FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
2. Your book is about the “everyday” women, not the famous and legendary women we read about. What are your reasons for focusing on common women rather then famous women? Why do “everyday” women not think of themselves as courageous?
1. What is courage according to your book? I can share with you what it is and give you a few examples. First of all, courage is the first of human virtues because it makes the other virtues possible—Aristotle believed this and so do I.
For over three years, I interviewed qualified women, women who identified themselves as courageous. My research distilled 12 behaviors of courage. What was interesting was their stories of courage had certain aspects in common. The same themes such as conquering fear, speaking up, or overcoming loss, maintaining faith, kept coming up. I ended up with the 12 behaviors of courage on the “Source Wheel.” I illustrate each of these behaviors with a real-life story. A few brief examples would be:
- Courage is speaking up when a cold shoulder is turned to you.
- It takes courage to halt injustice by confronting it openly.
- It takes courage to let go of denial and face the truth about an illness or loss. It takes courage to have faith when hope seems gone, to remain strong and determined in the face of setbacks.
- It takes courage to acknowledge fears and vulnerabilities, to admit being afraid.
2. Your book is about the “everyday” women, not the famous and legendary women we read about. What are your reasons for focusing on common women rather then famous women? Why do “everyday” women not think of themselves as courageous? First, our folklore has not been kind to women. Many of the women that we think of as “everyday” or common would have achieved notoriety and fame if society knew their heart and spirit.
For example, Paul Revere rode a horse through a town on one night yelling, “The British are coming!” Our society heralds his courage. During that time of his ride, how many common women also had acts of courage?
The reason why we don’t know these behaviors is because society did not recognize their acts as courageous, nor did they claim them. That’s why this book is so important. When you read about courageous men, society recognizes it.
3. Why did you write this book? I had gone through the normal bumps, obstacles, and changes in my life that all human beings go through; however, one particular event occurred that made me think about the ingredients I use to keep going. I discovered I always use or drawn upon a critical, but silent source of energy, which of course is courage. This virtue makes me get up each morning and try again.
These normal events made me ask the question: “I wonder if other women consciously use this energy?” Maybe I should ask them? What gives them strength to get up each morning and keep going—very different from men—no platitudes, no gripper, no WWII charges.
I wrote this book to help EveryWoman understand what courage really is, why society rarely recognizes women as courageous, and why such recognition is vital to knowing ourselves. I work with women on how to reclaim a powerful virtue they already possess—courage!
4. Why don’t women show courage? Women do show courage, they just don’t recognize their behaviors as such. Many times when women show their courage they are labeled by some unflattering word to keep them down or they catch hell in some way.
You know society and women themselves under-appreciate courage in women. Also, women do not talk about courage or stake their courage, much less pass this virtue on to their daughters. In today’s culture, the word courage is used to describe dealing with physically dangerous situations. I take the word courage back to its origin corage, meaning heart and spirit. Courage is the forgotten virtue because women do not recognize their everyday actions as significant.
The book salutes courageous women. It is the answer to the problem of the lack of recognition of women’s courage. It is a celebration to the unsung courage in the every day woman.
5. What brings out courage in a woman, that is, what taps that reservoir? It’s not what causes or triggers women to be courageous; the courage is in them—it was always there. The premise of the book is that women can reclaim courage by understanding the Source Wheel—the 12 behaviors of courage. As far as what “brings out” courageous acts or thoughts in women, it’s the same as men: there is a mighty need for change. In other words, something demands attention-a new way of thinking or doing. The old ways are not working and comfort must yield to possibility.
6. In what ways does language play a role in integrating courage? Words and language play a great role in what we believe is possible for women. By the 12th century, virtue in Old French was vertu “desirable male qualities, worth, virtue, or virility.” In Latin, virtue was virs, or energy. Virtue and virile are links to men. This suggests that if women aren’t virtuous they can’t be courageous. If we sex-link attributes through language, such as “manly acts” (implying women cannot be courageous), then society tends not to recognize courage in women.
7. How does the concept of women as courageous relate to honoring women on Mother’s Day? Any day that honors women in any way is an opportunity for us to understand and value their hearts and spirits. Mother’s Day is perhaps the ideal occasion to expose and reclaim this strength.
8. What is the cost to a woman for not being aware of her courage? In other words, what does she lose by not harnessing the feminine energy? That can range from a life of mediocrity to a life of pain and suffering, depending on the situation. For the woman who does not speak up and state directly why she is qualified to be the COO (Chief Operating Officer), there is a missed opportunity. For the woman who misses the opportunity to stop her husband from preying on their daughter, an unimaginable blow to her spirit that can lead to dis-ease. The woman who faces a life-threatening disease recognizes a peaceful night sleep as a distant memory. The woman who can’t remember happiness in her soul dies a slow, dull death of spirit. When you don’t recognize your potential for courage, your spirit erodes.
