Tag Archives: Susan Clarke

In The Spirt of Experimenting

Every year I like to come up with a word or phrase as a theme for the year. This year’s theme or word is EXPERIMENTING.

This word came out of a strategic session CrisMarie and I had for our launch of the Beauty of Conflict Journey. This has been a project started over a year ago and now moving out into the world

What I like about this word is that it implies a level of curiosity that I believe is critical for joy and aliveness.

Experimenting also has a touch rigor and practice implied as well. When I am experimenting, I do start with some assumption and then try things that may or may not improve or provide insight into where to go next.

We knew what was most important for thrive! and the new Journey was going to be successfully marketing and getting the message out.

However, sometimes marketing feels overwhelming. I don’t know how to cut through the noise. There are so many people saying to this, do that, be sure you don’t do this or that.

Measure, measure likes, new leads, thumbs, thumbs down, and if you are not getting results, (i.e. likes, sales or leads) do something different.

I am sure there is some nugget of truth in all the suggestions. Although I know I don’t live openhearted and inspired by tracking likes, leads, thumbs up or sales.

So, when one of us came up with the theme: Experiment marketing thrive’s Beauty of Conflict Journey, my heart relaxed, and my brain woke up with possibilities.

It seemed only natural then to use Experimenting as my personal word for 2024.

This word inspires me beyond our business. I am experimenting with a bunch of new community activities: contra dancing, Uke jam sessions, a book club and these all showed up as invitations just after I picked my word, and I said yes!

I also watched my niece Carolina, do this amazing Instagram Live when she found herself unable to run a cooking class because of blizzard like weather. In a short 20-minute Instagram Live she taught us how to make Savory Oatmeal. OMG – it was awesome. I was inspired.

Now I am going to give Instagram live a try. Once a week I am going to come online and share, show, practice some type of breathing, movement, or personal development tip.

I am sharing a short video here to kick off for friends, family and followers hoping some of you might join at: https://www.instagram.com/thriveinc/ when I go LIVE next week.

Join Me Next week live follow us on Instagram for notification: https://www.instagram.com/thriveinc/

I am still deciding on the day. I likely will be experimenting starting with Monday or Tuesday and I’ll send a post as a reminder on our site. Be sure to follow us.

Remember experimenting is a great way to be curious and vulnerable. Let’s have some fun together.

A Time To Cleanse: My Path To Courage

Time To Reset

I am about to embark on a 3 week cleanse. It’s needed and what better thing to do after a couple months of busy travel, intensive work experiences, Covid and then a cold that was even more challenging.

I loved all the client opprtunities and the two weeks delivering Haven programs AND I realize I didn’t space or pace myself well.

In March I traveled to Portland, LA, Phoenix, Atlanta and Denver, ending with Covid. April kicked off with a trip to Ohio and Haven for two weeks, then the cold.

So I decided I needed to do a reset. Cleanse, clear and rejuvenate my body, mind and spirit. That started today.

It seems CrisMarie and I do some version of this almost every year. Before I would say the focus was on dieting, losing weight, and fitting better into my clothes.

But even when my body agreed to that plan I found dieting exhausting and filled with self-hate, willing myself to be different. So not a pleasant process of ease and grace.

Though I will say when CrisMarie and I approach this as a shared project the relational part is always worth it.

I am sure this cleanse will not be all ease and grace. However, I am wanting to be in a curious, open-hearted place with myself.

Plus I have an event happening at the end of the cleanse and I honestly believe the process of cleansing, listening and relating deeply with my body is going make that event even better.

I’m going to be a speaker at a one day women’s event, Path To Courage. The plan was to deliever my talk through Zoom. But I took a look at some of the other presenters and decided a road trip to Calgary would be much more fun.

So May 27, I’ll be stepping out on the stage to deliver Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep: A Path to Wholeness 2.0. I have no doubt my cleanse and my intent to travel with my good friend, Robin Kelson, will simply add more to what looks like a great day exploring courage and connection.

However, that’s down the road – today the cleanse bigins.

Skiing The Bumps

Me Skiing the Bumps!

