brave in sadness, brave in love

Aug 17, 2008 | Life in Progress

(the magic of manzanita, oregon. captured by the eyes of karen walrond)

the truth is is that i wasn’t sure if i should blog about the love bomber retreat. i worried about hurt feelings, bee stings of the heart, friends feeling left out. lord knows these are all feelings i know well and i certainly didn’t want to create these feeling for anyone who may read this blog. the truth is is that i know how it feels to witness the gatherings of kindred spirits and wonder why i wasn’t included. i also know how it feels to already be surrounded by true blue, real life friends, and still struggle with feelings of being excluded or not belonging. i’ve written about my tender spots around all of this here and here and here.

but then i learned something crucial during the retreat. one morning andrea led us through a truly transformative exercise that helped each of us define our core values – the heart and soul of our lives, the essence of who we are and what we want to invite more of into our lives. at the end of the exercise, what came through loud and clear for me were these words: i wanted to live my life brave in sadness, brave in love.

(that’s me taking it all in. photo by jen lee.)

to me, brave in sadness means sitting with my tender spots and my vulnerabilities. it means facing the direction of my fear and inching my way through it to the other side. it means expressing my broken pieces with absolute courage, whether in writing, conversation, or my art. it means seeing the light of possibility in my disappointments. it means giving my sadness a rightful voice, listening to it, and allowing it to birth experiences i need in my life.

this all brings me to a few months ago when i was longing for a very specific gathering of women. women i felt called to. women i admired from afar. women who seemed to hold and embrace their own power in creativity, in love, and in their offerings. no longer wanting to be a bystander and witness to other people’s creative gatherings, i secretly wished for the reality in my own life. that’s when my heart insisted that perhaps i create the very thing it needed – a gathering of these very women. and so it unfolded.

i suppose what i’m trying to say is that this retreat was born from a vulnerable place inside of my core. from feeling a little left out. from wanting more. from being brave in my sadness and creating the experience that i knew would tend to my broken pieces. the same is possible for you. we all have layers of tenderness, dreams waiting to be born. and we all have courage waiting inside the pockets of our brokenness. when we acknowledge and embrace all of these vulnerabilities, we pave the way for an expansion of spirit. for an opportunity of growth. for rebirth. for really seeing ourselves. and most importantly, for creating the experiences we most need.

and then…. just as we’re brave in the sadness, let’s be brave in love. let’s courageously, and without apology, express our discoveries. our joys. our being seen. our seeing others. let’s celebrate the community, the self discoveries, the highs, and all that we’ve been shown. let’s not be afraid to express these pieces. afterall, this is where the beauty and goodness live.

so that is where i’m at tonite. i want to honor where i’ve been this past week (and who i’ve been with).
i want to honor all that i’ve brought home with me.
i want to share it here in this space without fear that i’m inviting hurt.

i want to be brave in sadness, brave in love. especially in love.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (38 comments)
  1. Sugar

    All I keep thinking is how madly in love with this idea I am… I am creating a retreat in my mind of a small brewing tribe… and thanks to all of you ladies, I feel like it will be amazing, no matter what…

  2. all over the map

    I read this post a few days ago and I had to let it sit for a bit. I knew I wanted to say something but I was cautious because I felt vulnerable and even a bit uncomfortable opening up and leaving a comment. While I like to think I’m confident and comfortable the truth is sometimes I’m not and sometimes I feel things but have a hard time deciding where I want to draw the line – meaning how much do I wish to expose and put out there for others to know.
    I cried when I read the first paragraph. Tears fell hard. While I don’t feel “left-out” personally it hit me hard that I am missing and lonely for the connection of friends. My woman friends and connecting with like-minded woman.
    I feel similar to what Karen (chookooloonks)expressed. I’m watching from afar as others make it a reality wishing it for myself but sort of thinking it’s not going to happen for me.
    You put the “b” in brave. Thank you for reminding me that it is possible for me to be a part of the magic, not just a bystander.

  3. christine

    Bless your dear, brave, big heart.

  4. andrea

    beautifully written, sweet friend. and so brave. so so brave. xo

  5. Charlie

    Wow very powerful words. I’m so glad to hear this issue brought up. Feeling left out of the group is something I think we all deal with. Learning how to deal with it is an issue. I’m thrilled to read your feelings and insight. Sounds like this was a wonderful retreat. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lu

    I am glad you decided to share. I had the pleasure of meeting Karen and Andrea at BlogHer this year and it is always nice to meet and be in the presence of kindred spirits. I appreciate all of your stories and the genuine nature of your words.

    I understand where you are coming from with people feeling left out and wondering why they were not invited…I often think it was just not their time. God gives you what you need when you need it and when you are ready to receive.

