Hungry like the Wolf- Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

In 1982 Duran Duran released Hungry like the Wolf from the album Rio. Though they initially failed to successfully crossover to U.S. markets, success was imminent in the U.K. and eventually MTV put the song on rotation earning it a #3 spot on the U.S. Billboards Top 100 in March of 1983 and in 1984 they won a Grammy for best short form music video. I was just 10 years old when Duran Duran won a Grammy and I am assuming I was oblivious to the rampant sexual undertones of the song but the parallels to the Little Red Riding Hood were not lost on me.

I know useless music facts, I have actually forgotten more than I know but I have spent many a late night arguing music trivia with my late husband and I have always been able to relate a song to something that was happening in my life and piece together a timeline. Not everyone who knows me knows how important music has been in my life but I would say most of my people do.

In September 2016 I was at English Bay with Kirk and I got a call from an old friend in Ontario that I had not seen in well over 20 years. She and her husband own an Irish pub in London Ontario, where I called home for a short time during my informative years (party)

It was music trivia night and something was not working properly and my friend was desperate to find out what a video was so that she didn’t disappoint the customers. She described the video to me and feeling a bit overwhelmed and under pressure I guessed that the video was Duran Duran’s Rio. I recall that I was really excited to speak to my old friend but also thrilled that music had made her think of me.

I myself am not musical, I played a tiny bit of guitar when I was in junior high and I played the ukulele as well but I cannot carry a tune in a bucket except for Cyndi Lauper songs and have been known to sing Time after Time on repeat to the point of nausea. However, I love music and it has connected me to the most amazing people and experiences in my lifetime. Those who know me well know that I will often use song lyrics in everyday situations but something that may be less known is that I used healing music extensively after Kirk died; Snatam Kaur’s music got me through some very difficult times. I also listen to many types of music including classical, folk and blues.

I am very open on my blog and you can get a very good idea of who I am from reading what is essentially journal type entries but I am noticing lately that some people seem to be stuck on some sort of idea of who I am that they have created in their head. I think we are all guilty of that to some extent, we glimpse into peoples lives through social media and we are looking through a very small window and then we heap our own ideas and expectations unto a person and we have now decided who they are.

I have often said the truth is expansive and one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my late husband is about judgement. When we offer love and kindness before judgement a whole new world opens up to us. I used to be extremely guilty of putting people in little boxes, labeling them and putting them into neat little piles. I no longer decide who people are, I allow them to show me who they are and the great thing is that when we approach people with kindness before judgment we invite them to be their true selves and we learn that people really can be fabulous and they do not have to be just like us to teach us, to support us and to be in our lives. What a boring place the world would be if we were all exactly the same.

I form deep connections with people, it has always been my thing, I am not immune to physical attraction but for me I really like to know someone’s mind.  I admit I spent a great deal of time wanting everyone to be like me and shunning people that weren’t and I now believe that is an insecurity in us that we will either change to be like others or surround ourselves only by like minded people.

The problem with that is we lose a great deal of ourselves by changing to be like others, we lose the things that make us unique and often we compromise our ideals. We have a great deal to offer the world by  embracing our authentic selves and giving that person to the world everyday, it is really the only way to continue to grow as individuals.

Just last week I told someone that they were into an idea of me, a profile picture and things they had projected unto me because they were qualities that their imagination wanted me to have. It was no better than a fantasy and the problem with that is people are very rarely the people we create in our heads, no matter how great our ingenuity is.

If we take 5 selfies and we post the best one, we may look absolutely stunning but we are more than that one angle. I am a culmination of who I am when I am happy, sad, struggling, creating, living and loving. I am so much more than a perfect selfie. I have friends, family, acquaintances and people I am fond of and curious about. I also have a small group of people that I call “my people”

There are very few people that see us from every angle, allowing that requires an extreme amount of vulnerability but it also creates beautiful and unique friendships and relationships that weather storms. These are the people you want to see you through the very best and the very worst times in your life.

When I was sat smack dab in the middle of black despair after losing my husband I was faced with rumors, judgment and innuendo. At that point I made a decision to continue to be who I am no matter what and if I was someone I was proud of the right people would be in my life and nothing else would matter. That alone has changed my life immensely and allowed me to see and accept myself as well as embrace others, all of the dark and all of the light that makes us fantastically beautiful mosaics.

The problem is, I can post a selfie and basically tell you what to look at, but I cannot tell you what to see. That is entirely up to you.

Some of you will read this and take from it that Michelle knows useless 1980’s music trivia and that is fine. The reason I chose that song title is that I truly believe that we are all hungry to be deeply known, loved and understood. The thing to remember is that people can only know you and love you as deeply as they know and love themselves. A person who does not love and accept themselves entirely cannot possibly love you the way you want them to and sustain that. In turn if we do not love ourselves entirely and continue to invest in ourselves it is almost arrogant to assume that anyone else should invest in us if we have already deemed ourselves unworthy.

