I've heard so much about Brene Brown in the last few years. Her Ted talk on The Power of Vulnerability has over 6.5 million views. Her words have impacted so many. So I downloaded her new book Daring Greatly: How the Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead the week it came out.
I'm not sure what I was expecting. Becoming more vulnerable doesn't seem high on my To Do list. Feeling shame was not something I thought was on my emotional radar. While I can be very sensitive, "shame" as I understood it before didn't apply to me. My childhood was healthy, my adulthood is fairly self-aware. But everyone feels shame in one form or the other, even if you would never use that term. What I liked about Daring Greatly was that it made me notice when shameful thoughts creep in, and that calling them such reduces their power.
"But the real struggle for women - what amplifies shame regardless of the category - is that we're expected (and sometimes desire) to be perfect, yet we're not allowed to look as if we're working for it."
And also, on competing and conflicting expectations:
- Be perfect, but don’t make a fuss about it and don’t take time away from anything, like your family or your partner or your work, to achieve your perfection.
- Don’t upset anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings, but say what’s on your mind.
- Dial the sexuality way up (after the kids are down, the dog is walked, and the house is clean), but dial it way down at the PTO meeting.
- Just be yourself, but not if it means being shy or unsure.
- Don’t get too emotional, but don’t be too detached either.
This kind of book (essentially self-help) isn’t for everyone, of course. And though the quotes I chose were related to women, the whole book isn’t about that, those are just a few of the things that struck me.
I liked the book because it made me recognize some things about myself and my thought patterns and the way that I react. It helped that I happened to read it on a weekend that I needed to read it, as I wrestled with an unhealthy attitude towards circumstances out of my control.
Daring Greatly would be a good End of the Year book or a great New Years book, if you’re the type who marks seasons.
I have been meandering through Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within for months and months now. I’m usually not the type who reads several books at once (how do you people do that?), but this wasn’t a narrative. It’s short (mostly very short) little essays from author Natalie Goldberg on writing.
I just loved it. This book spoke to me in quiet little ways. The effect was really subtle, but it may be one of my favorite books on writing ever. I finished it in a big fluffy bed in a little wooden cottage up in Ojai last weekend. It was the perfect place for it.
This would make a great little gift for a writing friend or teacher or a stocking stuffer for the lover of words.
I want to buy one for every writer I know. But I won’t. Because, happily, that would get expensive.
Are you reading anything exciting right now? I'm making baby steps with The Twelve.