Why I love Brene Brown

Self-proclaimed “shame researcher” Brene Brown first entered my awareness a few years ago when I was listening to her interviewed on National Public Radio.  I was exhilarated to learn there was an actual person researching the phenomenon of shame and extrapolating from those findings practical, hopeful, actionable insights for people desiring to live “in the truth” of who they are.  In other words, she appeared in my life at exactly the right time, a period of intense change and transition during which I began asking myself, “How can I live more fully, less materialistically, and enjoy the fruits of just being ME in this crazy world?”.

Having been raised Catholic during the 70’s, the word shame resonated BIG TIME.  I was shrouded in shame from an early age.  It was the easiest means of eliciting good behavior, I suppose.  But damaging to the core once a person learns how to think for herself.  I don’t blame anybody for accessing this useful behavior modification technique, but I have been determined to dedicate my adult life to banishing every shred of shame from my path and seeking out ways for understanding the way people think and act, instead.

What does this random thought mean on a Wednesday morning in February, friends?  I mention it because I have discovered that Brene Brown, her research and writing, her TedTalks and mere co-existence with me during my time on this Earth, has opened up for me a very optimistic, hopeful and enthusiastic approach to moving forward in life.  We live the first part of our lives following the rules and “setting up shop,” so to speak, so we can “have” things like a good job, a nice family, a safe home and other standards of living well.  But Brene Brown reminds us to be brave, open-hearted and courageous enough to look within ourselves for the ultimate source of “living well.”  Like shame, external forces and identifiers of “success” can pull us off course from the destiny our uniqueness can attain.  Brene Brown helps me come closer to finding that “true self” every time I read something she has written and commit to practicing authenticity, allowing my true self to be seen.

I am inspired this morning by the opening quote from the chapter “Cultivating Authenticity” in Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection:

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:  they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.

Margaret Young

Today, I am just grateful to have access to Brene Brown’s wisdom during this time of my life, and I hope you will seek her work out, too.  Joyfully and Authentically yours, Joan






Honey, Don’t Leave L.A.

My one and only daughter, my beautiful Isabella, has recently turned 18 years old.  I want to have profound things to say to her but every time I try, just a huge gush of emotion rushes forth.  One thing I do keep thinking about is the time I let her Dad travel halfway across the country with her at six months of age to visit his cousin in Los Angeles.  They were gone for four days, an eternity to this new Momma.  We had no social media in 1999 so I could feel like I was a part of the adventure, only occasional phone calls to hear the cooing sound of her voice.

Through that little separation, I learned many things about my love for Isa and the kind of Mother I hoped to be for her.  I wanted her childhood to be:

  • Full of adventures she could call her own, without me helicopter parenting in the background;
  • Grounded in a strong sense of family and self, so she would trust herself to make big decisions knowing that the love of her family would always support her;
  • Joyful enough so she would look forward to spreading her wings as an adult and sorrowful enough for her to understand that tears shed are a beautiful part of life’s journey and a reminder to be true to oneself and surrender love completely while the opportunity is given;
  • Magical in her own unique way, a time of exploring everything the senses could reach within the safety of a loving home;
  • Solidly anchored in self-love and a sense of personal competence and the ability to reject shame.

Over the years, my Isa’s comings and goings have been very bittersweet.  When she returned home from her Los Angeles adventure, I played with her on the sofa all afternoon and cherished my good fortune to be the temporary guardian of her being.  She hugged me and said “Mama!” when she first saw me after that separation, so I knew then that we would be lifelong friends.  Today, I am awestruck by the beauty, strength and tenderness of her character and humbled to be her Mother.

James Taylor recorded a song in 1979 called “Honey, Don’t Leave L.A.”.  It is his friend’s story about a French woman he fell in love with who ultimately left.  Her spirit was indomitable.  Just like my Isa.









Healing Happens in Phases: Ebbing and Flowing

So happy to bring you this insightful piece from my Recovery Friend, Rose Lockinger.  If you are new in your Recovery or simply in need of a fresh perspective, Rose’s piece reminds us to expect a journey full of twists, turns, surprises and mini-victories.  In short, like all things in life,  when doing the work of Recovery, expect the unexpected and welcome the lessons as they unfold. xoxo Joan


You know how people always say that we take two steps forward, one step back, well in no other place in my life have I found that truer than with my recovery.

