Friday, March 28, 2014

Miller Time Friday: Vulnerability


 “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
Madeleine L'Engle

Happy Friday All! 

First, thanks for the feedback on the dresses yesterday.  Never ask a question you don't want the answer to, and I certainly got a lot of varying responses!  It is always fascinating to me how people can see the same thing and have such different perspectives on it, which is, I think, what makes life interesting!

But it got me to thinking about the whole act of sharing one's life, even if it is only a sliver of that life, publicly.

Blogging is both a narcissistic and wholly exposed enterprise.

Some bloggers share a lot of personal information - this is the camp in which I fall - others utilize a more op-ed or salon conversational approach to areas that interest them.  I think Tabitha over at Bourbon and Pearls falls firmly and brilliantly into this camp.  Some blogs are mostly beautiful pictures and images. 

Regardless of the type of blog, what having a blog or doing anything public requires of a person is a certain degree of vulnerability. 

Not everyone will like what you write on any given subject. 

Not everyone will like the look of you or what you wear or what you ate or where you traveled.

Some will think you spend too much money, others may think you are cheap.

You may think you have written something in a very diplomatic way, only to discover that you have hurt someone deeply.

I am thinking of vulnerability again as I recently signed up for part II of Brené Brown's online course The Gifts of Imperfection.


brown imperfect

I did the first course last year and loved it, though if truth be told, I suspect you could jump right into part two without any concern about having missed part one, so long as you have read the book by the same name - which, by the way, is required reading for the exercises in the course anyway.

I've posted on Brené before on this blog and admit to being a full blow fan girl because a) she is a social work professor and how many of THEM make it big?  b) she is a Texan, a no BS kind of gal, but her no BS involves disabusing people of the notion that everyone else is living a bigger, more exciting, and meaningful life than they are.

Surrounded as we are by Facebook posts of the happiest moments of someone's life, of bloggers who share what two dresses they are thinking of keeping but perhaps don't mention that they need two dresses because the last summer dresses they bought 3 years ago are way too small because they've gained weight, we somehow think that our lives don't measure up.

When I left my job last year and then subsequently wrote that very personal story of my unhappiness and frustrations with the life choices I'd made (and which I proceeded to share with the whole frigging country), I opened myself up to a whole lot of vulnerability.  And it was hard, but oh so worth it, because it opened me up to some people that I'd never otherwise know and it also opened me up so that people could see the real me, not the manufactured me.

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/ab/bf/0e/abbf0edcf5cc7b1ad3736aa5cf3e8f60.jpg

It also opened me up to some harsh realities about myself.  One of the hardest things about writing this blog or writing the piece in the Globe and Mail or trying to get published at all is that you open yourself up to judgement - your own and other people's.

People talk about you behind your back.  I know, because I used to be one of them. 

I used to judge people all the time.  Now I have come to realize that the act of judging others, while human perhaps, is the sign that you are trying to divert yourself and others away from the ugly truths about yourself.  

You have to love yourself enough if you really want to love other people.  And people often clam to have good self-esteem, but in my experience, we are works in progress and some of us are working through pain, regardless of how we present ourselves to the world.

Now when I start to judge, I stop myself and ask: "why is that bothering me so much? why do I feel the need to judge it?" 

Sometimes my judging is born out of jealousy. 

Sometimes someone has hurt my feelings.

Sometimes it's born out of that feeling that we are not meeting our own expectations and that somehow, that person is smarter, better looking, more competent than us.

Sometimes it is out of some kind of self-righteous feeling because the person or situation is being mean or self-serving or petty and look at me, I'm none of those things.

But of course we are all of those things, aren't we?  Because we are human.

So I'm signing up for part 2 of Brené's online course because I am most definitely a work in progress and I find that every step that I take that enables me to be more vulnerable, more authentic, more me is a step that helps me find my tribe in life.

And that tribe, scattered as they may be around the world (or standing in a snowstorm with me burning effigies!) are the people that I am meant to be with and whom I love.   

They know me, they know the whole me (okay, maybe they know most of me!), because I am no longer afraid to share who I am, with the understanding that those who remain milling around after the big reveal are the ones that I'm supposed to be with anyway!  The rest are looking for their own tribe and I wish them well in the journey!

