Grit & Grace
This picture hangs in my local pub. It is a promotional poster for the wine label ‘Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch’, great wines from the Strathbogie Ranges. It shows a well dressed lady holding a rifle with her dog, an Irish Setter, heading off to shoot their lunch. It always reminds me of my Mum. We had an Irish Setter that was definitely Mum’s dog, but it’s not that, rather it is the grit and grace depicted that does it.
Mum was raised in the country, in the post war period, with a bunch of sisters, her father was determined that his daughters could look after themselves. One of my favourite stories from my Mum is when a would-be suitor took her to a rifle range. Mum’s first attempt hit the target perfectly in the centre. Her suitor asserted that it couldn’t have been her shot. Rather than argue, Mum made a second attempt, this time aiming to graze the previous shot slightly to the side. She was of course successful and simply smiled.
Mum has a state of grace and ease. I've seen my Mum face many stressful situations, I’ve seen her gather her grit, get on with things, and always with amazing grace. For me grit came easily, grace not so much, more something to aspire to. Recently I’ve realised that grace may not be as far away as I thought.
Grit is something that I have long understood. Managing stress, not by avoiding it, but by recognising it, sitting comfortably in the uncomfortable, finding the learning, the positive and the way through. Hard work – yes. Rewarding – yes. Exhausting – that too.
It seems obvious now that grace is a way of being, but I’d often tried to practice grace in my reactions to pressure, conflict or stress. Telling myself that I understood all about grit and grace, but now that I understand more, reactive grace doesn’t seem wise. I know now that grace is something to be considered, planned and practiced. Proactive grace is my new goal.
My first step is understanding my guiding purpose and goals. Second step is considering where I am spending my time and effort. Third is to consider my health, energy and wellbeing, and that of my loved ones. All of that is fed into making choices about what and when to step up or to ease off, aimed at balancing my grit and determination with a state of grace and ease.
I still want to be like my Mum, but knowing when to call on my grit and when it’s time for grace, and working out a natural rhythm is what I aspire to now. Mastering the art of grace just might be the secret to having my cake and eating it too.