True Bravery

Is When You’re Afraid, and You Do It Anyway

“Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong.” Fredrik Backman

“Good morning Grammie.”

For the last four days, I have opened my eyes to this message most mornings in the form of a text. My granddaughter has repurposed her mother’s old phone, she doesn’t have an account, but my daughter set up the phone, enabling Audrey to text a few people via email.

I have to admit. Her messages ground me. They are simple, direct, and concise, unencumbered by ulterior motives, mixed messages, or passive-aggressive schemes. Am I hanging some dirty laundry on the line? Yes, I am, and I bet I’m not alone.

The messages go something like this: 

Audrey, “I love you so much.” (with a heart emoji)

Grammie, “I love you more.” (with a heart emoji)

Audrey, “I love you to infinity.” (with 4 heart emojis)

Grammie, “I love you to the moon and back.” (moon emoji)

This mutual adoration club abruptly stops from the time she leaves for school until she returns home in the late afternoon. 

Then it starts up again with a heart emoji or a message of love.

One time I asked her how her day was going, and she responded, “good.” 

So damn refreshing. 

And by the way, happy International Women’s Day. 

We are the product of many things, are we not? Biology and lineage, grit and humor, water and air, but also the summation of all our fears and perceived boundaries. For me, it is also the grandmothers, their blood pounding through my veins, and the knowledge that their grasp was not meant to hold me back, but instead, to hold me together. 

It is ever so clear to me now. 

I admit I’m clinging to any form of simplicity as my life spins erratically out of control. Okay, not out of control, but outside of my comfort zone, which is narrow and compact, founded on years of prudence (not to be confused with prunes) and restraint. Yes, I come from a long line of martyrs and wannabe saints. What can you do?

I’m doing things I never dreamed I would do, and it’s forcing me to Grow, Damn It (sorry, couldn’t resist). It’s as if I’m trying to find my way out of the Winchester Mystery House, in the dark, during a catastrophic storm. 

If you know anything about this mysterious house or Sarah Winchester herself, you’ll know that she built corridors that twist and turn but go nowhere, barren stairwells, and obscure doors that open to solid walls. 

She was trying to outrun her fears, but as we all know, this is not possible. 

They’ll find you. Eleanor Roosevelt says you should do one thing every day that scares you. I thought looking in the mirror every damn morning qualified, but apparently, she meant challenging, not startling. 

I notice how my fears follow me around as if a shadow, their familiarity is unnerving, and in the early evening, they stretch, reconfigure, and appear deformed. 

They say fear is just an illusion, but I think she’s pretty damn realistic, one that masquerades as imposture syndrome when it suits her. The trick is to keep moving forward despite the pounding of my heart or the screaming in my head, “who are you trying to kid, turn around before it’s too late.” 

I read somewhere that life is a series of events, and if you step back, you will see how they are connected. They might seem random, but they’re actually linked, a sequence of opportunities designed to demonstrate your courage and grit. Why am I just getting this now?

I watched Audrey recite a script today at school. She was acting as an art docent, and each child represented a famous artist, explaining not only their artistic style but a little about their history. She’s been practicing this speech for weeks. I’ve witnessed it at least a dozen times. But today, in the classroom, with twenty sets of parents (grandparents and great-grandparents) in the audience, I could see she was nervous. But she did it anyway, with every recitation, her voice grew stronger, along with her confidence.

It’s interesting how fear shoves its way to the forefront of our minds, threatening judgment and humiliation should we stumble over a word or, God forbid, forget our lines. But what I noticed is most people are much kinder than we expect, tolerant of our foibles, and generous with their encouragement.

Those who are angry, jealous, or mean, are not worth your precious time, move on, create some distance.

We allow our fears to prosper when we base our decisions on them. We all have cumbersome scars, phobias we developed when we disappeared into ourselves, or aversions formed by tragic, sometimes inequitable, and unfair experiences. They not only exploit our insecurities and self-doubt but will ravage our future if we allow them to do so. 

