I have given this word a lot of thought lately. Truth is, I have always held a particular fondness for the word & for those I feel best represent the word. I suppose at other times in my life I have hoped to embrace this word or source myself from the essence of it. But lately, I have been given the title of brave, often. And I would like to set the record straight, as my definition isn’t matching up with how I see things. And it isn’t because I’m modest or cant accept a compliment!!! I know this because I have considered it at length. 🙂
My sister in love, in law, in spirit, is Randi Lyn Stoltz. I have had the distinct privilege of knowing her since she was in her mama’s belly. She is an EXTRA ordinary woman and to say that I admire her is a gross understatement. If you want to know what brave looks like, look at her.
She recently travelled to Congo, in Africa. She is there as an ambassador of On The Ground, the non-profit she works tirelessly for. She and a group of women voluntarily ran 7 full marathons every single day for a week!!!
I will pause for a moment so you can just take that in, truly, all the way in……
This in and of itself is so bad ass I cannot even relate to it. The toughness you must have– the faith in yourself, your mind and your body– is beyond my comprehension. To do this anywhere is a feat, she did a shorter run but similarly amazing in Palestine, well-known for its brutal landscape and the unstable political climate we are all well aware of thanks to ample media coverage. But Congo is THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR WOMEN and this is not so well known. That she and her teammates went there anyway is very brave. That she went despite all the negativity she encountered stateside that “it is crazy”, “what are you thinking”, “why are you doing this”– not to mention all the “there are so many people–women– who could use your help here in the US”….
She did it anyway…
Everyone has a story of how they did it, why, or what it represented for them. Randilyn has been on the front line of surviving enormous loss and supporting us every step of the way, everyday, while managing her own grief, her job, training for this run, micromanaging a movement for a country in desperate need– all with the signature smile of a Stoltz. This is beyond brave.
Yesterday she sent a message to me to send a little love on graduation day across continents and time zones, in the midst of recovering physically and emotionally. She was beyond sad that this time in our lives (graduation and awarding our first scholarship and all the open houses of Isaac’s friends) coincided with her run. She took the time to check in, just like she took the time to prepare a birthday gift for her boyfriend and a graduation gift for her cousin, in the days of chaos leading up to her departure where she also helped secure first aid items, visas, logistics for all the other runners.
This woman, sister, auntie, hero runs circles around me, literally and figuratively. She is one of my truest definitions of brave.
My reply to her checking in was classic Christina; humor and obliviousness. She asked how it’s been and i said “we both completed marathons this week”. And while mine was merely emotional and though at times felt unbearable, I was surrounded in security and love and rest whenever I needed it. She had to rely on herself– though there was a support team and camaraderie of runners and the brave and inspiring Congolese women, she had to source deep within the essence of her being to complete her mission. This is the epitome of brave, to me.
You can read more about The Run Across Congo and donate to an amazingly deserving cause by visiting:
http://onthegroundglobal.org/project-congo/ (The run is over, the campaign is not!)
As you can see, this is why I say that brave just isn’t the correct word for what I am!!! I haven’t found my word yet– I get it– I get why everyone says it and believe me, I feel it coming from so many and I am deeply appreciative. I really am. I’m not trying to correct everyone’s grammar either. 😉 I am trying to understand the substance of survival, though. Because it is something. It is something to survive the loss of your child. Theres isn’t a word for that, either. Like widow. I have thought of this over and over and have come to the conclusion that it is quite appropriate that we don’t get our own word, our own label; because the awful truth is, there are no words…
Word lover that I am, I have searched! I will keep searching. And I will keep writing. This helps me keep going. Finding out what awaits around the next corner of my mind and heart, finding out that my words lend themselves to another mothers healing, keeps me going. It has been suggested over and over and over again that I should write a book, that I am helping others. I am writing from ground zero, as consciously as I through my process rather than with any wisdom that might be gleaned later on, in retrospective reflection. I don’t actually know if this way of expressing & sharing myself is appropriate or not, I only know that it is helping me and as I continue, onward, I find that it resonates with others.
So, more and more, I consider a book. As this book takes shape, I see that it will be from my own front line; surviving the first year. I’ve decided to run an old school fundraising initiative as a way to reality check everyones encouragement as well as to keep it simple—and keep the pressure off myself that an online crowd funding campaign requires. If you want to support me in my effort to write a book about suicide, grief, an exceptional young man and my role in his life, please do! I will use funds to self publish a book of words and art, and everything that goes along with this healing & writing process. For a minimum donation of $25 you can have your choice of a copy of the finished product or a replica of an original work of mixed media art from the book. Larger donations will get both, and if you’re feeling super generous, I will do a reading for you and a group, or several books, or an original painting and even an opportunity to get your name in the acknowledgements of the book! [Email me if you want to know all the details for incentives I’ve developed to make your donation fun!] Also, for every 10 donations, I will make sure to donate a copy of the finished book to a grief, suicide, depression, youth, etc. agency. My blog has been shared and viewed ALOT per post lately. If all my readers were to make a donation, I will make a sizable donation to The Isaac Julian Legacy Foundation which in addition to scholarships, will eventually be creating opportunities to train youth/peer advocates in awareness & prevention of suicide. (This is our dream!)
With so much generosity having come my way, already, I want to be crystal clear that I am not requesting your help for some great or noble cause. What I AM doing is identifying a certainty that in writing this book and in self publishing this book, I know I have a few readers willing and waiting for it! I will keep writing & painting whether or not this is a “successful campaign”. There is however a level of accountability to see myself through this process, all of it, by focusing my energies on healing and writing about it, if I know that anyone is supporting me by ‘pre-ordering” in the form of a gift of money which will then be regifted back to you in the form of a finished product.
So…If you want to support me/my book writing project with twenty five or more bucks, please send your donation to PO Box 304 Frankfort MI 49635. Include your address, phone number & email address (for updates) as well as your preference for book or art. I’m giving myself the emotional and artistic freedom to take about a year to finish. I will continue blogging as long as the muse shows up. Anyone who supports the project will be updated throughout the process on occasion via email.
I will say that it took about 2 months for me to rally the courage to ask for support of this idea I have been reticently gestating. In the mean time I have continued writing and painting. Your contributions will keep me elevated for the courage to go as deep as I can into this process and write my way out. Thank you. It is not a coincidence or a shameless plug that I finally leaped with courage while my Seestar Randi was off in the wilds of Africa. She inspired me to think about bravery and courage as they are intended. I made the very conscious and intentional choice to start my campaign as hers draws to a close, not to steal any thunder whatsoever, but to really acknowledge the power and impact her courage has had on me, on my life & on my healing. It occurred to me that 15,897 people have visited my website since beginning this sacred sojourn while in Aruba back in December. The opportunity to share Randi Lyn & On The Ground’s work is ripe. And if you, dear reader, are inspired to say yes to my book, then using this very unique approach is worth it! I am merely trying to approach an idea for an original artistic and healing project as creatively and intuitively as possible and without a bunch of bells and whistles. I will not be blowing up the internets like I will always will for Randi Lyn, On The Ground or Joshua Davis on The Voice!!! and I will officially make the decision July 1, once I see how many supporters I have. If I don’t have enough support, i will return all donations. If you can help me spread this message, thank you! If you cannot, thank you for reading anyway!
All of this said, if your yearly donation budget is whittling down, I implore you to consider On The Ground & Project Congo over mine, any day, every day!!!
[ I AM NOT, I REPEAT, I AM NOT A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION DOING ANYTHING AMAZING! I’M SIMPLY A MAMA LEARNING TO SURVIVE TREMENDOUS LOSS AND WRITE HER WAY OUT OF THE PAIN]