I am back in Wednesday Ladies Ski Class. Enjoying another season on the mountain.

This year it’s skiing the bumps or moguls.

I am often surprised by how what I am learning in ski class seems to also apply to life and relating.

What stands out to me in skiing bumps is how it’s important to not let a bump become it’s own mountain.

On a good day, I am looking ahead and anticipating the next bump further down the hill. I ski into the bump and around, focused on the next pole placement and letting the mountain pull me in the right direction, down the hill.

However, I am also very familar with getting a touch nervous about my choices. Instead of moving down the mounatin, suddenly I am going across the mountain or worse I lean back on skiies and the skies fly forward and down I go.

In those moments the bumps become their own little mountains. They seem huge and the troughs around them make them loom even larger.

My focus becomes narrow and I am working super hard.

That same thing happens in life. Life can be like a mogul run. You might even be the type that likes the challenges. Indeed, it can be fun. When you can see further ahead and down the path and stay with your line, it can even seem easy. But if you get to focused on one bump or the obstacle right in front of you , it might overwhelm any forward momentum.

Often when I am engaged in a writing project I can get stalled staring at a plank page or trying to think of the right word. The one idea I am trying to articulate or get across becomes like one of those bumps, a mountain.

It’s best when I can pull my focus out and see that one concept or piece of a story has become way to important, it’s own mountain.

Often in those moments, I just need to stop and take a moment to see the bigger picture. Usually, I can find a line and my flow comes back.

Be it skiing, writing or just dealing with life – don’t let a bump become it’s own mountain.

It’s All Going To Be Maginificent

My 2023 Mantra, from a song introduced to me on a Christine D’Ercole (Peloton playlist) – Maginificent (She Says). However, I knew it was my 2023 mantra after taking part in a recent Passionate Ease workshop. I had a profound openning in the weekend. I knew IT IS ALL GOING TO BE MAGIFICENT and with my arms open to the world I was ready to live that forward.

This isn’t about perfection or super wonderful, awesome and positive. It’s about embracing and having complete experiences. Sometimes that is finding or living the exquiste in grief, pain, rage, conflict.

Ultimately it is about trusting in the universe and in being as fully in whatever is unfolding.

As I move into 2023, I find myself wanting to be much more present, openhearted and at ease with myself and the world.

Some 2022 Highlights

Last year was an amazing year. I finally got my book out into the world. Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep got it’s wings and legs.

We had some incrediable work experiences and loved being able to get back out to work in person with teams. We had some great times in Austin, San Franisco, Chiacgo, Seattle, DC (well actually the team was together in DC, I was on the screen in our office and CMC had Covid), San Diego and Boulder. Even did some rowing!

Getting some team tips from The Olympian!

We also found we could do some great work right here in Montana. Lots of coaching, working with Glacier National Park, Leadership Flathead and enjoying the mountains, the trails, the lakes, the theater, music, dancing and much, much more.

There were magical moments with family. My sister calls and book club with my mom. Celebrating Bill and Julia Campbell’s 70 wedding aniversary.

We had a couple weeks up at The Haven, I was eading a Come Alive with Carole (it’s been a couple years) and another great Couples Alive. followed with CrisMarie.

We did some solid podcsting and the best part was producing our brain series. It was so fun interviewing Dr Jill Bolte Taylor (twice), Annie Hopper, Annie Thoe, Irene Lyon and Jenifer Fraser and Dr Lawrence Conlon. That was special and I do hope you got to enjoy their wisdom. (You can use the link if you want to give it listen now)

There was much to be grateful for in 2022.

Now moving into 2023, I want to continue to embrace the moments.

I’ll be kicking things off this week with a webinar for Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep. On Jan 5, a one hour introduction to how you can live and apply Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep to your life. If you are interested let me know.

We’ll both speakers at a great event outside of Calgary, New Year, New You. This is an amazing day of inspiring women speakers – available in person or online. Shifting from people pleaser to cowboy confident!

We’ll be doing an in-person event for 24 women on day two. Want more information here’s a link and share!

We have a few other public events lined up. I am scheduled for a Come Alive in April and both of us will be up at Haven just after that for Couples Alive.

