Kick-ass Author #4 Who Writes About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Is Not Brené Brown)

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My next pick for Kick-ass Author is a bit of an outlier and not necessarily an obvious recommendation for someone interested in reading more on shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living, but it’s a plum!

I’ll start with a confession: I am a woman who, until this year, put her head in the sand when it came to all things financial. I had never once filed my own taxes. I could hardly tell you my bank balance on any given day. Amounts owing on credit cards were always fuzzy. I would be lost to tell you the general comings and goings of money in my life.

Turns out, of course, that my issues with money have little to do with money itself. Yup, you guessed it: it’s deeply rooted in shame, identity, scarcity and vulnerability. And, as I have been learning, this is an area that is deeply linked to personal feminine power. Surprisingly, it’s a shame trigger for so many women, whether they are high-earners or just making ends meet.

So, this is the brilliant book that has helped me face my fears and finally embrace my financial responsibility and personal power:

Barbara Stanny, Sacred Success: A Course In Financial Miracles

This book is for you if: You are looking to step into your personal version of greatness while taking charge of your financial well-being

This beautiful book hits on some pretty strong and universal shame and vulnerability themes that keep women playing small, pleasing others and giving their power (and financial freedom) away.

Barbara Stanny has written several books for women on finances, but Sacred Success is special among them. In Sacred Success, Stanny borrowed from the classic, A Course In Miracles, and wove its powerful lessons throughout, hitting on this critical message: for women, financial success is a Rite of Passage into our personal power. The book cover summarizes it perfectly:

“Instead of pushing women to pursue financial success in the traditional fashion, Sacred Success seeks to redefine power from a feminine perspective…You can be financially successful without sacrificing your soul or compromising your values.”

The links to Brené Brown‘s  work may not be as obvious in this book, but they are there. Stanny speaks about the ideal identities we strive for (by pleasing, perfecting and pretending), our shame triggers around scarcity and money that were planted in childhood, the importance of creating our own rules about money, and the courage it takes to look your financial situation square in the eye and say, “I’m in charge.”

Sacred Success is all about living authentically, claiming our personal power as women, and stepping into our own personal version of greatness. And, of course, getting our financial house in order once and for all!

I’m a big fan of this book, and wanted to include it in this list to show just how far reaching and insidious shame is in controlling our lives, and how the concepts of vulnerability and living authentically fit into the realm of financial success.

I’m making this book required reading for my daughter once she’s launched out into the world and finds herself searching for her own personal version of greatness.

Are you going to add this book to your summer reading list? Tell me! Leave a message below or post to my FB page!

 

Five Kick-ass Authors Who Write About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Are Not Brené Brown)

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me my Brené Brown.

From that first TED talk, I was smitten. My admiration grew deeper as I read each of her groundbreaking books. And of course my commitment was sealed when I flew to San Antonio two years ago to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator.

Can you blame me? The woman has become a leading voice in the growing global conversation about the power of shame and the practice of vulnerability to create a “wholehearted” life.

However, there are definitely other voices out there contributing to the shame-resilience conversation: Remarkable writers who bring their own unique lens, language and practices to the themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living.

Looking for a fresh perspective on the topic? Look no further! Over the next five weeks, I’m going to introduce you to five kick-ass authors whose books need to be on your bookshelf. Get ready to build your summer reading list!

I begin with…

Tara Brach, Ph.D.,  Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

This book is for you if: You’re into meditation, mindfulness, and the teachings and practices of Buddhism 

To me, Tara Brach is the Buddhist-Buddy of Brené Brown. I absolutely adore the writing of Tara Brach, and feel that her books bring a sacredness and spirituality to shame-resilience work that Brené’s books don’t quite capture.

In Radical Acceptance, Brach calls shame the “trance of unworthiness” and explains that, “trapped in this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.” The book touches on perfectionism, numbing, self-criticism, scarcity and fear… and then beautifully describes the path to freedom from these sufferings.

 

“Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that

you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher

guiding you to self-love and acceptance.”

 

What I especially love about Radical Acceptance are the meditation exercises Brach has sprinkled throughout the book, offering these as practices to build shame-resilience. They are beautifully written and easy to follow, even if you don’t practice meditation.

Tara Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher guiding you to self-love and acceptance. And, if you fall in love with her writing, you can also follow Tara Brach’s work through weekly podcasts that feature her speaking to large groups and leading meditations.

Interesting tid-bit: Radical Acceptance was published in 2003, a full four years before Dr. Brown published her first book on shame (I Thought It Was Just Me)!

 

Have you read Radical Acceptance? Love it or not-so-much? Tell me what you think of it in the comments section below or on my Facebook Page. Or, if you plan to read it, remember to come back to my Facebook Page when you’re done to tell me what you thought of it. Happy reading!

 

 

My Surrender Experiment

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In his book, The Surrender Experiment, Michael A. Singer recounts the events of his life after making the decision as a young man to let go of his personal preferences and ideas of how life “should” be and, instead, to simply surrender to whatever showed up in his life. For the past forty years, he’s basically said yes to whatever has come knocking on his door. He has surrendered to what he calls “life’s perfection” – the natural, amazing and intricate unfolding of life that happens without any conscious acts of will. He’s allowed life to be in the driver’s seat and has kicked worry, anxiety and fear to the curb.

In addition – and, I think, more importantly – Singer also decided to give himself 100% to everything that showed up. He didn’t make one pursuit or event more important than any other. Whatever showed up, he said yes and then gave it is all. He made every task, every action, every moment sacred. He writes,

“…I had thrown myself into the arms of life. From that point forward, all I did was my very best to serve what was put in front of me and let go of what it stirred up within me. Joy and pain, success and failure, praise and blame – they all had pulled at what was so deeply rooted within me. The more I let go, the freer I became.”

