Merit Badges for Distinctive Acts
of Badassery & Aplomb


Surely you've earned a badge or two...


Why merit badges?

Because being bold takes heart, and having heart in this rough-and-tumble world isn’t always easy. Because the road is long and twisty, and you have to bring your own marshmallows. Because goodness doesn’t always just happen – some deliberate assembly is required.

It’s an Emily Dickinson thing. It’s a Ben Franklin thing. It’s a fortitude thing. It’s
an inspiration thing.

And it’s a scientific fact that these badges serve both as a reward for a job nicely done and as a magical token to ensure badassery & aplomb in your future.

Charm School Dropout


Nos. 001 - 003
The Charm School Dropout Merit Badge Menagerie


This badge grants you the power to defy expectations at every turn. You sat still when you had to and got up as soon as you could. You got up and you got out. You kept what was helpful and left the rest behind. You are free to make noise, make mistakes and make a few unorthodox moves on the dance floor. You are free to figure out what makes you tick and what talents you might develop. You are free to be wild, to be yourself, to change the world and to watch TV. You figured out that kindness trumps politeness, and that poise isn’t always the answer. You flipped on your own light and saw that you didn’t need anyone else’s approval.

Shine on, you crazy dropout. Shine on.

(You can also read more about The Best Time I Went to Christian Charm School on the Hairpin and becoming a Charm School Dropout, which appeared on Hello Giggles and Medium.)

Invent & Invoke

Nos. 004 - 005
The Set for Lift-Off Merit Badge Collection


This badge grants you the power to invent & invoke wings. Maybe an angel gets its wings with each ding of a bell, but getting that kind of lift as a human takes more effort. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I once saw a quote by Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck in the program notes at a Momix dance performance. He wrote in The Intelligence of Flowers that to break through the earth, a plant must “invent or invoke wings.” Yeah. That sounds about right. Why not? Invent or invoke wings. I myself have been hoping to do both ever since. That’s a metaphor I can live with. You invent by your own doing. (That’s the hard work part.) You invoke by opening yourself up to what’s beyond you. (That’s the ancient mystery part.) Go on, flutter about now.

Real Flowers Love Dirt

Nos. 006 - 007
The Perfectionism-Undoing Merit Badge Repository


This badge grants you the power to make like a real flower and get dirty. Forget perfectionism. Perfectionism is like a plastic flower. Wouldn’t you rather wander around a garden than down the fake flowers aisle of a craft shop? Plastic flowers may look nice from a distance, but there’s no mistaking them up for the real thing up close. If I may be obvious, real flowers thrive and grow and bloom only after their roots get down in the dirt. Those plastic flowers are mere shapely replicas. Put down roots instead. It all starts down there in the dark, where the flowers get nourished by the earth.
Authenticity trumps perfection every time, mess and all.


Nos. 008 - 010
The SOUL Merit Badge Wonder Cupboard


This badge grants you the power to connect with your soul any moment of the day (or night, of course). "Call the soul what you like,” says Jungian analyst and storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “one’s marriage to the wild, one’s hope for the future, one’s fluming energy, one’s creative passion…” How you define your soul doesn’t matter nearly as much as simply finding her (or him). Connecting with that part of yourself is better than using any compass. No matter how you feel about religion, you can get down with your soul. You can put your soul in charge. And your soul might not want chicken soup. Your soul might want a Korean taco truck.

Badassery & Aplomb

Nos. 011 - 012
Come, let us explore the very essence of badassery & aplomb


You have badassery for days and aplomb for miles. Here’s why: Your head and your heart are in cahoots.

Some days you shine like the sun and other days like the moon, but never like a fluorescent rod. You’re on a first-name basis with several powerful metaphors. Maybe you’re a fragrant tree or a rustling breeze. Like the poets, you know the right metaphor can change everything. Maybe you wear your metaphor like a feather in your cap, or maybe you carry it like a coin in your pocket. It helps to carry your light with you. Sometimes others need to see it too.

Anyway, there’s a Sioux prayer that goes: “May the great mystery make sunrise in our hearts.”

Time is enough, and so is that light, and so are you.

*I know, I know -- "badassery" is so overused now. Trite. Common. Quelle horruer! But I created these badges several years ago, so I'm going to ride out the cliche storm and wait for the day the word isn't so fraught. 

Badge Pick-Up Station

Want the badges?
 They’re yours! Head on over to the badge pick-up station. I’d love for you to subscribe to my monthly Soul Bone letter

Also, I have stickers! Send me a note if want some. I opened a sticker shop for a while, but I never wanted to become a billionaire sticker baron.

Badge design by Jennifer Wasson.