-Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
I took Dr. Brene's Lifeclass with Oprah a couple of months ago and, honestly, I'm still trying to process it all. From the very first time I stumbled upon her blog, Ordinary Courage, I felt a deep and abiding resonance to her words and work; I was meant to land right there on her pages! I read all of her books (many times, dog-eared and marked with sticky notes) but taking a class with her was something else altogether. Someone...she has a way of articulating what you already deep down know...but in a way where you go..."aha!!! Now I get it!!! click!"). And just like that...there is a paradigm shift because, as she says, once you know something...you can't very well unknow it!! And ...wholeheartedness is not...well now that I have decided to live this way...everything is great, I'm always happy and joyful and full of gratitude etc. So not true! Being wholehearted is a struggle...it's a practice and takes consistent hard work. But...ultimately...is there any other choice???
When I came across this definition I wrote it up and pinned it on my studio wall...in my most ungraceful and cowardly moments (and in the course of a day, let me tell you...there are many, many, many)...I focus on these words and lean into the intention to be brave, to show up and be seen while speaking my truth. Quiet...graceful...firm...it's what I am striving for.
“The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.” -Dr. Brene Brown
And lets talk about boundaries!!! OMG!!! For most (nearly all) of my life...I had no idea what they were and even when I did...chose to be silent, resentful, angry rather than simply speak my truth and let the chips fall where they may. I think most of it stems from being raised in an abusive + dysfunctional family but I also feel that women are socialized in varying degrees to be nice at any cost; to get along and go along. It took turning 40 + becoming a mother to truly dig deep down and get clear with myself on what I truly needed. To fully acknowledge and give credence to the entirety of my feelings rather than make excuses for others' bad behavior or sweep my feelings under the rug. All big huge stuff going on while adjusting to motherhood and raising my daughter. So...as you can imagine...when I first came across R. Brown's blog/books etc...I felt as if a lifeboat had been thrown out to me. In this class...she goes into great great detail about how to set boundaries! I mean...don't we all need a bit (or in my case...a lot) of help in this dept.??? One of the practices she taught us that I am totally using is mantras/intentions. We can make up our own or borrow them, write them on pieces of paper and keep them in our pockets ...that way when we most need them, we can just pull them out and gather courage + strength. It doesn't matter where they come from as long as they speak to us. Brilliant! One of hers is "I choose discomfort over resentment". I can't begin to tell you how many times I have had every intention of speaking my truth, only to lose all courage in the moment and falter...then fail...only to be eaten away by resentment, guilt and anger later. Just this part of the class alone helped me out tremendously. Suddenly...I feel stronger, wiser, braver. Okay... have to work at putting it into practice but still...:)
Oh!!! And shame + worthiness. Those 2 inter-related concepts no-one really wants to speak openly about in public. But how necessary!!! It's the hiding and pretending that we don't have any shame at all that leads us down the painful road of perfectionism, "I am not enough" and unworthiness. And this road leads us to all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors + addictions.It leads us to envy, jealousy, mean-spiritness, toxic relationships, judgement, living behind a mask, always seeking approval and loss of creativity. On and on to all sorts of negativity. I lived like that for so long...all through my teens...definitely...and even through my twenties. And I can tell you that it was no way to live at all. This journey to wholeheartedness takes courage, vulnerability, truth-telling and heart. Thank you Brene...for the work you do! And thank you Oprah for hosting this Lifeclass. I'm all in...heart + soul.