top of page


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ― Anais Nin.

What does the word courage mean? Bravery? Heroism? Guts? Grit? 

To me, courage is an audacious act of bravery or heroic action, such as standing up for something you believe in despite the unthinkable or staring down the barrel of fear and doing it anyway. So when friends describe me as “courageous, " I feel like a charlatan. 

Recently, I did something fun, a little adventurous and a little daring as a solo woman. I bought a campervan and took myself on a five-month adventure.

I went through the hoopla of getting a line of credit and spending my weekends following up on advertisements for second-hand RVs and campervans. Finally, with my homework done and money in the bank, I bought my van—the first step of a new journey! My friends said, “ I admire your courage.” 

Suffering from buyer's remorse and many nights of the Worry Ants busy in my head, keeping me awake for hours, I would walk past the van, standing forlornly outside my house and look the other way, murmuring—what was I thinking? How incredibly foolish of me.

My forlorn van, waiting to be noticed. January 2023

After packing, organizing, and reorganizing while cultivating a kaleidoscope of butterflies in my tummy and with the Worry Ants still hard at work, I finally left town. It was just an ordinary day. People were going about their business, and the sun was shining. I was simply another van on the road, going somewhere. And yes, it did take every fibre of courage I could summon to drive away from my home, alone, with no fanfare.

Now, in my sixth decade, I have a fair bit of life to look back on, and there have been times when I was terrified. 

My husband and I immigrated to Canada fairly late in our “career” trajectories; we were “old” immigrants when we landed—I was 46, and my husband was 51. I was terrified with excitement and possibility. It was a big step. Yet, with my 11-year-old son's future in my hands, I was fearless.  

In 2009, the recession hit, and I was laid off from my first job in Vancouver.  Within the same week, my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma.

Relentless fear drove me to find work to pay the bills. I was successful, but my husband's quest for health and a bounteous future was not.

As my husband grasped for life and feared dying, I faced a future without him—tasked to raise a teenage boy to manhood, earn an income and create stability in a country I could barely call home. It was a dance of integrity, balanced between my husband dying and planning for what lay ahead of me.

Deep Cove, 2006. Early days in Canada.

My husband died five years and three months after we had landed as newly minted-immigrants. 

After he died, I went home, where the books, chairs, washing machine and paintings greeted me unmoved. I did ordinary things like buying groceries. People went about their business, and the sun shone. I was just another person scurrying along, going somewhere to do something. Did that take courage? Or did an innate sense of survival drive me to continue my ordinary life? 

Twelve years later, I found myself living alone, my teenage son, now a grown independent man. I was ready to reconstruct my North Vancouver life. What else was there to do but buy a van and hit the road? So, I did just that. I rolled out of town and came home five months later with a fresh perspective on my life. 

Living in a van means that I face moving parts every day. I never know what to expect, so I have few expectations, which opens me up to the unexpected joy of surprises and chance encounters. 

The solitude of the road gives me time to reflect. The pace of life slows. I can look at the world unhurried and unhinged from my life in Vancouver. All those Worry Ants that crawled through my brain on those many long, fearful nights seem to have found new homes and moved on. Sure, shit happens. When I reverse my van into a ditch, or the alternator breaks and I’m stuck on a highway, I solve these problems one hundred percent of the time. 

Did it take courage? Walking beside my dying husband took patience and integrity. Facing the day the morning after he died took courage. Living in a van, travelling, and writing is a privilege, a joy, an adventure. 

Perhaps courage is not measurable. Perhaps, in the relativity of our lives, we are courageous every time we walk through terror and come out the other side, amazed at our still vibrant wholeness. Sometimes, it takes enormous courage to get out of bed in the morning, go to work, face the boss, or just walk the dog. 

We are all heroes in the stories of our lives. And we are all courageous. Let’s continue to write our stories with courage so that when we read them out loud, we can do so with full gusto. 

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page