Sunday night a whopper of a storm blew into Central Minnesota and knocked out our power, right smack dab in the middle of the Tonys, don'tcha know.
The good news of the night? Dan and I had already watched the season premiere of True Blood. The bad news? We couldn't watch Girls at 9:30 and we had no air conditioning or working fans.
I decided to camp out in our family room, as the upstairs was too damned hot for this perimenopausal mama's blood. I was certain I'd wake up in the middle of the night to find the lights all back on and in perfect working order.
I was wrong.
I can't remember the last time our power was out for 12 hours.
Because my work includes one computer, one mouse and one steady supply of electricity, I had no choice but to a) get some good coffee by any means necessary, and b) curl up on my front porch with my iPad and settle in for some reading.
Side note: Because I have a fear of manually lighting my gas burners I decided to head out to McDonalds to procure breakfast—don't judge—for my son, who is still in school. While there, I figured I'd order the coffee that I wasn't able to make at home. Holy Swill, Bat Children. It tasted like the worst basement coffee in the history of the Lutheran Church. I ended up going out for more coffee at Caribou… but don't tell my hubby that. That's like sleeping with the enemy.
But getting back to my story… with no electricty and time on my hands, I sat down on my front porch for some semi-guilt-free me time. I am reading a book that I am increasingly convinced that, in addition to the therapy I am doing, will change my life. The book is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Some of you may be familiar with Brené from her amazing and inspired Ted Talk that has made the internet rounds over the past few years. I only recently watched this and thought: Hey, a lot of what she says lines up with the work I'm trying to do in my own life. I should check this out.
Turns out I own her first book, I Thought It Was Just Me, and I'd forgotten that I had it. Never got around to reading it for some reason.
That said, right now, I'm just getting into her Imperfection book and I think it's simply remarkable. I'm highlighting so many passages in the first 100 pages that the pages are looking more pink than white.
Reading Brené's book is what gave me the courage to post about my marriage and my inadequacies in the general human department last week. Her idea of "owning your story" really resonated with me and I wanted to move past my fear of being seen a certain way and be honest and open in this space.
One thing that my own therapist has been talking to me about for the past two years is the idea of being a wholehearted person. Not being someone who is divided. This is central to Brené's research and in the early pages of the book she writes:
"The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It's a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it's a little counterculture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can't do half-heartedly. To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, "I'm all in."
When I read the last line, I literally gasped and burst into tears of I don't even know what. You see, I had written a letter to Dan last week and part of it included really apologizing for how horrible I have been to him over the years but to let him also know that I am committed to making every needed change in my life to make this union not just work, but thrive.
I wrote to him:
"I know that being wholehearted is what I really want in my life. Loving you. Loving my kids. Learning from all of the mistakes along the way. I want this. I'm all in."
When I read Brené's line about being "all in," I was hooked, line and sinker. Something about her voice and her work is really speaking to me.
Have you read her books? Watched her talks? Read her blog? If not, by all means, take a few looks and see what might resonate with you.
I'm thankful for finding this book at a time when I am in a space that will truly allow me to welcome it in.
I am a huge fan of Brene’s – and agree that The Gifts of Imperfection is pretty life-changing. I also highly recommend getting a copy of her DVD – The Hustle of Worthiness (Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough). Doesn’t look like it’s available on her site any more, but here’s a link – http://www.hazelden.org/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=104103&sitex=10020:22372:US
PS. I won’t judge buying breakfast at Dirty Ron’s…but coffee???? Oh the horror!!!
I have Ali to thank for this book… Thanks for reminding me to reread:o)
Lee Currie says
For me The Gifts of Imperfection was completely life altering. It gave me permission to embrace my courage and make the decisions that were right for me and my kids. I am so grateful, every day. It might just be time for a re-read! Timing for this book is key 🙂 So glad it found you.
laurie in Maple Grove says
I’ve found over the years that books sometimes just “fall off the shelf” into your lap when you are ready to receive them. Sounds like an interesting read. Thank you for being so candid and sharing your story.
Kendra B says
I have so much work that I need to do on myself! I’m totally going to check out her books . . . now that I’m done with the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and still in the reading mode lol
I own and have read both books. I was so impressed with Gifts that I have made a gift of it to several others. It is a life-changer and Brene definitely has a way with words. So glad you found it at a time that could touch you.
I love that you are embracing all of who you are… you are such an inspiration!
