I just attended Emerging Women 2017 in Denver. Denver is relatively close to Texas by Texas standards and I love to drive through the wide open West so that’s what I chose to do. I would do it again.
Just before the trip, I read I Thought It Was Just Me, Brene’s first book on shame. I followed her through the personal lessons from her research. I travelled the road with her, making small, easily won discoveries in response to the big big soul-sucking life lessons she had struggled through. I finished it, sighed and then bought copies for several of the women I loved. And I recommended it to others who bought their own copies. Immediately after finishing this book, Braving the Wilderness was released. I read it through in one sitting, beginning to see the value in always being a bit of an outsider. Yay!
The Emerging Women conference was incredibly inspiring. It began on a Thursday afternoon and continued until Sunday noon. Every speaker was changing the world in a big way. Most had published books. Many had published several. Their accomplishments were MEGA! MEGA! $2 billion raised for the Hunger Project. Millions of trees planted. Quiet, the anthem that launched and continues to launch flash mobs around the world which in turn creates thousands, tens of thousands, millions of views. See? BIG!
Everyone in the audience with me was interested in changing their own world in the best possible way. Many of us didn’t know what that would look like but we knew we needed to make things better. By Saturday I had hero fatigue. I felt small and okay, I’m going to say it, sorta worthless. Yes, I know comparison isn’t helpful. I did say I was human, right? And we humans suffer from not-good-enough.
Our public stories are short (thanks, TED) and our attention spans are shorter. How many of you speed up YouTube to get through more quickly? (I quietly raise my hand here.) We create a 15 minute public story, which by its nature must follow a simplified path. Here’s the format: A. I wanted to do this thing. B. And it’s a really good thing. C. I faced these really big barriers. D. Here’s how I overcame them. E. Look where I am now. What made my Brene experience so very different?
I left early, ready to be by myself in the car watching the endless empty miles unwinding but I needed more. I needed Brene’s kiind, careful, personal wisdom. I downloaded an audiobook version of The Gifs of Imperfection and began it just outside of Colorado Springs. I listened to half of it the first day. So much work to do!!! But I wasn’t alone. Brene was right there with me. I can see myself in Brene’s stories. She is brilliant and has and is accomplishing so much. But when I compare myself (because we do), I see the human parts too. That’s what we share. And she still struggles, just like I do. So I can learn from her because I am like her.
Halfway through Gifts that first day, I reached saturation. Now what?
There was an easy answer but one I wouldn’t have known to connect without serendipity. Tom Petty. Tom Petty and his fierce raging against all of our simple, seemingly too small slights and wild embrace of the bits of life and love. Brene warmed me up; Tom built me up. I listened to at least 4 albums the rest of that day, singing along at the top of my lungs as southern Colorado and the Texas High Plains wound out around me. I finished Gifts the following day.
Emerging Women offers Power Circles. It’s an interesting concept. You can find out more about it here. But what I want isn’t about power; it’s about embracing imperfection, getting okay with the human parts, making mistakes and learning from them. What I want now is to walk back through Gifts slowly. Maybe a chapter a week or maybe even one chapter every two weeks followed by an associated practice. I would love to do it with a group. What about you? Wanna join me?