Tag Archives: bravery

Midwinter Solstice 2017- Lessons from the dark

I was going to put the ‘Yule’ chapter of my Wheel of the Year series as this festival’s entry, but it needs one hell of a re-write and, quite frankly, I’m not in the mood to rewrite pages of material.

Thursday marked the Winter Solstice and it was a dark, damp cloudy day. I was inspired! I wrote a piece for all my friends in Facebook land, I like to spread hope where I can.

Light, dark, balance is what counts. Lean too much towards the former and we see everything with rose-tinted glasses. There is no wrong in the world. Ignorance is bliss. Lean too much towards the latter and, well, there is everything wrong with the world.

I managed to get out of the house to take a walk in Highfields Park, just outside of Beeston, Notts. Although by the time I got there, the sun had already set and dusk would soon give way to night. This reminded me of the Owl card that I had drawn at the beginning of 2017. The concept of ‘Owl Time‘ was not lost on me.

Realising I was rushing through. I stopped and took in 9 deep breaths and closing my eyes. After that, I heard the sound of something in the lake. I turned and found a whole group of ducks swimming by the side of the man in the wheelchair being pushed by another. The ducks recognised him and were expecting to be fed…. their disappointment was evident when they started waddling along the embankment and quacking amongst themselves. A black bird with a white bill and stripe on its forehead ‘Pinged’ at the ducks. The scene was reminiscent of a uniformed official trying to keep order of loud football fans and the fans ignoring him as they pass him by.

Later, as I walked, it was getting darker but I could see to my right two white specks moving uphill. Two hares making their way. Do hares hibernate? I didn’t think so.

I went onto the small island where, surrounded by six tall Yew trees, I performed my ‘Five Senses Meditation’. By now it was dark and yet through the clouds, I could see cracks of a lighter sky. Night had not yet fallen.

Going to the lakeside, I made sure I wasn’t giving a false impression to the ducks (no snacks from this two-legged who didn’t think to bring munchies for the birds), bent down toward the water and held my right hand over the surface. Here, I gave my respects to the Lady of the Lake. When I was done, my hand was warm. And it was time to go home to perform my Ovate ceremony to greet the Solstice.

On my way home, I could see a clearing in the clouds getting larger until I reached my front door and the clearing revealed the sky as a teal-greeny-blue, right on the clock as the Solstice begun.

I came away from the park with these two lessons:

The importance of stillness.

There is always life, both in winter and the dark.

And as I was performing my personal ceremony, I was taken by Awen as I said out aloud and made the following observations :

In the dark, there is rest.

In the dark, there is the hidden.

In the dark, there is fear.

With fear, you can either run, do nothing, or take a stand.

Sometimes we must run, there is nothing wrong with a tactical retreat to fight another day. Sometimes we can do nothing but let the threat pass over. But there comes a time when we cannot run and we cannot do nothing and we must make a stand.

I said out aloud my fear and decided to take it on with the lesson I have gained from this year: Nothing is Accomplished Without Action. It was then the candle was lit.

Sure enough, the day after the Solstice was bright, the sky was clear and the sun shone with brilliance.

Merry Yuletide, one and all!


“Twenty seconds of insane courage”

Back in 2015 I wrote this piece on exploring the concept of courage and bravery in a culture of fear.  It was strange reading it as I was becoming a different person back then.  I’ve grown since and become a lot more sure of myself.

I had taken the title quote so inspirational that it has actually become part of my being.  Back in that year, I was so sick of being scared that I leapt at every chance I was presented with, sometimes the courage paid off, other times…. I hurt people.  

Courage alone is of no use unless it is reflexive to do something in that moment.  Where there and then you can make a difference.  Courage sprung from lying to yourself and impatience is stupid; it ends up with other people being hurt and you being a dick! 

However, courage born from something to make a difference or to put right a situation where inaction and silence will lead to something worse is worth those twenty seconds of crazy! 

Very recently, I dared to ask a complete stranger out for a date. 

I was looking at a food menu through the glass window of a sandwich shop when, in my peripheral vision, a customer walked in then a few moments later stuck her head out of the door telling me to “Come in, it’s lovely!” Invitation by a cute blonde wearing hipster glasses? How could I resist? So I went in and placed my order.  Blonde Hipster Girl turned around and flashed me a smile (she was very cute) and I started conversation by asking if this was her regular place to go.  She told me she used to come here all the time until she got fat.  She wasn’t fat at all, curvy, sure- I love curves on a woman! And so I laughed along with her, thanked her for her advice, collected my order (hers was taking longer to prepare) and went for the bus to get me to work.  It wasn’t until I reached the bus stop and was halfway through eating my sandwich I thought to myself: “You idiot! You should have said ‘Fat? No way, you’re as cute as hell and I want to ask you out for dinner.’  So I kicked myself over that Friday morning encounter as a missed opportunity. 