  7. patty craft

    Thanks for the reminder that our Higher Power gave us the ability to choose to make a difference, even in our own lives! I find myself often trying to create a circle of friends so I won’t feel left out. Sometimes it works wonderfully, others not. But we have a regular Tuesday night women’s gathering that’s stuck for almost a year now. It’s a gift.

  8. Gypsy Alex

    I’m hugging you, brave girl! got my glasses ~ tk u! :*)

  9. Anonymous

    ur art is pretty inclusive club!!!

  10. meredithwinn

    brave in sadness, brave in love.
    these are words i need to remember. thank you for sharing this beauty.

  11. joanie

    You are so awesome! Not only do I love your art (and I really do!), I love your openness….I think so many of us can relate to your feelings and it’s so nice to know someone else feels the very same way.
    I sure would love to attend a retreat like yours sometime.
    Thank you for sharing!

  12. Red Sonja

    Wow…so hearing those words…so many places your described that i have been..still am…and was just quietly reassured to see someone else in the world going through the same experience. ((((hugs))))

  13. Monica

    I found you through Mati Rose – I love the way your blog looks and your wonderful work. Best to you, Monica – a fairly new blogger.

  14. Anonymous

    Kelly Rae…thank you for putting out there what so many of us feel and have a hard time saying. Amazingly perceptive…..with gratitude, Jeanne

  15. Boho Girl

    thank you for sharing this so purely and bravely, Kelly.

    i resonated with it so deep that the whole time reading it i felt a welling of tears and emotion.

    your heart is so brave and precious and a gift to our world.


  16. Tamsie

    There has never been a time in my life where when I had a tugging feeling that I’d hurt someone that it wasn’t a truth on some level. It’s that still small voice of inner knowing reminding me when I stray off the path.
    The retreat looked interesting. Glad you were well enough to dance and play.
    Groups of women are very powerful at both ends of the spectrum. We can be of tremendous support and love for each other and we can also cut like a sword and leave the victim bleeding.
    As you move in your Braveness, remember to be kind. I believe we can be kind and be true to our self.

  17. Julie H

    Kelly you are one of the bravest people I ‘know’ here in blog land. Your heart is in your art, in your words and in the way you give yourself to so many.
    I am so happy for you that you had a beautiful time, and that you were able to put so much into making it that way.

  18. Heather,

    sometimes i feel so alone in my feelings and then i read this and the comments you received and realized that there are so many people who are feeling this same thing and we just need to reach out to each other and grab hands.
    i’m not sure how to start that, but at least i can hear your story and keep wondering about how to change mine. xo heather

  19. : )

    AMEN Sister!

  20. bettyann

    I struggle with the same feelings..but I am now reaching out to others who are on the same journey..thank you for expressing these conflicts so well…

  21. amy

    your kind heart and your bravery are so very inspiring. thank you for sharing your wisdom. your words remind me to take responsibility for my emotional responses to the world around me and be braver.

  22. Jill

    Wow, what you wrote is so beautiful, inspiring and something I can say I feel. I have never been on a special soul and life reflecting adventure, but boy, if ever given the chance I would take it in a heart beat. The feelings you write about especialy being left out is something I can relate to on so many levels. I think I will enjoy reading this “brave in sadness, brave in love” for a while.
    Thank you kelly for your beauty!!

  23. Christianne

    Wow. Your post and the thoughts it has inspired in people . . . both of them are just wow.

    I, too, love your bravery in saying out loud what you wanted and were sad not to have gotten yet. I’m totally inspired by your willingness to say, like Chookoolonks said, “Eff it. I’m doing it. I’m going after it.” That is so amazing.

    It inspires me on a personal level, too. I’ve got this idea about creating tribes of women all over the continent who meet together and truly see, hear, and know one another, who speak into each other’s lives because they’ve first learned to listen to what each other is truly saying, and to help each other find the lives they were meant to live in this world.

    I confess I’m scared to make this dream a reality. I know it’s a powerful dream. It gives me shivers just thinking about it, dreaming about it, imagining all those tribes out there happening . . . and yet I’m scared.

    So, you totally inspired me. I’ve been setting aside one day a week to think and pray about this idea, about the future, period, because I’m at a transition period in life right now with the freedom to choose new places for my life. Your words here gave me a boost to think more specifically about what this dream could really be, beyond a business plan and in real life.

    Thank you, Kelly Rae. You just keep inspiring people, and that is like eternity brought to earth.

  24. carpecakem

    A friend of mine told me recently that you should think about what you’re most afraid of, and then do that very thing and it will lead to more growth than anything else. Your post reminded me of what he said. I think I’m still too afraid to be brave, but I’m working on it.

