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Blanket of Bravery & Gratitude

(This is my Gratitude Day Planner. I keep it next to my bed.)
I’m learning that life is a balance between being brave and being grateful. Well, it’s not that we need to be equal parts of both–be a little brave..then a little grateful…follow it up with a little brave..then wash, rinse, repeat!

No. Not exactly.

We need to knit the two together into a little soul blanket. When you start to reflect on it, the two actually go together perfectly like knit and pearl.

Yesterday I did something so small and minor that for me, took such great bravery. I offered to sew a costume for a little boy that is going to be in a parade tomorrow morning at his school. Ok–that part was easy…but what made me nervous and a bit uncomfortable was I was going over people’s houses I barely knew…and only knew casually from the Costa Rican parties I attend.

So here’s where I’m going to admit something about myself that I am terribly ashamed of but learned about myself this weekend:

I judged a book by its cover…and honestly, I didn’t even really take a good look at the cover even.

I was nervous to go to this family’s house because I had my own impression and ideas what the wife of the household would be like. She’s a native Costa Rican–a Tica with gorgeous black hair and a sexy-mama-style, a stay at home Mom, and keeps an extremely clean and pretty house. I’ve chatted with her from time to time, but never anything more then small talk. I knew that going to their home would turn into an all day affair if I didn’t come armed with a few excuses to bolt after taking measurements and notes on the little tike. Ticos are notorious for insisting on feeding you and then feeding you some more and right as your leaving–handing you food to take with you. What could I possibly have in common with this woman?

Yes, I am very ashamed and embarrassed to share my true thoughts and feelings. Very.

So, I made sure I ate something before I left so that my stomach wouldn’t accidentally growl too loud, I thought of what I would say after measuring the kiddo so I could leave, and I worked on pumping up my bravery so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable….uncomfortable of what? I’m not sure.

So what happened?

When I got there, it just wasn’t the family, but their friends and extended family too. They were already cooking for me…plantains…which I have to admit I’ll stay for!!!…and they were ever so excited and grateful that I was doing this for the cutie-pie first grader.

Read any travel guide on Costa Rica and they will all tell you the same thing…Ticos are known to be very open and incredibly nice people. They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and at home…and like I knew would happen…I couldn’t just slip in and slip out…I had to eat, then sit for awhile…then eat again!! But you know what. I don’t know what I was all afraid of. I don’t know why I judged and assumed that these people were going to be a certain way…or somehow be different from me. I’m actually really confused where these feelings stemmed from.

But what did happen, is that under our cultural differences, the wife and I were EXTREMELY alike. Happens that she left Costa Rica in her early twenties to come to America because she didn’t feel like she fit in to her family’s traditional Roman Catholic beliefs. She was searching. On a journey…and she did it all alone—not very suppressedhousewifey at all, huh?!?!

She and her husband and children all belong to the Buddhist temple here in Phoenix. She showed me the beautiful alter in their house. They meditate together and do tons of volunteer work that she calls karma. I could go on and on and on…and truthfully, a visit I hoped would go no longer then a half hour, to my great pleasure, lasted over eight!!

So what do all my little insecurities have to do with being brave and being grateful? How do these two things slide on the knitting needles of our life?

Well, first and foremost, we need to be GRATEFUL for the things that scare us. Weird concept, isn’t it? Those things that scare us are little vitamins for our soul that help us grow–even if some of them are the size of horse pills. They cleanse us by bringing forth issues and insecurities we didn’t realize we even had. Why was I so afraid to go by these people’s home? Why was I so quick to judge and assume a stereo type? Why did I waste so much energy creating an escape route in my head–when all I needed to do was relax?

Let’s be honest here–we do this all the time–and possibly not even realize that its fear we are feeling–and that the answer is that knitted blanket of bravery and gratitude. How often do we drive to work just dreading it? (Or maybe that one is just me!!) Think of all the scenarios we run through our minds to get us out of our day. That stuff is fear.

So let’s face it too, and actually pat ourselves on the back here, we are all very brave. Brave when we step out of that car and start our work day. Brave when we turn down that piece of chocolate cake even though you think you’re dieing for it. Brave when we start to take action into our dreams. Brave when we post on our blogs…brave when we even post comments. Our veins our flowing with bravery…even though our little minds like to send out its bullies to make us think not.

That’s why gratitude needs to be knitted with bravery. There’s something about the two that creates a strong bond. Every time I pour myself out like this in a post…it takes super bravery, believe me…I’m gonna read and reread this post and then hover over that “publish button” for awhile before these words become public domain. But I do it anyways…with gratitude, knowing that these words will drift into the hearts of others…and my bravery will create a knitted blanket for others to share. Just by being honest..just by being brave.

The more you are grateful..the easier it is to be brave–because those things you are afraid of, become less scary and actually start to spell themselves out to you as answers and oracles. And the more you are brave…the more you have to be grateful for.

So that is why, since I started the 100 Day Reality Challenge thirty days ago I started keeping a day planner next to my bed. Every night since then I write the things I am grateful for in the lined area that most use for lists and plans.

It’s my little prayer to end the day.
It’s my little vitamin before falling asleep.

It’s how I know everything is always going to be ok.
It’s my little soul blanket of bravery and gratitude.

Peace & Love.
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