Over the weekend, I made a plan. 

On Monday I went back. 

With a letter in an envelope labelled “To The Cute Blonde With Glasses.” In it, I explained that I was thankful for her giving me the push to go into the shop, that I wanted to ask her out for a date and that her next meal at the shop was on me (I paid for it in advance) and signed it with my name and mobile number.  This I passed on to the ladies behind the counter.  Job done, and like a spell once cast….. I let it be.  It’ll either work or it won’t. 

She replied the next day! 

Through the medium of Whatsapp, I received a message from the ‘Cute Blonde With Glasses’ kindly explaining she had just started seeing someone.  She also told me the letter was cute and that things like this only ever happened in movies, and I should keep doing what I do as it made her year.  Oh, and that she gave the money back for the lunch I bought her as she felt guilty. 

And you know what?  I was fine with that.  Totally and truly.  It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping, but I knew it would be one of the few that came to mind.  I’m still glad I took the chance and feel the better for it.  What happens now?  Simple, I let it go and should I come across another opportunity, you can be damn sure I’ll give in to those crazy 20 seconds.  It all comes down to the fact if you don’t ask, you don’t know.  Would I rather have left it and wondered what would have happened if I never did something about it?  I’ve wasted far too much of my life making that mistake.

Go out there step out of your comfort zone and do something amazing and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel great for daring to take a shot! 

Image from pinterest.com

‘Hear Me Roar’

I have recently come across a break down of ancient Irish law (Brehon) which shows nine ‘virtues’:


I could do a whole post on them, breaking them down further and explore their meanings and definitions, but I’ll do that another time.

Right now, I want to focus on just one of those virtues… Courage.

Have you ever been inspired by a sentance or a phrase? Maybe even just two or three words that seem to shout out to you and give you the kick up the ass needed?

Mine came from a tattoo.

More accurately, it’s a quote from a movie that I read on someone’s arm.

Artemis had a friend round, Sandy, who stayed with us for a couple of days.  We were chatting and seeing the tattoos on her arms, I asked if I could read the words on one of them.  And when I did, it was exactly what I needed to hear…. If reading can be classed as listening.  And here it is:

Picture of Sandy and her tattoo, used with kind permission of Sandy... I owe her pizza for this!
Picture of Sandy and her tattoo, used with kind permission of Sandy… I owe her pizza for this!

Full Quote: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. “
Benjamin Mee, ‘We Bought A Zoo’.

Or as Sandy put it: “… to stop being a pussy…

I have never seen the movie, as someone who worries a lot (especially about things that haven’t even happened!), this has stuck with me.  It has become my mantra for 2015.  And it is sooooo true!

We live in an age of fear.  Fear of not being accepted, fear of offending someone, fear of the future, fear of being hurt.  Fear of war, fear of being sued, fear of doing the right thing (because we end up being accused if we do… If you believe what the Newspapers say, anyway).

Courage is something that is seriously lacking in our world, boy do we need it!

One of the reasons I look to the past is that there are tales of Courage and heroism, and not all of them are centred around men and the ideology of the Male Principle.  To turn around and do what is right, to do the thing no one else can or will, to make a stand.  That takes courage.

I’m not saying we need to start running around being reckless or stupid, but what would happen if we all started acting bravely? What if we dared, on a day by day basis, to have ourselves of 20 seconds of courage?

You know the ones, right? It’s that feeling in the back of your head and in your gut.  Something happens and for a moment the world stops.  You know you need to act… Do you?

There are a number of occasions that I remember where I should have acted, but didn’t.  I believe that courage can be built up, if we have the will to do something… DO IT! 20 seconds.  That’s a lifetime in a split moment.  Don’t waste it.

Tell someone ‘No’, say ‘Yes’ to something that you’d normally be scared of.  Dare to step in when your friends argue, tell that girl you have a crush on that she’s beautiful, go and do that thing you’ve always been wanting to do but never have done (if not now, then when?).

I’m done with being unsure, like the Lion from The Wizard of Oz once he realised he had his courage already within, it is time to ROAR! *  It’s time to stop reacting and start acting.  20 seconds…. That’s all it takes.

Photo by Christian Dubstep
Photo by Christian Dubstep

*Yeah, I took the title from the Lannister family motto from Game of Thrones… Wat’cha gonna do!?