And that is a nice thought to end a week with!  So thanks Brené Brown and thanks to everyone who shows up here to read about my unglamorous, but real, life!

Ah who I am kidding - here's what really happens:


So thinking of Brené, I think I will make a cocktail today related to Texas!

How about:

Texas Tea




Ingredients : Texas Tea
- 2 oz tequila
- 2 oz rum
- 2 oz vodka
- 2 oz gin
- 2 oz whisky (whiskey,bourbon...)
- 2 oz orange liqueur (cointreau, grand marnier...)
- 2 oz sweet and sour mix
- 2 oz cola (pepsi, coca cola...)


 Use a "In glass" for Texas Tea drink recipe
Fill a 1 gallon pitcher with ice. Add all the ingredients except the coca-cola. Stir, then add the coca-cola and stir again. Pour into your favorite glass with

Now that was refreshing.  Now I want to go to Texas!

Happy Friday and thanks for reading along!  Stay safe out there!

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Brené Brown

77 comments:

  1. Oh so much to say here, but I'll keep it short, first off I think it's fine to judge others and I am vehemently against this burgeoning concept of not judging others that seems very prominent in certain circles, it's something I have wanted to write about on my blog so I won't take up yours with my thoughts.

    In short I am all for judging others but don't think that needs to equate with being a bitch about it. I think it leads to better self knowledge and helps one to find the right way to live.
    I know I will be completely alone here but it won't be the first time!

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    1. Tabs, I think it depends what you are judging them for. I feel very compfrtanle judging people's actions and opinions on certain issues. But that's not what I am talking about here. I'm talking about judging people based on a lack in ourselves or a perceived lack. If you've never done that than you are a much better person than me! All I know is that by questioning my motives for judging, I gave become increasingly aware that sometimes it is about my shortcomings, not theirs. I'm not sure about the self-knowledge comment - am slightly confused. And is the judging an internal or external commentary? When I give my 2 cents in a positive way, when asked, I'm not sure I learn more about myself. But I may be misunderstanding you!

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    2. Ah, certainly not a better person than you but I don't really understand that, I don't think that I do that, other people are just that, 'the other', I judge others for their virtues or vices, it has nothing to do with me, my life or in the sense of my 'ego' External and internal, a basic example, from an early age we all think, do I want to be friends with this person, what are they really like? Do I want them in my inner circle?
      I warned you I needed to be brief because this is a biggie that has been fermenting in me!

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    3. dear ed, can I add in 'nothing to do with a lack in myself or perceived lack"

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    4. ha! I don't think are talking about different things here at all. All I am saying is that sometimes when I judge people, I am judging them for legitimate ideological or even simple compatibility reasons. Sometimes I judge them and use the attribution error - I see things and then make assumptions of character based on seeing some outward act or some comment and that is a dangerous thing to do and I think you are very lucky if you have never done that, but I sure have. And it always says something about me, not about them, in the end!

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    5. Oh of course I have done that but I don't think that should be a clarion call to stop judging people, we all make mistakes in judgement, and of course, yes, judging says something about us but hopefully only in the sense that we all have different perameters but I think it's necessary and should be encouraged not discouraged. No, we don't always know the whole story but threads of behaviour reveal something nevertheless, so I say judge on and let's work on our discernment rather than eschewing judgement. I just fear this because "judging' is becoming a dirty word.

      I'm on the iPhone - so this is killing me, gotta go!( don't judge me for my paucity of tiny typing skills, ok?)

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    6. I just reread my post and don't see a clarion call to stop judging, just a gentle reminder to myself to be careful about how I judge... What I really wanted to focus on was vulnerability as it relates to me and obviously that didn't come through strong enough.

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    7. Oh not talking about you Wendy it's just a 'movement" I'm seeing.

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    8. We call the "movement" the "pussification". Let's give everyone a trophy, let's not even keep score. I judge, you judge, we all judge. Some is mean and hateful and that should be addressed but agree a lot is just for self growth. Just keep it to yourself unless asked.

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    9. I think what you all are talking about is not what I am talking about above. I'm talking about a natural tendency to judge others and their lives and their choices based on our own beliefs or our own sense of lack. That is very different than what you are discussing which is not recognizing that some kids are betters athletes than others, some writers more talented, not everyone needs a prize, etc. the world is hard, buck up, etc.

