Brave Old Girl in a Safe New World

Through a friend’s post, I recently was introduced to the Brave Girls Club. Check out the site. To tell you who they are and what they do and why they exist would take more words than I can write here. In joining this online community, you’re asked this question: “What does being brave mean to you?”

Simple question, right?

Not so simple answer, though I came up with something like “not being afraid to try new things and fail.”

Being brave — that’s not really my thing. Leaps of faith are rare in my life. My favorite hymn is “The Solid Rock.” Firm ground. Unchangeable truth. Solid. Safe. These are words I cling to.

The word “brave” for me evokes images of scaling a rock formation while wearing a harness or jumping out of a plane wearing a parachute or driving cross country with a map and no plan.

I’ve done a few brave things in my life. Leaving the country for a semester in college to study in England and travel in Europe was brave for a girl who hadn’t been on a plane since she was 2 and had only barely been into Canada and Mexico. I once drove myself from my hometown in northern Illinois to North Carolina to attend my first ever writer’s conference by myself without a clue as to why I was there or what I would experience. I have other similar stories. For some reason they all seem to involve travel.

That’s part of what has me thinking about bravery again. We’re about to take our first family vacation in a couple of weeks. The four of us are driving to Florida to meet my parents for a beach/Disney trip. We’ve traveled long distances in the car with the kids many times, but this will be our first trek into new territory with hotel stays and new driving routes.

I’ll admit it: I’m part excited; part scared. I’m a constant worrier about what could happen (bad) and ever fearful that I will not be able to enjoy the trip until we arrive safely in Florida and I won’t be able to really breathe and relax until we’re back home in Pennsylvania. (I would have made a terrible pioneer.)

See, I feel like I left the smidgen of “brave” I had behind when I had kids, although maybe some would say having kids is also brave. Some days, just leaving my house with two kids to run errands seems brave.

So, what’s your definition of “brave” and how has that changed?

I’d also like to compile a post of “the bravest thing I ever did” stories. Want to participate? Send me an e-mail: lmbartelt[at] with a story about the bravest thing you’ve ever done. Put “Bravest Thing I Ever Did” in the subject line. I’ll keep your name confidential, and I’ll publish the stories in a future post.

Let’s encourage each other to do something brave.

Ready? Me, too.


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