Rising Strong

Rising Strong cyber-bookclub

If you missed last week’s bookclub post, read it here. Basic guidelines, sample questions, and chapter spearheaders are outlined therein as are everyone's introductions in the comment section. Please take a few minutes (if you haven't already) and get to know your fellow bookclubbers!

Here we go!


I, for one, am completely in love with the term badassery. I think every single one of us, even if we don’t feel like it, is displaying our badassery by participating in this bookclub. We are taking a stand for ourselves and for our growth and continued emotional maturation by acknowledging that maybe we don’t always make the best decision or the wisest choice in how we behave or in how we use our words, especially when our feelings are hurt. Henceforth, however, we will no longer act out our hurt, we will no longer inflict pain on others (as unintentional as it sometimes is) or at least, we’re going to try really hard not to. We are taking this time to work on becoming our best selves and for that, we fucking rock. And we should remind each other of our badassery every chance we get.

This is also a good time to say that once in a while we may feel overcome with passion that requires the dropping of an f-bomb or two. I have no problem with this—especially when I’m saying how f-ing awesome we are—but I understand that this type of language can be offensive to some people. Let’s try to roll with the punches in this regard. If you can’t roll, please contact me privately to discuss.

Okay. Onward!

Here are a couple of my big take-aways from the introduction:

First, that the whole point of going through this process, of understanding what it takes to rise strong is predicated on awareness of our thinking and of our reactions. I’ve been writing about mindfulness on this blog for a while now. As Brené says, we have choices in these moments that unfurl before us. Most of the time, it does not feel like we have a choice, but we do. The key is to work on expanding the invisible gap in our mind that exists between thought and action. The gap is where the gold is. Expanding the gap gives us a little bit of breathing room, a few seconds to process, to make a decision. The mechanism to widen the gap is mindfulness. By being aware, we develop a relationship with our thoughts and can then take personal responsibility. I have plenty of examples I can call forth with ease to talk about the less than stellar ways I’ve reacted to people and circumstances in my life, ignoring the gap. I plan to share some of them in the hope that doing so will reinforce the lessons we’re learning about how to make a different choice next time.

Second, that the outcome of doing this work will allow us to write our own brave endings to our stories. Ugh! I LOVE this idea. I LOVE the idea of being the architect of my life, as opposed to feeling like I’m being dragged along by a current that is stronger than I am. I could make plenty more points about the Intro, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll move on.

(I plan to talk about the death of expectations—a HUGE topic—at a later point in our journey.)

Chapter 1

The rules of engagement for rising strong. I love them all, but there are two I want to mention in particular.

Rule 3. This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. For a long time during the journey of my daughter’s illness, I was convinced that no one in the world could possibly understand the pain I was experiencing, so I retreated. I retreated from almost everyone I knew. I can now say, categorically, that my initial thinking was false. Sadly, millions of people understand and all too well. My fascination here is that I wonder if the solitude we experience during these sorts of crises is, in fact, a necessary pre-cursor to being able to navigate the “unchartered regions.” I wonder if this sort of retreat is as fundamental in our body as is our fight or flight response in the face of danger. I’m not sure that if I hadn’t suffered so deeply in my solitude I would have turned to connection as a tool for healing. Courage, Compassion, Connection. I said these three words to myself over and over again and continue to say them still almost every day. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think I would appreciate the connections in my life as much as I do today had I not gone through the solitude I did. I would never have slogged my way out of the quagmire of my despair without the dear friends and family I allowed myself, finally, to turn to in my time of greatest need.

Rule 7. Comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity. How many times do you think you’ve done this? Told yourself to quit your pissing and moaning because everyone else’s problems are worse than your own. About a million? Maybe two? Yes, there are some really serious problems in the world, but you know what? Our problems are still our problems and they’re hard to deal with. If they’re serious to us, they’re serious, period. They make us sad and frustrated and angry and depressed and any other emotion we feel over them. They are no less valid than other people’s problems. I think this is so important! Don’t you? The opposite of scarcity is enough. I learned from Brené and continue to be reminded by reading her work that empathy and compassion are commodities we should first and foremost lavish upon ourselves and then lavish upon others. There simply can never be too much of either put out into the universe. “…every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us.”

