I'm about to refer to an author in this blog that is not Elizabeth Gilbert.
I'll give you a moment to catch your breath.
But much like Eat, Pray, Love and Elizabeth Gilbert, I'm the last on the bandwagon for this one too. I'm starting to think that maybe I'm the last to know because I don't watch Oprah. Damn her.
The funny thing is though, that if you read my last post about my new tattoo and the word, "Enough" I think I'm going to go ahead and call myself cool because I got on the "Enough" bandwagon before I even knew I was supposed to. I went so far as to have it tattooed on my body.
You know, before Brene' Brown told me to.
Many of you are familiar with Brene' Brown and her work on vulnerability and her book, Daring Greatly. You are probably even more familiar with her TedX talk which is one of the most viewed Ted's of all time. This is what launched Brene' and made her famous. Yes even before Oprah got her hands on her.
I'm only halfway through Daring Greatly, and much like that other book I love oh-so-much there are so many highlights in this book that well, I probably should have just reverse-highlighted and lit up the parts I didn't want to refer back to.
I'm having a hard time choosing the part I want to share here. If you don't know who Brene' Brown is, you should know that she is a research professor who has dedicated her entire career, and for that matter, life to the study of vulnerability, shame, and living wholeheartedly. Watch the TedX talk. It's worth your 12 minutes.
OK I love this passage, which is kind of weird because it's in Daring Greatly but it's not Brene'. Brene' is quoting Lynne Twist in her book The Soul of Money, where she refers to scarcity as "the great lie."
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is "I didn't get enough sleep." The next one is, "I don't have enough time." Whether true or not, the thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don't have enough of... before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack....this internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives and the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life...."
Like going to a therapist, it's nice to have a professional tell you that you're not crazy. I got this same feeling when I read this passage and while reading the majority of this book. I'm actually EXHAUSTED from "the great lie." I'm exhausted and broken from feeling that I am not enough. And newsflash, getting the word tattooed on your wrist isn't going to cut the mustard. This is where shit gets real folks.
Let me tell you what I've learned in life that is NOT enough. It's not enough to say "I want to change." It's NOT enough to say, "OK I'm willing to look at my problems." It's NOT enough to say, "I want to change." It's NOT enough to say "I'm going to hold up the mirror at look at myself." Some days, it's not even enough to be looking in the mirror. No, you have to dig deeper, break beneath the surface and go underground. Go to those parts of ourselves that we hide and don't talk about.
We've got to be willing to do the work.
And they call it "work" for a reason. It's not fun. It's not easy, it's not pretty, and it's not clean. It's hard and it's ugly and sometimes you look in the mirror and hate what you see during the process but I read in a book one time (I tried, I really tried not to do it) that "the heart must break in order for new light to come in." (Yeah, it was Lizzie). We must be willing at times to break our own hearts in order to let the light come in. We must be willing to break down the walls and the barriers and break THROUGH in order to shake "the great lie" and become enough.
And I believe this is the backbone of Brene' Brown's work. She opens the book with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt - -
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Yup, that's where the title of the book came from, too.
It's not enough to talk about it. It's not enough to talk the talk. We must be willing to walk the walk, and take those steps right into the arena. In doing so, we are accepting failure as not just an option but a foregone conclusion. There's no way we won't. Not everyone will love your story. Not everyone will accept you as you should be. Not everyone will think you're funny and witty. Not everyone will think you're beautiful. Not everyone will think you're smartest, and guess what? Not everyone will think you are enough.
The real secret is this: when you look in the mirror, do YOU think you're enough?
And if you don't, what are YOU willing to do in order to break free of "the great lie?"
I have no idea what YOUR work looks like. To be honest, most days I don't know what MY work looks like. It seems like the work itself, like me, is ever changing and evolving. Sometimes I need to read the wise words of a professional like Brene' Brown. Sometimes I need to read the wise words of a woman who did the work in a big splashy way like Elizabeth Gilbert. Sometimes I need to write my OWN words. Sometimes I need to do yoga. All the time I need to pray. Sometimes I need to call one of my girls. Sometimes I need to call my mom. Sometimes I need to quiet my mind and ask myself the tuff stuff. Sometimes I need someone to hold my hand. Sometimes I need to be left alone.
Last week my BFF and I did an exercise. She had some fear she had to exorcise and I had some anger. This was deep seeded childhood business that we needed to let go of. A beautiful Reiki healer that we were blessed enough to accidentally meet (as if anything in life is an accident) gave us this assignment. It was the night of the supermoon and she said we needed to write down our garbage, tear it up, go outside under the supermoon, and burn it. Let it go right the hell go up in flames because it no longer served us.
So it's 11:30 at night, T and I are EXHAUSTED but we refuse to sleep until we complete our homework. So we sit down at the kitchen counter with a cup of tea and start writing fast and furiously. We're not meant to really spend a lot of time thinking on this, it's really more of an "emotional dumping," letting our minds and hearts go to those deep dark places and getting it OUT. Throughout the writing process we stop and talk and counsel each other. Sometime after midnight we head outside, grab a can from the recycling bin and head to the supermoon.
Except there were so many clouds that we couldn't even SEE the supermoon.
Burn, baby, burn.
I have no idea if I even believe in this stuff. You know, "sending things up to the moon" and what not. It's a bit new-agey even for me.
But here's what I know...
Sitting outside on the cool Michigan night in my home state looking at my best friend across the burning flame in the recycled bean can trying to make sure EVERY word was burned properly, I never felt closer to her. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. We laughed at the fact that we couldn't even see the stupid moon. When we were done burning our thoughts, yes, we got in the car and even tried to drive around to FIND the moon to no avail. Didn't matter, we knew the thing was there somewhere and it added an element of hilarity to the story. We joked and called this "The Sisterhood of the Supermoon" (tshirts pending). We grew closer to each other and we created a memory. Not just a memory as part of the story of our friendship but a memory of letting go of long harbored, non-serving feelings. And that's a tangible thing.
I don't know if my anger was released to the moon or if her fears were either. What I do know is that in that moment, right then, right there, we both felt better. We both felt good, and yes I believe we both felt free, or perhaps at least a bit freer.
And here's what we all know about healing the heart... in those spaces of joy, bliss, vulnerability and letting go, we find ............ hope.
And in that hope, we begin to dare greatly.
We begin to believe that we are........... enough.
We begin to believe that we are........... enough.
What does your work look like?
Where will you begin to find those spaces?
Are you willing to embrace those spaces and stay in them for the moment?
Are you ready to let go?
Are you ready to step into the arena?
Are you willing to do the work?