Artist Living

When Fear Met Blind Courage

Me Ra Koh

I walked on to the plane feeling afraid.  Not afraid of flying.  No.  I’d rather fly over being in a car.  Instead it was fear of the unknown.  There is so much growth happening in our business—our dreams are taking flight.  And I think I finally looked down and realized how far “down” was.  Tears came, off and on, from the time I woke up yesterday morning till the time I found my seat on the plane last night.

Brian and the kids were flying home on Virgin America, and I found myself alone not only on the flight but in my aisle.  In a stretch of six seats, mine was the only one taken.  But right before they closed the doors, a flight attendant led one more passenger by hand and seated her across from me.

She was modest in every way; a woman in her late sixties with short graying hair.  She wore a simple long, navy skirt and navy cardigan.  She wore dark, thick nylons from my grandmother’s generation.  And her black shoes had been worn in long ago.  She was a nun.  The flight attendant helped her sit down, spoke to her in Spanish and then walked away.  I could tell she wasn’t used to flying.  Her focus kept shifting, and she’d bite at her thumbnail every few seconds.

The flight attendant came back with a helper and informed him that she was not only unable to speak English, but she was also blind.  When I heard this my heart went out to her.  I asked the flight attendant to tell her I was across the aisle, and if she needed anything at all, all she had to do was reach out her hand and let me know.  I gently placed my hand on her arm so she knew how close I was as he translated my words.  She looked in my direction and gave me the sweetest smile.

As the plane started down the runway, this brave woman started praying under her breath.  She rubbed her hands together over and over again.  I wanted to tell her we would be fine, but I didn’t know how.  And then we were in the air, and I couldn’t help myself any longer.  I reached over and placed my hand on her arm again, “Are you okay?”  She turned my way and smiled with a simple yes in Spanish.  She wasn’t convincing at all.  But her “yes” was of the determined kind.

And there she sat, flying, despite all her fears.

When we landed, she reached out her hand to me.  I took it, and she held mine gently with both of hers.  “Gracias” she said, “Gracias”.  Her eyes were physically unable to see me, but I felt like she was looking right through me.  Tears welled up in my eyes, and I squeezed her hand back and said gracias in return.  There we stood for a quiet moment, holding hands, and I realized that fear had come face to face with blind courage.   And without me even having time to say goodbye, fear was gone.  Her smile and unfocused eyes chased all the fear away.  I must admit, I didn’t want to let go of her hand.  I felt stronger than I’d felt all day in that single moment of holding hands.

I walked off the plane and realized her blind courage had revived me.  It wasn’t about flying in style; she was terrified.  But at the end of the day, despite all the odds she faced, this modest nun took her fears, wrung her hands, prayed fervently under her breath, said her Hail Mary and took flight into the darkness.  The wonderful mystery in it all is that she took me with her and left me changed.

This last weekend in San Fransisco, twenty-one women took their own flight of blind courage at the San Fransisco CONFIDENCE Workshop.  Tomorrow I’m bringing you Part 1 of their amazing journey.  But here is a taste of what’s to come!

This is the photo I was shooting–sweet, miracle baby Jillian.

A handful of our beautiful, courageous women!

Me showing the ladies what I’m shooting, and why I’m setting the shot up a certain way.

Much more to come.

May your wings feel stronger today as you fly with blind courage.




  1. Debbie Allan says:

    Wow MeRa. Your words amaze me. You are SOARING even higher now thanks to that special Sister.

  2. Rhonda says:

    I think God sent you an angel, knowing what you needed. 🙂

  3. Melinda says:

    I needed to hear this today, Me Ra. I love how you find the beautiful and the blessings in your every day. And better yet I love that you share it with all of us. Your spirit is my blessing today.

  4. jeramy says:

    what a wonderful story. i read a quote on twitter yesterday that totally reminds me of you and your observation of this women.

    “Some people see more in a walk around the block than others see in a trip around the world.” – unknown

    that’s what i want to be. i want to be so keenly aware of my surroundings that i see the miraculous in the mundane. i think you do that and it inspires me. good stuff!

  5. Donnaw says:

    Your story is inspirational and your writing style is awesome. Love them both.

  6. shawna says:

    me ra, your vision is truly amazing. i think if for some reason you ever started to fall you would have more people than you ever realized lift you up and keep you going. thank you, as always, for sharing so much of your true self.

  7. Tammy Snyder says:

    Thank you! I teach a Women’s group on Wednesday nights at our church and I have been teaching from a book called “The Power of a Positive Woman”. Last week I started teaching about becoming a woman of courage. Along with that teaching this week is about overcoming fear and not being fearful. When I started studying this lesson it began to speak volumes to me to not be fearful but to trust in God, the Almighty! I became fearful of the two things I am passionate about, dog therapy and photography. The more I studied the more I questioned whether or not I could do both, to be passionate about both and be good at both. My conclusion is this… YES! “Do not fear!” is what I hold on to.

    Me Ra, thank you for your passion to see other women grow and become strong and successful in their endeavors. Many blessings to you and your family.

  8. Melisa says:

    MeRa, Yet again your story brought tears to my eyes. You are such an amazing woman! I am so excited for where you and your business are heading. You have inspired so many women including myself to follow their dreams….. I am so happy to see yours coming true!

  9. Haley says:

    Me Ra, thank you so much for posting such inspiration. I look forward to reading your blog so much; your strength and grace inspire me. This was a message I needed to hear today.
    Thank you.

  10. Richelle says:

    Me Ra, you are my angel (& thousands of other women’s angels, I’m sure)! Thank you!

