Tag Archives: 30 Days of Brené Brown

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 26: I feel like a football player on a hockey rink

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Welcome to Day 26 of “30 Days of Brené Brown!” — I’m starting to lose my mind!!

Here is today’s quote:

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Is it me? Have I lost my mind?

I can’t help but feel that this is becoming the Department of Redundancy Department.

I wrote the other day about spirituality and connection when I was in the meditation circle in yoga and I couldn’t speak. My connection to everyone else was so strong I didn’t need words to express what I was feeling: safe.

So now, ‘staying vulnerable is a risk‘? Since when is Brown now speaking of vulnerability as a risk? I thought it was an asset. I thought it was courage. I thought it was laying it all out and letting our inner lights shine.

I’m all confused now. I feel like a football player on a hockey rink.

I’ve been at this Brené gig for almost 30 days straight. Granted, I’ve written some of these posts on top of each other for a couple days, and I’ve had to plan some of this, so maybe I’m more saturated than you guys are. I read her book over the summer and I was on board even before I read it.

Brown’s concepts were good and they were right and rich with redemption of our souls and spirits, but I have to agree with my friend who said she ends up putting down Brown’s books because she repeats herself so much.

It’s a lot lie Justin Bieber’s breakout song:

And I was like
Baby, baby, baby ooh
Like
Baby, baby, baby noo
Like
Baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)
Baby, baby, baby ohh
Like
Baby, baby, baby noo
Like
Baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Are you feeling it too?

So if I’m going to be a good sport about this, I’ll go there: that I’m fighting staying here in this discussion because I’m tired of feeling vulnerable; and that’s a risk I’m willing to take. OK, I’ll own it: I’m tired of feeling vulnerable. Am I disconnected from you all if I decide to do that, unplug from vulnerability and be tough, hard, strong and aloof?

Yes.

I have to admit it’s a little nice though to not worry about Being Seen so much and to Just Be instead. It’s a little exhausting to make sure you’re letting everyone know your guard is down and how narcissistic is that?? Narcissistic. That’s funny.

“Hi everyone! It’s me… Bipsy. I just thought I’d let you all know that I’m feeling really empathetic and emotionally available today so if anyone wants to let me know about their fears or resentments or shame I’m here to listen and to be your buddy and to let you know you’re safe and whatever you want to talk about is totally cool. No judging. Promise.”

Crickets?

I mean, it’s a nice proposal and I can see some of you fidgeting in your seats and looking around the linoleum-tiled room. The fluorescent lights are on, one in the back is flickering near the window in the corner with the crack in it. The walls in the room are yellowing, could it be from the nicotine stains from all the Bingo nights here or is it just because this old building could use some love?

A dog runs past the windows on the east wall and a little boy in shorts scurries past yelling, “Buster! Come back!” as people make furtive glances at one another.

Bipsy is looking around the room, eyes open, but not expectant and she smiles gently at a couple souls. An older woman chews on her lower lip and starts to open her pocketbook.

“So, um … I’ll just be in the lower school library room if you need me; it’s the third door on the right opposite the restrooms….”

And she gets up to leave.

Bipsy has made the first move.

This is how it has to go sometimes. We need to be reminded why we are where we are when we’re together. Sometimes it’s so much easier to think as we stand in line at the coffee shop that everyone has a different purpose for being there when nothing could be further from the truth: coffee. We all go to a coffee shop because we want a cup of coffee or something else available at that destination.

It’s not that the coffee at home stinks, but we must allow the fact that there’s something about going into that place to see those people and smell that smell and smile at that person and hear that music and be in that space: connection.

Writing is lonely. It’s really nothing you can do with other people, no matter what people think. You can have workshops and critiques and editing sessions and read-alongs, but everything you do, when you write is ALONE.

These posts have been absolutely fulfilling in an academic and intellectual sense for me. They have even resonated with my spirit when I write them and after I am finished; but it’s terribly lonely. So when I get a comment, I’m so grateful for the interaction otherwise I feel like I’m in a cave, whispering nothings to myself and the bats.

