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Having lived in Florida for many years has given me the opportunity to learn from the lives of those much older than myself.

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A new She Said, He Said post is coming next week. Eric needed some time off. He told me writing was hard work. I said, “Welcome to my world.” He said, “I hate your world.” I laughed. Anyway, he agreed to at least two more She Said, He Said posts. The first will be next week. I’m keeping the topic a surprise.

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For the past two days I’ve had no voice. I woke up and it was gone followed by my energy level. My first reaction was to fight it. There’s too much to get done! Then when simply walking around my house caused me to feel as though I had just taken two spin classes I decided to look on the bright side…I get to sit and read. That’s exactly what I did.

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I love traveling especially to other countries where everything is different. After a few months at home I feel the pull to plan an adventure whether it’s a weekend trip or overseas. Getting away from my daily routine helps me see my world more clearly. However, since my daughter has gone away to college, I have a new appreciation for our ordinary days together.

All of us at the dinner table or riding in the car, those are the moments I once took for granted. Eric cooking in the kitchen, Arielle blaring music from her room, Kai on the computer, me reading on the couch surrounded by cats, that’s the ordinary that is extraordinary. In those moments I’m thankful we’re all together and grateful for Eric’s cooking!  I realize that we don’t have to take a trip around the world to feel the every day joy of living. Love is hidden in the ordinary.

The price of invulnerability: Brené Brown at TEDxKC

Anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot. One we will never forget.

I’m going to begin by issuing a warning to all the men reading this post. You may want to stop right now because from here on I will be discussing feminine issues… you know the kind you don’t want to know about. Yep, I’m going there because this crazy experience I’m about to divulge has taught me two very important lessons. I should know what they are by the time I finish writing this post.

To put it delicately, when it comes to the female cycle, I am to-the-day accurate. I diligently keep track and I’m always prepared. I’ve been this way for years. There have been two times in my life that I’ve reached day 30 with no change  – and their names are Arielle and Kai.

The Beginning

There was a time ten years ago when I had visions of having a large family. I wanted at least four children and thought it would be great to have twins. After Kai was born and my husband said no more, I was devastated. I hoped for many years that he would change his mind and tried hard to convince him that more children was a great idea, we could even adopt – he was done. No more. Looking back it was a very difficult time for the two of us. We were like two bulls with locked horns , both stubborn and strong willed. Both of us firstborns, neither one of us willing to give in.

Eric took precautions to make sure there would be no accidents and had the surgery. I cried and cursed the doctor. Not really. Okay, I cried anyway.

Then, Arielle’s injury happened and my focus changed. I also had a classroom full of children to keep me busy. Life went on and every year it was easier to accept that I wasn’t going to have any more children.

I began to write, create lesson plans, and I enjoyed inspiring my students. Life started down a different path than what I had originally envisioned. I began to see myself, Krista, separate from mom. I realized that I had set Krista on a shelf and dove into an identity of mom for far too long. As I became more familiar with Krista I rarely dreamed of holding little babies anymore. In fact with every passing year I gained more freedom and Krista returned enough for me to create a balance between the two, Krista and
mom. Knowing I would always be mom to two beautiful children but not forgetting
myself.

Finally, when I left teaching for substituting and started spending more time with Arielle and Kai, I discovered how much I loved being a mom of teens and teaching teens in the classroom. There was no part of me that wanted to start all over again with a baby. Sure, I’d babysit or admire someone else’s little one but I was done. Done ditty done, done, done! I was ready to be selfish, to have much of my freedom back that I lost at such an early age.

My friends were shocked at my transformation. We started planning our future cruises together.

Guess What Happened?

Day 30 came and there was no change. First there was denial. I recounted and recounted the days on my calendar. Impossible. I never go this long. Then I blamed Eric. (Since then I have learned from Brene Brown’s video that blame is only a way to relieve pain and discomfort. Watch the video – it’s really good!)

I told him it was all his fault because after his surgery he never returned for a checkup. He laughed.

Day 31 came and nothing. Eric asked “Should I still be worried?” I glared at him, “yes!” It was our sixteenth anniversary. I was in panic mode. While Eric was at work and the kids were at school I was on the computer researching everything from why Eric’s surgery failed to daily fetus development to projected delivery date (Sept.10th) to what to do if you don’t have maternity insurance. Did you know you can’t get it
if you’re already pregnant?

My Crazy Mind
– The following might actually make a good monologue.