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    10. Blue Booby, you are Scottish through and through!

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    11. Wendy, this is the curse of a column, readers bring their own thing to it and go off on a riff, I'm sorry, my riff was first and has formed this diatribe.

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  2. Judgment is an interesting topic. I agree with Tabs that judgment isn't necessarily a bad thing. Judgment keeps us in check, sometimes, and it sometimes helps us make better choices. I don't mean choices about which dress looks best, but choices about life decisions. Any time we ask for an opinion, we are inviting judgment, but I prefer to think of it as analysis rather than judgment. I am an analytical person and am always weighing things in my mind (my things, not yours! :) ) so judgment is kind of built-in for me. Did you ever take one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests? It's been so long since I did, but there is a category of Judging vs. Perceiving. Here is an excerpt from the Myers-Briggs web site about the "Judging". I think the line about not confusing "judging" with "judgmental" is an interesting distinction.

    [Begin excerpt]

    Judging (J)
    I use my decision-making (Judging) preference (whether it is Thinking or Feeling) in my outer life. To others, I seem to prefer a planned or orderly way of life, like to have things settled and organized, feel more comfortable when decisions are made, and like to bring life under control as much as possible.

    Since this pair only describes what I prefer in the outer world, I may, inside, feel flexible and open to new information (which I am).

    Do not confuse Judging with judgmental, in its negative sense about people and events. They are not related.

    The following statements generally apply to me:

    I like to have things decided.
    I appear to be task oriented.
    I like to make lists of things to do.
    I like to get my work done before playing.
    I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
    Sometimes I focus so much on the goal that I miss new information.

    [End excerpt]

    That's a bit of a tangent, but I think it does relate to feeling judged and vulnerable. I know that I judge myself much more than I ever judge another person. I am much kinder when judging others too, always hardest on myself. I'll stop there, but I want you to know that in giving my opinion about the dresses, I am sorry if my post made you feel bad. That was just me weighing two options thinking you wanted to choose only one. You looked great in both dresses and you felt great in both dresses so that makes them both good choices for you.

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    1. Cate, today's post actually had nothing to do with people chiming in on the dresses, though it did make me think of what a wide open world blogging is. Although I am kind of regretting writing this post this morning, :-). Considering I asked for opinions, I was happy to get them all, whether people loved the dresses or not. It was just funny to me, and still is!

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    2. Oh ps. I am an ENFP in Myers Briggs - such an interesting tool! We used to use it all the time in government! And I do agree - as I said whenever I am in judging mode I am almost always feeling a lack in me. Maybe that makes me neurotic! And that doesn't include having opinions on issues - as I said, I have those a plenty! And there are so many people whom I judge harshly, but try to be careful to not attribute more there than there really is. Thanks for including the Myers Briggs!

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    3. You mentioned the two dresses decision in this post, that is why I mentioned it here. But it's all related, in my mind. If I had two dresses to choose from, I'd get analytical and decide (judge) the pros and cons of each etc. Judging clothing or judging people or judging political opinion or judging actions, it's all judging. It can be done with or without tact, publicly or privately, with or without motive, with or without kindness, with or without information about the subject. I don't think it necessarily reveals ugly truths about one's self, although it can.

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    4. Excellent point about judgement versus judgemental Cate, will have to go look up my old Myers Brigg doody.

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    5. INFJ - ha maybe some of us wield the gavel more innately!

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    6. Oh and no, Wendy, I think I wear the neurotic crown, not you!

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    7. I am loving this chat sick!

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    8. I was an INTP back in the 90s when I took the test. I think I would come up as an INTJ now. Would be fun to take it again, though, and see. I do think that judging can be an innate personality trait, that's why I brought it up. We can all use our personalities for good or for evil, right? So while I probably am inclined to judge, and it's just who I am, I hope I'm putting it to good use as much as possible. I like to think it helps me weigh and see both sides of issues. Judging doesn't have to be about putting people down, it can be about helping people too. My point, I guess, is that judging isn't a trait we should try to overcome.

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    9. I started out as an ENFJ, but that changed over time to ENFP, which is, I think, my innate self. I likely go J under pressure!

