Brave: A Second Compilation

I started this Brave prompt in April of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic. I think we all needed to be reminded of our bravery in the midst of so much uncertainty. And we needed to know that bravery takes on a multitude of shapes and forms. We each wear it differently. We each live it differently. It is within us and all around us, if we have eyes to see it and a willingness to name it when we see it. 


I fell in love with the first Brave compilation because it created such a nuanced conversation about bravery and each piece that was written was an example of bravery itself. I was deeply moved by each email that I received of someone sharing their words. When it was time to do another prompt I knew I was not done with the Brave prompt. The dream was to make a booklet, but sometimes life happens and you have to shift. And sometimes that shift happens over a year later. The majority of these pieces were written in the summer of 2020. They are powerful to read. They are brave. A few of these pieces have pictures with them that I was unable to transfer over to this platform, but I hope to actually get a booklet together with them included one day soon. 

As always, thank you to the writers of this compilation. Thank you for trusting me with your words. Thank you for being willing to share your words. Thank you for your bravery. 

To the readers, thank you for being here. I hope these words and this conversation around bravery reminds you of your own bravery. If someone's words impact you, let them know. Those words can go a long way. 



I now present you with the Second Brave Compilation. Enjoy my friends.

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Note The Way It Was
 
I once was brave.
Brave enough that is.
Brave enough to share how I felt
Only…
When it didn’t matter.
 
 
Electrify The Streets,

Toni Hunlo 
-------------

Brave
 
He left just when they would start having memories
When their minds were old enough to recall
He left when it started to get fun
When their blonde curls started bouncing on their shoulders when they giggled
When they started looking up to their older sister
 
He left because he was sick
Because he needed to leave
Because he couldn’t see past himself
Oh much to everyone’s dismay
 
Along the way it became normal
Him showing up on his own watch
Him reaching out as it fit his schedule
I pray it doesn’t become the standard
 
His sickness ebbed and flowed
As did his presence
Picking and choosing
 
How complicated is a daughters heart for her father
How riddled with confusion and contradiction
How much can one grant grace, “he’s sick, he’s sick, he’s sick”
 
How much does it confuse her own heart, her own worth
 
It came time for the girls to be recognized
Homecoming court beneath the lights
But the father escorts them, the father always escorts
 
Their hearts more brave than I can fathom
Not giving someone the option
To show up in the good times and not the bad
They chose their mother to escort them
Knowing they would have to face their father who wouldn’t understand
Knowing that older people just wanted them to give in - status quo
Take the more comfortable route
Avoid confrontation
Flee from hurting feelings
After so many years of their hurt feelings
 
Oh but these girls know their worth
They know they are worth every ounce of effort it takes to raise a little girl
 
How brave it is to believe you are worth it
How brave it is to live in this way


Lindsay Lowery
-------------


“Only do what only you can do.”
 
A friend and mentor said this to me a few years ago, and as I sit at my desk and think about bravery, it comes to mind.
I have always struggled with wanting to feel valuable. I want to feel like my ideas matter, like I’m making a difference, like the things to which I’m giving my time have purpose.
In good times, this plays itself out in embracing leadership, initiating conversations, and challenging those around me.
In bad times, it looks like trying to control my surroundings, becoming very passive, and ultimately shutting down while the only words coming from my mouth are “I’m fine.”
 
When it’s not true.
 
I’m learning that bravery is a product of a willing heart, and that in most cases, the recognition and praise I so desire doesn’t come when I choose to be brave. I’m learning that I want to do what I want to do because I think it will make me look good, not because I’m doing it for anyone else. To me, bravery looks like filling the gaps. It looks like doing what you can, because only you can. Because you’ve been given a unique gift that allows you to do whatever it is you need to do.
 
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ And the head cannot say to the feet ‘I don’t need you.’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”
-   	1 Corinthians 12:21-22
 
Indispensable. What a warm blanket to my soul. To know that in the moments when I feel weaker than those around me, I still have a purpose, a chance to be brave. For my wife, for my neighbors, for my family, for my friends, for those without a voice, for those who may not recognize their own gifts. Thank goodness for those chances.
 
William Black 
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There is so much bravery in slowing down – 
 
I find the words “no rush” 
Are always on my tongue
 
Because I want to say
“You are worth all the time it takes to get here, there, wherever you want to be”.
 
