I sat on one of our plastic Adirondack chairs this afternoon while you were having quiet time. The sun was shining—hot enough that my jeans started to feel prickly—and the breeze was blowing gently, kindly, so I sat and listened to the birds, to the dripping of melting snow under the deck, to the animals scurrying around the yard, to car doors slamming and traffic sirens in the distance. I thought maybe I could even feel my freckles getting darker.
I exaggerate, of course.
I knew the warmth was short-lived because even though the seasons changed over to Spring this week, we have a winter weather advisory scheduled for tonight, and tomorrow will likely be unpleasant. I wanted to enjoy it while I could.
That’s not the whole story though.
Two days ago, and for a few days before that, I would not have been able to appreciate the sun or the birds or the distant traffic and the hot jeans.
The first part of this week felt heavy on my chest, metaphorically and literally. My chest did feel weighed down, like it was difficult to breathe. I was tired and close to tears—oh, who am I kidding? I was actually in tears—quite a bit. I made myself do the things I had to do, I showed up when I had to show up, and I tried to be honest when my friends asked how I was. But life was hard, girls. Very hard. Some days, weeks, seasons are like that.
I have a lot of good people who care about me and are vulnerable with me and support me when I’m able to say that I’m having a rough go.
But it’s still hard to say it.
To really say it.
And, honestly, sometimes I don’t want to say it out loud because I would rather just pretend things are okay. Sometimes that is the easier option, I’ll admit.
It’s one thing to have a bad day and to say, “Today is a bad day, tomorrow will be better,” but it’s another thing to be able to say, “This is more than a bad day, and I don’t have hope that tomorrow will be better.”
That’s how I felt earlier in the week.
Getting a shower on those days was a huge achievement. I didn’t do any writing. I set my goals low and often didn’t achieve them. I was glad when things were cancelled for the weather. I didn’t sleep well, didn’t feel well.
And then yesterday, I woke up and something had shifted. It was just a little shift, but homeschooling felt manageable. We got a lot done, and we had fun. We ran an errand to WalMart after preschool pickup, and you know how I feel about WalMart, which means that surviving that errand helped me feel like I was WonderWoman and there was hope I could get through anything.
That little glimmer of hope made a big difference in the day yesterday.
Today, as I sat out on the deck in the sunshine with my eyes closed, I was thinking about bravery.
I’ve read a lot of books recently about brave women, in both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve read you a lot of books about brave women, because I’m making an effort to get nonfiction books from the library for you. And your dad reads real-life-hero stories to you from the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls before bed each night.
And when I’m thinking about real-life brave women, I wonder if I am brave like them.
I wonder if I would have courage in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.
I wonder if I would continue to send you to school in Pakistan and risk your safety when girls were forbidden to be educated.
I wonder if I would be brave enough to point to injustice and say NO.
I wonder if I would be brave enough.
Girls, I wonder if I am brave.
My normal day-to-day life doesn’t require much bravery, to be honest. Not in any of the big ways. Not in any of the life-at-risk ways. Not in a Nazi-occupied Europe kind of way.
But sometimes, sometimes, just living life is brave.
Just trying not to be afraid is brave. Just the trying. Even if not succeeding.
Just showing up is brave.
Just sitting in the sunshine and finding gratitude for a day that does not feel too heavy is brave.
Just reading a novel is brave, picking up a paintbrush is brave, chopping vegetables, opening your front door, answering “How are you?” honestly.
Just writing these letters is brave.
And sometimes, sometimes, that is enough.