Wow…I love that. Empathy and compassion are not my natural go-to reactions in the face of adversity or even discomfort–mine or other people's. To change my prior behavioral inclinations, I have had to pay close attention to my frame of mind and to my self-talk, and I have to continue to actively practice this different point of view all the time. I guess the good news is that life presents me plenty of opportunities to do so!

This is a little bit long, but that’s okay. I had the Intro and a chapter to discuss. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment on the above or anything else that struck you.              

Next week: Chapter 2 spearheaded by Sue Schwartz.


  1. I apologize (a little) that the following is so stream-of-consciousness. I welcome any and all feedback.

    Chapter 1:
    – risking, being courageous, vulnerable, can never turn back once you begin process
    Of putting it out there, falling/being criticized, getting back up.
    – I teach critical thinking to graduate students. Am struck by similarities to CT process: most of us want to establish/decide how we feel about an issue and then stick to our mindset. There is a sense of safety in that assuredness. We don't want to dig up and question long-held beliefs. Critical thinkers are those who have learned the answers to complex questions are rarely static. They must be examined and re-examined from myriad perspectives to attempt to gain understanding. Often, those who question (play devil's advocate) evoke anger from those who are comfortable with status quo. They resent CT'ers for "rocking the boat" and can see them of being argumentative.
    – It takes real courage not only to question one's own assumptions – taking us out of our comfort zones but to question the assumptions of others by asking thought-provoking, probing questions of those who put their assumptions across as fact.
    – Once one becomes a CT'er, there is no turning back. In spite of risk of criticism and perceptions of argumentativeness, and no matter how gentle one may attempt to be when questioning the credibility of the ideas of others, in the quest for truth (fact-supported ideas), CT'ers will always forge ahead. 😊

  2. Yes, Yes and Yes! "The gap" is something I'm always working on. Brene says she has this ring to remind her to take that gap. When someone asks her something, she has a rule that she has to spin it around her finger three times before responding. It forces her to think before she speaks so that she says what she really means and feels. I tend to respond very quickly to others, whether it's a bad reaction or an attempt to please them. I always end up with regret or resentment. Working on this gap is so important for our well being.
    I also believe that to truly connect, you must have experienced true solitude. As in everything else in the world, one only exists because of its opposite.
    In making our problems seem minuscule compared to the rest of the world, I believe we are continuing our habit of not feeling. In our culture of continually numbing ourselves, this is detrimental to our growth and as she says, understanding and practicing true empathy and compassion. We are all connected!

  3. Spinning her ring – love that! Taking a very prolonged breath. Counting to, well, more than 10. Whatever buys some time to reflect, to be authentic. Reflection time, in solitude, is losing its value to many. Busy-ness has taken over as the gold standard for worthiness, so it seems. I hope the pendulum has begun to swing back. We need balance.

  4. This is such a great forum to read everyone's thoughts and ideas. It actually enriches what I 'thought' I got from the first chapter and broadens the meaning even more. My daughter is working on her PsyD in Leadership Psych. That was my first real exposure to CT, yet I realize there have been glimpses of it for years. Immediately I thought about two things that struck me – instead of spinning her ring (which Iove and must try) I was taught to tie my shoe. In as long as it takes to tie my shoe to settle my breathing and really think before I answer. "Scars are easier to talk about than show…" also shown light on "But embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear…to strip failure of its real emotional consequences…" this really hit home for me. I thought I was so smart to acknowledge that failure, but I was nurturing failure, holding it close, and could never figure out why I wasn't making progress. Well hell, how could I? I was ready to hold the next failure. And I was good at it. I juggled what my therapist looked at me with her jaw open saying each of the things I was going through were life altering crisis that to go through one at a time was difficult and here I had five at the same time! Crazy right? Then ta-da, I wear them like some sort of badge or battle scar. I was a pro functioning in fear. Now the music has stopped and "I" have to be strong – not for anyone else this time, but for me. Naked in front of the sword. One chapter at a time. There is no Plan B. I have to get this right. ALL women need to give themselves permission to do this. (Note to share: A book called "Unfinished Business" by a woman named Slaughter addresses balance and how what we thought it was, is, really isn't. Has anyone heard of this? I haven not started reading it yet, but its on my To Read list.)