And it is brave,
When they take that time,
Acknowledging:
“I am worth it,
The space, I will take it up.”

Alex Washburn 
-------------


Purposeful stupidity 
 
I’ve been teaching myself to skateboard. 
Just taking laps around a parking deck.
Learning how to position my feet to ensure balance. 
Figuring out the best way to push myself onwards. 
Wobbly and smiling down the ramp, 
it’s easy to feel brave. 
My dad tells me it is a stupid, reckless hobby. 
 
Makes me wonder, 
how often are the two mistaken. 
Where is the line drawn?
Is it brave or stupid to jump off the quarry walls? 
Is it brave or stupid to go to a protest during a pandemic? 
Is it brave or stupid to question 
the beliefs I have been spoon fed? 
Is it brave or stupid to facilitate confrontation?
Is it brave or stupid to move away from my people, my home? 
 
But the line has always been blurry. 
The women and men who make up our history books 
must have been called stupid 
so many times 
before we gave them the title of brave. 
Doing the unexpected, dangerous, scary,
takes a little bit of stupidity 
and a little bit of bravery. 
 
Where is the line drawn?
Stupid or brave. 
Based on purpose? 
One’s intended end game? 
The simple use of logic in decision making? 
I’ll write again once I have solved it all. 
 
So maybe skateboarding is stupid. 
Maybe i’ll break my ankle tomorrow 
while trying to perfect my left side turns. 
I won't be sorry for it. 
I’m intentionally implementing a bit of 
purposeful stupidity in my life. 
Trying to train myself
to think less. 
To headlessly say it.
Do it. 
Go there. 
Things you might tell me is stupid 
or reckless,
but in time, like the history books,
may just reveal themselves 
to be brave.

Hailey Lombardi 
-------------

Fear and love
  
To really kno me is to kno....
I am full of doubt...
But I am one who wonders this terrain out of fear and love
I fear that what I have for all things will run out
For my love to run dry
For my voice to not ring
For me to fall on my face
For my heart to not beat.
And I if didn’t fear this
I would love for ages
My voice will carry for miles
I would stand tall
And my heart will beat to serve
 
So here I am searching for faith to Love
Seeking to drive my spirit with words from the kingdom
And shielding away from the words of a death sentenced world
We all share walls that will need help rebuilding
Regardless of the future, there will be something to credit here before us. 
You never know the wrath of a storm until it has passed
For myself I’ve survived surges and I can’t believe that now the skies are clearing
I mean this for myself
I must enjoy this sun with or without another silhouette 
But truly I have room for you beside me. 
This must be what it feels like to invent, to pioneer, or to discover a new world. 
...scared sh!tless but more happy as can be...
 
And
      These are 
                       The STAIRS
                                           we must take...
                                                              Out of
                                                       Fear
                                                 And 
                                         Love
 
Toni Hunlo
-------------

NOTES FROM QUARANTINE

> Consider what is worth rushing back to < 

I feel guilty for enjoying this time so much. 
I needed the rest so desperately 
When does life ever let you hit pause? 
Nothing to miss out on— freedom from anxiety
(& for this I know I am privileged, but I am still thankful)
Who knew this is what I needed? 
Who knew how much of life I did not enjoy? 
Yet 
It also feels empty 
Knowing there is not much to run back to 
That people out there are ok without you and you’re 
ok alone too 
It makes me want deeper things 
People I would hurt to be away from 
Ones that fill me up and let me be 
And maybe this is all self absorbed 
But when you see others have it, 
Do you fight too? 
As I sit here thankful for nowhere to be 
I continue to long for what I may never get 
I read “I can’t miss out on what is meant for me”
And I hope that this is meant for me 
And as the world begins to turn again 
I will be brave in believing I am worth knowing.

Jasmine Badiee 
-------------

#1 --  ••• Teaching in the Unknown 

“Father, what have I kept from you?”
A dangerous question from a heart yearning for the stability of the Shepherd’s hands. I grasp at my life, desperately trying to hold it together, yet desperately wanting to offer it up.

A gentle whisper wakes me in the middle of the night:
“This.”

