Category Archives: Vulnerability

Day of Rest

brenesupersoulsunday

I just got done watching this, Brene’ Brown with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. First of all, I am incredibly grateful that there is a live simulcast, and that later today the video will be available on demand. I had to miss Brene’ when she was on Katie, and was so bummed. We don’t have cable tv, and even if we did, we probably wouldn’t have OWN as part of our package, but I was able to turn on my tv and the computer hooked up to it, go to the website and watch with everyone else. It was so good, (I took five pages of notes!), I plan to show up again at noon. (P.S. It’s now available to watch online, on demand).

When the opening credits started, and Oprah was introducing Brene’, I cried. I know how much it meant to Brene’ to get to do this, and it made me so happy for her. I spent the next hour crying off and on for myself, because I was so grateful to get to see it. By the end, my heart felt sore it was so tender. If you’ve been reading this blog for long, kind and gentle reader, you know how much I adore Brene’ Brown, how much her work has changed my life.

I first encountered her work two years ago. A friend and I formed a “book couple” (with only two of us, we couldn’t really call it a club) and read Gifts of Imperfection. It made me see I had been in a long term abusive relationship–with myself–and helped me to understand the way out of it. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her talk multiple times about her work and research, her life and experience, most notably this past summer at The World Domination Summit, and also at The Power of Vulnerability, a two day workshop she held in Boulder this past May. I am currently working on finding funding to have her invited to speak at Colorado State University (CSU, where I do my paid work), with the hopes of creating a CSU Reads program leading up to her visit in which I can reread her books and talk about her work with my local community.

image by A Studio

image by A Studio

By showing up, opening her heart, sharing the truth (part research, part personal experience) about shame and vulnerability, daring greatly, and living a wholehearted life, Brene’ Brown is helping so many to discover the value of being brave, in being exactly who we are, in living a wholehearted life.

The wisdom I have been drawn to over the past six years (always?) is about opening your heart, keeping it open. In this episode of Super Soul Sunday, Oprah said her definition of spirituality is living with and having an open heart. Brene’ at one point said that “vulnerability is the birthplace of everything we are hungry for,” and that if we want greater courage and greater clarity, vulnerability is the path. Brene’ shared that the word courage originated with the Latin “cour,” meaning heart, “sharing your whole story with your whole heart.”

Living with an open heart. Being wholehearted. Showing up and being seen, being vulnerable, open to what is as you are. Oprah said she viewed vulnerability as the “cornerstone of confidence.” It gives you the confidence to be yourself, confidence as Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

Brene’ suggests in her interview with Oprah and in her books that vulnerability is the key to having meaningful human experience, that it is “terrifying and liberating,” and that “you can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”

brenequote

This message is reinforced for me through my work with The Open Heart Project and Susan Piver. Susan says that “having an open heart can feel kind of dangerous, unsettling,” but she also suggests that Vulnerability Can Save the World and reminds us,

To feel, we have to open—our eyes, minds, hearts, senses—while putting aside what we expect/hope/fear we will find, otherwise the only communication we have will be with ourselves. To open, vulnerability is required… When we become vulnerable, we can feel. When we can feel, we can connect. When we can connect, our hearts open. When our hearts open, we cannot hate.

And if all that feels just too overwhelming for you today, watch this episode of Soul Pancake and rest in the knowledge that you are loved.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: The secret to flight, to freedom is to open your heart. For the longest time I’ve been gluing found feathers to my sleeves and in my hair, drawing ink outlines of wings on the skin of my back, buying angel wings intended to be used for Halloween costumes, reading books on the mechanics of flight, imagining that in this way I would eventually learn to fly. Flight–the journey through space, movement through time, escape from fixed ideas and expectations, freedom doesn’t happen this way. Instead I have to relax, let go, leap or float away, open my heart and let it all in, soar in a way that is entirely different than birds do.

2. Truth: Unravelling, being broken can wake you up, give you back your life. When this started to happen to me–trauma, loss, grief, suffering–I imagined myself a perfectly constructed sweater being unravelling loop by loop, stitch by stitch, falling apart, but it turns out it was more like a tangled mess of Christmas lights, usable and workable only after they were unravelled–only then could they be lit up, only then could they color the darkness. I lost so much, only to discover what was true, what was real, what mattered in the ashes of my life after the burning. At times, it felt like dying, but it was only after, shaky and raw, that I felt fully alive, broken open.

3. Truth: Courage and vulnerability are essential, the only way to stay awake. Courage is the ability to do something that scares you, to have strength in the face of pain or grief. To be vulnerable is to be exposed potential harm, to possibly be hurt, wounded. To love what is mortal, to open my heart and be present with whatever arises, to be fully alive, awake and present, to accept impermanence is to be both vulnerable and courageous.

One wish: May we be brave even as we are broken. May we keep our hearts open knowing that we are vulnerable, that we’ll be hurt. May we have the courage to unravel, to fly, to love, to stay awake to life as it comes, whether terrible or tender, beautiful or brutal.

