be brave

If I may, I’d like to tell you a story. Rather today is just the first part of the story…Anyway, it is a true story, and it is a story in progress. It is important because of the journey. It is important because of the lessons I have learned. Some of you know parts of the story, some of you don’t know any of it. I ask you to indulge me regardless – I think there is a lesson in here for most.

It is a story about a brain tumor, a nonprofit and a desire to repay kindness and love.  This is the first leg of this journey….my first three lessons.

I left the middle school classroom {with finality} last spring after 15 years of amazing opportunities to educate middle school kids. It took me three years to totally walk away – the single most difficult decision I ever made in my life. It is also proving to be the single BEST decision in my life. Funny how that so often happens – the difficult choices, the ones we agonize over, try to deny and change, the ones we resist are often the decisions that are the most right. It is about listening, isn’t it? Listening to our inner voice. It is about doing one of the hardest things we can do – trusting ourselves. Lesson one. Listen.

If I am being totally honest, the seeds for change were there for me for years. I simply didn’t know what to do with this deep down voice that kept telling me my place was someplace different, someplace bigger. I never had a desire to leave the process of educating middle school children, and I still don’t. I am lucky enough to know that this is what I am meant to do. But I wasn’t BRAVE. I never thought I needed to be BRAVE. No one ever told me to be BRAVE. I am ambitious, smart, hard working, positive, successful, enthusiastic blah blah blah. But brave? Not yet – but certainly getting there. Lesson two. Be BRAVE.

Three years ago life decided it was time for me to be BRAVE. You don’t expect a 39 year old man {my husband}, a healthy, vibrant man, to be diagnosed with a brain tumor. You just don’t. High cholesterol, sure. Brain tumor. No way. But it happens. Suddenly I was called, very unwillingly, to be BRAVE.

Bravery does not come overnight, I can promise you that. In fact, the desire for life to return to normal, to go back to life before the f-ing tumor, for life to be easy again…. is a powerful pull. It digs into your psyche and speaks the awful words that nothing will ever be the same again, nothing will ever be good again. It can lull you into complacency and worse places. Life seems a bit more grey, a bit stale. Everything is different, and it was made different by something terrible and out of my control.

As it turns out my husband has one of the better types of brain tumors out there, at least in the short run – small, slow growing, relatively stable. So we, suddenly, became LUCKY.

What do you do when life tells you “you are BRAVE and you are LUCKY”?

I looked around and found my children standing right in front of me. My girl, 11, and my boy, 9. They watched me for my reaction to this life event. They took their cues from me. I knew this, and I honored it. I spoke honestly to them about the situation at hand and promised myself not to burden them with the curse of the future and what it may hold. We didn’t dwell but we didn’t hide from the tumor, either. We made light of things when we could, and we kept moving forward. I used words like lucky and blessed and hopeful and happy a lot. I soon realized that I believed deeply all of these …it wasn’t just lip service. Lesson three. Allow yourself – give yourself permission – to laugh and to be happy.  No.  Matter.  What.

It become overwhelmingly important for me to show everyone that this brain tumor! this f-ing tumor, didn’t stand a chance when it came to my life and my family. It would never be in control, it would never call the shots…. I began to be BRAVE.

The next three years unfold in a messy, tangled pursuit of finding myself, my place in the world, my peace ….

4 thoughts on “Be BRAVE

  1. Can your next post be about how fantastically and awesomely strong you are? Maybe those of us who think so should be be the ones to acknowledge that!! I sure do. This was an incredible read, Trish! Definitely words to live by – no matter what your circumstances in life are. Thanks for sharing


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