Will I miss them? Will I miss writing these posts? Yes and no. The time is nearing when Ms. Brown and I will bid adieu and I will be a little sad. I went through a small depression after the Jung series, but it didn’t last long because I had to ramp up for the yoga retreat. And then I went to the beach. And then I came home. And then Mom died. So then all I could do was write about my grief. Then I started to feel self-conscious, embarrassed and ashamed that all I did was write about my sadness. So then I tried some funny stuff and it was ok, but it felt forced. So then I gave up a little. But I love to write, so I decided to write another series. This one.

So here I am… making myself connect with you all through my writing, which is terribly is isolating. Will I write more about my mom and my stuff? Will I write more about my kids or myself? I have no idea. Truth be told, I’m feeling a little lost again. I don’t know what to write about next; I feel like without a mission, I have no point in writing publicly on this blog at least. No one pays me, so I spend a lot of time in here on my laptop doing all this without any real return…

So Brown is totally right: the way for me to connect is through showing my vulnerability; I will absolutely admit that it works. I feel connected. Even if no one ever replies.

Crickets?

But this is the way of a writer who blogs on the internet. We are a dime a million. It’s a choice I make. Is it a risk? I guess so; it’s time I will never get back; but I enjoy it enough. It challenges me and it keeps me from doing laundry. I have yet to suffer any serious, growth-neutral or growth-negative repercussions, so that’s good.

Hmph! This post ended up being better than I thought it would. (For me anyhow.)

Was it good for you?

Thank you.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 25: #guts #character #advocacy #vainglory

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Welcome to Day 25 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.” I am feeling sheepish today because I learned last night from a wonderful friend and cousin-in-law, the Amazing Kat Hurley who’s just published her own very memoir, i think i’ll make it, that Oprah Winfrey and Brené Brown have been doing some awesomeness class together and I had no clue.

I’ll tell you what: I’m not trying to co-opt on that action. I hope I’ve not made too much of a dent in their endeavor’s success. My apologies if I have stolen any of their thunder. I have to admit this: I really want to like Oprah. I can’t. She never returns my calls. That’s not friendship.

Moving on.

Today’s quote is …

If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal! (p 272)
― Brené BrownI Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

I’ve actually almost gotten in a cat fight over this very behavior. I saw a mother treat her toddler daughter horribly in a Red Robin restaurant. I wrote about it here in my Jung series.

Ok. So I still think about that moment and I wonder, “Was I being cruel? Was I not seeing that woman in her pain and could I have been kinder to her? Could I have been softer to her?”

I think at that point, I was so ramped up that it was almost impossible for me to be OK with it. That little girl needed an advocate and I happened to be there.

I think this all the time when I see public displays of assholicry: if this is how you are, out in the open with seemingly NO self-awareness, how bad must it be at your home?

As I look back on that quote, I can’t help but think of Kat, my cousin-in-law and her memoir. She has worked hard, insanely hard to confront her demons and trudge on, “I fight fear every day!” she said with her megawatt smile at an annual Christmas party.

At a tender age, Kat indeed saw cruelty and (let me know if I’m overstepping here, Kat) took it all in and then had to do what no one should ever have to do. What she did and what she endured, scoped out her life and her missteps and victories in a way that makes me personally jump for joy every time I see her.

Kat has taken that “we are here for a reason” thing and let it drive the beat of her heart and power the pumping of her blood.

I won’t give away her story. She is still living her story; we all are.

Brown’s quote raises for me my own involvement in a very difficult proposition: if you see someone being cruel to someone else, and you take it personally, is that all there is? Are you done? Are you off the hook? Of course you could take it personally — and you might. Doing that, just taking it personally, is empathy. You have been there yourself; you have felt the humiliation that the target of the cruelty feels… of course you have.

So, if, you were like me, how do you let that be the end of it? How do you defend the oppressed while not being terse or cruel to the offender? How do we keep it in check? How do we know the context? How do we?! What if the person who is now the target was actually the antagonist a moment before we witnessed anything? It’s SO HARD to know when what is going on is enough context.

In the case of that little girl and her frustrated mother in the Red Robin, it’s easy to see who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. In Kat’s story, it’s quite clear who was being cruel and who wasn’t.

