What does BRAZEN mean?


Back in graduate school (shout-out to you Masters in Counseling Psych I’m not using!) in order to be certified to *lead* counseling groups we had to participate in group sessions.

It was then I realized (the super obvious notion of) even helpers need help.

Even mentors need to be mentees.

Even coaches need *coaches.*

Flash forward 20+ years and, when I hit a ok. so I know what I’m doing TODAY but where is this path headed? moment, I knew precisely what to do.

I turned to a life-path carver (AKA coach) of my own.

A few weeks ago we had our first skype session during which he said (following what felt like a dramatic pause):

What I hear you describing is BRAZEN.  You’re brazen.  What does brazen mean to you?

He posed the question in that inimitable way of all good life-path-creator-helpers:

He didn’t want my thoughts immediately—he wanted me to mull.

He wanted me to mentally chew on the word in the same way Charming loves UP his PinkPuppy girlfriend until I settled upon a “personal” definition.

rsz_1screen_shot_2014-01-30_at_42148_amAnd masticate I did.

I pondered various interpretations:

1. boldly shameless
2. unrestrained by convention
3. marked by audacity

1. to face and overcome boldly
2.to make (oneself) bold or brash

I realized–although I initially giggled when I heard the word—BRAZEN captures what I live day-to-day and what I strive to teach my daughter.

unapologetically myself

To me living brazenly is:

  • Putting myself FIRST. BOLDLY. It’s the knowledge if I don’t take care of my needs before “doing unto others” & slap on my oxygen mask first I’m unable of caring for other people in my life.

I’m brazen (quite frankly–who knew?).

I’m blogging and living as a way  to invite others to live BRAZENLY alongside me.

Today, however, we’re starting back at the beginning.

At the start.

I ask you to share with me:

What does BRAZEN mean to you?


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  1. says

    Brazen I think, has sometimes had a negative connotation, undeservedly so. I think brazen means fearlessly grabbing life and living it to the fullest.

  2. says

    Brazen is a great word. I think of boldy challenging convention to do what you think is right. (I also think of “brazen hussy” but that’s more of a reflection of the literature I read in high school!)

    • Carla says

      I didnt wanna…uh…prejudice the jury (ooh lawyer joke!!) but I thought that too :-)

  3. says

    I’d say brazen had a negative connotation for me before reading your blog. But I love that t-shirt so much (unapologetically myself) and wonder if perhaps I was the one making brazen negative? Me and good old society. Because being brazen means you’re causing trouble. You’re a bad girl. But maybe causing trouble means you’re actually a good girl — good and smart; good and brave; good and unapologetic!

  4. says

    Prior to this I would’ve said brazen had a negative connotation, but you made me stop and think. Like so many things in life we are often quick to think….yet not really think. Even when it comes to words. Great food for thought.

  5. Carol says

    I thought/think Brazen means bold in a not good sense, but really like the notion of seizing that and taking it back.
    Fits you and I love the initial image.

    • says

      LOOOOVE. IT.

      To me it means:

      Seriously! (No disrespect intended, sometimes I just like to curse :)) I’ve known you for about 8 years now, and you have been unapologetically you since day one. I’m so grateful for that, as I am to call you friend.

      Brazen? FRICK YES! And don’t ever, ever stop!

  6. Carol says

    Also I love the notion of BRAZENLY DOING UNTO OTHERS.
    That gives me chills because I can think of brazen as more selfish moves and actions.

  7. says

    To me, being brazen means loving myself just the way I am. There are so many forces out there that work against self-acceptance, particularly when it comes to physical appearance.

    Cover Girl wants us to feel uncomfortable in our skin so that we buy their concealer.

    Jenny Craig wants us to feel fat so that we sign up for their meal plan.

    In the end, believing you’re beautiful just the way you are is an act of BRAVERY. It’s quite brazen.

  8. says

    I gotta admit “brazen hussy” was the first thing that came to mind when I saw your title. But after that initial reaction, bold and fearless were the next words that came to mind. Love the way you’ve defined it, especially about “owning it!”

  9. says

    When I hear that word, I always think of how they use it in the news – “a brazen robbery”. Never really to describe people.

    This really is an interesting post…. I think the term describing people can be both positive & negative depending on the direction one takes it.. but I see your direction is a different way of using it.

    Nettie said it well.

    I have definitely seen the change in your writing & you on FB over the past year.

  10. says

    I’ve not heard or seen this word before this post. I do love what it means to you, and your definition of it. Always so thought provoking.

  11. says

    The term “brazen” immediately makes me think of a woman who is strong — in mind, body, beliefs and character. A woman who doesn’t conform to the status quo just to fit in.

    I strive to be brazen.

    Love this post. Love it love it love it.

  12. says

    Why have I only ever heard the word brazen associated with women? And most often in a negative light.
    Love the idea of reclaiming this word. And your positive definition fits you to a T!

