“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” 
Mark Twain

I’ve often thought about the idea of courage vs. confidence and realize now that courage is our ability to do something that frightens us. In contrast, confidence is a feeling of trust in our abilities and experiences. 

Think about this – once you have mastered something, you normally develop confidence in that skill.  Think about having to speak or stand up for yourself.  That takes courage.  However, once you have done it several times and experienced success, you then develop a sense of confidence.  The next time you need to speak up, you may feel a sense of calm confidence rather than a racing heart and churning stomach.

I remember being in a rainforest in Costa Rica for the first time with two of my friends, and we decided to go on the zip line.  One friend had a place there and had done it several times. She reassured us that we would love it.  I was adventurous, but I was afraid of heights, and my heart was pounding.

Even though my friend Debbie and I had never done this before, we both decided we were up to the challenge.

Our guide looked like a young Rambo.  He was wearing camouflage with his sleeves rolled up exposing his muscular arms.  None of us had helmets since this was years ago when helmets weren’t required. 

To get to the zip line, we had to climb a huge tree while navigating a wooden ladder.  Seriously!  We all did it, and once we were up there, we were hooked up to the zip line and instructed on how it was done. 

My friend, Debbie, said she would go first.  She was told not to break too early, but she was afraid of going too fast, so then it happened!  She slowed the pully down too early and she stopped right in the middle of her run.  There she was hanging 40 feet above the jungle floor. Stuck! I was petrified for her. 

To my surprise, she turned herself around, and slowly pulled herself forward, one hand at a time while we all cheered her on.  I was so thrilled when she made it. 

Now it was my turn.  I swallowed and held my breath.  I also made sure I would not stop in the middle of the run.  So, I just let her rip.  Guess what?  It was a blast.  It was such a sense of freedom.

Since that time, over two decades ago, I’ve been to Costa Rica nine times, I’ve led two retreats myself, and I’ve gone on may zip lines.  In fact, my favorite is so high that you must take a gondola up to the first platform!

Why am I sharing this story?  Because it took courage to jump off that platform the first time.  But once I did it a few times, I developed confidence.  And now that I have confidence, I love doing it and it’s easy and fun.

This month, our theme is overcoming adversity and facing your fears.  All of us have had to overcome adversity in our lives at one time or another.  It could be the loss of a job, a person we love.  It could have been from a devastating health diagnosis.  Perhaps the experience of extreme emotional or physical pain that brought us to our knees.  Sometimes it’s financial hardship or loneness.   And sometimes, is simply being in a place where you had to speak up or stand up for what you believed in. 

My husband once said to me that God gives each of us enough messiness to keep us human.

This month, our guests will be sharing their stories of how they overcame extreme adversity in their lives with devastating situations that took courage to get through.  They each navigated their situations differently, and in the end, they each overcame the adversity only to be so much more confident, and wiser for the experience.

The one thing I noticed with all three of these women is that they each wanted to make a difference by sharing what they had learned with others and making the world a better place.  And how they each experienced a deep sense of gratitude as well.

Our first guest is Beth Pizzarello.  Two weeks before graduating college, Beth was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease that contributed to her eventual blindness at age 38.  She lived in a state of denial for years, and then one day her life came crashing down around her and she knew she had to do something immediately.  It was her pivotal moment.  I can’t wait for you to hear what she did next.

My second guest is a bestselling author and the lead life coach on the reality TV series Starting Over.  Her pivotal moment in life was at 20 years old when she witnessed her father kill her mother and then himself.  She, too, has dedicated her life to helping others overcome their fear.  I attended her Fearless Living Weekend in NYC on Memorial Day years ago, and it had a profound effect on my life.  We had a blast at the show, and you will love the quiz she will give you right at the beginning!

Our third guest is Marilyn Kier, a brilliant board-certified orthopedic massage therapist who built a successful business with over 50 corporate clients where she provided on-site massage and wellness programs and had a 4-month waiting list.  Then COVID hit, and she had to shutter her business.  To make things worse, her health began to fail in many ways, and she wasn’t sure how she would survive.  I can’t wait for you to hear her share how she navigated her next steps with confidence and courage.

Our final guest this month is midlife courage coach and founder of Fork in the Road, Sheree Clark. Sheree has written and presented on topics ranging from finding your passion to overcoming career burnout. In this month’s show, she shares how to find the courage to live the life you desire by facing down the fears that are holding you back. You won’t want to miss this empowering conversation.

Watch for your invitation as each show goes live.  And please share our community with others.  They can visit www.joinsmartwomen.com to join and it’s free.


Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Retirement Income Coach and Certified Social Security Claiming Specialist, founder of the Midlife Millionaire™ Solution, and the host of Smart Women Talk. For over 35 years, Katana has helped baby boomers plan for retirement, including how to create lifetime income, how to optimize their Social Security benefits, launch an encore career, and prepare for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Businesswomen, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Income, visit www.katanaabbott.com.