Day of Rest

I didn’t post yesterday because I was in Boulder attending the first day of a two day workshop with Brene’ Brown, The Power of Vulnerability. Brene’ is recording it to be made into a six cd set that will be released later in the year, and videos to be used in an upcoming class, but she wanted a live audience to talk to, rather than sitting in a sound booth talking to a microphone. It has been an amazing experience to be in the same room with her and other like-hearted people, interested in learning how to be vulnerable, in living and loving wholeheartedly. Brene’ is the best storyteller–wise, grounded, authentic, and so funny.

Just in case you haven’t seen her TED talks, I’m going to include them here. They are worth the time. The first one, along with her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, changed my life.

Brene’ talked yesterday about how we live in a culture of scarcity, constantly feeling “not ___________ enough” (fill in the blank: not good enough, not rich enough, not safe enough, etc.), and that our first thought in the morning is “I didn’t get enough sleep” and our last thought before falling asleep is “I didn’t get enough done.”

She also said that after a decade that included 9/11, war, and a troubled economy, “I think we’re tired of being afraid, of thinking and worrying about what we should fear and who we should blame.” This reminded me of a quote Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche shared last week that I’ve been contemplating:

Perhaps when we are finally fed up with torturing ourselves and others, out of our exhaustion will arise a pause in which we will collectively reflect upon our goodness.

sakyong mipham in tibet

I don’t know about you, kind and gentle reader, but I am certainly fed up with smashing myself to bits, tired of judging and blaming others, sick and tired of the whole thing. And even though Brene’ warned us yesterday that “those of us willing to show up and be seen will get our asses kicked,” I think I’ll take that alternative to being stuck, seemingly safe in my armor, disengaged and numb in my cocoon, and miserable.

Go ahead, life–kick my ass. I’m going to do what Susan Piver suggests, open my heart and show up with confidence, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

Something Good

blossoms at lory state park

25 Self-Care Tips for the Body & Soul from Gentle Living. This is a really great list. The only thing missing is “26. Read this list.”

The Power of Vulnerability, a two day workshop in Boulder with Brene’ Brown–holy wow! I wished last week that I could experience an in-person workshop with her, and only five days later, less than a week, a friend emails to tell me it’s happening. I registered right after I heard about it. It’s going to be awesome.

Telling True Stories with Laurie WagnerIt just started today, and it’s already awesome. Just to give you a taste, here’s a quote from Laurie, “Good writing is honest writing. Good writing is just naming things as they are – beautifully, soberly and as truthfully as you can.” See what I mean?

Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Juice. My favorite one so far.

And to finish, a few things I love right now about Fort Collins, (in addition to all the things I normally love about Fort Collins):

Gilsdorf Garage. Growing up the daughter of an incredibly skilled, smart, and honest mechanic, I have high standards for mechanics and shops. In the many years I’ve lived too far away from my dad to have him work on my car, I have at various times been mistreated and cheated (once it was so bad, we nicknamed that car “the money pit”), and would never recommend someone who wasn’t really good.

On the Gilsdorf website, they say “Gildsdorf Garage has been in business for over 50 years with the principles of honesty, integrity, and quality, guided by the ethics founded by Ed Gilsdorf in 1950.” When I got the snow tires taken off my car this weekend, the tire shop said it was time for new brakes. This morning, we showed up unannounced at Gilsdorf’s and not only did they work us in, but will have my car ready by the end of the day. They are always professional, kind, and they do good work for a fair price. There’s even a chance that they might wash my car if they have time and that would be awesome.

Red Table Soups. I’ve had at least ten different kinds of soup, (there’s a different one each day), at both locations, (the original and The Mayor of Old Town), and they have always been awesome. How do they do that? They also make some pretty fine sandwiches, and I’ve heard their pizza is really good too.

Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Eric and I hiked a trail on Sunday that started in Lory State Park, went into Horsetooth Mountain Park, and looped back around. Lory is only ten miles from our house, so super easy to get to, and there are so many trail options. You can hike as easy or as hard, as short or as long as you like.

easter grass along the trail: awesome

Day of Rest

On this day of rest, I am reminded of a video that caused a shift in me: Brene’ Brown‘s TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” The TED website describes it this way (TED = Technology, Entertainment, Design), “Brene’ Brown studies human connection–our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.”

I heard Brene’ talk about this video recently, and she said that if she’d had any idea how many people would actually see it, fear might have gotten in the way and she might not have said all that she said. I’m glad she didn’t know, I’m glad that she showed the power of vulnerability by allowing herself to be vulnerable. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look. If you have, it’s worth a return look.

Here’s wishing that on this day of rest, you can let go of feeling like you need to perform, or please, or be perfect, that you can feel a sense of love and belonging, simply for being who you are, just as you are.

Wishing you ease, peace, love and rest.