Cultivating Courage

Updated on December 3, 2017

Michelle ReenaBy Reena Lazar and Michelle Pante

Cultivating courage arose from a trip to Ottawa with my family last summer where we almost melted during the heatwave. Despite the heat, my pre-teen daughter and I noticed how lush and green the lawns were at Parliament Hill. Back home in Vancouver, brown lawns were the norm due to drought and major watering restrictions. We got pumped-up about writing a letter to the Prime Minister suggesting the government of Canada let the lawns go brown; it would send a powerful message about water conservation to Canadians and the millions of international tourists that visit each year. Yes! I was raising an engaged citizen. Let’s do it!

We never wrote that letter.

Harsh inner critic #1: “Congrats, stellar example of apathy and not honouring your word. Don’t you know everything is a learning opportunity? What a crappy mother you are.”

Harsh inner critic #2: “You’re preoccupied by a letter you didn’t write last summer? Get a life. Six people were just killed while praying in their mosque. The leader of the most powerful country in the world is enacting discriminatory policies endangering many more lives… what are you going to do about THAT?”

One of the reasons this unwritten letter gets under my skin is because seeing an opportunity to make a difference and letting it go is not what I stand for. Last year, I articulated in my Heart Will how I want to be remembered and what I want to be known for. For the first time, I have all this insight or self-knowledge captured in one place. I love it!

Cultivating the courage to write my Heart Will sent me on a powerful discovery process. Now, my Heart Will calls me to action and inspires me to be my best self.

My Heart Will holds me to account every day.

It’s why that damn letter gets under my skin.

Here’s who I am and what I stand for. I want to be known for:

  • Being someone people can count on to “do the right thing.”
  • Cultivating love, courage, and self-determination in myself and in others.
  • Being a great mother, daughter, partner and friend.
  • Being a believer in a radically compassionate God.
  • Appreciating the beauty that is present every day and everywhere in nature and in people.
  • Seeing possibility and making things happen.
  • Loving, honouring and cherishing the gift of life in all its forms.
  • Facilitating a positive shift in cultural norms around end of life planning, rituals and mourning.
  • Reshaping the bereavement/deathcare industry to reflect people’s desires for meaningful engagement and a lighter environmental footprint.
  • Being a ‘game changer’ impact investor and philanthropist.  

Writing my Heart Will was a powerful discovery process.   

I will write that letter with my daughter and I will continue to use my voice, my feet, my heart and my pocketbook to oppose violence and hatred and encourage compassion, peace and justice.

How about you?

What do you stand for?

When your inevitable death comes, what do you want to be known for?


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