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Brave Girls Camp Part I

Thanks for the image Sheila!
What do these two words mean to you?
I started off this summer trying to figure this out, surrounded by art,

a beautifully peaceful vista,

 and a group of women with various backgrounds and different reasons for attending the Brave Girls Art Camp. 

Autumne Horan's photo.
I have ended this summer thankful that I pulled the plug and jumped over hurdles to make this adventure work into my life, for I have utilized much of what I took from my four day experience to be brave during a summer filled with transitions. I would like to share it with you in the hopes that you might be able to utilize some of what I learned.
For those of you who have not been in ear shot of me when I have launched into heralding the virtues of the Brave Girls Club, here is your quick Brave Girls Club 101 lesson. It is an uplifting online, inspirational and motivational “worldwide community of women, of every age, who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life that they can possibly live…and that means something different to each and every one of us.”
 That is the caveat…being brave means something different to the woman you are sitting next to on the train, to the one you are class mom with, to the one you share office space with, to the one you are in line next to at the grocery store, to the one you are cheering with at your child’s sports game, to the one you are kneeling next to in church.  Each of us has a different path that has taken us to this stage in life…where our life is right now. We have our own set of individualized triumphs and trials that have influenced us and continue to do so on our path of where we would like to take this beautiful life whose beauty is often disguised by both these triumphs and trials.  What is not different about us, is that we are all beautiful souls who have often forgotten about what life was like for us when we were 8 years old…the fun, the joy of life, the dreams, the idea that we could do anything, be anything…we were unstoppable! Then life happens.
  Melody Ross and her sister Kathy Wilkins cofounded the Brave Girls Club  in 2009 and that is one of their messages that they like to make you think about. All of their messages are so true but they are said with such depth and eloquence that I do not feel that I can do them justice. I would like to speak to how they have affected my life but to find out more, do yourself a favor and check out their site www.bravegirlsclub.com
 Read the ABOUT part first, EACH and EVERY section of it and you will understand!
My obsession with Brave Girls Club started a few years back when I saw on my Face book feed one of their Daily Truth emails which felt was written just for me. It immediately made me look them up to find out more. Once I did, I was hooked. I signed up for their Daily Truth emails, entitled “A Little Bird Told Me” and you can too, once on their site. I sent these messages to women in my life who I felt needed them and shared them on my FB page. I went on their site and found out about their Brave Girls Camp. Almost four days of immersing myself in creative pursuits and art all based on feeding my soul???
SOLD! Well almost…I clicked on that link probably one hundred times over a three year period and the timing was never right. I had done that for another creative function that I had wanted to attend years back and it never happened and now, they no longer hold the event I had so badly wanted to attend. This time I pulled the trigger. Do you believe in things that sometime happen that look like a neon sign telling you that this was meant to be? 
I do.
That neon sign blinked at me in the form of my request to be put on the waiting list for the June 10th date only (my kids would have just ended school), being answered that they were adding two more spots. (It was sold out for the rest of 2014 and will start to fill up for 2015 shortly) I was desperately in need of “living” some of their messages and of restoring my “brave girl face!” I had to answer quickly before the spots were released to their almost 100,000 FB followers and to their who knows how many web followers. 
I booked it, credit card and all without even consulting my husband and family. To be embarrassingly honest with you, I apparently had the location of Idaho (the Brave Girls Club local) and Iowa confused, for after impulsively hitting Send on my registration, I looked at possible flights and was shocked to see flight times of seven and half to fourteen hours. Another small detail overlooked before I pulled the trigger. Another lesson I learned while there, backed up my impulsive decision. WE WILL ALWAYS FIND AN EXCUSE NOT TO… 
Now that I had ignored my excuses “not to,” I made my way to the Brave River Ranch in Idaho, solo,  having no idea what I would find at the other end of my journey. Looking back on my travels, I found it so apropos that my seat companion on the plane ride there was a young man, who looked to be a recent college graduate currently employed and heading somewhere on a business trip. That fact, in and of itself is not earth shattering. What is, is that we spoke not a word to each other on the four hour flight, except when I asked him if I could please sneak past him to use the restroom. To which he mumbled, “sure.”Now let me give you a little background on why this was earth shattering. I am constantly teased by my family in that I always seem to get a person’s life story whilst sitting next to them on a plane, or at the grocery store, or wherever we may be. They have been known to stand at the end of an exit ramp of a plane waiting patiently for me as I bring up the rear of the plane talking to my new found friend. They used to ask, “What took you so long?” Now they ask, “Where is he/ she from? What is their story?” as they shake their heads at me. With this young gentleman, there was a definite air and unapproachable bubble around him that said, “Do not speak, ” when I said hello and then climbed over his lap to get to my seat  So I didn’t, as I sweated profusely hoping against hope that I did not fall asleep and me being the bobble head, wake up sleeping on his shoulder. That might have really freaked him out. I will apologize now for having to read Part #2 to find out why that is so apropos. 
The few days spent at the Brave River Ranch were some of the deepest days that I have had in my lifetime. Spent with women from all walks and stages of life…mothers, widowers, company owners, art teachers, army sergeants (majors?), daughters, nannies and teachers;
 all looking to live life a little more deeply,
The truth whispers and never gives up
 a little more meaningful, 
Our art journals
a little more creatively
The fabulous ART BARN
 and just a tad bit braver for I think we already are pretty darn brave! 
We knew not what to expect but had been lured here by the promise of relishing in the creative genius of Melody, Kathy and her crew whilst immersing ourselves in art as they gently handled our souls as to help us expand our horizons as we came to the conclusion that:
We were pampered with scrumptious home cooked meals that we delightfully shared with each other around tables that were beautifully and personally decorated. (Seriously, was that not the best lemon ice cream and sugar cookie bowl ever?)
We were over the moon being surrounded by art supplies and the thrill of uninterrupted creativity for three days.
The scene as we arrived…

