A few years ago, I made a very courageous change in my life. I moved from the city of Los Angeles, where I had lived my entire life, to a lovely little soulful town in Southern Oregon. I simply packed up my car, drove and didn’t look back. Well, that may be oversimplifying the move just a bit, but it was definitely, by far, the most liberating and courageous thing I have done in my life.
What gave me the courage to make this move? It was the deep, unfaltering faith and knowing in my heart that something wonderful was waiting for me in Oregon – beauty, nature, peace – all things that my soul had craved for many, many years. Albeit, I was scared to death to make this change – to step into the unknown. I trusted my heart, my Higher Self, with all fortitude, and let it lead my way, bravely, into my new life.
Today, I am seated at my desk, writing this essay, in a small cottage, nestled high up in the lush forested hills of Ashland, Oregon. I’m gazing out a picturesque window, at a gorgeous purple sunset settling over the mountains to the north, while a woodpecker is pecking away on a tree outside, serenading me and my cats, who are gathered, to glimpse a group of five antlered deer stroll by. For me, life does not get better than this.
It is hard to believe that only six months ago, I was living my life in the same, familiar, “status quo” fashion that I had known for the last thirty-something years. Admittedly, with the knowledge that the “big city” lifestyle of Los Angeles was no longer aligned with my soul, for perhaps the last five to ten of those years.
Sitting here beside me at my desk is a small glass affirmation stone, and painted on its surface with silver ink is the word, “Courage.” It is a small, but meaningful, reminder of the courageous changes I have made this year. I purchased this precious stone for myself this past December, while shopping for the perfect Christmas gift for a dear friend in an inspirational 12-step store. I knew the instant I laid my eyes on the little piece of green glass that it was going to be an important “stepping stone” in my life.
I remember reaching into the store’s display – a large bowl, which held a sea of colored glass stones, each with a different word of comfort, to retrieve my special pebble. I quickly slipped it into my palm, cradled it tightly, and affirmed quietly in my mind that the coming year would be a year of great courage.
So, with this brave little stone in hand, the word, “courage,” became my mantra for the New Year. I can remember picking up the stone from time to time and rubbing its smooth glassy surface, with the hope, perhaps, that some of the silver inked affirmation would, literally, rub off on me.
I had known for some time that changes needed to be made in my life, but the question had always been: “How do I muster up the courage to make the changes that I so desperately want to make?”
But, I suppose the greater question of, “What will happen to me if I don’t find the courage to make these changes?” is what finally got me moving.
Fear and the Status Quo
What happens if we don’t heed the wisdom in our hearts that may be telling us it’s time for a change?
We risk getting stuck in a life-long rut and living a safe, “status quo” life, which may remain the same without any change for years, and, worse yet, a life in which, we may never realize our fullest happiness and potential.
“I firmly believe the key difference between living a life fulfilled and a life of status quo is courage. Unless we find the courage to follow our Heart’s Wisdom – the wisdom of our Highest Self – we may never know the fullest joy that the Universe has in store for us.” –Valerie Rickel
I think we all have this inner knowing – a deep knowledge at our very core. Some of us choose to listen, honor and be guided by it, and others simply mask it, or ignore it, out of fear of change, not realizing what a miraculous gift this Inner Truth truly is.
But, it takes courage to acknowledge our Truth, and, of course, even greater courage to follow its wisdom. But, for me, a life lived not following my Heart’s Wisdom is not a life worth living.
The courage to listen to our hearts, to be in touch with our deepest wisdom, and to make change based on this knowledge, is what living – being truly alive – is all about. It’s being actively engaged in life. If we choose not to listen and tune out our Inner Truth, we risk living a numb existence, hidden from much of the beauty and possibility that the Universe wants to make ours.
So, where do we go to look for courage when we are having difficulty finding it within ourselves?
I believe we find courage in faith. If we have faith that God/Goddess/Universe want only the very best for us and our lives, then we need not have any fear. We can step out courageously into life, creating the changes that we so deeply desire, with the firm faith and knowing that we are loved and guided by the Highest Good.
Difficulty as a Litmus Test for Courage
For me, a good litmus test for courage is the degree of difficulty I find in making a change that I know deeply in my heart I want to make. If I am creating change that is deeply aligned with who I am, but I am finding it difficult, then I know that I am doing something courageous.
In looking back over my life, and this past year, especially, it is those extremely difficult, oftentimes painful, brave achievements that I am most proud of, and make me feel like an active, courageous participant in my life and co-creator with God and the Universe.
In my opinion, there is nothing as powerful as the wonderful feeling – the afterglow, if you will – of making a courageous change. When we are creating a life that is truly aligned with our Highest Truth, any fear, pain or difficulty is well worth it. The sheer joy and intrinsic rewards found in living a brave, fulfilled and actively engaged life, is what living a courageous life is all about.
I hope my essay has helped give you the encouragement to begin making courageous changes based on the Wisdom and Truth in your heart. As for me, well, I’m still basking in the afterglow. I look forward to making many more courageous changes during my lifetime and continuing to discover the many wondrous gifts and possibilities that the Universe has in store for me.
© Copyright Valerie Rickel.