When I was a little horse crazy girl on the farm in country New South Wales around forty (mumble mumble) years ago I saw a telemovie about Marco Polo's journey along the Silk Road through Mongolia to China.
My poor stock horse pony had to endure hours of me playing Mongolian Horse Archer around the paddocks with a couple of sticks and piece of string for a bow. If you know anything at all about horse crazy little girls you'll know that they are utterly fearless.
I used to lie down and look over the edge of the (2 storey tall) grain silo and frighten the living daylights out of my Mum because she didn't know I'd climbed up there.
Fearless little girls get thrown from a horse and bounce back up - catch the horse - remount and take off again at a flat gallop. Fearless little girls get squashed down and told to wear pretty clothes and "play nice with the other kids". Fearless little girls have to be taught to be afraid.
Nice little girls don't play horse archer on the Mongolian steppes. Nice little girls don't climb trees or hang over the lip of the roof of a grain silo. Nice little girls don't join the Army for the purpose of collecting adventures and seeing the world. Nice little girls keep their knees together and don't draw attention to themselves. Nice little girls don't argue or make waves.
Nice little girls far too often learn to hide their heart fire.
Not too long ago I met a little girl at a Farm clearing sale - maybe seven years old. This little girl was polite, confident and energetic. She is an absolutely fearless little firecracker and a thoroughly likeable little girl. She was climbing on tractors, chattering to everyone, dragging her little brother into mischief and having an absolute ball. I taught her a game where we pretended to be cows charging at and tossing people into the air. We had a whale of a time - man we could have cooked up some mischief!
Her Mum on the other hand spent the entire morning worrying about the little girl being a nuisance or possibly offending other people. All I heard was this mother telling her little girl "Don't this, Don't that"
Don't don't don't don't don't.
I've spent a lot my life being afraid - sometimes for good reason - but mostly because of an undiagnosed anxiety condition. Afraid of failure, afraid of social ostracism, afraid of the spotlight, afraid of criticism, afraid of confrontation, afraid of losing control, afraid of crowds, afraid of losing my job and on one memorable occasion afraid of losing the use of my arms and legs.
My transition from the military was not voluntary and it wasn't easy - I spent a lot of years afraid of a lot things. I guess it kind of got to be a habit.
In the last few years I've put a lot of work into losing a few veteran behaviours and habits that no longer serve my interest. Thanks to the help of a lot of people I feel I've reached a point where I can quietly celebrate my achievements.
I wanted to mark this time in my life in a memorable way.
I saw a picture of a little Mongolian girl at a flat gallop, pigtails flying, bareback on her pony shooting at a target I couldn't see. I wanted to be reminded of what it was like to be that little girl.
My friend Alice is a superb digital artist and stands proudly among my tribe of Fierce women friends. We were talking one day about my interest in all things Mongolian and Alice mentioned that one of her Artist friends is a fiercely proud Mongolian living right here in Australia.
Tumen is mainly a digital artist but he accepted my commission and consented to design and print me a figurine that I could put on my desk. I hope to have her cast in bronze one day.
Every time I hesitate, every time I fear, every time I see her I am reminded.
Fearless is her name.