Olney, MD>Plantation, FL> Dunwoody, GA>Farmington, CT>Avon, CT>Simsbury, CT>Alpharetta, GA
We all have a story. Mine goes through 5 states and almost 41 years.
I remember sitting in the den with my brother, my mom and my dad in our house in Dunwoody, GA. I had just finished 2nd grade. For this gathering, my brother and I were corralled in a more organized fashion than was typical. I thought to myself, this must be serious. After a few minutes of small talk, Dad said, “What do you think about moving to yankee-land?”. Puzzled, my brother and I began to digest the reality of leaving Dunwoody, GA for Simsbury, CT.
Change is always difficult, but with change comes knowledge, new experiences and strength. Simsbury ended up being pretty awesome.
At some point toward the end of my sophomore year, we found ourselves having a similar conversation to the one that took place in our den in Dunwoody. This time the scene was from a room in a house at 41 Woodhaven Drive Simsbury, CT. I don’t remember any witty details like “yankee-land”, but I’m sure Mom and Dad worked something into the discussion. We were moving to Alpharetta, GA, and I was going to finish high school at Chattahoochee High School.
I had almost earned my stripes as a full fledged New Englander.
I played hockey and lacrosse.
I had hockey hair.
I was a walking postcard for L.L. Bean.
The Hartford Whalers were the center of my sports life.
The words ya’ll and grits were not in my vocabulary.
Now I was going to live in Alpharetta and attend Chattahoochee.
CHETTA HOOCHEE HA SKUUL
My 16-year-old self and my 40-year-old self have very different opinions of change.
I was trading this …
There I was, walking into Chattahoochee High School for the first time.
Everything was super clean, almost sterile. It was a brand new school that was populated by students that were moved from two other high schools. It still smelled like fresh paint and recently mudded drywall. As I walked tentatively through the halls, I heard the collective cacophony of hundreds of conversations talking about what happened during the summer. Small clusters of bodies huddled together with the energy and excitement that tends to build up over the break. Lockers slammed shut and sneakers squeaked as students raced back and forth to see others and be seen. As they got acquainted with their new surroundings, the teachers stood outside their classrooms with a balance of optimism and uncertainty in their eyes.
This experience wasn’t just new to me. It was new to everyone.
New isn’t bad. It’s just new.
Little by little, I put myself out there and built the foundations of friendships that I still hold dear today. Change takes courage. Courage takes being okay with being vulnerable.
I was vulnerable and it was okay.
I recently watched a wonderfully insightful TED talk from Dr. Brene Brown called The Power of Vulnerability. I would encourage you to join the 25+ million people that watched it.
Dr. Brown is a storyteller and researcher who has spent the last thirteen years researching the topics of vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. She is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection.
Brown presents the idea that humans are built upon the concept of connection. We are wired to seek and make connections. Shame is a human emotion that works against our ability to make those connections. Many of us fear that we are not worthy of it. Its that voice that questions your own perspective on how the world sees you.
Brown built a research project to deconstruct vulnerability and shame. The project became very personal to her because her nature as a researcher was almost polar opposite to the subject she was researching. Researchers seek to control and predict. Being vulnerable is about releasing control and attachment to outcome.
Brown was caught in the middle of her nature and her research, which lead to a breakdown and massive breakthrough that served both her soul and the project outcome.
– Interviews with 1,280 participants (750 female/530 men).
– Took over 400 students through her graduate course on Shame.
– Trained over 15,000 mental health & addiction professionals.
– Went through over 3,500 case studies, notes, letters and journal pages.
– Love and happiness come from a sense of worthiness.
– Have the courage to be imperfect.
– Make connections by being the authentic “you”
– Fully embrace vulnerability.
– Do something without any guarantees.
– Breathe through challenges.
– Say I love you first.
– Practice gratitude everyday.
– Let yourself be seen.
– Believe that you are enough.
“The big question I ask is, when I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?” – Brene Brown
Comfort is always the easy choice. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore the easy choice.
Thanks to Dr. Brown, I am experimenting with an addition to my daily journaling that incorporates an assessment of courage over comfort.
Did I drive past the stalled car in the road thinking someone else would help?
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss from The Four Hour Workweek
- Floating @ FLO2S – I recently tried floating in a sensory depravation chamber. It was suggested by a reader of 52 musings. Talk about embracing vulnerability. 90 minutes floating in a dark chamber of salt water with ear plugs. By embracing vulnerability, I was able to experience something that produced 10x the calming effects and increased focus that meditation provides.
- News In Slow Spanish – I spend a lot of time in the car. I love podcasts. I recently found one that actually reads the news in Spanish … slowly. I used to be able to speak Spanish rather well, but I’ve lost it over time. Needless to say, the first few episodes had my brain in spasms. The zone was not comfortable.
- Me Gusta Agua Fria – I start every day with cold water.
Do you have to jump into a dark tank of water to experience the victory of courage over comfort? Hell no. Try taking a totally new way home from work today. Throw the football with your non-dominant hand. Join a Toastmasters group. Find a new place for lunch. Go speak to some 3rd graders about one of your passions.
Find something and build upon it.
So what happens when things formally outside your comfort zone are comfortable?
I think that’s called growth.
Courage is contagious. Vulnerability is not weakness.
You have to be vulnerable to be courageous.
– Pushing the envelope of your comfort zone.
– Giving without expectation for anything in return.
– Being the real you.
– Taking an unwavering stand for something you believe in.
– Your first double under.
– Being okay with how silly you feel during your first meditation experience.
– Saying you don’t know the answer in order to learn.
– Playing a song you wrote for someone.
Be vulnerable. Be courageous.
Speaking of courageous, Happy Mother’s day to my mom, Pat and my wife, Traci.
These two can run a Master class on the topic.
Love you both.