Seeing Clearly, Acting Courageously

May 27, 2015 by

Seeing Clearly, Acting Courageously

The Universe has been screaming to me lately. It seems everywhere I look I see an invitation to examine my thoughts on courage; what it means to be courageous, how to practice courage, and am I a courage person?


As I’ve sat with the idea of courage, my own definition of what courage means to me is beginning to emerge. Admittedly, I find it uncomfortable, troublesome, and nowhere near its conventional meaning.

Courage: the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous—Merriam-Webster

Let me share something with you. Last March when we were renovating our new home the situation was nothing short of disastrous. In addition to the usual stresses associated with renovations, our experience was made all the more complicated by the incompetent contractor leading the project. There were missed deadlines, excessive invoicing, and always a surprise behind a wall that he never seemed to know how to fix, improve, or respond to. There was always an excuse, confusion, and the mess … god … the mess in his wake was terrible. It was so incredibly junky in the space that you really couldn’t even see the work. Debris strewn everywhere, empty boxes left on the floors instead of in the trash bin, bits of drywall and nails littered everywhere … truly, he treated our home as a great, big garbage can.

God bless this mess ...and what a freaking mess it was!

God bless this mess …and what a freaking mess it was!

It was confusion and clutter everywhere.

I guess I didn’t mind so much when we weren’t living in the space, but once yet another deadline was blown and we found ourselves having to move in during the renovations, there was no way to ignore it. But, yeah, I tried. I tried to ignore it. I did.

I turned a blind eye to the tile that didn’t quite lay flat against the wall. I overlooked the new, cracked vanity and convinced myself that it must have happened in transit because surely he wouldn’t have damaged it himself, right?  I quieted myself when I realized there was no electrical outlet where I specifically had asked for one.

Why? Why did I do those things? Why was it easier to choke on my frustration than to voice them?

Because I was afraid … of everything. Afraid of hurting the contractor’s feelings. Afraid of offending the person who had recommended him. Afraid that if he left the project it would never get done. Afraid of running out of money to start again. Afraid of postponing the project’s end yet again. Afraid. Afraid. Afraid. In my own home. Afraid.

It took a friend coming over for a visit to snap me out of my fear and into action. As we sat in the only room that was a refuge from the refuse, she looked at the drywall that was cut too low beneath my bedroom window and shook her head.

“It’s bad, sis,” she said. She was right. I knew it, but I hadn’t allowed myself to really “see” it.

And, that’s it for me. That’s what courage has become—the willingness, the determination, the intention to see.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle—George Orwell

After that afternoon, going through every room with her and watching her point out every goddamn thing that was wrong, or crooked, or off, or just bad, it wasn’t long before that contractor was fired and told to get the f*ck out of my house.

When he did, when he left, when his specter was finally exercised from this place where my family lives and laughs, where my parents are spending their golden years, where love is made and meals are too, then the healing work of redemption began at last. Then our house could become the sacred place of our home.

Now, doesn't this look like a   place where conversations over good food and wine can happen?

Now, doesn’t this look like a place where conversations over good food and wine can happen?

But first, I had to see. I mean really see.

And, that’s the courage part. Because you know that once you truly see a thing you’ll have to do something about it. Right?

Try it with me.


Open your eyes to your marriage…are you happy? Is he or she? Does it feed your joy or your misery? Does it water your soul or drain you dry? Do you like what you see or does it bow your head? What are you going to do?

What about your career? Does it reflect who you are? Does it exploit your gifts? Is there any part of it, even a small part of it, maybe even just the paycheck part of it, that makes you happy and excites you? Or is it a complete suck that you wonder how much more you have to give your life essence to? What are you going to do?

What about that friend? You know the one. She just takes, takes, takes and talks, talks, talks while you question what you did in life to deserve her. She brings you down, makes you feel bad, and the only thing you have to look forward to with her is the moment you can tell her good-bye. What are you going to do?

What about that dream you had or have? This is hard for me to say, because I’m such a dreamer myself, but maybe it’s time to let it go. Maybe? I know, I know, that hurts me too. But, food on the table is as noble a goal as that Oscar or Grammy or Pulitzer Prize, especially when you’re hungry. Maybe instead of all or nothing, both and is the better option when you really look at it, when you really see. So, what are you going to do?

The thing about really seeing your life is that suddenly you are responsible for it. You. And, that’s some burden to bear, isn’t it? Like, with our home renovations, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the sucky contractor’s fault really. After all, we hired him. We paid him to make our lives miserable, one invoice at a time. It’s the truth.

I don’t know when it became scary for me to really look at certain things in my life, but at some point it was just easier to turn a blind eye to some truths. But if you can’t see where you are, you damn sure can’t see where you’re going. And, regarding some very specific things in my life, I’m tired of going around in circles with worry, disillusionment, and disappointments as my constant companions.

So, here’s me, practicing courage, being courageous, and opening my eyes.

What am I going to do?

Take ownership. Choose different. Be a general badass.

Who’s with me?

Peace and Blessings,

Nicole Walters

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