  5. Hey Nancy- I love your comparison to CT…it def seems like that's what Brene is asking of us, though not with that same terminology. This, seems to me, is particularly true related to judgment and empathy. I have written about both of these topics here on the blog. They are complicated. They require us to do this very thing..so really dig deep into our thought processes, where they come from, what they mean, how we ascribe them to others with little to know evidence we are correct. Only by truly understanding our biases can we remove the veil of them from being applied to all we encounter. Great points. Thank you.

  6. Me too, Crystal re: responding too quickly to people and then ending up with regret, resentment and for me, anger. That is sort of my go-to response, unfortunately. It takes a LOT of effort to slow the process down and really pull apart what it is I'm reacting to. I haven't tried the ring trick. Think I may work on that! And yes!!! We are all connected. Sometimes, it is so hard to believe this is true, especially when we're hurting. But I agree with you relative to numbing. Numbing is a coping mechanism, but like so many of them, it is a negative one and one that leads to more detriment in the long run. thank you!

  7. Tie the shoe, Patty! That's also good. Hmmm. Now I have two options to try. Thank you also for the book suggestion. Keep 'em coming! I love to find out about new books that help others. If the books help others, they will likely help me. What a great point, too. The distinction between embracing failure but without acknowledging the very real hurt and fear that go along with it. What a disservice we've done…or received, I guess. Depends on how you look at all. Buck up, be tough. Get over it. Of course, this is where we learned to shove our vulnerability in the closet under a pile of dirty laundry and to leave it there forever. I, for one, like you, want to air that shit out and bring it into the light! Thanks Patty.

  8. I used to be a people-pleaser. I wish I has been told as a child to tie my shoe or turn a ring around my finger 3 times before responding to a question I really needed to think over. As I mentioned when I introduced myself to everyone in the prior book club post, my feelings were not taken into account much on the home front when I was growing up. So I didn't learn how I was supposed to deal with difficult matters outside the home. There were countless times when I felt in my gut that something was wrong, but I didn't know how to process those feelings and decide what was best for me. I'm not saying I had no backbone – I did have a fight or fight response when the stakes were high – but I mainly did what I thought people wanted even if that wasn't what I wanted to do. In return, I figured they'd like me, or like me even more.

    I love the term "badassery"! I feel I'm a badass now! It's hard to look deep inside and sort out crap from our lives that has held us back from living the happiest lives possible. My mother couldn't do that, and I saw her remain weak emotionally throughout her life. Meanwhile, I was getting stronger and wanted that for my mom, too. Years ago I said to my dad, "Mom's in therapy. It doesn't seem like she's making a lot of headway. I don't get it." My dad replied, "She isn't strong enough to dig too deep. It's too painful for her."

    Wow. So that must mean I was strong enough. Yes! Badass!

    It's really incredible how digging deep and facing those demons from the past, as hard as it may be, allows us to become stronger and more fulfilled. My emotional health is important, more important than any one person potentially not liking me if I am no longer a people-pleaser. Who needs a friend like that anyway, right?

    All of us in this book club are on a journey. I'm pretty sure we are all badass already. We will learn how to be even stronger, which will ripple through all of our relationships, which in turn, with then ripple through all of their relationships. On and on, into the universe.

  9. Well the gap idea is interesting to me. It seems I have exactly the opposite problem of most of you. I rarely can react instantaneously and almost always wish I could have responded quicker. I was raised to have a servants heart and never intentionally be hurtful or unkind. This has served me well as I rarely open my mouth and say something I regret – although on occasion I say something stupid! As a result, when I do have something important to say, it usually gets heard rather than tuned out – not always implemented but at least heard.

    I agree with Tracey that our issues and problems are important and need attention. Nothing ever gets better when swept under the rug. Facing problems or addressing shortcomings is vital for growth. But I also believe that everything should stay in perspective with life around us because some things just are not that important in the larger scheme of things. What we focus on expands. If we focus on kindness we become kinder, if we focus on self love we become more accepting of ourselves and if we focus too much on our own issues with out perspective, we become self involved. I guess the real challenge is figuring out what we really should be focusing on.

  10. Great post Nancy!

    I think this is a reminder for me to be more vocal with my CTs. I do think about them but most of the time they just linger in their mind. From the outset, I sometimes still appear to be content with the status quo.

