Saturday, October 31, 2015

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

 I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing for the last time in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here. 

My deep appreciation to Kate Motaung for sponsoring this 31 Day Writing experience. I was intrigued by the prospect and feel satisfied that I did what I set out to do. Thanks to my fellow writers who consistently popped over to read and for those of you who commented, I am so grateful.




Friday, October 30, 2015

Class With Brené Brown (Bacon)

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here. 


    Two years ago, on my 60 birthday, I registered for Oprah's online class by Brené Brown (Bacon, just added that to go with the Five Minute Friday prompt).  The class superseded my expectations. I learned so much that has stayed with me since then. My class avatar caught the attention of the producer. Peeking through the peppers was a drawing of a real photo. I was playing with my grandchildren when my daughter-in-law captured the shot. The producer Mashawn thought I seemed like a fun person.




   Catching the eye of the producer led to being on a live Q&A with Brené. She is fantastic on the live feeds. She makes you feel at ease and asks really great questions. Oh, wait, I was asking the question. Yeah, I wanted to know how to get over the feeling that making art was self obsessed and lazy. She, of course, once felt that arts and crafts were not important enough for her time. Upon evaluating her research she was chagrined to see that wholehearted people seemed to be really creative people. It allowed them to integrate their difficult emotions and stories. 


   So, she started using art journaling in her personal life. Art journaling became the central theme of her online class. Her encouragement to press forward  and make my stuff was privotal in my permission to pursue art.

" If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild and engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing-it doesn't matter. As long as we're creating, we're cultivating meaning."

She is doing a "Living Brave" online class starting January 11th. You might think about taking it with me. I'll be there.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Key Learnings For Me

I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here. 


  Wow, only two more days after this. I am so happy that I picked reviewing Rising Strong as my 31 Day writing challenge. Writing ahead was one strategy I used in the first week of October but as I worked throughout the middle of October I found myself writing completely new posts. The concepts I embraced at the beginning of the month morphed into new and deeper understanding. Sometimes I would ask The Spirit if what I was seeing was right in the eternal perspective. Jumping on the band wagon with a self-help book author is not normal fair in my life. These books have been read and re-read for the last three years. Tomorrow I will describe how I found Brené Brown and one special experience with her.


    
" Our vision is that we can rise from our experiences of hurt and struggle in a way that allows us to live more wholehearted lives."


The most impacting sections in this book for me were:

  • coming to understand the emotional barriers I throw in front of myself to avoid pain
  • writing "stormy first drafts" of stories I was curious about
  • looking for truth and confabulations in the stories I recorded
  • letting the key learnings settle on the delta between truth and errors in judgement
  • rumbling with facts and fiction that haven't resolved
  • hoping that I can have better endings to some broken-hearted stories
  By now my family is tuned into words that sound like quotes from her book. They grimace when I analyze a situation using Brené vocabulary. But, they agree that she has offered us some understanding how to navigate through muddy water. Her writing does not replace the eternal truths I know from being a disciple of Christ, they provide understanding of how to fully open my heart his teachings.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You Got To Dance With Them That Brung You


I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

   "Nostalgia sounds relatively harmless, even like something to indulge in with a modicum of comfort, until we examine the two Greek root words that form nostalgia: nostos, meaning 'returning home', and algos, meaning 'pain'.

   Family stories are important to me. My family came to America when I was two years old and we have tales of courage and strength which define us. While we have recorded and honored those stories, the trauma associated with those stories have been pushed to the side. I wanted to make a genogram of my nuclear family to illustrate the emotional patterns that I see. A theme emerged, loud and clear. Life was uncertain and to deal with uncertainty you need to feel less and act more.  My father had a list of thou shalts to offset uncertainty. 

  • always have money in the bank
  • don't go into debt
  • own your own land
  • get a higher education
My mother's list was more domestic but equally strong.

  • keep a clean house
  • beautify your space
  • learn some skills
  • trust in God
  • take a walk everyday outside
  • don't talk too much
   This lists look logical and very wise. I agree with them all but there was an element of controlling and bullying from my parents to accomplishing these "thou shalts". When Brené Brown says "You got to dance with them that brung you" I get it. My family of origin left the good and the bad. Life does not deal only good cards and we must play with the cards we are dealt. 