9. How can men be supportive of courageous women? Men can learn to recognize those acts or events in a woman’s life that require risk without physical valor: when a woman asserts herself to a superior at work; when she takes on two jobs to keep the family afloat in tough times; when she puts herself in the limelight to point out injustice, even at great personal emotional or material cost. We all need to step outside the parameters of tradition to realize this “new” definition of courage.
10. Sandra says, “The virtue of courage has not been perceived as feminine; this is a societal aliment.” If women claim their strength and courage, in what ways would that benefit society? The more that women recognize the energy of their courage, the more society will break from its stereotypical understanding of courage as physical or daring. We learn from the models around us. When you explode the myth that women can be courageous, it gives women permission to be courageous. Everybody knows that role models help people achieve higher goals. With a wider definition and acceptance of courage as a feminine virtue, the greater the possibility of raising sensitive, concerned, caring, and open-minded children—both male and female—in a society that seems more and more to have lost its sense of the humane.
11. Do you (Sandra) see yourself as courageous? Where do you most easily see that? You bet I am courageous! Just getting up each morning, knowing my survival depends on my performance that day takes courage. I face adversity head on when I compete against the famous authors and large publishing houses. I see my courage in my choices. I turned down “big” agents to start Bona Dea Publishing (Italian for Good Goddess) so I could control the creative design of the book. My choices paid off, I received an award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Overall, I am unwilling to let anyone but myself design my life.
12. As a woman, what strengths do you consciously call upon in the “defining moments” of your life? Courage is a source of energy that I draw upon in those defining moments. Aristotle believed that courage is the first of human virtues because it makes the other virtues possible. I implement my courage by speaking up to express what I feel. I used courage to reinvent myself when, as a baby boomer, I started my fifth career as an author/publisher/speaker. The courage to manifest a vision was a driving force in my five-year journey to write and publish my book. I expressed the courage of strength and determination to not roll over when, at the very end of my journey, at the last minute I had to fire the technician who was typesetting my book for printing.
13. You speak of a three-step process for integrating courage, could you go over the 3 steps? The book provides an innovative three-step process to integrate courage. This process allows women to understand and reclaim the essence of their hearts and spirits—the origin of the word.
- Step One is Self-Discovery: this process requires you to discover the patterns of behavior that are keeping you from creating the life you desire—the things that scare you—many times these are unconscious and instinctual in behavior. You make a list of the things that paralyze you or make you feel ashamed—the things you don’t share—the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. I refer to this task to action in the book as the “Stepping Stones in My Life.” Such as overcoming a childhood illness, giving a child up for adoption, confronting your husband when you think he might be preying on your daughter (choosing to move to a new state with the man you are to marry). Once you have identified the habits that are holding you back, you can take the second step. Step Two includes sourcing the Source Wheel —going to the diagram on page 90, take that list and sit it right next to the Source Wheel, and identify those actions on the chart that you want to reclaim. The chart identifies the actions to get started to consciously commit to changing your life. This is the heart of the book—Part 3. It reveals the years of research and interviews of the women-their stories, their action steps to source their courage, and the benefits for doing so.
- The final step is to identify one or two actions on the Source Wheel that you will incorporate into your daily routine to reclaim courage—this requires taking action—today! This isn’t going to be easy. You’ve already made a list of things that are difficult for you. But the three-step process looks at a very overwhelming problem, and successfully breaks it down into small pieces that can be conquered.Changing the way you use language is an important part of taking action. It may require changing your conversations with your friends-applying the courage to be vulnerable. This is not easy, but you have decided consciously to do it, such as giving your child up for adoption. This behavior and subsequent action is not what we would normally characterize as heroic in women, and yet the absence of it is debilitating. Not all of us are Oprah! This also shifts cultural norms-the key is first changing your own behavior to courageously reclaim the female energy-that collective feminine energy will take off, just like when an airplane hits that speed that they have no choice but to take off. In The Wizard of Oz, the good witch said, “You’ve always had the power my dear, you’ve always had the power
14. When I think of courageous women, I think of Joan of Arc or Oprah Winfrey. Why did you focus on everyday women in your book? That’s the point—most people do acknowledge Joan and Oprah. Frankly, I focused on the everyday woman because there was not enough folklore that establishes and defines the feminine behaviors of courage. What’s interesting is that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for speaking her convictions—the lesson her story teaches us is that strong women get burned!
Oprah on the other hand challenges daily the long-held myths of the past. Her role model example gives other permission to do the same. This is the first step to shifting cultural norms—this is part of step one in the three-step process for integrating courage.
I just saw a bumper sticker: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” What does that tell you?
In time, society will recognize women’s collective courageous acts and banish the unwritten rules that keep women from realizing their personal courage. This is why it is so important to refashion our own scripts and images that clutter our minds. By doing that, we can courageously reclaim the female creative power.
15. The subtitle of your book is Reclaiming the Forgotten Virtue. Why is courage the forgotten virtue? Courage is the forgotten virtue because women do not recognize their everyday actions as significant. My book is a practical guide for women to discover and integrate courage into their lives.
Reclaiming courage means you operate at the next level.