I see my classroom. My students, my career, my pride. The fear of the unknown crawls up my throat, threatening to take my breath. How do I win this battle? Paralyzed, I beg:
“Fight for me?”

I cannot do this alone. Prepare me for the battle, cloak me in bravery. Though I smile and nod, I know that I don’t know. I don’t know what this year will look like. I don’t know what school will look like. I don’t know what next month or next week or tomorrow holds. I’m completely dependent on something so much bigger than me. I put one foot in front of the other.

Help me look forward to the future without try to manipulate it, without putting it on my back. Help me see it all through a lens of daily grace. Help me know that you will hold me up when the waves crash down on me. 

You lift up my chin.
Brush my hair with your hands.
“My dear, I have never left you.”
Oh; take all my love. Take all my life.


#2 ••• Bravery is in the Jump •••

Change is a cliff. An impending sense of doom fills and weighs my chest as my toes creep over the
edge.
I glance down.
What will the fall feel like?
I look back.
Can I step away?
But forward is the only option today. I must jump. I wait. Sickened by the dread, I close my eyes, whining:
“Why must I?? Isn’t there an easier way?” 
Blurry vision and angered heart, desperation hardens my will. Who wants to let go of their footing, their perceived safety? Who wants to feel their stomach fly up, to be completely humbled by their lack of control? 

But forward is the only way today. I fill my mind of images of how horrid the process will be, I convince myself that looking over the edge, fearing the jump, is a better option than the jump itself. So I stand still. Shaking my head at my Creator.
“No. I’ll just stay here awhile.”
My head swirls, clarity is gone, and I’m not even sure why I’m standing on the cliff anymore. I fall to my knees. 
“Why am I here?”
“You said you wanted stability.” 
“But this fall isn’t stability?! I’ll lose everything I’ve built. Do you see what I’ve built?” 

“Have you forgotten? It was me that brought you the stones. It was me that gave you the strength to build. It was me that directed your every step, that gave you every plan. Do you not trust I will help you to build again? Sweet girl, let go. Let go of it all. In fall, you will remember.”

I look over the edge once more. Have I built it up in my head again? Is this worth it?
I force my eyes to look beyond— 
An ancient whisper fills my mind: “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and earth.”

I jump.

I fall.

Weightless, worry-less, free. Finally. My head clears. My dread evaporates. I find shelter in the wings of the Most High. 

I look back up, why did I stand at the edge for so long? Torturing myself over the “what if?” I look back at my Helper, He smiles, knowingly. 
“Do you trust me now?” 
I laugh.
Isn’t it funny how I say I’ve given my life to Christ, but when it comes time to jump, to risk my pretend safety, I cling to the image of fear I’ve created over the very one who created me?
You win, Jesus. 
You can have it all.
No cliff or dread can stand against you,
You are the one who catches, the one who provides, the one who holds me up.

Melanie Beadles 
-------------

Brave, Again 

Called him to see where she was 
Got the news 
Wailed in the parking lot 
Wood chips stuck to my face
A curious spectacle for those rejoicing in
The survived 

Blurry hours after that 
Slept, ate a banana, some clothes
Met at the hospital 
Her mome couldn’t stand 
So they put her in a wheelchair 
Her brother couldn't stand 
But I held him p with weak arms and a 
weak heart 

Comforted a whole family for weeks 
Was asked to sleep in her bed (declined)
Filled a temporary hole 
Had my picture taken 
Her loss was the beginning of many more 
Not just the deceased 

Picked out her blue burial clothes 
Saw the figure that she left behind clothed 
In them 
Sand poorly at her funeral 
Walked out with the recessional 
My time of usefulness ran out 

They cry whenever they see me 
No longer me, but what could have been 
Her 
I took my time and space 
And grace
Became Brave again to mourn another 