BUT… what if you’ve got a situation of some really screwed up, entrenched dynamics of the Baby Jane and Blanche Hudson variety?

Where the where do you begin to undo THAT web?? Who do we defend? Those two women were simply fantastic and CRAZY.

I think Brown’s quote presumes that there is a good guy and a bad guy; or maybe it’s not that simple: everyone’s feeling wronged. So how to call attention and then work to end the cycle?

I guess we just do what we can to stay present and not see the cruelty as a truly personal act. To take some of that truly personally edges too closely for my comfort to psychosis and it can create unhealthy ownership of all the cruelty in the world, of which there is plenty… but there is also plenty of good too.

I remember when I first started therapy, I was encouraged to look outside myself to see that my story is universal: that everyone suffers from time to time and that anger, while powerful and motivating, needn’t be the force that got me up every morning.

So then I did my best to actively look at life that way; that I’m not so alone. There is injustice and pain everywhere. Everyone needs a shoulder. That shoulder can be me. But my shoulders are already heavy and then there’s so much sadness and everyone should have a reason to be angry and then they are angry and then I should be ok with their being angry or else I would be fearful and then judgmental and then that just makes more targets and more meanies and then everyone is sad and then I get sad and I want to be happy I mean that’s why I’m in therapy anyway right so am I selfish for not wanting to be sad when there is so much sadness everywhere?

Then what? Y’dig?

So, yeah… I guess: take it personally, but then try to work it out. It’s not personal. It’s just a bummer. We can all become cruelty vigilantes and that would be good… but then there would be the vainglorious among us…

This is starting to feel like an Escher nightmare.

yikes.

yikes.

I didn’t like this quote so much. Her energy is right, the intention is there, but I feel like there is a lot missing which could explain what she’s really trying to get into.

In the meantime, go check out Kat’s book. She’s great.

Thank you

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 24: #truth #real #gifts #providence

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Welcome to Day 24 of “30 Days of Brené Brown”!!

MERRRRRRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope you are reading this in a nice and cozy blanket. It’s a good one and it unwraps before our eyes.

As a gift to me and to you, I’m going to make this one brief. Here is the quote:

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Yup. Here is an excerpt from my post yesterday, which explains this better than anything I feel like putting together right now because I will own this: I’m just not in it at the moment. I’ve been writing these posts days in advance (my today is the 21st) so that I can travel this weekend to see my cousins and visit Mom’s grave site.

It’s like the post I wrote last Saturday, about nostalgia and how I found my mother’s notebook and the comment in her handwriting, block letters in fact, about me being “a bad kid.” (Please click here for that post as context helps.)

I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for comments about me in a loving way; about something that showed I was more than a one-dimensional figure (which is how I felt a lot of the time) in her life; that I was more than a foe of her lifestyle and a dependent “ingrate” (which is something I was termed as well) who stood in the way between her and her peace.

What I got was something TOTALLY different. I know Mom would do her best to explain the notes. I know I would’t accept it. Because she is most definitely NOT here, I have to do that for myself. I have to grow up. I have to allow her to be real if I am going to allow myself to be real. Even if her “real” does not align with my “real.” Who am I to say what is right or wrong? Y’dig? (I think I finally do.) 

That’s right: I’ve hit a new desperate low by quoting myself.

What I mean by those last words, “I think I finally do” is that it hit me, at that moment when I wrote it, that I was probably quite wrong, when I felt all those years and decades and moments that my mom was not being real. That any affectations, air, pretense or defense mechanism was Quite Real — it was how she coped, and that just because her behavior didn’t align with conventional parenting, it didn’t make her any less real of a human being.

This is heavy and big for me. This is my gift to myself, several days early, but which you get to open, of Christmas.

We have no right.

We have no right to decide if someone is not being real. For years, I considered her a fake, and I even confronted her with it: “It’s hard to believe anything you say in moments like these; it feels like you’re just giving me what you think I want instead of what you’re really feeling! It’s soul stealing!” I would say, torn and riveted at the same time, my eyes and heart searching for something with friction to hold on to. I feel like she looked into my eyes to find it too.

