easier to view the world this way. Easier to believe it’s not your fault you haven’t quite hit your goal (although you’ve certainly made strides). Easier to accept you haven’t realized your dream (although, indeed, it has at times been close enough to taste).

But.

I want Jack and Karly to witness perseverance; to learn they can’t cross the finish line if they place their ribbon in the after after after.

They need a mother who writes and revises and queries and brushes off rejection to begin the process all over again. And so I will.

Because I want them to believe they can accomplish anything if they don’t give up.

I want them to believe, in this small way, that I am brave.

Now, for an example of true bravery, you must read Heidi Cave’s extraordinary memoir,  Fancy Feet.

fancy_feet_heidi_cave

Her story will move you, challenge you, make you believe nothing is impossible.

Hope resonates throughout Heidi’s recounting of a horrific car crash that almost killed her; the breakdown and rebuilding of a broken body and spirit.

Heidi’s journey also plays out in quieter moments: A stoic father saying the words, “I love you.”  A hospital orderly helping her wash her face each evening. A future husband bringing her a cup of lemonade.

In each chapter of this book, Heidi’s raw, truthful words depict strength in the midst of unimaginable pain. The sharing of her grief, her determination, her healing is simply breathtaking.

There was so much to live for, she writes in her parting line. So much, indeed.

Please leave a comment sharing what you wish you were brave enough to do and one of you will be selected to receive a signed copy of Heidi Cave’s Fancy Feet.

The rest of you should buy a copy here. Then go be BRAVE.

Yes, you. And you.

Everyone.

Now.

36 Comments to Brave

  1. by Kir

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:16 am

    I happen to believe you are one of the MOST BRAVE and most talented women and writers I know.

    I downloaded Heidi’s book on Friday, I can’t wait to start it.

    Amazing BRAVE women…inspiring and good.

  2. by julie

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Thanks so much, Kir. Her book will move you – I knew her story, but didn’t KNOW…if that makes sense.

    Been thinking about you and your own back-to-school transition.
    Much love to you and your beautiful boys.

  3. by Kerstin @ Auer Life

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:33 am

    I bought Heidi’s book as soon as I could and it was inspiring, breathtaking and awesome on so many levels. Can’t wait to go meet her at a book signing and get a bunch more books for the important people in my life.
    As for myself, “worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and never may happen at all” is one of my super powers…

  4. by julie

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Heidi is amazing, isn’t she? I’m thrilled that you two will get to meet. And jealous. But mostly thrilled.

    Cheers to superpowers – in whatever form they take. :-)

  5. by Kelley

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Your words are always so beautiful. I am positive I will see them in Barnes & Noble someday. I am impressed that you stay on the soon-to-be published road. No self- publishing? I would love, love your honest view on that. Big hugs to you!

  6. by Leigh Ann

    On September 16, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Oh, I can see how this can all be so true. I’m just now entering the world of “no kids for a few hours,” and I can see myself whiling away the time with housework and “other” writing I need to do. I’ve been wanting to write something for a while now, but it takes quieries, interviews, and just plain guts. I’m afraid that I’ll pitch it and someone will say YES, and then I’ll have to do it. Thus letting everyone down greatly because it won’t measure up to their expectations. Sigh.

  7. by julie

    On September 16, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Self-publishing is a possibility for me – absolutely. But I’ve known since I was ten years old that I wanted to be a writer (I put it in my diary so you know I meant it: “I want to be a teacher and Judy Blume!”) and part of that dream included traditional publishing.

    Of course, I didn’t know what self-pubbing was back then. And now, I have so many talented writer-friends who have gone that route and been successful. I think I’m scared of not knowing enough to take it on myself yet; and I am honestly (you asked for honest!) still hoping to find that editor who wants to champion my manuscripts.

    So I’m nowhere near the end of the road toward getting a novel or memoir out there in the world – and I will do WHATEVER it takes to get those words read.
    Sooner. Later. Sometime. :-)

  8. by Jaryl

    On September 16, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Julie, another awesome post. Do you put these up on Facebook? Have your ever looked at The Girlfriend Life page on Facebook? Your blogs and writings inspire and even if it’s just up on Facebook with small blogs, often, you will inspire so many. Your writings are too good to keep quiet and isolated to such a small audience.
    Thanks for the uplifting message!

  9. by heidi

    On September 16, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I love this…”I want Jack and Karly to witness perseverance; to learn they can’t cross the finish line if they place their ribbon in the after after after.” Yes to this.

