Brave and Awake is one woman's story of truths discovered and lessons learned over a lifetime. The author, a fifteen-year veteran firefighter, offers her unique experiences and truths learned as a twenty-first century woman breaking social and personal barriers on her way to empowerment and freedom.
The author's adventures, ranging from firefighting to dancing, from the ordinary to the mystical, capture the spirit of the modern woman-one who faces her fears, trusts her intuition, thinks for herself, and creates her own happiness.
And while this pocket-sized gem offers helpful tools and insights gained from the author's own personal experiences, Brave and Awake ultimately invites and inspires readers to become their own best expert along the way.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.49(d)|
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Brave and Awake
- A Story of Authentic Becoming
By Beverly Molina
Balboa PressCopyright © 2015 Beverly Molina
All rights reserved.
TRUST — THE GOLDEN KEY
Close your eyes and see clearly. You have all of your answers inside of you.
— Helene Rothschild
You might think that, as a firefighter, I'd say one of the best compliments a fire captain could give me would sound something like, "Nice going on the hose line, Bev. Good job getting in there quick and finding the seat of the fire." Or, "Good work with the chainsaw. That ventilation hole was a big help to the fire attack crew below." While those acknowledgments have certainly felt satisfying and great, the best compliment I ever got from a fire captain was, "Glad you're going to be at our station today, Bev. You'll bring your positive energy, and you'll calm us all down."
I have always felt a sense of gratitude when my mostly positive perspective shapes and contours my day, and I most definitely feel appreciation when my outlook can make a difference for others. In fact, I have learned over time that cultivating an uplifting and affirming perspective is one of the most transformational and beneficial means by which we can begin to experience life with an awakened consciousness.
Most people would agree that being positive feels good. But some might suggest that being positive is just not realistic. Others may think that positivity leads to naiveté. I have found, however, that when my life stems from an affirming and positive foundation, I take a pivotal step closer to who I really am and the things I really want.
Of course, saying that you want to be positive is one thing. But how can you really live this way? Let's explore some tenets of positivity that can inspire and assist you in choosing a positive life experience on the way to wakefulness.
One of the cornerstones of experiencing life in an uplifting way is trusting yourself. When we trust ourselves in matters large and small, we make decisions and feel good about them, and our lives move forward. When we doubt ourselves, life can become a little more complicated. Without self-trust, it is difficult to make decisions. We might never make a decision for fear of not choosing the right option. Our lives may be on permanent hold.
When you do not trust yourself, you might call in the experts, do research on the Internet, or ask your friends for advice. Does that provide answers? Maybe. But how do you really know if something is best for you? Low-fat diet, no-carb diet, high-protein diet — which one do you choose? Life can get complicated when you believe that others have the inside track on what's best for you.
Why is it that so many of us have such a hard time trusting ourselves? For starters, most of us have been raised in an environment where we were taught otherwise. If you have been kicked down by people close to you, the journey toward self-trust and self-love can be very hard. Perhaps you were told that you were worthless, and you believed it. You might have been ignored, belittled, or worse. It's hard to trust yourself when your sense of self rests on such a shaky foundation.
Our modern society also influences us in ways that make us question our ability to trust ourselves. It overwhelms us with information about what we should and should not do. Commercials tell us what to buy, studies and statistics aim to influence what we eat and don't eat, and the experts tell us what is best for us. Are we are enrolling our children in the right schools? Are we are being good parents, making the right decisions? How do we know?
Whatever the cause, when we do not trust ourselves, we traverse vast deserts of uncertainty and skepticism, always searching through doubt and wondering if we've made the right decisions. With so many reasons to question our own judgment, it can seem as though the odds are stacked against us when it comes to trusting ourselves.
When I was ten, I knew I wanted to write a book. Where that came from I had no idea, except that it came from somewhere far, deep, forgotten, and unknown to me. I signed up as a creative-writing major my freshman year in college. However, I quickly abandoned that idea as my rational mind bulldozed that ridiculous thought. Write a book? Was I crazy? What was I going to write about — my collegiate partying experiences? I finished my freshman year with some great partying stories under my belt, transferred to another school, majored in a practical subject, and got a public-relations degree.
Cut to twenty-five years later, after a public-relations career, some major discontent, a radical career change, a love affair, a husband, two kids, two dogs, and some miracles ... and here I am, writing a book. Sometimes I wonder how life would have been different if I had trusted myself when I was younger.
There's no reason for you to wait that long and go through so many of life's ups and downs before you start to trust yourself. If you can make up your mind to try, you can start today.
How do you begin?
I have found that listening to your gut is a good place to start. Have you ever had a strong feeling about something you had no scientific way to prove, no logical means of explaining — but nonetheless, it was something you felt intuitively? Maybe it was just an inkling or a feeling about something, or perhaps it was an insight that came through, clear as a bell — something you really knew.