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    10. Got nothing here because I haven't a clue what you guys are talking about. Don't judge me.

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    11. I'm an INFJ too, a true introvert. It's always fascinating to hear what Myers-Briggs type everyone is.

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    12. Louise, we are the rare weirdos!
      BB: we are judging you and we want you in our group!

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    13. Fine, I want to be included..I am an ISTJ. No wonder I find you so fascinating Wendy.

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    14. just when i thought i mastered OMG and LOL now these four letters...must do test pronto

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    15. Coulda shoulda woulda, there are 8 letters! :D

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    16. oh no cate!!! i cant even remember my hubbys cell...

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    17. I am INFP - one letter away from a lot of you!

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    18. BB - I would be like a rare bird! The average civil servant here is ISTJ. Naomi, we would have a grand time, stopping constantly to look at the pretty birds, pretty gardens, George clooney...

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    19. Like Blue Booby, I am an ISTJ--the opposite of you. My job is difficult to describe, but we provide research support to elected officials. We are all analytical introverts trying to serve extroverted feelers--quite a mix of styles.

      (And I am super-duper judge-y--my worst fault!)

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  3. I really may have to steal your poster on Get up.. etc. I love that!! Probably because it will bug certain people in my life who already think I think too much of myself. But really we need to speak with good purpose about ourselves too!

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  4. oh wendy i am the queen of sharing too much info about myself online. i feel sick about it lately. i want to stop...i need to stop! interesting convo up above re judging/judgement. oh i've learned the hard way to stop judging others. until you've walked in anothers shoes...you just never know what is going on in a person's life. it's prob my greatest life lesson i've learned. x

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    1. Janet - it's funny, I was thinking the same thing, as I thought I had obviously done a poor job of writing. Whenever I judge anyone now, I actually start to have a visceral reaction. Reducing people and myself feels inherently wrong to me now. thanks for the good reminder. I debate constantly about what direction to take my blog - I don't have much in the way of clothes any more , my style is fine, but not "styled", am not drawn to clever posts about things because I don't tend to think like that, I try to keep my writing out of here until I finally split off and have the writing be center stage and I don't want to bore people. I think it is a fine line. Perhaps I am getting too thin-skinned!

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    2. Aw, I really enjoy your blog. I enjoy the variety of topics. Write what you want, try not to over think, and realize you can't please everyone. Perfect the way you are, must be others with the thin skin.

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  5. Funny, a common joke between Em and I is "quit judging me" whether it's a shirt we picked out to try on, the food on our plate, the dumb ass show we chose to watch, or the fact she put her shirt on inside out (which she always does) after trying on clothes. It is said anytime an eyebrow is raised. Don't judge, but after reading the post then all the comments I'm just not sure what to say :). I'll go back and read again and chime in where necessary.

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    1. Ha! I have given the post to the blog gods! It's taken a tangent of its own, which I am not judging, but necessarily in agreement with! :-)

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  6. I love this. Thanks SO much for sharing!

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    1. I am now howling out loud, trust me Wendy this is what happens with op eds, it used to bug the hell out of me, but people are people and will Will -o' - the wisp where they want to go - er, that might be me this time. I am on bended knee for any hassle I may have caused you.

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    2. Tabs, you are ADD TODAY, is cocktail above! :-)

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    3. You see what I mean about flaws/ perspective- took a piece - ran with it - ruined your day.

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  8. So interesting and thought-provoking - I don't know where to start! Well, as you said, blogging is by nature, narcissistic, but it's a two way street because I think we all like to take a peek at someone else's life and see how it is to live in someone else's shoes! Honestly, I've never put that much of my own personal life in my blog as I lead a pretty quiet life - I stay at home, don't travel these days, don't shop much or go out to fancy restaurants - and also so much of my internal life is bound up with my kids and my career aspirations, two things which I'm not comfortable putting out in the open for all to see and comment upon. As for judging others, I am hardest on myself first and keep an open mind about others. I remember reading a quote (can't remember who said it) about not judging others because everyone is fighting their own battles, you just can't always see it.

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  9. Wendy, I feel like flippin' Shiva right now! Mea culpa.

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    1. you two are cracking me up! if you two are like this on line what the heck is it gonna be like when I get the both of you decked out and in a bar with rounds of texas tea?!!

