What is the courage to live a vital life? What do these words really mean? The phrase sounds good, so what do you really have to do to live a vital life? I googled the phrase, and the words, and began to write. I do not consider myself to be courageous but I do try to live a life that is, well, vital.
I am blessed in many ways; my health, my family, my job, and the people I know and love. I try my best to make people feel special and validated. Sometimes I miss the mark, but I keep trying. In general, I think I have a positive outlook on life. I want to make life the best it can be, not only for myself but also for the people who share the world with me.
In regard to the courage to live a vital life, I found a quote by Brene Brown who defined courage as follows: “The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. (Coronary). In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all in one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.”
After researching courage, I looked up the word vital. It is defined by Dictionary.com as something that is absolutely essential or necessary to sustain life. If you connect these two definitions, we can conclude that speaking one’s mind by telling all that is in your heart (a.k.a. courage) is essential to living a vital life.
Telling all that is in your heart requires you to be yourself and express it in how you live. You must exercise courage in order to live up to your full potential and leave your mark on the world. Further, we have to have courage in order to take advantage of the opportunities that life offers.
Opportunities… how do you take advantage of them? I have found you must grab a hold of the reins of your life. Do not let someone else direct you. Go somewhere new, take a class, try to meet new people, and do new things. Do something different. Surround yourself with the best people you know.
In short, the courage to live a vital life is to explore, love, cry, and laugh with everything you have inside you.
Sally J. Gesouras is a commercial loan officer for Mechanics Bank in Mansfield, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Toledo and a Master’s degree in Executive Management from Ashland University. Sally and her husband, Nick, live in Lexington, Ohio.
Travel Light. These words are the signature to my correspondence whether it is a blog, email or a letter. People often ask if I offer tips for how to pack luggage lightly when preparing for a trip after seeing these two words. That can definitely be one interpretation, but not my intention.
While on the road traveling for work over a five-year period, I am grateful to say that I have explored my fair share of cities. There were periods that I was in the same place for a few months, sometimes only a week and more commonly a day. With this active travel schedule and long work days, I thought I would create a blog so I could share photos and stories with friends and family while on the road. I decided on BohemianBabeTravels.com as the name of the site. Bohemian because it seemed to be the perfect fit for my unconventional lifestyle and Babe as a reminder to always find something to be in awe of in the world around me.
When I set out on the road to organize events, I had two storage units and more household type items at a friend’s place where I would stay when coming home for a quick family visit and to swap out luggage before hitting the road again. I had enough stuff to comfortably furnish a three-bedroom house at this time. While living as a road warrior, I came to appreciate and be content with the two suitcases of belongings I had. It was an adjustment but taught me how to live in a more simplistic way.
While managing an event, I met a nine-year girl who began asking me a ton of questions like curious children often do. After talking for a few minutes and attempting to understand my current lifestyle, she asked, “You mean you don’t go home every night? Where is all of your stuff? What do you miss the most?” As basic as these questions might have sounded, it stopped me in my tracks and I paused before answering. This child was referring to a material object and I couldn’t think of one thing that I actually missed. Not one. At that moment I couldn’t actually even think of one thing I owned that was back at my home base. The list I missed that popped into my head was game night with my family, holding my puppies, going out with friends, celebrating birthdays, holidays, life events together, and seeing faces, hearing laughter and sharing simple moments with those I loved. I came to realize that although I had accumulated all of this “stuff’, none of it held meaning for me nor made me happy. Creating memories with my tribe is what I missed the most, not material belongings.
Through my travels, I met a lot of different folks. I am the person that others refer to as, “that girl has never met a stranger.” I will pretty much talk to anyone. It is my babe view on the world; my lust to learn, and knowing that everyone has a story to share. Some of the most prolific moments in my life came through “random” encounters with “strangers.” I learned more in these times than any formal classroom could have ever taught me. There is much to gain in practicing presence and simply listening. I am grateful for the chance to have connected with people from all walks of life and the things I learned along the way. The stories people shared, the advice they gave, the dreams they aspired to achieve, and the hardships life presented them with were all pivotal in shaping the person I am today and essential in preparing me for the road that lay ahead.