  11. Amanda says:

    Wow…you just took a ton of bricks off my shoulder…that I did not even know where there…and I felt like I could breathe. This was incredibly beautiful!!! Thank you Me Ra!! Hugs!!

  12. jen armstrong says:

    just really needed to read this today. i love how you tell stories. i always feel right there…
    love this one.

  13. Michelle S says:

    Seriously!!! Do you see into my brain and read my emotions? I swear whenever I am feeling at my wit’s end and that obstacles keep coming my way to try to slow me down, I go onto your blog and find a breath of fresh air.

    You, once again, have me in tears! (Note to self: don’t wear eyeliner when planning on reading MeRa’s blog!!) Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience. It ties in perfectly with yesterday’s post.

  14. Genie says:

    Again, gracious, beautiful and moving. Muchas gracias. You’re the best.

  15. Lynda says:

    I think you should write another book … <3

  16. Lynda says:

    oh, and not on photography … dreams & the courage it takes to reach them? <3

  17. Jody says:

    In a moment when I am feeling like I am flying blind and I am oh so scared this was good to read. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Judith says:

    You inspire me everyday to find my courage. You seem to know that moment when I need to cry (and I know it is okay to do that). You have taught me so much in the last couple of years and even more in this last weekend that I don’t know what to say by gracias.

    @Jeramy I love that quote and will be using it everyday.

  19. Charisse says:

    Wow! The timeliness of this post is impeccable! Just a few days after the workshop, and altough still excited…the reality of life sets back in and I find myself gripping tightly to hold on to every piece of courage and confidence that I drove away from SF with! And dare I add…it is harder than I thought. The fear of failure and the lack of an intricately laid out plan for how to neatly compartmentalize all of the areas of my life that still have to be handled is a reality for me. I love however, that something is different inside. I read your post and I can feel my hand inside the hand of the blind lady and I close my eyes feeling the fear being replaced by the courage and anticipation of what today holds and tomorrow will bring. Even with all it’s imperfections and I smile.

    Thanks MeRa for your authenticity, your prayers, your heart and your courage.
    I luv ya like a rock star! As a matter of fact…you are my rock star!

  20. Only God himself can arrange such a meeting and the angle that you are has eyes to see. Thank you for sharing your gifts of insight, courage and beauty. You are dearly loved MeRa.

  21. Carrie says:

    Needing blind courage more than ever. In the darkness… I know God is there. Reaching out to Him, having no plan, afraid. But Knowing, KNOWING more than anything that His LOVE will see me through and deliver me to the person I am meant to be. Your words and experiences are always so profound in how they touch my life, and once again I am thankful that you have found the courage to share…
    Love and Miss you!

  22. Julie Watts says:

    Sometimes it’s hard to believe what I am accomplishing in my business….and it can get scary if I get caught up in analyzing it with a critical “voice”. Reading stories like yours, Me Ra, raises the hair on my arms and returns my focus RIGHT back to balance. The energy exchange you and the nun shared is the same power the best photographers use, connecting and touching the lives of our clients, personally. Are technical and business skills critical? Definitely. Are heart/soul, and love skills critical? Absolutely.

  23. Me Ra says:

    All your comments help me see that we so need each other. Your words are equally encouraging in this journey of being true to our heart and creative spirit. Thanks so much for commenting, letting me know you are out there and feeling this too! Love you all!

  24. WOW! I love love love your words, your insight, your openness to take it all in. To share it with the world! Thank you so much for doing that!!

    You are such a blessing in my life!

  25. Delanae says:

    Me Ra,

    You wrote, “And I think I finally looked down and realized how far “down” was.”

    I sure hope you are enjoying the view now. 😉 Must be fantastic to have an eagles vantage point. 😉

  26. Lindsay Baumgartner says:

    You never cease to amaze me!! Had I read this a year ago I would gave wondered inside if tears had really welled up. Not because it was you, but because so few people I have come across in life have that much compassion over such things. But knowing you I know that those tears were real. As filled as you were in that moment, I can only imagine what that sweet lady was feeling?!! Thank you for sharing!! Loves to all, and I’m so happy you are home safe and sound!!

  27. Echo says:

    You have no idea how this has touched me today! Blind Courage is all I have to hold onto right now 😉 THANK YOU ME RA!

  28. DanelleB says:

    Thinking about this weekend reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. We all came for different reasons but looking for something that we already had inside. Like the Tin Man for a heart, the Scarecrow for a brain, the Lion for courage and Dorothy to find home. I think we all found that we had all these but didn’t know how to use them. We also learned so much about ourselves. Thanks Me Ra and Brian for a great weekend, and showing us we all had heart, courage, a brain and were all at home together.


  29. Katie V says:

    Love, love, love this! I printed this one to keep as one to go to in times of doubt.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  30. tracie says:

    simply loving you me ra …

  31. evli says:

    cok guzel du?unmusunuz :

  32. I LOVE this story Me Ra!!! It is SO encouraging … and has such a powerful message. It really speaks to me because trying new things and growing sometimes is very scary… just taking the steps and doing it is the hard part!!

    Just keep flying girl!!

    xoxo Heather

  33. porno says:

    Only God himself can arrange such a meeting and the angle that you are has eyes to see. Thank you for sharing your gifts of insight, courage and beauty. You are dearly loved MeRa.

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  35. So go away then

  36. This is a good article. I agree, if there is a method of saving costs then I am all for it. The last place I would have thought to notice a disease was in the eyes.

  37. gigolom says:

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