Anonymous 
-------------


Run-ons and comma splices

It's been a few days in the new house, and everything is starting to come together. The new shower curtain that makes the blue-green tile look purposeful, boxes disappearing from the living room and the contents finding homes, the laundry stack shrinking and closets beginning to fill. 
That first night eating pizza and leftover wedding wine on the back deck, sitting on blankets all together was an omen- a sign- that no matter what pieces were missing- plates, chairs, silverware- it would come together. It would be perfect.
I dreamed of married life and it's all how I pictured and nothing how I pictured. You can envision the chores and the house and the tender moments, but you can't expect the overwhelming feeling of being one another's. Worried when he's gone too long, wondering what he's thinking, wanting to be close to make the feelings tangible. Some of it's hard- the little unmet expectations that really make no difference anyway- towels, toilet seats, taking turns. But it's perfect. You can tell that even though it's new, it's exactly what it was always supposed to be. That any other outcome would have been unnatural and wrong. Another life was imaginable, but in the blink of an eye, the exchange of a ring and a simple promise, the image is gone.
So, I'm sitting here, drinking coffee on the front stoop while he has his own Quiet Time- a necessity in our old and new worlds- missing him a little as I imagine the newly-wed do, and I'm wondering how to be brave today. What will I do today that matters, that overcomes, that challenges, that explores and ignites. 
And I decide I will stay.
I will remain. I will be steadfast. As the days get shorter, it won't always be as sugary sweet as this day on the front stoop, but I'll stay. Stay here. I'll follow where he goes and stay where he stays.
It's a new kind of brave for me, working as a team. But I know through seasons and years and the highs and lows and fun and mundane- it'll come together. It has to, it was always meant to be. 
When you're better together it's hard to go solo because now you know all that was missing before, and how could you miss out on that again. So I'll stay here, on his team, him on mine, writing run-ons and comma splices that I see as soon as they leave my pen, an English teacher's dirty little secret, to make an attempt to put into words how this new season of "us" just might be my bravest yet.

Caroline Black
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The truth is, I don’t know how to be brave.
I don’t know how to move on
And let go of the past few years
And start over
When it feels like I’ve been building and building this beautiful home for myself here,
And now I have to start at the bottom.
 
I don’t like the bottom very much.
It’s dark down here, and I’m not up high enough yet
To see what’s up ahead.
I’m walking around with the lights off,
Not knowing which way is up.
 
I don’t know how to not be good. To just try and fail.
It’s not my nature to want to change
And step outside of what I know.
 
It’s my nature to know and label all of the things around me.
To put each thing in its right box, wipe the dust off of my fingers, and rest in a job well done.
 
This year isn’t that.
It requires failure.
It requires discomfort and change.
It requires bravery.
 
And as I look at the empty seats, the whiteboard and the desk at the front,
I feel the opposite of brave.
I feel such fear.
 
There are so many questions running through my head:
Doubts, lies, fear, worries
But it all comes back to this:
“Can you do this?”
“Can you really do this?”
And my answer is the same each time.
“I don’t know”
“I don’t know”
“I don’t know”
 
But then I think about how scared I was a year ago.
And then four years ago.
A fresh page terrifies me,
But it has also made me who I am today.
And failure, unlike I feared, did not defeat me.
It made me better. Wiser. Humbler. More understanding.
Human.
 
Sometimes I think bravery is learned. That it means trusting what I have seen to create a world in the future where I’m okay.
At least in my own head.
 
But more, I think bravery is this:
I look out at an ocean of my own fears.
I look out and can’t see what’s right in front of me.
I look out.
Seeing.
Fearing.
Hoping.
And still, I take a step forward.
Still, I show up.
Still, in spite of that ocean and the darkness I fear,
 
I am brave today.

Caroline Beltrami 
-------------


She slowly started losing touch. Speaking about aliens, past lives, her psychic abilities, the list goes on. Lots of people believe in such things, but for her, it was different. For her, these beliefs were slowly taking over her life. The voices began. They would tell her to believe things, things that were not really happening. They would tell her to do things, things that she should not do. They would distract her from eating, drinking, living. She was spiraling down as she thought she was spiraling up, so excited about her new powers. She couldn’t really listen to me. She’d talk to me, but she wasn’t really listening; the voices were more interesting, more important. My friend falling deep in ways I didn’t even realize someone could fall. I didn’t know how to help her. She didn’t realize there was a problem. I was scared to upset her. I was scared to do the wrong thing. I was scared for her to realize that this was all a lie.

Sometimes it takes an event so big to be brave. Sometimes your fear overrides your decisions for weeks. But then suddenly, it escalates so quickly that you know you must get help. And while you’re on the phone still so scared, you’re asking for help, the brave thing to do. You feel guilty for sending her away, taken against her own will. All the people you talk to keep telling you that you were brave, you did the right thing, you saved her. How can you know you were acting out of bravery instead of fear? How can you be so scared and so brave at the same time? 