Out biggest launch for 2023 will be coming later as we work with Rali to release our journey on The Beauty of Conflict for teams. Right now we are in the script writing process and will be filming in late March with a release hopefully by June. It’s exciting. This is an amazing group to be joining and partnering with as we continue to work to get the message out that there is BEAUTY in conflict.

So much is in the works and on this first day of the year, I wanted to reach out. I could have gone to the mountain but it seemed more important write and share.

A Little Gift for You

I’m sharing a link to my year end Spotify playlist: 2022 Favorite Tunes. These tunes were the ones I listened to most and not all new releases mostly ongoing favorites.

I do hope this finds you embracing life as we start 2023. I encourage you wake up each more with some breathing and if you don’t have a mantra – try mine: It’s All Going To Be Maginificent!

Democracy at The DMV

Now on G32!

Today I find myself sitting outside DMV office with my number 64, my phone scrolling to let me know when I am within 6 numbers (currently at 32) and can come in, while reading the Heart of Democracy.

There’s a lot of information about my life right now in just that first sentence.

This is not my first two hour wait outside the DMV. Earlier this month I was here because my car tabs got lost and though paid had to come in to get replacement tabs. At some point since that event I lost the registration papers – lost, stolen, tossed out – I don’t know. But gone. So here I am again.

Now I am trying to stay curious about what I might need to know about these happenings. I will say it is creating the most community interaction I have had with people outside my ‘pod’ for awhile.

Since Covid, I go out with close friends and I pick up groceries but don’t stay anywhere long. The DMV offers the biggest variety of people I have engaged with. This trip it is raining so I am mostly staying in my car. But last time I stood outside, socially distant talking about everything from wearing a mask to which is more of a concern covid or our economic stability. I’d say the vote was split on that last one and fortunately everyone either had their mask on or stood talking from a better than six foot distance.

Which brings me to the book, The Heart of Democracy.

I am reading this book because a friend shared a post about the book and the ideas touched me deeply. The idea that the heart of democracy isn’t about left or right, republican or democrat – but about power and a divide between those who believe that power is found within us as well as outside us, and those for whom all power is external to the self.

His ideas so resonate with many of my own. The idea that we need to not be talking about ‘them’ (politicians – people in DC etc.) but talking with the people actually in the room. (Or on Zoom) The idea that this is not left or right – it’s about people and power and how we define and embrace where we believe we have some choice and control and where and when we don’t.

There are those who see his stories of individuals making a difference as just pie-in-the-sky beliefs and those who use the same stories to inspire their own action.

He shares how Occupy Wall Street and The Tea Party are examples of the same shared goal – to make a collective shift against perceived power. Sure you can say these groups are fundamentally different in ideology but in impact and influence – they are very much the same – examples of democracy in action and people making their power known – the power of “We The Power”.

It helps me to see the common elements and the possibilities that lies in seeing even these two efforts having a common purpose – to impact a change.

Why is that so important now?

Because I am anxious, angry, scared and feeling helpless more often than I wish to reveal. Aside from little pockets of conversation outside the DMV and a Zoom call with only people who share my values I am not having having deeper richer conversations that are touching my heart and helping bridge differences. No, what I am mostly seeing and hearing is screaming or fighting or negative ad campaigns. What is usually a time to gather an understanding of why something is so important to someone else and why I might choice to vote for one candidate over another has become a battle ground and mud slinging crazy talk. My heart breaks with this.

Covid makes it hard because normally I would be at an office, engaging in dialogue over dinner after a day with a team of leaders. I would be up at The Haven mixing with a variety of people with different backgrounds and positions. I’d be stuck in an airport or on a plane with someone who was clearly different than me and I could ask – why is that so important to you or what do you think of the potential Supreme court candidate. We may have some strong differences but we’d be there long enough to know something real about each other and maybe even influence each others position before going on our way. Those moment and those conversations would help my heart and faith in humans.

Even these DMV visits help.

