#AtoZChallenge: X is for Xenogenous

stormtrooper jenga courage

I love women.

XLet me rephrase that. I love the female spirit. I mean, yeah, I love Elizabeth Banks and Kesha and also that woman who plays Jack’s wife in the Jack in the Box commercials, but I am also an appreciator of the work and substance of woman.

X is for xenogenous, which means, of an outside cause.

Writing on courage – that’s what I’d like to do now, and I’ve considered spelling courage X-C-O-U-R-A-G-E so I can get down to it. Instead, I’ve chosen an X word – xenogenous – which I bet no one else has, and I’ll use it like a rebound romance to get to where I want.

My status as a man means that I must appreciate the courage of a woman from a xenogenous perspective. (see what I did there?)

Are we done here? Is that connection enough? Because I’d like to get on to courage.

August McLaughlin writes just one blog I love that supports women in ways I can’t come close to. She’s a star and an advocate and a friend. And she runs the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.

Advocation for women’s courage

It’s a week in February in which insightful bloggers convene on a topic – the Beauty of a Woman. (Here’s my post).

Kate Wood wrote a post as part of this blogfest that resonated with me, as a dad and a coach, and, hell, just as a human. She wrote of the courage her sister conjured by the simple act of belly dancing, and advocating for other women’s courage.

(Good thing I had a post ready for B back at the beginning of this challenge – and didn’t write about me trying out belly-dancing.)

Kate experienced the kind of pride we take in those we love who venture with love into uncharted territory. I decided after I read her post back in 2015 that if I were the bucket list type, belly dancing would make the list.

(As a spectator, not a participant – I belly danced enough involuntarily when I took Zumba classes.)

When we watch someone we love crush a challenge, that lifts us. It sparks a flame in our souls, to do something like that. Or something the total opposite of that. When I’m feeling particularly Zenned up, I’ll even be happy to see a total stranger hit the jackpot.

Even if it’s just after I’ve sunk a fistful of quarters in a claw game, only to watch some dinkeldorf win after me, on his first try.

Courage in class, auditions, tryouts

I nearly recapped stories I’ve already told about how courageous my girls are. Yes, they are. On the soccer pitch and in sociology class, at club tryouts and singing auditions. In eating some of the creations I concoct in the kitchen.

I love their stories. But you’ve heard them.

What if I could try to crank out a how-to guide to courage? I’ve had it, once or twice. I asked a girl to a dance in eighth grade, while we read Romeo and Juliet in Language Arts class. Right when Juliet asked, “wherefore art thou, Romeo?” (She said yes.)

1. Recognize your mastery of everyday courage

Courage isn’t always punching a lion in the teeth or rushing into a burning building to rescue orphaned baby seals.

Speaking up takes courage. Writing in this A to Z Challenge definitely, does. Courage arrives in small doses, such as taking a chomp of fried eel or interrupting that guy who dominates all dialog during meetings. (You know the one.)

2. Remember the cause you’re couraging for

My girls’ entry into this world came from a mother who cared so about their health that she mastered childbirth – all three times – without drugs. That’s badass. Courage on behalf of someone you love can grow exponentially when you recall the cause.

3. Radiate confidence

Confidence is the pico on the fish taco of life.

Courage can’t be easily conjured in times bereft of it, but it can be cultivated. Ignore ruminating dialog that says you can’t. It begins in things you can do easily, and can build in things you learn to conquer. Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right.

4. Rely on discipline

Create a method to courage, like you do for leg day or giving up poptarts for Lent.

Talk to one new person every day, or hold yourself to a bedtime before 3 a.m. or morning jog. Conquer as you go. It’s in your posture and it’s in your stride. It’s in moments lived on your terms, and it builds for those moments you’ll learn to not fear.

5. Rally behind core values

Courage doesn’t go on every sandwich. (Yes, it’s usually about food.)

What values beat the drum of your heart? Is it fulfilling lives for you and your kids? Is it cleaner living or brighter health, or a job you don’t want to shred with a cheese grater? Courage isn’t about picking all the fights – it’s knowing which fights to pick.

How are you courageous? And does anyone remember the X word I hung this post on by a splinter of a thread in the first place?

The rest of the A to Z to this point:

A is for Addiction to Devices

B is for Burgers (3 Lessons I learned During a Month Without Them) Plus 3 Random Smartphone Pics

C is for Interview with a Cat

D is for Do What I Do and Eat What I Eat

E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind

F is for  Foods That Bring Me Comfort

G is for #GirlsRock: An Interview Mental Health Care Advocate Kitt O’Malley

H is for Halfway There

I is for Ice Cream

J is for Justification for the Blog Life

K is for 7 Women I’d Sing Karaoke With

L is for Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)

M is for Men I Forgot to Be

N is for the New Plan

O is for One Day From Payday Spicy Chicken Skillet

P is for Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time (a Guest Post from Kathy of The Second Half of My Life)

Q is for Quote Challenge

R is for Blogger Recognition

S is for Six Words

T is for Teenagers

U is for Unconventional Loves

V is for Vague Differences Between Protecting and Sheltering

W is for What Fatherhood Did

courage quote 2


  1. This is truly beautiful! I feel like Rocky or Rambo. 😉 To me, the most courageous are those who live day to day life without compromising what they believe in. My Daddy would have killed for me, but Mama would have given her life for me. Men are wonderful and strong, but women have an inner strength that surpasses.