For me, they trigger the false idea that love and acceptance have to be earned, that we have to prove ourselves, or, at the very least, sacrifice our own priorities in order to be loved. Why I continue to drag those same misconceptions around is both mysterious and exhausting. 

Remember the liquidation of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz? It’s the same with fear. Courage is as if a baptism. It dissolves that bitch.

I love what Ruth Bader Ginsburg said (thank you, Rachael, for posting). She said, “whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.” And this is going to take our collective courage.

Aw, to be young again, to know unconditional love, to trust in the unknown, to feel omnipotent, with an endless future stretching out before you, yet to be imagined. Audrey, Cora, and Sienna remind me of where I started, where I’m going, and when I veer off course.

This is the blessing of being a grandmother. You lay down tracks whether you are aware of it or not because you are linked, as if a train, to your legacy. 

When I was young, I never let my inabilities get in the way of what I wanted to do. Like expressing my needs without a strong vocabulary, finding a friend in a room full of strangers, or riding a bike without training wheels. 

You just did it. 

I recently told my publisher when he scolded me for not referring to my press kit before asking questions. I said, “the publishing industry is like learning a new language. There are all these words I’m suddenly expected to recognize, but they have no context. It’s daunting.” 

I might be stumbling around this Winchester Mystery House of the publishing industry, but I’m doing it anyway because fear is not going to get the last word.

I tried to sell my book to a bookstore. Seems like a good fit? I have a book, and you have a bookstore, but nothing could be further from the truth. No wonder places like Amazon are thriving, and our local bookstores are struggling to survive. 

I finally convinced Robin Stern to place a few of my books at Books Inc. If anyone needs a copy. Grab one, they are signed, you’ll be supporting a small business, and the truth is I want to prove Jeff wrong. 

I’m still trying to make sense of this world, to find my purpose, and then I remember when I was young, I used to find it in literature, embedded in the words. As Lao Tza claims, being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

“Good morning Grammie.”

“I love you.”

“I love you more.”

I’m Living in the Gap, trying to be the heroine in my own life for Audrey, Cora, and Sienna.

Talk about courage. I did a podcast, link here if you want to listen.

Link to Grow Damn It if you want to order from Jeff.

Or Link to Books Inc. at The Pruneyard.

Also available at Black Rose Writing here.


Leave a Comment

  1. I understand the fear of leaving your comfort zone. You’re figuring it all out. Two times I left my comfort zone (besides moving) was speaking to a swim team. Because of my SwimSwam parenting tips, a coach near Sacramento invited me to speak to his swim parents. I said yes and worked in a vacation with my kids in Berkeley. My son went with me and it was so comforting to have him there. Then I signed up for a swim meet, my first one since I was five. It was Masters Nationals! My daughter was with me, holding my towel, helping me in and out of the warm up lanes. With love of family we can do it! Thanks for the great story today and keep up the inspiring work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You really have left your comfort level behind many a time. I love talking to kids, girl scouts, and high schoolers but I am petrified of talking to the parents. Back to school night was always extremely difficult for me when I was teaching. And you had to get up in front of people you never met and explain parenting tips to parents of atheletes! Yikes. And then you swam competitively? I can’t imagine! You are so courageous. I can’t agree with you more, when someone you love stands with you it is as if they carry half the burden and fear. Thanks for adding to our understanding of courage and fear. I so appreciate your comment. Hugs, C