Now, it’s her turn to be brave. As reality is being slowly shoved in her face by doctors, little white pills, and laws requiring her to cooperate, she’s scared too. She’s scared about the things she did, the relationships she lost, where she ended up. Scared of her brain and her thoughts. Scared that she’ll never be the same. I’m scared of that too.
 
More than anything right now, I hope she can be brave. I know she needs me to be brave again too. She needs me to believe she can get better. She needs me to act out of bravery instead of fear. I hope we will be brave for each other.

Anonymous 
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Brave.
 
Most of the time, bravery surprises us and looks different than we expected. Our past experiences and perceptions form what bravery should, shouldn’t,  or could be.
 
Maybe it is standing up for yourself or a friend. Maybe it is conquering a big fear. Maye it is taking a leap of faith into something new. While all of these speak truthfully about bravery, I hope we don’t limit ourselves to these ideas.
 
Bravery is better than we think, and what if we gave it the space it needs in our hearts to dig deep and eventually bloom? What would that look like for you?
 
For me, bravery came in the lonely, quiet, simple, and even painful moments. I wanted to take that big leap of faith and conquer that mountainous fear by being “big and brave” like we tell kids, but she met me with a different plan. A wild, new plan that stopped me in my tracks to remind me that maybe the lonely, quiet, and simple moments aren’t so bad after all.
 
They can be where bravery moves in close, finds some footing, and she grows. They can be the beginning of letting something new in.
 
This way, she teaches me to
Be rather than only do,
Remain rather than only rush,
And trust rather than only hope.
 
I am surprised, in the best way, that bravery can be a part of me, rather than something I strive for. It may come from inspirational people, places, and words, but it also comes from a place within. Trust it is there and let it go with you!
 
So, what if we tossed aside our “big and strong” views on bravery to see it in the full light is has for us? What if we let it run wild in our hearts, our thoughts, and even our dreams? I think, if we do, bravery will come much more naturally than we once knew.

Jordan Brandy 
-------------

At the end of the ropes course, there is only one way to get off the course. And that is to jump, trusting that the person below will catch you with the rope. Often people will run through the entire course just to get to this spot and freeze. The early parts are easy, you can rely on the equipment and your own skill to get you through. But at the end you have to put your trust in the person at the bottom to catch you. Letting go of control and putting your trust in someone else is difficult. The most difficult, but I have seen some of the most joyous moments come right after letting go and taking a step of bravery.

Anonymous
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Here is where I am brave: feet (and mind and body and soul)
Firmly planted on the scorched ground 
Screaming at the sun and moon and stars and gods and ancestors and Life and Death
But not expecting a reply.

Have we always been brave? 
No. How could we be,
when we are suspended in just the right place at just the right moment in time
to experience This. Together. 

Just like the great waves of the ocean roil and crash and rise and fall and fill our lungs with salt and foam and creatures of the deep,
So too do we swell with the greatest heights
and sink further beneath the waves than we ever could have feared. 
That is where we are 
Brave. 
Safely cocooned in an abalone shell, ordinary from the outside and extraordinary in all the ways that count
inside. 

Bravery is exploring the cosmos knowing that we may not be alone after all 
(and once you’ve drifted past the Kuiper Belt, understanding that your feet may never touch scorched ground ever again because all you’ve got is Pluto outside your window). 
 
Bravery is finding religion and then losing it in the same breath.
 
It is standing on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain choking on your own oxygen 
and understanding that there Has To Be More Than This,
that There Was Always More Than This.
Bravery is finding out you were wrong about all of it: 
life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Bravery is:

standing in front of your dusty childhood mirror one afternoon when you visit your parent’s house and finally recognizing the person you were meant to be all along, 
shrugging off the weight of the world like Atlas 
like the giants who have come before you
like yourself.  

It is accepting more than cracked earth and silent stars and the vacuum of space because you
are the heavenly body
made To Be More Than This.
	There Was Always More Than This. 