" Sometimes, the deep love we feel for our parents or the sense of loyalty to our family often create a mythology that gets in the way of our efforts to look past nostalgia and toward truth."

     We didn't talk about emotions in our family. We did,  however, react loudly and openly when our emotions were triggered. Forthrightness was more important that tact. This forthrightness looked like truth, smelled like truth but it was just a smoke screen for hiding vulnerability. Living through war left deep scars and when those scars never healed, a tough layer of bravado hid the pain. My father also struggled with Bi-Polar Mental Disorder. He provided for our family with herculean effort but I did not feel secure in the changeable moods that settled on our home. My mother became an 'over functioner'. She became rigid in her routines and controlling in her responses. I pushed against both of them to become my own person. In a family where emotions were taboo you can't really admit your might have felt trauma. Trauma is a word that is laden with comparison. I can't call my experience traumatic if yours is more serious and life threatening. Balderdash! Trauma means a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. For this reason owning our stories is vital to our ability to become whole-hearted. As we rumble with the trauma the delta emerges between confabulations and truth. 

"Of all the things trauma takes away from us, the worst is our willingness, or even our ability, to be vulnerable. There is a reclaiming that has to happen."

I am going through the reclaiming. It means seeing the past as uncomfortable. The hopeful outcome is to feel more and love more. I am deeply grateful to parents who loved me and wanted a better life for me. Their sacrifices are not left unspoken. By seeing them more truthfully I feel even more connected. 

"In the rising strong process, looking back is done in the service of moving forward with an integrated and whole heart." 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Discussion of Service

I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

   Sunday I had a last minute call to step in and teach a class of women in church. The regular teacher was in the hospital, sitting beside her sister who was experiencing extreme unknown pain. Reflecting on the ministry of this sister, I felt impressed to do a group rumble about need. I was leaving the regular scheduled lesson material and I risked failure but pressed forward. I warmed up our learning juices by having the ladies all give me companion words to the word "service". Then I asked who would rather be a helper than be someone who needs help. The vote was unanimous. Everyone preferred being a helper. What makes helping someone rewarding? The answers included feeling good, making a difference, and one I really thought made sense. Helping only takes a short while. Being in need can seem to last forever.


      Who came to church today in need? Only two hands went up. I asked them to reflect again. If we don't feel the need to worship and need to ask for our Savior's assistance, why come through the chapel doors?
   Some more questions:

  • What is the danger of tying your self-worth to being a helper?
  • What is the shame in asking for help?
  • How can we be truly comfortable and generous in the face of someone's need when we are repelled by our own?
  • How does learning to accept help bring more self-reliance?
We read Mark 14:3-6 together.
   What service did this woman perform?
   Why did one murmur when the woman administered the spikenard oil to anoint Jesus?
   What did Jesus need?
 
Following we read Matthew 26:36-46.
    How does sitting by someone in need help them?
    Why did Jesus need his disciples to watch with him?
    What was Jesus needing?
    Did he wish the cup to pass from him?
    Was he talking only about Peter's flesh being weak or did he also mean his own?
 
  "Curiosity, clean communication, circling back, and rumbling became part of our culture."

   Brené is talking about her work group here but I wonder if we rumbled more at church if we could own more of our stories. I was risking bringing secular ideas into the meeting but I felt they had a spiritual focus. 

" My rumbles with shame, judgement, privilege, connection, need, fear, and self-worth taught me that it wasn't the pain or the hurt that made me look away. It was my own need."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shame and Failure

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

  "When perfection is driving, shame is always riding shotgun-And fear is the annoying back seat driver."

