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Fortune Favors the Brave

Artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon shares the story behind her second book of hand-lettered inspiration, Fortune Favors the Brave.

When I was thirty-one years old I got two words tattooed on my right arm. Those two words—truth and courage—lettered inside of banners blowing from the beaks of two barn swallows represented a conscious shift to live my life more authentically. Until that time, throughout my teens and twenties, I spent a lot of time attempting to fit into the mold of who I thought I should be and what I thought I should do with my life. By the time I was thirty I was bored, uninspired, clinically depressed, and quite truly stuck. And so, in an attempt to be happier, in the few years that followed and until this day (I turned forty-seven this year), it has been my life’s work to live every day in ways that feel true and good for me. At the core of this work is the assumption that I cannot be happy or achieve any level of satisfaction in life unless I am living in ways that are aligned with my core values, passions, and temperament—in other words, what I believe in, what makes me feel inspired, and what feels good to me.

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Sounds easy enough, right? But it isn’t. It takes enormous bravery and determination to be totally yourself, to pursue life dreams that others might not understand, to risk judgment, or to break out of unhealthy relationships, addictions, and habits. It also takes courage to forgive yourself when you falter along the way and to move on after you do or say things you later regret. Let’s face it—none of us has a “perfect” path. In fact, accepting, even embracing, our missteps and imperfections (including the big ones) is part of the journey. And understanding that we all falter, that we are all beautifully imperfect, and that we are all in some way trying to live authentically connects us as humans.

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Over the years, as I have attempted to live a happier, more authentic life, I have relied heavily on the words of other people—writers, thinkers, artists, philosophers, and yes, even regular people—to guide and support my path. Indeed, sometimes reading an inspiring quote in a moment of self-doubt can change my entire outlook and remind me that despite my weaknesses or shortcomings, despite what others might think of me, I can do this. 

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Because I have grown not only to love but also to rely on the wise words of smart people, I have been hand lettering inspirational quotes for several years. I have also found that many people love to read inspiring quotes too, and so I began sharing them on my blog and then in my first book of hand-lettered quotes, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. It felt like the most logical and important step to focus my next book of quotes on bravery—the bravery required to live authentically, to be our best selves, to accept our mistakes and shortcomings, and to live, really live, a good and happy life.

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It is no coincidence that the year I got the words truth and courage tattooed on my arm was also the same year I started drawing and painting. Living an authentic life meant finding a way to express my deepest fears and my most intense longings. I experimented with all kinds of things during that time—cooking, sewing, writing, new athletic endeavors—all of which I still enjoy today, but making art made me feel thoroughly happy in a way I had never felt before. Many years later, making art has become my entire world, including my livelihood. I am so grateful for every person, every book I have read, and every word that gave me the strength to take risks and fight each wave of self-doubt I encountered.

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I hope the brilliant words in this book provide encouragement and motivation for you as you tread the path of your own magnificent journey. May you live bravely and fully!

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Lisa Congdon

Lisa Congdon is an author, illustrator, and fine artist. Her other books include Whatever You Are be a Good One; Art, Inc.; Fortune Favors the Brave; and The Joy of Swimming, also from Chronicle Books. She lives in Portland, Oregon. You can see more of her work here.

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