Some people make New Year’s resolutions, some develop a special mantra, some choose a word. This year I chose a word, and it is “brave.” After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that “brave” can have many different meanings.

The “Meaning” Of Brave

I thought of things I’ve done that I consider to be brave. The first that came to mind were the times a friend and I hiked Knife Edge in the US and Striding Edge in the UK. As I look back on those two events now, I wonder, “WHAT was I thinking?!” But as I recall, I wasn’t scared either time—very excited, but not scared. I think I would be terrified now, but I wasn’t then. So, if I wasn’t scared, was I being brave? Does one have to be scared while doing something to be considered brave?

At another point in my life, I resigned from a good company I’d worked with for twenty years, sold most of what I had, and moved across the country to San Francisco where I knew one person, had no job, and didn’t intend to look for one right away. Friends were very worried and scared for me, but I don’t remember being scared except for one night while driving across Texas, in the dark, with the gas running low. But other than that, I was determined and excited but not scared. Was I being brave?

Women Over 55: Are You Brave?

Think of times in your life when you did something that now, looking back, seems scary. Was it at the time? How about going off to summer camp for the first time? Leaving home for college? Moving to a new city? That first day at work? Getting married? Having your first baby? Stepping up to a big promotion? Different people have different fears, but most of us have done things that seem scary in retrospect. If they didn’t seem scary at the time, were we being brave?

All this is important to me right now because I’m asking myself: if I want to be brave this year, what do I need to do that may be scary to contemplate?

It’s scary to think of riding a bike up and down very big hills as I used to. If I made myself do it now, would that be brave? Or, at this point in my life, would it be foolhardy even stupid? How do we know if we’re buying into the messages we’re constantly receiving about what we should and shouldn’t do as we get older if in our best judgment, we really shouldn’t be doing whatever it is?

The Ultimate Truth

I think of a saying from Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times: “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” If we continue to learn and grow as we get older, then we’re getting closer to recognizing the truth. The ultimate truth, of course, is that we die. And as we get closer to that time we begin to sense—consciously or not—that if we want to make the differences in our lives that we’ve dreamed about and haven’t yet accomplished, it’s time to get going.

Stepping out and doing THOSE things, I think, is what is scary now. And one needs to be brave to take the steps to accomplishing THOSE things.

What Are Your Dreams?

As a woman over 55, what dreams did you put on the back burner or even hide deep in a dark closet perhaps many years ago? What do you find yourself reading about or paying attention to that surprises you? There are many things to be concerned about right now that have worldwide implications, but there also are many that are having an impact in your neighborhood. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book or a play or a song. Maybe your dream has been to travel to someplace and learn how to cook the food that is popular there, or to paint a watercolor of the local beauty.

Maybe you want to get a puppy, or learn to ride a horse, or go on a group camping trip. Perhaps you want to join a choir, or to volunteer to read to kids who don’t have anyone reading to them. Maybe you want to start a school for immigrant children who often have great difficulty getting a good education, or maybe you want to take a stand and fight for better living conditions for the farm workers who provide so much of the food available to us.

And maybe taking the first steps toward whatever it is that will get you closer to your truth requires being very brave. That, I think, is what being brave means for us as women over 55. Agree? Disagree? I’d love to know.

Learn More…

The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another. We learn and grow together while furthering the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.

We will begin another Prime Spark Women’s Story Circle in April. If you’re interested in knowing more about that, please send an email to [email protected] or go here to register.

Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years of experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 companySara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!