      The difference between shame and guilt is important. Guilt focuses on behavior. What I did was wrong. Shame zings who we are. I am a failure. Understanding the difference has made me look carefully at my own reactions and my interactions with students and my family. Shaming is often used as a motivational tool; in families, schools, and even churches. In the times I have resorted to shaming it comes from a place of personal weakness. When I am tired, annoyed by something out of context, or feeling small myself I am at risk of using shame to lash out. It pains me to admit it, but yet it is true.
    Spencer sat next to me on the piano bench. He struggled with the same measures that he struggled with last week, and the week before that, and even the week before that. For two months I could tell that he practiced not at all. I cautioned, I warned, I encouraged but that fateful Thursday afternoon I lost my cool.
   "So, do you feel good wasting your parent's money playing the same mistakes for me week after week?"
   I'm cringing just typing this conversation. 
   He met my eyes. 
   "You are the piano teacher from hell!", he said quietly but firmly.
   That evening his mother called asking what happened at the lesson. I felt bad. She felt bad that he had been rude. At the time I didn't really understand shame. Now I know I should have refrained from zinging him with my own frustration. I attacked his character not his behavior. The story ends well. He didn't quit piano. As I began rumbling with shaming others this story came back to me.. 


       I have developed a bit of radar for shame. I sometimes see it coming. It comes when perfectionism takes charge. I know I feel shamed when my thoughts go to how I'm perceived. On the other hand, I know I shamed someone when I feel like cutting them down a notch because of my own lack of self-worth. Rumbling with my shame stories helps to break down the feelings from the actual events. It is another way to compost failure. I hope I communicated this well but, I won't feel ashamed if you don't really get it. Ha! Ha!

"Perfectionism is not healthy striving. It is not asking, How can I be my best self? Instead it is asking, What will people think."

 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is Failure Recycleable?

    I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

" Regret is a tough but fair teacher. To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life."


  Yesterday was my birthday. The sun came out after hours of clouds. The pumpkin patch was gloriously decked out in orange and green. My sons and daughter, with grandchildren, showed up at the farm to mill around with hundreds of other people enjoying the hallowed, harvest fun. I felt success. Success is easy to compost. You think back at the plan making, the fighting of traffic through the city on the way to the country, the joy at recognizing your loved ones once you arrive, and the regret at having to depart. All those memories integrate easily in the compost of life. 







  But, failure is a plastic in the mix. Failure keeps rising up in the heap and refuses to integrate. It takes a zillion years to break apart and become just part of the bin of life. The memories are like gravel in your shoes. Walking over the story hurts again and again. Why are these sensory memories so much more compelling than the memories of success? 
    Chapter Nine, "Composting Failure" is a really good read. I'll spend another few posts there but leave you today with two of Brené's strategies of handling failure.

" Talk to yourself in the same way we'd talk to someone we love.
    Yes, you made a mistake. You're human.
      You don't have to do it like anyone else.
     Fixing it and making amends will help. Self-loathing will not.

Reach out to someone we trust
   A person who has earned the right to hear our story and who has the
   capacity to respond with empathy."

    Writing 31 days about one subject has made October go more slowly. That's crazy, isn't it. But, it has. Everyday I read, think, and write about this important book and the clarity it offers me. Sometimes the posts seem heavy and filled with unresolved issues but there is a sense of hope that my life can rise more strongly out of adversity and into the light.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Key Learnings About Being a Helper and Being Helped

 I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

" Offering help is courageous and compassionate, but so is asking for help"


     Amidst the rumble of what is confabulation (A gap in memory replaced by a untruth) and what is truth I have a few new thoughts about my own relationship to being a helper and receiving help. I certainly am uncomfortable with being perceived as a person in need. I would rather be independent of needing help but, I also don't see myself as an adequate helper. Rising up on the delta are some truths. 
  • Being helped is vulnerable
  • I wish I could fix everything like Mary Poppins but, I can't, so I must be grateful to do what I can
  • In truth I do help often and being a helper is not a competition. There will always be people who have the gift of charity in more abundance. 



" It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving."
                           Mother Theresa


    Speaking of Mother Theresa, many were shocked when her writings were disclosed. There was great spiritual need within her. She sought prayers and support often. And what of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. How fervently he sought for relief. I think Brené is correct. If we look away in the face of great need perhaps we actually judge the deep need within ourselves. 


"Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself -- for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead," she wrote in 1953. "It has been like this more or less from the time I started 'the work."
Mother Theresa

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Joy Of Needing Help

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

    Is there joy in needing help? If you jump up quickly to help others but abhor the idea of someone helping you, could you actually be judging those that need?




