I've been noodling for almost a month now on what my word for 2014 would be.
Then flood hit, and fever, and flu, and snow. So much snow and I never got around to writing that post.
A very sick Uncle passed away. A flash of brilliant life was lost to gallons and gallons of vodka.
I thought on Monday I'd write it-- it was the 4th anniversary of our house fire. The day that everything and nothing change. A day that I still haven't checked into my "settled" mind and heart. A day that brings up bitterness and anger and disappointment, some for reasons I can understand and others for reasons I can't.
And then today, I wake after tossing and turning all night for unknown reasons, assuming it was being fired up after the State of the Union....
Reading on Facebook that my brother in law Joel was stranded on the interstate, sleeping in his car...
And then reading that my brother, Matt, who had only met once said brother in law, was packing cold wear gear, his boots, and heading out to the interstate to help Joel and all the other stranded travelers.
It was 6:30am.
All those other Atlantans were pressing their snooze buttons, hoping the kids would enjoy the snowday from school, pour their own cereal, and Mom and Dad could get a couple more hours of much needed sleep.
Matt and Erin were stuffing a backpack full of snacks and water, diapers and formula, flashlights and blankets... and he was hiking out to the road. To help... whomever.
The newspapers noticed him. He was the one in the picture. He made the front of the NYT for goodness sake. but there were so many other there. Helping. I have no doubt that seeing that made others choose to put on their cold weather gear and choose to help.
And the words I've been pushing around in my mind as my word for 2014 kept bubbling to the surface.
When you do those with authenticity, it comes often down to one word: Brave.
Can and adjective be a New Year's resolution? In late January? Who knows.
But I do know that Matt chose to be out there this morning, he was brave to do so, and I'm not sure I'd have made the same choice.
So much time when you are in the fog of parenting and working and life is spent in the gray matter-- the place where you just do what you do because that is the way you have done it, it is easy, it is known, and it is non-threatening.
But also? The gray? It is stifling. It is limiting and boring and scary and oh-so-very stuck.
So in 2014, my word of the year is Brave. I must act. And choose. To be brave.
Fear holds me back. It always has. You can ask my Mom about the book my G&T teacher gave her in 5th grade. It's imprinted on my heart.
I need to choose to find a balance between being a wife, a mother, and a kick ass lobbyist. Right now I'm working at 80% of all instead of 100% of one.
I need to act on my dreams and not be afraid of the consequences. 2014 needs to be a year of leaning in professionally but that takes bravery that I'm not sure I have right now.
I need to be brave enough to take some leaps in my life that are outside my comfort zone. I need to put up or shut up on things I'm scared of and just make them happen.
I need to be brave enough to say no more. But also yes more to some different things.
I need to choose myself sometimes first. I need to be brave enough to step away from the home for a weekend and trust that our world won't fall apart. I need to take a fun trip with my girlfriends.
I need to choose a passion and fight my way out of the gray matter and the "C+" life I'm living in. I don't know if it is advocating for infertility awareness, working harder for client issues I'm passionate about, or being a better Mom. But I need to find what it is, and I need to be brave enough to accept it.
I don't think I can even begin to explain the heart swelling feeling of pride I had today seeing my brother's story go viral.
Not just because I know him, but because I know his heart.
I need to see my little girl, who has no fear. No boundaries. Terrifies and inspires me. Climbs everything and everyone. And bottle it.
Perhaps bravery isn't in the choosing, but in the doing.
There's bravery in the ordinary and the extraordinary.
And I hope that those genes? Those ones we share? My brother and me? My daughter and me? They aren't too far off from one another, and one day, I too, can act. Choose. And be brave.