  11. Crystal, this is gold here:

    "I also believe that to truly connect, you must have experienced true solitude. As in everything else in the world, one only exists because of its opposite."

  12. Susan, I can totally relate with your story growing up at home. I grew up the same time, not sure if it's a culture here in the Philippines or it's only in select families. Either way, it's not good. It can be destructive.

    I have been spending the past couple of years trying to unlearn the "damage" growing up brought to me: self-esteem issues, repression of emotions, etc, and be more in touch and comfortable with my emotions.

    But we survived! And we'll continue to do so because we're badass 😀


    I love Brené's summarisation of her three books which can translate into a brief but powerful motto in life:
    – Be you.
    – Be all in.
    – Fail. Get up. Try again.
    Sometimes we tend to complicate simple things.

    "We like recovery stories to move quickly through the dark so we can get to the sweeping redemptive ending."

    ^ That was so on point, very applicable in today's instant gratification society. People just want everything to feel and be good all the time and to have as minimal challenges along the way. But without challenges, we will not learn and grow. Once I told a friend, "Poor kids are, in a way, lucky. They have an advantage over the privileged ones. They know hardship. They know what it's like to be hungry, to have almost nothing. That's power. If they are guided to the right path, they can make something out of that nothing. That's why sometimes I pity those children born with silver spoons in their mouth. Poor, poor kids."

    I also love the use of the word "badassery". 😀


    "If you're not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback."

    ^ Well said. It's too much noise nowadays. Everybody feels they got to have a say at everything. Sometimes people disguise themselves as "experts" when they're everything but.

    "Rising Strong doesn't offer a solution or a recipe or step-by-step guidance."

    ^ One of the lines that I liked. Everything these days seem to be about lists, X number of things to do to achieve this, etc. While some of them are good, others are crap. It's like we're dumbing down readers by leading them from beginning to end, at the expense of letting them learn on their way and really understanding things. So I'm very glad the book is not about that.


    I agree with what you said regarding Rule 3. That rule spoke to me as well. Because of biology, past wounds, beliefs, and fears, solitude becomes an enticing paradise. While I’m not saying solitude is entirely bad, it does have its downfall. This year, I’ve been trying to connect more with people, reveal my inner layers with them, and have become more open with the thing I cherish the most – writing. While I still feel a newbie to it all, the discoveries with challenging myself to connect with others have been eye-openers.

  14. Xeno, I think there are two reasons why my family of origin was dysfunctional. First and foremost, my brother, my elder by 3 years, was born with brain damage and most of my parents' attention was focused on him. He needed so much more than I did, so they thought. And while, yes, of course he had special needs, that didn't equate to me needing almost nothing but food, clothing and shelter.

    The second reason is cultural, and might have been a thread running throughout many parts of the world – that is, those were more of the days when children's feelings weren't taken into account like they are nowadays. It was common to hear "Because I said so," from a parent when a child asked, "Why?"

    It seemed that not only did you and I survive, we conquered a lot of our issues and continue to become stronger all the time. Baddass "R" Us — ha ha ha

  15. Thank you Susan. It's so important to always remember our family of origin and what we learned about how to behave, what's right and wrong, what "good" boys and girls do etc. As we age, we figure out our parents did the best they could, but it's also so important and totally okay and totally necessary for us to acknowledge that sometimes their best wasn't good enough for us kids. That does not mean that were bad people or bad parents. They were doing the best the could. I also was taught not to talk back, to be quiet. My parents loved me. I have zero doubt of that, but they weren't very present for me. "Because I said so." Ugh. I wonder how many times my mom said that to me. Or how about this one, "Do as I say not as I do." What?!?!?!? And yes. You are a badass for sure! Thank you.

  16. Yes Janice. I should have echoed BB's point re: perspective. Indeed. I agree with you 100% that we have to acknowledge our problems while keeping them in perspective. I also completely agree with you about how what we embrace is what 'grows' in the world. I believe what we do matters on a grand scale, just as Brene says relative to compassion and empathy. that the healing they promote impacts us all for the better. The opposite of this is of course also true…when we put negativity out, it grows as well. That's why it's so important to become and try to maintain a level of self-awareness. Thanks Janice.

