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  • Writer's pictureDr. Donna Cill

The Courage to Soar

“Why does the thrill of soaring have

to begin with the fear of failing?”

-David NcNally

The lesson 

Yikes! She fell again. Falling on ice can be very painful. I love ice skating, there is something about the chill in the winter air and the gliding strides on the skates that makes me feel free. When Kennedy was four years old she had her first lesson. She was so cute in her tiny little white skates, her green puffy vest and her cute little pink sparkly hat. She would go out on the ice many times looking back with apprehension.  Within ten minutes into the lesson, “plop,” she was down.

Each week she became better and was less likely to fall. At five years old Kennedy was skating without ever falling. She was now transformed into a confident skater! However Kennedy never learned how to twirl, but she observed other girls twirling around the rink.  Kennedy quickly became obsessed with the idea of reaching a new milestone in her skating journey. I still remember the day she decided to try to twirl. She looked around, took a deep breath, mustered her will and… she twirled.  Then, down she went! She got up and I could tell that she had forgotten what it felt like to fall on the cold, hard ice.  I smiled and said “good job Ken!” She looked at me perplexed.  I said, “How else are you going to learn if you don’t dare to try…you have already won because you took a chance!” I am not sure if Kennedy remembers that lesson, but I sure did.  It taught me so much about trying something new and the painful process of change.

How do you instill courage in your daughter to soar?

Currently I am faced with two very different levels of “soaring”. Kennedy, my nine year old daughter, is interested in walking to school with her friends. Everyday Kennedy and I walk to school.  I enjoy our conversations, I appreciate the exercise, and most importantly I know she is safe. Now she wants to walk to school without me!!!!!

Alleea, my twenty two year old daughter is finishing graduate school next month. She informed me that she is interested in getting a full time job in Ghana, West Africa. Alleea attends school in NYC which is a thirty minute train ride away from my home. With such close proximity, it is easy for me to be there if she needs anything, but most importantly I like the factthat she can come home to visit at anytime.  Now she wants to live half way across the globe!!!!

The path to independence 

The process of understanding my role in this equation was critical for me. I contemplated what their goals meant to me, as their mother, and how I could provide them guidance in their quest to soar. My daughters were both expressing their path to independence and that was a great thing!

During this process I proposed a question to myself, “How can I provide them with the support they need to be successful in accomplishing their goals?”  For Kennedy, I asked her if there was a friend she would like to walk with, we reviewed the basics of crossing the street, and most importantly I gave her a prepaid cell phone to call me when she got to school!

For Alleea, I reviewed the details to the job she is considering in Ghana, I told her I would visit, and I encouraged her to follow her dreams.

Three tips from the eagle that we can use as mothers 

  • Encourage your daughters to have a VISION or pursue their VISION

We teach our daughters what is possible for their lives by living ours, exposing them to new exciting endeavors and supporting their talents.

The eagle soars, captures prey and keeps its young safe. The eaglet gains a vision of soaring and reaching new heights before they begin to fly from watching its mother. They have wings but do not know how to use them, but the vision of their mother soaring through the azure blue skies provides them with the belief that flying is possible!

  • Gently move them toward their goals

As mothers we provide guidance for our daughters and steer them towards independence. We should consider ways to BUILD courage in our daughters and ways to MANAGE their fears. The Eagle moves their young to the edge of the nest PRIOR to the eaglet’s debut. The eaglet sometimes resists, and the eagle’s heart quivers with concern, but the gentle move to the edge of the nest still occurs.

  • Use your innate wisdom to give the push 

As you assess your daughter’s progression you will know when it is time for her to receive the “push.”  Armed with vision, the eaglet may be filled with fear and the concern of falling, but the mother pushes the eaglet out of the nest.

The eaglet soars and her life is changed forever!!!

McNally, D. (1990). Even Eagles Need a Push: NY, NY: Dell Publishing.


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