Practicing Boldness


Thank you to a friend for submitting the poem below. At first read, it felt angry. Second read a little less. Third read I agree. Enough is enough with all my have-to’s and better-nots.


I can put up with a lot before I say enough. It takes something big to make me angry. Angry enough to say stop. I have a lot of patience until enough is enough.


I’m tired of running from myself, denying my worth and turning my head away from the mirror. I’m tired of excuses keeping me less than and powerless. I am more than my stories and memories.


These thoughts are set in my jaw as I feel my resolve. I’m done pretending I’m less than because of fear. I’m done worrying what others think. I’m tired of scouting ahead making sure all is well before I move forward. I’m tired of the struggle.


Sure, I’ll retreat at times. I’ll feel fear. I’ll doubt. And I have the right to be all of me without less-than thinking. I have a right to my opinions. I have a right to be wrong. I have a right to be right. I have a right.


It’s time to be me and stop playing the denial game. I listen to inner wisdom. I practice boldness. I take chances. I feel support from my community. I rise beyond my perceived limits. I speak my truth. I advocate for my needs. I advocate for my loved ones. I take care of me and I am fully present in my life.


Advice to Myself by Louise Erdrich from Original Fire


Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor. Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster. Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup. Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins. Don’t even sew on a button.


Let the wind have its way, then the earth that invades as dust and then the dead foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch. Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.


Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry who uses whose toothbrush or if anything matches, at all.


Except one word to another. Or a thought. Pursue the authentic-decide first what is authentic, then go after it with all your heart.


Your heart, that place you don’t even think of cleaning out. That closet stuffed with savage mementos.


Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever, or weep over anything at all that breaks.


Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life and talk to the dead who drift in through the screened windows, who collect patiently on the tops of food jars and books. Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything except what destroys the insulation between yourself and your experience or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters this ruse you call necessity.


Participants' Reflections


  • Thank you for the reading. I found it refreshing in all of its incredible description. It went beyond self-care that we often talk about, and for me, it brought up the question of self-honor. Even when it does look messy, to honor myself and allowing it all to be there. Thank you.

  • Thank you for that reading. It brought me on one of my journeys. Starting with Rumi’s Guesthouse poem where he says whoever comes, invite them in. That poem today felt like all the different parts of me that I am not excited about inviting in, but they are there. Then in my journey, I went to my daughter who is a farmer and the underbelly of the earth. And what she embraces on a daily basis, the bugs, the roots. It’s extraordinary. I appreciate her ability to go to the underbelly of the earth and embrace it—the plants grow because of that kind of work in the soil.

  • Thank you so much for this reading and poem. It spoke to me about being one’s authentic self but having all these things of necessity we have to put up with. Like people, things I have to do even though I don’t want to, or they don’t feed me, like having Thanksgiving dinner with people I don’t like. All these things we call necessity and separating from those things that are not part of my authentic self. And, the other day someone talked about being at an uncomfortable event, and she brought her authenticity into it. That is the step beyond. It takes discernment.

  • It brought up for me the awareness. Things that I thought were part of me that weren’t. Things I did but didn’t feel right about, like bathing a crying baby in the kitchen sink. We were taught to bathe a baby before or after a feeding. But I pulled out a bottle and fed the baby during the bath, and she was happy. It’s recognizing and discerning and having the courage to question and step out.

  • I appreciated the reading and the poem. I’m making a transition into a new community and I’m realizing there are aspects I am uncomfortable with. I’m not used to living in an apartment. Sometimes people gather in the lobby and have a need to converse and connect. I don’t. I want anonymity going in and out. So I avoid them. I’m clear enough to understand what I want. I observe myself and wonder why it is so difficult to say hi. This transition is touching part of me that I am listening to. It’s a slippery slope. I also don’t want to be pressured into conforming to others’ opinions. I’m trying to not be rigid. One of my takeaways today is that if I label it as something other than rigid, it’s okay. I’m comfortable with how I am now. I’m still assimilating. Discernment is happening all the time.

  • This poem was a lot of fun. We should keep it up. I sent a text to a friend at the end of a family event that was a bit much. In my text, I made a mathematics joke, like enough. When we come across people that don’t want to speak with us and who aren’t angry with us and who are doing life their own way, we shouldn’t take offense.

  • Don Miguel Ruiz says in the four agreements ‘don’t take things personally.’

  • The picture today is a perfect example of what I felt when I read the poem and wrote my piece.

  • Thank you very much. Each comment today has been so rich. I was asked to play guitar and sing for an alternative church service. I prepared to do it this past weekend but I hadn’t practiced wearing a mask. I found as I was singing and the amount of air I was getting was very limited. By the end of the third song, I felt like I was going to pass out. I realized I needed to do this differently, perhaps with a face shield. Or not sing. A nice defining line based on discomfort.

  • I loved your reading and that poem. The rotten celery stuck with me because I’m often throwing rotten celery out. The poem made me anxious because my mother was a neat freak and I have that tendency as well. The whole idea that I have to earn my time to be creative and be in a quiet space has a lot to do with how organized I am and how much I’ve done to be productive. I discount my creativity as not being productive. I heard an interview with a young woman who researches jumping spiders. Why do I not feel worthy of doing my artwork or music, that these things aren’t worthy of my time. It’s a big deal to me right now. I appreciate your words and poem. Thank you.

  • I call it practicing boldness. Be bold and forge ahead. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for this poem. It has its extremes but there’s something comforting and rebellious about it. I hope you all have a gentle day with awareness and discernment, stretching boundaries and taking chances.