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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey


Courage: Braving Our Own Wilderness

Oct 31, 2020 04:01PM ● By Nicole Zornitzer

Several years ago, I read Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. In my quest for continual self-growth, inspiration and motivation during challenging moments in life, this book and its messages have been a blessing and created a platform for me to share with others the idea of braving our own, internal “wilderness”.

A concept that is introduced in this book is the idea of having a strong back and soft front.  Brown eloquently presents the idea of us moving through life in a defensive mode versus an open and compassionate manner; most importantly toward ourselves. The question posed is how can we move through life with strength and vulnerability and coexist in the dichotomy of opposing ideas?

The answer is through courage.  It requires courage for us to experience life and feel a sense of belonging in our own bodies, all while maintaining a strong back and soft front.

This courage is not like the typical courage we have learned about as a child, rather this courage is finding the means to express who we are, our truest of feelings and acceptance of the revelations about ourselves without judgment. Becoming the most authentic version of ourselves is difficult, it requires being brutally honest with “all that is”—the good, the bad, the challenges, the joys.  

When we find this ability to confront our greatest challenges, to stand alone with confidence and security, we are exuding this idea of courage. As one of my teachers says, “It is moving through a situation that provides true growth and evolution, we should not avoid challenges; we must go through them all.  To do this, requires tremendous courage and compassion for one’s self.”  

This idea can then be related to satya, which is one of the yamas. Satya is one of the covenants of yogic philosophy and translates to being truthful. This challenges us to take bold measures in an effort to find our authentic self, our dharma and our purpose. When one begins to remove the walls of protection that we have created around our energy field, when one becomes vulnerable, when one fully engages in life and all that each new day brings, we are taking appropriate steps to become courageous and exude the true definition of strength.

Braving our own “wilderness” becomes this idea of evaluating our internal and external world.   Becoming friends with ourselves and finding the courage at moments to challenge our comfort zone, to broaden our mind, to expand our hearts, to express vulnerability, to admit that we don’t know. Evolving and aging gracefully leads us to ultimately conclude that we are an expansive wilderness, a tapestry of thoughts, behaviors, compassion, love and even forgiveness.  How beautiful that is.

Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Shala, located in Randolph, New Jersey, and Upper Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey. See ad, page 26.

Tick Talk

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warm winds, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed and we are just starting with the yard work that comes with the warmer weather.  Sadly, another season has started ramping up.  Tick season.

•             The best form of protection is prevention. Educating oneself about tick activity and how our behaviors overlap with tick habitats is the first step.

•             According to the NJ DOH, in 2022 Hunterdon County led the state with a Lyme disease incidence rate of 426 cases per 100,000 people. The fact is ticks spend approximately 90% of their lives not on a host but aggressively searching for one, molting to their next stage or over-wintering. This is why a tick remediation program should be implemented on school grounds where NJ DOH deems high risk for tick exposure and subsequent attachment to human hosts.

•             Governor Murphy has signed a bill that mandates tick education in NJ public schools. See this for the details.  Tick education must now be incorporated into K-12 school curriculum. See link:

•             May is a great month to remind the public that tick activity is in full swing. In New Jersey, there are many tickborne diseases that affect residents, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan, and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

•             For years, the focus has mainly been about protecting ourselves from Lyme disease. But other tick-borne diseases are on the rise in Central Jersey. An increase of incidence of Babesia and Anaplasma are sidelining people too. These two pathogens are scary because they effect our blood cells. Babesia affects the red blood cells and Anaplasma effects the white blood cells.

•             Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen. When you contract Lyme it is possible to contract more than just that one disease. This is called a co-infection. It is super important to pay attention to your symptoms. See link.

A good resource from the State:


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