Big Brave

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Big Brave

By Laura Toller Gardner

Big Brave

This is where I find myself in my life. It isn’t a badge of honor. It is a humbling admission of truth and discomfort.

Sourced from the Internet. Originator unknown yet appreciated.

Sourced from the Internet. Originator unknown and still appreciated.

Courage is the tour guide that ushers me along the journey that my fun-loving, peace-loving self would not willingly choose. I am, by the way, a notorious lover of pleasure and avoider of pain. Be forewarned.


From my youngest rememberings, I have been comfortably and powerfully aligned with my callings. “What I want to be when I grow up” was never a challenge for me to articulate. And now, at 44, I question the very core of who I know myself to be. This may sound like the standard, middle-aged (perish the thought!) rite of passage. I know it to be much deeper than that.

This is the gateway into another dimension of life that every moment before this one has guided me toward. That said, there is nothing easy, romantic, or enjoyable about this. Each day feels like I roll around in porcupine quills then put my clothing on and march out to meet an unsettling new normal, all the while the quills burrowing deeper no matter which way I move, or if I remain immobile.

Questioning Cuts to the Core of Ambition

Porcupine By Pearson Scott Foresman

Porcupine By Pearson Scott Foresman

1.) Why, really, do I write; and what if I gave up the dream to write for anyone but myself?

2.) What would be the consequences, now and far into many futures, if I never again served as a priestess?

3.) What would be unfulfilled if I fully embraced my corporate career to the exclusion of my career as a priestess?

4.) Is comfort and security a narcissistic or noble pursuit for a parentized child of a severely dysfunctional family?

Birthing What’s Next

What might be possible if all I believed I was destined to contribute, lead, experience, become was an illusion? What if it was an iridescent bubble that has popped, leaving me in a newly birthed state: soaking wet, a being of infinite potential yet without the developed skills to realize that potential, without conscious direction from the callings as I have known them to be?

Courage unfolds where the questions intersect with compassion. At the Fall Equinox I dedicated the next season to living in a state of self-love that for me is revolutionary. I affirmed a new way of being with myself and being with the world that applies holy salve to the porcupine quill wounds. Self care and compassion now appear as the release of judgement, letting up on the clutching pressure that has held the callings so tightly that I may have unknowingly crushed them.

Who and what am I beyond my familiar callings? This is the question of the season. And the inquiry may last significantly longer than that. We’ll see.


Should this be the just-right time for you to venture out from the familiar and join me with the porcupines…

What do you hold as sacred for yourself?

What might unfold if you questioned or challenged the sacred?

What is frightening or repellent about the questioning?


Laura Toller Gardner

Listening for the call...

Listening for the call…

I am a Notorious author, out-loud wonderer, irreverent observer of Life, earnest path finder and way-shower, lover of contagious laughter. Practical Enchantress, at your service. That’s today. Tomorrow is likely to be a whole different story.

Author: Jonathan Lewis

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  1. Thank you for sharing, Laura. I resonate with this and appreciate your open questioning. I especially like this: “Courage unfolds where the questions intersect with compassion.”
    Thank you…

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  2. Thank you Laura for your courage in sharing your journey and inviting us into our own inquiries. Always love your imagery and I myself have been hanging with the porcupines – feisty but informative little creatures!

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