About Tracey

Tracey Yokas creates stuff. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing with paint, glitter, and glue. Art fuels her passion for connection. Tracey lives in Southern California with her family, and aspires to share her truth so others will know they are not alone. Each time she takes a risk and shines a light on her family’s struggle with mental illness, stigma and ignorance lessen. Tracey holds a BS in Communications from Ohio University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from California Lutheran University. 

Tracey has contributed articles to iPinion Syndicate (here), and had essays selected to appear in two anthologies: Belly Shame: Stories from the Gut edited by Debra LoGuercio DeAngelo and The Walls Between Us: essays in search of truth edited by Beth Kephart.

 

"We're all just walking each other home."

–Ram Dass

Notes on Gratitude

Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 3

Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 3

Chapter Three, Spearheaded by Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

First, you probably noticed that I added the word "international" to our bookclub. Well, why not! We are an international group and how fun to be able to say so. Thank you Nettonya and Xeno for making this true!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. It's not too late to join us. If you'd like to get caught up, you can do so with the links below. We've been having some pretty great conversations already.

Introduction/Chapter One

Chapter Two

If you're joining us late, please take a moment as you leave your comment to introduce yourself. 

Here we go. Thank you Maria.

Chapter Three, Owning Our Stories

At a motivational conference several years ago, I heard the speaker confront some attendees about the stories they were telling about their lives. As several people asked him questions, their comments began with explanations of the challenges they faced in attaining their goals.  He replied, and I’m paraphrasing: “Be careful of your story. Notice how your attention is on what’s not working, instead of on what is!”  He went on to explain how each of us has a story about our lives, and we can control that story. As attendees continued to share their setbacks, he’d reply: “Well, that’s a great story.” His sarcastic verbal punch took the wind out of their stories, and invited many of us to consider: Will our failures or successes define us? What is the story we tell ourselves, and others, about our lives? Brené Brown gives us a process to transform all our stories into successes.

In Chapter 3 of Rising Strong, she writes:

“’Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest think we’ll ever do.’ I still believe in this quote from two of my previous books—maybe now more than ever. But I know that it takes more than courage to own your story. We own our stories so we don’t spend our lives being defined by them or denying them. And while the journey is long and difficult at times, it is the path to living a more whole-hearted life.” This is a three-part process: The Reckoning, The Rumble, and The Revolution.

My Reckoning: The first half of this year was an immensely stressful time for me. Family crises and workplace communication breakdowns thrust me into survival mode every day. I spent many nights in fitful sleep. One night I was lying awake thinking about how tired and stressed I was. I kept repeating this over and over to myself, until I remembered the words of the speaker: be careful the story you tell yourself. The words broke through my heavy thoughts. A peace I hadn’t experienced in weeks settled in, and I got out of bed determined to write a new story.

My Rumble: I grabbed a notebook and pen and what poured out of me became my personal manifesto. I returned to these words every day for weeks and weeks until the storms subsided and the situations resolved. Here are a few excerpts:

I am loved. I am supported. I have a wonderful support network. I am empowered. I am responsible. I am resilient. I am bigger than this. I am deeply loved. I am capable. I am a good listener. I am taking good care of myself. I am eating well and resting often. I attend to my health and wellness. I am enjoying the sunshine and spring growth. I am a grateful receiver of all the goodness flowing to me.

I celebrate and value my work. I care for it every day. I love every word and idea that comes to me. I put these ideas into action with confidence and grace. I trust the flow of energy which surges to help me complete challenging or difficult tasks. I listen to music and welcome its healing power into my being.

I have deep sufficiency and all my needs are met. I am rested and ready to live another day. I am excited to see this day unfold and to welcome and celebrate the blessings to come. I bless everyone I will encounter today, and I release any negativity which tries to glom onto me.

I am healed. I am strong. I am courageous. I am tender. I am a leader. I am determined to live in the fullest expression of who I am authentically created to be. I am abundant in love, grace, resources, time, and health. I love my story.

My Revolution: BB speaks of integration through creativity. “Creating is the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us,” she writes. That early morning with my notebook, the dawn rising outside my window, was a pivotal act of paying attention to my experience. Ultimately, both situations with my family and workplace demanded big action that required real courage on my part. I stepped up and handled things I never would have thought I’d do on my own. I would have collapsed under the weight of it all if I’d still been on repeat, stuck in perceived failure, telling myself how tired and stressed I was.

I think for the people at that motivational conference, and for me sometimes, too, failure can be comfortable. Playing the victim means we don’t have to take responsibility to do the hard work that comes with success, and that our outcomes are in someone else’s hands. BB doesn’t let us off the hook that easily. For the courageous who dig into their stories of failure and do the Rising Strong Process, they’ll never be bound by them. That sounds like success to me.

