“Brave, Afraid, and Very, Very Alive”

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Dear Reader:

I think the vast majority of us during different stages (or at least one stage) of our existence have lived lives more to please others than ourselves. At least I know that was true in my case.

Whether we chose a college major to please our parents or went into a family business we weren’t passionate about, or simply lost our nerve when we did have a chance to make a 180 degree turn in our life…most of us have experienced that awful feeling, way down in the pit of our stomach,  that keeps whispering to us that our lives aren’t matching up with who we really are. Something important is missing.

We, then,  reach a crossroad where we have to stop our life and do a self-examination. Author Brene Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) expressed what this looked like with these questions: What is the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

In order to let go of a former, preconceived life that no longer works or makes us feel alive, Brown says we have to learn to “cultivate courage, compassion, and connection.”  Each morning we need to think: No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. At night our inner voice must reassure us: “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

When I told mother at the end of my sophomore year in college that I was going to major in history…a very long, pregnant pause ensued. Then it came: “No Becky, you are going to major in history with a teaching degree so you can get a job when you leave college.” End of discussion.”

Normally you would expect me to complain about this maternal demand ruining my life and how I spent so many years trying to find my niche in life…my passion. Sorry…it didn’t turn out that way. Mother, Brer Rabbit, out-foxed me because she knew I was the storyteller and teaching would give me a “captive audience.”

Excerpt from the “Briar Patch”

“Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

“The briar patch, eh?” said Brer Fox. “What a wonderful idea! You’ll be torn into little pieces!”

Grabbing up the tar-covered rabbit, Brer Fox swung him around and around and then flung him head over heels into the briar patch. Brer Rabbit let out such a scream as he fell that all of Brer Fox’s fur stood straight up. Brer Rabbit fell into the briar bushes with a crash and a mighty thump. Then there was silence.

Brer Fox cocked one ear toward the briar patch, listening for whimpers of pain. But he heard nothing. Brer Fox cocked the other ear toward the briar patch, listening for Brer Rabbit’s death rattle. He heard nothing.

Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.

“I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox,” he called. “Born and bred in the briar patch.”

And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.


I must admit I was in a rage myself when I hung up from that long ago conversation with mother (Teaching! She’s got to be kidding me!”)….but as luck would have it…mom was right…teaching was/is my passion because I could story-tell social studies. I had grown up in the “briar patch of storytelling” and it was as familiar to me as breathing.

At some point the risk of losing ourselves feels far more dangerous than the risk of letting people see the real us. Brene Brown refers to this transformation as a “Wholehearted Revolutiona small quiet, grassroots movement that starts with each of us saying” My story matters because I matter.” 

“Little c” gave me the opportunity to write…and it’s true…I felt brave and afraid at the same time…but the little voice in 2010 said to me “This is it Becky, what you’ve been waiting for….write the blog and change your life.” I did and the voice rang true. Today I still feel brave, afraid, but most importantly I feel very, very alive.”

So until tomorrow….Let’s all be brave and afraid at the same time…because if we are feeling these extremes then we are gearing up for the change in our daily routine that will bring passion back into our lives.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

IMG_1444*Guess who stopped by yesterday? Honey! Ernie and Lance were just finishing up cutting the yard and I got to show Honey the garden… all cut and clean…with a new mandevilla in it that Honey gave me.

IMG_1439*** I was planning on having the OPEN GARDEN celebration this week until I heard the weather reports….so am tentatively thinking next Monday might be the day for a morning tour and an evening tour-hopefully one or the other will suit everyone.. Will keep you updated as the week unfolds and hopefully the weather improves.

*Walsh and Mollie celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary last evening and they too went to eat at the Oaks (like John and Mandy) and had a wonderful time just enjoying downtown Charleston. I kept the boys and once again it was a beautiful afternoon/evening.







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to “Brave, Afraid, and Very, Very Alive”

  1. Ging Edwards says:

    Becky…I just smiled when I read this bc I too thought I would never teach but years after graduating from college and working at CSU and CofC in the librarians I went back to school to get my Masters to be a SCHOO LIBRARIAN :)…which is where I found myself and loved every minute…know my parents shook their heads bc I had 15 month old twins at the time but it took them to make me realize that I needed to change my path and everything that I had done helped to prepare me for my career and my passion…


  2. Ging Edwards says:

    PS…I rsvp yesterday …got it all typed and then my phone acted up and it all went away…wanted to throw it in the briar patch. …


  3. Becky Dingle says:

    Looking for to having a chance to show what afraid and brave looks like with the creation of a garden….with lots of help from friends.


  4. Lisa Boyd says:

    Thank you Becky! I can look back over my life and see how God caused it all to work together in spite of me!!! It is this next stage that is giving me a fit!!!! Most probably letting go and let God! Prayers would be appreciated!!!!!!


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Looking back provides the clarity that the present/future don’t! We just have to keep believing that one day we will look down on our present problems as necessary to precede down the right path.


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