This was the endless stream of thought in my mind on day 31…

I can’t be pregnant. If I’m pregnant than I’m going to play the lottery
for the rest of my life because the odds are 1 in 2,000. I have been planning
my life – just me and Eric. We were going to travel and I have books to write
and blog posts to write. Okay, okay, calm down, having a baby might actually be
good for blog posts. There would be lots of new topics to write about. Oh,
accept for the fact that I’ll have no sleep and my breasts will be so huge and
throbbing that there’s no way I’ll be able to write… so forget that.

Without insurance I’ll have to go to one of those birthing centers instead of a hospital. I bet they don’t have epidurals. I really don’t think I could have one again anyway now that I’ve read about the dangers. Birth centers have a natural approach. I like that
except I think they have those big pools for water births… oh god I’m going
to have to climb into a pool and have a water birth!

Remember, I love babies.
I love their smell, their cute little fingers and toes. I could redecorate a
room upstairs and make it all cute with lots of books because if there’s no
time to write then I’ll read to this baby. I’ll read children’s book after children’s book and probably home school. But all those well baby visits, shots, and oh no!…  this baby will need a sibling. Maybe I’m having twins. After all, I always wanted twins. If  I’m getting my wishes from the past then it’s twins – has to be. Oh cool, twins! Hmm.. if it’s not twins then we’ll have to adopt. We could adopt a foster child or a child from another country. Why am I bringing another child into this world when there are so many children in need of a family? Wait, this wasn’t my plan in the first place. I’ll have a baby and adopt a baby, Eric and I will start all over. We can do it. We’re good parents.

Breathe, just breathe. Walk away from the computer and relax. Why? Why is this happening now – I wanted this ten years ago not NOW! I was the one who was going to break the chain of women in our family having babies in their forties. If this was my
first that would be one thing but to start all over again… Oh I should just stop it! Think of all the woman who would love to be pregnant. It’s a blessing and what about the baby – stop thinking all of these negative thoughts about not wanting a baby. That’s not nice. Poor kid is going to read this one day and know they weren’t wanted… in the beginning. That’s terrible. Should I adopt a baby before or after the one I’m having? No… this isn’t happening. I’m not dropping Arielle off at college with a big round belly and I’m certainly not gaining fifty pounds. I could still do push-ups … until my belly hits the floor.

Oh yeah, I was pretty certifiable on my anniversary. A mess, a complete and utter mess. Eric came home, we had a house full of teens getting ready to make spaghetti while Eric and I were headed out to our annual Melting Pot anniversary dinner. Eric was secretly calling me preggers and telling me that he was very thankful his body wasn’t going to change. He was enjoying every moment of my panic and taking full teasing advantage. His only serious sentences were… “If it’s really happening then we’ll deal with it and everything’s going to be okay. But I know you, you have a very strong mind and you’ve convinced yourself your pregnant. Your body is responding to your mind. There’s a 1 in 2,000 chance and it’s not happening.” I rolled my eyes at him.

At dinner the conversation was of how we would be at the grocery store with our new baby and people would say “Oh, is that your grandchild?” Eric’s a bit older than me.

By the end of dinner I couldn’t take it anymore.” We have to go get a test. I have to know.” Eric’s reply: “So, Eric what did you do on your 16th anniversary?” We laughed. I might have punched him.

So that’s what we did on our anniversary night. We went to Walgreens and bought a pregnancy test. I marveled at life. This was a recreation of nineteen years ago except how it should have been and not how it was then. Back then I was alone and Eric was not ready to be a dad. Now, there he was, calm, supportive, and able to deal with either result. And there I was feeling loved and supported and once again scared. This time I was fully aware of the HUGE commitment of parenting. Back then I was twenty-two and clueless.

We come home and I ripped opened the package thinking I knew
exactly what to do. I didn’t need to read the directions and I had to pee. I
knew I was pregnant and I just wanted to get the test over with. Well, I am very
embarrassed to say I didn’t pull off the little blue cover. I peed all over the
stupid test never touching the test strip. Who does that? A 41 year-old with
two teens who is panicked that she’s pregnant – that’s who. Even worse yet, I
had to admit to Eric that I goofed and didn’t bother even glancing at the
directions. I yelled from the toilet, ” I think you’ll have to go out and buy another test because I messed up.” I had the second test in hand, blue cover off, trying to capture every drip. This time, reading  the directions it turned out I was not supposed to open the test if I wasn’t going to be able to use it right away.

