Vulnerability and yoga…what they give


It never fails that when my to-do list is a mile long, that my body decides it wants to take a break from the action. So instead of prepping for the Man Unit’s 45th birthday tomorrow and the college boy’s arrival from school in a few days (he is bringing his girlfriend home to meet me…Zoinks!) I am nursing a rather uncomfortable head cold. Of course sickness is useful as I have learned because it serves often as a period of involuntary mindfulness though at the moment this period is feeling more like a strong case of acid reflux.

Maybe it’s a coincidence; then again maybe it’s not. This week has been laden with vulnerability minefields just as I started getting into reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. For those not familiar with Brene Brown, she is a researcher who works with oh so unsexy topics such as shame and vulnerability. A local pal turned me onto her work last year and I have been hooked ever since.

Though let me just say that reading about an issue and experiencing it and working through it are two totally different issues. All week, I have been grappling with the unpleasant reality that after overseeing four glorious years of growth at the agency that I head up, the tide has shifted. Hard times abound for small agencies in this region and no matter how dynamic I am, and marvelous my ideas, I and by extension my agency have hit the wall. Right now I am grappling with some very real and hard choices that may include a thousand less meals for kids already living with scarcity this summer. For shits and giggles, add in the fact that jobs may be on the chopping block. (My staff/board already knows this, so no, I am not sharing organizational secrets) Ultimately I will do the best that I can but it is hard when you know people are depending on you to ensure that they can continue doing things such as making their rent and car payments and you don’t have the answers.

Despite the baby steps of growth I have taken in recent years to accept what I can and can’t do, I struggle mightily when I fall short in my own eyes especially at the professional level and ultimately I know where it comes from. Yet in these moments being open and honest about reality is often what pulls me out of my self-inflicted inadequacy hole.

Last night though as I thought I was on the road to making peace about the professional situations I am facing, my vulnerability monster decided to come back out to play. I learned that a longtime supporter of my work decided to end our relationship. The details aren’t important but when someone who has taken the time over the years to help move you on the path toward fulfilling a lifetime dream ends the connection, it hurts. I was initially embarrassed to admit even to the Man Unit that I was hurt by this person’s actions but when I took the baby step of telling him, he immediately understood and didn’t belittle my feelings.

In a world where we seem less willing to admit our true feelings, I admit writing this feels strange yet I know holding onto it definitely isn’t good for me. Though in this moment, I am reminded of how I often tell my seven year old that she is entitled to her feelings, and it’s okay to be hurt and saddened.

Vulnerability doesn’t feel good, in many ways it reminds me of yoga class. I don’t love getting up and going to class in fact if left to my own devices, I would never go. What I do love is what yoga gives me. As hard as my mind fights being present, by the end of a class I am whole again. I am present and at peace with myself as I am and the world as it is. Vulnerability is much the same way, it hurts at first but when we give it a chance, it gives us so much back in return.

Baby stepping towards change and going to a tweet-up

If you have been reading this thought dump of mine better known as a blog for any length of time, you know that in many ways the past several years have been about me finding myself and making peace with the world as it is. Fighting life and fighting reality is hard, or at least it is for me. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to adjust my lens rather than to expect that I can change others. I can’t change others, hell, I barely can change myself.

One of my constant struggles has been around the growing sense of isolation that I have living in Maine. I am a weird hybrid, I am both an introvert and an extrovert, and I straddle the line well. Too much time alone with my thoughts is a bad thing because once I go inside; I go too deep and can get sucked into the swirling vortex of my thoughts where my ego becomes the queen. It’s really a messy place. I need time with people on a fairly regular basis but too much time with others is also messy as I find myself absorbing too much of other people’s energy and if that energy is off in anyway, to be honest it fucks me up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect anyone to be upbeat all the time; I just need to be mindful of what’s around me.

That said, when you live in a place where the number of people you can actually call up and suggest getting together with wouldn’t even fill up one hand, you know you have a problem. Hell, I am sure the people I know are tired of me asking do they want to get together. I know my needs and I know other people have their needs and when they don’t match up, change is needed.

However at a certain age going out and initiating new friendships is about as appealing as a root canal. To start with, new friendships involve opening up and being vulnerable and while I am really digging Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, application is still harder than theory.