If I could ask one thing of you today it would be to love yourself, not in five years, not when you get a promotion or lose twenty pounds or quit drinking, love yourself right now and grow from there. Love your friends, your family and your co-workers, not for who you want them to be, not for who you know they can be but for who they are. Meet them right where they are and see how acceptance and authentic love encourages them to expand and fill their space in the world.

 

Happy Tenacious Tuesday!

 

Black Hole Sun -Wise Project #TenaciousTuesday

 

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leapfrog in 1908 | City, History and Child, new York, New York

I am great at awkward conversations and weird hugs are my specialty. Sometimes I overshare and I can be honest to a fault. The greatest lesson I have ever learned is that I have a lot to learn.

I feel like I just met myself recently and I have barely scratched the surface of who I truly am, and who I am becoming. I not only have a lot of things to discover, I have a lot of things to unlearn.

I am unlearning that certainty and routine, that we often think of as comfortable can be suffocating. The first day I had to face the world without my husband, the father of my children I realized that the expectations and plans I had for our lives together had the potential to tear me apart and leave me torn limb from limb in a mess of heartbreak and loneliness. I have since begun to awaken to the idea that learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and not attaching myself to ideas of the way things “should be” is the truest path to freedom and fearlessness.

“She was tough

but her edges were not

they were softened by grace

and she had a great affection

for every inch.”

~ M DeBay

I fall a little bit in love with anyone that is vulnerable enough to show me their soul. I have realized that the greatest thing is not to be known but to be understood and the truth is we have a great deal of people that have knowledge of us yet very few that truly understand us.

When someone exposes themselves to me, speaking to me from a place of raw authenticity it touches my heart and reserves a space for that person always. When adversity has softened their edges, despair has cracked but not shattered them, when they believe in love despite being hurt countless times and they know how important it is to love themselves first, when they have been brought to their knees by suffering but have found a way to stand with the weight of the whole world on their shoulders, these are my teachers.

I am at a place in my life where I don’t love small talk and casual conversations; I want to know who you are. Share your struggles with me, tell me how you lost yourself and how you are finding yourself, we have so much to learn from each other.

I am drawn to people who were once consumed by darkness but picked up their sword and tirelessly sliced through the dismal blackness until light burst through the obscurity.  I know longer want to save these people, I see and understand the importance of them continuing to save themselves but I want to learn from their passage through that struggle. I want to know how they continue to hold the light.

There is a raw beauty in people that have lived in black and white but refused to accept it and found their own paint brushes and created vivid new canvases.

“Show me your soul and I will show you mine. ” ~ M.DeBay

Sadly; beginnings are always built on endings but hardships are a breeding ground for opportunity.

I remember being a kid and playing leapfrog with my friends on hot sunny days where we played till our Moms called us for supper and we ran home with dirty knees and faces that were kissed by the sun. I remember never fearing taking a leap and erupting into fits of laughter, rolling around in the grass, never suspecting that life wouldn’t always be this way. At a certain point in childhood we become so aware of ourselves that the games that brought us so much joy become wrought with fear and ambiguity. We want to know that we are not going to land on someone’s head and they are not going to land on ours, that our ass crack is not going to fall out of our pants and nobody is going to laugh at us.

Oh the irony!!!!

The unknowns that once had us dissolving into giggles with our friends became our greatest fears. When did laughing with our friends become being laughed at? What changed? What kind of shame have we forced ourselves to carry for years that turned something as wonderful as laughter into something petrifying? How do we get back to that place where we took the leap without being one hundred percent certain of what would happen upon landing?

Every day I apologize to that little girl I left behind. I say I am sorry and I forgive myself for all of the fears I heaped upon her. I miss her wild and childlike abandon and her fearless laughter; I miss her optimism and her wide open heart.  I am unlearning. I am learning. I am forgiving.

It is OK to not know what comes next. When the wind changes directions we don’t give up, we adjust our sails.

We spend a great deal of time planning for days that we are not promised and robbing ourselves of the pure joy of the moment we are in.

For me, meditation keeps me in the now but also helps me access a quiet place of non judgement where I remember who I was supposed to be before I allowed life to happen to me.

Are you interested in knowing more about the law of detachment and how it can help you?

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

Learn More HERE

Words get in the way -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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In 2015 Shonda Rimes released the Year of Yes, just as I was learning to say No all over again. The word NO, a simple shift in narrative has given me back to myself. I used to say yes to everything and it left me depleted and often frustrated and angry. I think I equated saying yes and taking on everything with my self-worth. Being the “yes girl” made me valuable and I got a great deal of validation from that. During that time, I clearly did not know that I determined my own self-worth and because of that, I was often taken advantage of and the things that I used to enjoy I became very resentful of.