It is for me one of the biggest challenges of Covid. Zoom, Teams House Party and Facetime don’t allow for quite the same spontaneous moments. Don’t get me wrong I am very grateful for what technology has offered because I can Zoom with my sisters, Zoom with my mom and friends. I can help I team bridge their differences and have some real conversations virtually. I can support my clients in breathing and getting more in touch with their heartbeats and breath. But I am missing the moments where I can gather in front of the TV watching the debate with strangers and talk about – what was that? Or why isn’t he answering the question? Or what did you get about his/her position on that? And talk.

I miss those moments right now at lot – because I think those moments and conversations are what make for democracy. Democracy is about the power of people and mostly about how WE THE PEOPLE need to be talking, sharing and listening more than just blaming.

I’d love to hear from and if you feel any of the same. If there is a way you are doing this differently – having real conversations and really getting to understanding someone else’s position – tell me about it.

HootSuite – Really?

With our new website, www.thriveinc.com, now up and running, I find myself much more interested in exploring the vast territory of social media.  I realize most of you reading this are far more advanced than me.  I admit I have only in the past six months spent any significant time on Facebook.  Yes, I have solid number of connections in LinkedIn – but honestly have not done a g4878039reat deal to really advance those connections.  It all seems so time consuming.

My good friend and CIC (Chick-in-Charge) of her own company VivoTeam Consulting, Renee Safrata, has tried to help me.  There have been various in person visits where she’s taught me to tweet, and it was Renee, who launched my blog site and got me moving in the online world.  However, her efforts were only sustainable when we got together.  I did not follow-through, and of course, after a bit of time away from Tweeter, Facebook, LinkedIn, any of these fast advancing mediums, I would lose my skills, forget my password, and soon I was back to email!  It is amazing my blog site has survived, though I often hear now that blogging is way out of date.  Still, I love it – so I will stay with it!

However, with the new launch of www.thriveinc.com I have a new drive, intention and commitment-to-action for diving further into the online world!

I have been getting some great new excellent advice from my coach, Jessica Steward.  The first bit was to pick one medium and get good at it.  Well, that left me to my own indecisive methods and resulted in no major progress.  There are many personality labels that might explain my inability to advance based on one focused activity – ADHD from the DSM IV, high INFP in Myers Briggs, and high Quick Start in the Kolbe Index – just to name a few.  Personality assessments are a bit like social media – lots to choose from – all have possibilities for adding value and some insight into my psyche – though none can really take away my own self-responsibility for how I interact with my world – which basically  does not involve focusing on only one thing at a time.  (even if it would be good for me!!)

So my friendly expert, Jessica, mentioned HootSuite – which I just thought was too funny!  The name alone was cause for a smile and giggle. So of course, I was willing to give it a try.  The interesting thing about HootSuite is that it offers one platform for many social mediums.  All you experts are likely about to say, there are many other platforms as good, worse, more personal or business-focused out there, that do the same thing.  Please don’t let me know that.  I have decided to try ONE, and since HootSuite generates a giggle in me – well, that’s where I am starting.

Even with this level of commitment, I am still far, far behind in my marketing campaign.  However, I am taking a stand and doing my best to lean-in to this new world.  Please note, I will try not to bug the hell out of folks.  I am hoping to discover ways to utilize HootSuite to share meaningful material.  It’s so difficult to know what works.  It seems the best option is to communicate in many different ways – blogs, articles and books (old school), hashtags, tweets and endorsements (a bit newer school), plus making sure there’s some time built in there somewhere for good old face-to-face (no not Skype or Facetime) – but real-live contact with someone.

My main purpose in life is about making connections and communications between people real and authentic, and like it or not, the internet has become a space that plays an important part in making that happen.  So I’m in – HootSuite here I come!

Also please check out the new pages on this website.  There’s one on Living Alive Phase I @ The Haven and Couples Alive @The Haven. (Did you notice I added the links so you only have to click on the link to go there? I know. Very cool, huh?!)  If you have friends or family who might find these links helpful, please pass along.  Also, if you have taken a Living Alive Phase and want to share your take on the value that added to your life, please write me back or even send a video of your own making!  Same with you couples out there who may get this and want to share how the Couples Alive Series helped you.