My recovery, and by extension, my healing process, has been one that involves phases, there are times of growth and times of setbacks, but through it all, I have learned more about myself and what I need to heal the wounds of my life.

See, I have found that the healing process is never linear, although sometimes I would like it to be.  Sometimes I want to believe that it will be achieved perfectly but this is never the case.  Like it says, progress not perfection, this process of healing involves progress.  It never just continues in a straight and logical manner but rather it ebbs and flows, and there are times when I feel like I’m actually healing and other times when I feel like I am completely regressing.

I didn’t understand that this was the way of things when I first got sober and I guess I sort of believed that my life would just get exponentially better day in and day out.  The reason why I thought this way is because my life changed so dramatically and so suddenly that I just thought it would continue in this manner forever.  The Steps seemed to work perfectly and the further I got into them the better off I became.

I found that I stopped lying as much.  I stopped craving drugs and alcohol, and I even started to believe in God, in fact so much healing occurred in that first year of recovery that to a certain degree I kind of felt like I was destined to become the most spiritual being on the planet.  That I was destined to be free from all of my character defects within the next year or so, but then reality kicked in and coming down from my little spiritual hilltop, I settled into my new way of life and I began to see that not everything was being healed as quickly as my alcoholism was.  I began to see that many of the things in my life that were particularly ingrained were going to take a lot of work to get over and possibly more pain before they were ready to be healed.

I have also found that certain times in my recovery, I thought that I was healed from something, or that I had finally overcome some trauma or defect of character only to be reminded a couple of weeks later that it was still there and there was more healing to be done.  I’d get these epiphanies and believe that I understood something that would allow me to change or heal, and to a certain extent I would, but then it would just lead me to more parts of myself that need to be healed.

Without getting too far into the abstract, I sort of believe that this is the way that life works.  We are born whole and pure, without any attachment or damage and then through the process of our life we pick up damage and get hurt by people or things.  Then once we are ready, we begin the process of healing from this hurt, attempting to get back to a place of wholeness, but the process is unique and there is no set road map.  With each layer of healing that occurs another is revealed just like the peeling of an onion, and so the job is never done  It is always ongoing.

I’ll give you a recent example from my own life to help illustrate this point.  It is something that I have written about a lot and talked about even more, but has been probably the most important thing that has occurred in my recovery and has been one of the greatest sources of healing for me.

For years I hated my ex-husband, but after working my Steps I healed a little bit from the pain that I felt he inflicted on me, and so for a time I was okay.  I believed that I had achieved peace with this part of my life and in all honesty for some time, I had.  I wasn’t yet ready to really dive into that situation and experience true healing and so I only peeled back the first layer of the onion.

Then I moved back to my home state so that I could be with my kids and in doing so, I had to invite him back into my life.  Not in the sense that we were getting back together, but in the sense that we had children together which required regular interaction with him.

Being home and being around him brought up things in me that were tremendously painful and I really struggled for a number of months with this.  There were some days where I’d thought I found peace in the situation, only to have it destroyed the following day when he’d make some offhanded comment to me, or I’d find out something he said about me to our kids.

I’d go to meetings and I’d hear bits and pieces of information that I needed in order to heal from the situation and I’d leave these meetings thinking I had finally found the secret that would unlock my healing and allow me to act neutrally towards him, but this just didn’t happen.  As the months went on and the pain got greater, I continued my lurch towards healing by taking two steps forward and one step back.

Then something happened that allowed me to know that I truly had healed from the wounds of this part of my life.  I finally felt the true acceptance of who he is as a person and what the situation was.  I no longer felt anger towards him.  In fact, I just felt compassion and realized that he was doing the best he could.

Now even though these feelings seemed to just wash over me in an instant, it was months and months of moving in that direction that lead to the actual healing.  Now, this is not to say that I don’t get upset still from time to time because I do, but it is no way shape or form like it was just a few months ago.

So that’s been the story of my healing, a process that is messy sometimes and seems to move in directions that don’t make sense to me, but in the end, work towards my greater good.  Sometimes I am aware that I am moving in the right direction, while other times I’m not even sure where I’m going, but through it all, I usually wind up feeling better.

Rose Locking is a passionate member of the recovery community.  A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction.  She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world.  Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.  You can find Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook & Instagram