Vulnerable. Worthy. Authentic. Take Aways from The Gifts of Imperfection

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Oh, this Book! I will write about this book again, and again…and maybe even again as I re-read it, and let the lessons unfold.

For now, I will say that my biggest take-aways were:

We can choose with whom to be vulnerable.

Not everyone earns the right to see our vulnerability. Holy Crap. That’s huge! Let me tell you something about Colombian families….everyone knows everything. Always. And, they all have an opinion they believe is meant to be heard – which can create a lot of shame even though that might not have been the intention. So, I guess you grow up believing your life/triumphs/failures have to be an open book. Don’t get me wrong here. I didn’t misinterpret Brown’s words. I’m not saying she’s advising to close ourselves off. She reminds us of the power we have to select who has the right to our vulnerability. We can choose those who support us, nurture us, and challenge us to be the best version of ourselves with compassion. These people have earned that right.

Stop the hustle! We are worthy as we are.

That’s it. So simple…yet, so hard to do, right? This is the equivalent of teaching our children: never try to get someone to like you. We are perfect in our imperfections. Shit happens. Life happens. Stop trying so hard because regardless of what happens or what does or doesn’t get done, we are worthy of love. The End.

Remaining true to ourselves. Using another, very popular term du jour, be Authentic. 

Authenticity goes beyond being truthful. Brown defines it as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” (50). I guess it means shedding all of the ways in which we’re expected to show up in our different roles. I remember I had a therapy session with a friend of my mother’s. I was feeling extremely depleted at the time; she worked with my energy and chakras. During the session she asked me to bring to mind all of the expectations I had of myself, or believed others had of me, and to see them, as though I was looking in a mirror. She asked me to hold that vision for a few seconds. And, then, with all my might, I was instructed to shatter that mirror. As the pieces fell away, she asked who was left. The only answer, of course, was me. It was one of the most powerful moments in my life. I go back to that moment often when life becomes too demanding; when I need to go back to me and let go of the bullshit.

Perfectionism Sucks

While this wasn’t a new lesson for me, it was a great reminder to let go of any nagging need to satisfy appearances. It’s part of the everyday flux…what to let go of because it doesn’t serve and what to embrace because it makes up the imperfect person I am.

I think this book has something to offer everyone. From those well into their vulnerability journey to those who are toying with the idea of facing down their shames in order to live a fuller life. Brene Brown teaches, reminds, guides with compassion, humour and stories which show she is in the trenches with us.

Hope to hear about your own journey, whether through this book, or another you might recommend.

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Journey Into Vulnerability: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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A very inspiring woman (lookin’ at you Jackie), eagerly/enthusiastically/totally/robustly recommended Brene Brown’s TED talk. And, now I’d love to share each one with those of you who like me, until very recently, had no idea who Brene Brown is.

I went home and immediately watched both of her TED talks on Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.

The next day I found myself at Indigo as part of my kids’ P.A.Day/Fun Day (we went to watch Coco afterwards, which ended up being awesome). We all left with a haul of books. My haul was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong.

I’m into the third chapter of The Gifts of Imperfection and will review it when I’m done…but I think you can already tell that I’m absolutely loving it. I’m feeling the fierce pull between gobble it up and go slow…take it in…a friend (who is a life coach, you can find her at Joanna Durkin) out in Alberta said she makes it a yearly read. And, I can see why.

Why Vulnerability?

I didn’t realize how damn frightening this word is for me until I started reading about it and began to feel so squirmy. The more I read and think and look at my life, it has become clear that I’ve been keeping vulnerability at bay because it means exposure.

The invitation to take a trip into my own vulnerability has been extended. And, I accept. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

Please use the links above to watch each of Brene Brown’s TED talks (about 20 minutes each). There are beautiful insights which I think we can all bring into practice with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our families, our students (for my teacher friends).

Who knows…it may spark your own vulnerability revolution.

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Top Ten Books I’d Like My Children to Read

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Please go to The Broke and the Bookish for more details about their weekly meme. This week they’ve challenged us to list the books we’d like our children to read. I can’t pin down specific titles for my entire list so you’ll see a mix of titles and authors from whose writings I’m sure my children will learn and be inspired both now and when they are older.

5 Books to read in childhood/adolescence

  1. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – captures a mother’s love so beautifully
  2. Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter books – ’nuff said
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a mansion full of secrets in Yorkshire? Sign me up!
  4. Judy Blume of course!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – fantasy, adventure and fun

5 Books to read in adulthood

  1. Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for some Colombian heritage reading
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – because Offred’s insights and observations eerily resound
  3. Eckhart Tolle – at some point each of my children will need some tools to manage the hardships of life which I was unable to impart (or, gulp, deal with issues I may have unknowingly created…sweat beads…)
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – ooooh, this book. Especially my daughter. When (if) she’s a mother.
  5. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – a beautiful, provoking read about identity, forging it, finding it in a harsh world

Which books would your list include?

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#amreading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck

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The title. Obviously.

My first thought: the title is a gimmick to sell self-help in an inundated market. My second thought: yeah, I’ll buy it.

I’m at the point in my life where I really don’t give a f*ck what people think most of the time…so, I’m hoping this book will enlighten the way to feel like this all of the time.

I’m also hoping this book will be as honest and practical as its title suggests.

Looking forward to some great nuggets to use on this journey of growth and search for equanimity I seem to have unwittingly embarked upon.

Seems like a short straight-forward read…can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one.

Have you read it? Would you recommend it?

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Bookish Thursdays: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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from goodreads

Summary from deborahharkness.com:  When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer. For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume. Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

This book is long. As much as I would’ve loved to make it a marathon and just read into the wee hours of the night, my lifestyle (ha! what lifestyle? I’m on maternity leave)…anyway, it wasn’t possible.

So each time I opened the book, I allowed myself to just enjoy the writing and let Deborah Harkness spin her tale and wrap me in it. 

I loved the mix of historical fiction/fantasy. Harkness’ background as a scholar really comes through in her writing. It is thorough, and my guess would be in the historical fiction part of it, accurate – and if not, it felt accurate. Which in a work of fiction is probably more important.

Each character is flawlessly created and distinct. I really felt that I was shown the layers that make up each character – no matter how minor and I loved that! It is a rich, rich story that truly offers readers the chance to get lost in a story.

So, it wasn’t until I finished the novel and shook my head a little, that I realized that there were a few things that bothered me. I found Diana very immature. Her reluctance to accept her legacy was thoroughly annoying. I mean she has all this power – just learn how to use it already! And, why is it that an intelligent female character always has to be low-maintenance? Maybe it’s the Latina in me but women can take care of themselves, appreciate their own beauty and be intelligent. Don’t know why it bothered me so much…perhaps since the narrator always makes sure to tell us what she’s wearing and it’s usually not all that appealing…

I also thought Matthew was a little too controlling. And his pet name for Diana “ma lionne” was too much…sure she survived being tortured by a fellow witch, but other than that I wouldn’t call this character brave…at least not yet.

My annoyances with the characters were minor and didn’t really affect my overall opinion of the book. I liked A Discovery of Witches. I enjoyed the slightly different portrayal of vampires and witches. The writing and character development were superb. And, I loved the way Harkness weaved history and major historical events into the plot and the lives of the characters. It was fun to see the love story between Matthew and Diana develop thought at times it was a bit juvenile (I fell in love with you before you fell in love with me). The narrator treated the reader with maturity so it was easy to overlook instances like those. A Discovery of Witches was a little dense at times, but I think it worked.

I will definitely be reading book two of the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night.

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