    Oh, how I love the pico!

    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Barbara! Either way, you’re packing a punch. Courage to stick by our convictions is perhaps the most noble interation of it.

      Poignant observations of dad vs. mom. I think when both strengths are put together, what better environment for a child?

      Alway, the Pico, Barbara. Always.

  2. Very nice, Eli. Courage, born of the heart, is a wonderful topic to write about here, and you did it (and us) proud. Hats off to you and the other men who are open and vulnerable enough to honor the depth of courage in the women who LIVE it. Beats the chest beating beasts any day. 💕

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, CC. Courage is sometimes like talking about dinner after I’ve had breakfast, it’s so far in the horizon, but it’s visable.

      That life of courage women live inspires things such as the #GirlsRock feature, for which I’ll never run out of fitting candidates.

  3. This was excellent! I know so many people who don’t consider themselves to be courageous, and yet when examining their everyday lives I see what it takes them to continue, to go forward bravely despite obstacles that would defeat many. Women have a survivor spirit, and caregiver spirit and a protector spirit, and it takes incredible courage to put those into play. I appreciated your thoughts in this post!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Josie! It’s possible to be courageous and not recognize it. I love that observation of the survivor/caregiver/protector spirit of woman. They’re absolutely in play, and they are more powerful together than any of the three individually.

  4. I love all the food references. I’m not the most courageous person, but I do stand up for what I believe, and I don’t put up with harmful nonsense from other people. I’ve never heard the word “Xenogenous.” Thanks for teaching me something!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, AJ – I make food references even when I’m writing about food. You kind of are the very definition of courageous, actually.

      Let’s see if I can remember “xenogenous” when I get stuck with the X tile in Scrabble next time! I’m learning lots at your blog, too.

  5. hilarymb says:

    Hi Eli – women v men – yes differences … but the need to be courageous is always there …. and who knows when it’s going to be needed, or when we’re going to be required to find it – at a moment’s notice . Interesting word and your descriptions are just right … we need all of us to stand up for what we believe in and lead others along the compassionate of courageousness … cheers Hilary


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Courage is innate, and ever stronger when exercised, I believe, Hilary. Love your comments.

  6. Lauren Becker says:

    Nice choice for X – I think it works well. And courage is a great topic because it comes in a lot of different forms.


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Lauren. Courage is all over, from trying marmalade to saving the world.

  7. Great word! I also love “confidence is the pico on the fish taco of life.” Hilarious and brilliant. I just love reading your posts. Giving birth 3 times without drugs is one of the most courageous things ever, by the way.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      My goal is to use the word xenogenous in Scrabble – across one of those triple-word score spots, Shann!

      The pico statement hits home doesn’t it? Thanks so much. I love reading your posts, too, and also having you here. That Peaceful Posse rocks.

      Natural child birth trumps a 100-yard rushing day by far. A 1,000-yard receiving day, even. Not even close.

  8. Thanks for the kind words! And in such a lovely post and company. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks for your inspiration, August, and the kind words! You’re never far from what I write on subjects like these.

  9. messymimi says:

    Sometimes it takes courage for me to speak up, and sometimes it takes courage to be quiet.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      And it takes wisdom to know the difference, Mimi!

  10. stomperdad says:

    You’ve always shown respect to the female Xcourage with your Girl Power posts. This one is no different. Well it is, of course, but you’re still modeling exceptional xenogeneous respect.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, brother. It’s one of my favorite subjects. xenogeneous respect might someday become a hashtag.

      1. stomperdad says:

        I’d hashtag that…

  11. Now Im hungry and feel like I can conquer the world! LOL Great post!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      For 23.932 hours in a day, I feel the same way (only the hunger part is 100% certain!). Thanks Kim!

  12. ksbeth says:

    i love this post, eli. and love the word, it’s new to me –

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Beth. I had to dig deep in the X files for this one.

  13. ipsyb says:

    As I always tell me girls, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is when you go ahead and do something that has to be done even though you are afraid. Lovely new word here. I’ll be going through the rest, slowly.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Quite profound, what you tell your girls. We often feel we have to exonorate fear, when we simply have to navigate with it. Glad to have found your blog, and honored you’re here!

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