   Years ago, married with four children, we faced the untimely demise of our business. It was devastating. Having lost all the invested money from people who trusted us, we faced no income and no job in the foreseeable future. I watched as my strong husband mourned his failure and I was scared and depressed. As my happiness melted away, my body showed signs of shutdown. I ran a low grade fever with no signs of infection. Each day seemed unbelievably slow and full of effort. My heart was breaking. One day a church acquaintance came to visit. The visit was unannounced. I was in a leadership position and she was a woman I served. My husband brought her into my bedroom where I rested. Untidy home, children everywhere, how could he bring her through my house?
  We conversed for some time and I felt small and undone. Then she said something I'll never forget.
 "This is weird because I can't align the woman running the meeting last week with the person I see today. You are just like me, broken and a mess."
  At that point she offered to massage my feet and I was too tired to object. A recognition gave over me. The Lord was propping me up even as I was falling apart. Here was a sister who wanted to admire me, who had seen a person buoyed up by the spirit and now recognized my weakness, but served with love as He would if He were here. I was as vulnerable as I could be, yet, there was a wholeness to this experience.
   In rumbling with need I have looked at the experience with my daughter which I posted yesterday and this one today and I see the common denominator, discomfort. What key learnings can I glean from these two stories?




   

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rumbling With Need


   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  


   To be a helper is highly valued in my family and community. If you are a good helper then you are also industrious and by definition functioning well. My family survived worn-torn Germany by functioning well under stress.  Get up! Keep moving! Don't ask for help! Be the helper! I came along five years after the war. My mother was 43 and utterly shocked to have another pregnancy. They wanted to emigrate to America. After three boys, who were now teenagers, I was a sign of hope and renewal. I lived in a family of adults who were all helpers and functioning well, on the surface. 


"Over functioning: I won't feel. I will do. I don't need help. I help.
   Under functioning: I won't function. I will fall apart. I don't help. I need help."

       My daughter was having her second child. She lived an hour away. Her husband was in army boot camp and would not be attending the birth. She had decided to move closer to her family and his to have the help she needed. Two teenage stepsons were living with her which added both help and stress to her life. I gave her assurances that I would be there to see her through it.

   Knowing I struggle with sleeping in other places and other issues of security, I asked my husband to come stay some days with us. He got time off from work and I took time off from teaching to welcome a new grandson. I still remember putting on the scrubs when it was time to go into the C-Section. He was a beautiful baby boy and the birth went well.  The weather was gorgeous in September and everyday I drove from my daughter's home to the hospital to visit and bring supplies. She was amazingly strong and determined to get back on her feet. I always marveled at her strength and resilience. My husband stayed home with the youngest and made sure the boys got to school and home again.

   My reckoning came a few days after my daughter came home from the hospital. The house was full of people, my daughter was stressed and in an angry state. We tried to do things away from home to get out of her way so she could rest. Nothing I did seemed to please her. The pressure exploded and an unpleasant scene erupted. My husband and I went for a walk and I confided that I felt I needed to go home for a day to get my bearings. He was heading back to work that day and with heart heavy with foreboding I said I was coming, too.

  Greeting us outside, before we got back into the door, my daughter unloaded her frustration and I angrily told her I was leaving if we could not be kinder to each other. She told us if we left we would not be allowed to come back. We left. I cried all the way home. I left my recovering daughter with two small children and teenage sons. I abandoned her. I deserted her when she needed help most. Shame flooded my heart and I struggled to justify my decision. I was an under-functioner. I quit. I fell apart. I don't help, I need help.

     By evening I was running a fever and for the next five days I had a terrible flu. In those days during my illness my daughter and I did not talk. When I finally received permission to visit again things were stiff and unsettling. I tried to tell her that my going home was a blessing. I had kept her from getting the flu. This was a reckoning. I started thinking about the story I was telling myself and became curious about what was real and what was a confabulation. Did I under-function when things got hard? Was I really lousy at helping others? Was my daughter over functioning? Things would never be the same again between us.

   "Looking at these two responses through the lens of vulnerability both ways are forms of armor. And, both are learned behaviors to deal with uncertainty."