  • 2 December 2015
  • Author: Tracey Yokas
  • Number of views: 3246
  • Comments: 47
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47 comments on article "Rising Strong International! cyber-bookclub Ch. 3"

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Nancy Glenn

12/3/2015 12:51 PM

First of all, Maria, congratulations for creating your new story! What a profound difference and lightness I can detect in your "voice." I continue to be amazed by the power our stories hold over us and how devastating their effects can be. I agree that we do relinquish ourselves to them no matter how bad and how wrong they often prove to be. They can be crippling.

The subtopic of Integrating through Creativity resonated so much with me. In the struggles of writing my memoir, how to deal with my sexual abuse story has been particularly challenging. I believe this is because I have not yet fully resolved the abuse - how to finally "sit" with it. I keep putting off edits to that chapter. Should I ignore it, mention it off-handedly, or dive into it wholeheartedly because the abuse connects so many dots in my life? Reading Rising Strong is making it apparent that I must dive in. I must find a way but dive I must. It defines and informs and explains so much of my life and how I came to be a victim of sexual abuse. I keep feeling dishonest with myself and my readers if I don't find a way to confront it and give it the accounting it warrants. As I shared earlier, for most of my life my story around the abuse was a complete denial of it as abuse at all - seemingly the easy story to tell myself and one that permitted me to bury the issue deeply and with dire consequences for so many years. The true story, arrived at through years of "rumbling" with a great therapist by my side, while far from easy to accept - my abuser was/is a close family member - it is the only story that allows me to heal. This gets to authenticity and vulnerability - two of Brene's powerful messages that empower and lead us to know our true stories.


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Crystal Chin

12/4/2015 8:22 AM

I can totally relate to the writing of your memoir Nancy! I also struggled with writing mine and whether or not to include my experience as a child with my dad's alcoholism. My memoir is mostly about my dance career and my relationship with my mother but as I got to editing the entire manuscript and having my book coach and friends read it, everyone said I left a huge part of who I am out. My experience with my father didn't define me but it is a huge part of my story and I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't experienced those things. I was told to not ignore it in my book. I realized how in me "skipping over" that huge part of my life, I was continuing the pattern of trying to take care of my dad instead of myself. I wanted to heal so in the end, I told my whole story. Thank you for sharing yours!


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Nancy Glenn

12/4/2015 10:16 AM

Thanks, Chrystal - how to write about my experience with abuse is truly challenging because my abuser is living and has a wife and two grown kids and grandchildren. My challenge has a lot to do with telling my story without harming innocent people. The issue of the potential for causing harm by not coming out with this so many years ago - 50+ - is another story and struggle but, of course, is tangled up with the family dynamic, etc. It's messy and I feel I have sorted out the puzzle pieces but need to put the pieces together properly to tell the story authentically without destroying lives. I think it's possible but not easy. What worth doing ever is? Thank you for your support and guidance.


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Crystal Chin

12/7/2015 10:03 PM

That's definitely a tough one, but it sounds like you are doing exactly what you need to do in this process. I read this article the other day about writing about family. I know every case and person is different but it helped me a bit in reading about how others went about it. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-about-family-in-a-memoir


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Heather Higinbotham

12/10/2015 10:23 PM

Thank you, Nancy and Crystal for your sharing here! I resonate so deeply with what you are both saying, and am also writing a memoir and stuck on what parts to tell in what detail. I'm reminded often that the physical and psychological abuse I experienced in my past marriage are key components to my story, but that they are just part of my story and that they don't define me. Those experiences essentially shocked me out of numbness and into the long process of learning how to draw safe and healthy boundaries for myself. And, through that, I transitioned from victim of domestic abuse to survivor of domestic abuse to learning how to be strong and confident in who I am and owning that unapologetically. It's also tricky, because my ex-husband is also the father of my 9 year old daughter, and at least today wants to be part of her life, so I'm still struggling with how to tell that part of the story respectfully yet honestly. I think what i need to do is just write it all down, as real and raw and ugly as it feels, to get it out of my head/heart and on paper, then decide what to do with it. If I try to write it censored as I go, which I've been trying to unsuccessfully, it just keeps me stuck and wrestling with it. So thank you for your comments, just through writing this response I realized what I need to do to move that part of my memoir forward, and I can decide later how to include in the final version!