Living in this digital age does make relating all the more challenging, interesting and important – connected means so much more!





Celebrating The Haven!

Awesome Haven Cake!
Awesome Haven Cake!

What a wonderful weekend!! The Haven is celebrating it’s 30th Birthday, sort of all year, but this past weekend was the signature event. It was a celebration of the past, the present and the future of The Haven. Those that put the weekend together, Rachel, Louise, Morag and all of the Haven Staff, did an amazing job. This is their busiest time of year, Kids in The Spotlight ( a truly awesome experience for children – nothing else like it) a sellout each year for five weeks, finished it’s 2013 run on Friday morning. Plus, a wedding party on the island was taking all of the available rooms arriving Sunday afternoon. Not to mention, the start of Teens Alive and Come Alive on Monday. So even making this happen was a challenge. But not only did it happen, the weekend was a delightful experience and gathering of the old (folks who had 30 plus years of Ben and Jock programs and experience) and the newer, those who have become Haven folks under the Haven Foundation. It was wonderful.

For me, it truly was like seeing the many, many layers of my own transformation and the people I can only call my ‘human heroes’ – those that have embodied and invited me to discover the life possible through open, honest relating. Not always pretty and polite, but real, raw, authentic and alive!

It was so fun to participate in a ‘worldwide’ streamed visualization led by Ernie and Cathy McNally, and I giggled as various memories surfaced from my own 28 year Haven epic! Next, was an amazing artistic adventure and co-creative process designed and facilitated by the wonderful Marlyn Farrell. I was resistant to go and came away loving the experience. There were so many magical moments and this post could just be a blow-by-blow of the weekend. But really that isn’t my main point. Still I am reminded of just how special The Haven is and my wish that more people knew of the place and the people that have made it possible for so many to transform themselves, their relationships and the world around them!

The magic of being together for a Haven Sunset!
The magic of being together for a Haven Sunset!

Of course, that magic does exist elsewhere, I don’t mean to imply that only at The Haven can one be transformed. No, but it is a very special place. Possibly because there are so many different types of leaders and people who come. It is a a place for the odd duck and the average Joe. It welcomes the righteous and invites each of us who come with our own set of assumptions to consider being a bit more curious. There are often strong opinions and people on missions. Yet there is this space that opens and allows for the most defended and the most vulnerable to sit together in a circle and simply be, breath, feel and converse. If that doesn’t help, well there’s dancing and music and great food. Not everyone walks away happy and blissful. No, that is not the purpose. The Haven is a space for all to come, to be, to speak, to join and to discover. Without answers or a right or wrong, just people being together. It is amazing what that alone creates!!

That is what was being celebrated this weekend. The space, the literal space and the metaphoric space that allows for transformation. Indeed, over my 28 years here, I have rediscovered myself so many times. I have connected and seen worlds and universes well beyond my limited physical possibility, and I am deeply grateful!!

Sunday morning we journeyed into a possible future for The Haven. The story boards and designs were collaborative process of dreaming BIG and looking at the reality of a property on an island with limits and by-laws. Again creating that tension that comes and builds when there is an opening, a curiosity, and a dialogue, allowing for a leap of innovation to take place. Yes,  The Haven is now shaping itself, utilizing all of it’s magic. People coming together to dream, to wrestle with reality, to wrestle with assumptions and use that juice to move ahead. No decisions were made. But I saw the possibility and the folks that were going to be furthering the plans, and again I was amazed. I have no doubt magic is in the making. The Haven Institute isn’t a static, still point. It is growing and transforming, just as I am. I may or may not like all the directions The Haven moves, but I love, that much like me, the property, the place is living and breathing and carrying on!!  Happy Birthday Haven!!

Susan Clarke is a long standing faculty member at The Haven Institute. She leads The Living Alive Phase I, with CrisMarie Campbell, October 16-November 10, 2013 and Couples Alive I – Foundation, Communication and Boundaries, Oct. 7-10, 2013. Susan Clarke and CrisMarie Campbell are also founders of thrive! inc., a coaching and consulting firm helping teams, individuals and couples make the leap to better results in their relationships, work and lives.