More about rumbling with need tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creativity, A Pathway To Integration

    I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

   I did not understand the importance of art journaling through my online class, "The Gifts Of Imperfection". I liked buying a little empty journal book and my first set of gouache paints but I didn't get it. Brené didn't get it either, at first, but surrounded herself with artist and writer friends who helped her see how to use creativity to integrate her emotions. Her research indicated that "The Wholehearted" people had creative outlets, all of them. So, how does writing down your story, painting a representation, or making up a song integrate the most beautiful and the most difficult parts of your life?
  Recently, I listened to a podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert, who was interviewing a young woman song writer. She was grieving the loss of her sister to cancer. She told about her fear of writing music again because the loss was so fresh and making music brought up images that were very disturbing. Elizabeth suggested she let the music guide her to what was bubbling up into her heart. Later, in another call, Elizabeth asked how her creative juices were doing. A joyful song had emerged, quite to her surprise. The music had bridged the gap from pain to joy. 

   

"It is about integrating our memories, emotions, bodily sensations, and behaviors so that we can have mental health. It frees up our ultra rigid thinking and behavior and allows it to be less chaotic."

     The above quote is from my therapist friend, Sharie. She helped me bounce around these ideas so that they stick to my inners. Speaking of Sharie, for a decade she has requested that I try a creativity tool called "Interplay". This activity combines improvisational play with movement. She confirms that it has opened up her spiritual, emotional and physical life. 
Whatever outlet we have serves to bring us more in tune with the stories in our heads. I have faith that through my spiritual leaning on Jesus Christ and his atoning power I will be able to come to him with a whole heart. Coming to him is not secondary, it is primary. Other tools offer insight and awareness which opens my heart to him, faster.

"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."
Jeremiah 24:7

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rumbling With Creativity


 I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.  

   
I wish I were as creative as Suzy Make-a-Lot. I am so amateurish in art and music.

"Like our lovability and divinity, we must care for and nurture the stories we tell ourselves about our creativity and ability."

My reckoning over creativity came when I first posted a journal picture in the online class "Gifts Of Imperfection" that Brené taught on Oprah's OWN Network. Among all the pictures she posted during a streaming video I caught a glimpse of mine. I simple picture of a flying bird and another bird on a branch. My words were "Hope gives flight to power." I could no longer deny that doing art was satisfying. 


The rumble with my creativity has been going on for two years. What started as art journaling moved to doing Mixed Media. It was there that I created a piece which made a huge impact. The words, "I am worthy of love and belonging" resonated to every fiber of my being. I believed that I was a child of God but I did not always believe I was worthy of love and that I was worthy of belonging to my Heavenly Father's family. Words and images created by my own hands opened a portal of understanding. 


  On the delta between the story of "who do you think you are calling yourself an artist, and the reality that I now owned watercolor, paints, gel mediums, brushes, stencils, I found some key learnings.
  • I am much happier when I do some art everyday.
  • Creativity is a God given gift.
  • Writing, painting, knitting, playing music can bring peace into my life.
  • I am an artist
So I have had a revolution. I can say, in this one thing, I see the process from coming to a reckoning point where there was no going back, rumbling with the vulnerability of doing something that I seemed inadequate at, and revolving to a new way of doing life. Feeling like I reached out to a little piece of wholeheartedness makes me go on with other issues. 

"Creating is the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us."

Tomorrow I want to write about how creativity helps us integrate. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Are We Doing The Best We Can?



    I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     

   I live on a rural island. That means there are critters everywhere around me. Some visit inside my house and I will admit it, I freak out when they do. I hate mice but I really abhor rats. If there is evidence that we have a rat problem any peace my life may have is shattered until we er-rat-icate them. (Pardon the pun)
    So, back to scofflaws and sewer rats. The question I left you with yesterday was the question Diana, Brené's therapist, asked her after rumbling with a sewer rat problem. (Read yesterday's post to catch up on defintions) 

                    What if they are doing the best they can?




 "I don't know, I really don't. All I know is that my life is better when I assume people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and let's me focus on what is, and not what should or could be." 