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Sue Schwartz

12/11/2015 9:57 PM

Glad you figured out what works for you, Heather. I've been in a similar situation, in that I've tried to censor my writing as I'm writing. I also found out that doesn't work. Taking that step to write the raw and sometimes ugly truth can be scary. Sometimes doing that has brought me to tears, making me realize I still needed to explore my feelings. Writing the gut honest truth helped me deal with a lot of tough experiences. I think my own censoring was due to both protecting family members (in case I ever got so lucky as to be published) and protecting myself from feeling the deep pain that'd I'd been afraid I might find.


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Nancy Glenn

12/4/2015 10:19 AM

Sorry, Crystal - I misspelled your name in my initial response. 😐


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 4:49 PM

Thank you for sharing this Crystal and I'm glad to hear that more about your dad ended up in your memoir. Gosh, we do that. We sure do. We want to take care of others, the ones we love, or even don't love more than ourselves. We might as well be telling ourselves that we don't really matter. Or maybe we are telling ourselves that! I know that I have said that to myself on occasion over the years. Less so in the last 15, but still...when that is part of the foundation, the bldg can't help but be crooked. Thank you so much again for sharing and I just love how all the stories we're already sharing here are gorgeous examples of what Brene is talking about relative to writing our own endings!


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Tracey Yokas

12/6/2015 11:34 AM

Thank you again, Nancy for sharing your story with us. I'm working on a memoir also and I can relate to what you're saying about how hard it can be to figure out what parts of stories to tell and what we might not want to tell, not only to protect others but to protect ourselves too. I couldn't agree with you more that the ones we don't want to tell are exactly the ones we need to tell. That does not mean, as you accurately point out, that we don't have to be careful in the telling, but tell we must. This will give us the ability to write our own endings. My story is very different than yours, being my daughter's diagnosis of severe depression and an eating disorder when she was 13. I was rocked to my absolute core. I felt guilty and responsible, like there should have been something I could have done to prevent this pain and suffering from happening to her. Rationally, I knew this was not the case, but my heart would not believe it. It was an unbelievably difficult time trying to find the best treatment to help her in her recovery and trying to learn how to help myself, too. That is one of the biggest reasons I started this site. I wanted to share our journey/my journey and try to help people going through what we did. And also create a community just like the one we have here--our stories are different perhaps--different details, circumstances, people--but ultimately they are so much alike and how we are all working to embrace this kind of learning in our lives.

Oh how I go on...Anyway, what I REALLY wanted also to touch on was the integration through creativity that you and Maria both brought up via BB. Some of you may have seen the Just Finished post I wrote about Brainstorm, by Daniel Siegel, M.D. This was a fantastic book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of the brain and specifically how mindfulness helps our brain. The reason I wanted to bring it up is because he writes quite a bit about integration. I was going to do a separate post on this, but why not include it here since it's what we're discussing?!

I'm going to paraphrase some of what Dr. Siegel says about integration here. Integration, which is the linking of different parts of the brain, creates more coordination in the brain itself. We use our intuition to guide our decisions as we aim for positive values, honoring what matters to us. This is gist thinking. Gist thinking helps us develop judgment (the good kind.) The more integrated our brains are, the more effective. What we focus our attention on and what we spend time doing directly stimulate the growth of those part of the brain that carry out those functions.The growth of the frontal lobes permits us to experience our human ability of knowing about knowing. (This is where the idea of the gap I've written about comes in--our ability to know about knowing.) Without proper integration, our thinking can become too rigid or to chaotic. There are 5 separate areas of information flow coordinated and balanced by the prefrontal region: cortex, limbic area, brainstem, body proper, and the social world. When these are linked together, we call that integration. Integration creates the master functions of self-awareness, reflection, planning, decision making, empathy, and morality. Learning to deal with emotions means being aware of them and modifying them inside us so we can think clearly. Taking time to reflect inwardly is the science-proven way to create integration in the brain. Attention is the way we activate specific circuits in the brain and strengthen them.

I wanted to give you some of this information because it's the mechanism by which creativity strengthens integration and, as you can see, proper integration then impacts positively every area of our life. For the longest time, I wondered why I felt better emotionally after creating art. (This is not always true when I write--ugh. writing often frustrates me, but c'est la vie.) This is the answer: The act of paying attention, even if we're not exactly sure what we're paying attention to, helps us link different parts of our brain, moves us away from being too rigid or too chaotic, and makes our brain literally function better.

I've gone on a bit here, but I think this stuff is fascinating and important especially since BB informs us that integration is the engine that moves us through the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution and is what goes into making us whole.


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Sue Schwartz

12/9/2015 11:36 PM

Integration makes me think of how important it is to keep art, music, drama, etc in public schools. People need to be exposed to so many facets of what the brain is capable of, for so many reasons. Thanks for sharing what you've learned from this book, Tracey!


