The Tides on This Battle Are Turning – Or Not

Tides are TurningIn flipping through our TiVo menu, I came across Joel Osteen’s program and it felt so uplifting to watch it. While many know Joel Osteen for his “prosperity gospel,” and some deride him for it, I appreciate his uber-positive message. It’s kind of a mix between traditional bible-based Christianity with new age abundance principles.

What I loved about this week’s show was the story Joel told about Susan Boyle and how she became a commercial success in spite of unthinkable odds. The singer was in the audience as he told the story of her oxygen-deprived birth and how it was anticipated that she would be at a physical disadvantage for her entire life. She’s now a public figure, known for her amazing voice and story of overcoming adversity.

Of course, this has me thinking about how much I get in my own way. I know what to do to lose weight and create new healthier habits, yet when I don’t feel hopeful, I revert back to old, unhealthy (easy) ways of doing things.

During today’s program, the line “the tides on this battle are turning” struck me loud and clear, primarily because he presented it as a decision, rather than some defining moment that is created by an outside influence. It’s from the inside. If you want the tides to turn, you get to turn them. You “start talking yourself into it.”

I have started talking myself into doing what I need to do to become healthy, self-aware and strong both emotionally and physically, into my 50s and beyond. It reminds me of a quote that I post on my social profiles:

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” ~ Bradley Whitford

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A Gift from an Amazing Researcher: Vulnerability and Shame as Tools for Growth

GraffitiIf you’re a woman over 40, I’m willing to bet you’re intimately familiar with vulnerability and shame and you don’t like how they feel. You may hate them and you may even try to hide from them. For me, even looking over my shoulder to catch a glimpse can seem  too frightening.

I’ve been facing a lot of my feelings of shame of late and whoa, is it ever painful! My childhood and young adulthood were extremely challenging and I learned ways to function that were completely inappropriate. Looking back, I feel shame at some of my own actions. I also feel a much deeper shame for things that were done to me by people who should have been watching out for me. By facing it and staring it down, I’m making major progress in releasing it little by little.

If my story sounds familiar and rings true for you in even a small way, please take some time to listen to the TED talks by Brene Brown. Seriously, take some time NOW and go watch them. My favorite is about Listening to Shame and it’s so compelling that I wish it was a requirement for women everywhere. (And – BONUS – it’s totally entertaining.)

One of Brown’s main points is that vulnerability is actually courage in action. It’s not weakness and “it fuels our daily lives.” She states that to let ourselves be vulnerable is a gift to ourselves and others.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change,” she says. Describing herself as a vulnerability researcher (who focuses primarily on women), Brown is also well-versed on the topic of shame. Both shame and vulnerability can be catalysts for growth. In order to innovate and solve problems, you have to be willing to face failure, which is often the basis of shame. Shame tells you “you’re not good enough” and asks you “who do you think you are?” Facing it and admitting your failure requires vulnerability and allows others to say, “me, too.”

Brown describes out the “warm wash of shame” that is familiar to so many women. Our culture creates expectations for women that we can never meet, causing us to feel shame and separate from others and potentially never reach for what we really want. The good news? When we face shame and vulnerability, we can “dare greatly” and accomplish much.

My favorite quote from her talk is this one:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

What about you? Have you faced shame and vulnerability and come out stronger, more peaceful and happier on the other side? Tell me about it!

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Giving Up First World Problems

SpheresIt’s so easy for us to complain about the little things that bother us in our day-to-day lives, though what I like best about hitting midlife is how much easier it is to distinguish between real problems and what’s become known as “first world problems.” (KnowYourMeme.com defines them as “frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It is typically used as a tongue-in-cheek comedic device to make light of trivial inconveniences.”)

Lately, when I’m feeling annoyed by something work-related or less-than-happy with somebody at the office, I remind myself that I write social posts and website articles AND teach people how to be nice to people, FOR A LIVING.

Some people stand over hot stoves all day, or stand on their feet and wait tables, or care for the elderly in nursing homes, or perform the same redundant function, over and over again, on an assembly line. All day long, they do something that they don’t love. Something that they have to do to pay the bills. Something that leaves them physically exhausted and unsatisfied. They dream of having a job that they love, though they have bills to pay and family to care for, and they don’t have the option of going back to school or pursuing a new career.

Me? I’m incredibly blessed with my work. Even I work too many hours. Even if it seems to  hurt my brain. And how incredibly self-centered would I be to let any of it truly annoy me?

When I think about it for just a few seconds, I’m pretty stupified by how fortunate I am to get to do what I do. And extremely grateful that it pays for my family to have a comfortable home, clothes on our backs, and food on the table.

The “first world problems” lens is a good one to hold up when you feel angry or annoyed about just about anything. How important is it really?

What first world problems have you stopped complaining about? Tell me about it! 

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