  13. says

    When someone says “brazen” I think of a negative action, but it can be positive too. What comes to mind for me is political activism– that can be positive– like Pussy Riot in Russia–the girls are brazen, but they are doing it to bring awareness to women’s rights or lack there of.

  14. says

    LOVE the way you’ve owned the word and made it sound so damn appealing!

    My first association with the word is Brazen was…. Hussy. Yeah, I’m old. But then it occurs to me that being a Brazen Hussy could be pretty darn cool too.

    Anyway, hussified or not, rock on with your Brazen self and keep that freak flag flyin. :)

  15. says

    Brazen to me being yourself- proudly, strongly, fearlessly-always- without any worry about what others think, do or say. Love love love this Carla!!

  16. says

    Interesting. My mum took brazen as a negative …to describebeing overly bold and oppressive in expressing yourself…sort of like what you talked about in letting your freak flag fly for all the wrong reasons. But since mum was quiet and shy I think to her being bold or loud in most ways was excessive.
    To me it means expressing everything, even the the uncomfortable parts of myself when they need to be, even to people who may not be ready to hear them…because they are real and true and who I am. Proud expressions of myself :)

  17. says

    The word BRAZEN has a negative feeling about it, to me. I think of HARSH, RUDE, PUSHY, SELFSERVING, MEAN…

    I like BOLD and BRAVE much better.

    Just me.

    Interesting comments.

    Go GET it!

    • Carla says

      I kind of agree—which makes me love it and wanna appropriate it for OUR PURPOSES all the more I guess :-)

  18. says

    First wanted to let you know I found you through Rubber Shoes in Hell. She is awesome and I am grateful she recommended your site.

    Second, brazen was when I finally got the guts to go bald in public. Harder to do in winter, though. It’s cold outside!

  19. says

    yes, yes, yes to the coach idea. I’ve realized lately that might be exactly what I need to do as well, but I”m not sure what kind of coach. mulling that momentarily.

    Brazen to me well yes…it’s you!

  20. says

    I think your post is very timely for me! The other day we had to do a personality assessment for my business communications class and ask our significant other or parents or someone who knew us really well to describe us.

    The first word out of my boyfriends mouth was “Bold,” and the second was “Brave”

    I’ve never seemed that way to myself. Maybe Brazen is a combination of those two. So to me? Brazen means going where other people aren’t willing to go, whether it’s to help others or to progress yourself. It’s living in the moment (and in my case sometimes forgetting about the big picture) — and being unfailingly yourself, every day. Unashamed, unabashedly going about your business the way you need to and want to — of course taking into consideration the effect you have on others.

    That was long. Thanks for this :)

  21. Carla says

    I’ve emailed many of you privately—but wanted to say publicly THANK YOU so much for sharing your insights and thoughts.
    Thank you. Thank you. I’ve much to think about…

  22. says

    I like brazen. I think I went from brazen to timid (kid to teenage year) and I’m working my way back to brazen. I like the idea of just being who you are, and doing what you feel like…

  23. says

    Brazen to me – BOLD and unashamed!!
    I don’t know if I can say 100% that I’m brazen but I am definitely working on it every single day! I want to be me – unapologetically (like Tornado’s shirt says) me!!!
    BTW – I love the picture at the top of your site!!!

  24. says

    I hope brazen isn’t a word that is reserved for women who are stepping outside the norms a little too much. Is this a word people would use to describe men? I’m going to ponder that and consider synonyms :)

  25. says

    It’s interesting isn’t it as brazen often has such negative connotations (like assertive vs aggressive). But – it’s more how I’ve experienced its use in my past than anything to do with the word’s meaning….

  26. says

    I love your daughter’s t-shirt, really goes to show that your’re a great mom.
    Though on the first adjective interpretation, I’d turn it around a little and make it “shamelessly bold”. I think it’s crucial to a person’s happiness to always take care of himself in the best possible way and not make excuses for himself. Being what you call brazen at first seems like it refers mostly to how other people perceive you (hence the negative connotation I guess), but it’s a whole lot more than that.
    For me, being brazen means to be completely honest with oneself and to always strive for self improvement .

  27. says

    I almost missed this! I think brazen means being a little bit crazy to me – in a good way. :-)

    Do tell us what you’ll get out of the coaching. I’ve read Gilkey’s posts occasionally and love his domain name.

  28. says

    I love this, and I just started with a life coach, too. Brazen to me, means to live my life with no apologies-the way I need to live it–with character, charisma, caring, and confidence.

  29. says

    Wow – I had my definition of brazen so completely wrong. I immediately heard that in a negative light, but the definition is so positive! The first two really spoke to me – 1. boldly shameless 2. unrestrained by convention <– That's how I want to live every moment of every day!!

  30. cherylann says

    I just do what I have to in my life to survive and fill in the rest with what I want to do. I don’t call me or what I do anything. It doesn’t need a label from me or anyone else.

    You use the “freak flag” term quite a bit. Do you know where that originated? (Hint- started back in the 60s, not new.)