      1. Thank you! Loved ones do help! In the swim meet, I came in DFL as my daughter called it for my age group. (Dead something last.) Swim terms? But I did it! You’ve got experience public speaking as teacher. That is one of my biggest fears. I’m excited to hear more about your marketing journey.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The world of book publishing was a mystery to me before I started blogging. Over the years I have read of the struggles, the occasional success, and just how long an author’s journey can be. Good luck on that journey, Cheryl.
    (Thanks for the link, I had never heard of The Winchester House.)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The publishing industry is indeed a world unto its own. I guess I expected a lot of hand holding and unsolicited guidance because you have no idea what to ask. So I’m starting to understand that this is more of a leisurely journey, no amount of marketing, begging, and peddling is going to make one ounce of difference. I appreciate the good wishes Pete! And glad you got to explore the Winchester Mystery House, it’s only a few miles from where I live. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unrelated to your blog, but one of my friends is on holiday in San Diego this week. He was amazed to see people living in their cars in the harbour car park opposite his hotel.
        Also the price of a bag of Kettle Chips at $5. They are only £2 here for the same size bag. America used to be so much cheaper than the UK in the 1990s.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We have a huge homeless population especially in places like San Diego where the weather is usually warm! As far as prices, everything has gone up in the states, but I didn’t realize we used to be cheaper? We’ve flipped! And it’s been raining here for months! It’s as if I live in England! Hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m rethinking my entire strategy, it’s either going to happen or not, my frantic efforts are as if a salmon trying to swim up stream. It’s not going to make a difference. Now Jeff Bezos is another story, he is the owner of Amazon, and I’m not happy with his algorithms. They are designed to bury the little guys. I might need to invest in a shovel. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a Grammy too, Cheryl. It’s my favorite nickname, and what a privilege to offer up that unconditional love and support to the younger generations – to leave tracks. A lovely post. Your granddaughter is adorable, and your love will continue to grow her wings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could not have said it better Diana, being a Grammie is one of my most beloved privileges! I’m telling you this life just keeps getting better and better! You say the sweetest things. And by the way, your review of Grow Damn It made me cry ~ repeatedly! Such thoughtful and generous words, it’s impossible to express my gratitude. Much love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I say thank God for the “good stuff,” because it makes everything seem insignificant and trivial. My daughter’s daughter, not in a million years could I have imagined her, or the potency of our relationship. What a gift. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you LA, publishing a book is not what I imagined in my naive dreams, the reality is the book business is tough and if you want to succeed you have to be smarter than the house. And the house always wins. Hugs, C


  4. Love your courage, Cheryl! And also how you are laying down tracks for your granddaughters. Beautiful!

    I’m also struck by how your fears seem bigger at night – mine too. And then we start again.

    And I love the link to the podcast — which is really, really awesome for anyone who wants to hear Cheryl’s fearless and wonderful voice!! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the early morning, after a moment of quiet and a hot cup of coffee, I feel as if I could do anything, but that definitely ebbs as the day flows. Regardless there is always important work to be done, tracks to lay, courage to muster! And speaking of courage, I’ve received lots of positive feedback on our podcast! They’re all relatives, but still! Thanks again Wynne, for inviting me on your program and making it so much damn fun! Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s the same trajectory as my courage!

        Ha, ha about the podcast — but not true. I’ve seen tons of positive comments from on the posts from people not at all related to you! 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your grandchildren are so lucky to have you! They will be strong, capable adults and my friend have ALOT to do with that. You are a gem. And I love how you threw your book title in this. So darn clever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, parenting kids has been an unexpected journey in that I believe they taught me more than I taught them. They stretched my patience, my endurance, my resilience. They made me question not only my values, but my priorities, my faith, and ultimately my ambition. I’m a completely different person than I was prior to kids. This new level, grandchildren, goes deeper. We’re so damn lucky! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, to be young! But somebody else’s young, please. Like yours–an unafraid young. I was afraid of everything when I was young, or almost everything. I’m only getting braver as I get older. By the time I have grandkids, I hope to be a total rock! Also–love that pic of you two at the top!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be young but completely unafraid could have it ‘s own set of consequences! But I agree, I am much more comfortable in my skin at 60 than I was at 20, which seems like it would be the opposite, but it’s not. My priorities have flipped, relationships have moved to the top of the list, especially when I tossed the corporate ladder over the fence. I’ve felt it and said it a million times, life keeps getting better and better! And by the way you are going to be a spectacular grandma! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “But she did it anyway, with every recitation, her voice grew stronger, along with her confidence.”