  17. Thank you Xeno. Yes, I agree with so much of what you said. I do not think solitude is all bad either except in the extreme and when it become the entirety of life. I think this happens easier and more often than we think for people. Just because people go to work or are out and about in the world, it doesn't mean they aren't still encased in solitude. It was a challenge for me as well to open up and connect with people, to move that to become a priority in my life since it has not been one for so long. Part of it, though, was realizing that not everyone in the world is a right "fit" for me. That does not mean anything negative towards the other person, they just aren't a good fit for me. It's hard, I think, to understand where to draw that line. I also very much agree that our instant gratification culture is such a disservice to us and our children. Sometimes the biggest "gains" in life, growth etc require good old fashioned hard work and toil which we seem so loathe to undertake.

  18. I agree with you, Tracey, that our parents were not bad people, that they did the best they could.

    I heard this somewhere: You can't blame your parents for all of your problems and wallow; you have to take responsibility for your own happiness.

    So no matter how tough life once was, one can always set out to improve it. It takes courage and it can be a painful process, but so worth the effort!

  19. Very simply, the gap is one of the points that struck me as most important. And that gap can apply to little moments or big life-changing decisions. A couple days ago, I remembered the gap during a short conversation. I stopped before I answered, thought about what I really wanted to say, and then said it. Had I fired off the first thing that went through my head, it would have not been what I really wanted to get across. It would have been my first knee-jerk angry reaction. That was a little moment, but what I ended up saying made a point that will make a difference to the outcome of many a conversation and action ahead. For those big things in life, if I have the opportunity to use the gap to stop and think and gather information and put my thoughts in order, that will truly make a difference in the results. The gap can also save hurt feelings. In anger, we may lash out with the first mean thought that comes into our head, but it is best to stop and think before speaking.

    I'm also intrigued by Rule #2 – "once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back." That is a little intimidating because I find myself often withholding any action because I know it will change forever who I am and where I am going. But, to sit on the fence and not do anything about a situation does not help. This rule helps me realize that sometimes you need to be strong and make that first move knowing you can't go back. This Rising Strong can be scary stuff!

  20. You are right about that Martha! It is scary stuff. A couple of years ago now, I took a 12 week on-line class that Brene taught via Oprah's OWN Network. It was an art and craft/journal class based on The Gifts of Imperfection. During the 12 weeks, Brene did several Q&As. There were people writing in and asking questions relative to making big life-changing decisions like divorce etc in light of what they were learning about themselves and the people around them due to the material. We certainly all don't need or want to make such big decisions related to this material, but it is eye opening and once you start to see how it changes everything, you cannot go back to being unconscious. At least, I have found that to be very true for myself over the last couple of years. And yes, again, for me. I agree with you 100% relative to the gap. It is the most important thing. I was not raised like Janice, to never speak unless it was in service to the other. The gap, I am learning, is where true change exists. Without it, we react as we always have. Thank you for sharing your experience of it and how it made a change for you. This helps so much to understand how it works.

  21. Thanks, Xeno. I'm happy to hear that you are encouraged to question out loud. A friend recently shared with me that she thinks people find her argumentative when she questions. We concluded that there are ways to soften one's tone — it's a challenge, though, to take a deep breath before questioning, slow down a bit, and pose a question in a non-threatening way. It can be done and is well worth the effort to engage others. Sometimes are excited to explore and our excitement sounds a bit aggressive. So, just a word of advice to tread lightly. 😊

  22. Yes, the knee-jerk reaction to please others is huge. Has taken me way too many years to overcome. Now, at 65, I think I tend to be cynical right away. Somewhere in the middle lies the proper balance!

  23. So well-articulated, Janice. It seems, too, that we need to do triage or find the balance when it comes to so many demands in our lives: what to focus on, what's worth arguing for, when we need to speak up, and when it makes sense to remain quiet. It seems that it took most of my adult life to have the courage and confidence to speak out. I'm enjoying that exhilarating freedom and power, but find I now need to take a moment to decide when and if it is truly important and productive for me to do so. That's my current focus and I believe there is even more power and grace (love that word!) in striking a balance.

