Monday, May 5, 2014

Daring Greatly: a book club review

From the top, this was a tough one. I was glad that Brené Brown's Daring Greatly was chosen for our book club retreat read as I was fairly sure from the get go that we'd need time and space for the conversation. That proved true, though maybe only because so many of us expected it to be that way. In truth, I don't know that I've ever finished a personal development book - I find them both dull and confronting - but the added impetus of book club was a good motivation. Brene Brown's work has been increasingly popular, particularly since her TED talk on vulnerability. I haven't watched that, but was intrigued enough to look forward to the book.

There's a lot to Daring Greatly - life, love, leadership and parenting looked at through a lens of vulnerability and courage. The link between vulnerability and courage, and important work of letting others in and connecting - of allowing love. The murderous power of shame and the power of vulnerability to weaken its power. It's all powerful stuff, and, if you're someone who has done a pretty good job of not needing people, it's not all that easy to take in. Shame requires us to keep people at bay. Vulnerability is the antidote to shame. It can be a bit vicious ... and damn freeing. I don't really feel I can give a clear review of the book as everyone will get something different from it - probably exactly what they need.

My big take-away from reading Daring Greatly was the encouragement to 'dare' to be the adult I want my sons to be. The funny thing is, I often want to be more like them - to have J's big-heartedness and courage and N's humour and honesty. Yes, there are lessons they can still/will always learn from me, but the lessons I learn from them are pretty amazing. To be honest, I got to the parenting chapter, which happens to be the last chapter, and stopped. My sons are adults and I've already screwed up - there's no changing that now, I thought. 

And then I got talking with my book club ladies, and was encouraged to read on (not to mention good girls don't show up at book club without finishing the book ;-)  and there on the second page of the chapter Brown says "Now, if you are the parent of adult children and you're thinking that it's too late..." I may have laughed out loud. Or I may have shuddered at her prescience. I'm not entirely sure, but I read on. 

It's never too late to apologize for when I used shame in parenting instead of correction. It's never too late to apologize for the role I had in my sons not feeling they are worthy of love and belonging. And, it's never too late to begin modelling whole-hearted living - being someone who is working towards always remembering that I am worthy of love and belonging. It's not too late to let people in, to shine light on my shame, to ask for what I want, to be honest with those I love and with those who love me. It's not too late.

If every weekend could be book club retreat weekend, what a happy life this would be. We booked two two-bedroom cottages at Beach Acres resort in Parksville, BC, which is the perfect balance of peaceful, fun, comforting and special to make a get-away a retreat. 
While not everyone in the club was able to make it, there were enough of us to keep it fun without being overwhelming. A loose schedule, room to roam, late talks, a trip to the spa, endless tapas, endless wine, open hearts. It's only been 9 months, and I can't imagine not sharing my life with these amazing women. 

Jazz hands make good-bye so much easier. 

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