Sunflower seed harvest

“Hey! Maybe you’ll wake up with a bit of bravery tucked in your pocket tomorrow.”

Before brushing away to find the seeds

I spoke those words this week. Bravery doesn’t come easily.

I recently failed at being courageous when I woke up in the middle of the night in Malawi to an animal being attacked nearby. My heart raced as I lay under the mosquito net, the piercing cries of the house cat echoing in the otherwise quiet night. Was it a snake? A rabid dog? I thought the noise was coming from the veranda — pitch black in the African night. I threw back the net, and raced in my pajamas to help. Adrenaline fueled, I threw open the bedroom door to alert someone — Matt, his family, anyone asleep on the other side of the house — when I realized, in fact, the attack was not happening outside, but in the room I just entered.

The dark room.

The dark room with a very peculiar smell and an eeriness that made every inch of my body lurch. I spun back into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. As soon as I was safely back within the light, with the door closed, the fight continued. The poor cat was fighting for her life in the adjoining dining room — but I didn’t know where the light switch was or how to get anyone’s attention on the other side of the house.

How did the attacker get into the dining room? Could it get in my bedroom?

And I knew one thing for certain — I was not brave enough to go into that dark room and save the cat.

Gorgeous blooms

I tucked my yellow belly back into bed,  shaking with fear and nerves — my terror of snakes running rampant. By the time the sun rose, I’d fallen back to sleep. I’d meant to stay awake until the moment I could rush to the other side of the house for help, but I crashed. By the time I got up and found Matt’s mom — she was entirely confused at my worry. She’d woken to an open kitchen window and a couple animal “accidents” on the dining room floor, but no blood.

And no cat.

It took a while for the house kitty to return, but she did. With tufts of her fur matted, she sauntered back into the living room one afternoon. I nearly cried with relief. I was convinced she’d gone into the jungle to die after I’d failed to save her from the mysterious boogieman. The little warrior had survived again, more than likely an attack from a village cat that had climbed in the kitchen window looking for a snack. Once I realized she was fine, it was me who left the room with my tail between my legs.

I always eye dare devils with suspicion, wondering if they actually like life. It must be easier to take sweeping risks when what you have isn’t so precious. My move to Colorado in April is about as brave as I’ve been in the last 10 years. It isn’t like moving to Cameroon to live in a village hut, but it is fully challenging my routine and comfort. I hope becoming a bit braver is just the first of many great changes.


14 Replies to “Yellow”

  1. How scary! Weird how your body does that though, it must be a bit of a survival instinct? My Grandma was a victim of a home invasion robbery. After the guy got done taking some stuff and her car keys he told her to go back to bed. And she did! She woke up when the cops came to the house because the guy had wrecked her car one street over.

  2. I think there are a lot of different kinds of bravery. Being open about how you feel about other people and telling them how much you love them? That’s it’s own kind of bravery too. My first thought on reading your tweet about this post was to think that you couldn’t possibly be talking about yourself, because you seem like a very courageous person to me. I’ve take some big risks like relocating across the country to pursue new goals more than once, but I think being open about my feelings is where my courage fails me. Don’t be afraid to embrace the bravery you already own 🙂

  3. I think kimu is right. There are a lot of kinds of bravery. The tiny bit of researcher in me is fascinated by the show “What Would You Do?” (although some things in it are admittedly overly dramatic) because it shows what happens and how many people step forward and are REALLY brave when a person/persons need help. Most of the time, though, the necessary bravery is emotional – to stand up for another person in front of others when you think they are being mistreated. I often see you speak up for others.

    What a scary thing to have happened! I say what you did makes you smart not yellow! 😉

    Doesn’t everyone need a Madonna quote about bravery (this struck me along the lines of your Love Week post :))
    “To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.” — Madonna

    So this is the longest comment ever, but this Colorado thing is HUGELY brave. I’m a little jealous as I ponder some brave moves of my own and will be waiting to hear about the ups and downs of your move! 🙂
    Oprah’s thoughts on bravery say it better than I can:
    “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” — Oprah Winfrey

  4. I was wondering…is this part of your new novel? well I would have been scared too! But I’m glad you can describe what happened that way, it surely is interesting to read 🙂 And about Colorado…you go girl! getting out of your comfort zone will let you grow even more 🙂 best of luck!