My “area” a little later!

We laughed, we cried, we shared, we twirled, we created, we talked late into the night with our new roomies, we walked, we talked some more, we sang, we drank Cool Aide, we got in touch with our eight year old selves and listened to what they had to say to our 80 year old selves, we were still and listened to what we had to say to ourselves, we were brutally honest…and we did this all with strangers…who at the end of the four days… became a band of sisters who will carry the Brave Girl message on with them that I think is the most important one…
We are all traveling through this thing called life together, let’s try and make the road a little easier for each other.

So…as I finally write this after pages and pages of crossed out and edited text that I have written beginning on my airplane ride home, I realize why it took me so long to summarize my experience out West, not in the midwest as I had originally thought. There was so much that I took away from my time in Idaho, how was I to encapsulate it without writing a book? (My posts are already too long!) What kicked me in the butt to get this finished was the fact that it was my oldest son’s twenty third Birthday today, and he is not here. He left last weekend to participate in a nine month wilderness, find out what makes you tick and run with it to find your future, executive function planning, independent living skills program for young men with ADHD and learning differences. He will be out in Wyoming for nine months and I already miss him dearly. He is my biggest challenge in life and my greatest reward at the same time. He is my right arm here at our little farm and my left arm when it comes to setting up for our barn sales. Yet, again, and all to close together, another one in our nest has flown off to find their path and the transition of life as it continues on without them, is an adjustment. One in which many of us have thought we yearned for… a quite house, peace in the bathroom…alone, at times in their rambunctious younger years. Then the thought, in their teenage years of, will we survive this? all thrown to the wayside when they are gone.  
Those strings are still attached on our end with worry being the thread. The Brave Girls Camp experience made me stronger in facing my fears for my children, helping me to let go of my control over everything, to let the chips fall where they may.  Things happen, life goes on, it is beautiful, it is grand, it is meant to be lived with ALL of our heart and soul.  
From the bottom of my heart, a sincere thank you to the brave girls who helped me to get to this place. You know who you are and your brave souls have been imprinted onto my heart as well as your stories. To the quiet guidance of Melody, Kathy, Patrice, D’wana and the rest of the Brave Girls staff, you are all amazing in bringing your gifts to the table to be shared by others. 
My apologies to those that are reading this that there is a part two to come tomorrow night…late. My flight home was a revelation in and of itself and that little neon light blinking, “this was meant to happen” was working overtime and I have to share. I cannot continue on now, for our youngest (one of our two left at home) came down with a fever and a bad cold today and it is time to tuck him in. 
As always, thank you for reading my musings about life. Writing is very cathartic for me and I am thankful to have a place to do so. I promise that after the next installment, I will get to lighter material for we are neck deep in preparation for the Fall Barn Sale and writing will have to be put on hold for a bit!

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  1. Lora Dawn says:

    What a rich and beautiful post, Meg. You are wise, brave and delightful!

  2. Diana skurka says:

    Meg…thank you for warming my heart today with your words, your wisdom and our shared memories. Miss and love you Brave Girl.

  3. Lifes Patina says:

    Diana and Lora, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments. So often I feel like I am writing into thin air so I appreciate communication especially from you girls. I wish as part of the registration, we all had to keep coming back year after year after year…at a reduced rate. Ha! Ha! Wouldn’t it be neat to see the progress and growth with each other? Miss you my friends! xoxo

  4. Kass says:

    Thank you so much Meg for this beautiful post.This really took me back to those precious days at camp. Such a life changing experience – you have captured it perfectly.