on courage 



Her vision was simple: build a wall, paint it with chalkboard paint, ask passersby to register what they wish they had the courage to do.

The response has been inspiring.

I’m used to Nancy Belmont, who also happens to be my best friend, finding the essence of the human spirit in every person, place, moment. In that regard, I’m not surprised at the overwhelming response to the Courage Wall she built on Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia. But yet, I am surprised.

I may write a blog where I often confess my greatest personal challenges, but I’m a private person by nature. The interwebs provide a firewall, a degree of separation between my writing and the reader. I can make confessions in this medium I wouldn’t make in real life. I can do this because if I touch one person, it’s worth any angst I suffered getting the words out.

But for some reason, the Courage Wall is different. I’ve yet to write on it, though I have some ideas of what I would commit to chalk:

I wish I had the courage to refer to myself as a writer and not as an aspiring writer.

I wish I had the courage to open my heart to love.

I wish I had the courage to do a head stand.

I walk by the wall every time I teach or take a yoga class at Mind the Mat. And each time, my eyes catch a new message that makes me cry:

I wish I had the courage to not be a bully.

I wish I had the courage to let go.

Or my younger son’s tear-inducing entry: I wish I had the courage to fit in at school.

It’s a big deal to spell out in pastel chalk that which holds you back. And I hope every person who dares to reveal a piece of his or herself finds peace and can take the first steps toward acquiring the needed courage to move forward confidently.

I want Nancy to realize the extent to which she touched the lives of a community. We will not be able to measure how many people used the wall as a first step toward perusing their greatest desire but I can confidently declare the Courage Wall to be just the conversation piece many of us need.

Thank you to all those who shared. Thank you, Nancy, for having the courage to follow through with your vision. Your courage begets our courage. And as a result, we live big.

community spirit

When your house is five miles from a major city, and that major city is Washington, DC, you consider yourself to live in an urban area.

Or at least I do.

Cheverly (where is that?) is on a metro line, inside the beltway, dubbed “Capitol Hill East” by those Hill denizens who belong to our pool. Nestled between route 50 and I-295, it isn’t exactly Bedford Falls.

(Well, except for the wildlife. If I catch another raccoon, I’m making a Davy Crocket hat.)

Since posting to our little Cheverly listserve about the long lost Fluffy, I’ve been astonished by the huge small town calibre level of response. I immediately got a phone call from a woman offering to help. She sent me a link on finding lost cats, borrowed on my behalf the two traps I’ve been using (and gave me a tutorial on how to use them) and checks on our status everyday. People have responded to our “lost kitty” signs with concern, support and leads. And when the Cheverly Police called to tell me they took down said signs because posting is not legal, people offered to put yard signs on their lawns.

Yesterday, I received a phone call (and last night, a visit) from my Town Councilwoman offering her services to help.

And that’s not to mention the support all my friends are extending. From exploring abandoned burned out houses with me to walking/running the neighborhood with eyes wide open, everyone has responded in a heartwarming way.

I do believe I’m as overwhelmed by the outpouring of community spirit as I imagine Fluffy is by the Great Outdoors.

Warriors 2.0

I have written before about the “book club for home improvement” my friends started and graciously invited me to join in 2012. Ten families. Ten months. We each get one turn to have four hours (or more) of help of raising the barn of our choosing.

I had my first turn in August 2012. Today is my 2013 turn.

And what a lovely day it is. I was nervous because the weather has been more erratic than my sex life (hot, cold, hot, cold) but that sassy minx Mother Nature appears to have delivered a beaut for us today, a day when I plan to tackle that beast of a yard my house rests upon.

I can’t predict exactly what we will accomplish but there will be a chainsaw involved.

Regardless of what gets checked off the list, I am looking forward to a day with my friends, and if last year’s Warriors day serves as any guide, I will cry tears of joy when it’s all over.

There will be after photos. Of the work, not the tears.

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