Am I being cruel to her memory? Am I being unkind toward the dead? My mother? I can’t worry about that. She was a trained actress, she was an accomplished theater director, she knew intellectually how to drive a scene, position characters, create conflict, build a climax and how to blow minds. Sometimes she would weep during these moments of ours (boo! hoo! hoo! >look around, see if anyone is wondering< bew hew hew…) and it would sound so saccharine, it would feel so exploitative.

Because it was. But also, because it wasn’t. Who knows what was going on in her… I spent decades wondering. Perhaps her fear of being real WAS her Being Real.

We are all flawed, experience moments of insecurity, we might feel “damaged” or completely lost. Does that devalue our humanity? No. Doing so, walking in that air of devaluing others is judgment and it separates.

She was being real through all of it. It’s just that we didn’t like it. It made us feel less-than. It made us feel insignificant and puny. That’s when the claws came out.

This is big. It’s going to change my approach to my memoir in a profound way. I am so grateful for it. It means I can be fairer to us both; that even through my hurt and disappointment I can extend to her a baseline for her.

I feel like freakin’ Ebenezer Scrooge today. (And I’m still several days early!)

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

look closely at what's in the middle of that wreath.

look closely at what’s in the middle of that wreath.

She was not perfect. I need to get over that. I so SO need to let that expectation go. I don’t know when I will. She was my mother; as I’ve said before: hers was the first and most melodious voice I ever heard. The secrets I must’ve heard, the joys she shared with me and the woes, worries and anxieties… Good Lord, this puts it ALL in a totally new perspective.

Who are we?! This is what comes of opening up and following the feelings.

Give yourself the gift today of feeling that — that liberty of granting someone else no expectations and moving on with whatever bullshit you’ve put in your and their way. I need a few moments to process this.

So yeah, go connect.

Thank you.

ps – so much for not being “in it at the moment.” yikes. this stuff just comes out whenever it wants.

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 23: #reflection #fairness #vulnerability #expectations

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Welcome to Day 23 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

Here is today’s quote:

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

This can’t be clearer or more true.

This vulnerability stuff is part of an exchange, simple as that.

Since I’ve come down from my tower, let down *some* of my armor and opened myself up to others, my life has changed for the better. I feel lighter. All that chain mail really got to my back. 

Absolutely there have been bumps, friction, pain and misunderstandings. We can’t have a two-way dialogue with one person. We can’t have a relationship with only one partner.

I have learned since opening up, that the world I inhabit: one of relevance, kindness, awareness, patience, respect and candor will definitely let me in, so long as I adhere to those codes. It’s a simple law: you step outside the code, you experience harsher realities. You step back inside the code, you experience temperance again. It’s an exchange: you get what you give.

That sounds so trendy, “you get what you give” and so smug. That’s not at all the intention. It’s just a heavy comment delivered a cavalierly, but that’s the beauty of it. We can hear it and think it bounces off us… but it doesn’t. It sounds too close to “You Don’t Always Get What You Want” and then it starts to stick. Then, if we’re paying any attention to that, we start to think about what that line means and then if we’re at all mindful of or participating with that internal discussion going on, we start to see that yes, we do get what we need even though we might hate the heck out of it.

That “hating,” that “yuck” to me is the pay dirt, the moment of allowance when we can look back on the perceived crap of our lives or the things we got that we didn’t want, and see a pattern. We see disappointment, we see hurt, or loss, or think about the moment the “thing” happened or rather, was presented to us, and if we can… if we can just go there for a moment, if we can see it for more than a sucker punch (which leaves us feeling like a victim, which never works) we will see that it opens a door to our greater life, the one we are supposed to live which is all about being real.

This being real might look like we need to complain. No. To me, that’s not really all of it. It’s part of it, because when we are real, we express our imperfect vulnerability: our true reaction to happened.

(c) ibehappy.me

(c) i.behappy.me

It’s like the post I wrote last Saturday, about nostalgia and how I found my mother’s notebook and the comment in her handwriting, block letters in fact, about me being “a bad kid.” (Please click here for that post as context helps.)

