V is for Vulnerability; Finding Strength in the Cracks

 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown

What is the last true, authentic feeling you had?

The last time you felt something fully and gave into it; when you allowed yourself to be washed over with emotion? Now…what was that feeling, exactly?

If you are anything like me, that last feeling was pain. A pain that likely came about during the attempt to avoid a situation, goal or desire for which pain was a possible outcome. A pain amplified by the knowledge that if you were going to feel it anyway, it could have been time better spent. A pain that tears down, but does not rebuild.

So tell me…what was the point?

I wasted a good many years being invincible. Never let them see me sweat, never a moment of weakness. Never let them see me want, need, desire. My muted anger became my muted happiness; my steel resolve my prison. Muffled reactions silenced my prayers; my calm grayed my world. The Universe and the people around me reacted to what I projected; calm, even, just enough. I watched in silence as others received what they asked for aloud. Suffocated under the weight of responsibilities piled atop another as I never seemed to need help. But even as I sank, I refused to let the cracks show. Until one day, I broke. And as I fell apart, the light came out.

I showed up. Raw, broken and needing-and the Universe met me right there. People in my life showed up. Bit by bit, my strength showed up. Not the veneer of invincibility I once had, but a resolve-a forward propellant. Did I all of a sudden start winning? Nope. Not even a little bit. But things meant for me started peeking out and making themselves more visible. Opportunities became clearer. Loved ones began to pay attention. People and situations that stayed long past their expiration date began to fade away. Bags began to fall. Help began to appear when I needed it. Light beamed through the cracks and I became brighter.

I have since learned vulnerability isn’t as much about showing the cracks as it is about filling them. If you never have a need, it cannot be filled. If you cannot express a desire the Universe will never tune in. If your ambition stays on your vision board and never shows up with you to work the same goals will be on that board next year. If you never tell them what you ache for they cannot give it to you.

So today, as this month comes to a close and your layers have been peeled away, pray out loud. Put it in the Universe. Tell them.

What are you afraid of?

Write the Letter.

Tell her she makes you smile.

Ask your boss if they have five minutes to chat.

Tell him You need more.

Make that phone call.

Dance.

Desire.

Live Out Loud.

It is only through the cracks that light can shine.

 

**This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul.  #LayersAtoZTour

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Desire and the #30Layers30Days Challenge; The Wrap-up

DAY 30 // START. STOP. CONTINUE.

Have your answers changed since the beginning of the challenge?
START: What do you want to start doing? What do you want more of in your life? What feelings, what activities, what energy? What baby step can you take today?

STOP: What have you had enough of? What are you tolerating or feeding into that is not adding value to your life? What area of your life is begging for more boundaries?

CONTINUE: What habits or trends do you want to continue? What’s been working for you? What can you do to ensure you keep it going?

 

I had no idea what I was getting into.

I jokingly nicknamed myself the “comment savant” a while ago. While I didn’t normally post or have a blog of my own, every so often on the blogs I’d frequent I’d leave a random gem of a comment so profoundly layered that people kept asking me why I don’t turn them into posts. “I’m only good for a genius comment once in a while, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, lol!! was always my response.

When I began this blog, I wanted it to be an outlet for me to learn to trust my hand. It had been a long time since I’d written freely-years-and I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in it. I didn’t know if I would have anything to say. I didn’t know where I wanted it to go. I just knew I’d learned a lot about myself in the year since I’d gotten out of a decade-long consecutive string of relationships and I had to get it out.

I originally did this challenge as a free-writing boot camp of sorts. I’d post the challenges that inspired me to write more than just the answers to the questions and share on my own time. Turns out I had a lot to say, a lot to learn, and even more to let go of.

As I look back and review the posts over the last 30 days, I honestly can’t believe they came out of me. But I am grateful for the chance to open up, and even more grateful for the people that came along with me. This was a great learning exercise. I saw patterns in my thinking that I hadn’t payed attention to before, found new challenges within myself to work on, and most of all let go of a lot of the need to have everything be “perfect”. Sometimes it just is. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together. Sometimes you need to just keep moving. Sometimes you need to be still. It’s been a great month, and I will likely practice with more monthly challenges until the year’s end.

