It was a strange little room in Blackpool, smelling of either fresh seawater or ancient liver and onions. We couldn’t decide. There were probably twenty of us, sitting in a circle, and we tried to define courage.
I had an Idea. “Hang on,” I demanded as I stood up. “I want to try something. Stay there.” Briana smiled as she always does when I have an Idea.
I took a deep breath, thought of Something that Mattered, and stepped forward.
It was an experiment, completely and utterly manufactured, yet tears shot to the surface. (True, all it usually takes to make that happen is a stiff breeze and a lost kitten, but this was primal.) I felt alone and vulnerable with dozens of eyes staring and judging. The deep, animal part of my brain screamed, “I sure as hell hope I’m wearing clean underwear because I’m about to be dinner for the pack!” I experienced what I define as the opposite of courage. I was afraid.
I stepped back.
“Okay. Everybody up.” They stood. “Now think of Something that Matters, and when I say so, step forward.” We did. We, and this is important... ALL did. It was profound.
Ranks closed, eyes glowed, I probably grew two inches and we all smiled. WE give us courage. That’s what Wayward is.
Bri and I don’t need a shirt to recognize Wayward. We see it in your eyes. We see it when you reach for another’s hand, either because you need it or you are needed. We see it when you say, “YES!” and you mean, “Uhhhhh… maybe?” We see it when you take the deepest breath you can and you step forward. When we see you being brave and it is YOUR brave, we see you as Wayward. It isn’t about the shirt.
True, the shirt does things. For instance, it saves the lives of dogs on death row and brings them to provide an environment to save the hearts of prisoners in jail in our partnership with New Leash on Life, USA. It incites a riotous photo opportunity at nearly every “Supernatural” convention. It inspires recognition in people who don’t even watch the show. But you don’t need to wear it to be it.
I wear this shirt not to show who I am to you, but to remind me who I am to me. Being Wayward has made me stronger, happier, bigger, louder, prouder and braver than I ever thought I had the capacity to become. It took me a long time, but I finally belong. I forget that sometimes. When I can look in the mirror and remember, I come back to myself a little faster.
We offer this latest Wayward shirt to you if it would serve you the same way. We are a part of something huge, stepping up, learning with and from each other, and belonging together.
In fact, a number of people who have taught me courage beyond words don’t even identify with the word “daughter”. I am a daughter. Some of us are Wayward Daughters. But Wayward is bigger and we are more. Therefore we have chosen this design to remind the world that everyone is welcome at this table and everyone has something to offer.
We can’t always walk in courage. But Briana and I have learned that we don’t have to when we have each other. Together, we are way strong. We are way fierce. We are Wayward.