Ellie Cash 
-------------


I didn’t know how brave I was 
To let you love me 
Until you found my wounds 
And shown a light on them 

I was terrified and resistant 
Pushing your tending hands away 
But you persisted 
The healing was gentle and strong 

I didn’t know how brave you were 
To love me 
Until I felt how it mended me 
While you made it look easy 

You were certain and unshaken 
Moving in closer despite my fight
And you won 
My life completely changed by it 

The bravery of a simple and deep love…

Kelly Saunders 
-------------


(There is a picture that goes with this piece)


There is an annual celebration of street art in Denver where artists from all over come to bring art onto the streets instead of in galleries.
 
This woman chose to recreate some of the letters her stalker had written her. These letters are now on a wall for anybody and everybody to see. This woman is unbelievably brave for sharing her art and letters with the world.

Lindsay Magill 
-------------


To the brave friend-
 
who stayed when many others left or hid,
who continuously chose love when it was almost impossible,
who picked me up over and over when I was heavy,
You Are Brave.
 
you welcomed my brokenness as something beautiful,
you allowed space for my emotions and words to run out,
you opened your life to mine,
You Are Brave.
 
i was lost, but you helped me find my way,
i was resistant, but you waited with me,
i was hopeless, but you reminded me of truth,
You Are Brave.
 
you are brave for all of this,
for going the lengths and depths with me,
but most of all,
you are brave for being You
despite the fight, weight, fear, and tears.
 
you courageously stayed true to you,
and you helped me be brave enough to do the same. 

Jordan Brandy 
-------------


I’ve had a lot of transition within the last year, but I could have not. I chose these changes. I wrestled with these decisions, prayed, cried, struggled because I knew what I’d have to leave behind.There is grief in change, even when you know it pushes you forward. 
 
It takes immeasurable courage to push forward. We celebrate this bravery in one another constantly, honoring the work performed to produce results that we believe are needed, good, just: the work that ultimately spurs progress. Deciding upon and working towards change takes immeasurable courage. I remind myself of this repeatedly, in my quiet moments, in my moments where the change is so loud it’s deafening. My mom called me a strong and powerful force last summer. I own that phrase as I march on. I hold on to this truth. I chose my change for a reason. I hold on to this truth. 
 
But I’m learning there is also bravery in recognizing and acknowledging the pain in the loss that is married to change. Even when you choose it. To grieve is to understand that what is gone meant something and to simply and innately miss something because it no longer exists. We cannot have progress without it, but a recognition of this pain paints a picture of what it’s like to be human. To be uncomfortable when things look different. To love and to lose. To love despite the possibility of loss. To feel all ranges of emotion. We cannot separate ourselves from this reality, so why not be brave and grapple with it when it’s here? There is freedom in making change, but perhaps there is even more in allowing yourself to grieve your losses in the in between. There is beauty in this duality. I hold on to this truth.  
 
AS
-------------

(There is a picture that goes with this piece)


Have you ever heard Daniel the Tiger’s “With a Little Help You Can Be Brave”? It’s a bop. Watch out tho it’ll get stuck in your head for days. Especially when your niece is constantly singing it.
 
This is my niece. She is constantly singing this song under her breath when she is trying something new. Nothing new about donuts but you get the idea. I’m very black and white so bravery to me looks like an inspirational story of brotherhood in the army, doing something new and scary for the first time, or choosing something for someone else over yourself. My niece doesn’t understand bravery, yet, in its fullest form like most of us do. But she’s also not a black and white thinker. So she sings this song to me day in and day out. It forces me to think about the bravery that persists in the daily emotions, movements and theatrics of life.
 
Daniel the Tiger teaching life lessons to children is the greatest place to learn about bravery.

Becca Davis 
-------------

(There are pictures that go with this piece)

New
I always say that I like the change and detest routine 
and get bored with the typical 
and then a new year starts and my mind and body do not match
i love this change i love this newness i would never want to know what the next hour holds is what my mind says 
my chest is tight i cant breathe very well and my spiral is not tightly coiled 
my body and my mind does not feel brave most of the time 
i somehow brought my gold broken key necklace that says "strength" 
on it, all the way from colorado to georgia 
it's funny that it broke 
it's funny that anyone thinks i am strong 
 
I thought in my mind yesterday
"perhaps it is best if i don't write for awhile."
what else is there to write about now?
i moved away from everything 
 without closing any doors 
except i did close all the doors 
just not in the way i would've
 
I claim to hate routine and yet my mind delves into the routine of this spiral shell i call my home and that i call normal and no, 
it is not normal
but i am here far away 
and it is brave
and it is new 
it is brave. it is brave. it is brave. 
I'm allowed to say that it is brave. 
 
