perspective

Vulnerability

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“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

-Brene Brown

I sat in a training this week that began with an invitation to think about this quote.  Then, we took a moment to write down what vulnerability meant to us and what it would take for us to feel ok about being vulnerable with each other.

I admire and respect Brene Brown and her work immensely.  That being said, even just the word vulnerability makes me shudder.  In the exercise, I wrote about how vulnerability means showing my lack of expertise or knowledge of something, or admitting I don’t know something, or showing my soft underbelly that I try very hard to protect. I cling to my appearance of being intelligent and capable as a flotation device in life.  I have learned in recent years that I mainly choose goals and tasks where I can be almost assured of success.  I don’t like looking stupid or incompetent and I avoid those situations as much as I can.

I’ve also learned through my enneagram that asking for help is not something I am good at (but giving help is!)

Reading Brene Brown’s work and others has me tiptoeing up to bigger challenges these days.  I’m setting goals that are further and further past my comfort zone.  Sometimes, I try things I might fail at.  I have become less comfortable coasting through life.  I’m not jumping at challenges quite yet, but I’m getting better.

When my daughter and I went to help on a farm project recently, it was in response to a facebook post appealing for help. The farmer had taken advantage of several growth opportunities in recent times and managed to find herself overwhelmed with challenges.  She started her facebook post by saying that asking for help was hard for her, but they needed help moving a truckload of gravel.  I messaged her that we would be happy to help.  She was extremely grateful.

Imagine her surprise to have over a dozen people show up to help.  From teenagers to retirees, men and women, all strangers, all grabbing shovels and buckets and wheelbarrows.  We moved and spread two truckloads of gravel in less than two hours (including a 30-minute break to go get the second load).  Far more work done far more quickly than she and her husband could have managed alone. We made quick work of her challenge.

I watched people work together who had never met, just to help someone in need.  All because she made herself vulnerable and asked for help.  Big dreams and big goals can lead to some big challenges.  Big challenges can be faced and overcome, sometimes with a little help from our community. A lesson I need to remember.

What I also learned today is that asking for help also opens up opportunities for others to contribute, to make a difference, to share their own worth. It feels good to help.  For my daughter, an aspiring farmer, it was an opportunity to get an insider’s look at a real-life situation on an operating farm. Perhaps others who pitched in had different motives.  Who knows what moved that group of random individuals to show up, but just by helping we each got something out of the experience.  At times, it also offers the chance for people to let you down, but thankfully with a good circle you always have backup and support waiting in the wings.

When we make ourselves vulnerable, we invite others to step up, step in, and play a role in our lives.  The next time I am in my self-focused trying-to-hide vulnerable mindset, afraid to admit I don’t know something could use some help, I’ll remember to reframe it as offering opportunities for others to shine and share and connect. It’s not wrong to take on a task that turns out to be overwhelming to manage alone at times.  It’s a testament to ambition and big dreams. May I start dreaming bigger than I can handle solo.

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fitness and nutrition, friendship

Just Show Up and Jump In

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“Our third teammate unexpectedly dropped out at the last minute with a sick kid.  Can anyone make it?”

A post to our gym community in the wee hours of a December Saturday morning.  I thought about it, but plans were already in motion for a day of chasing my daughter and her friends as they volunteered to help with a younger girls’ lacrosse team.  I sent my good wishes…hope someone can step in!

Then the text came in, just to me:  “Can you do the comp today and then come get the girls?”

A pause.  A stomach clench. My only job was transporting my kid and her friends and and now a friend was offering to take all that over so I could help on the team.  So how could I say no?  More stomach clench, I texted back.

“Ummmmm ok.  If that’s the best solution.”

(Inner voice of doubt saying:  “There must be a better solution!”)

From that moment, the whole day took a turn.  What are the workouts?  Do I need a shirt? I was already on the way to the gym…thank goodness I wore black shorts.

I turned the car around to head toward the competition site. The doubting voice crept in again…I haven’t eaten well!  How many burpees?? One rep max complex?!? I haven’t showered and shaved! I can’t do those weights!  I haven’t practiced!

WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE?!?!?!

Well, I was helping friends. I could do at least something and I would give my best. Just show up and jump in, I told myself.  Just show up and jump in. Every time I wanted to turn the car around, I’d tell the doubting voice to pipe down. Just show up and jump in.