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When toddlers learn to say the word no it is extremely powerful in their young minds and they are really onto something. If you have ever seen a toddler saying “No” to everything, on repeat, they are just learning to use and exert their own power. I remember being asked to do something and finally saying no and feeling so fucking great about it. People were so used to me saying yes that it was a little shocking at first and where I was always the person willing to pick up the slack or do the shit jobs that nobody else wanted to do it was not exactly looked upon favorably. I learned quite quickly that my value to some people was very much dependent on what I could do for them, I also learned pretty quickly that saying No to the things I really didn’t want to do put me back in the driver’s seat of my own life and made me a whole lot happier and valuable to the people that really mattered, including myself. Setting limits in our lives is extremely important and for me, a simple change in narrative became a vehicle of integrity and a way to rid myself of time-consuming filler that had ceased to add any value to my life. Don’t get me wrong, saying yes is not always a bad thing, in fact saying yes to life and love and new experiences can add a great deal to your life, but NO, used properly, wields a great deal of personal power and should be celebrated as such. We put a lot of significance on being needed, wanted and valued but saying yes all of the time to feel worthy just becomes a lot of work.

No. Repeat after me…”NO”

Doesn’t that feel amazing?

I had a boss and friend that used to say, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right either way!” I use this little piece of genius almost every day, in conversations with others and in the words I use to encourage myself. Can’t is a powerful word, if we give power to it. If you believe you cannot do something you simply can’t but if you believe you can you have embraced a fantastic superpower because if you think you can, you absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally can!

But.

But is a word that people use to clip their own wings and wrap themselves in chains. But is often used in the same paragraph as can’t. ‘But’ gives you the pause to say why you can’t. But comes before an excuse. Take notice and of when and how you are using the word but and try to answer in another way.

Trying.

I used to think trying was a powerful word until a very wise man who helped me on my healing journey told me that trying is lying. I am trying my best and I am doing my best is a tiny but incredible shift in narrative that will make you a badass. Instead of attempting you are doing. Simple.

Broken.

I love poetry but in poetry, people are often referred to as broken. Broken hearted, broken spirit, just plain broken. After my husband passed away I often described the feeling I had as broken but when I realized that not only did my heart have this huge capacity to love, it felt every ounce of hurt that comes along with losing that love tragically, I was able to experience every single emotion to every degree on the pendulum swing and I believe that that makes me the very opposite of broken. I am strong enough to bend which essentially makes me unbreakable. I will own and embrace my struggles and rise to fight when needed but I am not broken and neither are you.

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Vulnerable.

The dictionary would like to tell us that vulnerable is susceptible, weak and defenseless but vulnerable is actually one of the most powerful words and actions in the English language. It is one of my favorite words in fact. According to researcher and author Brene Brown, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Through her work, I have come to believe that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage. When we shrug off the protective armor that shields us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves up to experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Vulnerability Is the origin of joy, creativity, authenticity, and love. That feels pretty damn powerful to me.

Save.

We often look for others to swoop into a situation and save us. I have a difficult time with that word. When Kirk passed away I remember falling on my deck and slumping against the house in shock and disbelief and I knew immediately that nobody could save me. We all need support, comfort, and encouragement but in those important moments, I realized that if I was going to slay the demons I better find a sword because nobody could save me, that was my job. In a similar respect we can not save others, that is not our job, we can love, hold space, encourage and support but “saving” oneself is an inside job!

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These are just a couple of examples of how  narrative has been important in my life and has helped me reclaim my personal power. Pay attention to the diminishing words that you use, words that take your power away. You can make some simple little shifts daily in the way you speak to and about yourself as well as how you speak up for yourself. You will immediately command respect because people will see very quickly how you much value yourself and quite frankly if we do not value ourselves why would we expect anyone else to?

Recommended: The Power of Vulnerability~ Brené Brown

Chains of Love-WISE PROJECT 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

I am one of the rare one’s that loves Valentine’s Day and even though there have definitely been times that I have felt bombarded by the commercialism of it all, who doesn’t like flowers and chocolate?

People say Valentine’s Day comes with too much pressure and I say Pf-ft. As with most things we put that pressure on ourselves.

Valentine’s Days has infinite legends and folklore attached to it so basically you can pick and choose what you want to believe and/or celebrate. Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. The custom of sending flowers, chocolates and greeting cards actually originated in the U.K.

My favorite account of the emergence of Valentine’s Day dates to ancient Rome, when the Roman Emperor Claudius ll forbid soldiers to marry in order to grow his army as he believed that married men did not make good soldiers. It is believed that St. Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for lovebirds during that time.