  24. Hi, Patricia – this idea of nurturing fear is so powerful and so real. We do get stuck in our stories, don't we? We tell them to ourselves over and over until they have become our reality even when, as we know, reality can be quite difficult to pin down and should most likely be termed perception. This notion has been discussed and written about in recent years with authors being accused of altering facts. I think we hold onto fears because we learn to accept and manage them. They are fears we know rather than those we don't know. Sometimes I wonder if I understood my parents, my family, at all! I grew up in the 50s and 60's with parents who simply did not, would not, discuss anything personal. I was punished for speaking when I wasn't supposed to. And so I learned, as did many of us, not to speak. But, this is my familiar story. One I've spent years in therapy working through. Were there skeletons in my parents' closets contributing to the dysfunction? Of course, but I'll never know specifics. What I have is my story and it is now a weird sort of security blanket. I'm learning that without real facts to support my "logic," I need to view my parents with kindness. And, I need to read Unfinished Business! Thanks for the recommendation.

  25. Love all the comments! Below is what stuck out for me:

    I have always had a hard time caring what people think and some people would say oh, just stop caring, like it was a bad thing to care! I never understood how to do that and love that Brene says " when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose ability to connect. But when we're defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable ". This helped me realize that it's ok to care to a point, but just be careful that the feedback from these people are not so negative it shuts my emotions down. There is a lot of insights and tips that all of you have touched on that make reading this book that much better and fun! Looking forward to the next chapter!

  26. As I read the intro and Chapter One, I kept thinking of a project I recently completed but do not see as a success. There was much more work to be done, but circumstances were such that to continue I was jeopardizing my health and well-being. More than once I felt "face down" in the process. For now, it feels like failure. As I continue to weave in the learnings from this experience, BB's encouragement is so comforting and encouraging. I'm particularly inspired by this quote, near the end of the first chapter: "…it appears that rising strong after falling must be a spiritual practice. Rising demands the foundational beliefs of connection and requires wrestling with perspective, meaning, and purpose." I'm wrestling with all these right now.

  27. Thank you all for posting your thoughts, opinions and stories. They are helpful and it is interesting to hear different perspectives on the text. I have struggled with self-worth for most of my life. Low self-esteem kept me from enjoying so many things growing up but as an adult and now a morher I dont worry so much about what others think. Only a chapter in this book is proving to be empowering. Like many of you I often find myself reacting to quickly and have to stop take a moment, breath and think things through.

  28. Kim- thank you for your comment. I agree that we still have to care what people think (to a degree.) I think the other part of the equation though is making "good" choices relative to whose opinion it is we want to consider. My old weight watcher leader used to say, "Don't cast your pearls to the swine." BB write about this too. Not everyone–i.e. people who aren't in the arena–earns the right to have us care about what they think. This has been really hard for me to understand, too. And to take to heart. Like I think I wrote in my response to Martha…there are people in this world with whom we're not a good fit in the friendship/care what they think dept. This is where some of the work is, I think. To weed out people who are toxic to our environment…thank you again! Great point.

  29. I love this point Maria. As a person who has struggled with my concepts around spirituality, understanding this journey to have a dimension of spirituality to it is very eye-opening. Thank you for sharing a bit of your personal struggle. Thanks again.

  30. Hi Tara- thank your sharing some of your personal story. I, too, am a person who has struggled with low self-esteem for a good part of my life. I'm glad to hear you don't worry as much now about what others think. Me either! This is a liberating feeling. Sometimes, though, I do find myself swinging too far in the other direction which I understand from reading BB is not a good thing either. Ugh!! One more thing to try to balance. LOL. Thanks for your comment.

  31. In the intro, Brene begins with a definition of vulnerability…the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome. It's this outcome business that I've been wrestling with this past year. My mom turned 90 in 2014. About two months before her birthday, I had some sobbing sessions about her upcoming birthday. I realized that I didn't want her to move into the next decade and felt so helpless knowing that I could do nothing about it. She has always been one of my very best friends, giving me wise counsel plus being a lot of fun. So, then it hit me…I wanted certainty that when she passes that I will see her again. Where will she go? What does eternity look like? Although I consider myself a person with strong faith, I was seeking a certain outcome for my mom. So, my piece of Brene's vulnerability definition hangs on seeking certainty when it comes to issues of deep love. I am grateful for my awareness and have decided that I am being invited to trust more.
    Brenes' step eight….you can't engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into an easy, one size fits all process. Boy did that hit home as one of my pet peeves lately. Without divulging gobs of detail, I participated in a teaching process for many years and had a blast doing it. A few years ago, leadership changed, along with the template for our teaching. Became very cookie cutter-ish…that one size fits all type approach. I noticed that when we don't allow others to express doubt/uncertainty, that people like me, shut down and do not feel safe. It is so important to honor the differing phases of our individual understandings of ourselves. I highly value remaining open to processing feeling, to growing in my understanding and forgiveness of myself and others….just not in a cookie cutter, one size fits all, fashion.