And so, I got there about 15 minutes before the first workout.  Quick chat. Waited in the bathroom line, switched shirts, did a few stretches and bam, jumped in and competed.  Looking back now, it is awesome to be fit enough to just get there and give it a go.  Granted, I couldn’t lift as heavily as I would have liked to, but I jumped in and did what I could.  My two Ginger Thruster teammates did the heavy lifting, and lift they did! It was awesome to watch and be a part of.

By the time our first workout was over, some people were just seeing the early morning SOS post.  My friend Milagros asked if I needed anything – extra coffee and water, really.  She showed up with all that, plus some snacks and some needed encouragement.  Another part of the network coming together to solve a need.

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We pushed ourselves. We laughed a lot.  We fought for all the reps, strained for every pound.  I’ve never done so many jumping pull-ups in my life. It was a great day.

One great thing about this competition is they have a box member who is an amazing photographer, Davison Wheeler.  He generously shared nearly a thousand photos of the day, including the ones in this post.  It’s equal parts amazing and humbling to look at the people competing – their stamina, their strength, their skill.  When scroll through to find I the pictures of me, what I noticed is that I am often cheering for my teammates.  I may not be able to lift a huge number of pounds, but I try to lift spirits when I can.

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And a lot of that comes from just showing up and jumping in.

 

 

 

 

adventure, celebrations

Dropping Off the Edge

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There were always a hundred reasons not to do it.

I’m too busy.

It’s too far away.

But really, the one that held me back was:

I am over the 250-pound weight limit for women.

This is also what kept me from Roller Coasters, Skydiving, Hang Gliding, Canoeing, etc.  (Watch for future posts on these…)

It was only a couple of years ago that I crossed that 250 threshold.  Now I am well under it, no looking back.

So, here I am, making my way through the year of fearless.   How can I embrace it, without having to travel too far? Ziplining at Banning Mills. 

I bought our tickets the night before. Just to be sure I couldn’t chicken out.  I chose the 2 Springs source, since it had fewer bridges (much scarier to me, in thought!)

Made the drive, donned the gear, took the class, then we set out.  No time to be afraid with just the three of us in our group.  We lucked out, the other course had 30 people! Lots of waiting on high platforms.  Lots of time to get worked up.  Not us.

I climbed and my breath quickened – not so much from the tower as from the fear.  Every single time, left hand on the pulley, right on the rope. Watch for the hand signal to slow down.  Then reach your hand around and press on the line.  Careful not to press too hard or you will dislocate your shoulder. Yikes!

I got to the top.  The two teens just soared right off the platform. Effortless. Then it was my turn…. I didn’t jump.  I kind of crouched and leaned forward, forward, forward.  Just barely almost sliding falling off the ledge.  And I just let go and trusted and flew.

The second one was a little bit better, but not much.  Before each of the twenty-something lines, I had to repeat those steps. Left hand, right hand, drop.  And I had to slow down, feeling the glove get hot from the friction was scary.  Feeling my shoulder pull was nerve-wracking.  But I finally got the hang of it.  Finally, up 150 stairs and down at 65 miles per hour over a lake.

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Did we want to do the extra lines at the end of the course?  Sure. Every line had a name and a story – some funny, some likely made up, some sad or puzzling. The line named Secret, one of the last ones we rode, sent us flying high over a beautiful flowing stream. Very few people make it to that line (our guide said he had been on it with guests maybe 5 times over a few years), which explains the name. I was able to relax a little and enjoy the view.  On our last line, our guide even had me jump off the platform backwards.  What a ride.

For so many years, I wore my weight as an excuse. It’s ironic that the bigger you are, the easier it is to hide.  It’s like an invisibility cloak.  It protected me from many things, including some adventures like this.

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Of course, it’s more complicated than that.  Only part of what kept me unhealthy for so long.  But I am determined to embrace reckless, crazy, over-the-top or off-the-edge adventures as often as I can from now on.

Some don’t even make it past the first line, the guides said.  But, I kept following the steps, holding my breath, and stepping off with trust.  I was free and flying and not out of place.  I put all my weight on it and the line still held.  There is value in facing the fear, sitting down into it and just letting go.