During that time, it was customary for Christian bishops to wear amethyst rings. It is rumored that Saint Valentine wore a purple amethyst ring with an image of a cupid engraved on it. The Cupid was a widely recognized symbol associated with love and romance and at the time it was legal under the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers would recognize the ring and ask Saint Valentine to perform Marriage ceremonies for them. Many believe that it is the association of Saint Valentine with amethyst that led to it becoming the birthstone for February and the stone is thought to attract love.

A possible origin of the use of hearts associated with Valentine’s Day is the legend that Saint Valentine cut hearts out of parchment paper and presented them to the soldiers to remind them of their vows.

That is the whimsical tale that my romantic heart has chosen to believe for many years.

I had the same Valentine for the past nineteen years. We always celebrated Valentine’s Day in some fashion; some years it was very elaborate and others we agreed on quiet and handmade gifts only. I have a Valentine’s Day card in my bedside table that Kirk made me over 12 years ago and it will always be one of my best memories. There were times during our relationship that we celebrated Valentine’s Day by spending the weekend at a romantic Oceanside cabin or dressed up for fancy steak dinners out, with copious amounts of fine red wine but that particular Valentine’s Day we were broke and we agreed that we were only going to give each other handmade gifts. I was blown away with the card that Kirk presented to me. He had taken pictures of me, in places we had visited together, and he cut them out and pasted them throughout the inside of the card and each of them had a caption, one was in downtown Boston, one was at the top of Mount Washington, one was at Loudon International Speedway in New Hampshire and one was at Salty Rose Cottages in Rose Bay, Nova Scotia. At the top of the card he wrote PLACES I HAVE LOVED YOU. On the back of the card was a photo of him and I together and at the top he wrote THE PLACE I LOVE YOU THE MOST and the caption on the photo was ‘beside me’. My eyes fill with tears just thinking of it, but I often take it out of my bedside table and admire it and wrap myself in all that love.

Kirk and I endured some very difficult times, especially in our earliest years when we were still getting to know each other and more importantly ourselves; and in the past several years at the height of his struggle with depression. The most important thing for me is knowing the growth that emerged from those struggles and the abundance of love that was always present, even when times were tough.

I am a better person for loving Kirk and I am richer from being consumed by the depths of his love. Death has surprisingly taught me more about love than I could ever conceive of. Death ends a physical life, it does not end love. Kirk’s love lives inside of me, in my limbs, guiding me and helping me to see and experience things in ways I could never even imagine. Our love is not dependent on bonds and it knows no bounds. It is how earthly love should be.

We spend so much of our lives consumed by the very idea of love. We constantly throw it at people, hoping they will catch it and desperately hoping that they will throw some back to us. We don’t share the best of ourselves; we in fact give away large chunks of ourselves trying to be all that we can be to the people that we give all our love away to. We lose ourselves piece by piece until our true self becomes a mystery. The problem is that we often forget one very important person in the love equation, ourselves. Until we can learn to truly love and be happy with ourselves and believe that we are worthy of the love and affection we bestow on others, we are essentially telling people that we are just not worth the investment. We are literally begging people to love us, while inadvertently deeming ourselves unworthy of love.

We are all born worthy. No matter what circumstances that we are born into, we are all inherently worthy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we forgot to bestow the amazing love and attention on ourselves that we reserve for others.

A great deal of people fear love. Love can devour us whole and that can be scary. As humans we become easily attached and so we are terrified of giving our love freely and not getting anything back in return. Love is not like a vending machine, you don’t insert love and automatically get love. There are no guarantees in love. Love is often a mystery.

We are attached by things, experiences and people. We get attached to our favorite sweater, the mountains, our daily routines, the weather, the possibilities are endless.

Attachment however, can become self-serving as we tend to feed our needs with the things we are attached to and people are not an exception to this rule. We tend to get attached to people because they make us feel a certain way. We come to depend on those feelings and so our love depends them as well. We rarely love someone for who they truly are when we are completely dependent on them to make us feel a certain way. There is a lyric from a song called Chains of Love by one of my favorite artists; Charlie A’Court, who also happens to be from my hometown; and he sings, ‘chains of love, are chains just the same’ and that to me describes the attachment side of love.

It isn’t unusual to confuse attachment with love and we are all guilty of it to one extent or another, myself included. Sometimes when we love something we want to own it, wrap ourselves in it, keep it to ourselves.
LOVE however, should not be so demanding, frantic or self-absorbed. Love is an action word. We give love, we receive love. We put love into the world, regardless of any expectation of getting it back. Love is also a feeling; free of judgement, it should make us fee as light as air.

Our fundamental purpose here on earth is simply to love, giving love and being open to love without conditions. There are so many articles circulating about how to attract love when the very best way to attract the right kind of love to your life is to unabashedly love yourself first and foremost. People who truly love themselves are more likely to love without conditions and in turn entice and accept the love that they deserve. Be curious about yourself, that is an act of love. Discover who you are and what you desire in the world.

