7 Things I Learned This Spring
1. Virtual B.F.F.
The new Netflix not to be missed: Brené Brown & The Call To Courage. It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Dr. Brené Brown's work. I derive a lot of comfort and guidance from watching her speak. She has a smart, folksy, girlfriend-sass that makes me feel simultaneously safe and brave as she invites me to stretch emotionally and intellectually with her groundbreaking work on vulnerability and shame. Her no-nonsense style and science-driven insight provides an efficient portal for accessing emotional grounding and growth materials. She's my virtual BFF (me, and millions of other fan-friends). When I'm feeling confused or need a shot of inspiration I'll click on a podcast like this one. Tonight I'm cracking open her new book 'Dare To Lead'; it's the fourth or fifth book I have read of BB's. I am keen to discover how we each can learn to contribute our own kind of courageous leadership to our community during this T.O.T. (Time of Trump.)
2. Doggie Love
The fiction book I recently devoured is 'The Friend' by Sigrid Nunez. If you like to read about writers, or love dogs, or–like me–adore both, then you are in for a treat. In the hands of a writing master, this winner of the 2018 National Book Award for fiction is a great way to kick off your summer reading list.
Twenty-three years and eight books into her writing career, the author, at age sixty-seven, becomes an overnight sensation with her story of a writer and her adopted Great Dane, Apollo. Nunez's poignant book wrenched and melted my heart in perfect tandem on each page. The narrator's stream-of-consciousness conversation with a deceased beloved friend, provides the pacing for this wonderful survey of writing and writers and does a dive deep into Apollo's point of view along the way. Such a unique read with an original point of view. I may need to get another doggie–sooner than later!
I am consistently flummoxed by busy bodies who think it's OKAY to share other people's news/information. Are we so vapid and jaded that a momentary hit of schadenfreude rules over kindness, compassion, and respect for others privacy? It doesn't matter if the information is painful, sad, scandalous, or even happy–if it's not your news, then don't be talkin' about it. A breach of confidentiality degrades everyone involved. I have never understood this about human nature. Is it possible we take pleasure in other people's misfortunes to camouflage our own shame triggers and misgivings? I sincerely hope not, but it seems like we all might benefit from some support in this area.
And don't be a Pollyanna, like me. While we are supposed to be protected by HIPPA and other professional standards of conduct, I can attest that this is simply not the case. It's staggering what people feel free to gossip about–even to the point of putting their very own job into jeopardy. This is another reason I so love Brené Brown's work. Her B.R.A.V.I.N.G. formula for healthy, respectful relationships hits the bull's eye of standards. The B.R.A.V.I.N.G. acronym really resonates with me, and I try, try, try to practice, practice, practice, it in my everyday interactions with wholehearted folks.
Boundaries: we are clear about and respect each other's boundaries
Reliability: we consistently do what we say we will
Accountability: someone will make a mistake; each time we are allowed the space to own it, apologize for it, and make amends for it
Vault: what we share with each other remains in total confidence; we don't talk about other people's stuff, ever
Integrity: we act from a place of courage and honesty; we practice living our core values
Non-judgment: we can be vulnerable; it's okay to ask for help without ridicule, retribution, or reminders
Generosity: the benefit of the doubt is given to the people we love; we are curious about new points of view
4. P.O.V. (Point of View)
This Spring I watched the spectacular climbing documentary Dawn Wall. It features climbing legend Tommy Caldwell, and his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson, who are attempting to scale the impossible 3,000' Dawn Wall face of El Capitan. Both Yosemite climbers are unique in style and strengths and they each approach this record-making challenge with their own particular P.O.V. and definitions of success. One of the climbers has to clear a section of wall that proves impossible time and time again. From witnessing this act of heroic perseverance, I realized that we all have a Dawn Wall–something that frustrates the hell out of us, that makes us feel incapable or unworthy, yet we do not have the luxury of giving up the fight.
Everyone has their own particular point of view, their own story, their own style and way of doing things–and they are stickin' to it. What's instructive about the film is the seismic value of 'mindshift'. To be willing to embrace another point of view, to exhibit enough confidence and courage to entertain other possibilities—that's the power of POV. A new perspective, even if it is only temporary, has the energy to disrupt and refresh our mental and emotional states enough to reveal shadowed strengths, new angles, and, maybe even accelerate the process to an actual solution. Watch the film; afterward you might ask 'What is my Dawn Wall?' and 'What am I going to do about it in the month of June?'
