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.”

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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.