No, I am not trying to come up with a "click bait" title. There's nothing worse to me than falling into the gullibility trap, so I won't make you fall into one either. I simply could not think of another title to describe the nature of this post. The urge to share this post today was too strong to try and come up with something cute and clever; so instead you get raw and straightforward. Because rawness is what has defined my year thus far. Rawness causes you to not care about your post titles. Rawness reveals the areas where change needs to happen. Rawness demands you confront your areas of weakness. Rawness is the reason I haven't wanted to wear eye makeup in a month; yet, vanity has prevailed over that one.
In my mind I debated with myself as to whether I should go ahead and share this post or not; sensibility told me to wait because this experience is all too fresh and I'm still in the process. Who am I to come across as an expert on something I'm still learning?? That's exactly the same reason I decided to go with it- because I'm still in the process. So why not share it in all of it's raw, unprocessed tangibility?
To tell you that 2016 has been a whirlwind of a year would be insufficient. It would be the most devoid of all statements. Rewind to January. In hindsight, I definitely did not see it coming. The year did promise a few exciting events I had been looking forward to; such as building our new home, awaiting the arrival of not one- but two new nieces (one more to go!), and..... the anticipation of doing lots and lots of writing here on this blog. That was basically it; the rest, I was simply looking forward to experiencing as the days and weeks went on. I was already thinking about my family's birthdays that were soon approaching. I was thinking about the baby shower I was going to be hosting for my brother-in-law and his wife who were expecting their first baby. I was counting down the days to three concerts for which I had purchased tickets months prior. I was also immersed in the ocean of house planning as we finished the architectural plans for our home. Whether I had a vegetable sink on my kitchen island or next to the fridge was a matter of serious arbitration for what seemed like weeks. Life was so promising. Per social media, it may have seemed as though I had it all in a bag and was headed in the right direction. Don't get me wrong- I love social media. I love sharing with you the exciting events and the blessings that fill my days; and keeping up with yours in return. But if we can be reminded of any one thing- do not allow social media to become your hand puppet; dancing, singing, impressing the spectators as you hide behind the wall of dishonesty separating you from those who truly matter- including yourself.
While life's mountaintops were so evident (as they are for all of us), inside I was conflicted, as there nested a dire need of honesty. I desperately needed to confront what was still keeping me from living wholeheartedly. Daily, I would give myself a hard time for not accomplishing enough; constantly coming up with "fool-proof" strategies to correct my path. Setting off to create good habits, only to drop the ball a few weeks in. In my mind I would over-correct my critical thinking by focusing on all of the wonderful blessings and privileges I enjoy; trying to not be ungrateful for the life I've been blessed with. Then, I would be reminded that the act of being grateful doesn't cancel out the need for course correction on occasion. But rather, it should inspire the drive for excellence. To whom much is given, much is required.
One day, while in conversation with my sister-in-law, sharing with one another about recent books we had read, she asked if I had listened to Brene Brown's TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, or if I'd read any of her books. Despite it being one of the most popular TED Talks at over 5 million views, I had yet to listen to it, or read any of her books. The concept of vulnerability was a bit foreign. I listened to it, and didn't exactly "get it".....at least not yet. At that time, my mind wasn't in a place to receive what was being spoken. My mind and emotions had yet to connect vulnerability with wholeheartedness.
I listened to the talk many more times. I even bought Brene's book Daring Greatly. I began to read it immediately. It hurt. It offended me. It made me upset! So upset I had to stop reading it for a time because it was too raw. It was ripping bandages from the wounds of shame that I'd been nursing for far too long, that are still healing, if I may add. Vulnerability was running it's course. I'd opened up and allowed it to wreak havoc on my comfortable life.
Vulnerability stems from many different life experiences, varying from one individual to another. For some, they may be insecurities such as the fear of rejection, loneliness, showing up to an event and not knowing anyone there. For some, vulnerability might mean approaching a friend who's either recently lost a loved one, or is going through a divorce.
Vulnerability can often translate into "fear of the unknown." Not knowing how someone whom you've offended may react when you approach them with remorse. Not knowing if you'll have the words to comfort and console a friend who's hurting. Not knowing what kind of test results you'll receive. Not knowing whether or not your spouse will receive your affection. Going back to earn your degree after many years. Upon looking up synonyms for vulnerability, a couple of them especially stood out to me: indebtedness and openness. Personally, indebtedness translates into the responsibility I owe to those I love. Those who have endured discomfort for my comfort. Those who have walked with me, and helped ease my burdens. My husband, who takes care of me with every ounce of his existence. And openness prompts me to think about accountability, honesty, and keeping communication lines clear and uninhibited. Making sure there's no space labeled as "the unknown" between myself and my husband, my family and my friends.
The unknown. That's the space many of us tend to wander and get lost on the road to wholeheartedness. The lesson in which I am currently living right now, is to not deviate from what I know to do; to not allow my focus to run wild, building scenarios on the idea that something could go horribly, shamefully wrong. This lesson is forcing me to fully embrace the challenges and shame that I'm faced with. To embrace the mystery and all that could lie on the other side of honesty.
Which brings me to my point of change:
"Stop thinking about what could go wrong, and start thinking about what could go right."
The moment I decided to implement this mindset could be likened to skiing. I'm sure you're wondering, "why skiing?" Because I don't know how to ski- and the last time I attempted was no skiing at all- but rather, flying down a snowy hill and breakneck speed, unable to control my direction, ever accelerating until purposely wiping out before a break in the hill in order to prevent going airborne. Screaming the entire way down. Throw in some altitude sickness and needing to be rescued a quarter of the way down the hill; that's what embracing vulnerability looked like for me.
True story- that was my first and most recent experience with skiing. Riding the sled down the mountain was my favorite. Being sprayed in the face with ice and all.
What has life looked like since embracing vulnerability and all of it's mystery? By no means perfect- I haven't found a "fix all." But I do believe that I've unlocked courage in my life. Courage to love my husband & family, to cultivate relationships, to (one day) parent boldly......to live wholeheartedly. That is, if I am willing to lean into the discomfort and make myself vulnerable. To clear up the unknown space caused by shame. I've had courage that I haven't experienced in a very long time. I've made decisions that, at one time, seemed so far from my reach. I've been able to face uncomfortable circumstances gracefully and with a sense of adventure. I'm learning that shame has it's appropriate place; and that is on an operating table under bright, harsh lights; identifying it, naming it, helping it heal and transforming it into purpose.
I know this was a lengthy one. Thanks for reading, friends.