Saturday 25th June 2022

Women Of Courage. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #13. Alicia O’Brien. 86/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

I have known Alicia who is 46, for many years thanks to ‘the old world of Australian blogging’ where I was first a reluctant entry into ‘link ups.’ This blogger friend has had a link up called Open Slather for years. It was on Mondays and now she has moved it to Friday. Do join in! Alicia impressed me from the beginning with her images: photos of her cooking and outdoors where she captures nature in her part of Australia so well. I welcome Alicia to share her story today, and love this image, captured by one of her young daughters! 




What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?


Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometime courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. – Mary Anne Radmacher


There have many times in my life I have had to call on my courage stores. Plenty of times come to mind when I hadn’t been courageous.

My earliest memory was crossing the rail lines to get to school in the morning. Scared the crap out of me. I may have been a cautious, anxious kid, because it used to frustrate the hell out of mum that I’d turn around and walk back home than to cross the lines.

When I talked to her about it, a true story of courage arose. That of my mum. Twenty four years old with five kids in a small country town, a working husband, no car. She’d walk me half way to school, torn, wanting to take me all the way, but four kids at home on their own. We as women are all courageous, in the way we are responsible for, we struggle and care for our loved ones.

Another time is when Mum asked me get out the car and herd the sheep from behind along the roadside. I would NOT get out of the car. My three-year-old sister did the deed. Gee did mum give me a serve about that. My little sister was the courageous one.

My biggest regret in not being courageous is when as a young mum, I stood in line at the checkout while an older man spewed racist hate at an Asian man who was holding up the line. I could not believe what was coming out of this man’s mouth. My regret was that I never stood forward and said something. No one did. I was angry that my daughters had to listen to such racist filth in this current age. I wish I had of been courageous enough to tell him to stop. Life teaches us many lessons and I will never ever hold back in the same situation again. The Asian man was the one who was courageous.

Most of my calls for courage, I guess anxiety and self-doubt have played a part. I have noticed that calling on my courage stores was easier when I was going through more confident stages of my life.

Meeting new people, taking the step of starting a new job, getting through tough things like my sons’ diagnosis of schizophrenia and the crap that was involved before and after that. It takes courage to keep pushing on in the face of uncertainty.

Even to this day, I must occasionally talk myself into making phone calls or walking into the school gates and be social! I know it’s easy and doesn’t take that much courage, but I let my brain convince me it’s a difficult task!



How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I am not sure if it has changed me in any way. I guess it’s made me more aware that I can get through things that maybe my brain was telling me were going to be hard. The funny thing is when it’s all over, it really isn’t that bad. It has given me the tools to face adversity the next time and made me realise I am capable and worthy of confidence in myself that I can do the hard stuff.

I feel I am more persistent and resilient in my approach to tasks.

I am often amazed at how well I cope in a crisis. My brain then seems to snap into survival mode, and I push through under pressure. My brain doesn’t have time to talk me out of it. This ability would come after some experience too. It’s the time after that I need a break to re-centre myself.



Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I learned that no matter how tough you think something is going to be, the courage to get through it is already inside of you. It is not something you have to make, it’s there. Don’t overthink the situation and only cross bridges once you come to them. In most situations, your brain can be your worst enemy, the key is to listen to the positive more often than you listen to your negative talk. Tell yourself, “I can do this!”.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

The more I put myself out of my comfort zone, the more confident I become in facing life’s hurdles. The hurdles are bloody inconvenient, and I often question the universe if it thinks I’ve had my fair share already. They say practice makes perfect!

I am however aware that my problems are dwarfed by others, there are so many who are doing it way tougher than me and I am amazed at how courageous they are. They provide inspiration for me to draw on.

The courage of others always inspires me. I have learned that some of those courageous things are just everyday ordinary things and some life changing. Everyone is challenged by something, no matter how big or small.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

The more steps you take everyday out of your comfort zone and facing your fears, the more able and confident you become in facing fears. Life is hard. I think having supportive people around you to help is important and not being afraid to accept that help. I think it is also helpful to have someone who knows what you’re going through at any time to talk to, so you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.

Oh wow. Lots of messages there for me to learn too. Thank you so much Alicia. I loved that we have been on-line friends for ages. Maybe one day we will actually meet!




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Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 – All rights reserved.



  1. I love the more steps you take bit. I think if’s So true. You change almost imperceptibly until you look back and see how enormously you’ve grown in comfort.

  2. What great stories and words of advice here from Alicia! Thanks Denyse for another fabulous instalment of your series. #mlstl

  3. More great messages. Thanks Denyse and Alicia. It’s true – the courage is within us, but we have to step outside our comfort zones. #MLSTL

    • It’s that first step…then the next….and continuing slow as it may be, onwards.

      Thanks Jo.