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    2. Oh I am grand - about to make a st. Germain cocktail and stop taking my psychic pain so effing seriously! :-)

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  10. I haven't even finished reading the comments and I just had to say I love this post and the comments!!

    Like Tabs this is something I have been thinking about - but for decades as I grew up in very judgy cultures - both aussie and korean are judgemental but in different ways. I think this backlash of late though is more to do with being PC and is a side effect of not being allowed to say one doesn't like something bc it then raises questions. Half the time in polite company I feel like I always just have to say yeah - that's nice yeah that's nice bc the minute I say I dont' like a very populist thing then I get grilled and made to state my legal case on how i formed my opinion. It gets tiring. That is why I do like to try and hang out with my gay guy friends and let it all hang out although i end up having to retreat home bleeding from the claws. Love the discussion and i do think it would be a great idea to see what everyone thinks about this!

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    1. I can say this here but not on my blog as some of my real life people might read this - but i have found the kindness of strangers moving - if a stranger doesnt know me but not like me I get it. but supposed friends have been very judgemental about my blogging even though i am itsy bitsy and make not one cent out of it. For me it is like we mentioned before our three pages. I like writing and i have a judgement - i mean opinion about everything so it just seemed like a natural progression. My only worry is that my sense of humour might be misunderstood and I hurt someone accidentally.
      But are there narcissistic bloggers out there? Hell to the yeah!! But there are also narcissistic nuns and non bloggers so I think it is unfair to say that blogging and narcissism goes hand in hand.

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    2. Chinese culture is super judgemental too - growing up in a traditional Chinese household nearly killed me!! ...But I think you're right, this thing about being non-judgemental (or at least keeping silent about one's judgements) is a definitely PC thing.

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    3. My entire family now knows I blog. Oops on the Christmas pillow, sorry mom. But we share everything already so really doesn't bother me. I may need to apologize to some of my readers when there is a snarky comment...it's either sis or daughter and all in good humor.

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    4. Yes Asians have a particular type of judging...Plus my mother is a DIVA which didn't help..
      BB - For me your gentle ribbing and humor comes across as you intend - it's a laugh with no malice!
      Have you taken the myers briggs yet?
      I am INFP apparently.

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    5. Okay I am hoping to defend trying to be non-judgemental as not being PC in my case, but more peaceful. All I am saying, is give peace a chance (I am swaying back and forth with my lighter and a stubby beer..)

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    6. BB I just read up there and you are apparently running Canada! Stop pretending like you are in TN.
      Wendy - I know what you mean - but get the tylenol and put on your nightstand for tom morning :)

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    7. Naomi - you're right! She's in the kitchen with Barry right now!

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    8. BARRY! Someday I'll be there suckin wine and shooting shit.

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  11. The ability to make a quick judgement is a survival skill that humans have honed through the generations. It's part of why we are still thriving as a species. I don't believe anyone who says they don't judge, even babies do it by smiling at a familiar face or making strange to an unfamiliar one, it is that innate to human nature.

    That said, there is no reason to be nasty to others if you arrive at a judgement that doesn't support their view (or what you think their view is). I've had plenty of nasty "judgements" on my blog so I know what you mean about putting yourself out there. Personally, if I'm asking the question I would rather have honest opinions, no matter how much I may disagree. Sometimes it is a case of feeling the foundations shake only to realize that we are the ones shaking them.

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    1. Xoxo, I agree - everyone judges, but I like to sometimes question why I am and be careful I am not just being a bitch or catty, to quote Naomi's claw-Wielding pals!

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  12. You are one of my very favorite blogs and I think it is so wonderful that you share a bit about yourself. You sound just like you look -- like someone we can all relate to and love.

    But holy cow, what IS that drink! Isn't mixing different liquors supposed to give you a hangover?????? I will have to pass on that one; my latest go to is the dirty martini. My kids are on spring break and I find I up the alcohol percentage during these periods...

