So in a moment of either sheer craziness or courage, I have not decided which one, I registered yesterday for a 5K fun run in March. It’s a women’s only run appropriately called the Diva Dash. As soon as I hit “charge my card” for the registration fee, the negative thoughts poured in from all over. It was amazing really to hear their (lack of) support. 😉 I even woke up in the middle of the night with the thoughts….what if you don’t finish, what if you’re not ready in two months, you may have just wasted $30, and on and on…This is serious the butterflies in my stomach. But I recall a line from a card that my sister sent me two summers ago that read, “butterflies in our stomach often precede something that we thought we could never accomplish…” So whether that means crossing the finish line, training for the race, or just making some friends along the way, it will be something. Today just happened to be the day that I put it out in the universe. In the mean time, anyone reading this blog who wants to join me in March, send me an email. 😉 To be continued…
I know I am not the first or the last person who will blog about Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly book, but I wanted to share my own experience with it and I have only gotten through chapter 3. First of all, for me it is a not a book that I can plow through on a rainy day and call it good. As I just mentioned, I am just finishing chapter 3. It is, however, a book that I take my time with, reading in chunks, and then letting it marinate for a while. Keep in mind I don’t categorize it as a self-help book, or an entertainment book. It is for me my first educational book written by a person with a ph.D. wowsa! I’m so grown up! 🙂
I actually started the book over two weeks ago when I was home sick with a cold and realized the first few pages in I wanted to be 100% healthy to appreciate it. So far I have learned the critical components of vulnerability, and the elements of building resilience to shame. When I read her list (recognizing shame and understanding its triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out, and speaking shame) I wondered if replacing the word “shame” with “anxiety” would have the same effect. It would read like this: Recognizing anxiety and understanding its triggers, practicing critical awareness (is the message I am sending myself about the success/failure of this project really true, or is it just an anxiety-producing thought?), reaching out to others and telling people when I am anxious instead of keeping it a hellish secret, and speaking out loud when I am anxious to ask for what I need to be comforted. It may not seem like a perfect exchange, but it sure comes close. If Brown defines shame as the fear of disconnection, then I think anxiety is the direct result of shame that has not been resolved. I have NO IDEA what the rest of the book will explore, but my interest is piqued. Here’s to unveiling and embracing shame, as it appears to be the key to unlocking anxiety…to be continued.
I just got a notice from WordPress that my blog has been up for a year. True there are some serious gaps in time between entries, but still. A year? Skimming over my entries I am reminded of the various “last day of school” days when we had to turn in our books before leaving for the summer. While most students were excited to get the hell out of there, I would sit and thumb through the pages of a particular subject and think, “I hardly remember learning all of this stuff.” I could never understand how I was now prepared to get to the next grade only because the end of the school year deemed it so? Fast forward light years beyond grade school and it seems that the lessons I have attempted to write about here are still needing to be learned, and aren’t going to be remembered as easily as calculus or social studies. How many times will I write about patience, self compassion, being good enough, love, growth, etc? As many times as it takes I suppose.
When I look at the date of my last posting I again can’t help but think where the hell does time go?? Sometimes days can drag on forever and yet in the blink of an eye we have passed Thanksgiving, Christmas and soon to be New Year’s. Incredible. This entry is about the experience that was Christmas…
This year T and I flew to California as we do every other year to see his family for the holidays, but we didn’t go the distance to Catalina. Instead we set up camp in the Residence Inn in Redondo Beach to be with his dad who has been recovering from a stroke and other health issues. At first there was a possibility that we might go to Catalina for a day or two to help pack his parents’ condo, and I was more than willing to do that because it would have been our last chance to see it before they moved. As it turned out his brother and sister-in-law went instead, and T kept his dad company in the hospital for two days while they performed more tests on him. It was an uncomfortable space to be in: feeling cheated out of not getting our beautiful island escape, underlying/unspoken concern for his dad’s health, and at times helplessness because nothing could be done to console his mom out of her growing anxiety and sadness over, well, everything. I found myself playing hours of Scrabble online, watching all Christmas movies on cable television, and talking to my own family members about the situation. I think you would call that distraction. On the night we opened presents, T’s older sister was explaining the meaning behind the “family” present and she became emotional, which led to more tears from his mom, which led to tears from his dad and so on. Normally I cry at the IDEA of crying, but in this moment I didn’t know what to think given that all the years that I have been part of this family, I had categorized them as the family that dealt with everything without tears. Honestly. Yet here we sat as tears flowed, and I had nothing. It was as if the moment belonged to them and I had the privilege to witness it but not participate.
