Well, we're really down to the nitty-gritty now. After this week, we only have two chapters left. I can't believe how quickly our time together has gone by. If anyone has a thought about how we can bring our amazing bookclub to a satisfying end, other than just ending, please let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas.
Okay! Here we go. Thank you Patty.
Chapter 9: Composting Failure, An observation by Patricia Viscione Young
You know, there are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason. If it is meant to be it will be – and just when I thought if I heard that pearl of wisdom one more fricken time, I’d scream.
And then something happens, and I hear those pearls giggle.
This chapter giggled at me. Now I have to be honest, I read this chapter completely different from the others and it’s because Tracey asked me to facilitate it. I was excited, honored and scared to death. How on earth could I compete with all those before me? What could I possibly say that would make any more of an impact or spark an ah-ha moment? Then it occurred to me – I’m not competing! None of us are competing. We are showing a bit of ourselves, sharing our thoughts and ideas, in a place we are not judged. How safe and wonderful is that?! So taking a deep breath I began to take notes:
Painful failures. Those were the first words that popped into my line of sight. Of course I recognize myself within Andrew’s story. Every single one of us has experienced the stressful working conditions and fierce competition – it’s all relative. If you’ve ever had to work in a group, or watched nurses shun another nurse from another floor. Or a Principal blatantly showing favoritism towards one teacher while scolding another for suggesting a new idea. We’ve all had to deal, cope, and tango with that kind of stress, plus a gazillion other forms of it. What I did find interesting was the use of her words when describing Andrew’s talent, “…framed the tension between art and money.” That was brilliant and gave me pause to think how mothers, fathers – people – do that when navigating through their day, week, month, lifetime. But what stood out for me, was the lesson to be learned here, that was not looking at what you are navigating, who you’re trying to work with/ for, or what you need to get done and by when. It is not the outside stuff. It is the inside stuff. It is YOU. The entire key to the universe is YOU.
Knowing your true self is paramount in being able to go from what looks like putting your finger in a electrical outlet, to a skillful, graceful waltz. Knowing yourself – the good the bad, the ugly – recognizing it, learning to understand it, change it if you wish to – but knowing what you can do.
What I find so funny about this chapter is just this week I wrote a piece for my blog on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and who pops up on page 201? Yep – there are no accidents. Brené quotes Dr. King’s definition of power: the ability to achieve our purpose and to effect change.
Isn’t what I’ve said above just that – power? The power to do this, do that, and make this decision. We are powerful in the fact that we can effect change – but it must come from within ourselves first. And yeah. That is incredibly scary. And – yes and there will absolutely be the sinkholes Brené speaks of. How many times have we stumbled? Countless! All those things that make us human let us down, our emotions, our inability to see something clearly, being voted out of a position or passed up for a promotion. And oh yeah, you’d better put up that defensive wall we think will protect us – but all it does is give a cold rigid place for us to lean on when we’re shot at. Then we have nothing to hold onto except that rock of shame. I carried mine around for years and years. I was the only one who can throw it away, or at the very least, toss it far from where I stood, until I was strong enough to throw it away.
Once you do that, once I did that – then we become honest with ourselves. And suddenly your sight is clear and you can see the honesty or dishonesty in others. How cool is that? Remember – do not underestimate anyone – look at Cynthia for example. Sometimes it is the people like her that surprise us the most.
I loved the “Ah-Ha” moment best. When Andrew’s team rose up together, failed together, helped one another up and really began to see one another for their positives – how can you not grow from that? Unfortunately some do not, but at least you can recognize it now, and know they are still trying to carry their own rock up that hill. With hope, a little luck and perseverance – you can go from drowning in the negative feelings to begin to walk towards the shore and move forward. But you can’t do it for someone else, before you do it for yourself – first.
What I can vividly remember now, was how many times my husband had said this to me. Literally, for years he said it. I choose not to believe him. He wanted me to put myself before the children, before himself – put me first. Go exercise, go do something for myself, let’s do something together. And I fought with him. Hook, line and sinker I fought him. My mother gave up her life for mine. She always put her children first. How could I think about putting “me” above my own children? What kind of mother would I be?!
Now I know I would be a better mother, a better wife and would have liked myself a hell of a lot more and been a hell of a lot more patient if I’d just tried it. Fear causes you to do stupid things. And sometimes fear causes you to do absolutely nothing at all. Which is just as dangerous. Maybe even more so.
My summary of Chapter Nine, we need to rumble with failure. We need to simply jump in and experience failure knowing, if we’re brave, that many times it will lead to change – and then we can work with that. We don’t have the emotional baggage, the labels, the guilt, we now have choices. Which is, IF, we choose to be responsible for it and accountable for it, is powerful.
I know there is much more in this chapter to learn from, pull from and blend into what we need to see in ourselves. Yet perhaps it is best to end on this note – read this book again next year. Drink it in, experience what you can with awareness and an open mind. Then when you re-read it, you may be just be surprised to see what a wonderful, strong, powerful, content, happy, proud to be you kind of person you really are.
Breathe Deep, Think Peace
P.S. Tracey was kind enough to allow me to invite you to my blog, if you’d like to read my piece on Dr. King. I began "Touched By Words ~ the journey of a writer” (www.touchedbywords.com) following Laura Munson’s assignment of “Do the Work” when I returned from Haven in 2012. Your opinions, comments, critiques and insights would be greatly and deeply appreciated.
Up Next: Chapter 10, spearheaded by me, Tracey Yokas
I'd like to thank Sue Schwartz and Xeno Hemlock for their inspirational words and their participation in this bookclub. I have grown and learned from both of them. I know all of you have, too. I hope you like your memes. I'm worried about that!