His big, tear-filled eyes looked across
the table at her. I thought my heart would explode from the cuteness.
I don’t want to eat my broccoli. Please don’t make me.”
Mom replies, “Honey, I told you if you want ice cream for dessert you have to eat all
of your vegetables.”
you didn’t eat any dinner and only had ice cream.”
The kid had a point. We laughed from
I see a bigger lesson for myself in
this, and not just about broccoli or ice cream. For most of my life I think I
gave people advice I wasn’t willing to take or I challenged them to do things I
had never had the balls to do.
I don’t think I’m alone in that, I
think it’s quite normal.
I wonder how many times we make
judgments about what someone should do or say, or offer advice we have no
experience in. Don’t we tend to believe we are an expert when it comes to
someone else’s life? On the other hand, how often do we get challenged to do
something the other person has never done?
How many books do we read where we
question if the author actually lives what they write?
How many teachers have we had who teach
something they’ve never lived?
How many speakers do we see where they
sound good but somewhere in our gut we smell bullshit?
How many parents tell their kids
something just to make them feel better or avoid conflict?
Brene Brown turned this idea on its
head for me, truly. That woman is one of the strongest people I can imagine,
not because she’s super badass and puts people in their place but because she
actually lives what she preaches: vulnerability. I see it in her work, I hear
it in her podcasts and talks, and her examples continuously expose those parts
of myself I try so hard to cover.
Simply put, her biggest gift is that
she gives permission to be messy.
See, the overarching problem with us is not that we
judge others but that we don’t share openly and without fear, which then teaches others to shield themselves and the cycle perpetuates itself. If we had no fear
of what people thought, we’d all be living life very different. Social media
wouldn’t be a competition, every conversation would be honest and exposing, and
we would hold fewer resentments because the air between people would be clearer.
We muddy things by hiding behind our
personalities and resisting vulnerability. It's hard.
Vulnerability is a practice, a lifestyle... an art.
I gave a talk at a conference last
summer titled “The Art of Vulnerability." As the Universe so humorously does, I
had a lesson in vulnerability before speaking it. I battled through writing
the talk because the desire to appear strong, collected, and together was
significant. I didn’t want to show the soft parts of me. I wanted to sound
competent and articulate...I wanted to
‘wow’ the audience. Well, when the topic is vulnerability I think we have to
throw all other layers of ourselves aside and be uncomfortable in our truth.
And that’s just what I did.
I shared about my life’s journey, my
brokenness, my wholeness, and a bunch of honest stories that related to the
idea that we cannot take someone where we aren’t willing to go. Wouldn’t you
know that a hundred people came up to me after the talk to ask about more
conversation about vulnerable living?
I am by no means an expert in this, but
I spread some goodness there. Vulnerability begets vulnerability.
Relate this to work, school, business,
leadership, or relationships. You have no foundation for an experience you’ve
never had. Start experimenting and growing and inviting others for the ride. And
eat your vegetables. I do.
I have always been a believer that
spaces and environments affect people and vice verse. It turns out that whole
idea is an actual, real thing, which must mean I’m very smart. Environmental
psychology studies the interplay and affect of individuals and their
Wikipedia describes environmental
psychology as “encompassing natural
environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and
My hypervigilant, obsessive nature of
observing my surroundings started soon after a significant childhood trauma,
which makes a lot of sense. Trauma creates deep, unnatural grooves in our brain
that form our personalities and mode of operation over time.
I became a young expert at knowing
where every article I owned was placed and if it had been moved, I was keenly
aware of how physically close people were to me and where the nearest exit door
was located, and I attempted to control every aspect of my environment as a way
to self-soothe.I wasn’t protected from
harm as a little girl and from that point on I have sought to protect myself in
my environment on physical and metaphysical levels.
I don’t see this as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
Reality is that this has served me well in a lot of ways. For example, I’ve
been complimented on the arrangement, color scheme, and decorative nature of my
home for years and years. People consistently comment that they feel safe or
relaxed in my living space. I’ve created a safe haven for myself and that
translates to others.
In my work as a producer, I get to
create live events that incorporate the whole audience/attendee experience – a
sensory exploration. What do they see, touch, taste, hear, feel? That’s a niche
that I don’t know of many other producers of my type playing in. It sets me
As an adjunct professor of public
speaking and communication theory, I get to create a classroom energy conducive
for multi-level learning. As an organization coach, I get to assess and
rearrange ideas and people-energy for maximum productivity and effectiveness.
Perhaps you could call me an Energy
Specialist. Only no one would know what that means.
Whatever the case, I’ve done enough
inner healing and work to release fear that has been associated with controlling spaces in the past. Now I
get to create spaces that are
freeing, peace-filled, light, and calming because
One of my projects last year was
redecorating my office. This was particularly important for several reasons:
1.I spend more time in my
office than my own bed. Sad.
2.I have a lot of hard
conversations in my work and I wanted an environment that supported a higher,
3.If I didn’t spend the
budget money I would have lost it when the new fiscal year started.
So here is one example, one snap shot
of my work life that embodies the idea of safe spaces. Other than the terribly
designed chair on the bottom left (that I couldn’t get rid of), I think I did