Courage, Dear Heart

William Tecumseh Sherman (a general in the American Civil War, among other things), described courage as “a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.”  I think that’s a good, if slightly narrow definition, as it takes courage to face hardship, humiliation and pain just as much as danger.  Either way, it’s a quality vital to the chronically ill.  It takes courage to live every day with discomfort and sickness.  That’s why it was my theme for February.  Below are all the quotes I’ve written in my journal this month.  My journal also helpfully inserted on of it’s own: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion with one’s courage” – Anais Nin.

I chose courage as the theme for February because I think we really start to need it now.  The first rush of hope that comes with the new year has faded and we are faced with the reality of life going on, as it does.  It can be a painful come-down from January, and I find myself needing a little bit of courage to push through it.

As with January and its theme of “hope“, I’ve tried for a range of quotes that capture a lot of different aspects of courage – what it means, how you get it, what it does, why it is important, and what things require it.

If you are wondering why the picture for this article is a handsome little black and white mouse on a luxurious red mouse-sofa, it is because that is my dear departed mouselet Napoleon, whose namesake was, whilst unfortunately French, undeniably brave.  My little mousey Napoleon was also extremely brave, and though trying to take on my rats (at least ten times his size, in one case) was a perfectly reasonable move.  He never actually managed to get them, and instead lived a life of luxury, got quite chubby, and died at the ripe old age of two and a half.  He was adorable and I loved him.

Anyway.  Courage.

  1. “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”  – Winston Churchill
  2. “It requires more courage to suffer than to die.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
  3. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
  4. “Success is not final, fear is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
  5. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.   You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along.'” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  6. “Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts.  That’s what little girls are made of.” – Bethany Hamilton
  7. “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee
  8. “We don’t develop courage by being happy every day.  We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara de Angelis
  9. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what is takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill
  10. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e e cummings
  11. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
  12. “Efforts and courage are not enough with purpose and direction.” – John F Kennedy
  13. “Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway
  14. “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” – Robert Green Ingersoll
  15. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
  16. “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.  Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.  We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.” – Maya Angelou
  17. “Have the courage to say no.  Have the courage to face the truth.  Do the right thing because it is right.  These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone
  18. “From caring comes courage.” – Lao Tzu
  19. “Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” – Billy Graham
  20. “The truth is: belonging starts with self-acceptance.  Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.” – Brene Brown
  21. “It took me realising that a broken heart has never actually killed anyone to find the courage to ask for what I want, in just about ever situation.  That was part of my own growing up.” – Ginnifer Goodwin
  22. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C. S. Lewis
  23. “Amongst the qualities a hero should have, I would include determination, loyalty, courage, perseverance, patience, focus, intrepidity, and selflessness.” – Ricky Martin
  24. “I believe that my worth is not measured by what I do, by the honours that are bestowed upon me, or by material wealth that I might obtain.  Instead, I am measured by the courage I show while standing for my beliefs, by the dedication I exhibit to ensure my word is good, and the resolve I undertake to establish my actions and deeds as honourable.” – Burgess Owens
  25. “Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” – Nelson Mandela
  26. “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown
  27. “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” – Chester W. Nimitz
  28. “Have courage and be kind.” – Cinderella

The hardest part about this list is keeping it to just 28.  There are so many things to be said on this theme.  Do you have a favourite?

Stay brave, my friends.  Come back next month for March’s theme: kindness.

A Collation of Hope

Early in January I talked about a number of quotes about hope that I’d been writing down.  It’s a practice I’ve continued throughout January and intend to keep up all year with various themes that seem applicable and relevant to my life.  Next month will be courage.

This isn’t really a proper post so much as a list, but I thought I’d put all 31 of my quotes for the month here in case anyone needed some inspiration.  For completeness sake I will also include the quotes from my last post.  I won’t explain my thoughts on them all this time: this is just for reference in case you need a quick little soundbite of hope.

All of these quotes represent, to me, an important aspect of hope.  Hope warms, it empowers, it pushes you on.  It is really hard to do.  It can spark revolutions or just make a hard day a little easier.  It is something we have the power to share.

  1. “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” – Neil Gaiman
  2. “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “it will be better.”” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  3. ““Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm –

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me.”
    – Emily Dickinson

  4. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  – Desmond Tutu

  5. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. “There never was a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”  – Bernard Williams
  7. “Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.”  – When You Believe, The Prince of Egypt
  8. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”  – Helen Keller
  9. “Fairytales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell tell us dragons can be defeated.”  – Neil Gaiman, misquoting C K Chesterton
  10. “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.  That myth is more potent than history.   That dreams are more powerful than facts.  That hope always triumphs over experience.  That laughter is the only cure for grief.  And I believe that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum
  11. “While there is life, there is hope.”  – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  12. “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”  – Anne Frank
  13. “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther
  14. “We must free ourselves of the hope that the seas will ever rest.  We must learn to sail in high winds.” – Aristotle Onassis
  15. “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo
  16. “Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.
  17. “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”  – C K Chesterton
  18. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them.” – Louisa May Alcott
  19. “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela
  20. “I dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson
  21. “When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and say: the sun’ll come out tomorrow, so you’ve got to hang on til tomorrow, come what may!  Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you’re always a day away.”  – Annie
  22. “Hope is passion for what is possible.” – Soren Kierkegaard
  23. “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose the courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.  And so today, I still have a dream.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  24. “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  25. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
  26. “Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” – Samuel Smiles
  27. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
  28. “You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson
  29. “Where there’s tea there’s hope.” – Arthur Wing Pinero
  30. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other form a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert Kennedy
  31. “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama

