I was engaged at the writing of the last newsletter and now I am married and… still engaged! My husband, Geoff, and I continue to revel in our wedding weekend while sharing our most meaningful takeaways: the shared inspiration with our loved ones with whom we were immersed in engagement.
Several times we have remarked that our loving friends – some of whom we hadn’t seen in 30 years – traveled long distances to “share the love.” Many of those same friends have had recent losses and disappointments. We believe that our reunion and wedding joy was perhaps a platform on which they could be inspired to connect, renew and celebrate life and love. We appreciated all of the “feel goodness” and the words that describe those positive emotions; this was the phenomenon that was rampant for the 4 day celebration.
One of the words that we didn’t expect to have underscored the ‘lovefest’ we experienced, was “courage.” Micki, our Matron of Honor, gave a beautiful toast, having known each of us for more than half of our lifetime. She said she was so happy that my husband and I had the “courage” to be open to a renewed love. That got us reflecting, and the notion of courage has worked its way into this Coach Poppy newsletter.
It got me to thinking about the why and what of courage: at what points in our lives do we pause to examine the vulnerable aspects of ourselves?
Brene Brown, Ph.D.a professor and researcher at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, is a wonderful “wholeheartedness” expert and self-acclaimed “story teller researcher.” She tells us that courage is from the Latin word ‘heart,’ which tells the “story of who you are with your whole heart.” She poses this to us: “How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?”
The researcher in Brown examined her research results on courage, compassion, and connection and came up with this:
“Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to being imperfect, to set boundaries, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit; nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.”She points out that her research showed that “the other thing they had in common was this: they fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They spoke about the willingness to say I love you first; the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees; the willingness to invest in a relationship that may or not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”
What was so fundamentally obvious to my husband and me was that our re-connection and renewed love had taken courage on both of our parts. We were both not only willing, but open to take the courage to reinvest in our first love, to get out of our practicality and vulnerabilities - (read: our heads), and open ourselves up to one another with trusting hearts. We did this so easily, readily and seamlessly.
And through social interaction, both face to face and virtually, we showcased that openness and courage and figuratively said to our friends/loved ones: “C’mon along on the ride; ride this great wave with us.” And they did. Decades worth of friends, High School and college pals, (some of whom had experienced great loss, felt vulnerable, and perhaps lacked courage), nonetheless, suspended their lives for 4 days and jumped in with both feet, just as quickly as we had.
This willingness of which Brown speaks is paramount to our wholehearted souls no matter our engagement: personal or professional. Our work/life persona is the same: we cannot disconnect from one and be wholehearted in another. What vulnerabilities can we recognize (and embrace) to allow ourselves the courage to live and love in an engaged and wholehearted way?