The past few weeks have been scary but also exhilarating as I have found myself taking baby steps to connect with people I have only known as acquaintances. The end result has been glimmers of hope that maybe I can make a home here and eventually build a tribe of my own as I am convinced the older I become I need a tribe, a village, a crew…people I can count on in good times and bad.

Last night though was a big step for me in breaking out of my shell; I have been a user of Twitter for the past 3-4 years. In that time I have met a handful of locals from Twitter but I have never been bold enough to venture to a monthly tweet up. Tweet-ups for those not in the know are gatherings for folks who have met on Twitter. Here in Southern Maine, we have a thriving Twitter community though most twitter users tend to live in the big city and not out in the sticks like me. For months now I have toyed with the idea of going to a tweet-up but never actually taken the step. I won’t go into the reasons why I had never gone but the real reason was fear, fear of feeling uncomfortable, after all what if all these seemingly decent folks turned out to be creepy or what if they thought I was creepy? What the hell would I say?

I am happy to say that last night after much back and forth I actually left the house and headed into the city for the tweet-up and had a blast. Thankfully there were faces there that I already knew and I had a chance to meet quite a few people I didn’t know. I made it back home a little after 10pm which is late on a school night especially after a few Cosmos and while I did wake up a bit tired this morning, it was a good tired. I think there is already talk of a few of us ladies of twitter going out dancing…yikes; I haven’t done that since Chicago.

It’s easy to talk about making changes in our lives but for some reason, actually making them is harder…so very hard. I suspect creating the life I want will take some time and I will even have setbacks (was momentarily bummed that an acquaintance I wanted to hang out with didn’t return my text, but that’s life) but one of the lessons I am learning in my journey called living is that sometimes getting the life we want means baby stepping towards that change. The village won’t just knock on my door, so I am going out and creating my village, one person at a time.

Breaking the snark habit…it’s killing me

Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart and spirit as I grappled with some pretty big issues and the sick realization that I have slowly become someone I am not proud of. That in many ways, I have reverted back to that “mean girl” of nine years ago, when my then living mother gave me the talk about my bitchy ways that made me want to change. I have worked long and hard to be mindful, to be present, and to be open but in the fast paced world where it seems we spend so much time connecting electronically, I have also allowed myself to indulge in snark. Snark seems so natural in our digital lives, it seems harmless and it flows oh so well. On the surface a little snark seems fine, it feels good, it gets laughs, but is it really healthy?  Are there certain beings who must avoid snark at all costs because it’s like any addiction, a little is never enough, and too much will hurt you.

I have taken my online persona and at times allowed it to creep into my very real off-line life and its hurting people, people that I love. Last night, when this sad reality hit me, I was sick, sick at the thought that my own behavior was hurting others at a time when I considered myself “mindful”.

The universe often gives us what we need, when we need it most, this morning, my intent was to head to a yoga class and fit in some meditation, but as I was drinking my morning coffee, I came across this piece discussing Brene Brown’s campaign to stop snark. This piece could not have come at a better time for me “We judge in areas where we feel insecure, and we pick people who are doing worse than we are. I think when you hear someone snark at someone about something, that’s clear as day that person has some real shame around that issue. When I’m really on that judgment train I have to stop and think, “What am I feeling?” If I’m comfortable in my body, in my work, I don’t care about yours.”

Once again, Brene Brown just spoke to my soul, the truth is when I am mindful and I check in internally, often a check in will re-center me or make me aware of what is really going on below the surface. The problem is there isn’t always time or frankly desire to check in and once I get on the snark roller coaster; I have a hard time getting off. I know that certain situations feed my snark habit and frankly online life in general is one of my biggest triggers. I am simply less mindful, more easily caught up, and more likely to start feeling bad about myself when I am online. Offline BGIM does not compare herself professionally to others, one of my dearest friends in the world is a better grant writer than me, and when she has her successes, I am as happy for her as she is. Online BGIM struggles in ways that frankly aren’t healthy, I admit I wonder why did blogger A get this, or blogger B get this, I am tired of riding the snark roller coaster that is brought on by my insecurities.

I imagine like any negative habit, it will be a journey for me to break my bad habits, but I am willing to do the heavy lifting because it’s good for me.