I love Brené!! A few summers ago, I did her “I Thought It Was Just Me” read-along . . . so I got the added bonus of hearing her speak about the chapters I was reading. Powerful stuff. I also devoured The Gifts of Imperfection . . . and just remembered that I ordered her DVD a few months ago but didn’t get around to watching it. I guess I know what I’m doing tonight!! 🙂
As a forever “student”, I am always trying to tie the truths of life together — as they seem to come in random bits! Brené really speaks to my heart, too, and I feel like I’m really on the right track. Finally!
What struck me hard from Brené! book was the difference between fitting in and belonging. Like so many others I think it is time for a re-read of The Gifts of Imperfection. Thank you Cathy for your continued inspiration.
Oh, Cathy! I laughed out loud at your description of coffee from McDonald’s! Only a Lutheran can get away with saying this: the worst basement coffee in the history of the Lutheran Church. (Yes, I am a life-long Lutheran, and I won’t touch the coffee that’s made at church–and we don’t even have a basement!)
Related to the idea of the gift of imperfection is another really good book I’m reading now: “Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily Freeman. I am going to have to back into “The Gift of Imperfection” for another read through.
I think this might be just the thing I need right now. Thank you 🙂
Marina D-K says
Brene Brown has DEFINITELY changed my life. Her books led me to seek therapy after the sudden loss of my mom last year. To realize that I didn’t have any close friends because I was so scared of being vulnerable. I came from a family that frowned upon any level of emotion or sharing. Brene’s books and my therapist have really helped me break that cycle. I’m 29 and so thankful I found her books when I did (I had just started reading I thought it was me a month before my mom passed). Not only has it given me the courage to be authentic with my grief but i know I will be living a more authentic, vulnerable, mindful life from here on out.
So happy for that you’ve also found her and are embracing her philosophy. She is AMAZING! Thanks for sharing with us.
Marina D-K says
That is so true. That’s how it happened for me with Brene’s books.
Marina, that is so cool to hear how it has helped you. Im sorry for your loss.
Cathy, i just wanted to thank you for sharing your life and your creative skills with me over the years. I also want you to know that I am totally rooting for you and Dan. I wish you happiness and love!
The book sounds amazing. I must check it out.
But can I just say when I saw the photo and read that your power was out… I seriously thought you were going to say you started reading fifty shades of grey. My mind is in the gutter. LOL.
Oh, i DO have that on my iPad as well. hehe.
Thanks you so much for sharing this with us. I’m in a learning patch myself. Mostly figuring out that pretty much everyone have bus-load of issues and that by sharing mine with others, i can relate, support and feel ‘normal’. I long for connections and don’t really know how. It’s good to see others working to get better… I’m all in!
wow i just read the blurb of this book on amazon and think I really need to order it. Oh my!!
Whether you call it God, fate, or just coincidence, it’s eerie how sometimes you read something at just the right moment that you feel like it was meant to be.
laura g. says
wow i woke up this morning thinking about MY day and that MY dist. mgr. is going to be at MY work …then i read this and got to thinking i wonder how HIS day is going to go…it’s not all about ME…i do have some work to do too..and we’ve been married 39 years…duh you would think i would have realized it….this isn’t all about ME!
Sue Williams says
Great post, Cathy! You and Brene are the secrets to my success with MMEW this year. Brene’s little voice saying, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” Yours saying, “Get over it, keep moving.” 33 lbs and counting….thank you!
Jen Hart says
Hi Cathy, how wierd, I follow you on Twitter and although there is a lot of stuff on my feed, I do pay attention to your tweets as they are full of good stuff and so genuine about the good stuff and the hard stuff. I was in bed just scrolling through the other night as I was in a funk and didn’t know quite what to do with myself and your link to Brene was there, I started it and then was hooked. What a great Lady. Her thoughts really resonated with me around vulnerability and I have really thought loads about it all this last few days. So I thought that tonight when I caught up with my reader I would tell you how much I was grateful to you for linking me up on your next post. How great that you mentioned her too.
I am making some changes to my working life to allow some changes to my family life and her ‘you are enough’ statement is making me really think about what I will do with that time.
You are brave and I think that is a great quality. xx Good Luck Cathy 🙂
Thanks for reminding me about Brene’s book Cathy. We all need those reminders about looking at ourselves in our own imperfect perfection and being willing to be ‘all in’ in our lives.
Sorry about the coffee. I might cry without my good tea.
thanks for linking Brene’s blog. I love the Harry Potter post she has up today.
Expecto Patronum, indeed.
I have had McDs coffee in both Hemispheres and it is comforting to know that is crappy the world over ;o) Am loving the honesty of your recent posts on marriage – kudos to you!
deb hyden says
discovered Brene and her books 3-4 years ago and they are certainly life altering. I need to reread both books again…
Thanks for your comment, Jen.
Its good, isnt it?