Several days later we found ourselves back in Kansas City celebrating the actual Christmas day by ourselves since T was on call. Overall it was a low key day. We passed the hours with lots of much needed sleep, followed by food and a warm fire. It wasn’t until two days ago that we found out on Facebook of the passing of an amazing family friend, who somehow manages to leave this lasting impression on you even though you have only really spent a few Thanksgiving nights together, and exchanged Christmas cards over the years. That’s when my tears began to flow. The Sunday before I had led the youth group in writing letters of support to the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, explaining before our moment of silence that their (the survivors’) Christmas would be so much different than ours. But here I sit now disproving that statement because let’s be honest, a loss is a loss, and no one can say to you that their pain is worse than another person’s pain. This sense of loss that I feel is not just about the passing of our friend, it’s the loss of the carefree island days on Catalina, the passing of holidays spent without seeing my parents, and a sense of urgency to make up that time since we do not know what next Christmas will bring.
I have been working on this posting for several days and I decided that I needed to write about a happy memory with Susan. I first met her at Thanksgiving dinner in 1998 when T and I started dating. This was a big deal to be invited to the Medlins for Thanksgiving so I was nervous. But I walked in the door and was welcomed by these really great people–Ray, Betty, Jim, Sue, Paula, and Kristy (Travis’ sister). Immediately Sue reminded me of a Stevie Nicks/hippie/free spirit poetic type. She loved to read anything out loud–as most teachers do– was a fantastic Monopoly player, and she introduced me to the wonderful world of pairing a wine with a cheese. We only saw each other on Thanksgivings for several years after that and then we moved to Kansas. We did keep in touch via Christmas cards and FB, and even from far away I could sense her presence. I don’t know why her passing has left such a mark on me, but I do know that she was a wonderful person who certainly lived life to the fullest, exactly how she wanted to live it. May she rest in peace, and continue to touch the lives of those who were fortunate enough to know her in this lifetime.
Recently I viewed this amazing Ted Talk by Brene Brown on Vulnerability: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html. I hope you will take the time to watch it at some point through its entirety. In her summary she speaks about practicing gratitude during moments of terror and unknown. In the past several weeks I have faced terror and unknown over and over: my father in law had a stroke and his prognosis remains unknown; T has been in surgery and recovering and will have surgery again. It’s not the surgery that is terrifying for me; it’s the hospital and the sick people and all those icky thoughts that come with it. I have this new job that is exciting and life-giving in many ways, but also terrifying in its newness and uncharted waters. And at times, when I have those really anxious moments, it seems like this terror and unknown feeling will last forever. So, in the spirit of Brene Brown I was thinking about all of the people, places, and things I was grateful for in spite of these questioning, tough times. The result is my public letter of gratitude, dedicated to family and friends who are far and near but always close to my heart.
Dear God, (and/or Universe, Mother Nature, Higher Power than Me)
THANK YOU. Thank you for every time you have interceded and placed in front of me a family member or friend who will entertain my phone calls, emails, voicemails, and texts at all hours of the day in search of comfort, commeraderie, connection, encouragement, and humor during challenging times. Thank you for reminding me that prayers are answered in every which way EXCEPT for the way that I envisioned. (After moving so many times, I prayed once for a close circle of friends that I can rely on and talk to all of the time. I thought that meant in my neighborhood like Sex in the City style. Instead I have this circle of trust that spans the U.S. and it is pretty awesome. On that same note, a friend called yesterday after Travis’ surgery and offered to bring over lunch for us. WOW) Thank you for never judging me. Thank you for giving me the space to have conversations about faith and God, and providing such strong examples of having faith in my life, namely my Dad, sister, and a friend Drea. Thank you for pistachio ice cream. Thank you for every day that I have had a moment of laughter, which honestly is usually EVERY DAY, even if it’s been a “bad day.” Thank you for the beautiful family that I am a part of, and the expansion with our nieces and nephews. Thank you for yesterday morning when T and I were both awake at 4a.m., and instead of trying to go back to sleep we watched reruns of Downton Abby and talked about how awesome it was to be there in bed and not at the hospital. Thank you for chocolate chip cookies from Dolce Bakery. Thank you for the opportunities, both missed and taken, that gently reminded me that is how it was meant to be all along. Thank you for the grace you surrounded me with during all the times I couldn’t accept it. Thank you for this experience called life, and allowing me to be vulnerable. (or least learning to be!)