UPDATE: Here are links to the first two discussions of The Gifts of Imperfection:
Welcome to the third virtual meeting of our book club to discuss The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown! (If you don’t know what’s going on around here, read this post and visit Brené’s web site.) The discussion in the comments of Q&A #1 and Q&A #2 are brilliant. I’m touched by how brave everyone has been in sharing some very personal stuff. That is beautiful and courageous and exactly the point of The Gifts of Imperfection. Well done and thank you, everyone.
Once again, I’ve covered the Guideposts pages of my book with arrows, exuberant underlining, brackets, and circles. The topics in these last few Guideposts resonated with me a lot, especially the stuff about creativity and play.
If we were all sitting together in my living room, I’d ask you some questions to get the ball rolling. I’ve shared a few of my thoughts below… take a look at the questions and let us know what you think in comments. Don’t feel pressure to answer all the questions; feel free to respond to the ones that inspire you — and be sure to add questions of your own if the spirit moves.
Guidepost #5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith (p. 87)
Truth is humor; and humor is truth. We joke around our house that I know what I want every second of every day, and that’s mostly true. I tend to trust my gut most of the time, but after reading this chapter, I realize that often, when I ask others, “What do you think?” it’s because I don’t like what my gut is telling me. Need to spend some time thinking on that!
I could also relate to this: “When we just want to get the decision-making over with, it’s a good idea to ask ourselves whether we simply can’t stand the vulnerability of being still long enough to think it through and make a mindful decision.” You guys, I’m not even kidding. Dave and I were just discussing something important that we’ve been mulling over for a few weeks, and I blurted, “Jeez! F*ck it. We’re doing it. I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Yes, I have a little bit of a history of jumping into things because I don’t want to examine them any more. Working on it. Promise.
Do you follow your gut? How does that usually work for you? Do you ever get impatient with the decision-making process, or are you a mull-it-over type of person?
Guidepost #6: Cultivating Creativity (p. 93)
Prior to this past year, I would have read this chapter and been forced to admit to myself that I’d let my creativity flounder in the wake of the “discipline” of training and the real — and perceived — distractions of my full-time job. But I’m delighted that in 2010, Dave and I committed to the cookbook project and injecting more creativity (and bravery) into our lives. It was tough at first, and there were times when I felt like I’d over-committed myself, but the work — the actual making of recipes and writing and photos and collaborating, and then sharing it with others — was life-affirming and invigorating.
A few years ago, a friend told me her favorite quote was “Comparison is the killer of joy.” That quickly became one of my favorites, too.
What inspires your creativity — and are you making time for it… or can you carve out some time to add it to your life?
Guidepost #7: Cultivating Play and Rest (p. 99)
About a year and a half ago, my therapist asked me, “What do you do to play?” I sat silently for, like, five minutes, then said with a giant question mark in my voice, “CrossFit?”
Play is “apparently purposeless,” so that leaves out CrossFit, writing, and a bunch of other things I enjoy that are playful but not really play. However, I do play hide-and-seek with Smudge, and most of the time, when I stroll around my neighborhood, I walk on the curbs like they’re balance beams or kick a rock in front of me with each step, like my own private soccer game.
Play is definitely one of the areas where I could put some attention. I have a hard time when I can’t think of a purpose for the thing I’m doing. Intellectually I know that’s detrimental, but emotionally, I’m still working on it.
Do you find it easy or hard to truly play? What’s your go-to playtime activity?
Guidepost #8: Cultivating Calm and Stillness (p. 105)
Brené wrote, “For me, breathing is the best place to start. Just taking a breath before I respond slows me down and immediatly starts spreading calm.”
One of the gifts of Kundalini yoga that’s really affected me outside of class is my new attention to my breathing. When I feel myself getting tense, I roll my shoulders back and down, then use of the nifty breathing patterns our teacher Robin has us practice. My current favorite is 8 little inhales (kinda like snorts through the nose) while mentally, chanting sa-ta-na-ma, sa-ta-na-ma, followed by a long slow exhale until the lungs are empty. It’s instantly energizing and relaxing. Great trick for when you feel like you might explode.
Have you tried meditation; what was your experience? If you’re not a meditator, what stops you from trying it?
Guidepost #9: Cultivating Meaningful Work (p. 111)
Ugh. One of my least favorite things when meeting new people is the inevitable, “What do you do?” question. Until recently, I’ve never felt like what I did to pay my mortgage was an adequate descriptor of who I am, and even now, I would say ‘writer’ before blogger or paleo chef. I’ve always wished I could say to people, “Don’t tell me your job. Tell me what matters to you.” but that’s a little personal for handshake time, no? I just think it’s so much more meaningful to know what makes peoples’ hearts sing or makes them feel good about themselves.
What do you think of that? What would you say if we were just meeting, and I released my natural weirdo and asked “What matters to you?” rather than “What do you do?” Or would you rather talk about what you do?
Guidepost #9: Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance (p. 117)
When my thyroid conked out a few years ago, I had a very strange experience: I didn’t enjoy listening to music anymore. It was too loud, too jangly, too annoying. I stopped singing in the shower and in the car… my band practices were lackluster and eventually, both of the bands I was in sort of fizzled out. It was heartbreaking because I’ve played the piano and loved singing since before I could write my own name. I knew my Synthroid prescription was finally working the morning I found myself singing along to the radio, very loudly, on my way to a CrossFit workout at 6:00 a.m.
Having music in my life is essential, and another thing I love about Kundalini is that we sing at least in every class. It makes my heart soar to sit with my eyes closed and hear-feel the vibration of the whole room singing in unison — reminds me of my dorky, but beloved, high school chorus days.
I’m also very pleased to say that Dave and I have instituted dance breaks in our work day. So far, we’ve shaken our fannies to Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” and Pitbull’s “Rain Over Me.” In Dave’s defense, I have to admit those songs were my picks, and when it’s his turn to play DJ, he’ll probably select better songs. He has great taste; I like what I like, whether it’s “good” or not. Anyway… it was fun and sweaty and silly and had no purpose. Whoop!
The story Brené told on pages 122-123 about her daughter dancing in the department store reminded me, again, how grateful I am that my parents let me be weird. They embraced my “not like others” tendencies, and it was such a gift. I roller skated to the library in an orange terrycloth bathrobe, built a fifth grade speech assignment around how to make tacos, braided my hair into cornrows when Bo Derek was super famous, and went through a period when I wanted to dress like a ’50s sock-hopper. Through it all, they told me I was beautiful and smart, so now I feel perfectly comfortable being the weirdo in the room. YAY!
Are you a shower singer? A public dancer? A private dancer?
Not a question, but…
On page 126, Brené wrote, “I’m not at all sure that this work is about self-help. I think of it as an invitation to join a Wholehearted revolution…. Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance.”
I like nothing more than being defiant and railing against the way others say we’re supposed to live: in fear, in shame, stuffed with processed food, beholden to celebrity ideals of what’s beautiful… I’m not doing it, and I applaud you for reading this book so you can think about how you’re not going to do it, either.
Hit the comments and let us know what you think!
Pages 1-48 (intro to the beginning of Guidepost #1) – Monday, February 13– Read the Discussion
Pages 48-85 (Guidepost #1 though Guidepost #4)– Monday, February 20– Read the Discussion
Pages 86-130 (Guidepost #5 throrugh the end)– Monday, February 27– Done!If you’re new here, you’re welcome to join us! Just get a copy of The Gifts of Imperfection and chime in on the discussion anytime!
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