There are days on our lives when we need to wear our ‘Cloak of Bravery’. Before my DCIS operation two weeks ago, it was the lipstick I wore to the hospital.
As I was resting at home, I turned to reading some new books and some old favourites. I came across these words in ‘Manuscript found in Accra’ by Paulo Coelho – ‘Hidden within our soul is the strength to go further than we think we can.’ I reflected on that in the light of my experiences with DCIS.
The strength to go further than we think we can is Courage or Bravery. These words appear to be interchangeable in my Microsoft Thesaurus – nerve, pluck, valour, daring, audacity, mettle, resolution and guts. Other words for them are – bold, confident, fearless and be strong & believe.
I do not know about you. I associate those words with ‘big acts of bravery’ ie heroes and those who have overcome ongoing challenges. In my life so far I have not been called to be that brave or courageous.
You may fit into that category. Most of us are spared that experience. We are all still called to strengthen our bravery muscle ie our everyday courage. Dressing can play an important part in that.
Let me introduce you to the ‘Cloak of Bravery’ Dressing.
Cloak of Bravery – for Everyday Courage
There are lots of everyday things that require courage and bravery to step up to them. Things that have a start and an end – like a new job, a new client, a new business, public speaking, moving interstate or overseas, a finite health challenge etc – can all be dismissed by us as a normal part of living.
Stop for a moment. Think back to theses times. Did you buy something new to wear to boost your confidence? Did you wear a favourite item of clothing, shoes, jewellery or lipstick? Do you always reach for that item when a new challenge faces you?
These are your gentle heart reminders – a helping hand; come on; let’s do this; you’re ok; are you ready; keep going; and you can go a little further. Recognise each item, thank it and label it as your ‘Cloak of Bravery’.
Certain items of dressing and accessories helped me in 2009 to be brave and go further than I thought I could. Starting in September I will again face six weeks of five days a week of radiation sessions. Last time I made my own radiation gown as a symbol of ‘being a partner in my healing’. This time I will make a new one. The material and design will be chosen with care and recognised as my new ‘Cloak of Bravery’. It will only be seen by me and a few radiation staff. Each time I take it out and put it on it will be my reminder that I am strengthening my everyday bravery muscle. I will find someone to embroider me a little saying – ‘You are braver than you think you are’ – to be sewn inside it. When the six weeks are up, I will donate to another woman facing radiation.
You have clothing for lots of life situations and lots of emotional reasons. Your personal ‘Cloak of Bravery’ clothes, shoes, jewellery and makeup are waiting to be appreciated and acknowledged and help you the next time you need the strength to go a little further than you have before.
Cloak of Bravery – for Thrivers
After my first time with DCIS I bought this ‘survivor pin’ from the Breast Cancer Network Australia website – http://bcnashop.org.au/pins-keyrings/pink-lady-survivor-s-pin.html. At that time only women who had had breast cancer could buy it. I renamed this pin my ‘thriver pin’. I wanted to acknowledge myself as more than a survivor. I had changed and grown. I was a thriver.
Same with you. Any life challenge you came through, whether you sought it or not, has changed you. I hope for the better not the bitter.
I wear this pin when I need that reminder. Sometimes it is important to buy ourselves some permanent reminder of our everyday courage. It does not have to be expensive. It is there in your wardrobe as another ‘Cloak of Bravery’ symbol for when you quietly need it.
NB: If you buy something as a gift for a thriver friend, add your personal, written words of acknowledgement of their strength and what difference it has made in your life. A compliment or thank you with added sincere ‘because’ words are an incredibly powerful gift.
Like words, your clothes and accessories are ready and willing to serve you and to walk with you towards whatever comes in your life. Those that are your personal ‘Cloak of Bravery’, whether temporary or permanent, would love a little acknowledgment from you.
Many things happen in our lives that we have no control over. A second occurrence of DCIS is one of my unexpected life happenings. I have no idea yet what new bravery I have to learn. All I am certain of is that my clothes, accessories and makeup are ready to quietly support me on the journey.
Words of Bravery – A Funny Story
There I was on Wednesday afternoon on the stretcher ready to go into surgery. I had been chatting to the anaesthetist who had put the drip attachment in my hand. ‘We’ll wheel you into surgery’ she says. ‘Then we’ll start the process.’
Good, I thought. I know the routine. I had my Words of Bravery ready. ‘Right, let’s get it started’ I’ll say. ‘No need to count or anything like that. Put me to sleep quickly’.
Next thing I know a gentle wards man is telling me it’s time to wake up. It’s all over. ‘What! says my fogged brain, ’You haven’t wheeled me into surgery yet.’ He’s smiling. The next thought comes quickly. ‘She’s tricked me. The sneaky anaesthetist, Leah, got me before I had time to do my bravery act.’ My friend Gail reckoned she read my body language. Am I that easy to read?
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