"it's just you and me, Newman." 
it's not just me and Newman 
but I think I'll need to keep saying that to feel brave. 
I'm allowed to feel brave. 

Joybeth Sullivan 
-------------
 
For some reason, I have been stumped for months now to write about bravery. When I think about the word, it’s hard to really express what the word means. Instead of a “definition,” moments of bravery that I have witnessed flood my mind. The moments when I watch the people around me display boldness and a willingness to step out of their comfort zones. The moments that stand out to me, as I think “I’m so proud of them for doing that” because I know that it might have been uncomfortable. A student speaking up for their friend against bullies. A friend walking up to a podium to speak at her mom’s funeral. A young 18 year old moving across the country for college, entering a new chapter of life and not knowing anyone. An eight year old singing in front of a crowd of over 500 people. A leader confidently speaking up for what they believe in, despite the fear of others not agreeing. A 22 year old traveling the world for a year to serve others and live out a calling on her life.
 
These days, it is so easy to conform to this world. To stay quiet. To hide behind a screen. To be content. To not challenge things. Yet, I am so thankful for the brave people around me that step out and are unafraid of being different from everyone else. They’re the people that are truly making a difference in this world. Let’s choose to be brave!

Morgan Maier 
-------------


I’m stuck. staring at a blank mind with blank thoughts only capable of creating a blank page. I keep writing and erasing and editing and writing and now I just scratched my whole poem because
“BRAVE”. 
 
Is it as enamoring as it sounds? 
 
I hope it is. 
Look at her. See how strong she is. How utterly fearless. See how she runs through the storm untouched. unafraid. 
I want to be her. 
 
But then what?
 
Someone calls you brave and for a moment, maybe- for a moment- you feel like you are. 
Maybe you feel like you are until you look around and you’re the girl running. running. running. 
the only  girl  running. 
and you're untouched. 
 
but you’re alone. 
I don’t feel so brave anymore. 
 
Oh Lord, teach me how to dance in the rain. 
and in my tears. 
Let me be touched by the cries of our broken world. 
because to be untouched,
is to be unknown. alone and unchanged. 
and I need to be changed, to be washed over and over by His water of abundant grace. 
 
teach me to be a child so enamored 
by the bravery of her savior, who forgives. 
And loves even me.
The girl tired from running alone. 
Give me that love. 
The only brave thing that can sustain us. 

Maddie Olsen 
-------------


Bravery: according to me

Bravery is…
 
Trying new things
Skating down a massive hill
 
Saying no to things that make you feel cruel
Saying yes to things you love
 
Loving yourself
Being authentically you
 
Rolling the windows down
Singing loudly to yourself
 
Traveling alone
Starting new adventures
 
Branching out
Trying new foods
 
Treating yourself
Eating alone
 
Not caring what other people think
Being satisfied with yourself
 
Stepping on a scale
Throwing the scale out the window
 
Loving your own skin
Being okay being alone
 
Fighting back
Seeking justice
 
Loving others
Helping people  
 
Reading aloud to other people
Writing poetry alone
 
  
Acknowledging your mistakes
Apologizing when you’re in the wrong
 
Showing emotions
Getting angry
 
Crying when your sad
Crying when your happy
 
Not smiling on demand
Smiling because you can’t help it
 
Making new friends
Keeping old ones
 
Calling your significant
Reaching out to your mom or dad
 
Appreciating the cloud shapes & colors
Surviving the day
 
Telling someone you love them
Leaving things behind when it’s toxic
 
Standing up for injustice
Being a voice to the voiceless
 
Stopping to smell the flowers
Choosing yourself 

Chapel White
 -------------

(There is an incredible art piece that goes with this piece)