    I can only imagine how empowering it must have been for your sweet, brave granddaughter to have her sweet, brave grandmother listening, witnessing, cheering her on. And showing up bravely in your own daily life–there’s nothing like seeing a grownup doing what you as a child dream of doing–it’s the magic ticket. I remember this from being a kid myself. Keep leaving your bold, sure tracks for these beautiful women who’ll carry our future, Cheryl, and feel so proud of yourself for having left your mark and your handbook and your abiding love with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Ellen, I love the way you think, and the way you express your thoughts. We learned so much from the generations that came before us and I too remember carefully watching my mom, grandma, and aunts for hints of how to move in the world as a woman, wife and mother. Their examples were both good and bad but definitely reflected the cultural norms of their time. I think about that a lot because no doubt my grandkids will look back on my influence on their lives and it is my hope that the good will outweigh the deficits. All I know is love wins and knowledge that you were deeply loved makes all the difference. Love you my dear friend, hugs, C


    2. Oh, I think you have more grip on it all than you give yourself credit for Cheryl. The neatest aspect to your post was how you are experiencing how well adjusted families are in multigenerational environments. My time during summers staying with family in London taught me that, but the fruits of the lesson come much later.
      I am so glad to be reading about your life’s richness with your grandchildren so near.
      Best part?
      “Good morning Grammie.”

      “I love you.”

      “I love you more.”


      Blessings and hopes for a fabulous night’s sleep neighbor!



  8. “their grasp was not meant to hold me back, but instead, to hold me together. ”


    “Eleanor Roosevelt says you should do one thing every day that scares you. I thought looking in the mirror every damn morning qualified, but apparently, she meant challenging, not startling. ”


    “most people are much kinder than we expect, tolerant of our foibles, and generous with their encouragement.”

    There it is… one of the kindness myths debunked, right here on your blog.

    Love your work my friend.

    Inspired by your shipping. The world needs your heart and your humour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Daniel, just when I need it, your comment appears and those crazy insecurities that periodically rear their ugly heads are tamed, and recede. You somehow managed to pick up on some of my favorite lines and validate them. Thank you. If you pay attention you will be reminded again and again of the kindness of people, their tolerance, and generosity. Spreading this knowledge is key, it’s both your work and mine, because as you say the world need this. Hugs my dear friend, C


      1. “If you pay attention you will be reminded again and again of the kindness of people, their tolerance, and generosity. Spreading this knowledge is key, it’s both your work and mine, because as you say the world need this. Hugs my dear friend, C”

        It’s all here and it’s all perfect… especially the hugs! I looooove hugs, thank you 🙏🌻. Right backatcha!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You seem like a great grandparent and I am sure Audrey adores you. Good for her for being nervous but doing it anyway. Public speaking is scary but the more you do it the easier it gets. You are a very supportive grandparent. I never had that growing up or even now. Neither of my grandmothers were interested in my existence lol. Anyway, love those quotes you shared especially the RBG one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry I’m so late responding, I’m just seeing this one now. Thank you Pooja, I adore Audrey. She’s an amazing kid and I’m blown away that I get to be her Grandma! I would say it’s your grandparents loss not to have been interested and adoring of you. They missed out on an incredible person to love. Hugs my friend, C

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cheryl, I always love your posts. Your love of your family, your dedication to writing, your incredible humor all makes reading your work a lovely experience. I know the book will be a great success. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe, thank you LaDonna, that fills my heart. Writing is a lonely experience and the fact that you spend so much time in your head makes it hard to know if your work is resonating. So, thank you for calming those insecurities. Hugs,

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You are their hero, C. You are brave. Look what you’ve done! Look what they’ve SEEN you do. You quoted some of my favorite people. Coincidentally, I’m “Grammy K” and of course. “I love you more” and to infinity and back and more than the best steak in the world is also said! Comfort zones. They’re comfortable until you start to die inside! I’m still trying to market my little book. It’s hard! I hate marketing myself! I don’t have a publisher, but had a coach. Self-publishing was scary. In many ways, I’d love to take Flannel with Faith and write an adult book (a women’s form of devotion~but not? Different?) and I’m going to buy your book and cherish it, I know! Enjoy this long weekend and thank you for your patience with me as I’ve been MIA at your place! I love you more! 💛🥰💚💪🏻


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