Over the last several years, I've written on multiple occasions about my desire to remember hard-won wisdoms from my family's healing journey. Sometimes this work requires many words and sometimes not. Sometimes the words are my own and sometimes not.
When I reflect on those persons whose teachings most inspired me to persevere when I would rather have quit, two women come instantly to mind: Brené Brown and Pema Chödrön.
Today, I announce my desire to honor them here. Part of my year-long celebration of turning 50 will include sharing insights and inspirations that meant the most to me during difficult times.
First up: Pema. As a fan of alliteration, I hope her pearls will encourage you as much as they did me.
Here, in Chapter 1 of The Places That Scare You, Pema writes about the rawness of a broken heart. That a broken heart can give birth to anxiety, panic, and anger, but underneath the false front of these emotions lies the tenderness of genuine sadness. Early on, when my daughter became ill and our lives fell apart, sadness left me feeling vulnerable, exposed, and out-of-control. My go-to armor for tamping down fear and pain has always been anger, and was even more so during this period of my life. Like a cornered and wounded animal mother whose cub had been kidnapped, I lashed out. Often at those closest to me. Rage was my friend, my empowerment, my energy. It was also my cage, keeping me trapped and cut off from emotional help and restorative connection.
These words about sadness remind me how I'd rather act in the face of hardship. And they remind me that compassion was and will forever remain my catalyst to an authentic relationship with self and other.