Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. J.K. Rowling

We don’t know when we will see people who show us what stepping up means. Examples are all around us. When we see others step up it encourages us to do it as well.

Last night at Toastmasters our Chair was performing this duty for the first time. She did a fabulous job. She did what Chairs are supposed to do; she brought energy and order to the meeting. She handled the business session with strength, humor, and leadership.

She is an example to all of us because sometimes we think only the experienced can run the business session well. In fact, many of us are relieved when “Orders of the day” are called at the beginning of the business session. We feel like we dodged a bullet, we didn’t, instead, we lost an opportunity to stretch ourselves, and handle a business session with strength and grace.

When we take the opportunities presented to us we grow as people, speakers, and meeting chairs. Aren’t the people we most admire those who step up? We sit back and think “I wish I could do that,” while they are out there doing it. We think in the beginning they must be more skilled or talented, but if we watch long enough we realize they are just braver.

Life is not for the faint of heart. People will cajole and plead with us to join in, in the beginning, but then they will leave us alone to sit back and miss the fun and growth of putting ourselves out there. The longer we hold back, the harder it is to drum up the courage to change the way we and others see us.

It is one of the reasons when a new member joins Toastmasters our goal is to get them involved in roles and giving their icebreaker speech as soon as possible. If we want to change, we need support, but we also have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone.

There are many clubs and organizations that encourage growth. Sometimes we need to acknowledge to ourselves we need to change something, and then we can find a supportive group. If being part of a group is not our thing we may be a lone wolf. Is change harder or easier as a lone wolf? We may have some solitary pursuits and some group ones.

Isn’t life more becoming than a contest of who wins? What if what we accomplish outside of ourselves matters less than the growth and development within ourselves? All the toys, investments, homes, property, businesses, etc, we amass over a lifetime will be left behind. All we actually carry with us at any time is who we are when we are naked and afraid.

Could this be one of the attractions of being a nudist? We are stripped down to only our self, no pretense, no fancy clothes, or high heeled shoes making us look like something we are not. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he initially outlawed nudism before bringing it under state regulation. Herman Goering said, “One of the greatest dangers for German culture and morality is the so-called nudity movement. What was the danger, they weren’t in lockstep with Hitler?

Do we sometimes need to go back and understand the danger of Dissident Groups? They were dangerous to whom, those who want to bend us to their will? Is there something to nudism that would lead to true equality, and we can’t have that? Ideas about liberalism, pacifism and natural health were brought to America by thousands of German immigrants in the years before World War Two. It is Mark Twain that said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Those who would rise through the degrees of the holy mysteries must cast aside their clothes and go forward naked. Plotinus, philosopher of the ancient world.

George Bernard Shaw said, “I am strongly in favor of getting rid of every scrap of clothing… I know the mischief done by making us ashamed of our bodies.”

Saint Francis shed his clothes in front of his father to protest being disinherited. People have followed his example and used the naked body as a form of protest and to make a point. It may be one of the most eloquent ways to protest, one I can’t see being brave enough to do. Maybe, I’ve never believed in something enough!

Do we have the courage to stand up and be counted? Can we summon the courage to do what we know we must do to become who we really are? Sometimes it may be taking the podium, and sometimes it may be taking off our clothes. Whatever we stand for, whatever we think is important and right, at some point in our life we may have to make a stand. Will we have the courage?

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, courage, and love.

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Hardcover – Sep 12 2017

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