Lessons for Living

“The key to living a truly satisfying life is nurturing your relationships…” I was startled by the tagline of the article in

Jake borrows Denise's jacket for a goofy pic. Just another good relationship at CCBS.

Jake borrows Denise's jacket for a goofy pic. Just another good relationship at CCBS.

October’s issue of Psychology Today. There was the R word again, RELATIONSHIPS, front and center, demanding my attention with a “How are yours going these days?” insinuation. And the teacher in me has to give an honest C+. I’m struggling. Or maybe closer to the truth: I’m juggling, and a few balls are getting dropped, especially in the relationships department

I’ve got a lot on my plate right now – Academic Dean, teacher, Soccer mom, choir member, Clemson University doctoral student, chef, maid, laundress, taxi, and tutor. Oh, and single motherhood, which is a full time job in itself. At our August Family Seminar, we were asked to introduce ourselves and reveal our secret superpower wish.  I rather flippantly answered, “Are you kidding? I’m a single mother. I HAVE all the superpowers I need.” You may notice there are a lot of jobs I have, but no mention of relationships in here. In other words, a lot of “whats” but not a lot of “whos.”

To make things worse, we create a life of busy and then throw in an unspoken infallibility factor upon ourselves. The “if you’re going to do it all, you better do it well without complaint” self-challenge. That’s a perfect setup for failure, shame, and doubt when something doesn’t go right. Keeping busy prevents us from reflecting upon how well we’re doing in the really important thing in life: Relationships. That’s a strange little paradigm, isn’t it? We stay occupied pretending to be too busy for platonic and romantic relationships that we might fail at, but become so busy we end up chastising ourselves for not doing a good job at things that may not be that important in the first place.

Here at school, we focus on teaching the boys that relationship is first and foremost, yet I’m not fully modeling the behavior. I may be driving my son to soccer, but I could do better just engaging him in discussion on the way to the game. I am singing on the Worship Team, but when we’re just talking and not practicing harmonies, my thoughts stray to what I have to do next. I’ve got the schedule down pat, but I’m not allowing my guard down to show vulnerability in the moment.

Vulnerability is a key concept in relationships. It popped up in an amazing TED talk last night in my college class. The segment featured Brene’ Brown, who is a research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She seeks to answer the question, “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?” I know I have to give myself permission to be less busy and more vulnerable to engage in relationships that have – as we say at CCBS – heart  and meaning. And to accept no shame if I do it imperfectly.  The discovery of what is “real and true about ourselves and the world around us” means to render ourselves vulnerable and fully embrace the ride!

Invest 20 very worthwhile minutes to enjoy Brene’ Brown’s TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” at this website address:

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Lessons for Living”

  1. Carla Shorts says:

    To my favorite Academic Queen: You are amazing! Thank you for passing along the TED talk on Vulnerability!

    CDS

  2. Shaler Cooper says:

    Thanks for the reminders Denise! This is another example of ‘easier said than done.’ What a great reminder for us all!

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Denise, your honesty is most refreshing and your writing a pleasure to read.
    Thank you-
    And yes, that’s a great TED talk.

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