These individual metal letters that make up the word resilience grace our kitchen soffit.  Certainly not an expensive piece of art, it's placement in the center of our home (and our lives) is meant to remind myself and our family of the importance in falling and the opportunity to learn about ourselves and others, to practice accountability and self-care, and to rise stronger than before we faced a personal challenge.

The home we renovated in 2014, and now live in, is a testimony to that word and message, it's the landing place we were able to secure after enduring a major financial set back in 2009.

Life (at least mine anyway), is full of falls and setbacks...the last month has shown me more than I'd like unfortunately.  Or fortunately...depending on how you look at things I guess.

Dr. Brene Brown has written several books which I have dearly loved.  I Thought It Was Just Me But It Isn'tThe Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and most recently Rising Strong. When her latest book became available last August, I immediately ordered it, because I had gotten so much out of her previous publications.  Though, to be honest, a few chapters into Rising Strong I found myself uninterested in the message, so I set it aside.

Until a few weeks ago, when I encountered a setback and found myself really needing a book with a specific message about resilience. I remembered it was sitting on my office shelf, so I grabbed it and began to get reacquainted with it's important findings and messages about living an "all-in" life.

The truth is that falling hurts.  The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.  ~Brene Brown, PhD.

Dr. Brown shares, "We are born makers.  We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands."  I can definitely say this has been the case in my life, especially as I have used writing over the past five years as a cornerstone to discovering, creating, and living authentically.

There are several key points to Rising Strong which have helped me acknowledge my contribution to my own recent fall, where the story myself and others are telling is flawed, and most importantly how to move forward when in the hardest of moments courage is the last thing I feel like showing the world.  

Here are the top five lessons I have embraced from Brene's work that have helped me regain my momentum, in the wake of significant challenge, to continue to pursue a whole-hearted life...  

  1. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.  A lot of cheap seats in the arena of life are filled with people who never venture onto the floor.  They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance.  The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect.  But when we're defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable.  Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives.
  2. We can rise up from our failures, screw ups, and falls, but we can never go back to where we stood before we were brave or before we fell. Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being...we now have a new level of awareness about what it means to be brave.  We can't fake it anymore.  We now know when we're showing up and when we're hiding out, when we are living our values and when we are not.
  3. The truth is that judgment and anger take up way more emotional bandwidth for us...they are often shaming and disrespectful to the person who is struggling, and ultimately toxic to the entire culture.  What boundaries do I need to put in place so I can work from a place of integrity and extend the most generous interpretations of the intentions, words, and actions of others?
  4. Forgiveness is not about forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it's the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.
  5. "Individuation, the lifelong project of becoming more nearly the whole person we were meant to be - what the gods intended, not the parents, or the tribe, or, especially, the easily intimidated or the inflated ego.  While revering the mystery of others, our individuation summons each of us to stand in the presence of our own mystery, and become more fully responsible for who we are in this journey we call our life." ` James Hollis, from Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life

I would strongly recommend all of Dr. Brene Brown's books...this latest piece, while I initially shelved it, came in handy when I most needed to work through my own emotions and accountability around living a life of integrity.  It helped me question what was true about myself and the stories being told by others.

One last, beautiful quote Dr. Brown shares in this book really struck a chord...

You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
— Maya Angelou

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