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:01 PM

Hi, Nancy!

Thanks for your comment about my voice sounding lighter after the manifesto was written. I think you're right! And, bravo for bravely discerning the issues around what to include in your memoir. Lately I've come to see that the writing is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. Just get it out on paper where you can deal with it, and then decide whether or not anyone else will ever read it. The writing brings the healing on so many levels. Hang in there!


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Judy Williamson

12/3/2015 1:06 PM

This is my first time responding and I am so excited that it's Chpt. 3 and Maria's reflection! I came from a childhood that was filled with love but also was on the constant brink of financial disaster with a father who was chronically ill and in and out of the hospital my entire life, and a mother who suffered with depression. By the time I was 13 I had seen my father receive the Last Rites of the Catholic Church three times. Because of this- I never learned how to rumble- you just learn how to deal and always go with the flow. A necessity when I was growing up, but not very healthy as an adult- in fact it becomes the perfect breeding ground for a very passive-aggressive appoach to life's conflicts. It takes great courage to "put your big girl panties on". This is one of the great gifts BB has given me- to take control of my life and the decisions I make and not let things just happen. As Maria expressed so well " there is a comfortableness in failure". I could go on and on but this is it for now. So happy to be part of this group!


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 4:45 PM

Thanks for sharing some of your story Judy. It sure does require "big-girl" (or boy, in deference to Xeno) panties to grow up. I often wish Peter Pan had really come for me when I was little and waited for him night after night in my dad's study. Well, obviously he never showed so I had no choice but to grow up. My upbringing was also one of severe financial struggle. I wasn't always aware of it as a kid, my parents managed to make sure I had enough to eat, but my dad had open heart surgery when I was 10 (37 years ago!) and he was never the same after that. He developed debilitating agoraphobia and could not leave the house to work for years and years. Finally, he became the janitor for a while at my high school, but it was too late and we had to move. Very trying times so I can totally relate to what you're saying and how that impacts childhood. We are very lucky that as we grew, we were able to realize the "deficits" we had and the need to work on them in order to live as healthier adults. Not easy for sure, but very rewarding. Thank you again for sharing!


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 1:59 PM

Hi, Judy! So glad you have joined this discussion. I think it's very brave to consider "rumbling" after we've been told to get a long all our lives. Your story is so powerful, and isn't it something how our stories keep circling around, with more to learn every time it does? Just when we think we've got something worked through, there's more to discover.


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Heather Higinbotham

12/10/2015 10:28 PM

Thanks, Judy! There is so much truth to the idea that there is comfortableness in failure, and how easy it is to just let life happen and learn to deal instead of actively take responsibility for your actions and how you show up. Because it's risky to speak up and try to change things! But that risk aversion is exactly what keeps us stuck and keeps us from being able to live wholeheartedly, as BB teaches. I'm loving this discussion thread! Thanks Maria for the chapter post and Tracey for organizing and hosting this group!


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Sue Schwartz

12/3/2015 3:37 PM

Maria, thank you for sharing how you have risen strong. I especially love those excepts from your notebook that kept reminding you how strong you are, and helped you to move forward in the way that worked best for you.

I feel I've come a long way in respect to owning my own stories. It's very exciting to realize how much power this brings to living a whole-hearted life. One odd thing I discovered is that I could get confused on what part of a situation each person was responsible for. I've learned to parcel that out better.

Having had low self-esteem and having been a people-pleaser for so many years, often I was quick to take on blame when I needn't have. I wound up feeling bad about myself in hopes others wouldn't think badly of me.

My story is complicated enough. I don't need to take on what other people need to be responsible for. Here's an example: My father and I get along pretty well, but almost every time I see him he manages to say at least one thing that I could paraphrase as, "I know more than you. I don't think you've thought this through enough. I can help you." I'm in the Rumble on this one. I used to feel hurt that my father didn't think of me as a responsible, sensible and relatively smart adult. Now I realize he does think of me as a responsible, sensible and relatively smart adult; it's just that he still wants to help me or take care of me so much that he can't help but offer his tidbits of advice that he now admittedly tells me "just in the very small chance you didn't think of that yourself."

So my father doesn't think I'm an idiot. But I used to interpret what he said in that vein. What he tells me is about him, not me. I wish it didn't take me so long to figure that out. I'm still in the Rumble because I get irked what he gives me that unasked-for advice. I have more to go to get to the Revolution.