I like to remind you often that you are never alone, we all belong to each other, but you belong to yourself first. The love you give to yourself will always be welcome, and always be true. When you feel loved, you will want to share that love with others, without conditions, without fear.

At the end of our lives we will never wish that we had loved anyone less.

When I lost Kirk I never wished that I had loved him more or less, just better. I wish that I had learned to love myself first so that in those early years we would have struggled less to figure it all out. Attachment and fear-based love can put a lot of pressure on a relationship.

Love is spacious, it should never make us feel caged. Love is an incredible thing if we are able to love and be loved in such a way that makes us feel free.

In essence, we should strive to be the love we wish to see in the world as love can appear and manifest in all sorts of ways, volunteerism, social activism, writing and performing, are all acts of love. Love should always be rooted in a deep sense of esteem and admiration for ourselves and others and the complicated but divine humanity that we share. Love is imperfect, it requires delicate vulnerability, truth and forgiveness.

We will make mistakes, we will hurt and unfortunately, we will sometimes hurt others, but love is a beautiful reward for our efforts and not one person has ever died from a broken heart.

So… Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. There are probably a lot of you that want to sleep through your alarm, but Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and you are love. Your very purpose is to love. This is your celebration. Love does not require a partner. Buy the dress, eat the cake, drink the wine, make yourself a juicy steak dinner, dance in your underwear, hug yourself.

Spend time with your children, your friends, your dogs or spend some quality time with yourself. Valentine’s Day should not make you feel like less, it is marketed to couples purely to sell more flowers and chocolate. If you like flowers and chocolate buy your own, or send something sweet to someone you secretly admire.

When I talk about love I am always reminded of a little girl I met years ago when I was picking Haley up from school in grade three. She was running through the field chasing kids and dispelling illusory magic from her right hand and yelling with rampant joy “Zing, Zing, I am throwing love at you!” That little girl was bursting with love and just wanted to share it, without any illusions or expectations of having the love she so freely gave reciprocated. My mother always told me I could be anything I wanted so I think I am going to be that little girl.

ZING ZING.

P.S. Now the fun part. Wanna be my Valentine? I remember like it was yesterday being a young child and sorting through my flimsy Valentine’s Day cards to find the perfect one for my childhood crush. I now have the perfect one for you! If we are not connected personally, you can link to my Twitter, Wise Project Facebook or Instagram on the right side of this page. Simply send or post a Valentine’s Greeting or message and you will get one back. I am going to be the best damn Valentine ever xo

 

“Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly”
~ Chris Cornell (from Soundgardens Fell on Black Days)

Survivor-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

Our personal narratives are the stories we share about ourselves and the life experiences that have shaped us into who we are and determine who we are becoming. Just as important as the stories we share with others are the stories we share with ourselves. How we view our own lives can have a huge influence on how others see us.

The stories of our lives are more than a PowerPoint presentation of the facts and dates and events of a life, but rather the way a person assimilates those facts and events within themselves—dissects them and knits them back together to discover their value and purpose. This self created narrative largely shapes our identity, the things we choose to include and or eliminate from our stories, and the manner in which we tell them, can both mirror and mold who we are and who we see ourselves becoming in the world. Our stories do not just tell what happened, they tell why it is important and what we have gained from our personal experiences and relationships good and bad, thus far.

I believe that in recalling those experiences and past relationships the empowerment we feel is the most important part of a healthy personal narrative. The ability to recall past experiences that may not have been pleasant but to find the lesson in that as well as recalling something you gained, even from an unhealthy relationship where you were able to preserve your integrity and move forward, speaks volumes about strength and character.

The last couple of weeks with the resurgence of the #MeToo hashtag, women all over the world are reclaiming their personal narratives. Everyday we are inundated with news and broadcast media, along with internet, social media and Hollywood all playing a role in how we think and feel. We are told what cars to buy, how to be attractive to the opposite sex, what toothpaste to use and how to navigate through a world that feels chaotic at the best of times. We are told to be strong at all costs, that to show our feelings is an undeniable weakness and that if we let down our guard just a little we are surrendering to the plague of the victim mentality. We allow others to tell the stories that rightfully belong to us. In the last several weeks what I have seen, is not a bunch of victims, I have seen brave and vulnerable women owning their stories, accepting their stories, surrendering a bit of their control to the universe to create meaning and purpose in their lives and to gain freedom. These are not victims; these are badass survivors and that is how their stories will read for years to come.

Courage doesn’t always shout, sometimes it is that little voice inside that whispers #MeToo and the moment those words are spoken these women take back a piece of them that was lost, they become a survivor. That requires vulnerability which seems like a scary word, it requires uncertainty and emotional exposure. It is a risk.

Vulnerability may be one of the most courageous choices we can make in our lives and according to researcher and author Dr. Brené Brown, it will transform the way we love, parent and lead.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top ten most viewed TED talks in the world.

