Tag Archives: vulnerability

A Love Most Precious

My grandmother has always been one of the most important people in my world.  She is such a strong presence in my life and I find myself thinking about her often and what she would do when I make decisions.

As of today, she has been gone for half of my life.

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This has always been my favorite picture of her, 
with her sister at my parents' wedding.

I had a turbulent childhood. My grandmother was always the person that loved me unconditionally. I went to her when I needed a hug, I went to her when I needed love, and I went to her when I needed reassurance. She was in my corner and I never doubted her love and devotion. She was a straight-shooter and didn’t always tell me what I wanted to hear, but did so with honesty and and as much sensitivity as she could muster.

When she died, I was only 21 and didn’t begin to realize the impact her loss would have on me. My heart broke into pieces and I went through my days, but it took me five years to be able to talk about her without bursting into tears and probably ten before I could think of her and smile without any shedding any tears. Though I do tear up occasionally and still feel such a hole in my life. I think of her almost every single day.

It took a long time for me to realize just how special our relationship was, and when I realized, I was so upset that I didn’t recognize it or appreciate it when she was here.

Did I ever thank her? Did I ever tell her I realized and noticed and how much it mean to me?

No. I was a child. I had no understanding that someday she may not be here. Until she wasn’t.

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That kind of love is special, and I cherish it now, always holding it close. And while not every relationship that I have will be that special, I do know what a good relationship is as I’ve had one before, and I do know what doesn’t work for me.

Brene Brown, in her Ted talks and her books shares her mental breakdown spiritual awakening. I adore her for her openness and public vulnerability. Who the hell says that? I respect her for it and think she’s amazing.

When I was a child, I had to be tough to survive the environment. I couldn’t show weakness or it would get me hurt. Vulnerability was a foreign concept and to me, synonamous with weakness. I didn’t cry in front of people and I didn’t express much emotion as anything could be taken away.

But when it came to grandmom, I always had faith in her and her love for me as I knew she’d be there. Nothing could shake that feeling.

Now, I’m learning that it’s ok to wear my heart on my sleeve. And I’ll attract like-minded people for it. I’m learning to love my gentle heart instead of trying to hide it. I don’t hesitate to say “I love you” to the people that I love, as I want to be sure they know in case there’s a time when they are no longer with me.

I love you, Grandmom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful gift of your love that I still feel, all these years later. You meant the world to me and always will.

I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. Always.

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Sisters

“A sister is a forever friend.” Author Unknown

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One of my oldest friends visited this past weekend. We met right after I graduated college, though she still had a couple of years to go. We’ve known each other for over twenty years—half of our lives. 

There’s something incredibly comforting having a friend, and such a close friend, for so long. We’ve had our ups and downs—times when we bickered and annoyed each other, and times when we went with long gaps between talking or seeing each other, but we’re such an integral part of each other’s lives that we always circle back.

She’s my chosen sister. 

She’s my go-to-person, and I’m hers. If I ever needed someone, she’s the person I’d call. I’m not the kind of person to reach out when I’m in that place, but I have no doubt that she’d be there as I was for her not too long ago. I dropped everything and flew out to see her two days after she asked. It was such an amazing feeling to be that person that she reached out to, and to be able to be there.

It’s also incredible to have someone who is lovingly honest. She is as direct and blunt as I am and I know what she says comes from a place of love so I don’t find it threatening. I don’t always like what I hear, but I know that she loves me and that it comes from her heart. 

I was sharing with her some of the changes going on in my life and at one point said to her, “But I’m not that person. I don’t do that—I can’t do that.” She smiled and looked at me, replying after a few moments, “Well, maybe you weren’t that person, but maybe you are now.”

Huh.

The saying about “old dogs” learning new tricks circles my brain.

I can count on one hand the people that I can truly be open with. I don’t tend to share a lot when it comes to my feelings. And even with my “inner sanctum” people, I still hold back a bit. I’ve been practicing, and trying to open up more as this is an area that I want to work on. It’s still hard—really hard. There are things that I haven’t been honest with myself until recently, and trying to find the words to express those things is really uncomfortable.