And hey, you…thanks.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

I am Me. #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 29

DAY 29 // HI, MY NAME IS…

How do you introduce yourself to people?  Do you lead with what matters most to you? I’ve always led introductions with my status as a student or employee or my role in my family. There’s nothing wrong with those things as long as you are leading with what you want to attract.  Opportunities and miracles are everywhere hiding in plain sight, and one way to show that we are open to receiving them is to allow ourselves to be seen. .
Introduce yourself leading with what you want to attract.  By doing so, you are telling the universe that you are ready to receive the blessings that will take you to your next level.

I am Me.

Gloriously unfinished, Beautifully refined.

Open and Learning, covered in Beauty Divine.

A student of life. A graduate of Hard Knocks.

I fell seven times, I stood up Eight.

I am alive, and I am Here.

Life, behind me, Love ahead

Nature is Life, my power inward.

Meet me in the Prayer Circle

Or in my Garden.

I am the keeper of life, baby!

Ever-forward, Power Infinite.

The World is Mine.

I am Me.

Come for a Ride.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Monster; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 27

DAY 27 // LURKING

What is the elephant in the room of your mind?  What issue, big or small, are you avoiding because you feel you don’t have the time or energy to deal with it?  Even if you don’t take action on it right now, writing about it will keep you self-aware.  When we ignore parts of ourselves, those parts act out in our lives in subtle ways.

 “I don’t think there’s anything I can do to shake your confidence.”

I guffawed internally. I was in the middle of airing out my grievances to a potential suitor, one of them being his spotty attempts to make plans. I had joked that his perceived reluctance to see me was giving me a complex.

I may have only been half-joking.

Whether it’s due to my wit or background in sales, somehow I have developed a reputation for being a person that holds myself in high regard. I have not one clue how that happened. Maybe it’s cause I save my crying for the shower? Maybe it’s because I save my complaints for my journal? Me no know. But what I do know is every day I am anxious about something, and it’s due to this irrational fear that I’m going to be found out. Because I’m really full of shit.

I swear, this is an actual thought.

I dance around relationships because somehow I think he’s going to realize that I don’t have that much going for me. I take pictures from the same side because somebody one day is going to figure out I’m not that cute.I don’t bring a bunch of people to my house because they will learn that it’s only 3/4 furnished. My house is 3/4 furnished because I’m certain I’m not going to live there long. I don’t plant my feet, I don’t claim victories, I don’t brag on interviews, I don’t charge as much as I should for my consulting services-all because I swear someone’s going to pop my big ass balloon after finding out all I’m filled with is hot air.

Does it sound crazy to you yet? Listen, I gotta get this out.

I am literally laughing hysterically as I type this. I know this is ridiculous. I’ve won pageants. I’ve spoken in public settings for years. I have a Miss America and over $100,000 worth of scholarships awarded to my titleholders in my history. I’m a damn good host. I’m a great cook. I was published at 16. I’m well-traveled and figured out how to do it on my dime. Everything I’ve tried to do I’ve gone in blind with zero experience, and I can figure my way through damn near anything. I’m pretty, I’m witty, I’m intelligent and I can prove anyone wrong that doesn’t believe it.

Except me.

It’s the monster under my bed. It’s what I go to sleep with every night. It’s what’s on my shoulder every time I want to put my foot down. It asks me how dare I have standards. Why should I ask for that. Why don’t I just accept what’s given. How can I think I deserve to ask for more. Why would he want to be around me, anyway. Do you really think someone’s going to listen to you. Every. Day. Every day. Every. Damn. Day.

Whew.

I don’t have a neat ending for this one, either…but somehow getting it out makes a world of difference. So, even if you don’t do it here, do it for yourself. Write down whatever the hell it is you think is “ain’t shit” about you. And read it out loud. And have a good belly laugh. Then dammit, move on.

And yes, I’m talking to myself, here.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Moments that Make the Difference; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 26

DAY 26 // THANK YOU

Who do you want to thank for inspiring you?  Not necessarily your biggest fan like Day 13, but what person has had a powerful impact on your life and helped you to change in a positive way?  This could be a person you know or a public figure.  Either way, write a note of thanks to this person.

You don’t know me, but I thank you.

It was your passing conversation, that brief moment in time. It was a stray word, a throwaway blog entry, that last phrase before you said good bye. A breeze in your life but an event in mine. The smallest of gestures that reverberate in my memory. A lasting impression that barely made a dent in your day. The moments that made a difference.