  32. What beautiful sentiments about your mom Cheryl. If you'd like to read an interesting book about what happens after this life, you might like After This by Claire Bidwell Smith (after RS, of course! 😉 ). She ponders this very question and does a bunch of research to get answers.

    And the state of education sure does seem like a dicey affair these days. Great point you make about honoring the different phases of individual understanding! Thank you.

  33. What strikes me again, after rereading the intro. and Chapter 1, is how we need each other. In the midst of falling on my face and the shame that undeniably follows, I want to crawl in a hole and cover the opening so that NO ONE can find me. This does not allow for healing – mine or anyone else's. Instead, inviting others along and being curious about my fall creates room for growth and love.

    I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and comments. Another reminder of how we are not in this alone.

  34. Hi Tracey, the first chapter definitely has some great points to keep in mind.

    I struggle immensely with self-talk. Much of the time, I feel I'm a failure and have no problem reminding myself of that.

    I have tons of compassion and empathy for others, but when it comes to myself, I guess a big part of me feels as though I'm letting myself of the hook. Or maybe, I'm such a disappointment that I don't deserve any compassion.

    I might have to pick up Brene's book. Really been struggling the last few weeks. All I seem to do these days is spin my wheels. And for once, it has nothing to do my body issues. It's pretty infuriating.

    Anywho, blah, blah, blah! As always, terrific post Tracey. Getting ready to read about chapter two!

  35. "Daring greatly", as per Roosevelt's speech, doesn't appear to be what I do. I put one foot in front of the other, hew wood, carry water in the process of daily living. Sometimes that is as much as I can do, so daring greatly seems to be beyond my reach.

    I so dislike vulnerability! Truly, for me, being vulnerable means to show naivete, innocence, a willingness to trust, therefore becoming a target for others who see those traits as "soft" and easily manipulated.

    I have long ago lost trust in others. Some do what they say they will do; most fail at keeping commitments, both to me and to themselves. I am not any different from others in this. I am constantly having to "re-commit" to myself.

    This, to me, is not being "all in". I don't get the concept of "all in". Doesn't it mean that we do what we say we will do?

    Some ramblings, starting at #3, "This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone". Does that mean that therapists count?! My friends help me more than my life mate does. What is that?!!!

    #4. "We're wired for story" is part and parcel of the reason why I journal or talk to my friends. I get some validation, some empathy from others, when they read or hear what I have to say.

    #5. "Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts though our hands." Boy, have I been moving stuff from head to heart throughout my life! Could be why I seem to have been/am a lifelong seeker after truth.

    #6. "Rising strong is the same process whether you're navigating personal of professional struggles." Yep. Certainly applies to me! As an educator, I constantly "fell on my face" and needed to learn from those falls. As a retiree, it still happens. I "fall" constantly, and still have to "get back up,brush myself off, and start all over again". Not all my bosses were empathetic, yet I learned from them all. I learn most from my partner and my friends and family, these days.

    #7. "Comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity." Tough challenge for most of us. If we feel emotional pain, it is valid, no matter what the situation someone else might be experiencing. I like Brown's statement that "empathy is not finite, and compassion is not a pizza with eight slices."

    #8. "You can't engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into an easy, one-size-fits-all formula." This is true. Sometimes I take longer to rise from a "fall"; sometimes I take less time. I do my best to be empathetic of others' situations.

    #9. "Courage is contagious." The more I share with my loved ones, apparently they find the courage to do the same. Funny, how that goes!

    #10. "Rising strong is a spiritual practice." If this is the truth, then I'm definitely a spiritual being!

    Still don't like being vulnerable and open. Not easy to be that way, when I experience what I perceive to be betrayals or negative behaviors of others. Too bad we don't some into this world with an instruction manual – one for our parents and, later, a section for us to read and learn how to navigate social situations in this world.

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