A New Level of Courage


As a former classroom teacher who shoved 32 scared students into the back storage room during a lockdown - trying with all her might to stay calm.

Who understood the magnitude of the situation when she turned to flip the lights off and saw the SWAT team outside her door - guns drawn, each step taken with extreme caution.

As a mother of four who panics when she sees a call from the school during the day. Or sees first responders headed that direction.

As a human being.

We can do better.

We are capable. Of leaning in.

We are capable. Of listening. 

We are capable. Of connection. 

We are capable. Of finding common ground. 

We are capable. Of linking arms and demanding action.

It's going to take a new level of courage. 
To check fear at the door. 
To get underneath the anger. And the name calling.

It's going to take a new level of courage. 
To stop the dehumanization. 
To stop forcing sides.

It's going to take a new level of courage.
To expose the bullshit stories. And the abuse of power. 
To hold people accountable for their actions.

THIS IS HARD. And we can do hard.

We have to stop yelling - and we have to stop trying to force the false dichotomies.

We have done hard things before. We can do hard things. 
And it's going to take a willingness to dive into the discomfort.

To leave judgment at the door.

To stop reacting to anger and hatred and judgement with more anger and hatred and judgement.

{Isn't this what we're trying to teach our kids to do?}

What are we so afraid of?

We have to dive underneath the toxic undercurrents, together.

There are no quick fixes. And. Staying stuck down here - dehumanizing and arguing - doesn't move us back into the driver's seat.

This blog post by Dr. Brene Brown is one of the most thoughtful pieces I've read on the subject: Speaking Truth to Bullshit.

"When we engage in the “us versus them” argument, we lose. The only person who wins is the person who owns the framing of the argument." -B.Brown

{In this case - as her research supports it's the NRA who owns the framing of the argument, not gun owners.}

We have to lean in to the discomfort - with an open mind.

We cannot keep up with the cycle of tragedy - outrage - finger pointing and blame - and inaction.

We are capable.

This isn't an us versus them thing - this is a WE thing.

WE need to do better.


Eighteen school shootings in 2018. It's February 15th. 

What the F is going on here?

As a parent, we send our kids off to school - hoping and praying that it doesn't happen in our town.

As teachers, lockdown drills have taken on a whole new meaning. We know this is real. 

We can hop on social media to point fingers and blame.

We can dismiss it as a problem beyond our control.

We can name call and shout. 

We can point to all the other things that feel broken.

And. We have to ask ourselves: 

Is what we're doing working?

If we want something different, we have to be willing to do something different.

We've been here before - as a nation. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. 

Here we are 19 years later.

The video footage of students walking away from their school - single file - arms in the air. The first responders surrounding the school. The news coverage. The interviews. The memorials. The collective mourning and outrage.

And when the news coverage moves on - so do we.

Those parents don't. 

Those families don't.

Those students don't.

Those teachers don't.

Those first responders don't.

They may 'move on' - but their lives will never, ever be the same.

Why are we leaving them on an island? 

These are our children too.

This is our issue. 

And I believe our answer lies in the PAIN.

In learning how to feel. To cope. And step back into the driver's seat of our life.

So many of us don't know how to cope with pain. 

We reject it. We run. Fight. Deflect. 

We close our ears. We blame. Argue. Justify.

We numb. With alcohol. Drugs. Food. Sex. Shopping. Social media. Anything to not feel the pain.

We turn inward. We isolate.

What are we so afraid of?

I think we're afraid to feel.

Because, feeling is hard.

We can do hard. 

Especially this kind of hard. 

If we want change, we need to learn how to lean in. To listen. To connect and find common ground. 

To choose love over fear.

And it's going to take a new level of courage.



Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, transformational speaker, high performance coach, mama of four girls - and the founder of Brave Leaders Academy

Samantha empowers athletes, forever athletes and never-been-athletes to cultivate the courage, resilience and perseverance needed to live their dreams. She helps her clients expand their high performance skill set and let go of beliefs that are keeping them stuck - opening up the door for freedom, balance and joy that transcends.

Samantha candidly shares her battles with her inner critic, depression, perfection, PTSD and parenting as a working mother because she believes in the transformative power of story – and the strength that comes from knowing we are not alone. She is on a mission to pay forward all that she’s learned to help others find joy and live free.
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. You can learn more about Samantha at www.samanthalivingstone.com.

You can find her here, linking arms with the powerful community that is the  I AM CHALLENGE.