You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. Michelle Obama
It was a whim, an afterthought, a last minute purchase from Lowes, the multi-colored plastic sled that Grandpa Cam bought for four-year-old grandson Viren who had traveled from Idaho with his parents for a holiday visit in Upper Michigan. It wasn’t a fancy sled, and none of us expected it to be a pre-Christmas hit, but the snow had arrived in Marquette County and the sledding hill at Al Quaal in Ishpeming that Viren’s dad had sailed down in his flying saucer when he was a boy was groomed and ready for a go. So that’s where we ended up, Viren, his Mom and his Dad and me, Grandma Helen, on the Tuesday afternoon before Christmas. The hill was steeper than I remembered, and bumpy, and we were alone on this particular afternoon, with our multi-colored plastic sled, and four-year-old Viren seemed way too young for such a flight. But fly down it he did, time after time, hardly waiting for us to set him straight, hardly waiting for the instructions we hollered into the wind. “Hang on tight! Keep your legs steady.” And we, the adults, laughed and shrieked as we ran down after him, and we prayed that this plastic multi-colored sled and the boy hanging on would eventually skid to a safe and happy halt.
I was content in the cheerleading role, as witness to my fearless grandson and his wild sailing capers, but he wanted more from me. He expected more from me. After all, I’m Grandma Helen, his partner in play. “Climb on, Grandma Helen!” he pleaded each time we set the sled atop the hill. “Climb on, Grandma Helen; you’ll like it!” He didn’t need the company. He was a happy sledder going solo. He just thought that it would be fun for the two of us to share in the adventure. Through several runs, I held off his pleas. “I might get hurt,” I said. “I’m scared,” I admitted. And I was scared, slightly scared of getting hurt, and really scared of this steep bumpy hill and the sheer unbridled untethered speed that this cheap little sled took on. And if I was really honest with myself, I also was scared that I was going to regret that my fear was holding me back from something that looked like a blast, an absolute out-of-control blast. And it was on the climb back up the hill after a multitude of Viren’s wild rides that he said to me the magic words, the ones I needed to hear. And he said them with the utmost sincerity. “Be brave, Grandma Helen. Be Brave!”
God!!! What is a Grandma supposed to do with that level of sincerity?!? He believed in me. Could I believe that purely in myself?!? Did I have the kind of courage it takes to look past a fear and admit that I did want to climb on board, that I did desire the experience of going full-throttle down that hill, that I didn’t want to live with regret? So, I, the gal who dips her toes into the water before the plunge, who snowplows down the steep ones on her cross-country skis, took a risk. With Viren’s words ringing in my ears, I just did it, plopped my bottom down on that plastic multi-colored plastic sled, wrapped my legs around Viren who rode the front and held onto those handles with heart and soul as Viren’s dad gave us the nudge, the nudge that set us flying. And it was like flying, flying over those bumps, flying above the ground, flying and shrieking and hooting and hollering and laughing and sailing and gliding farther than that little sled had ever slid before. It was wonderful. It was exhilarating. It was brave. And it stayed with me all afternoon and into the evening and through the week before Christmas and into another sail down the hill — the thrill of the ride, and the pride that I had done it, something that took courage, something that pushed me out of my comfort zone and over the edge.
“Be brave, Grandma Helen. Be brave!” I know that Viren was speaking to my soul, that it wasn’t just about the sled and the hill and that particular ride. He was calling me forth. And I’ve taken his words to heart and they live in me and here I stand, in the beginning of a fresh new year looking out on ground that has never been tread upon. In what ways will I allow myself to be brave? Sometimes it takes courage and a giant gulp to let the thrill bumps nudge me forward into a new challenge, something I’ve never done before. Sometimes it is speaking my truth when I know that others might not agree that calls on my courage. And always it is brave to go inward and breathe and find alignment with Source, to keep at it and at it and at it, to operate from this place, and to bring this level of empowerment and light out into the world on a daily basis. It is brave to be light-filled. It is brave to be joy-filled. It is brave to love unconditionally. It is brave to be sincere. It is brave to shriek and holler and have a blast flying down a hill. It is brave to have fun. I want to be brave.
Happy new year — and let’s be brave!