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Nancy Glenn

12/4/2015 10:36 AM

Hi, Sue - the issue you recount about your father so reminds me of my own challenges not only with my father but with men who try to "fix" things for me! Reminds me of the old Mars-Venus theory! A theory that has helped me get past knee-jerk defensiveness so so many times over the years. I've even noticed that I play the "fix-it" role at times and need to step back, so it's not just a guy thing! A real struggle to overcome in either role.


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Sue

12/4/2015 3:04 PM

Yes, Nancy, I can get get drawn into that "fix-it" mode myself. I've learned to give others what I know I need myself - to have someone listen and help sort out feelings and options; not to quickly say, "Here's what I think; you should just..."

My husband can solve problems for me quickly in his mind, but it's so much more complicated in my mind. Recently, being in a bind about what to do in a situation with a friend, and knowing my husband would likely come up with a solution quickly, I sat him down, told him I needed to talk this through, figure out the pro's and con's and how I felt. I told him I didn't want him to tell me what to do, but just to listen and help me figure it out on my own. I needed a sounding board. It worked beautifully. I figured out the solution myself.

Not surprising, my decision was exactly what I knew my husband would have told me to do if I'd just asked him for his opinion at the start. But that would have left out a crucial step for me. Finding a solution isn't always about what others think I should do or feel. It's about my ability to process the situation so I feel comfortable with my decisions.


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 4:38 PM

That's so great Sue, that your husband was able to do as you asked and to listen. Maybe he had to bite his lip, but he did it!! That's so great. I know because I too jump straight into "fix it" mode. It drives me crazy when my husband does it to me so I know better, yet, old habits die hard, that's for sure. I've learned to do this less with my daughter. She's about to turn 17 and obviously needs to be making decisions on her own. I try to be a sounding board only, she knows I'm here for support if she needs more. BUT MAN!!! It's so hard.I'm quite certain--because I've tried the technique with my husband--that he will still tell me what to do. He can't help it I guess! Oh well...I'll keep trying :) Thx Sue.


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 4:39 PM

Yes, yes Nancy--I second re: the fix it mode and commented below Sue's...I so get you with this!


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 4:58 PM

"One odd thing I discovered is that I could get confused on what part of a situation each person was responsible for." I get this so much Sue. I hadn't really thought about it, but I find this to be happening more to me lately than less. I think this is partly due to the fact that I'm trying to bring more awareness into my life. I try to bring it into my actual interactions with people, but this is hard to do. It requires a lot of practice and patience. I'm sort of bad at patience. So, I spend a lot of time after encounters trying to figure out what may have gone wrong or what derailed the conversation or simply how I could have handled a situation better. Now, because I'm trying to be more careful about what I say, I realize I'm getting confused! It was easy, before, to always blame the other person--usually my poor dear husband-- for "messing" our conversations up. I'm shocked and stupefied to realize now, however, that I may be equally to "blame." Blame is a strong word, it's really not about pointing fingers per se, but I realize that --HORRORS--he may actually be right sometimes. Don't tell him I said this! So I appreciate you bringing this point out because this is an area for me that still requires work. I think it will improve as I improve in my ability to live the in the "gap" I mentioned in my post on Ch 1 and act instead of react, but it's a very interesting point to me. Thanks Sue!


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Sue Schwartz

12/4/2015 7:14 PM

Tracey, some of your comments made me laugh! I also have to admit that I used to think my husband was "wrong" most of the time when we argued. And my fragile self-esteem couldn't bear to admit I'd made a mistake; certainly not to him!

The more clear I've become on who I am, how I feel, what my needs are and how to communicate them, as well as taking responsibility for my story, I've had less arguments with my husband. I think this is due to being proactive instead of reactive. Calmly work on specific issues as they arise instead of letting out all sorts of baggage when the mounting pressure explodes.

I also discovered a lesson I wanted to teach my children as they were growing up: it's okay to be wrong & it's a sign of strength to apologize. It can make the relationship stronger. So I had to set an example for them.


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Xeno Hemlock

12/5/2015 3:58 AM

"What he tells me is about him, not me. "

^^ This is so true, Sue. It helps a lot when we take what other people say that way. I used to think the opposite which often got me butthurt but once I learned that what others say reflect them not us, things became easier.

I wish you and your father the best.


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:04 PM

Hi, Sue! I love the idea of whole-hearted living. Thank you for that! Also, I totally relate to how we have to renegotiate how we interact with others who have hurt us or try to control our interactions in some way. I know I do lots of deep breathing when I'm with people like that. You are not alone!