Have you ever had an experience in which the phone is ringing and you think to yourself, that is so-and-so — and then you pick up the phone and it is? With some excitement, you might tell your friend, "I totally knew it was going to be you!" That example might be an easy one for us to accept — no life-and-death decisions involved in that instance. I have noticed, however, that most of us tend to dismiss our intuitive insights when it comes to more significant events and decisions that cross our paths. We often say things like "trust your gut," "use your intuition," "follow your heart," or "listen to your inner voice." Sometimes we listen, and sometimes we don't.
Trust Your Gut; Don't Get Burned
Sometimes you might be faced with some not-so-subtle clues when it comes to trusting yourself for your own safety and well-being. For example, your gut might tell you not to get on the train or go to work on a certain day; you get a knot in your stomach as you pack your lunch and put on your work clothes. Do you trust yourself and stay home? I'm sure you have heard stories like those surrounding the attack on September 11 — people who didn't go to work that day or who took a later train because something "just told" them not to.
We may do well to be more willing to trust our intuition when it comes to our own safety and well-being. And when we don't trust ourselves, we can get burned — sometimes literally. I had been in the fire department a couple years and was the eighth female firefighter to be hired in the department's 150-year history. I was thankful that I had gotten the job, and I was still trying to prove to my crew — and to myself — that I was as tough as they were.
I was geared up, at the ready, adrenaline pumping, and I was kneeling at the front door of an apartment that was a ripping inferno in the middle of the night. And I had a bad feeling.
The fire was in our district, and our crew was the first to arrive. The black smoke was banked down, only a foot off the floor of the entry hallway. Fire had violently flashed out the front door a few seconds before we were about to make entry, indicating that the contents of the apartment had reached ignition temperatures of around 1,000 degrees, igniting everything at once.
I was on the highly desired nozzle position, ready to take on the fire. The firefighter who holds the nozzle is the first one into the burning structure, her crew behind her, looking for the orange glow in the blackness. The firefighter on the nozzle aims the powerful flow of water as she confronts the flames and puts the fire out. The next time you find yourself in a firehouse, if you listen closely to the lively firehouse banter, you may overhear someone say — with a little bravado, jesting, and seriousness all tossed in — "Hey buddy, heard you slayed the dragon last night, eh?" and you will know he is referring to the knight on the nozzle who was first into the fire.
I unloaded water into the black-and-orange abyss of the hallway after the flashover. We were already crouched down on our knees, trying to escape the heat that was rising upward toward the ceiling and out the door. I was kneeling at the doorway, ready to make entry, when, mixed in with my supercharged adrenaline, I became aware of a bad feeling in my gut. I pushed it away.
We entered the building. With my crew members on their knees behind me, I felt a heat I had never in my life felt before. I felt the heat go through my nationally approved and rated thick turnout pants and jacket, my thick leather structure gloves, and my whole body.
I still remember that in that moment, my thought went to my face mask, which was connected to my air tank on my back. God, I hope it does what it's supposed to do — that is, keep the bad air out and let me breathe the clean compressed air in the bottle on my back. I knew one breath of that hot, gaseous atmosphere would kill me instantly. It's a good thing everyone is out of the apartment, I thought. As we pressed forward through the front door, visibility was zero — black. That was normal. Only if you are Kurt Russell in the movies can you see and hear in a fire, all while maintaining a perfect hairdo.
The bad feeling grew stronger. My gut told me that this heat was not normal. At the same time, my mind was rewinding to past fires I had experienced. As fires of years past whizzed before my eyes, I realized this was far worse than anything I had yet experienced. This heat was definitely not normal. My gut, my senses, everything about me knew this was bad. I was first-in on the nozzle though, and a female with a desire to prove she was as badass as the guys. My pride definitely got in the way of my gut that early morning.
Since it was way too hot to stand, we crawled on our knees into the blackness. It got hotter and hotter as we moved along. I tried to rationalize my gut feeling away. My crew behind me wasn't bailing; they must be fine in this heat. In my haze of doubt, I ignored my gut. In my haze of doubt, I forgot that the first firefighter into any fire acts as a perfect shield for the crew behind her and takes the full-on brunt of the initial heat. I could have simply trusted myself, turned around, and told my crew, "Stop, it's way too hot. Let's let it cool down some more before we go in any farther." We could have waited a few more minutes as the water, which had become steam, began the inevitable cooling process after the initial steam/ heat expansion.
What I got to show for not trusting my gut was a few things. A torched and blackened helmet, complete with a crispy, melted, yellow helmet flashlight forever stuck to it. My helmet also sported an eerily melted silver blob on its ridge — what I would later determine was once part of a hanging house lamp. As I emerged from the fire and took off my crispy gear, someone told me my ears were steaming. The cold water felt good as I poured it over my head.
Thirty minutes later I was in the battalion chief 's car on my way to the ER for treatment of the second-degree burns on my ears — from the steam that had gone right through the hood that covered my head. My ears swelled up and blistered and oozed for a week. It was painful. And yet, I knew I was lucky that things hadn't been far worse that night for me or my crew. I learned a lot of things from that fire. When I tell that story to eager recruits just starting their careers, I mention a few things: be grateful for your gear, and take care of it; some fires are too hot to make entry — it's okay to wait; steam burns real bad; and above all, trust your gut.