  25. Veronique

    Beautiful. You have articulated something I have been hard pressed to put words to and you have done so eloquently. Thank you Kelly Rae.


  26. Anonymous

    I am 51 years old and I learn so much from you. Looking forward to your book.

  27. Heather

    This is such a beautiful post, one I can very much relate to. Isnt it amazing how sometimes its hard to be brave in happy things, like love? Sounds like such a wonderful retreat!

  28. Russet

    I found this an inspiring blog Kelly Rae, writing of feeling left out and wanting to be included. Reading this gave me a sense of inclusion with my own feelings. And Deidre’s comment of creating a group of women meeting to laugh and cry and celebrate gave me hope.
    Thank you.

  29. starrybluesky

    Very beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks 🙂

  30. Deirdre

    There was a time in my life when I was very lonely and hungry for nurturing companionship. A little voice inside my head told me to create that community for myself. I called a dozen women I knew and asked if they’d be interested in meeting regularly to celebrate and cry and laugh. Almost 15 years later there are four of us still meeting about once a month. Next year I’m getting married to the brother of one of those women who sat in my living room on a long ago Sunday afternoon.

    Being brave in our vulnerability and actively searching out kindred spirits takes us wonderful, life affirming places. I’m so glad you created that for yourself.

    BTW, the thrill of having invited brave, kind friends into your life never fades. You’ll feel grateful forever.

  31. Liz

    so, here’s to brave in all things… beautiful post Kelly Rae, beautiful in its intent and in its message

  32. Whimsies Folksies

    You are so brave, Kelly Rae, to be able to express your deepest feelings, and put it out there for the world to see. I’ve struggled with the same thoughts and feelings as you have and I’m positive many others have too. Thank you for being an inspiration, not only with your beautiful art, but your soul as well. Blessings to you. ~Joann

  33. Eileen W.

    This brings tears to my eyes, Kelly Rae. Thank you for putting to words feelings I’ve held within myself for years and thanks for writing it so well with gentleness, bravery and sincerity. You are a gift!! (((hugs)))

  34. Rowena

    Your post resonates on many levels with me. I have been reading of your retreat on many blogs, and it makes me feel… not sure what. I don’t feel so much excluded, I know I am on the fringes of the community, but I miss something that I used to have in my life, something that I would like to have again, and just am not in the place to do right now. But you are right, it is an inspiration to know that you can create these dreams, and it isn’t as hard as we always think it is.

    And your idea of being brave in both the sadness and the love (which is often scarier than sadness) is a good idea.

  35. Chookooloonks

    Really beautifully written, Kelly Rae My experience has been similar, but different: in the past I would look at images bloggers had posted for girl-time-get-togethers they’d had, and I’d wish the same for myself — but I don’t have many girlfriends, I have a husband and a child, I couldn’t just invite a bunch of women I didn’t really know to “be my friend” spontaneously, etc., etc., etc. –there were many reasons I knew it was never going to happen for me. So I would turn away — not feeling left out, exactly, but wishing that I was somehow different, that I could somehow spontaneously create a “tribe.”

    And then … you.

    You were brave enough to say “eff it, I’m going to get together and arrange just that, with a bunch of women I don’t actually know.” And amazingly, all these women who didn’t know each other said an unequivocal “yes, I’ll be there,” without any hesitation whatsoever.

    I’ll forever be grateful to you for being braver than I ever could in organizing such an amazing week. And I strongly … STRONGLY!… encourage all of you who long for a tribe to just go out there and MAKE one.

    What you’ve done here, Kelly, is a powerful, powerful thing.

  36. Kim Mailhot

    I am not sure what to write here…I am feeling like I have just read a message to me from my own soul… which is weird and wonderful at the same time. Talk about knowing in a moment that you are somehow connected to it every one….
    I have been searching for the answer to how to live a life in this world where scary things, ugly things, bad things happen everyday at the same time as beautiful, inspiring, heart-warming, loving things are happening too. I have come to the same conclusion as you expressed here. While I wish I could erase all the “bad things”, I cannot. So therefore I must be brave in my sadness, mourn the bad bravely. Then I must fiercely turn around and bravely love the good, revel in it, absorb as much of it as possible into my being. That is how I will know that I belong here, that we all belong here… be brave in sadness, brave in love.
    Thank you for the message, Kelly Rae.
    With brave love and appreciation,

  37. Jen Lee

    You ARE so brave, Kelly Rae! Thank you for reminding us that the thing we long for may be ours to create. That others may want it, too. That being generous and providing it can change many more lives than simply our own.



  1. If I’m great at anything, it’s poor timing. – Zolofty Expectations - […] “To me, brave in sadness means sitting with my tender spots and my vulnerabilities. It means facing the direction…

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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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