The buzz phrase today is “being present.” This can often be hard to achieve when we go through the motions of our routines. We get comfortable in doing what we know and less willing to adventure outside of that safety zone. Even if people are unhappy, they will at times choose to stay where they are just because it is familiar. This is fine, but it can lead to getting stuck. When we aren’t moving forward, we become stagnant and cease to grow. It is easy to say “break out of the routine, hit the road, and discover yourself.” Please know while this is a dream for most, it is also not always practical and not at all what I’m saying. I would like to invite others to recognize the world – with those babe like eyes and get your bohemian on – by choosing a different approach to your routine. Break out of that comfort zone and allow yourself to view the world through a new lens. Perhaps it is something as simple as going boho by taking an alternate route to work that day, or being a babe by walking outside during your lunch break to establish a connection, whether it is within a flower, a cloud in the sky or even someone passing. Recognize the essence and beauty of its being. Traveling light doesn’t require a trip anywhere except within yourself. Let go of the stuff that doesn’t serve you. When you choose to hold onto it, it is really holding onto you. Let go and grow. Just breathe and be. This is the discovery of something awe striking when you align with your own divine light.
Christina Grozik (Bohemian Babe) has spent the past five years on the road traveling. Her journeys allowed her to meet extraordinary people, immerse herself in unique cultures and partake in amazing experiences. More importantly, she discovered lessons that would change her life forever. She has combined her roles as a Kent State University professor and media specialist with her wellness background. She is a Certified Vibrational Sound Therapist, Integrated Health Coach, Yoga Teacher, Polarity Practitioner, Energy Worker, and Reiki Specialist. With these modalities, she aims to help others find presence and balance. While she is known as a teacher, she also considers herself to be a student of life and pays gratitude to each day that allows her to be a part of it. She is currently working on a documentary about the impact of sound and believes in practicing good vibes only. GoingOmFilm.com
When I was asked to do this blog my first thought was, I don’t want to strip my label. I don’t think labels are always bad. I am a librarian, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a 29-year breast cancer survivor- all labels I am proud to have. Each one defines a part of my life. Some labels I wouldn’t mind losing, like being a procrastinator, judgmental, or stubborn. I am working on those.
It is a normal human behavior to label things and people to help us understand them. If you consider how a child learns to talk or read, the first things she learns are labels for people and things. Mama, Dada, milk, cookie…. As children have more experience they get a more complete understanding of each thing. In some ways, it’s the same for adults. When we meet someone new, we ask them for their labels. “What do you do for a living?” “Do you have any children?” “Where do you live?” We are looking for a connection or a way to know the person better. The problem comes when we think if we know the label that is all there is to know.
We need to be willing to take the time to get to know the real person we have just met. The labels we identify are just a starting point. Find out what other experiences or feelings have shaped the life of your new acquaintance. You may find you have made a lifelong friend.
Many labels are rooted in stereotypes. I am proud to be “The Library Lady”. My license plate even says, “SHHH”. As a librarian, many people think they know what kind of person I am just because of the profession I have. I am thought to be a quiet person who reads all day, and who is really interested if you have overdue books. I can’t count the number of times when I mention I am a librarian that the first thing a person tells me is that they have overdue books or fines.
I can be a quiet person sometimes and I do like to read when I have time, but you might be surprised if you saw me at a party. I am usually the first one on the dance floor and often the last one to leave. I am a country music fan, which surprises some people who know me. I love cars and often go to car shows with my husband. I prefer driving a car with a manual transmission, but they are hard to find anymore.
Labels can be limiting, not only in our relationships but also in our own minds. I am happy to be a breast cancer survivor, but when I was going through treatment I decided I wasn’t going to let this change my life any more than absolutely necessary. I continued to work and care for my young children. I wore a wig cut to my regular hairstyle so it wasn’t obvious to those who didn’t know me well that I was undergoing cancer treatments. I did as much of my regular routine as I could, with a lot of help from my husband. I didn’t want cancer to define me to others or myself.
Labels do help others get to know us, but we have to get beyond the stereotypes to really get to know one another. To make a true connection we have to have real conversations that explore our values, our feelings and how we see ourselves and each other. We need to be willing to let others see us as we are.
It is difficult to be open with others, especially those who are new to us. We feel vulnerable when we don’t know how someone will react to what we reveal of ourselves. But we have to be brave enough to be vulnerable if we are to live authentically. We also need to examine our own values and live in accordance with them. Do we act differently because we worry about what a certain person or group will think of us? If we try to live consciously, working toward the person we want to become, we can be open to others and let them see our real selves. It isn’t easy and it takes time and work, just like any worthwhile endeavor.
Deborah L. Dubois is the Outreach Coordinator at the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library where she has worked for 34 years. Deborah enjoys taking the Library out into the community and sharing what a wonderful resource we have in Richland County. She loves to dance, travel, take photos, and of course, read. She is married to Deacon Tom Dubois and has two daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.