    Beautiful post from a beautiful person. Thank you so much, Julie. I am honored by you and your gift of words. I can not wait to hold your book in my hands. It will happen. I know it. And it’s going to be wonderful.

  10. by Di

    On September 16, 2013 at 8:37 am

    …at least you don’t want to be a pole vaulter! All kidding aside, I know in my heart of hearts that you will be published and people will like no, they’ll love your work. …and you are also the best friend EVER!

  11. by Julia

    On September 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

    “I frequently lie awake at night afraid of things that have not happened.” I absolutely do this, too.

    You are a writer, and you are incredibly brave, and I completely understand everything you have written in this post.

    Because even if you believe that you are destined to do great things it’s so much easier to do the right now things.

    And it’s so very hard to be brave.

    I am so excited to read Heidi’s book; she is amazing. As are you. xo

  12. by Ally

    On September 16, 2013 at 8:44 am

    A hard lesson I learned is that sometimes showing your kids that perseverance and hard work and dedication means that they have to see you let the unorganized closet go, or that the dishes might still be dirty or the pantry might not be fully stocked because you were busy working on whatever that goal may be. Showing them how to push those other things to the side to focus on what’s in your heart. Of course, it’s easy to say, but soooo much harder to do.

  13. by Ann

    On September 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Waiting is a lot harder if you don’t do the work. And you do the work (THREE manuscripts plus?? WOW). So you’re READY. But yeah, having faith is the hardest part.

  14. by Lady Jennie

    On September 16, 2013 at 10:04 am

    As I said in FB, I’ll shoot to win it, and if not I’ll buy it.

    Isn’t bravery feeling fear and still doing it anyway? When I look at you, I think “still doing it anyway.” I mean, I also think – funny, kind, generous, a friend I wish lived next door – and all that. But I see you still doing it anyway, again and again. And whatever way I can encourage you (hosting a review and giveaway and leaving one of the many positive reviews) I will do.

    :-)

  15. by KLZ

    On September 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Have another baby, even though it’ll make us even more broke, tired and tired of being broke.

  16. by Nancy

    On September 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Julie, you inspire me. You speak my heart, and I thank you for putting hope and fear into words. You are so brave.

  17. by Melanie

    On September 16, 2013 at 10:42 am

    So Inspirational and So Lovely. Just lovely.

    I’m close to tears because your words express my life.

    I look at you, finishing manuscripts and querying and getting an agent. You are so brave because I am in the middle of unfinished manuscripts and feel like querying an agent is so far off and I wonder often if the novels/screenplays that I am working on are all in vain. Should I just give up – especially being in my 40s and not yet published?

    I want to be brave enough to push on and finish. Then go for it (like you have) – querying, searching for an agent. That road causes me enough fear to paralyze me sometimes but I know I must keep walking on it.

    Especially after reading your words. Thank you.

  18. by Arnebya

    On September 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I believe in you and I know you will get there through perseverence and bravery, showing us all what the best book ever reads like. I recently decided to commit to the book. I have to. I have to. The pull has never been this strong and I’m tired of ignoring it.

  19. by Nikki

    On September 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Brave enough to be open and speak my mind, especially to my mother. I’m 30 and still scared of the woman.

  20. by Kim Tracy Prince

    On September 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I wonder what it means for me that those are exactly the words that run through my head, keeping me from doing the things I dream of doing. EXACTLY.

  21. by Charlene Ross

    On September 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    You ARE brave, Julie. (And published I might add.) And will be published again, and again and again. And yeah, like Kim Tracy Prince – I feel your words exactly. (Even if I couldn’t have written them as beautifully!)

  22. by Nina

    On September 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Julie, I appreciate you are able to name these fears that so many of us have. I share them all with you . . . this fear that I will fail at what I do, combined with the fear that I will ultimately do NOTHING.

    You ARE brave though. And I think you’ve already done so much. I have actually learned to let go of a book as the only sign of success. Sometimes it’s about redefining success, not about considering yourself a coward for moving in another direction. (Not that you should give up the book dream if you’re still excited about it!!)

  23. by erin margolin

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I believe both of you are two of the most BRAVE, INSPIRING, and STRONG women I know. I am going to add the book in my Amazon queue now as I’ve been meaning to.

    If I was really brave? I’d quit putting off writing my own book, too. I’d quit being afraid of myself and everyone else and what people think.

    If I was really brave I’d chuck it all, balls to the wall and JUST WRITE.

    But I make too many excuses.

