Sunday, October 22, 2017

Strong Back, Soft Front

"If we are going to make true belonging a daily practice in our lives, we're going to need a strong back and a soft front. We'll need courage and vulnerability as we abandon the certainty and safety of out ideological bunkers and head off into the wilderness."


In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.




It seems easy to accept that a strong back is invaluable in the wilderness. A strong back makes carrying a load of struggle easier. A strong back allows criticism to roll off. My strong back is compromised when I try to prove my worth or when I need to be validated by someone else. Today, on a sabbath, I will go to church to receive a blessing. My prayer today is to allow my Savior to strenghten my back by recognizing that I am yoked to Him and he has infinitely more resources than I ever will. As we trudge forward together I can rely on his strong back and allow the softening of my front. More on a soft front, tomorrow.




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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Foreboding Joy

"We try to beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining the worst or by feeling nothing in hopes that "the other shoe" won't drop."

In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.


The concept of foreboding joy was first introduced to me in The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Yes, another great book by the author I'm currently reviewing. 
She described how we dampen down joy to prepare for the worst to come next.


Just last night I was rehearsing tragedy at the same time I was excited to get my car back from the repair shop. What if he couldn't really fix that loud tapping sound from the engine? What if he has to work for more than five hours and we can't get it back today? What if he finds more problems than expected? These worries, possible.but not real, take the potency away from the joy of having wheels back after two weeks.

   Brené gives an antidote to foreboding joy. It is gratitude practice. Every time I remember this I am struck by a momentary confusion. How does gratitude change things? Then I remember that gratitude is a mindset in "now". Thinking about what we are grateful for sets us on course to see the good in our lives at the present moment. Even if you are grateful for what happened in the past, the feeling of gratefulness is in your body today. It works. 
     

"Both joy and pain are vulnerable experiences to feel on our own and even more with strangers"
    
     So, let's hold hands when we go into the wilderness, and perhaps go in twos, even if it is just you and your own sense of belonging.


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Friday, October 20, 2017

Can You Discover Connection On Social Media?

"Social media are helpful in cultivating connection only to the extent that they are used to create real community where there is structure, purpose, and meaning, and some face to face contact."

In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

Social media has blessed my life. I use it to reconnect with family, friends, and to visit with a community of artists spread around the country. Last year I contacted an Instagram friend and asked her if I could meet her at her art show an hour away. She was gracious and kind and everything her posts displayed. One to one, an in person meeting was really encouraging to my own work as an artist.




Ironically, social media can also disconnect. Many times after looking at Facebook and Instagram I feel frustrated. If my own confidence is weak, seeing others succeed can pull me down. Or, reading the rants and frustrations of others can make me feel anxious when there is nothing amiss around me at the present time.

As Brené states at the end of chapter 5, "The point I want to make is that the joy didn't come from reconnecting on Facebook. It came and still comes from our long walks, family Ping-Pong and four square tournaments, and watching movies together. Facebook was the catalyst. Face to face was the connection."








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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Creating False Intimacy

"When we come together to share authentic hope joy, hope, and pain, we melt the pervasive cynicism that often cloaks our better human nature. When we come together under the false flag of common enemy intimacy, we amplify cynicism and diminish our collective worth." 



In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.


What is common enemy intimacy? First of all, the picture below is my friend stting with me and sharing joy and hope. I use our picture to remind me that I have relationships where talking about others is not the norm. My friend is not a gossip. 

There are times when I have come together with others to rail on a common protagonist. Ar first it feels juicy and affirming but it leaves me feeling like a betrayer. Since we have trashed someone together would she do the same to me with someone else? Would I do the same to her? 





If building belonging is a goal then creating false intimacy is not going to get me there. If talking about others in a negative degrading way is on the table, then maybe feeling "out of place" is a better feeling, even if it means being a kill-joy.



"Common enemy intimacy is counterfeit connection and the opposite of true-belonging. " 









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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Sensation Of Sacredness

"Collective effervescence is an experience of connection, communal emotion, and a "sensation of sacredness" that happens when we are part of something bigger than us."



In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.


Walking in the wilderness becomes so much more satisfying when we have experiences with strangers in collective joy and even collective sorrow.

              

Yesterday we celebrated two years since our little island started a Music Mends Minds band and sing-a-long at the Community Care Home. We gathered in a our concert hall and invited the whole town to join in. I played the piano and this was the first time back after knee surgery. When we all sang together I remembered the collective joy of singing silly lyrics and heartbreaking ballads. The singing connected old to young and rich and poor. There was no sorting there. You didn't have to be healthy, talented, or even in your right mind to enjoy singing songs from the 40's, 50's, 60's an so on.

"But the more we're willing to seek out moments of collective joy and show up for experiences of collective pain- for real, in person, not online,- the more difficult it becomes to deny our human connection, even with people we may disagree with."






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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hold Hands With Strangers

"The key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection."


In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

Do you like being in a crowd of strangers? What if you are sharing an event that brings people together? What about a concert, wedding, or even a funeral. Do the strangers there have a temporary connection with you? 

Some time ago I attended a funeral for a young father who was killed in a car accident wih his infant daughter. I was his teacher as a teenager. It broke my heart. I don't do well at funerals but I went with a prayer that I would find a good reason for my being there. Strangers from his new life, friends and family from the wife, left tragically behind, we all greeted each other, clinging to each others hands to both give and receive comfort. I learned that a group can hold grief, that they can hold it for the family so that it is bearable for a time. It was an important lesson for me.



"When our belief that there's something greater than us, something rooted in love and compassion breaks then we are more likely to retreat to our bunkers, to hate from afar, to tolerate, to bullshit, to dehumanize others, and ironically, to stay out of the wilderness."

The wilderness is filled with unease, but we must go, and it is better  with others.





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Monday, October 16, 2017

Staying Connected

"Our connection, the spirit that flows between us and every other human being in the world, is not something that can be broken, however, our belief in the connection is constantly tested and repeatedly severed."


In these 31 Days of October I am unpacking my learning from the book, Braving The Wilderness, by Brené Brown. She has been a favorite author for years. In this new publication she manages to build a sidewalk and curb in the wilderness where we can bravely tread.

Halfway through the month of writing it would be good to do a recap of what I've learned. My goal in writing about this book has been to nurture the quest for true belonging. We all want to belong but in the words of Maya Angelou,


You are only free when you realize you belong no place---
you belong every place-----------no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.



When we find we stand alone in the wilderness of interpersonal and societal conflict there are tools to navigate the wild. Most of it entails being true to your values and commitments. We aren't always our best selves in conflict but moving closer to people instead of turning away can show us underlying intentions and help us understand each other. Being civil in social media and respecting others beliefs will provide better information. 
These are the practices I am summarized and commented on so far:
  • People are Hard To Hate Up Close. Move In.
  • Speak Truth To BS. Be Civil
Still to come are:
  • Hold Hands, With Stranger
  • Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart

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