    The class sounds great, I will have to look into it. Do you find that you get a little burnt out on personal introspection and self betterment from time to time? This school year, I was seeing a psychiatrist for myself, a child psychologist both with one son (ADHD and anxiety) alone, and with all three children together, and in a weekly parenting class and am getting so mixed up with all the things that I need to work on. Maybe THIS is why I am upping the ante on the alcohol. In the end, when I had to add frequent physical therapy to the mix for a knee cap problem (now, did you even know there could be a knee cap problem??), I ended up putting a hold on the therapy for kids and for me, and I must say, I am enjoying this break! I have always been a pretty decent student, but it is SO much harder to learn behavior than it is to learn facts.

    Anyway, I am sorry to get off topic. I think you have the perfect mix of personal divulgence, and I do hope you continue sharing with us!

    Have a wonderful wonderful weekend!

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    1. Audrey, I am so shallow - I love Brene cause we do crafts with paint and pictures and she swears and says just do your best and chie up and be whole hearted! So am doing it here and so long as one shows up (sure that will be tabs as she has Scottish guilt) I'll be here too!

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  13. I started to read this and had to stop for 2 Margaritas, switch from phone to IPad, so I could dive in. I am a INFJ also. I hate sharing a lot of personal stuff on my blog, but interestingly, those are the ones people like to read. Are we all voyeurs?
    I adore Brene and have read several of her books. Sadly, I paid for Brene's first course, read the book and never bothered to sign on and do the course. I may do this second one. Vulnerability is so important to living a full, loving life...I'm a constant work in progress. If criticized, I fight like hell, then fold like a house of cards.
    I wondered how your blog would develop as you cut back on the style discussions. How's this one working out for you?
    I judge, we all judge, the goal is to not be vicious bitches about it. That kind of judgement is because of a failure within ourselves. An insecurity.
    I wish I was closer and could bring over a magnum of bubbly. Instead, I'll have another Magarita and ponder why I paid for a class I couldn't be bothered to attend. xoxoJennifer plus an extra couple hugs:D

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    1. Had to hoot and holler at Tabs and BB...love those ladies! Love you too Wendy.

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    2. What a hoot! You'd like the course cause there's arts and crafts! Agree completely about the insecurity part! Love you too!

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  14. I used to get offended about a number of things but we had a yoga teacher who used to get us to stop and ask those same questions - why am I getting so mad about that. As I have often ended up liking people who at first seem abrasive I try and give people the benefit of the doubt more these days.

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  15. And meanwhile I'm still trying to figure out what the Myers-Briggs is. I have gotten as far as figuring out that the conversation isn't about xoxo's favorite luggage.

    A snippet from my life: a group is meeting here next week, and the lady who organized the thing offered to email all the prospective attendees (4) to bring their own coffee so I wouldn't have to go to the trouble... It was very difficult to make it clear to her that I make coffee every morning and making a larger pot is not my definition of trouble.

    Yes, every time I tell myself that I shouldn't be so judgmental, some stupid little thing like that happens. I find it hard to believe that I even know someone who finds it difficult to make an extra cup or two of coffee. Ah, life is full of challenges, innit?

    Blog me is grumpy so that IRL me can be sweetness and light.

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    1. Fred - personality preference tool used especially in workplaces to help people learn how to work more complementary together!

      your story made me laugh out loud!

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  16. Even though it's great to have civil discourse among friends, I am reading undertones of personal political inclinations in regards to standards and evaluations. I know how carefully all of you bloggers tread. I am always amazed at the time and dedication you, Wendy, and many others put into this endeavor. I most definitely do not find you to be narcissistic. I am grateful for the sense of community you and others provide to this shy introvert. I also respect the individual boundaries people set in terms of sharing. I wouldn't consider myself a voyeur but am fascinated my the glimpses, of whatever size each deems appropriate, into everyone's life and experiences.

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    1. excellent comment teacups! It's so funny! I was frustrated earlier in the day yesterday because I felt I had probably written my original post so badly that it was being misconstrued to then thinking it was very funny and the lesson to me yesterday was 'for god's sake, stop taking yourself so seriously!', which was good advice for almost everything in life! And you are right, I think I ought to have said blogging feels like it is a narcissistic endeavour, when in fact, for most bloggers, it is really a way to connect and for this blogger at least, got all the garbly thoughts out of my head!

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  17. My favourite quote is “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” My second favourite is "Never compare your insides to everyone else's outsides.” I blog and read with those two things in mind.

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Kindness is a virtue...