A Letter To My Feelings
 
Dear feelings,
 
I am so sorry for always apologizing for your presence. You are all so beautiful and worth fighting for, but you also terrify me. Forgive me for always trying to hold you back from being yourselves and truly living. You are all so unique and I guess it scares me when you disagree with each other. But by ignoring your disagreements I have been hindering your growth. Even though I fear you sometimes, I will fight for you. Even though I don’t want to hear what you have to say sometimes I respect you enough to listen anyway. I give you room to be yourself and I will process what you’re saying to me. This also means I may not agree with you sometimes and that is okay. We can’t always have our way in this life. But even if I disagree with you I will always fight to let you live and be yourselves. Be patient with me because I’m trying to find the courage to fight. I will find it though. Feel free to bother me until you feel heard fully. I hope that we can be honest with each other. I hope we can listen to each other fully and respect what each other has to say even if we do not agree. I am so for you. Again, I’m sorry for all times I wasn’t for you.
 
Your greatest fan and protector,
Liz

Lizzie Sockwell 
-------------



When the grasses turn from lush green to pale nude – dead and
Dying, willfully submitting to the invisible winds, no matter their force. All
This time I’ve been searching for my backbone, knee deep in the thistle and wheat, perfect
Circles embossed on my cheek from the binoculars; proof of my undeniable desperation.
 
(It’s always been a pale piece of brush, crunched under my toes – must’ve broken on my foot’s way down).
 
She said my love is overwhelming so I gave it space while she kissed my neck and the
Nerves on the soles of my feet lit up like fire ant bites, informing me of their existence - similar to how they do when I think of that one piece of hair that can never seem to stay put, tucked behind your right ear (my left). The burn in my eyes filling my mouth with the taste of you.
 
(Or chocolate covered espresso beans rather, since I will never know what you actually taste like. I imagine its comparable).
 
Space? What is space? With a toothpick spine and this gargantuan mass of a love. How could I be farther? Orbiting my own existence with no plans to land – no manual or diagram. Watching from a neighboring galaxy as somehow knees bend and lungs fill; eight feet from a dumpster fire
With no recognition of the flame, no awareness of my own blistering skin.
 
(As it turns out fire extinguishers are much less powerful than we imagine them to be at age five, always needing more than they alone can offer).
 
Who would’ve thought I’d feel my body again for the first time in months on a bare male chest? The warmth sending a shock through my entire circuitry – calling each of my skin cells back to Earth, consciousness still locked outside. His unmoving sternum undetectably draped in pale,
Unmoving grasses (limbs). Fused to olive skin with the unmistakable paste of holy land.
 
        	(I forgot to take my allergy pill this morning -  maybe that’s why I can’t breathe).

Sami Lucas
-------------


Bravery Letters 

Today's the day
I'm brave enough
to write my story down
but please forgive me ahead of time for how the 
words come out
To my sisters - I am sorry
For everything I said
I see it now, we were just kids suffering in 
separate beds
We grew up in a perfect home from the outside
looking in but we heard the fights
those long winter nights
in walls so paper thin
To my parents - I've much to say thoughts running 
through my head I fear one day that you'll be gone
& I'll have words unsaid
I thought you didn't love me
and I was all to blame
so I made friends with Shadows & ghosts and 
tried to run away
I spent my twenties blaming you and maybe that's 
allowed Finally I'm feeling things
I'm feeling them out loud
To my friends - I love you so
for walking towards the light
in hopes that I would follow you out of my endless
night
And to my God, my Jesus
the one who saved my life
who brought me out of darkness into His glorious 
light
I am forever grateful
you've always been with me you call me child, 
beloved one ENOUGH. CHOSEN. WORTHY.

E
-------------

Digging

“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.”

Shovel in hand,
You make your way out
To the earth-spot.
You feel the blisters
Begin to smart on the handle.
Your skin is 
Opened Ground.

You’ve been digging for days,
Months.
But you feel different from when you started.
You started timidly,
Unable to give the shovel a good push.

When you arrive, you get to work.
Your muscles feel sore but strong,
Capable. 
Your hands feel tattered and useful,
Connected to your body.

You don’t quite know what you’re digging for,
But you know that digging is brave.
You know that the digger is unafraid of the underneath,
of the buried things being exposed to the sun.

So you dig.
For yourself.

For all the parts of you
That got lost in the dirt,
All the fossilized time between then and now.

The ground loosens. 

Between my own two hands
The shovel rests.
I’ll dig with it.  

Maggie Dryden
-------------

One more piece still coming, so stay tuned! 

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