      Denyse x

    • Thanks for dropping by to read my take on courage Jo. When push comes to shove, I am quick to doubt my courage. It is there, and it helps to remember what I have accomplished in times of hardship to have the confidence to take those steps x

  4. Hi Alicia and thanks for sharing your thoughts on courage. I struggle at times with being brave in social settings and making the effort to engage with others (when it’d be so easy to turn tail and go home). My husband tells me I’m an extravert, but in essence that’s the facade – underneath is a scared, insecure person who wants to be friendlier but it’s all so hard isn’t it?
    Denyse thanks for sharing this with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • I think you have to decided ‘what you are’- extravert or introvert or somewhere in between…but I also understand your husband is helping with some reassurance. I think too, even as we age, we might not get more confident but a little less. Interesting isn’t it?

      Thanks for sharing and I can tell Alicia’s post struck a chord for you too.

      Denyse x

    • I totally understand Leanne! I am always worried about saying the wrong thing or saying something absolutely dorky. As I get older, I feel more comfortable in being my weird, dorky, authentic self and winging it! This year has been challenging, but it has taught me that being my authentic self is leading me to a more fulfilling life, albiet slowly!

      • Yes. Love reading this! Out of the times of challenges and more, we can arise with more strength and courage than we thought we had. D xx

  5. Hi Alicia I enjoyed reading your story and agree that the more we can step out of our comfort zone the more courageous we become. I also think that as we age we learn to be more courageous and speak our mind rather than holding back. Thanks Denyse for sharing another Woman of Courage with us at #MLSTL.

    • It is true that we can become more courageous Sue. I agree but strangely enough my self-confidence took quite a battering over the past 3-5 years – from my mid 60s on. I am sure anxiety and transitioning to our new life was much of the cause. I am so much better now.

      Thanks Sue. Glad you could drop by.

      Denyse x

    • Totally agree Sue. As I age, I am learning to be more confident in me as a person, and care less what others think. I am finding the things that make me fulfilled. This helps me to take those steps. Thanks for dropping by and commenting x

  6. Alicia, I love your modesty and openness. I agree that courage can be found within us sometimes to our great surprise.

  7. I love that we’ve been bloggy friends for ages too Denyse. We gelled over our love of sharing images I think, and our love of creativity and visual art. I couldn’t think of anyone better to host this series. Your own story of courage is truly inspirational.
    A meetup is definitely on my bucket list! xx

    • We did. Photos were our thing. I have loved being your blogging friend and am always encouraged by your presence on social media we share. Here’s to real life meet ups in our future. Thank you for your kind words too.

      Denyse x

  8. I valued your honesty and gleaned from your sharing right from your childhood stories that living through the ordinary demands of life requires courage. Recognising courage in others encourages each of us. Thank you.

    • Such a memory to return to for an example of courage in Alicia’s early years. Thank you for seeing what every day courage is for Alicia and many of us.

      Denyse x

  9. I love that Alicia talks about the fact that: 1. small things can sometimes require courage… like making a call or doing something you just don’t want to do. (I often fear the smaller things far more than taking a big leap of faith!); and 2. the fact that we get better the more we step outside of our comfort zone. I guess it’s about dreading failure less or being better at dealing with the repercussions!

    Great piece! x

    • I agree. Sometimes when I have been fearful or worried about something relatively minor, I hear myself thinking ‘hey, you ran a school as principal!’.

      We can get bogged down in the little stuff…I so know that…but if we can remember to apply what we know from the other parts of our life, maybe it becomes less stressful.

      Food for thought here!

      Thanks Deb.
      Denyse x

  10. Great to see Alicia here Denyse. I’ve known Alicia *virtually* via the blogosphere for 6-7 years now but of course, we haven’t met in person as yet. I think the common thread that I’ve seen in all the Women of Courage posts as part of this series (including my own) is that we underestimate ourselves and that there is more strength and courage within us than we would ever imagine. Alicia – I agree that our minds can be our own worst enemies! Have a great weekend A & D! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • So very well observed Min. Thank you for that. Yes, we underestimate ourselves too much and I hesitate to add, we don’t seem to see or know about that much with menfolk.

      Denyse x

    • Oh yes MIn I agree. I think we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the amazing things we do in life, so self belief gets buried amongst all other stuff.

  11. Courage is often perceived as something manifested only in a huge life changing event or moment – which can be so true – but I really like Alicia’s insights into the everyday tasks, like picking up that phone to make ‘that call’, that are also true of drawing on one’s strengths. And when you think about it, a lot of our daily life (especially for the anxious ones amongst us *raises hand*) is filled with micro moments of digging deep into the stores of courage.

    Thank you Denyse and Alicia. Another thought provoking interview. 🙂

    Much love, Sandra

  12. Hello Alicia!
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    That racial hatred rant – I think we’ve all experienced that and not stood up to it, Particularly when we’re younger. It’s a shock to start with, it’s also a loss of what to say and a fear of turning the situation into something that escalates.I think I would stand up now though. But you never know do you? Not until you’re there.

    • I am finding as I age, I am less likely to keep my mouth shut when it comes to something I am passionate about.
      In the same situation now I would say something, in the safe environment of the local supermarket. In another situation, depending on the circumstances it may not be so wise in the current society, especially with kids in tow. Some people can get quite radical in their beliefs.