Small Steps to Trust
How do we learn to really trust ourselves in our everyday lives? Start small. Maybe we can trust ourselves to decide simple things — our likes and dislikes, for instance. You can experiment next time you are at a restaurant, perusing the menu, deciding what to have for dinner, or perhaps the next time you are trying to decide what to do for entertainment.
Tune in to your gut feeling as you ask your questions: What do I eat tonight? What shall I do today that brings me laughter and fun? Your gut feeling is found in a quiet place, deep inside you. It is definitely not found in the chatter of the mind. Focus on this quiet inner part of yourself. What do you really like? What do you really want? Ask yourself these questions and pay attention to the answers that truly come from you, not anyone else. The answers from your gut feel expansive and easy. Your heart or chest may feel like it's opening. There is never a tense feeling or tightening of your body when you listen to your inner self. You'll be amazed to see how good it feels to trust yourself, even in the smallest matters.
I have a friend who applies this practice in an amazing way. Kate sees her life as a "trust walk," as she calls it. She doesn't analyze data or put too much weight on studies and statistics. She doesn't get caught up in what others think, or the trend of the month, or what a well-meaning family member tells her she should do. She goes with what feels right to her. She goes with what she calls her "inner guidance."
When Kate is deciding what to do for the day, she gets out of her head and goes to her heart, as she puts it. She tunes into that quiet place inside herself. One time, Kate needed to go to the grocery store and to the car wash. It seemed practical to go to the store first. She was out of coffee, after all. However, she trusted herself. She was "getting the message" to go to the car wash, so that's what she did. There was no logical reason to go to the car wash first, except that she trusted her inner guidance implicitly. She knew she would find out "the why" later. She trusted herself and made her way to the car wash.
There, while she was waiting, she met an old friend who was starting a business and looking for someone with Kate's exact expertise. Kate trusts herself to make decisions on all matters great and small: what to eat, what to do in her day, whether to move halfway across the world, whether to expand her successful business or pare it down. She doesn't consult the experts. She is her own best expert.
I have learned that the quietest place within myself always knows the truth. And I can trust it. The question is, am I willing to listen? Who knows what would have happened if I had written a book at eighteen? It certainly would have been different from this one. But I realize now that my inner guidance knew all along that this is what I truly wanted to do.
You can build your trust brick by brick. You may start out small when it comes to trusting yourself. Trust your feelings about seemingly insignificant matters. Do you go to the movies or to the park? Your mind doesn't need to get in the way of something small like this. How are you with bigger stuff ? Practice listening to how you feel about something. Slowly, you can expand your trust.
Trust Your Knowing
When we trust our feelings, our gut, or our intuition about something, we validate ourselves internally at a very deep level. The more we trust ourselves, the more we like ourselves, accept ourselves, and have confidence in ourselves.
I have found that there is a similar, but more specific, aspect to trusting my gut or intuition about something. I refer to this usually overwhelming feeling of absolute certainty as a "knowing." For me, a knowing differs from a gut feeling because of the certainty of the details associated with it. For instance, a gut feeling may tell me not to get on the train, that an indefinable something does not feel good; a knowing might tell me not to get on the train because the train is going to crash.
Sometimes we may have an overwhelming feeling of just knowing something absolutely. When we trust these "knowings," we become empowered. Even if we only ever have one knowing in our lifetime, it will most likely be memorable and is certain to change the way we trust ourselves.
I was lucky enough to have a couple of knowings in my teen years. And, while my awakening process would not begin in earnest until much later, these knowings would set the stage for the important practice of trusting myself. When I was a teenager pulsing with hormones and acne, often times hating myself or others, sometimes I would have glimmers of sublime clarity. Best-friend dramas and unrequited crushes would suddenly take a backseat in teen world. I would look out onto the golden rolling hills that surrounded the valley of fruit orchards and mustard-flower meadows in which we lived. My heart seemed to fill with the same kind of golden light that rippled from the grasses on the hillside.
Excerpted from Brave and Awake by Beverly Molina. Copyright © 2015 Beverly Molina. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Cultivate a Positive Perspective, 1,
Chapter 1 Trust — The Golden Key, 3,
Chapter 2 Think for Yourself, 20,
Chapter 3 Anything Is Possible!, 35,
Chapter 4 The Origins of Happiness, 47,
Part 2 Make Peace with the Past and Reside in the Present, 63,
Chapter 5 We Can Never Know Anyone Else's Story, 65,
Chapter 6 Feel Your Feelings ... Then Let Them Go, 79,
Chapter 7 Sometimes Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself, 90,
Chapter 8 Be Still ... and Breathe, 101,
Part 3 Embrace Your Inner Mystic, 113,
Chapter 9 There Is More to Life Than Meets the Eye, 115,
Chapter 10 Who Are We Really?, 131,
Chapter 11 Expect Miracles, 144,
Chapter 12 Live Your Dance, 166,
The Inward Journey to Authentic Becoming, 181,