One thing I know for sure: if I had not read Gifts of Imperfection in 2010 my life would be very different right now. That would not have been a good thing. Dr. Brené Brown validated everything I knew in my heart and my gut to be true but I had no evidence, no proof to back me up. Gifts of Imperfection gave me that proof AND permission to own my life and live it on my terms. I showed up.
Daring Greatly gave me more perspective and the support to live my truth and encourage my kids to do the same. I went all in. Where does the phrase “daring greatly” come from? It is extracted from Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic speech delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in April 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.” I am in the arena and those who are not have no say on how I live my life. Well, let’s be honest, though they have plenty to say, they no longer have influence or power. In the process of being all in – as a divorced mother wholly responsible financially, physically, mentally and spiritually for four teenagers – I fall. Regularly.
In June, when I discovered that Brené Brown’s next book, Rising Strong, was going to be launched in Nashville, I knew I had to get a ticket and a flight! Two tickets. Two flights. Because Claire was so impacted by Gifts of Imperfection it was a no-brainer to bring her along. At the time I had no idea it was going to be a full day with multiple speakers, I just knew Nashville was where I needed to be. The dust jacket reads “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.” Over the last few years I’ve gotten up plenty. Sometimes it’s been dignified and sometimes downright dirty, but I get up. It will be nice to learn how I can be a bit more graceful about it in the future!
The venue, Marathon Music Works, was fabulous: industrial and rustic. Perfect. The big ceiling fans were busy all day long! There were 700+ people in the room and the energy was amazing.
This quote from the new book greeted us as we arrived and found our seats (with goodie bags!). It was at this moment I knew I was ready for this next part of my journey.
We found in each goodie bag a signed copy of Rising Strong. Both Claire and I purchased additional copies to give away to friends upon our return home.
Dr. Brené Brown was genuinely moved by the impact she has had on so many people and the (much deserved) enthusiastic welcome. She was honest, engaging and really opened my eyes to how I can move past some of my moments of stuck starting with her Manifesto for the Brave and Brokenhearted. I have been both, many times, separately and simultaneously. Her stories are honest and authentic, articulate and homespun. Her 45-minutes on stage was simply not long enough! I could listen to her all day long. Claire was in tears, overwhelmed with the presence of her idol.
My takeaway? A few things:
- Starting with a reminder: there are gazillions of cheap seats occupied by those who will never once set foot in the arena. You still have to care what people think! Once you don’t care you are in seriously bad shape. It’s a fine balance and so easy to fall into “I don’t care” but we must care. That’s what makes it all worthwhile!
- A clarification: The often mis-attributed quote “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not the jackass whisperer” are, in fact, the words of Scott Stratten not Dr. Brené Brown.
- An impassioned plea: You cannot glamourize failure. You cannot fail without shame and pain and anger. Failure is hard. If we’re brave enough often enough, we are going to fail. Hard. Truth: the bravest among us will be the broken hearted.
- An a ha: Our brain rewards us regardless of the accuracy of the story. This was momentous! I must be continue to be keenly aware of the accuracy of first stories.
I am greatly looking forward to diving in to fully understand The Reckoning, The Rumble and The Revolution. The truth of my story. “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”
Karen Walrond (aka Chookloonks) gave a talk on art journaling and it gave me a much needed kick in the pants! As always, I make things far more complicated than they need to be. It’s time to get back at my journaling practice – without limits of perfection or time. We make time for the things we love and need. This is one of those things.
In her talk she references the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living:
- Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
- Cultivating Self‐Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
- Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
- Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
- Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
- Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
- Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self‐Worth
- Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
- Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self‐Doubt and “Supposed To”
- Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”
Of these, maintaining an art journal practice addresses directly Guideposts 2 through 8 while 1, 9 and 10 result from doing the other seven. Brilliant!
Miles Adcox had everyone in tears. EVERYONE. I am still not sure if his talk had a beginning, middle and end, but I do know it was moving. We needed tissues in our loot bags! Wonderful stories and anecdotes. He also reminded me how much I enjoy SoulPancake. This presentation was followed by a musical break with Josh Kear, a 4-time Grammy Award winning songwriter. He wrote Need You Now, Before He Cheats and the very funny Drunk on a Plane as well as others. He said he knows a lot about falling flat on your face and having to get back up and perhaps he wouldn’t have had to struggle as much if Brené’s books had been written 20 years ago! (Then again, he may not have had such fodder for wonderful songs if he hadn’t!)
Small groups were called in to have photos taken with Dr. Brown throughout the day. We were in group L, of O, so group 12 of 15. We were met with a smile that reached her eyes and a handshake while names were exchanged. I am sure she was exhausted but revealed no outward sign of frustration or fatigue.
Jenna Walker and Katie Thurmes of Artifact Uprising are sisters who have built a business together. Not only do I love and regularly use their product, their dedication to preserving memories through photos and words and spreading the importance of doing just that is inspiring and their talk was funny, moving and inspiring.
The only thing Claire knew about Nashville upon our arrival was what she learned on the television show by the same name. By the time we left, I know she would have preferred having this photo taken with cowboy boots.
The weekend gave me much to consider as I looked out at the distance. A different, infinite perspective.
Rising Strong is right in step with my own personal evolution as a woman, mother and work in progress. I’ve given the book a quick read and now I’m going through it again, slow and easy, with a highlighter and pen in hand. So much wonderful validation and challenge. Often I am surprised when speaking with people who don’t have a clue who Brené Brown is or what she has done. I feel like a one-woman-ambassador for courage and vulnerability as I embrace my imperfection every day!
It was a wonderful trip.
My follow-up? Introduced at the event was the new COURAGEworks site and I have enrolled in Living Brave Semester where I will spend January through April, 2016, learning how to show up in my life. Now, I do show up, but I can always be more consistent. After all, “owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
I am ready to be brave. What about you?