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Halfway Mark: Check-In

| written by Alece Ronzino | 7 comments

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How different would things be if I approached each situation, each person, with bravery?

That’s the question that scratched away at my heart and made me choose brave as my OneWord365. I really wrestled with committing to a word like that, for—well—lots of reasons.

At least for me, brave is a big, scary, monstrous word. I have never felt brave. Ever. It’s not a word I would ever use to describe myself. I’ve done brave things at times, sure. I’ve taken some risks. I’ve made some choices others have deemed courageous. But deep down, I would never categorize myself as a brave person.

But I want to.

I want to be someone who’s life is marked by bravery.

Don’t hear me wrong… I don’t want to be known for living an adventurous life. I’m not trying to be edgy, or reckless, or thrill-seeking.

I don’t want to do brave things. I want to be brave.

And, I’m discovering, there’s a big difference.

It’s more about the posture of my heart than about my actions. It’s about changing my internal dialogue—the words I say to myself, about myself. It’s a willingness to lean into who I really am… and live it out wholeheartedly.

Six full months into the year, I paused to take stock. And I have to admit—I’m a little surprised by all the ways I’ve seen bravery come to bear in my life so far this year. It’s probably not been in ways that others might expect (or that they’d even call brave), but it’s usually the smallest steps of bravery which are the most difficult. For me, anyway.

I’ve opened my heart to possibilities. I’ve let myself enjoy the present without knowing what the future holds. I’ve let my guard down. I’ve let others in. I’ve leaned into relationships. I’ve used my words more. I’ve embraced hard truths. I’ve taken steps towards healthier boundaries. I’ve put myself first in areas I’d always put myself last. I’ve started going to church again. I’ve stuck my neck out work-wise. I’ve resumed regular writing commitments. I’ve made big financial decisions. I’ve intentionally dug into enjoying my now-life. I’ve faced a huge loss and didn’t fall apart like I once thought I would.

I don’t expect to feel like I’ve crossed some huge finish line in December, having arrived-at-last at being brave. But I do sense that I am already becoming brave. And that is what I want to feel every day for the rest of my life.

The process of becoming holds more value than the being, and I don’t want to lose the wonder and vulnerability of the journey. 

So I take a deep breath, and I close my eyes, and I ask for an extra dose of courage for everyone and everything I will face.

And I choose to become braver today than I was yesterday…

:: :: ::

I’d love to hear about your OneWord365 journey at this halfway point.
If you blog about it, please share the link. 
Otherwise, would you share a few thoughts in the comments?

After pioneering a nonprofit in South Africa for 13 years, Alece Ronzino now lives in Nashville, TN. She’s a nonprofit communications strategist, freelance copywriter/editor, and the founder of One Word 365. More importantly, she dances in the car, talks with her hands, and makes a mean guacamole. She blogs occasionally but candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith. Follow Alece on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her blog, Grit and Glory.


Sarah: I just did an update the other day. Here's the link: http://standup8.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/one-word-month-7 Reply

Lindsey: I am having a party to celebrate my word, freedom, this weekend. It's the perfect way to celebrate the halfway point. Reply

    Alece Ronzino: Oh my gosh! I LOVE that you are doing that!!!! Can't wait to hear all about it! Reply

Marna: Alece.....just a short phrase comes to mind....an affirmation so to speak and one that I live by: "Do it afraid." =) Reply

Lindsey: Here's my official mid-year checkup: http://lindseybrunette.com/post/92742171567/one-word-365-freedom Reply

Carol Vinson: I'm learning to silence my inner critic. Learning to see that I am more than the sum of my surface. That I am indeed beloved. http://www.upsidedowngrace.com/2014/08/mirror-mirror.html?m=1 Reply

sheel verma: In the five months before I saw Divergent, I went to the gym twice. In the five months since then, I’ve been just over fifty times (as well as making forays into interval sprints and Crossfit). A lot of things came together to make that happen, but no small part of it was that I found the movie incredibly inspirational. [Warning: spoilers ahead! You may want to watch a trailer or something if you haven’t seen it but don’t care] The protagonist of Divergent, Tris, is meant to embody two archetypes, whose combination creates a potent vision of something almost scarily near my ideal self. One is the faction which she chooses to align herself with – Dauntless – and the other is her Divergent nature. In this world, teenagers take a sophisticated experiential test to tell them which of five factions their personality best suits; they then choose their faction and live out their lives in that group. However, a small minority of people are “Divergent,” which means they have character traits of more than one faction. To me this trait seems closely related to what CFAR means by “rationality.” Most people have roughly one way of thinking, of approaching problems, of making sense of reality. Divergence is the ability to pop-frame (or “go meta”) on your approach, then adopt a new mindset that’s better suited to the situation at hand. “I don’t want to be just one thing. I want to be brave and selfless and intelligent and honest and kind.” Dauntless is the faction that wears boots and leather, does parkour, and serves as the police/military for this fictional world (the other factions – roughly – are scientists, farmers, caregivers, and judges). They’re badasses. The movie does portray some negative or corrupted aspects of this archetype but I’m going to ignore them. Here’s what I admire about the Dauntless archetype: Courage: “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” They believe in taking right action whether or not that action is hard or painful. Action: When the shit hits the fan, Tris’ Dauntless training allows her to take effective, decisive action to protect what’s important to her, when everyone else is floundering. The Dauntless are physically and mentally tough, with well-honed reflexes. “Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.” Passion: The Dauntless live life fully, intensely, and with a sense of play. They run around for fun, create ziplines through abandoned buildings, and climb random stuff. There’s an attitude of enjoyment and abandon. They interact with their physical environment more fully than almost anyone I know. Aspiration to “Dauntless virtue” is what keeps me going at the end of a tough workout (often literally listening to this or this, which are mixed together in the moment when Tris chooses to join Dauntless and realizes that her world has just gotten much more colorful, exciting, and risky), or what keeps me focused at the end of a long day at CFAR (this, played over the credits, after a closing scene which reaches for a sense that more is possible). I want to be that strong, prepared, effective, and alive. Both the Dauntless and Divergent approaches seem quite valuable. Example: faction training involves work with “fear serums” that create an extremely realistic simulated world in which initiates must repeatedly face their worst fears, and learn to act in spite of them (Turbocharging Training, anyone?). The “Dauntless” approach to the fear is that you must learn to work through it – not to freeze, and to find something in your environment that will let you conquer or overcome the fearful situation. However, because Tris is Divergent, she has another tool: she remembers that the simulation isn’t real, and thus has the power to re-shape her reality (for example). At the climax of the movie, the antagonist, Jeanine, unleashes a computer algorithm which will kill thousands of people unless Tris can get her to reverse it. Jeanine holds firm even when Tris puts a knife to her throat. When Tris doesn’t follow through, Jeanine taunts “Maybe you’re not quite as Dauntless as you thought you were.” But in truth Tris has already noticed that the ‘Dauntless’ approach won’t work here, and put together a new plan: a shot of a suggestibility serum lying on the ground nearby. She successfully injects Jeanine with the serum and then simply asks her to reverse the algorithm, retorting “You’re right, I’m not. I’m Divergent.” For me? I want them both. I want the ability to act effectively within a frame, especially a frame that feels as important as Dauntless; but when necessary, I want to frame shift – I want to be Divergent. Reply

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