So Strong

I have not underlined this much in a book since graduate school.

Bright Spirit, the spiritual book club that I co-host with Dina of Crystalicious NYC, studied Rising Strong by Brené Brown as our most recent pick.   This book quickly became a part of my soul.  I, too, struggle with vulnerability.  I was the girl who knew all of the answers in elementary school.  That girl became the young woman who never asked any questions because she didn’t want anyone to know that she didn’t know something.  That girl-turned-young-woman equated knowing and being right with being accepted and loved.  She may not have been able to do it all, but she sure knew her stuff.  And no one could peek behind that all-knowing curtain.

Rising Strong is the first of Brown’s works that I read, although I was already familiar with her through Her Royal Highness Ms. Oprah Winfrey.  I enjoyed Brown’s talks that I watched but didn’t really “get it” until I read the book.  It’s always about timing.

Here are just a few of the thousands of words I underlined…  literally picking these for you by opening to a random page and sharing.

On “reckoning with emotion,” Brown directs the reader to, “Give yourself permission to feel emotion, get curious about it, pay attention to it and practice… awkward, uncomfortable practice.”  For me, this was a clear reminder of what I teach but don’t always remember to implement myself.  We must attend to our feelings, emotions, joys and pains if we want to grow.  If we are good with sitting exactly where we are right now, then just ignore the tough stuff.  Stuff it down.  Keep busy and try not to feel.  But, when we are ready to thrive, we must examine those feelings, white, black and every stormy shade of gray, to work, heal and flourish.  That often takes help.  Remind me to ask for help when you see that I need it.

Brown writes, “…our silence about grief serves no one. We can’t heal if we can’t grieve; we can’t forgive if we can’t grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.”  When we lose someone or something, it’s like there’s this designated period we are supposed to be sad for—no longer and definitely no shorter.  At my day job, we get 5 bereavement days when a family member dies. I have a sinking suspicion that it will take me more than a week to get my head together after one of my parent’s passes.  In that same vein, if someone is back after 1 day, I’m not sitting in judgment.  I’m just hugging in support.  Face it on your own time.

Brown enforces from C.R. Snyder’s research that “Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process… Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our abilities to act.”  Hope carries varied connotations.  I’ve heard people instruct others not to hope because that’s giving an option for something not to happen—like I hope I get the promotion vs. I will get the promotion.  While I agree that we should manifest our desires with unwavering certainty, I feel like hope is a beautiful thing.  I hope for a beautiful future for everyone on the planet.  I hope everyone can find the peace that I feel right now.  It’s kind of mincing words… but that’s what we do, isn’t it?

After this… I’m jumping (albeit backwards) into Brown’s Daring Greatly.  Join me?  Much love.

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Let’s Get Together 

For some glorious reason, I listened to the travel agent when she recommended the upgraded airport lounge prior to my departure home from my dear friend’s wedding in Jamaica. For $30, I get to spend the next 2.5 hours before boarding (the company determined the pickup time— not I) in a comfy chair with fewer screaming children (but there’s always one), a small buffet and, gratefully, plenty of outlets to charge my phone that loses battery faster than you lose your $20 in a slot machine.
But anyway… a funny thing happened when we arrived at the reception last night. The following is in NO way a criticism of anyone or anything— just an observation. 

There were no assigned seats. I traveled alone to this destination wedding and only casually know maybe 7 of the 60 attendees. The bride is one of my very closest friends. We met through business, became friends quickly and most days are in contact from eyes open to lights out— we just vibe like that. I latched on to one of the bride’s very good friends whom I met twice before and her cousin with whom she was traveling. Sweet women. We picked a table at the reception that wasn’t on top of the speaker and wasn’t too close to the dais— leave that for family! 

As the rest of the guests filtered in, they chose their tables around the dance floor. No one sat with us. Then came the awkward “Is anyone sitting here?” moments as, one by one, the 7 empty seats at our table were dragged through the sand to other tables. The table diagonal from us now sat 15. To our left, another crowd. I eyed the buffet with fervor until it opened.

We laughed, we danced… I stayed out way, way past my bedtime, even with a looming 5am wake up call. I had a truly great time. But the table thing got me thinking about separation and about comfort zones. Most people stick to what they know, who they know and what feels safe. Most people stay in that comfort zone, even when uncomfortable in it. Maybe today, say hello to someone fresh. Take a different spot in yoga class (just don’t take THAT lady’s spot). Angle yourself on a new perch. Join that group you’ve been considering, even though none of your current friends are involved… yet.  

Now, a large yet sparse table at a wedding is not a bad thing— but separation in life can be. Separation can lead to judgment, fear and a host of other elements I’m prepared to rage against. Someone has to. Our separation last night was momentary; we all joined on the same dance floor and I wouldn’t be surprised if some are still there dancing as I watch the sunrise from this airport lounge.  

Embrace another perspective. Dare to leave the chair there and sit in it, rather than drag it over to your comfort zone. Much love.