“In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise-that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

In my life, I am finding that more and more I am feeling the call to lean into the uncertainty. I am at a time in my life, after the tragic death of my husband that nothing is certain and sometimes the best thing I can do is loosen the grip on the figurative rope of control and surrender to the gifts that the universe has in store for me.

In Michael A. Singer’s bestselling novel the Surrender Experiment he explores the idea that society has trained us to be hyper obsessed with finding out what we think we want out of life but we rarely give any thought to what life wants out of us. What is our purpose? What does life have planned for us?

What if we surrendered to life?

The word surrender to me always conjured up thoughts of weakness and failure but I have decided in the past several months to flip the script a bit and see the word surrender as a powerful word, a word that is brave and courageous. Giving up control, leaning into uncertainty and bravely allowing life to be my guide is one of the most fearless and daring things I have ever done.

We are more than the sum of our experiences; we are more than what has happened to us in the past.

I will own my story and I will write my own bold ending and I encourage you to do the same. Some days I am scared, but I am never without hope.

I surrender.

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Brené Brown

 

Turn the Page-W.I.S.E. Project 2017 #tenacioustuesday

Stories are wrought with struggle, it is the battle within us and the transformation that occurs afterwards that makes for such beautiful words on paper, drenched in heartache but cloaked in truth and wisdom.

Last night I redid the Courageworks workshop; The Wisdom of Story with Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. The foundation of the course is surrounding storytelling; owning our stories and taking the brave steps to write our own daring endings while learning to rise strong and influence others through our shared experiences. Brené; research professor, storyteller and bestselling author along with writer and activist Glennon share with us the importance of storytelling to help build a better world. Brené reveals that wisdom and worth lie inside our stories and she and Glennon communicate how to fully own our stories before sharing them so we can harness their absolute power.

We are sensitive beings and storytelling connects us to each other emotionally!

When I think of Glennon’s story Love Warrior, a book you might initially think is all about surviving infidelity, it very well could have been a different book if Glennon didn’t take the time to sit with her pain, to find the wisdom in her story and draw her truth from it. I recall a quote by Alex Den Heijer, “When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, you don’t fix the flower.”

Glennon wasn’t broken, but she lived in an environment that was toxic to her. She lived by rules that kept her small and quiet. She wasn’t grounded and she wasn’t at peace with herself, in her marriage or with her body. Glennon, was able to eventually, with time; make sense of the chaos that she had been thrown into and to make decisions to live better, to be better, to challenge the rules of the world, to explore her emotions, intimacy and her relationship with her body. I am certain; if Glennon had chosen to write her story in the thick of her anguish, it would have been lost in agony and grief. She was able to step back, to sift and find the beautiful messages in her pain. Taking time to sit with her story, allowed her to tell it from the inside but from a place of gratitude and reason. It became a story not of the fall of her marriage but of her rising as a woman, and as a Love Warrior. She describes the transformation as an unbecoming.

Brené has spent several years researching such topics as vulnerability, shame and courage. She is the best-selling author of such books as Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. Her Ted Talk on Vulnerability was life changing for me. Discovering that vulnerability was actually a strength and not a weakness as I once believed, that to allow myself to be deeply seen, was actually an act of courage that would allow me to open up to love with my whole heart. I was encouraged to reclaim my wholeness and reunite with parts of myself that I had kept hidden from the world. My own stories have emerged and I have grown from honoring my vulnerability and living authentically.

Brené told the world that “Vulnerability is not a weakness and that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change”

When to share your story

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”
Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

Brené shares the above Margaret Atwood quote as she and Glennon discuss the significance of when to share your story, with whom and why.

Stories are wrought with struggle, it is the battle within us and the transformation that occurs afterwards that makes for such beautiful words on paper, drenched in heartache but cloaked in truth and wisdom.

Glennon, who wrote the bestselling book Love Warrior after discovering that her husband had been unfaithful to her their entire marriage, expresses that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. She recalls from her own wisdom filled experiences that pain is where we find our wholeness and Brené agrees that wisdom and strength are born of pain.

We need to inhabit our stories and sit with the pain awhile before we are ready to share our stories. If our intention is to share what we have learned from struggle, how we have grown and what has changed for us and in our world then we are probably in a place where we can tell our story from the inside. Brené assesses this as speaking from your heart, not from hurt and Glennon recalls advice from her friend Nadia about speaking from a scar and not an open wound.

If you are feeling desperate for help or connection, you may still be in the midst of the fight of your life, things are starting to fall apart and you cannot quite make sense of it, but you want to fix it immediately and avoid the pain. This is the time to reach out for support from a friend, a family member or a therapist but it is not the time to share your story with the world. I think journalling can be helpful when you are in the heart of crisis because this is when you are figuring it all out. This is a clever way to look back on the process later and put your fragmented thoughts into order and start to figure out what has changed and what stories have emerged.