His book describes a pretty amazing journey that resulted in abundance in every form. He set out wanting nothing and at every turn was surrounded by wholehearted people, interesting work, meaningful influence, serene environments and a very generous income.

Sounds a little too good to be true. But it’s a memoir, so we’ll have to take Singer’s word for it.

No matter, I still find the premise of his experiment fascinating, perhaps because I spend a decent amount of time thinking and planning and trying to control outcomes in my life. Of course, no amount of thinking or planning or controlling can make things turn out exactly how I think they “should” turn out, so inevitably I also spend a lot of time feeling the unpleasantness of fear, anxiety and worry.

I also rank order my moments, which of course leads to a lot of frustration, blame and judgement. So if I’m sitting in traffic, I tense up because I would rather be at the office. Then, I just want to get through my workday so that I can get home to be with my kids. Then, the kids better not bother me because now I have to make dinner. Then, when I’m making, say, spaghetti again for dinner, it seems like a mediocre moment compared to the roast turkey I made for Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks ago. This puts me in constant battle with what is and results in me not fully showing up for anything.

So what would it mean to let go of my ideas of how things should be? To give up planning and controlling and worrying and fear?

What would it mean to say yes to whatever shows up in my life?

And, what would it mean to show up fully to whatever I just said yes to?

I’m not sure what it would mean, but I’m curious to find out. I’m going to take the next 60 days or so to try my own surrender experiment. I want to practice letting go of control, surrendering to whatever shows up in my life and holding each moment as sacred, as no less or more important than any other moment.

Where do you need some surrendering in your life? What could you let go of? How could you show up 100% to every moment? We have a couple of months left until the end of the year; let’s experiment together and see what unexpected gifts come with surrender.

P.S.  As these thing tend to happen, the universe decided to test me in my own experiment: After finishing my first draft of this post, it got lost in an internet blackhole. Gone, vanished. All that time writing and re-writing…poof! Gone. In an instant, I had to surrender to what showed up: a blank canvass on which to rewrite my thoughts on undertaking a surrender experience. Perhaps life’s perfection was making sure I was serious about taking this on  😉

 

 

 

Sidelined By Scarcity

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I have not been my best-self at work these past few weeks. I’ve been reactive, blaming and cynical, and have even had (I’m embarrassed to say this) my inner-belligerent-child emerge during a few interactions with my manager. Yes, there’s a lot of drama and stress and uncertainty in my work environment these days, but this is exactly the time when I want all of the personal growth work I’ve done around authenticity, courage and values-based living to help me to rise above the drama, so that I can still be my best-self and not succumb to the things that trigger my grumpy “it’s not fair” gremlin.

Then, a few days ago, I was doing my morning meditation with Deepak Chopra (via his Infinite Abundance app), listening to his wise and soothing voice say to me:

“There are those who live day to day concerned about not having enough of whatever they feel is necessary for their happiness and security. Their bodies most likely echo those feeling by sending messages of discomfort in the forms of anxiety, discomfort, worry or stress.”

The second statement hit me first. I zeroed in on his words: anxiety, discomfort, worry and stress. Yup, that sums up how I’ve been feeling lately. Then I considered his first statement: what I am concerned about not having enough of? Then all the Brené Brown wisdom kicked in. Whenever I hear “not enough” I know scarcity is at play. So, I sat with this for a while: What feels like “not enough” right now? The answers came at me fast and furious:

I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time to do my job, to organize and offer workshops, to be with my kids, to exercise, to relax, to get the house clean, to pull weeds, to read all the books I keep buying, to call my friends, to reconnect with my husband, to get a good night of sleep, to register my kids for swimming, to buy birthday presents, to pack a healthy lunch for myself, to listen to the backlog of podcasts on my iPhone, to create a vision for my business, to meditate…  

Obviously, I could go on and on and on.

This is nothing new, of course. Most of us feel the pressure-cooker of not-enough-time. But what has taken me off guard was how this was impacting my mood, outlook and behaviour. A sense of scarcity is so settled into our subconscious that it can so easily throw us off our game, and in ways that are unexpected. Take my behaviour at work, for example. Here I was, feeling grumpy and acting out like a toddler in the workplace. I’m not sure I would have connected that back to a sense of time scarcity had I not sat with my anxiety around “not enough”. But there it was.

It makes me think of all those times I’m short and agitated around my children only to realize what I’m feeling is anxiety and fear that has nothing to do with them or their behaviour. This happened recently, after the photo of the drown Syrian boy on the beach was everywhere. You would think that the sorrowful image would make me go home and hug my children. Instead I went home and was uber-stern with them. Again, when I checked in with myself, I realized how much fear and anxiety I had around what happened to that child. And I was acting out that fear and anxiety by being agitated with my children (it doesn’t make sense, but our sense of vulnerability can be overwhelming and trigger some strange behaviour, folks).

So making the connection between my sense of scarcity and my fear/anxiety and my less-than-ideal behaviour at work was the necessary first step to making better choices. I have to say that time-scarcity is a big trigger for me and I try to be very aware of how this manifests in my thoughts and behaviour. I don’t always catch it, but this is all a practice after all. I remind myself that it is all enough; that everything I do and don’t do is enough. There is no race, there is no finish line, and the only thing I need to do is stay 100% in the moment in order to be my best-self.