Posts by jillianreilly

Courage Camp – France 2018 0

Courage Camp – France 2018

Posted by on 22nd Jan, 2018

I was the first person in my family to get a passport. A kind of declaration of independence. Confirmation – in case anyone needed it – that my life would be different than theirs. That I would be Different from them. Mom, Dad, I’m going to see the world. Wait, no, more than that! I’m going to know that world. And let it know me too. First stop, France, on a summer exchange program. France! (You can almost hear the teenage squeal) Liberte! Fraternite! France occupies a special place in our global imagination, doesn’t it? Synonymous with fine foods, rich culture. Amour! A land synonymous with pleasure. Pleasure? What did a 15-year old “good girl” know about pleasure? What right did a 15-year old good girl have to take decisions driven by pleasure? Pleasure didn’t feature prominently in my Midwestern vocabulary – except, maybe, maybe, as it related to the purchase of a new pair of shoes (the ones that everyone else had) or jeans (the ones with the correct name or animal on the back pocket). Ours was a world of muted expectations, of reasoned ambitions framed mostly by respectability and financial success. We conformed. So spectacularly that successful conforming was viewed as a kind of achievement. My...

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*More Free. More Me. 0

*More Free. More Me.

Posted by on 1st Sep, 2017

I couldn’t help feeling like a fraud in the days leading up to Courage Camp.  A happy fraud, mind you, but still a fraud.   Courageous wasn’t something I was raised to be.  Courage was the purview of others—people I didn’t know, or at least wasn’t friends with.  Boys.  Big mouths.  People who stood up to bullies and stood out in a crowd.  I’d spent a fair portion of my life hiding. How long before one of these paid participants figured that out? I arrived at Mt. Hope Farm in Bristol, Rhode Island and was immediately struck by its heady combination of natural beauty and history.  The place possessed such an endearing simplicity, everything – from buildings to butterflies – a perfect rendering of natural and human capability.  The original Inn.  The original barn.  Both at once original and restored.  Both bearing names, plaques, stories.  It all felt so worthy. Maybe if I checked in I’d feel more like I belonged. “Oh so you’re one of the Courage Camp organizers.” That was the manager of the place.  I swore I caught a side eye as she said it.  Was she expecting muscles?  A cape? The sheen of someone practiced in everyday heroics?  Actually she just wanted to show me...

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Courage is… 0

Courage is…

Posted by on 22nd May, 2017

Courage is… Stepping into the empty space that nobody else is wiling to fill. And filling it. With Ideas and Ideals. Tears. Hopes. Fears. Screams. Hugs. Dreams. Everything that scares us. Because they raise the risk that we might not be…. Accepted. Agreed with. Approved of. Supported. Liked. Wanted. Loved They raise the risk that we might find ourselves alone.  And alone is, I think, what scares us the most. Courage is looking Alone in the face.  And smiling.  Because alone isn’t so scary after all.  It’s just me.  It’s just us.  It’s where peace...

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Boys To Men 0

Boys To Men

Posted by on 26th Mar, 2017

I’ll never forget that bright morning when the sonographer told me I was having a boy.  She moved her chilly, flat wand across my belly, showing me all of Luke’s emerging contours and creases, focusing in on that one piece of incontrovertible evidence – the marker of his masculinity.  “Yup, there it is,” she said, settling on his tiny penis. Christopher and I giggled on cue.  A boy!  I think we were meant to feel triumphant, like in the movies.  A boy! A boy? I walked around London for days in a daze. What would I do with a boy?  A grubby, boisterous boy.  What did I know of boys?  The men in my life – the loved and the lovers—all remained mysteries to me — their blunt simplicity endearing and maddening and cruel, often all at once. I kept walking, looking for comfort in the green, damp blooms of a London spring. Then in April Luke came to me.  And I held him, for hours I couldn’t let him go.  I clutched him like nothing I’d ever held before, loved him like no one before.  His body a part of my body, his cries somehow linked to my own.  A part of me now walked in the world....

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Walking Away – Saying No and Yes 0

Walking Away – Saying No and Yes

Posted by on 9th Mar, 2017

That sound you hear is probably not your feet running. Very few of us get out of that job, relationship, or commitment in a dramatic rush.  Maybe all you hear are faint tip toes. A couple of unsteady steps forward. Or the determined, deliberate gait of one foot after the other. Two of the very hardest words to say are “No” and “Yes”.  No to that which no longer serves you. Yes to whatever risks you’re tempted to take in order to realize your calling. The thing is, you have to say No and Yes together, one after the other, doesn’t matter in which order. Because No without Yes can leave you in limbo. While Yes without No can quickly turn dreams into fantasies. If you want to walk towards something better, you’ve got to be prepared to walk away from that which doesn’t serve you. Obvious, right? But think about what exactly you have to leave behind. Think hard. A dead end situation, of course. But — much more importantly– all the parts of you that kept you in that situation in the first place. The negative mental models and self-sabotaging behaviors, the insecurities and fears, they don’t serve us. Never will. And yet many of us spend...

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