Brene Brown and the entire kitchen sink

I have mini panic attacks that my advisor is going to me angry with me. I keep finding elements that have to be a part of my dissertation. Right now it feels like I’ve got all these extremities of work and yet I sorely need them to be a body. So far I have:

  1. Spirituality
  2. Leadership
  3. Creativity
  4. Grief
  5. Decision Making

While that does not seem like a lot…it’s a lot. What is even more frustrating is that I have become increasingly more patient through uncertainty, despite myself really.  I have developed the ability to sit and wait for things to unfold rather than force them or manipulate them in any way. So, I’m waiting, and in the meantime I think my advisor is going to kill me.

Very few writers, researchers, “storytellers”, have influenced me in the way that Brene Brown has; mind you this is an extremely recent thing, too.  The way that she talks about her work, the way that she conducts her research it does not seem like work! It looks joyous, and fulfilling, and there is so much passion in that work–she’s inspirational on different levels.  And while I realize that she has been researching for many years, it appealed to me, and I cannot do it any other way.  Again, my advisor…

When I think of what I want to do, the outcome of my own work, I want to understand the role that spirituality plays in the decision making process.  In that, I believe I will find themes of guilt, grief, creativity, and self-care practices along with many others–I am open to being surprised. I also assume that as people are more developmentally mature, they will experience and describe spirituality in very different ways. I definitely find that where we are in life greatly shapes the perspective we have on it.

My work is on the individual, but it is about a collective. Are “we” recognizing that “we” are connected to one another? Do I consider this connectedness when I made decisions? Do others? My guess here would be that if there is an external consideration that it is likely family, or if its a professional decision, the system or organization.  However, how many people are thinking globally? Jung describes the presence of a collective unconscious and I wonder how many people not just know about it, but live in constant awareness of it?

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
― Brené Brown,The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

When I heard Brene speak about her work, specifically her experience with her research topics, I felt like I was given permission to be present in my own work.  Honestly, how could you not be? There is something in us all that draws us to our passions, our vocations.  I loved that her cognitive aptitude did not excuse her from the very human experience of shame that she was studying.  I love that she admitted that.

If I sit back and think about what got me to this topic it was literally a moment sitting in Terri’s office crying thinking, “How did I get to this place? How did I arrive here?” My answer, that came later, was that a series of very spiritually governed decisions led me here.  And an idea was born. Brene says to “dance with the one who brung you.” And for me it is going to be those two things: spirit and choice.

Perhaps it’ll be as “simple” as this: Understanding the role of Spirituality in Decision-Making: A Comparative study between Student Affairs Professionals, and Tenure-Track University Faculty.  And perhaps it won’t.

One last thought, Brene mentioned that shame will often try to make us question ourselves by asking, “Who do you think you are?” I experienced that earlier this week, and earlier this month. Those moments where I call out my audacity, and side-eye myself.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE.  My mind answered in a small tiny quiet faux-humble voice and began, “I am just…” and my heart said with great certainty, NO. You are ANYTHING but “just”.  And I liked that answer. I told it to shame and I haven’t heard anything since.


Sincerely, Jess, “Anything but Just” J.

Life. Death. Life

That’s the cycle of things, right?  You live as a single person, and then you find a mate and there is a death of the single life as it gives way to the birth of you as a cohesive unit.  If you procreate with your partner then there is a death of the life you have as a pair and the new life you have with your child, and so on and so forth.  Everything evolves in this way; life death life, so why is it that reincarnation seems so foreign?  Another day perhaps…

The thing I want to understand is the ebb and flow of this life, the life and death as it pertains to me currently.  I believe that immature me who was unsure of herself, unsure of what she wanted and how to obtain it, what she deserved or who she deserved…she has died. And in her place stands a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.  Some of the how is still murky but I am okay with that. I realize that knowing everything is not necessarily meant and that in life I must operate with a steady level of faith and trust in life’s process and the way of things.  All I need to “know” is that the universe is conspiring on my behalf and relinquish control to a greater source and a higher power.

