Sunday, October 18, 2015

When I was young, I was afraid to try new things, speak up for myself and take chances. I was a follower, not a leader. If I failed, my world came crumbling down and my failure was just the excuse I needed to quit. I worried about what people would think of me and “yes’ed” my way into a lot of trouble, including a very bad marriage which I stayed in for over 14 years because I was too afraid to leave. 

At some point, things started to turn. I think it all began when I mustered up the courage to divorce my husband. I left with two young children and not much of a game-plan. I didn’t know how my life would turn out, but I knew that I needed to do something positive --not only for myself, but also for my kids. I took a leap and it was scary, like jumping off a cliff. There were times that I questioned my decision (was it better to be unhappy but "safe"?). That was 17 years ago and in retrospect, it was the best (and bravest) decision I've ever made for myself.

Courage snowballs. It's a funny thing...the more chances you take, the more chances you are willing to take. The more courageous you are, the less junk you put up with, the more you believe in yourself and the fuller your life becomes.

Here are some examples of when I've been courageous. Just writing them down makes me feel pretty brave! I encourage you to do the same.
  • Going back to work after being a stay at home mom for 7 years.
  • Getting married for second time.
  • Dealing with serious family illnesses
  • Public speaking (yikes).  This was always one of my biggest fears, but I pushed myself WAY out of my comfort zone and started accepting speaking engagements. I still get nervous when I have to speak--my palms sweat and my heart races, but I DO IT (and pretty well I might add!).
  • Starting my business. My inner demon said "who would want to hire a social worker for clothes?" and "this will never work". But guess what---that little devil was WRONG. My business is almost 9 years old and having a background in social work has actually differentiated me from my competition. 
  • Staying strong during my father's bout with cancer and surviving his death.
  • Filming television segments (this one is up there with public speaking)
  • And at age 53 (almost 54) being a style blogger.  After all, we can't let all the 20'sometings steal the lime-light!
I put the "idea" of courage out to my Instagram followers. I asked them to share a time when they have been courageous. Several women told me that she started a business but she wasn't sure if this was actually an act of courage (it sure IS!). Another said "I became courageous when I took full responsibility for myself and those I loved"

My dear friend Mira Furth an innovative coach who teaches Artful Play had this these words of wisdom.

"Courage for me is a semi-conscious choice to focus on something in the immediate moment and not on a scary thing that my action might result in. More often than not, what seems like a courageous act in hindsight does not register as such in the moment. In the moment it feels like something I cannot not do!"

How do you define courage and when have you been courageous in your life?

I believe that courage builds as we age. I'm doing things in my 50's that I never would have had the courage to do in my younger days. There is an "I don't give a crap what people think of me" attitude that allows me to try new things without worrying about judgement. It's freeing!

Of course I am going to tie this all together with clothes because "how we look on the outside can reflect how we're feeling on the inside".  If you're not feeling particularly courageous, you may be stuck in a "wardrobe comfort zone" by playing it safe wearing clothes that don't draw attention to you. Sound familiar?

I have to say that it took some courage for me to buy this leopard coat and even more to WEAR it! When I first tried it on, the negative messages started brewing..."Was I too old for it? Was it too over the  top? Would people think I was trying too hard?" ...oh those demons!

Here's the real question. Do I really care what other people think when I feel like a million bucks? Nope, life is way too short!

I encourage you to venture outside your comfort zone with your life AND your clothes. 
Do something that stretches your limits. 
Dress with courage and be open to wearing new styles and colors. 
Allow yourself the freedom to wear what makes you feel amazing.
Push yourself.

"She packed up her potential and all she had learned. Grabbed a cute pair of shoes, and headed out to change a few things. Her heart glowed with a degree of happy assurance!”
Leigh Standley, Curly Girl Designs Inc

XO Susan

Photos by Cathleen Trainor and shot at Gianna Design, North Andover, MA

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