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Sue Schwartz

12/9/2015 11:40 PM

Credit for "whole-hearted" living goes to Brene! : )


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Heather Higinbotham

12/10/2015 10:47 PM

Thanks, Sue! I also am a recovering people pleaser, and a conflict avoider to boot, and was quick to take on blame to avoid rocking the boat. The struggle with discerning who played what part in an incident is so important, I think it's maybe the default to go straight to blame. Which, as we know from Brene, is an extremely powerful and loaded word. But I've learned that the most important thing for me to be able to do is to own my part with integrity. I spent many years in al anon and one of my favorite sayings from those rooms is learning to "keep my side of the street clean", which basically means as long as I'm showing up as the kind of person I want to be, if I can communicate with respect and integrity, then it's a lot easier for me to own my part when I do something I need to apologize or make amends for. And it's a lot easier to not take things personally when I know that often (usually) whatever it is is not about me, but about the other person, as was said later in this thread. Keep moving through that rumble, it sounds like you're doing an amazing job at taking things in perspective! I love the story about your father, that sounds like my dad too :)


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Sue Schwartz

12/11/2015 10:35 PM

Heather, I really love this expression: "keep my side of the street clean." I hadn't heard it before.

I've come a long way along the road to self-esteem. Having more self-confidence has been a huge factor in allowing myself to admit my mistakes (to myself and others) and to take responsibility for them. I aim to "keep my side of the street clean" and I deserve the same respect from others. Even if those close to me need reminding of this, as I surely need to be mindful of my own part in any problems.


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Tracey Yokas

12/4/2015 5:07 PM

Thank you for your wonderful post Maria. I loved the peek into your journal and your manifesto. I may have to borrow some of it! You are all of these things and more. Someone asked me recently, why can't we say to ourselves the things we're so willing to say to our loved ones. Here, you've given us the perfect example of how to do that and in the BB vein. One of the lessons in Gifts of Imperfection, that we did as a journaling exercise during the eclass was to do art around the fact that we'll only speak to ourselves the way we would to a loved one. Thank you for showing us so beautifully how to do so.

Also, I love this, "Playing the victim means we don’t have to take responsibility to do the hard work that comes with success, and that our outcomes are in someone else’s hands." This is so true. I spent a large portion of my younger years making lots of excuses for why my life wasn't turning out the way I wanted but I never shined that light on myself. Being a whole-hearted person requires hard work and dedication as do many of life's best things! Thank you again!


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:07 PM

Hi, Tracey! Thanks for your kind words. I do love my manifesto and have updated it a few times since the spring when I first wrote it. Borrow away!

And, I relate to the powerlessness position so well. I'm in my early 50's now and wish I'd known then what I know now. I waited so long for others to approve, or open doors for me. Now I still do on some level, but at least I'm aware that I'm doing it and can push through when need be.


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Xeno Hemlock

12/5/2015 2:00 AM

When I turned to read the chapter I was surprised with its brevity. But short doesn’t always mean lack of substance and I liked that this one was straight to the point packing a punch.

Tracey, I like the addition of the word International. Badass!

Maria, thanks for sharing your manifesto. It’s not easy sharing an intimate part of ourselves to other people, at least for me. So I know how special putting a piece of your manifesto here.

BB’s The Rising Strong Process, the three R’s, is perfect. This is something that’s easy to share to other people over talking to them about technical terms such as neuro-linguistic programming, which may overwhelm them upon hearing. And it’s division into 3-steps reflects the 3-act story structure which is more relatable in general. I made a poster/card with the slogan “Reckoning, Rumble, Revolution” as a reminder :)

Here:

https://www.canva.com/design/DABkJ5wEmPE/cFOxf61Y25wvJtMVq60Y3Q/view


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Tracey Yokas

12/6/2015 12:14 PM

I love that you made yourself a reminder Xeno...I am curious:

I know you have writing as a creative outlet. Do you do other types of artistic endeavors? If so, do you find that you feel different after you do them?

I've taken up coloring again. I find this a very effective tool for relaxation and integration and it brings a fuller range of color into my life. I'm curious to know this for everyone really.

Anyone who wants to share, pls tell us about your creative endeavors. I color, draw, paint sometimes (not original painting, but objects like picture frames etc. If anyone saw the pic on FB of my Christmas mantel, I painted that santa!


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Xeno Hemlock

12/8/2015 11:14 AM

Thanks Tracey!

I would love to pursue other creative endeavours: drawing, graphic design, photography, or even a musical instrument. But sadly because we only have 24 hours in a day, balancing 2 career paths take away a lot of energy so the only other creative endeavour I can only devote to writing & reading.

When I was younger I had time to pursue some of them (photography, graphic design) but quite frankly, I never felt as fulfilled with them the way I do with writing and reading.


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Sue Schwartz

12/10/2015 12:12 AM

I was fortunate to have grown up with art. My mom exposed me to many art forms, from batik to mosaics and ceramics to macrame, 4-harness loom weaving and needlepoint.