    Neither of you do that and you’ve both confronted so much adversity.

    love,
    erin

  24. by chickens consigliere

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    I wish I was brave enough to meet conflict head on without worrying that someone might not like me and without feeling as though I’m the bad guy in the equation. I am not good at dealing with conflict. Nice post and good luck with your book. You seem, to me, like you have your priorities perfectly in order. I’m sure your time will come and you’ll accomplish all you hoped for and more.

  25. by julie

    On September 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Believe me, I make PLENTY of excuses, Erin – and although our fire was traumatic in the short-run, we are now back home and absolutely fine.
    I feel like I’m luckier than most and not taking advantage of my opportunities enough!

    But the only way to rectify this is to work hard. Then get up and work hard again the next day.
    And when I slip and make excuses and am unproductive for a while, I have to forgive myself and move forward.
    Again.

    Unfortunately, I’m really good at looking backward.
    I need horse blinders that keep me focused on the future instead of the past.
    :-)

  26. by cyndy

    On September 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I wish I were brave enough to write a book, too. I recently took a first step but it went nowhere unfortunately. I need to NOT let that set me back…..

  27. by Alison

    On September 17, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Julie, for what it’s worth, *I* believe in you. I believe that one day, I will hold your book in my hands.
    Heidi’s book is on my to-read list. She has such an amazing story.

  28. by angela

    On September 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Love you… love this.

    This fall, I have two short half-days where I don’t have kids at home. This was supposed to be the fall that I buckled down and got some real writing work done. Yet “we moved” turns into “we’re still in the midst of chaos” turns into “I need to do xyeverythingbutthewritingz”.

    You can do this. You ARE brave, but you can take that courage to the next level. Today :)

  29. by Duffy

    On September 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I want so badly to ignore the things that make me think after after after. I want to ignore the laundry and mess during naptime, so I can write. But I just can’t seem to do it, and now there is no more naptime.
    I want to make myself stay up and write after everyone is asleep, but my mind will not turn on enough.
    I want to suck it up and just do it. I am willing myself to take my laptop EVERYWHERE, to take every minute I can to write a word, a sentence, ANYTHING.
    Will Power is hard.

  30. by Poppy

    On September 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Time is a tricky bitch. The more I have, the more I waste. I’ve had this window open for two days trying to think of a comment aside from “you rock” (cause you know I think so). Instead, I did laundry. You have a whole community who have faith in your success.

  31. by Mandy

    On September 18, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Will I ever be brave enough to quit my job, move the kids across the country, and buy a small Vermont farm where I will raise chickens and goats and write a best selling novel?

    Well. No. Because, you know, health insurance.

    But I’m raising chickens and I’m writing while working and maybe, somehow, I’ll be brave enough to finish the novels swirling in my head. Because finishing is very, very brave.

  32. by sisters from another mister

    On September 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

    You are very brave, and you do big things and move thro life with grace and eloquence, and you will find your time just when it is ready to find you.
    I think I can pinpoint my ocd and my procrastination to a simple lack of bravery … if I keep myself so totally with the busy, then I don’t have to go with the real and the what matters to me … in case I fail, or do not measure up or have to face realities that I just don’t want to deal with. So I clean, and organize, and change and redecorate, and wait for the perfect moment … which deep inside me, I know will never come. But still I wait for it …
    And I ramble …

  33. by San Diego Momma (Deb)

    On September 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Just everything in this post, yes.

    But more importantly, you keep going (my mantra) because your words are going to be famous.

    (And also, I love Heidi.)

  34. by Carolina Valdez Miller

    On September 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    To be brave, to be brave. I don’t often know what this means. Just that I don’t often feel it. It’s not enough to be brave once. It’s like this crazy decision you have to keep making over and over, even though you don’t know if you’re actually doing it. Is it being brave even though you accomplish so little? I ask myself this a lot. Bravery, I suppose, doesn’t mean success. Maybe bravery is just sticking it out even when success never comes. Maybe maybe.

    This whole thing is so hard. I get so tired.

    But.

    To be brave, to be brave.

    Keep going.

    I’m glad you’ve kept going. I have no doubt you’ll get there.

  35. by Kim

    On September 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Thank you for this encouraging reminder to endure.
    Endure.
    A cheering fan,
    K

  36. by My Inner Chick

    On September 28, 2013 at 10:41 am

    —Stunning, Identifiable post.

    You. Are. Brave.

    You. Are. Beautiful.

    You Inspire. xxx

    And Also, You Rock Like Gaga. xx

    This clip has been a HUGE part of my blog process. It seems quite apt.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grApMvrNzd0

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