You didn’t know me but I was the last stranger you spoke to. You gave me your family ring because you had no family left. And I kept that ring on my finger until I was brave enough to go back to my own family. And I rejoice, as you are now with yours.

You hadn’t met me but your musings helped me find my voice. And in finding mine, giving voice to others. You are far more impactful than you give yourself credit for. You will know this one day.

We’d just met but your drive sparked a fire. You asked “why not” and I looked at my life and realized I had no excuse. You’ll never remember that conversation, but it became a compass to lead me on the road back to me.

We’d worked together for the briefest of moments, but you lived life loud. You attacked every aspect of life with the same ferociousness and I remain jealous of your unapologetic nature. You made me go back when I gave up with one sentence, and my life was forever changed as a result.

To you I am one face in a sea of events you attended, but that evening you gave me your ear. All of you accomplished, degreed, prominent members of a society I may never live amongst. You listened to me speak on what I was most passionate about. It was my first major speaking event, and you let me fumble, gather myself and eventually applauded my efforts. I learned that day that everyone has something of value, no matter their station. Including me.

The biggest impacts on my life have all come from many small moments. Tears I’ve shared with strangers. Hands I’ve held with people I will never see again. For this I am eternally grateful. For this I thank you.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

The Fear; #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 25

DAY 25 // AUTHENTICITY

What does the word mean to you?  What makes it so hard for you to be yourself, to be seen, to be open and express yourself your way?

 Some people long to be fully understood.

I fear it.

Afraid that beneath the platitudes and the sage advice lies a girl that doesn’t have it together. Under the peaceful veneer is a woman slowly scattering the ashes of her former hurt. Under the brilliance is a scatterbrain who locks herself out of the house once a quarter.

Ok, maybe once a month.

Too fearful, too detached, too clingy, too broken. Too loud, too animated, too dramatic, too deep. Always searching, always looking, always trying. Too nice, too accommodating, too rigid, too stringent. Too messy, too obsessive. Too forward, too reserved. Too much and not enough.

I’m a lot to take at any given time. And it’s not because I’m “hard to handle”. I love deep conversation. I love getting to the meat of you and asking questions. But even though I am one long run-on sentence of a talker, very few people “know” me. I hide. I reveal in parts. I give half the story. Afraid if you saw you’d think I was damaged. Because you don’t know how you would handle it all.

But in reality, we all have our things. Our soft spots. The one thing we cannot be joked with about. Our triggers. Things that shut us down. Maybe we are more alike than we are different. In that I am a work in progress, and God ain’t finished with me yet.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.

Feels Like Home (pt. 3); #30Layers30Days Challenge Day 24

DAY 24 // HEARTSTRINGS

What do you want to change about the world? What cause or need tugs at your heartstrings the most?

 

Michael had always been an introvert I understood.

Intensely intuitive, often tormented by his ability to feel the pain in the world. Acutely aware of it due to his travels. Unable to find a quiet from the constant noise. Functioning at a constant state of burnout. Alone among millions. Out of place in his own home.

His death felt intensely personal to me because it reignited a fear I have had since childhood-that I will never rise above the noise and find a balance. That I would never find a place to “be”. That my place is somehow not here.

But like Michael I have always found a safe space with children. Specifically, children who feel as out of place as I do. He often surrounded himself with orphans, or child-stars weighed down by the weight of being their family’s sole support. He found joy in giving them a place where they weren’t alone or unique. And this is where my heart lies.

While others coo over newborns, I’m usually in the corner with the new middle child helping them adjust. I have always had a place in my heart for children in the system and hope to adopt an older child, or at least be able to mentor a few from youth through adolescence. I took great joy in my work speaking with and coaching through the pageant system and consider being a part of their story one of the accomplishments I can take to my old age. I can’t even write this out without getting emotional about it. But making the difference in one child’s life somehow makes the big world and all its ills manageable.

Conceived by GG Rene of AllTheManyLayers.com, the #30Layers30Days Challenge dares writers to dig deep with thoughtful daily inspirations meant to promote introspective thought and mindful journal practice. I will be posting my more inspired entries from the daily challenges. You can follow the #30Layers30Days hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or follow GG Rene at @ggrenewrites.