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Cheers, dear readers,

I recently had the incredible good fortune of seeing one of my heroes, Brené Brown speak live at George Washington’s Lisner auditorium near my home. I was blessed by a friend offering me her ticket to this sold out event when her day’s tasks started to get out of hand for her. A part of me felt badly to take her ticket, yet I was beside myself excited to get to see this amazing author, speaker, and mentor of mine speak live. I saw Brené speak two years ago when she was promoting her book, Rising Strong. She was incredible that first time as well. This presentation was even more superbly delivered – she is becoming an expert, highly professional, natural, and hilariously entertaining speaker! I am so proud and inspired by her accomplishments. As Brené says she does when she is working on something that scares her, I borrow courage from Brené to help me find the bravery to make my dreams come true.

I’d love to share with you some of my takeaways and insights that I gathered from her talk, as well as the book that her presentation is based on “Braving The Wilderness” (which I am currently reading at the moment). One of the main concepts of the book is the conundrum that we face in our intense desire to belong, and how that rubs up against the desire and courage to stand strong – yet sometimes alone (thus in effect not belonging anywhere).

For context, Brené defined “belonging” in “Gifts of Imperfection” as:

Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

I totally get that! In walking an unconventional path such as being diagnosed with infertility and possibly seeking IVF treatment, we are often called up to present our most authentic selves to the world in a big, but sometimes very challenging way. Coloring outside of the lines of successful natural pregnancy as a path to parenthood can welcome oodles of out-of-comfort-zone-ness and all of the awkwardness that goes with that. BUT the rewards and satisfaction of having the courage and strength to walk your own unique path, making lemons out of lemonade that you have been handed can be so great!

A quote that Brené comes back to again and again in her book as well as her presentation is this quote by Maya Angelou:

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

Maya goes on to say, “I belong to Maya. That’s where I belong.” When we find that sense of belonging by literally belonging to ourselves – coming home to ourselves – that is an amazingly comforting and fulfilling feeling to cherish.

Here are some other main takeaways and nuggets of wisdom:

– Can you be willing to risk this connection with others to be true to yourself?
– “I don’t think it’s ever been harder to either stand alone OR belong somewhere” [than in today’s world].
– We “sort ourselves” into categories, which can create loneliness and disconnection.
– We are a social species —> success = grow into someone on whom others can depend.
– When we are LONELY —> this is as real and dangerous as hunger, thirst, and pain. Loneliness is Dangerous – it is a better predictor of early death than diabetes, cancer, etc. To watch the TedTalk that Brené referenced in her talk about how loneliness is literally killing us, click here.
People are hard to hate close up. Move in. “People cling to hate stubbornly because once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” — James A. Baldwin
Circle of Moral Exclusion — when one puts people outside of their circle, THEN you can demean, torment, murder those outside. (e.g. rampant dehumanization of people)

She ends with the concept of “Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.” We may all eventually know the pain of self-betrayal. We do not negotiate our self-worth with others. It is in our own heart. Consider the concept of “I shall not be moved” to help you stand your ground.

Brené closed with this video of this song, “If I Needed You”

I can whole-heartedly recommend this latest book from Brené Brown, “Braving The Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone”. I am enjoying completing reading the book right now! She is definitely one of my favorite authors, mentors, and heroes!

Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. I wish you the best on your journey.

Warm regards,
Cathy

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