Have Courage Be Strong


Damn, that sums it up pretty well. Hard to believe that in all the thousands of words I have typed, that these four words perfectly and succinctly tie it all together.  I now wear a bracelet each day inscribed with these four words on it. A gift from my friend Karen, the bracelet was given to me at the Race a little over a week ago.  While not spoken, I know the intended message was that she believed in me and that this message should serve to calm me when I need it, inspire me on my journey, and be a reminder that I do have courage and strength when I fail to see I do. 

I journeyed out west to Tucson, AZ for eight days to repay a debt of love and also share in all the blessings that a baby brings.  Sarah had flown out in late September to “watch” me and take care of the boys and nurture our souls after my surgery. I promised that I would do the same for her when she had her first born. Two months later, news that she was expecting filled my heart with love and we planned my trip out west in late July.  Like so much in life, toss out the plan. Emma Claire welcomed herself a little too early on June 5th, and while a healthy fighter, she needed time to grow and gain strength in the NICU. I joined the adventure about 10 days after they were discharged from the hospital and jumped right in, settling into the kitchen doing my thing keeping them nourished and helping Sarah. It was heaven.  

The running joke was that I wanted to see a snake. I had taken Tucker out with me on a visit almost two years ago and other than nightly coyote packs hooting it up in the thousands of acres of open desert land behind their house, we came up cold in the reptile department.  During my stay last week, routine dictated (of course) that after we got Emma Claire down for a nap around 11, we would venture out to the pool and lounge and laugh while Gwen the dog swam laps like all good Golden Retrievers do in the desert.

Sunday, Emma Claire was working on a great nap while we lounged like the domestic goddesses we are.  Per my daily routine, I ventured to the edge of the property and the 12 foot high iron fence serving to keep the larger creatures of the desert out.  I love standing there. The view is amazing and immensely relaxing. Sweeping views of desert and mountains, no traffic, no noise, just peace and lots of quail, toads, roadrunners, birds, coyotes, and much more you do not see but fear are there.  

Funny thing about that fear. Just when you think that the peaceful existence between raw nature and my existence in domestic bliss is at balance, don’t… just throw that ideal out the window and run like the mad woman you are, legs shaking, adrenaline pumping, heart exploding, yelling…OH SHIT, IT’S A FUCKING SNAKE!  AHHHHHHHHHH!!! 

Well, that is pretty much how it went down on Sunday. I walked up to the fence, stopped in a panic (I must have heard it but did not know what I heard), looked around in a panic wondering why I had abruptly stopped, and saw that I had walked myself well within the strike zone and just before I would have stepped on Southwest’s finest. A Mojave Rattle Snake.  The most venomous of the Rattle Snakes delivering a bite with 10 times more neurotoxins than the Diamondback…  seriously, I nearly shit myself.

Hours after the ordeal and just before heading out to dinner and many drinks to quell the insane amount of anxiety I had, I stood at the back door thinking about the “what ifs” of it all.  I looked down at my bracelet and read it. Have Courage Be Strong.  I turned to Sarah, and said “I’m heading out to face my fear and go out and do what I had intended to do earlier”. I walked outside, paranoid and near anxiety attack, to the fence. I really wanted to run away, but I stood there, took it all in and faced my fear and did it a few more times before I left.  I had been humbled by this wickedly pissed off snake that had hissed like a mad cat and wagged it tail like a madman at me. Humility is a good thing. It keeps the balance and reminds us of what is important.  Sunday was all about courage and strength and of course a little bit of really naughty words.

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