What do you show up for?

In December our community was hit with an unusual blast of winter snow. Some report up to 11 inches fell in less than a day. This pretty much shuts this Southern town down. In the quiet of the early morning, when I knew that there was no need to get out of stretchy pants, comb my hair or shower, I sat by the fire and thought about a recent article I had read and its implications for the future of the world. Or at least, the future of Northern Virginia. Here’s what I wrote:

Calls poured into Arlington Country’s police department this week. The reason was unexpected. The local Cheesecake Factory was giving away 40,000 pieces of their signature cheesecake to celebrate their anniversary. The promotion clogged roads, a fistfight broke out, one person was hospitalized and another charged with disorderly conduct. All for a free slice of cheesecake.

It makes me wonder on this snowing Virginia morning, snuggling with my grand dog in front of a cozy fire - what do I show up for? What would be compelling enough to torpedo me out of this recliner and into the cold. What would be worth getting jammed up in traffic and willfully breaking out in “fisiticuffs” (a quote from the AP article), all in the pursuit of...what?

I love cheesecake; but don’t you think that most of the people who entered the fray could have afforded to pay for one piece of cheesecake without all the hassle? I wonder if the great cheesecake grab of December 2018 was more about winning than noshing. It would be easy to enter into the competition. The victory was assured. All participants had to do was show up.

What am I willing to show up for? What does it cost me? What am I willing to pay?

In Brene Brown’s newest book Dare to Lead she writes, “The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

Resolutions, the ones that I suspect really matter, need to be more about vulnerability and courage than they are about winning or losing. But most of my resolutions are about achieving; striving; beating; having; acquiring. If that’s the case, if I can extrapolate from Brown’s perspective, the trouble with my resolutions is about what I’ve chosen to be resolute about and why I have chosen that particular resolution.

Could that be a problem you struggle with too?

To be continued...

What happens after a relational offense?

In addition to following Brene Brown through her words and imitating her ways, I practice this thing I call reciprocity.  Reciprocity is nothing more than a phrase that reminds me of core principles that I hope to live by in the heat of my own freak out moments.  For example.  I get an email which explains to me how I hate Jesus and clearly know nothing about spiritual transformation.  I feel automatically defensive, irritated and worried - Is she right?  I mean, she could be. This is what happens to anyone who dares to put themselves out there in the world.  There will ALWAYS be folks who criticize.  And since Brene admits that she used to listen to her critics (even though it is a bad idea and she tries not to do so now), I can certainly follow suit:  it is hard for me not to doubt myself when others are telling me I should.  Vulnerability teaches me that I can acknowledge that I am tempted to give criticism from strangers sway in my sense of self-worth.  There.  I said it.


It isn’t enough for me anymore to know this about myself without developing some skills to change my response.  How about you?  Are you ready to change some aspects of yourself that do not serve you well?


Tomorrow we are going to talk about a skill I practice to help me weather criticism in a way that is constructive.

On Being Brave

Recently I received an email criticizing me for a particular course we were offering in our community.  This person evidently is on our mailing list.  It felt great.  Not the criticism, no, I do NOT like to be criticized but it turns out I have other feelings as well about criticism and THAT is what felt great.


In Brene’ Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness she opens up about her own fears and uncertainties.  In particular, when her research teaches her that she will “challenge long-held beliefs or ideas” (p.3), she confesses to self-doubt and fear.  Her plan of action, an antidote really, for this kind of personal freakout, is to “search for inspiration from the brave innovators and disrupters whose courage feels contagious.  I read and watch everything by them or about them that I can get my hands on...I do this so that when I need them, when I’m living in my fera, they come to sit with me and cheer me on.” (p.3)  For me, Brene is one of MY go-to peeps for times like these.


So it was GREAT when I received the email while I was studying Braving.  Brene has all sorts of amazing vocab and stories to help us figure out how to be brave especially in the midst of criticism.  Read her book.  It is so good!  What I love the most about her work is that she teaches me that brave does NOT equal fearlessness.  It doesn’t have to mean we are instantly calm and kind and cool in the face of criticism. 


Brave as illustrated by Brown means that we keep plugging away; we learn stuff; we develop strategies that allow us to practice bravery even when we feel like a chicken.  She harps, quite eloquently, on this thing called vulnerability and it is working for her.  So I will continue to follow her lead.


Along the way, I have a couple phrases of my own that I have incorporated, and tomorrow we will talk about one of them.  In the meantime, let me ask you:  how do you feel when a stranger criticizes you, your work, and/or your character?

PS.  Here’s hoping you totally cannot relate to criticism from strangers!!