5. Can You Hear Me Now?
'Adulting' is a fairly new gerund that is hitting home as my daughters vault into their thirty-something decade. I can absolutely see how the twenties evolved to be its own legit stage of growth and maturation–my generation was in way too much of a rush, no question about it, and I admire this 'disrupter generation' who claimed their twenties as their own. But what I am curious about now is what is the gas and what is the brake for me as a parent of full-fledged adults? What does that transition look like–and, can I get a witness? Thirty seems like a big decade marker that deserves a solid nod, a hit on the refresh button, or maybe even a special transition ceremony. I've been reading a book 'Parents To The End' by Linda M. Herman LMHC whose mission it is 'to teach Baby Boomers how to parent for peace of mind, foster responsibility in their adult children, and keep their hard-earned money.' This book choice is in no way a reflection of my daughters' MO–they are decidedly mature and sensible. It's ME.
I am dazed by the blurry of boundaries and roles that I have adopted for myself, and I need a hand up in this new phase that requires a lighter touch. Are we truly meant to be parenting to 'the end'? If so, what exactly does that look like? This generational shift feels like brand new turf compared to our own parents, who gracefully clocked out when we turned twenty. I enjoy a comfortable intimacy with my woman-children, but I find that I don't quite know how to dial down my hard-wired Mama Bear 'responsibility instinct' with much grace–just yet.
Anne Lamott famously said that expectations are just resentments under construction. Problem is, I don't know what I should be expecting, or what is expected of me, if anything. I feel like I float in the crosshairs of potential misunderstandings–and often wonder how the hell I got here. How much is too much, how little is decidedly not enough? Add in vapid texting as the primary form of communication, different time zones, distance, and busy schedules–and things have the potential to get real fuzzy, real fast. I want to be the kind of parent that flows like the Mississippi River: a wise, generous, steady force with firm riverbanks–rather than the big sloppy puddle of transition that I am right now.
Wait. Mindshift. I just got it. Screw the book. I think I will ask my adulting daughters directly what our adulting boundaries should look like to both of us going forward. That's the parenting shift into the thirty-decade: straight shooting, two-way adult communication. Our 'kids' always seem to know–with uncommonly good common sense–what's right for the moment, and it usually involves way more chill than complication in actual practice. I'm definitely gonna go ask them–if I can get someone to answer the phone.
6. Not So Free Solo
If you saw the movie 'Free Solo' and squirmed through the whole thing like I did, you might be disinclined to even think about climbing a rock wall. Yet twice in the past six months I've had the opportunity to experience the spiritual and physical thrill of a via ferrata mountain climb. First at Squaw Mountain in Tahoe, CA, and then again in Wanaka, NZ. I LOVED it! Via ferrata is Italian for 'iron path' and refers to a climbing route that is imbedded with rebar rungs, pegs, and cables affixed to seemingly impassable sections. The climber is wearing a helmet, a harness equipped with a 'Y' shaped lanyard, and large carabineers that slide onto a thick iron rope. The ingenious fail-safe locking system absolutely guarantees safety and enjoyment. This democratization of mountain climbing is exciting because any relatively fit soul with a head for heights can experience the thrill of scaling a big mountain with relative ease.
The via ferrata system was created in the late 19th century and became a critical operational tool during WWI for troops fighting in the Dolomites; it allowed them to move swiftly across the slippery terrain of otherwise impossible mountain crossings. In Europe, there are hundreds of free routes for the sport climber; I found two commercial outfits in New Zealand. Routes are located all over the world–here are the top ten. I am adding this adrenaline rush to all of our future travel itineraries. It's truly an invigorating bonding experience with loved ones–even children as young as ten years old can join in the fun.
In North America via ferrata is the next hot commercial wilderness outing, with Tahoe opening for tours last fall, and Wyoming's Jackson Hole and Quebec's Mount Tremblant National Park hosting since 2016. Mount Ogden, UT and Telluride have self-guided routes, but that's for the pros–if you find yourself visiting there, book a guided tour.
7. Grace Note...
BYOB: Bring Your Own Beauty
You have the right to bare arms
this summer...walk your walk and
jiggle your giggle and enjoy yourself in the sun.
YES! to the bikini and the stretch marks and the cowboy boots,
YES! to the love handles and the moles and the brain fog
and to all of the peccadillos that make each one of us sparkle-crazy.
Older and bolder.
We need both our light and our dark sides to shape us into the wholehearted,
beautiful human beings we are meant to be. -KMD
...will you join me?
I’d love to hear from you—feel free to send your comments to me.