Coming Out of the Closet

Over the weekend someone posted Ellen DeGeneres doing a commencement speech at Tulane in 2009.  If you haven’t heard this I highly recommend you listen.

Ellen’s Commencement Speech @ Tulane University from James Huang on Vimeo.

Ellen is awesome, real, funny and inspiring.  The speech is filled with her humor, but more importantly her message is one that is critical.  Success is being able to be who you truly are, to contribute, to live in integrity, with compassion and not define your success by the measures of others.

Her story really touched home for me at this point in my life. In some ways I am coming out of the closet.  No, I am not going to declare to the world through my blog that I am gay or lesbian.  I do think I have been openly clear that my business and life partner is a woman, CrisMarie.  However, the irony of my own personal coming out process is that it might be easier if I could just join one of the clubs – either as gay or straight.  However, I just can not.

Here’s why.  My loving has very little to do with my sexuality, and I am SO tired of having loving and sexuality be glued together.  I am in a committed, loving relationship with CrisMarie.  If I had to define my sexuality the best I could do is say bi-sexual.  Now that might seem easy, but let me tell you, I have had some very painful and mean comments thrown at me from both lesbians who think I am copping out and straight folks who simply define okay as man/woman sex, married with children.

It is beginning to really annoy me that our culture is so determined to make sexual orientation such a big deal.  I honestly do not get it.  Now if someone is forcing any type of sexual activity or their opinion about someone’s sexual orientation on others, I am totally against it.  Myself, I am not particularly fond of passionate physical expressions publicly by a man and woman, two men or two woman.  It just isn’t my thing.  But it isn’t about sexual orientation. Nor do I think people who do like public displays of affection are evil, bad or need to be corrected.  I think I just like my physical, sexual expression to be more private.

Sure I am following the current marriage laws and hoping that at some point our country can catch up with so many other countries that get that a loving relationship is not defined by sex or gender, nor should it be.  A loving committed relationship, a marriage is a union between two people who want to spend their lives, the highs, lows, pain and pleasure together. Sex is very likely to be a part of that, but sex is not necessarily loving or about love at all.  Sure it can be.  But really, loving and commitment to another person is so much more than that.

So I loved listening to Ellen and I want to come out of the closet.  Not as gay or straight but as a human being, loving and learning through being with an awesome human being who is interested in sharing this wild and crazy ride on planet earth. I want to contribute and model compassion through valuing our differences and accepting people as they are.

Boy does it feel good to be out!  So as Ellen’s concludes, “It’s going to be okay, Let’s Dance!!”

Fun Footnote: A number of people say I dance just like Ellen! Now that is a compliant I enjoy!



The Many Life Lessons of Golf!

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening—it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” ~Arnold Palmer

My friend, Jim Sellner, sent me this quote this morning.  I have no doubt because I have become a touch obsessed with golf.  Yes, the Ladies League Night has led to practicing, lessons and early morning golf tee times!  In many ways I am having a blast.  I am also fully realizing the maddening aspects of the game mentioned in the quote.

May be I shouldn’t have taken the short cut!!

Just last night, I found myself having what I thought was one of my best games yet.  I was hitting the ball longer, straighter and indeed started off with far fewer shots on each hole.  However, in the end three very bad holes totally overtook all the good stuff in terms of my score card.  My brain was screaming, “loser”, but my soul was singing with the satisfaction of progress and a few wonderful shots!

I don’t know that I agree that golf is the greatest game, but I do totally get the rewarding and maddening aspects as well as satisfying the soul while frustrating the intellect.  Plus, I have come up with my own life lessons that a summer of golf is teaching me.  These lessons do go well beyond the fairway.