I can't say I've been artistic lately. For about 8 years I was into making jewelry (beading) and I loved it. Everything from looking for beads to designing a piece to making the piece - all so much fun. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in February 2013, I gave up this hobby, cold-turkey style. I lost the desire to be artistic. It felt like a waste of time; it certainly wasn't going to make my husband better. I didn't see it as fun or as taking care of myself anymore. I'm now rethinking that decision. I think getting back into beading would be fun. That will take some re-prioritizing in my schedule. No excuses, right? lol


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:11 PM

You are welcome, Xeno!


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Stephanie Maley

12/5/2015 7:06 PM

Maria, thank you for sharing your 3 R's and the tidbit "Be careful of your story". These days I am filled with uncertainty. My husband's work environment has changed a lot over the past year in a way that affects our hearts as well as his energy. We do not know how much longer we will be in our treasured rural town. In addition, I have been in the throes of "empty nest" syndrome. Instead of filling my head with all the things I am doing "wrong", I am considering another way.

I am aware of my "reckoning" and am in the "rumble". My mantra is similar to yours, Maria. "I am loved. I am lovable". With your permission, I believe I will add some more of yours i.e. "I am supported. I have a wonderful support network. I am empowered. I am responsible. I am resilient. I am bigger than this. I am deeply loved. I am capable. I am a good listener. I am taking good care of myself. I am eating well and resting often. I attend to my health and wellness, etc."

Stay tuned for the "revolution"...


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Tracey Yokas

12/6/2015 12:16 PM

Thank you Steph. I agree. Maria, if you're okay with it, some of us would maybe like to borrow parts of your mantra. This is all so positive and goes into what BB says about talking to ourselves with the same love and compassion as we would others...Can't wait to hear your revolution Steph. I'm sorry to hear things are tough with your hubby's work right now. His work is so important, it can't be easy to think about making tough decisions that might require change....


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:09 PM

Yes! Everyone is welcome to take whatever parts of the manifesto are helpful to them! I'm honored. Also, add to it. Once you get in the rhythm, your own statements will flow pretty easily! Awesome!


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Stephanie

12/6/2015 4:55 PM

Thank you, Tracey. It really is. He is so loved by his patients and the community.


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Maria Rodgers O'Rourke

12/6/2015 2:10 PM

Oh, hang in there, Stephanie! Those kinds of changes are so long and stressful. You're taking good care of yourself, it sounds like. Keep breathing! ;-)


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Stephanie Maley

12/6/2015 4:58 PM

I am Maria. Thank you. Breathing. Acupuncture. Counseling. Writing has been the missing component. Why? I don't know.


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Patricia Young

12/7/2015 1:18 PM

Hello Everyone! As I was explaining to Tracey I've been juggling 'stuff' when life attacks and demands you pay attention to it! Now that I'm a bit more settled into my next house/pet sitting gig - I can focus on this gathering. What a joy!

Okay - first - Wow! I LOVE reading all of your thoughts, ideas, stories and connections. I reread Chapter 3 and am always so impressed how each of us can read the same thing and come away with completely different pearls, yet of course each connected one to the next. So what I did while reading all your thoughts, stories and what you came away with from this chapter was to write down the words that struck me as not really a summation, but what I can do to take these gems and run with them in my own life.

The first was Communication, because lets face it, without it we are dead in the water. We also help to sink the ship if we ourselves shut down. So to be aware of what is happening before it cripples us and start asking key questions: how can we improve the communication? When should we do this? Regarding what - one item at a time please and just as importantly what it is Not regarding at this time. My husband of almost 30 years and I just said we're talking - but not like we used to talk - about everything. Now we talk to A about B, not wanting to bother C. I didn't even realize I was doing that! He felt left out, was sad, then began to write his story of what was I hiding? Was it serious, critical, important? He shut down, so of course I shut down too. How pathetic is that?! These house/pet sitting gigs have actually helped our re-communication. Life is so weird.

Next was Power. The power of the stories absolutely, but how the power from my story affects/effects your present story. The one we create each day. Because now that we are doing this - habits are indeed changing, growing, refocusing. Pretty powerful stuff don't you think?

I saw the words "Define - Informs -Explains" but dare I say to consider adding the word Accept - which takes a lot of Brave to do no doubt. Then give yourself permission to Let It Go (that is not to say you will not think about it again, or consider a different way of learning from it, but it no longer controls you, if you decide to let it go.) Then Go Forward - personally I tend to sit. I like sitting. I can justify sitting. But I need to get up - walk, move, physically and emotionally. Or we get stagnate and stale, and in much to short a time - stop.