I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for comments about me in a loving way; about something that showed I was more than a one-dimensional figure (which is how I felt a lot of the time) in her life; that I was more than a foe of her lifestyle and a dependent “ingrate” (which is something I was termed as well) who stood in the way between her and her peace.

What I got was something TOTALLY different. I know Mom would do her best to explain the notes. I know I would’t accept it. Because she is most definitely NOT here, I have to do that for myself. I have to grow up. I have to allow her to be real if I am going to allow myself to be real. Even if her “real” does not align with my “real.” Who am I to say what is right or wrong? Y’dig? (I think I finally do.) 

How I reacted, because I’ve been a) in mourning for her and the death of a fantasy I’d held on to for years b) on this vulnerability and reality wagon for about nine years (yikes!) now was real. I could’ve shut down: I could’ve gotten cold, said “eff her” (which I did later on once I felt too vulnerable, I will admit that) and I could’ve just gone on by bootstrapping and taking off, but I didn’t. I looked at it, my head canted like a dog’s in fact, and I couldn’t really believe what I saw, yet I KNEW it was real and it was fair. I had to allow her to feel whatever she felt, if I am to allow myself to feel whatever I felt. There is no ONE WAY ONLY zone in relationship and vulnerability.

If I didn’t allow myself to feel that hurt and sadness, I would’ve stayed angry and righteous and totally disconnected from any manner of healing and I would’ve kept her as a one-dimensional figure in my life. I also don’t know if I’dve believed anything I read that was terribly loving either; when she wrote those things, she showed them to me… l laugh now in remembrance of it; she wanted to see that she was actively thinking I was not a bad kid.

Shades.

It’s all shades of our childlike parameters of “good and bad.” Degrees would’ve been nice to introduce to it all, but I know as often as I thought she was a Bad Mother, I know that was totally unfair too. I mean: here I am! I made it. She had something to do with that, and I remember as I became a mother myself, she saw me as more than a pain-in-the-ass gestapo. But that was because I had to let her go. Ya can’t mother your mother and your children.

So we need to allow this vulnerability.

How? Try this:

Next time you’re offended or hurt, mention it. Take a deep breath, feel your feelings, think about the experience and the context and say out loud to the person or interaction (it could be solitary: I’ve bumped my head with no one around and I even cut my scalp from the injury and I said out loud, “SHIT! That hurt. That really hurt!” and the tears came and I started to feel better — just from that release!), “My feelings are hurt. I know we’re all busy and running around, but I just want to say that I wish that happened differently.” Done. Then the accountability exchange can begin, which fosters connection.

To Brown’s earlier quote though, about caution when disclosing this stuff with certain people, be prepared to duck from the flying debris. Sometimes people just can’t be bothered to let you in. That’s on them. Lesson learned.

Possible result: You’re going to be mocked for expressing your emotions or taking a chance on the whisper of someone else’s humanity? “Go for it, Universe! Show me how stupid I am for thinking Bipsy had a heartbeat.” That’s what I say. It’s crass, but I think it gets the message through.

Caveat: I’ve done all this and still gotten booted. It’s ok though because what ends up happening is that the support I receive from someone else eclipses any regret I had about sharing how I felt in the first place. Some people aren’t ready. That’s not your problem.

It’s OK to tip-toe or teaspoon through this stuff; listen to your intuition.

Allowing vulnerability does open the door to GREATER love, creativity*, courage, empathy and all the other noble gifts Brown mentions. Expressing our vulnerability requires that we come from ourselves first instead of using “You” language.

A conversation that starts with “You dick” seldom goes well.

We’re spiritual human beings, we are made of stars. We are not freakin’ robots which feel nothing and have no expectations and live on zeros and ones. We have physical limits, pain, joy, fears, courage… we just need to feel safe expressing those things and in so doing, we’re letting others posses the same. It’s a win-win.

Once we do all that, we get what we need and then the exchange begins: We get what we give.

Thank you.

*heck yeah — i’ve made more goofy cartoons to go with these posts than ever. i’m letting it all hang out.