I enjoy everyone who comes to my writing workshops—after all, they are my tribe! But I must confess a particular fondness for people who come to the workshop harboring doubts as to whether they belong and then discovering within themselves a blazing passion for writing.
Barb Galvin is just such a person. Like it was yesterday, I remember when she introduced herself in the first meeting of one of my “Jump Start Your Writing” workshops through the Loudoun County adult education program. When she heard other workshop members describing their writing projects, she said, “I’m not a real writer like others here.” I replied with the ever-handy maxim from Amherst Writers & Artists that “a writer is someone who writes.”
Not only did Barb decide to give it a try, she stayed for the whole series, signed up for the next one and the one after that, and began attending my Monday afternoon workshop, “Writing from the Heart,” as well. She also writes nearly every day, to which I say, “hooray”!
Barb is a retired English and preschool teacher, mother of three and grandmother of seven. When she’s not writing, she's busy playing piano, reading, organizing her neighborhood book club, and babysitting. Her husband is very supportive of the long hours she spends in front of her computer.
Barb wrote the piece below in response to this prompt: Using J. Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities as a guide, write a character sketch of a quality (such as longing, integrity, anxiety, wisdom, whimsy, guilt, etc.). Personifying an emotion or quality this way is a great exercise. Here is Barb’s piece on Courage.
Courage entered the room on two prosthetic legs, saddened by life. He brought with him a bit of resignation. But he was greeted with cheers and slaps on the back for a job well done. He was met by the little girl who had lost her mother. She was afraid – but she was there, met by warm hugs and gentle kisses.
Courage stood in the background overseeing the small gathering of walking wounded like a guardian angel. He was red with fury, blue with compassion and green with healing. Courage felt everyone’s pain and gently breathed out only what was necessary of himself to imbue its takers.
Some wallowed in self-pity before breathing him in – slowly at first, then gulping great breaths of strength. Some shook his hand and hugged him, absorbing him symbiotically.
Courage was there to banish anger, doubt, anxiety, fear, worry and defeat. He was wrapped in layers of patience, forgiveness, faith, beauty and contentment. Layer by layer he unfolded to leak into the pores of the humans there to soak in his offering.
Courage made his mark that day, to the legless vet, the motherless girl and the room full of tired and weary and lost souls. He left the room empty, having given his all, to return to his beginnings and restore and renew himself with the hope-filled qualities he was so willing to share.
"Courage" © 2015 by Barb Galvin