December Reading

December 4, 2014

I first read The Gifts of Imperfection (which I keep giving a typo to, much to my amusement) in 2012, but I'm in need of another dose of the Brené gospel -- not a skim, a real read. So I've started into it again with the goal of covering a couple of chapters a week. It's tempting and easy to read the whole thing in one sitting, but I fear the content might go in one ear and out the other if I take that approach.

Have I mentioned that I'm suspicious of self-help books? I am. This isn't one-- it's more of an approach to life book (I've consumed the kool-aid, haven't I?). Brené Brown (well known for this TED talk on vulnerability) is a researcher. In the midst of her research she started noticing similar traits amongst a group of people she labeled "wholehearted": worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude and creativity. And these wholehearted people were missing some other traits: perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgement and scarcity. The Gifts of Imperfection takes Brené's research studies and explores what this wholehearted living thing is all about.

Here's why I think it's important: wholehearted living is all about engaging with the world from a place of worthiness-- a place of heck yes, I know I belong, rather than a shame-y place of inadequacy where you're constantly aiming for perfection in order to prove yourself (*cough, cough*). I know from personal experience that when you're trying to make your best work that this shame-y place gets in the way. Want to make great stuff and share it freely with the world? I'm fairly certain that the secret lies somewhere in the (deceptively hard to master) list of wholehearted traits. As I look to the year ahead, these are the traits I want to lean into-- the muscles I want to develop. The last couple of years have brought really amazing things to fruition in my life. I'd call many of them miracles! They didn't happen because I worked to achieve and muscle them into place. They happened from letting go and trusting and becoming more vulnerable (and getting rid of some of the counter traits in the second list above). 

Other things I've been reading:
+ Austin Kleon's Show Your Work, because I've been excited about the ideas he shares on his blog
+ Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: a journal of my son's first year, one of the few Anne Lamott books I haven't read
+ Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: essays by 40 working artists, edited by Sharon Louden -- though I was bummed to realize about 15 essays in that all of them are written by visual artists

What are you reading? Do you want to join in the December dose of Brené Brown?


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