The words Relate and Interrelation are also worth more than a day to digest. What we read in one story today, may be different than when we read the story again later. That value of putting the puzzle together is still there, even if we're missing pieces.

Feeling Guilty and Responsible for someone elses choices is a really, really difficult one. My oldest daughter was severely depressed and contemplated suicide in 7th grade. It only happens to others is a crock. All I wanted to do was scream, cry, and beg - which would do absolutely nothing. All I can remember thinking is that we need to call an adult! But "I" was the adult - ready or not! And you kick into overdrive, or you choose not to. For me there was no choice - react, respond, refocus and move forward.

Healing - a word that can be used in every heartache I can think of. Emotional or physical. Between spouses, siblings, relations of all kinds. It is what we really have to be extra careful with when we focus on our selves - and yeah, there is nothing wrong with that - if you read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and what she says about having a healthy Ego still resonates with me. She was so far ahead of her time it was actually frightening. We're raised to feel having an ego is bad, (only when inflated for sure!). And although my definition of it has changed, having that ego is what can give you that grounded value. I AM important enough to care for and about. I matter. I am enough!

Today I heard something I really needed to hear, "Looking to wrong sources to meet your needs is a real open door to some major disappointment and when you have enough disappointments piled up. it will turn into self pity and rob us of life..."

Okay - bring on Chapter Four!!! Booya!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty


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Xeno Hemlock

12/8/2015 10:54 AM

Pat this is great:

"Looking to wrong sources to meet your needs is a real open door to some major disappointment and when you have enough disappointments piled up. it will turn into self pity and rob us of life..."

Thanks for sharing.


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Patricia Young

12/7/2015 1:19 PM

Good Grief I'm long winded! Sorry about that! I'll be more mindful next time. Hmmm mindful - goes right along with being aware doesn't it :D


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Sue Schwartz

12/9/2015 11:54 PM

Patricia, write away! Thank you for sharing what you took away from this chapter as well as your personal experiences.

I love reading what everyone has to share. : )


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Cheryl

12/8/2015 12:56 PM

How cool...today is Maria's birthday. Happy Blessed Birthday to you dear friend! I loved your affirmations that you posted and I love you girl!

So, Brene's reckoning, rumble, revolution has been approached many ways by all of us. What came to me this past week was a quote from a Leonard Cohen song "Anthem"..."everything has cracks in it. That's how the light gets in". I know Brene quotes Cohen's " Hallelujah", but I saw the Anthem quote and it really stayed with me. In my own personal rumbles/button pushing I can tend to feel that I am so alone in a darkness. But, through the grace of God, I begin to challenge my thoughts, my feelings. I begin to see a thought from different perspectives. The challenging thoughts & feelings I have in my rumble are where the light comes in through my own personal cracks/brokenness of spirit. I eventually can move on to what Brene calls revolution/ reframing my perspective on the button pushing, the darkness that ensued. For me, as the light comes in, I am given small insights about myself and about others. Once that starts to happen, I start to feel a lightness of being and am so very grateful and relieved of some emotional burdens. It doesn't mean that it all goes away. But, the light is so very helpful.


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Maria

12/9/2015 10:55 AM

Hi, Cheryl! Thanks for remembering my birthday. It was a terrific day.

I'm with you on the lightness that comes in the process. I often get stuck in the dark, and then beat up on myself for not getting to the light sooner. But, it usually happens that the light comes at just the right time it is supposed to. Nothing is wasted or lost. It's just tough to remember that when I'm stuck in the dark.

Love to you, my dear friend! (For folks in the book club, Cheryl and I have been friends for over 20 years. She's such a blessing to me!)


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Heather Higinbotham

12/10/2015 10:55 PM

Maria!

Thank you so much for this beautiful post! I love your manifesto. "I am" is one of the most powerful exercises I've done, and it revealed so much about what conscious and unconscious beliefs were influencing how I was able to interact with others and where I was holding myself back. I love how you call out the critical need to pay attention to your experience.

I also was struck by this line: "We own our stories so that we don't spend our lives being defined by them or denying them." For a long time I thought that I was either wholly defined by my past, or I was denouncing it and moving on with a new me, a new life. Brene's process of actually integrating those parts of our stories into the larger story "to write daring new endings" really hit home with me. I'm learning that I'm constantly writing and rewriting my story, it's like a choose-your-own-adventure novel every day! Not being defined by my past is incredibly liberating.

Thanks to everyone for the discussion here! I'm just joining the discussion and look forward to experiencing the rest of the book and shared learnings with all of you!

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