Jen W* says
I think you are doing great. As I turned 40 last year, so much changed in how I saw myself. I saw things in how I acted and treated everyone I loved that I’m making changes left and right. Its like I see one more thing and have to change but its a sense of relief and I feel like I can enjoy life more. No more feeling like I have to have it ‘my way’ cuz no one else knows anything or how to do it like I do, LOL. I’m learning its okay to be out of control and just be spontaneous. I’m a huge planner. Everyone jokees about it with me but they COUNT on it too. SO I’m learning to step back more and just start enjoying the next 30 years of my life.
Its great to see your honesty and journey. I married my best friend almost 20 years ago and been together over 22 years and couldnt imagine anything being so important to “fight for” thats worth losing him. that’s the biggest lesson I’m learning.
You are very inspiring and encourage me daily to be a better me! Thanks!
Hugs! Jen W*
Thanks, Jen. : ) And thanks for sharing your story here.
Margaret McGarry says
Cathy, I love you. And I mean that in a totally, non-creepy way. I love everything that you have shared with us, your loyal readers, since I started reading back in who knows when. (Wanna say 2007? It was whenever DYL was live at BPS(nowc) the first go ’round.) But what you are doing now–sharing such wonderful and hard work–your honesty, first with MMEW and now with your marriage and your therapy and Brene…. well, girly. Thank you. Your candor inspires us all.
Next: I feel this is related, but I am not sure why. I just started reading “How to Raise Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World” by Jill Rigby, and I think it addresses, for our kids, so many of the things we as adults try to sort out with the help of Brene’s books and inspiration. Giving to others before we give to ourselves. I’m reading her book to help me come up with ideas on how to teach my kids these lessons, but it’s serving as a very good reminder for me, too.
Thought you might be interested in adding it to your cue…
Thanks for the comment and the tip on the book! : )
Missus Wookie says
I bought that book last November and it is on my bedside table right now. I’m going through some painful bits and only the fact that I fully believe in being whole hearted is what is getting me through it – saw it on the shelf and pulled it out. Thanks for the reminder to make time for it soon.
I would love to invite you to hear Brené Brown speak at our church in Plymouth on October 11, 2012. She will be speaking as part of our Faith and LIfe Lecture series at St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church. This will be her second lecture for us, her previous visit was related to her Gifts of Imperfection book and it was wonderful. The upcoming lecture will be about parenting.
I promise to make sure the coffee isn’t terrible!
Wow, shes coming to your church to speak? Very cool. I think I may have to put that on my calendar! Is it during services? Let me know!
i just devoured this book in a day!! two sittings, in fact. I love Brene. I feel like this lines up with my life in many ways, but I am too scared to go there…so I love it from a distance (*insert Bette Midler tune*) . Good for you for going “all in.” i absolutely loved your post about your marriage. i am not married so i have no idea what its like, but it is so refreshing to see honesty out there! Alisa Burke just wrote a blog post about not being perfect. Love your blog!
Cathy, you are a TREASURE! Your blog is eye candy, but the real meat is your honest writing. I salute you and thank you for your recent postings. Brave Girl!! Big THANKS!
Thanks, Leslie. : )
Thanks, Dawn. : )
I have read her blog a lot. Not her books (money not there for to be buying books!). Watched her TED Talk.
Here’s what happened to me. Fate/The Universe/Whatever dropped a huge atomic bomb on my life 4 years ago. I would not wish my life on anyone. It was immensely painful to experience and also… HUMILIATING. I lost everything I had that I could hold up in front of myself and point to that said “THIS IS A GROWN ASS WOMAN who can manage her life and is doing pretty well.” Or “THIS IS A WOMAN who has made choices and that has worked out.”
So I will tell you, when that happened to me, over time I became a person who just had no ability to even pretend I have it all together. That I had anything figured out. That any of my choices in this life were good ones.
The sheer judgement of people was excruciating.
For a while.
And now, I am a different person. I am a person who 1) doesn’t know a damn thing about how anybody “should” do anything 2) doesn’t have any answers to any questions 3) has suffered and for no good reason I can see at all 4) has nothing that the “world” (our society, our culture) considers a marker of a successful grown up life.
The end result has been… interesting. I find I have more compassion for people who also have a hard time and will own up to it. I find I have less patience for people who complain about things that are, to me, non issues. Meaning, is someone going to die from that? Will your life be ruined? Is someone going to sustain lasting hurt from that? Will you be out in the street, living in your car? Will you be divorced, jobless, lose custody of your kids, be going on welfare, lose your home to foreclosure? No? Well I am sorry the barista at Starbucks got your order wrong and now you are peeved, but WHATEVER, man.