On Vulnerability

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First Kiss, Tatia Pilieva

In Tatia Pliieva’s “First Kiss” film, she asks 20 strangers to kiss for the first time. (If you haven’t seen it yet – give it a shot! It will be 3 minutes and 28 seconds well spent!) To me, it offers the perfect storyline of vulnerability:

+Nervous excitement. They’re giddy and shy.

+Then a bit scary, as the strangers try to figure out how to break the ice and lean in for a kiss.

+Awkwardness follows as they experience the first few moments of the “new” — which in many cases, quickly transforms into fun: maybe this can be more fun than expected! Pleasure follows fear.

+Then relief. (For the viewer too?)

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First Kiss, Tatia Pilieva

+And ultimately: connection. Some looked like they didn’t want to stop!

This is vulnerability: breaking through the fear and nerves and uncertainty to come out on the other side with a new connection; getting through the “crunchiness” of what’s uncomfortable to the sweetness and beauty that’s underneath.

It reminds me of Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:

“Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.”

“Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect.”

“…recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.”

I am absolutely confident writing business-focused or marketing content for clients, or co-writing articles under someone else’s byline. However, I often find myself frozen by a perfectionist code — the fear of failing, of creating anything less than perfect — when it comes to my own personal writing. Case in point: I never feel more vulnerable than when I’m pushing “Publish Post” on a blog, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook.

In the spirit of embracing vulnerability and imperfection, I’ve stretched myself this last week, posting more frequently than ever before in order to share stories and pictures (via my talented husband, Joe) from the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. I’ve realized that spreading the word about the Paralympics is so much more important to me than cowering from the fear of rejection under cover of my “invulnerability cloak.”

ImageDoes Alana Nichols, the most decorated U.S. Paralympian in Sochi, hold back on the Super G? No way. What about Tyler Walker, Danelle Umstead, Stephani Victor, Stephanie Jallen, Laurie Stephens (just to name a few of my Paralympian inspirations!)…? Not a chance.

To succeed, they have to put everything out there. They sometimes fall – hard – but they recover. They heal; they gain strength; and they get back out there.

Writing blog posts isn’t the same as racing 70mph down a slick race course on a single ski. But they do both require being vulnerable and simply going for it. Like any athletic, creative, business or personal endeavor, I truly believe that the best path to improvement is being vulnerable and letting go.

I’m grateful for every single one of my readers. Today, 400 people have read my blog – a number that at once humbles me and makes my head kind of explode! It makes my breathing more shallow, my chest constrict and my shoulders scrunch up: all the physical symptoms I’ve learned to recognize for when I’m feeling most exposed.

But just like Pllieva’s strangers kissing, I’m going to soften into the discomfort, allowing myself to be vulnerable in order to reach connection. So to my friends, family – and strangers too – I’m blowing you all a kiss!

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Beauty Break

Grand Canyon (Joe Kusumoto Photography)

Grand Canyon (Joe Kusumoto Photography)

This past winter, my husband was lucky enough to do a river trip down the Grand Canyon. While so much goodness came out of his trip, one of my favorite things that he’s since shared with us is the “Beauty Break.” While setting up camp or cooking dinner or sitting around drinking beers, someone would call out “beauty break!” at which point everyone would pause and take a moment to appreciate the sunset, or the view from a hike, or the light fading on the canyon walls.

Beauty breaks have become a part of our lives, our family vocabulary, our special moments. Our three year old echoes the call and if we’re at home, heads to the closest window, or if we’re in the car, asks “where?” (it’s a restricted view from the back in a car seat!)

Driving home tonight, I found myself in the midst of a beauty break. The dark storm clouds took a break from battling it out with the Colorado summer blue skies, and the light over Lake Dillon was just perfection. In some ways, it was a typical “wow I cant’ believe I live here” beauty break.

But it was also so much more; it was a feeling of deep appreciation — for the moment, for my family, for independence, for work that I love, for people that inspire me. It was also a nudge to write again… to blog, to share, to be a writer, even if in a small way.

Grand Canyon at Night (Joe Kusumoto Photography)

Grand Canyon at Night (Joe Kusumoto Photography)

So here I am. I’m back. And I’ ready to talk books (of course!), PR, writing, parenting… whatever lights the fire in my belly.

Before I sign off, I need to give credit where credit is due. In the roundabout way that the universe often operates, several people  unknowingly conspired today to get me writing again.

Thank you to Marypat (FreeSpirit Yoga) for reminding me that freedom comes with being rooted.

Thank you to Peg (Positively Peg) for inviting me to be a part of a really cool project she’s working on. (More to come on that…)

Thank you to my husband who told me (again!) that I should write a book; and my daughter, in response to my adamant “no – not yet,” insisted: “You SHOULD, mommy!” Well, there you have it. No book, but a baby step to blog again.

Happy Fourth of July week to all!

I hope you can freedom, inspiration and many a Beauty Break!