  1. Loosen my gripThat may be obvious for some, but honestly I never knew that was why I was topping the ball or more importantly ‘coming in a situation well over the top!’
  2. Don’t think to much about itIndeed another obvious one and still one of the hardest to break.  I am masterful at reliving, well re-thinking over and over something and it generally leads to trouble!
  3. One short putt is just as powerful as a 220 yard drive.  Those little things do count, even though to often the big things get way more focus and attention!
  4. Hitting over the trees (or water)  may be a short cut but only if I really can hit over them!  I love this one.  There are signs on the course encouraging golfers not to take the short cut – but honestly most of us over-confident drivers – go right for the straight line and must of us aren’t really skilled enough to get there.  Thus hacking our way out of the trees or worse hitting though a window of a house just on the other side!  (this explains two of my three horrible holes – no broken windows but water and lots of trees! )
  5. Be willing to shift your weight.  In any swing, except putting, there is a need to shift your weight from one foot to the other.  Too often I find myself either hacking with just my arms or getting stuck with my weight on one side.  This one may be even truer off the golf course:  I need to be willing to shift off my own fixed position!

So golf is teaching me many lessons!  Plus I am meeting new folks and enjoying some community building.  I doubt I’ll ever be good, but my soul is still singing with the satisfaction of making a few great shots!  Some short and some long!!




I Love Brene & I Fight for Feelings!!

Okay I had a few folks ask me if I was trying to take a shot at Brene Brown in my last post.  I want to clarify.  I love her work.  So I am not out to poke, other than it is the nature of my style, which some call contrarian or Myers Briggs refers to as my need to question, that may present as challenging.  Truthfully, I find I only rise to the challenge when I have total and complete respect for the idea or more clearly stated, the person presenting it.

That said, I do struggle when a feeling is getting a bad rap.  Feelings to me are like the breath and blood of being human.  Babies are the best example of this fluid relationship that we should be having with our emotions.  Babies can be crying and screaming one minute and laughing seconds later.  Their little bodies shake and vibrate freely with each surge of emotion – energy-in-motion.  Most of us as adults are are not nearly so fluid or expressive, actually we are quite the opposite.  Somewhere along the way we dampened our emotional range.  Mostly to conform or fit in to the expected path of maturing by using the mind more than the heart.

I believe feelings, all feelings are vital to a healthy heart and aliveness.  We breath, we feel.  Why are feelings so often something we wish to get rid of.  I believe people spend more time trying to rid themselves of uncomfortable feelings, like anger, jealousy or shame – than time spent working on shifting mental patterns of self-hate to self-compassion.  I will say again – the feeling isn’t the problem.  Feelings pass.  Feelings are in the moment.  Yes, unpredictable and less stable.  Still, in the moment, timeless and immediate.  Our thinking, can be quite stable, predictable and in all honestly – deadly.  However, we don’t seem quite so quick to get rid of a negative thought – instead we believe it , fondle it and prove it, giving it a permanent track for messing with our immediate experience.

As humans we are quite proud of our neocortex, that thinking part of the brain.  It is amazing that we are a species that can imagine, innovate and tell a story forward.  It is a gift.  Yet without the breath and blood of feelings our story-telling and innovation comes without empathy or connection.

Think of our great minds like the land that we walk on, solid and relatively easy to navigate.  Now think of the oceans, the waters that take up even more of this wonderful planet, the mystery and flow they offer.  To me that is the difference between my feelings and my stories.  The stories are the islands that I can at times get trapped living on, solid, predictable but not always interconnected.  Feelings like the water will move me, shape me and provide the incredible depth that connects those islands and ensures oneness, not a separate state.

I seriously doubt Brene Brown, meant to get rid of a feeling.  I think she was really trying to find a path for re-connecting.  Shame for me is the water, the ocean.  The island, that at times I allow my shame to create is one of self-hate and that is an island I wish not to stay trapped on.  Oddly it is only when I embrace the shame, the water and ride those waves, that I find my path back to connection.

You may be thinking I am someone who is comfortable and at ease with my feelings.  No, not at all.  I have lived on many islands, and stayed safe in the stories firmly crafted in my mind.  However, much like Brene Brown talks about her wrestling with vulnerability, I wrestle with my feelings.  I fight for them. I have stayed stuck and isolated too long without allowing them.  Of course there are those I particularly wish to stay away from, fear, rage, helplessness and shame – and yet, when I have let those feelings wash through me, I have discovered new territory, new connections and much greater depth and empathy for everything around me.