What do you need to give yourself permission to do, feel, or not do?

Glennon communicates that when we share our stories with a lot of people they should be a service. Once you have sat with the pain; you have fully inhabited your story, you have found the gifts and wisdom inside the pain, you are ready to share your story with others.

The course is broken into a familiar three act process.

Bru-tiful

Act 1 | Lesson 1

In act 1 we are asked “What is the “bru-tiful” (brutal + beautiful) adventure that you’re on?”

By identifying the “bru-itiful” adventure you are on you accept the relationship between beauty and pain in the world. Unfortunately, we cannot experience one without the other. Pain and beauty are both a significant part of our lives and when we learn to marry the two of those together, we can sit with pain without passing it along to others, we will take from it wise lessons and something beautiful will emerge if we allow it. As Glennon explains, in life we will love one another, and we will lose one another.  Life is brut-iful.

Instead of using our easy buttons and trying to numb pain, we need love ourselves through it and instead of tapping out when things get tough, we need to tap in because it is in our struggles that we find our true strength.

Rules in the world

Sometimes there are “rules in the world” that are a hotbed of shame and they often provide the environment for struggle in our stories. These “rules” may be unspoken but they are rules you believe, that you live by and they are relevant in your family, community or culture. What are your rules? Do you stay quiet and not rock the boat? Do you smile through pain and never let anyone perceive you as anything but strong? Do you keep your problems to yourself and just be thankful for the life you have?

Inciting incident

What is the moment when everything falls apart?

There is a moment when everything comes crashing down, it could be something huge or a succession of smaller things that send you over the edge. You realize that you can no longer carry on with the charade. The perception that you have been desperate to portray, that everything is fine,  has gone to shit. You haven’t washed your hair or changed out of your pajama pants in days. The blinds are closed and you just want to sleep and avoid the pain. Buckle in.

Staying on the mat

Act 2 | Lesson 2

What is it going to take to keep you “on the mat”?

Act 2 is when things are difficult. You have tried extremely hard to give the perception that everything is OK but you can no longer keep it together. You are randomly bursting into tears and you cannot seem to make sense of anything in your life, except that maybe pajama pants are suitable attire for public and the outside world is too people-ly!

This is the winter of your life, it is cold and bleak and hard. When winter comes, we gather firewood, pull out our boots and our heavy sweaters. We gather supplies. During this bleak time in our lives we decide what we will need to get us through this time, what connections and support systems we will call to action. What supporting characters we will call into our lives to help guide us through our story.

What are the easy buttons that we need to be aware of, the buttons that we will use to numb our way through the pain? Alcohol, drugs, food, social media?

What are the reset buttons that we will use to keep us tapped into life instead of tapping out?  Eating well, exercising, regular sleep, time with friends?

Glennon refers to a hot yoga lesson where she wanted to run from the class but decided to stick out the hour, to sit on the mat with her pain and attempt to work through it. What are the things that make it difficult for you to stay on your mat in the midst of emotional turmoil?

How do you want it to end?

Act 3 | Lesson 3

How do you want your story to end?

When we use drugs, alcohol, food or mindless TV to numb pain we also numb the beauty of life. We are essentially shutting the light out. When our world falls apart we often fall with it. Down, down down the rabbit hole we fall. We often feel small and frightened. Pain is an invitation, it means we are needed. So, we crawl up from the hole, through the dirt, through the rain, and we notice the sights along the way. In our memories, we recall not the hole, not the struggle up, but the emerging. We recall our resilience and our strength. For one day, the lights will dim again and those times when we find ourselves in darkness we will need to remember that we have been here before and that we can navigate our way out. We don’t lose our faith in love and goodness or happy endings because we know that they don’t just exist, that they live inside us. We are light, we are joy, and we are love. When our world looks unrecognizable we need to keep showing up, even when it hurts like hell.

What is the wisdom in your story?

This is how you find the wisdom in your story, through the emergence. One day, it won’t hurt as much and though it doesn’t mean that you will never hurt again, it means that you know the way out. The only way out is through. You cannot go around pain; you need to be still, you need to sit with it awhile. Glennon and Brené aptly remind us that you cannot rewrite a truth; the plot of our story is largely out of our control. We control our character, how we live inside of our story and how we emerge from it.  The three-act process is a great reminder during the bleak winter of Act #2. The winter can be long and harsh and even though experience may not shed any light on your struggle, deep down you will know that there is a way out. Glennon likens crisis to a child at the beach sifting through the sand, they let everything fall away and see what is left over. When troubles overwhelm us, we are forced to do the same, sift through the wreckage of our lives; allow what is not needed to fall away. When this happens, we are left with exactly everything we need.  As we write the endings to our stories we may find that the rules have changed, that is our redemption. You do not have to be strong all the time, yes, it is ok to not be ok, and you don’t have to fix everything. You make your own rules! You get to look back and stroll through your story with a new outlook on life. You can draw from your strengths to assist in your transformation.