Hope

It’s a powerful thing, hope. It makes us keep fighting when we feel like it isn’t worth it, just in case it is, or try a new medication when there is no guarantee it will work. Sometimes you hate it, because you are terrified about the despair you feel when your hope isn’t borne out. I think this makes hoping brave, because we do it despite that fear.

In the spirit of hoping, I’ve been writing a quote about hope in my diary each day this week. I want to share them with you to start this year off with some positivity, because what says “hope” more than a new year?

1) “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” – Neil Gaiman

Now, being me, I do have a problem with this quote, because I think it veers close to “you have to do something to mean something” territory, which I think it just wrong. People have inherent value. However, it does very much embody the spirit of the new year, which is that sense of “now I will achieve something.” Taken with a grain of spoonie salt, I also think it is a valuable reminder that we never stop learning, and there is value in each lesson (even the ones that suck to learn). It is an encouragement to do something – anything – to break through the ennui that can come with long-term pain and isolation. And ultimately, I think it places values on our battles and our victories, even the seemingly tiny ones, like getting out of bed when we didn’t think we could.  So, whilst I don’t necessarily want to make mistakes, I do hope I do enough that mistakes are a possibility.

2) “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “it will be better.”” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I love me some Tennyson. This quote just embodies everything I feel just before the new year comes – this one has to be better.  Maybe it won’t be, but hope thinks it will.

3) ““Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.”
– Emily Dickinson
Admittedly this is one the longer side, and a poem, but I love Emily Dickinson, and I love this portrayal of hope.  It talks about the value of hope itself: its persistence, its ability to survive even the worst storms, how it comforts us, and how it is always with us.
4) “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  – Desmond Tutu
I don’t think my hope is necessarily as strong as this at times, but at least it is never less than “thinking there possibly could be light at some point.”  That’s a lot less catchy, though.
5) “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.
This one will be most applicable for my religious and spiritual readers, but I couldn’t leave it out because for me it is such a good descriptor of my faith in hard times.  The Bible is pretty clear that this life is going to be full of hardships and woes, sometimes catastrophically so, and often without any reason that we can see.  However, the Bible is also clear that these things do end, and at the conclusion of it all is the reason Christians have hope at all – Jesus and a new, better life with him.  During my darkest times, even if the rest of my life looks like a barren, careerless, pointless, painful mess, at least I can set my eyes on that.
6) “There never was a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”  – Bernard Williams
Night is so often used as a metaphor to explain away our problems – we all have to go through dark periods, darkest just before the dawn, etc etc – but what I like about this quote is that it isn’t saying sunrise brings a solution.  It’s just saying that hope is persistent.  Even when problem after problem tells us we shouldn’t hope, it comes back like the dawn each time.
BONUS QUOTE:
There have only been six days since the new year but you get a bonus one anyway because I’m benevolent like that.
7) “Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.”  – When You Believe, The Prince of Egypt
If you haven’t seen the movie Prince of Egypt, you should.  The soundtrack is great and it is the grittiest, most realistic portrayal of Exodus I’ve ever seen.  Far more so than the movie Exodus, which I thought was fairly bad.  I digress.
This song is sung as the Hebrews flee Egypt.  Their people have been slaves for generations.  The Egyptians have been cracking down on them, raising the quotas of bricks they must produce and reducing their materials.  One random who used to be a prince has shown up out of the desert and said, “worry not, pals, God’s going to release you.”  They’ve had no hope for years, and this is a pretty slim one.  Now it’s come true and they are heading out into the desert with only what they can carry, amongst them children and the elderly, and they will soon have half the Egyptian army on their tail.  It’s a time with not a lot of hope, but it’s all they’ve got, and the song is just excellent.  I’ll post the lyrics below, but first watch this incredibly low-resolution video to hear it and see it in all it’s glory:
If you want a faithful lyrical version, Celtic Woman do a lovely one.  If you want a less faithful one, Mariah and Whitney also have a version.
Lyrics:
[MIRIAM]
[Verse 1]
Many nights we’ve prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there’s much to fear
We were moving mountains long before we knew we could

[Chorus]
There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

[TZIPPORAH]
[Verse 2]
In this time of fear when prayer so often proved in vain
Hope seemed like the summer birds
Too swiftly flown away
Yet now I’m standing here