I have noticed that my morning thoughts and morning meditations bring great clarity to me.  Today for example I made “Life. Death. Life” my facebook status and hours later was listening to a presentation by Otto Scharmer where he spoke of those very things.  I listened and it was like deja vu–I had lived this moment before receiving this information before.  Actually moments before I headed down to the talk I’d told my advisor, “No, I am not upset about Sri Lanka…we have to let it go. Something else is meant.”  An hour later Otto is showing us a diagram in which the words “letting go”  “letting come” were present.  Coincidence? I do not believe in those. Even the fact that this post comes after I had the thought…to make space for the words of Scharmer so that I could write about the two…but the knowledge that the thought this notion of life. death. life. was documented far before the conversation…it was meant. How can you deny things like that?

Perhaps another birth is that of me being sure of the gifts that I have and the power of them all.  I just have a very good feeling that keeping quiet about them will not serve me well.  Within the last day I have had another allergy flare up.  I laid on my sofa moaning about the itch in my throat and ring in my ears when I saw my new book by Louise Hay, “You can heal your life.”  I flipped to the back where she list common dis-eases and probable causes for them, and also affirmations to combat them.  For allergies it read, clear as day “denying parts of yourself.”  That was enough.  I mean honestly…how many times will I have to be told to “share my story” before I quit wondering if it is okay to speak?  Death to the doubter and long live the believer, the truster, the affirmed, the sure.


God, why do I storm heaven for answers that are already in my heart?  Every grace I need has already been given me.  Oh, lead me to the Beyond within.

~Macrina Wieherkehr

I’m feeling rather bare. In a good way.  Clean. I wanted my blog to reflect that…so here we go.  A few things got deleted.  I find that as I age and grow I favor province.  As a result…well you see it.  The above quote is introspective…an allusion to the seventh chakra: the Crown chakra…Kind of funny I took to that…if you follow my blog you know my affinity for “being” and “existentialism” so its only natural I was drawn to the 7th.  If you’re not sure what a chakra is, here’s a brief definition:

Chakras are our energy centers. They are the openings for life energy to flow into and out of our aura. Their function is to vitalize the physical body and to bring about the development of our self-consciousness. They are associated with our physical, mental and emotional interactions.

I don’t know if what I’ve been on can be constituted as any kind of awakening.  I suppose the old folks would say I’ve been “goin through”.  Its just been a trying time in my life.  But yesterday I broke. All the way down.  I feel like I came full circle too.  Like the things I was feeling are so far removed from me…and I didn’t really sleep last night. Poor Deeds, neither did he. I guess I was, for once, not sorting and just being those emotions.  Lots of tears, lots of talking, lots of being open.  Lots of hard stuff.  I am by no means advising anyone on how to become more at peace or “enlightened”.  Simply sharing my experience… I might paint today…

Just like water…

So I’m fascinated by cultures and I’ve been reading a lot lately on spirituality and the sort, mainly because I’m a psych nerd and sincerely love the study of people. Anyway so I get to Taoism and there reverence of water…here is a Tao notion:

Nothing in the world is softer than water,
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong.
This is because nothing can alter it.

It is a lesson of resilience,  simplicity, and strong modesty.  When I was thinking of getting another tattoo some months ago I made a note to myself to look up Tao symbols, but then didn’t…wouldn’t have mattered anyway as my 2nd came on random night and matches w/ a friend’s. So the lesson, nothing is softer than water. Meaning nothing bends and yeilds like water does. When we bathe water moves and shifts around us, it curves and twists through valleys and countrysides.  Yet nothing is a more powerful erodant over time.  It smoothes rocks, wears at landscape, can cause destruction in copious amounts…And that is because nothing can alter it, water is unchanging, it is what it is always and forever. There is a challenge for man to be more like water, unchanging in that we are true to ourselves and try not to please other men, yeilding to the power of God, and strong in the adversity and sin that the world throws at us. There’s just something beautifully spiritual about this. My parent’s actually own The Tao of Pooh, maybe I’ll give it a read.

Taoist water beliefs

Taoist water beliefs