Eric was already in his pj’s and he wasn’t going back to Walgreens. I’d have to make the best of it. I sat in bed and downed one glass of water after another while Eric tried not to fall asleep. There was no way I was waiting until day 32.

After my third glass it worked. I set the test on the counter and closed the bathroom door. I waited exactly two minutes, held my breath and walked in the bathroom. A big negative sign showed in red. I stared at it. Really? Negative. I felt extreme relief and Eric of course said “I told you. 1 in 2,000.” I smiled.

I couldn’t believe it was negative. My mind had created such a story and I was practically naming my twins in between laments of freedoms lost. I went to bed and woke up the next morning  with a clear mind and the knowledge that my body was completely my own.

What I learned:

I learned that a huge boulder can come crashing down upon the path and vision I have set for my life. And when that boulder hits it is an awakening that either will force me to take another road or show me how important my journey is by blocking it – making me see life without it. Forcing  me to climb over the boulder with certainty
then walk confidently knowing I’m headed in the right direction.

Secondly, I learned that people change. Life has a way of teaching us lessons. Never in a million years had I ever envisioned me and Eric buying a pregnancy test  at Walgreens after twenty-two years together. Or  imagine Eric being so calm about a possible positive outcome. If anything the two bulls with locked horns had completely changed positions.

I also learned that the same brain that can create wondrous worlds like MYSTIC, can also wreak havoc with fictional stories weaved into my life here in Cape Coral. It’s best for me to keep busy writing stories and focus on characters and interesting plot lines. No more research for awhile.

Just as Eric predicted. Once I saw the negative sign and knew I wasn’t pregnant … it didn’t take long before everything flowed as it should. (Guys, I warned you.) Life is back to normal and I can go back to planning my future cruises with my friends.

 

 

Vulnerability – (adj.) Capable of being hurt or wounded.

Possibly the best way to know exactly what you want in life is to know exactly what you do not want in life.

Three and half years ago I left my job as an elementary school teacher to spend more time with my family and more time writing. I remember the sudden sense of relief and freedom I felt when my schedule opened up. If I wanted to, I could stop and watch a osprey teach her baby to fly, go for walks with my son, spend an hour chatting with my daughter or drive to the store in the middle of the afternoon. I was no longer rushing, trying to squeeze in as much as I possibly could into each day and then going to bed with a to-do list running on an endless loop in my mind.

My life opened up allowing room for gratitude, joy, creativity and contemplative thought. I knew I was doing what was best for me because I never got a sense of self from having daily lists and endless places to be. All I ever felt from constant busyness was frustration, exhaustion and a sense that something was wrong. I always felt like I was failing somewhere, work, family, housekeeping, health … I knew I wasn’t one of those moms who could do it all and still feel inner peace. With my new freedom came a knowing that I was on the right path but a path that also left me feeling vulnerable – weak.

Our society values hard work and money earned. Parenting, house organizing, and writing are all jobs that take time and effort, are absolutely hard work, but don’t come with a decent paycheck unless you’re on the New York Times Best Seller list. After a year, I questioned myself. Maybe I should go back to school and get a master’s degree and then a doctorate. But when I questioned further, I knew in my heart it wasn’t because it was what I really wanted to do; it was so I would be able to say I had my masters or doctorate degrees. In my mind I would think of myself as accomplished because I could eventually add initials after my name. I knew in my heart I was a writer but why did I hate describing myself as one or describing myself as a stay at home mom? Lack of courage and lack of sense of self – to put it bluntly.

Embracing vulnerability means being able to live your life the way you know is best despite messages received from society which are really in your own mind. It means having the courage to be happy with who you are whether you’re a person who enjoys being busy and checking off to-do lists or a person who craves solitude, a blank sheet of paper and an open schedule. It means not living by “I should” but living by “I am.” If you are a mom who stays home, knowing it is enough. It means if you are a writer you must be vulnerable and able to tell the truth of your life… your fears, insecurities, dreams, mess ups and victories. Hopefully along the way readers will be able to relate to what’s written and a connection will be made.

I love the following video because of Brene Brown’s openness. I love it because she taught me to tell my children they are worthy of love and belonging, perhaps that was something I forgot in my speeches about grades, getting into college and being successful. Will they be successful if they go through life feeling unworthy of love?  Perhaps I have forgotten that lesson because for too many years I have not felt worthy. Ouch. Finally, I love this video because it has made me see the power in vulnerability.