When I first conceived of this project, I intended it to be a book. I wanted to spend a year being deliberate about my life, instead of letting it rush past me like rapids over a spear of water grass. I crafted chapter titles like “Opening Up,” “Diving In,” and “Reaching Out.” Then, a cancer scare and surgery (more about that in a future post) put the project on hold.

Several months later, I feel myself wanting to resurrect the idea, but now it feels more like a blog than a book. Sharing my experiences as they occur seems more exciting than writing essays in my little office, revising and editing them, sending them off to a publisher, and waiting fifteen months or so for them to see print. I want an exchange of opinions and ideas in real time. Thus, this blog.

So, what do I mean by a “year of living courageously”? It’s a work in progress, and therefore subject to change, but I want to live 2012 (and potentially every year after that) more bravely. As I creep up on (okay, race toward) the half-century mark, I want to do some navel gazing, open myself to new experiences, deepen my relationships, get out of my rut, make a difference in my community. All of that, in my opinion, takes courage of one kind or another.

I freely admit that we all define courage differently and that what is an act of courage for one person, might be something someone else would shrug off or do without a second thought. If you’re afraid of spiders, snaring one in a cup in your basement and liberating it outside instead of mushing it flat with the nearest shoe requires courage. If you quake at the thought of public speaking, talking about your job at your fifth grader’s career day is brave. You might throw yourself on a grenade if the occasion arose, but not be able to find the right moment to tell your significant other a hard truth about yourself. There’s physical courage, moral courage, emotional courage, intellectual courage. How tough was it for someone in Columbus’s day to declare: “The world isn’t flat”?

In the upcoming year, I hope to make a stab at all of the above. I’ll ’fess up to my failures, as well as invite you to share in what I see as progress or success. Additionally, I’ll highlight acts and declarations from others (in the news or that I observe) that I find courageous in one way or another.

I hope the idea intrigues some of you and that you’ll let me know about your courageous moments and how they affect you. Feel free to mention brave acts you observe or read about. I’m excited about living this year differently, and I hope you are, too. Welcome to 2012: the year of living courageously.