Just as pain lets us know we are alive, stories let us know that we are not alone. If we have the courage to dig deep and be honest our stories have the power to help others on their journey. Whether our story is one of tragedy, of disaster or heartbreak, we are not alone.

An activist inside all of us

Lesson 4

How will you use the wisdom of your story?

This was an addition on to the three-act story. Brené and Glennon talk about their work with the Compassion Collective, which emerged as a response to the Syrian Refugee crisis. They call on us as individuals to identify what global story or community struggle that we desire to influence and how we would propose to write ourselves into that story. This is a really interesting exercise, simply by identifying something that truly breaks your heart you can also realize your ability to affect positive change. There is an activist inside all of us.

We are more than one story, we are a range of our own inspiring stories, the stories our grandparents told and the stories that have influenced and entertained us over the years.

The energy in our stories

In the past couple of years, I have become keenly aware of energy, I try hard to bring positive energy to the world in hopes of getting it back. Bad energy is tiring and it sucks the life out of me. I limit my exposure to negative people and when I did The Warrior Goddess Training with Heatherash Amara I realized how important it is to tell stories that serve us. As Brené said, we cannot change the plot of our story but Heatherash Amara reminds us that we can re-wire and re-write our stories so that they help us to be more present instead of deeply rooted in the past. The narratives by which we choose to express ourselves can energize and excite us, or drain us. We can choose how we want to use our words and our energy to share our stories.

Once we have walked through our stories and gained perspective we may be able to see them from a different viewpoint, focusing on the growth, the wisdom and the positives, instead an exhausting tale of woe that leaves us weary.

My interactive challenge to you is to be aware of the energy you are putting out into the world when you share your stories. Has time enabled you to gain perspective? Can your story be re-wired to focus on the growth and change that emerged?

For the next week when you share your stories reflect on how they make you feel and try to be aware of how they are being received by others!

 

Friday I’m in love -W.I.S.E. Project 2016-Journal Notes

It is really freeing to be able to be open and honest in a relationship and to be all in, to know that you are worthy of love and therefore you can give it freely as well.

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My W.I.S.E. principles for the month of may are warmth, intimacy, serenity and enrich.

I feel like I should get a sticker and a high five for not just chooosing these principles but for taking them seriously and learning so much.

Warmth is that good feeling you get by sharing and being kind to others. I have done well, except to bad drivers and the plumber that showed up at my work with just a flashlight to fix a leak and asked me what I wanted  him to do. I myself am not a plumber nor do I claim to know anything about plumbing but I will say that waving a flashlight around a well lit room doesn’t seem like the way to fix a leak. But all in all I have had some wonderfully warm encounters so far this month.

Intimacy is something I really wanted to work on. My husband and I have been together for 18 years and we have had a huge transition with him working away for 8 years and now being home every night. There is a huge difference in the dynamics of a relationship that is lived in stolen moments than one that you struggle to keep connected even though you are together everyday. I am focusing on relationship studies and have had a million ‘aha’ moments. It is really freeing to be able to be open and honest in a relationship and to be all in, to know that you are worthy of love and therefore you can give it freely as well. I had an incredible epiphany this month about the power of vulnerability and I discovered a Researcher/Storyteller named Brene Brown who does a wonderful Ted Talk on the subject. It is life changing.

Serenity-I have continued to go floating and I am continuing to meditate. I try to add five mindful minutes each day and I have found a wonderful guided meditation that is calming and helps to centre me.

Enrich-thinking about, working on and creating happiness has been very enriching. I love Robert Waldingers Research on What makes a good life, I am studying relationships and emotions as well as meditation which has led me to research Budhism.  I signed up for Brene Browns CourageWorks ecourse on the Anatomy of Trust. I have seen her Super Soul Sunday talk on Trust and it was fantastic. I put together an actual binder and a journal about The W.I.S.E. Project but my purse, desk and bedside table are full of hand scribbled notes I have jotted down.

I feel good. There were some trying times this month and I feel like I have learned and grown from them. I feel that knowing how I want to feel and recognizing what it takes to make me feel that way has and will continue to have a huge impact on my life.

As you continue your mindful and happy journey this month don’t forget to visit the new Facebbok page https://m.facebook.com/WISE-Project-236710606685815/

It is a place where we can share wisdom, happy thoughts and interact. I am sharing a couple of links below to some amazing content that has changed my life.

Remember that happiness doesn’t find us, we need to create it and choose it, every moment of everyday. Be W.I.S.E. friends.

Brene Brown on Vulnerability

Robert Waldinger on What makes a good life.

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