Growth is good and change is good and she’s right. Just because I wasn’t that person, doesn’t mean I can’t be now, if I want to be. I appreciate having a sister to share this journey with.

I close my eyes and feel the feeling of openness. It’s frightening. It’s exhilarating. The feeling of vulnerability courses through my body. Brene Brown would be so stinkin’ proud.

 

Back Through the Rabbit Hole

Following the World Domination Summit, I’m feeling a bit like Alice may have felt after leaving Wonderland now that I’ve landed with a ker-plunk right back into my life. Everything seems the same as it did, but it feels so different.

It’s hard to describe the conference to someone who wasn’t there—to me, it was an Imageintensely personal journey. The real magic of WDS is community: being surrounded by 2,800 like-minded people embracing change. We are all at different points in our journeys towards diverse things: some want to change the world, while others seek to change their lives. The conference is all about being embraced by a supportive community of people all feeling the unrest of maintaining the status quo in our lives. Our tribe.

ImageI had wondered if I might quit my 9-5 gig upon returning; it wouldn’t be my first time. “What’s amazing about a leap of faith is that everyone around you is so sure it’ll work out, and you’re pretty sure it won’t.” Thanks to Tess Vigeland for helping me process my feelings about that experience, and for letting me know that my fear of what is ahead, and the big doozy fear, that the best may be what I left behind me, puts me in extraordinary company. Her bravery, vulnerability and openness comforted me and I will be forever grateful to her for the experience. It was the very first time that I not only admitted my feelings to myself, but also shared them with others. What a powerful gift.

There were some incredible talks; each had beautiful pearls of wisdom to connect with. I’ll be processing my thoughts and feeling about them for some time, and will share those musings in the weeks to come. A lot of blogs posted recaps of the weekend, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll share what is top of my mind a week later, or as Nancy Duarte might say, what really resonates.

The best way to confront a fear of rejection is head-on with humor

Jia Jiang went on a ‘100 days of rejection’ quest, and asked strangers for all sorts of thing including permission to play soccer in their backyard, for $100, to drive a cop car, and to fly a plane. He quit his job 4 day before his daughter was born, and when he met with a crushing failure 4 month into his 6-month adventure to change his life, his wife told him, “I gave you six months, not four!” What a lesson to us all, to surround ourselves who people who support us.

The path to creation and success springs from the fertile ground of dreams

 Darren Rowse, creator of Problogger, shared the need to take responsibility of our future, as it’s not a place that we are going to, but a place that we are creating. He said to take time every day to dream, and notice the sparks that you create. Then follow those sparks. Share your dreams, as that creates an army of people who will help your dreams come true.

Image “The key to happiness is self-knowledge. We become too focused on how we should be that we forget who we are.” Gretchen Rubin

This amazing life that I can create is custom-made, not defined by the wants and obligations placed on me by others, but by my own unique definition of what a remarkable life can be for me.

 “What we think we want isn’t usually what makes us happy. Don’t expect your achievements to solve your problems.” Donald Miller

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We are not our failures; we are not our successes either. I’ve spent so much of my life aspiring to achieve success to prove that I’m not defined by my past, that I lost track of me in the process. I really connected with this talk and you can bet you’ll be hearing more about it in upcoming weeks.

ImageMy biggest learning is that I don’t want to do it alone. I thought that by being forcefully independent I was being strong, but I now understand that I’m keeping the joy of knowing me from others while leveraging my past hurt to protect myself. I saw vulnerability as weakness, but the presenters were so brave and vulnerable to share stories of their rejection, failure and heartbreak. And that was when I realized: vulnerability is strength. In talking with many of them after the presentations I realized they are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I even decided to practice a little bit and realized that when I shared those deep dark fears that I’ve shared with no one, a big hairy spider didn’t come up to eat me. My fear seemed to float away as it lost its power. Opening myself to another person didn’t kill me, and didn’t even hurt me; it empowered me.

Wow.

So what is the World Domination Summit? I could try to define it, but that’s really missing a lot. What it is to me is the ability to step into the sun to harness its power, its energy, then to fall back to earth in the snuggly warmth of caring, supportive arms. It’s living life, and loving life, in the bonus round.

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Images credit: Armosa Studios