What is Courage?

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately as I’ve been paralyzed by some of my deepest fears these past few months.

I live my life on the edge.  Mainstream, middle-class, security oriented reality exists in the middle point of the field of our lives.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that middle point in the field.  In fact, I’ve wished to Goddess many times that I could make my life in that place.  But no … Goddess had other plans for me.  She created me with great desire to make art, sent me to the edge and urged me to fly.


spirit horse

This drawing expresses pretty well that feeling of flying.

The only problem is, she plopped me down in a middle-class, mainstream, security oriented type of family.  That cultural backdrop is the engine which has fueled my greatest fear, blocked my flight plan and continually pulled be back from the edge.  And yet every time I find myself in that middle, I soon start to die, to suffocate. So, heeding the call of the Goddess, I move back to the edge.

What is my greatest fear you might wonder?  My biggest fear is one of destitution and poverty, of being a homeless bag lady.  The cultural myth of “the starving artist” and my father’s words from long ago “You want to major in art?!  You’ll never be able to make a living as an artist!” have imbedded themselves deeply in my psyche.  Every time I’m on the verge of jumping off of that edge to fly free, those little negative voices pop up and pull me back, distracting me from my true passion in life, painting.

Not only did the Goddess throw me out to the edge proclaiming that I would be an artist.  She also tapped me to carry her words into the world.  Sure, I’ve got a brain.  I can see what makes it in the art scene today and it’s not art with spiritual content.  But having heeded the call of the Goddess, I continue creating spirit infused art.


Tree of Life

Heart Tree, oil on canvas, 14" x 11"

My Bag Lady fears brought me to an art teaching job a couple of years ago. In spite of dealing with a bully principal and very little time to paint, I was prepared to return for another year of teaching and a steady paycheck. I was even considering I could put in the necessary years to be eligible for a pension. After all I was teaching art, I loved the interaction with the kids and wasn’t it time to finally grow up, face “reality”, and forget my dreams of making my living as an artist.

kali goddess sculpture

Here you see a traditional rendention of Kali. As painful as it is we must let go of the old to allow in the new.

But the hand of the Goddess once again threw me back to the edge.  She can appear in very odd form at times.  In this instance she appeared in the form of the principal, in her Kali aspect as the Great Destroyer. She informed me at the end of June 2009 that she was not renewing my contract.  End result, unemployed when the whole world economy is collapsing around us.

Which brings me back to the question of courage.  What am I willing to do, to sacrifice, in order to be free, free to create, to paint, free to live my life on my terms?  What fears must I face?

Feeling a strong pull to travel and experience new realities, coupled with a strong job market abroad for teaching English, I started making plans to leave the country.  At first I thought I could break free to new realities and inspirations while still hanging on to the supposed “security” of  paying the mortgage on my bank-owned home, by renting it out.

But Goddess is intent on making me face my fears.  Once again in her Kali aspect as the great destroyer, she sent me renters who have been nothing but problems from day one.  So that plan went up in smoke.

Plan B – “Sell The House” is the one that puts “security” on the block as the first sacrifice I must make for freedom. This brings me face to face once again with my old boogy man – the Homeless Bag Lady.

Panic set in for days once I began to look at Plan B.

Increased meditation and deep breathing, together with posing questions for my dream time, finally led to a break through.  I have decided to jump off the edge, face my fears and fly.  The house is going on the market.  I’ll turn in my keys of home ownership for the wings of flight.

Interestingly enough I’m taking action in other areas on which I have been procrastinating due to fear.  Don’t get me wrong.   I’m still afraid of all this stuff.  But I’ve decided to do it anyway.  I guess that’s what courage is.  Act in spite of your fears.  You just might grow some wings.


3 responses to “What is Courage?

  1. A very insightful post, Judith. I know the negative voices of which you speak…. I hear them all the time! You are truly showing courage by taking this scary step in spite of the challenges you’ve been facing. May your new wings have an infallible sense of direction!

    • Hi Deborah, Yeah, I think most artists hear those negative voices (not only artists of course). Your work is beautiful. Congratulations on your newsletter.

  2. Pingback: After the Storm- Aligning With My Life Purpose | Judith Shaw – Life on the Edge

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