[MIRIAM]
Now I’m standing here

[TZIPPORAH]
With heart so full I can’t explain

[MIRIAM & TZIPPORAH]
Seeking faith and speaking words I never thought I’d say

[Chorus]
There can be miracles when you believe
(When you believe)
Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill
(It’s hard to kill)
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
(You can achieve)
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

[Bridge]
[HEBREW CHILDREN]
Ashira l’adonai; ki gaoj ga-ah
Ashira l’adonai; ki gaoj ga-ah
Mi chamocha baelim adonai
Mi kamocha nedar ba kodesh
Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta
Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta
Ashira, ashira, ashira

Ashira l’adonai; ki gaoj ga-ah
Ashira l’adonai; ki gaoj ga-ah
Mi chamocha baelim adonai
Mi kamocha nedar ba kodesh
Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta
Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta
Ashira, ashira, ashira!

[Chorus]
[ALL]
There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill
(It’s hard to kill)
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
(You can achieve)
When you believe, somehow you will
Now you will
You will when you believe
(When you believe)

[MIRIAM & TZIPPORAH]
You will when you believe.

So, go forth into the new year with fresh hope, my friends.  You never know what this one holds.

10 Brilliant Quotes about Endometriosis

I’d like to finish the month of July (my first month of serious blogging) with a lighter post.  Well, lighter in the sense that it isn’t factual.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a Pinterest addict.  I don’t know what about it I enjoy so much, but I do.  And I have a board specifically for endometriosis.

That board is partly tips, but mostly quotes about endo and chronic illness, ranging from sassy to depressing.  I want to share ten of my favourites for this month below.

 

1)  “It never occurred to me that one day I would wake up sick and never get better.”

Wake Up Sick.jpg

This one hit me hard.  Coming to terms with what “chronic illness” – that I have this for life and can literally never get rid of it – was one of the hardest aspects of my diagnosis.  It’s really overwhelming, but this quote catches that shock and grief very simply.

 

2)  “Yes, hello. I’d like a refund on my body.  It’s kinda defective and really expensive.”

Chronic Illness.jpg

Gosh, yes.  This is not the body I asked for!  Sometimes it feels like it’s far more trouble than it’s worth.

 

3)  “Sick Girl Problem #19: Feeling incredibly guilty about being sick & how it effects those around me.” 

Sick girl problem 19.jpg

It can be really hard feeling like a burden on other people, and it really does create a lot of guilt.  You can’t do it alone, but you really wish you could.

 

4)  “Yeah, I’m hurting.  But on goes the mascara and lipgloss.  That’s right.  I’ll be the prettiest wreck you’ve ever seen!” 

Pretty Wreck.jpg

Makeup isn’t for everyone, but for me it can be a real mood booster.  When I’m sick, I tend to look it.  When I see myself looking sick, I feel worse.  Slap some makeup on and I not only feel like I made an effort and achieved something, but I like the way I look more and so I feel a bit better.

 

5)  “If you don’t find a way to deal with your demons, your demons will find a way to deal with you.” 

Demons.jpg

In other words, sink or swim.  Fighting against endometriosis is incredibly hard, but you have to do it anyway.

 

6) “Endo Belly” (a picture of Violent Beauregard from the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory blown up into a ball after eating faulty chewing gum).

Endo Belly Blue.jpg

I mean, yeah.  That’s what it feels like.

 

7)  “Sometimes suffering is just suffering.  It doesn’t make you stronger.  It doesn’t build character.  It just hurts.” 

Suffering.jpg

This is really important.  Too often pain is not something that builds you up or makes you better, particularly when it is inescapable and relentless as only chronic pain can be.  Instead, it’s just grinding you down.  You don’t have to be able to make a positive out of the negative.  You can acknowledge that it just plain sucks.

 

8)  “Tired of doctors.  Tired of pain.  Tired of pills.  Tired of stress.  Tired of suffering.  Tired of fatigue.  Tired of always being sick.” 

Tired of.jpg

Because endometriosis is tiring.  Trying to deal with each day in an exercise in exhaustion.

 

9)  “When I am resting because my body is weak, I need to remember that I’m not wasting the day doing nothing.  I’m doing exactly what I need to do.  I’m recovering.”

Resting.jpg

This is a really important reminder for me, because I HATE just lying around not doing anything.  It’s boring and I feel like I’m a waste of space when I’m going it.  I need to keep telling myself that I’m not, but if I keep pushing myself, I soon will be because I’ll be incapable of anything.

 

10)  “Me: I need to do a thing.  Body: You did a thing yesterday.  That’s enough things.”

Doing things.jpg

It’s so true.  I made pancakes today, so I need a day off to recover from standing up to do it.  It’s ridiculous, but unfortunately body is the boss.

 

What quotes have you seen that made you laugh, cry, or go, “Wow.  True”?  Share your favourites below.  Also, drop your pinterest names or boards and I’ll follow you!  You can follow mine here: https://www.pinterest.com.au/bubblesinthebrain/