Stories of Growing Moxie: Choices & Challenges

One of the things I love about road travel is how conducive it is to reflection.

I’ve been reflecting on moxie.

moxie

I’m going to be honest here: I’ve wanted to put this post out forever. But I keep feeling like I’m too small fry of a blog, too much of a dork, I’m not cool enough, I’m lacking the hot-sauce and juju necessary for a post like what I’m writing and the challenge that’s in it.

I’m scared I’m going to be left like the kid sitting all alone at the cafeteria.

But I’m going to stick my neck out – I’m going to wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m going to go through with this. Bear with me, please. It’s kind of a long post.

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We gave Moxie her name because we felt she had earned it.

First she was said to have a “0%” chance of survival, then it was said that she would be born with extreme health issues. We had been encouraged to abort her – and in all honesty, I had strongly considered it.

I chose to have the moxie to keep my daughter, and that means that I chose courage. I chose to have the courage to face one of my greatest fears: having a child with a disability.

This fear stemmed from growing up with disabilities, knowing exactly how it feels to be shunned for being different and how much it hurts when you understand that there will always be those that will not want to talk to you because they are fundamentally scared of the difference that you represent.

And I was molested growing up. This is common for people with disabilities – knowing this, and knowing that my daughter would have an intellectual disability, which would make her an even better candidate for being sexually abused than I – was heartbreaking for me and was the piece that pulled me closest to terminating her.

 But this post isn’t about my decision to keep my daughter Moxie.

This post is about finding courage, finding [the noun] moxie.

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We all have something scares the shit out of us, something that stops us from going where we want. It’s a million things or it’s one thing or it’s any combination of the two. But there is a release that comes with the choice to turn around and grab that thing that we fear by its shoulders and stare it right in the eye.

My decision to keep Moxie was really my grabbing my fear of discrimination, my insecurities regarding my disabilities, my pain and sorrow over what happened to me as a child, looking them all in the eye, and telling them that I was going to lay them to rest. The little monsters.

My decision to keep Moxie wasn’t about religion or God or blessings or rising above whatever. It wasn’t about doing the right thing or being good. I am pro-choice and abortion is legal and it would have been much easier to simply abort her.

But this is the thing: if I had aborted her, I would never have come to terms with my fears. I would never have been freed. I would still be shackled to the life that I was living. By keeping Moxie and by facing my fears, I not only gained the most beautiful, intelligent, artistic little girl I could ever hope for, I gained freedom.

True freedom, freedom of my spirit.

Freedom to finally be myself. Freedom to follow my own path. Freedom from endless, stifling conformity.

 This is the heart of what this blog is about:

a little moxie – it’s about living a life with moxie, choosing to do what may not be the easiest thing, but will be the thing that will set you free.

It’s about choosing to live with courage, choosing to face fears. Choosing to be who you truly want to be, do what you truly want to do, and to be free from a conforming culture.

Everything that we are doing now: slow traveling the Pan American Highway, being a full-time family, learning Spanish, immersing ourselves in different cultures and ways of living, teaching our kids by ourselves, striving for our larger goal of creating an Inn that will work by and for disability – all of this every.single.part – of this came with the decision to keep Moxie.

Everything started with that first step of having the courage to have moxie, to have Moxie.

live with moxie

 Choosing moxie is ongoing.

It’s not as huge nor as dramatic as the piece that started the process – choosing not to abort our daughter – but it is ongoing. Choosing to have courage when things are not easy is a daily choice. Choosing verve instead of insecurity is another daily choice. All of those good/hard things like choosing lesser versions of anger, fear, jealousy, hate, all that.

 Choosing moxie is ongoing.

Choosing moxie is also not always easy. It’s like this endless back and forth dance: one step forward, one step back. Two step forward, three back then three forward. Little by little, little by little, doing the small things, making the tiny choices that end up being massively life changing, little by little moving forward, bit by bit.

It’s really hard for me sometimes.

I know that it seems like I’ve made so much headway – we’re on the road! Yay! – and I think it’s true, I have. But I also know that I have a long way to go still. I struggle to grow moxie almost every day.

 Moxie Stories

I don’t know if you want to share your ‘moxie’ stories – your ‘life with moxie’, your ‘growing moxie’ stories – they things that you do that are hard for you but which you feel move you forward?

I would love to share because it is so fricking hard for me sometimes. I’d love to know I’m not alone but most of all, I’d love us to encourage and support each other in what is hard.

I’m not talking only about the big, huge ‘moxie’ stories – although those are always welcome – it’s the small ones too. Like, one example is that I really want to swim more and yet I hate cold water. The water here can be cold and I usually just wade out, stand there forever and then turn back because I don’t want to be cold.