  5. First, being a cat lover, I’m glad the little house kitty survived. Secondly, you’ve done some incredibly brave things most people never attempt…joining the Peace Corps, living in Mexico, your numerous exotic travels, publishing novels, planting orchards. It’s only natural to have mixed feelings when you’re leaving a place with close friends and familiar places you enjoy. It’s hard to leave the known and head into the unknown. But you’re doing it as a trial, right? If you decide you like Arizona better, you can always come back with another adventure under your belt.

  6. Funny that I read your post about bravery today when we took the first step in what will be a long process. Today we took my daughter to tour a college that is over two hours away from home and 245 miles round trip to be exact. She is only a junior in high school and technically wont be leaving for another year and seven months. But the drive and the thought of my one and only child leaving home and being that far away is very hard. I can’t let my fear and anxiety turn into keeping her in her room for the rest of her life (can I?). No, I have to become “brave” so that I can help her to go from being a young girl to become an independent young woman. Bravery is trust in knowing that no matter how scary the situation we are facing, that God will see us through. Whether it be moving, sending a child to college, facing cancer or just getting out of our comfort zone when we let go of fear and embrace bravery we can face any challenge that comes our way.

  7. You are indeed brave and abundance will be yours in Colorado! Stepping into the unknown does call for bravery. I have no doubt the journey will prove being brave was worth it.

  8. Kelli, you relayed that story so well! I had my hand over my mouth while reading it. It took me back to my grade school days and slumber parties when we would work ourselves up into such fright with ghost stories and then try to stay awake in case Bloody Mary or the Man With the Hook Hand would show up. Inevitably, though, we would all fall sound asleep only to awake to the smell of breakfast….not blood. :0)

    As far as your move…it is scary, and it is brave. And it is yet another thing that we have in common. I lived in Indiana for 30+ years and then picked up and moved clear across the country to the Valley of the Sun. However, I never had the courage to go to another country alone!!! Girl, if you can do that, you can do anything! And you’ll have family there, too…that’s a blessing. You’ll be great!

  9. I’d be scared to death if it happened to me, so no bravery on my side too……
    And moving, leaving behind all that you’ve known for so many years, is a very difficult task to achieve, it means new people to get to know, new habits to establish, new places to make your own…… that’s brave enough to me!

  10. I just knew reading your post that some wild animal was going to jump out at any minute…I’m glad the kitty is ok though. 🙂 I was scared for you and him for a bit.
    As a friend always reminds me, “You’ve got this girl!” It is scary but exhilirating at the same time. Just enjoy the ride…bumps and all. Safe move my friend.

  11. Hooray for being brave and moving! 🙂

    I am so looking forward to visiting each other in our new cities.

    I am watching Magnum PI as I type. His shorts are extra short this episode. Meeeeeow.

  12. Hi Kelli –
    My daughter moved to Denver last July and loves it. You will, too, and it will be great for you to be near your brother. Do you have a new job lined up? What will you do with your condo in AZ?

  13. While living in Granada, I was in our bedroom and heard the sound of what I thought were two humans trying to break into our house from the roof. There was screaming (not mine). Clay tiles were shattered. Turns out, it was two cats mating. Something that is really common in Central American cities. Fun times.

    On courage, you display courage every time you share on this blog. It takes courage to be honest, and your honesty (while keeping your life private) is what keeps me coming back, four years later.

  14. Ahhhh! You are moving! We should meet for lunch or something before you go. So crazy, but I just kind of feel like I have this online kindrid that happens to live a couple hours from me. Lots of craziness and a potential move in my future too.

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