Posts by jillianreilly

Playful Disruptor 0

Playful Disruptor

Posted by on 1st Aug, 2018

What does Courage look like? It is gritted teeth? Held breath? Or bulging muscles and sweaty brows? Most of us associate courage with physical or emotional strength, with risky feats that leave us tired and spent. To be courageous we have to become outsized versions of ourselves, muster up the power to become supersized me’s. Courage takes effort, right? It’s serious business. Or is it? What if courage involved play? Or at the very least if we approached our risks and challenges with a playful spirit, a lighter heart. You might remember that playful kitten I referenced in my last Courage Camp blog post https://braveshift.com/courage-is-losing-control/ the one who taught me a thing or two about taming my inner Control Freak. Well our furry disruptor sparked an important conversation around a playful approach to courage, where we don’t take ourselves, the process or the outcomes too seriously. Most adults (especially us serious minded ones) bridle at the mention of play – as though it diminishes the importance of the task or issues at hand. Yet levity doesn’t imply frivolity – just a willingness to employ a fuller emotional range that validates joy, humor, and fun alongside all that gravitas. What if courage looked like belly laughs? Dancing feet? Squeals of...

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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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