My husband and I debated this idea while driving together Saturday. If someone who has offended us is doing the best they can, given the truth they live, what changes our response from self-righteous indignation to a more compassionate outcome? 

Staying out of resentment by living with boundaries that reflect our integrity.

I teach piano and have for almost thirty years. In those years I have taught a few hundred students and had relationships with a few hundred parents. There have been a small amount of Scofflaws who just couldn't abide by my studio policies. It has taken me a long time to realize that whenever I feel resentment about a difficult request to change my schedule, a late payment, or make-up lesson, I have not made my boundaries clear. Rather than speaking with clarity I have waffled and inwardly stewed. The inward stew became pungent and rich with a bouquet of self-righteousness which eventual settled on the feeling of not-good enough. I don't always do the best I can. How can I assume others are?

"Most of us buy into the myth that it's a long fall from "I'm better than you" to "I'm not good enough"- but the truth is that these are two sides of the same coin. Both are attacks on our worthiness. We don't compare when we are feeling good about ourselves; we look for what is good in others. When we practice self-compassion, we are compassionate towards others. Self- righteousness is just the armor of self-loathing."

Whew! That was a long quote from Brené's book but so worth typing. The self-compassionate road is so much easier on ourselves. Why do we travel the resentment road at all? That was the question my husband asked, in the car, after I made him listen to the chapter on Scofflaws and Sewer rats. I really don't know. But I'm rumbling with that.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What Are Scofflaws and Sewer Rats?

  I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     


   "Chapter six in Rising Strong is a chapter you should definitely read for yourself. I can't do it justice to try to summarize the concepts. Let's just say that Brené had me laughing, agreeing, judging her behavior as mean spirited, feeling remorse for judging her behavior as mean spirited, and judging my own behavior as equally mean-spirited. In other words, she took me for quite a ride.
   First, to define some terms. The definition of sewer rat comes from the movie "Flushed Away".  A sewer rat is someone who goes against all the common rules of decency. They disgust us and cause self-righteousness to rise up in our very souls. A scofflaw is a person who scoffs at the rules and laws of society and mocks others who do abide by them. They make life difficult by not conforming to what we think is right. They can be annoying at best and down right challenging to our self-esteem.
 
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   I think we must all have encountered these nasty creatures. When we rumble with a story that has a scofflaw or sewer rat we run into a fork in the road. The road to the right is a pathway of self-justification. We horriblize them and objectify them to maintain our position as hero in the story. They run rough shod in our thoughts. We find others who agree with us to maintain our superiority over them. 

"Self-righteouness starts with the belief that I'm better than other people and it always ends with me being my very worst and thinking, I'm not enough."

Ah, Brené, I have walked that path with you. And then, you introduce the other road. The pathway to the left. Tomorrow I write about the haunting question in chapter six. 


Could scofflaws and sewer rats be doing the best they can?


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rumbling With Boundaries

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     

"Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."

Just a reminder that a rumble happens inside when we consider, analyze, fight for, fight against, and come to grips with what we truly believe. I will have to say that I am in the middle of the rumble with boundaries. I have made some headway in realizing that the people pleasing must go. People pleasers have few boundaries and if they do have some they tend to move them to accommodate the person they want to please. People pleasers find themselves in situations that are uncomfortable and perhaps in direct conflict with their integrity. Resentment is a frequent bed-fellow. 




"What boundaries need to be in place so that you can stay in your integrity and make generous assumptions about this person's motivation, intention, or behavior?"

    The quote above astounds me. It answers some questions I asked about the ability of Jesus to love and be loved. How was he able to love so openly? In the last few days I have searched for the boundaries that Jesus set which allowed him to stay in his integrity. 

  • He ate healthy foods, got sleep when he needed it, and did a lot of walking (Matt.4:6-7, 26:18,20; John 12:2
  • He sought out the company of good friends (Matt.26:36-38)
  • He withdrew from crowds to have solitude 
  • He seemed to never be in a hurry
  • He didn't give in to his mother and brothers who tried to use their relationship with him to pull him away from the crowd he was ministering to (matt. 12:46-50)
  • He said no to Herod's mocking demand of "Show us a sign that thou art a son of God."
  • He said no to Peter and the disciples who had an inappropriate agenda for Jesus to be a political leader or a military leader instead of a sacrificial lamb.
  • He didn't heal those who were too proud to trust him
I could go on but suffice it to say he had boundaries. As I look at my relationship to my Heavenly Father, to my family, and to the world around me, I want to set appropriate bounds. I would like to please my Heavenly more and stay in integrity with him, first. 
I would like to worry less about pleasing my family and more about loving them. I would like to interact with others, not because I should, but because I want to. The rumble will continue as I consider the question above which Brené asks.

DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!     

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Delta Is Green

 I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     
 

  When we rumble (analyze, consider, agonize) over a story a division occurs. The story- telling reveals the parts we have made up to protect ourselves and the truth which has become obscured with the shoulds and can'ts. In between a delta rises which holds the "key learnings". 


"Deltas are where rivers meet the sea. They are marshy, full of sediment, and forever changing. They are rich and fertile area of growth. This is where we need to do our work- our key learnings emerge from the delta."



   In the story of my grandson Alex the confabulations that came gushing out of his heart were:

  • He was not good enough at playing the piano
  • I was giving him easier music because I also did not think he was good enough 
  The truths he did not want to deal with were

  • Practicing is frustrating sometimes  
  • There is always someone better than you are and comparing robs you of joy
  In the green, fertile delta, some wisdom emerged for him. Music is satisfying and makes him happy. I loved him and wanted to have this musical relationship with him. More on the delta coming up.



DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!     

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Integrate Our Stories

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     


"Integration is the soul of rising strong"

This statement has made me ponder the most as I have read Rising Strong. What is it exactly that I am integrating and how do I do it? For me it means taking time to acknowledge emotional stories where I feel like I am the hero but also taking time to process the stories where I am the antagonist. I have some deficiencies in being all I want to be and in being genuine in the picture I want to others to see. As I stated in another post, I am a people pleaser. People pleasers don't have good boundaries. 







   I am German and I find it amusing to play with the English and German language. " Ich will" means I want to but "I will" has a much stronger commitment. My family teases by asking, "Do you want to or will you actually do it?" 
   I have hurt relationships because I was all in, only to find I could not do what was expected in the end. These issues, difficult to admit, need to be woven in like the yarn hanging off my knitting. There are loose ends and broken threads that only my savior can fix. Trying to mend them with willpower will not work. I know that. I look to him and desire to walk a little farther into the darkness of the unknown outcome.

"We can't be "all in" if only parts show up. If we are not living, loving, parenting, or leading with our whole, integrated hearts, we'e doing it halfheartedly."
DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In You Must Go

   I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     

" Rather than running from our Stormy First Drafts, we dig into them knowing they unlock the fears and doubts that get in the way of our wholeheartedness."

    Alex shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had me in front of him and his mother at his side.
    "Tell Grandma what you are feeling about piano lessons."
    " I don't want to play piano."
    " Can you tell me why?"
    " I don't like the song I'm playing."
    "Would you like different music?"
    "No", said Alex, "I want to quit piano lesson."
     I launched into a litany of examples of how my students handle their practice when things get hard and how adults have unanimously told me they wished their mothers had made them continue.
     Alex refused to meet my eyes. His mother nudged him and encouraged him to go on.
    

   "I still want to quit piano."
    He shifted again, looking down at the floor.
    "You make me feel like I am no good at piano."
    "What?" I looked strongly into these brown eyes that I love.
    "You gave me an easier book to play from. I hate those songs. You don't think I am good enough."
    Somehow, after more discussion  we talked Alex into trying again. I pulled out some Halloween songs to win him over. He was fully engaged in the learning process when a smile spread over his face. He couldn't help show the delight he felt from the bouncy, minor staccato chords. I stopped him.
    "What are you feeling right now?"
    He looked into my eyes. The trust was back. The heart was softening.
     "I feel happy."
     "Will you please remember this feeling? I will remember it, too. When the frustration comes back, let's pull this memory out of your back pocket. It is a true feeling. The others were true, as well, but, this one needs to stay stronger."
    What lessons do we learn from going into the dark cave of our emotions? Tomorrow I want to start tackling the process of integration.