What I’ve been doing recently is thinking of my beloved late Great Aunt Ruby and how she’d dive into the cold water with glee, and I ask her spirit now to help me get my ass in gear and then I also think of my kids and how I want them to grow up thinking their mom is really fearless, the kind of lady my Great Aunt Ruby was. So I dive in.

You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, cold water, whatever – but it’s a big deal for me!

Anyway, my idea for this is that we can share the stories about things we do that are helping us to grow our moxie. It can be a full post to guest post here on this blog, or just a space to talk about what we are doing. Stuff we are struggling with. Disability-related or travel-related or just plain ole’ life/parenting related?

Like growing moxie often is, we can just make this small – it’s mostly all about the small steps, the little things. Like diving into cold water, right?

Will you join me at my table? Can we talk together about this stuff?

The benefit of this being the internet also is that we can talk about these things anonymously.

I’ve had people privately email me about the steps they are taking to overcome prejudice towards disability, or about how they are trying to overcome depression, or things like that. Big things. You can talk about those too, and you don’t need to use your real name.

What do you say?

The Challenge:

Pick one thing. Anything – just one, that you want to work on, that scares you or that you find difficult. One thing that is a step.

Talk about it here, in the comments – you can make up a name to keep yourself anonymous. Make a commitment to check back in a week.

We’ll hold ourselves accountable to each other, help with the gold stars or whatever that keeps the flame burning.

Mine: I’m going to commit to talking to someone in Spanish every day, rather than hiding because it’s hard to hear them, or because Mikey speaks Spanish really well.

I’m also going to commit to 5 minutes of meditation every morning. I’d like to say 30 minutes but I need to start small.

How about you?

Will you join me? Do something that will help grow your own moxie?

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Share your story of living with a little moxie, of striving for moxie

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
A comprehensive collection of resources for new parents of children with Down syndrome - https://t.co/WfzGfpmWm6 - 2 days ago
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14 Comments

  • Thank you for being so brave and posting. It’s hard to let people into what drives you to grab ‘fear’ by the @#$#! and to moxie on. Our stories are similar and yet very different. Thank you for the beautiful photography as well…we are currently packing up and moving onto a 53′ sailboat with our 4 y/o and 1 y/o. Latest fears….strapping a 1 y/o to my chest, climbing swim ladders into rolling dingies, sailing over 8′ waves with her asleep in her travel crib, I could go on! I promise myself everyday not to mask these fears but to acknowledge that I have them and challenge them. ‘Moxie’ I love it and thank you for sharing.

    • whoah!!! A BOAT?!!!!
      WOW!!!!
      With your 4 year old and 1 year old?! That’s so amazing!!! I’ll bet you hear that a lot, but I can’t stop myself from saying it too, along with the ‘I don’t think I could do that!!!’.
      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing – you were the first person who did and I was starting to feel alone at the cafeteria table. THANK YOU!!

  • I love this post but the thought of taking the first step scares me. So I will start small. To carve out more time for myself during the week to do things I want to do, not just ALL the things I have to do.

    • Carving out time for ourselves is often so hard, isn’t it? I wonder why. Is it because of this tendency to put ourselves last, or think we don’t deserve it?

  • That’s such a good idea! I will think about a “real” post on my blog in the next days…
    Yes, I have millions of things I fear. It starts with little things like going to the dentist or even the coiffeur, because I really hate people touching my head, goes on with talking in front of a big audiance (had to do it 10 days ago, and additional in englisch – I was so horrified) and ends with my fears thinking of the future of Aila. Knowing (or just thinking?) that there won’t be the life, that she wishes to have: a familiy, a baby and at the moment to marry Peter Pan.
    But nothing can top the overwhelming feeling, when you have achieved your goal. When all the people leave the auditorium and you are still standing there, knowing that you have really done it…
    It’s all about little steps. Maybe I should just start with going to the coiffeur…
    Katta

  • I love your blog! we have some goals in common, I think, to raise kind, courageous children who think for themselves, but your means are so different from mine- they surprise me and thrill me! I am just cresting middle-age and I want to live the last third of my life with vigor and audacity, and I can see that takes an enormous effort of the will. Its scary, I get scared sometimes, looking forward to the finite future, but I will keep stepping out eagerly with curiosity and gratitude.

  • I think for me it is the tendency to put myself last. Which isn’t fair dang it! Already I made time on Sundy to get some good cross stitching time in, not just 15 minutes. it was wonderful!

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