If there was one thing I wish I could say to all my clients (and 99% of Americans, including myself) it would be this:
We never stop! Our bodies and minds are going ALL THE TIME. We get on a hamster wheel the second we wake up and we don’t get off of it until we go to bed (that is, assuming you can put the worries and to-do list aside well enough to actually sleep).
Part of our busyness is habit. Part is an obligation to say yes to everything. Part is cultural expectations that we should always be productive.
But I’ve realized recently there is another reason.
Slowing down is vulnerable.
When we take a break, we worry if there will be enough.
When we quiet our mind, things surface we’ve been working to avoid.
When we define ourselves by our busyness and check marks on a to-do list, we question who we even are when we slow down.
Slowing down opens us up to all sorts of vulnerability.
But slowing down also opens us up to creativity. And focus. And joy.
It allows us to be grounded, centered, and present.
It open the airwaves so we can hear our true inner voice.
And that is where the magic happens.
So expect vulnerability when you slow down. Let go of any notion of transcendence or perfect quiet or the “right” way to slow down. Instead, muddle through it, messy and imperfect though it may be. Your magical, authentic, true self is on the other side.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women to master doubt and imposter syndrome, re-evaluate what they really want in their career and life, and move forward to create their authentic path. Click HERE to join Heather’s mailing list and receive a free copy of Five Ways To Quiet The Inner Critic.
Sometimes I need a walk with a friend. Occasionally a hard spin class. Other times a glass of wine. And then there are days I just need a little Brené Brown. I listen to an interview with Brené or I open my copy of Daring Greatly and she simultaneously hugs my heart and gives me a kick in the ass. Her words remind me to embrace vulnerability and feel deeply. She gives me the courage to again bring my full self forward into the world.
Here are a few of my favorite Brené Brown quotes set against photos I’ve taken over the past several years. I hope they also give you a hug and the push you need to move forward.
I took this photo of the sun rising behind Uluru from Kata Tjuta, nearly 30 miles away from the giant rock. I look at this photo now, almost 5 years later, and I relive the feeling of standing under a massive sky and watching the day begin. It is a reminder to let go and be at peace with myself and the world.
About halfway through my visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit I realized that I could see the Seattle Space Needle reflected in Chihuly’s art. I love that this photo is both clear and blurred. It’s a little messy – just like vulnerability.
A long staircase down a sheer cliff kept most of the tourists from this glorious beach along Great Ocean Road in Australia. It feels expansive and free – a place you can easily live from your wild heart.
I was sitting on the roof of a boat watching the sunset in the Galápagos Islands when this bird soared overhead. He is definitely in the arena!
A magnificent sunset in one of my favorite countries – Slovenia. I feel a gentle sense of belonging and connection in the world watching this man fish at dusk.
These branches reflected in the sand at Lover’s Key State Park in Florida are crisp and almost thorny, yet they are beautiful. They reminded me of the challenging emotions we need to embrace.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to stop the hustle so they can reclaim their life and focus on what’s really important. Click HERE to join Heather’s mailing list and receive a free copy of The Five Steps To Reclaim Your Joy.
There are times when I feel like I belong nowhere, like I’ll never fit in. And then there are times when I feel like I belong everywhere all at once. When I sense the pulsing thread of humanity connecting me to every person on Earth. Those moments when I know our commonality is more powerful than any difference between us.
An experience from my recent trip to Europe epitomizes this feeling.
While in Bled, Slovenia I went on a tour through the Julian Alps. Our group of 17 consisted of families from Australia and Malta, couples from Malaysia and Britain, female friends from Singapore, our Slovenian guides, and me. We piled into two vans for a full day of hiking, waterfalls, and white-water rafting.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
In hour eleven of our twelve-hour tour we shared a round of beer and loaded the vans onto a car train to return to our starting point in Bled.
I was in a van with the family from Malta (two college-aged daughters and their parents) and the couple from Malaysia. While our van chugged along the railroad tracks through the mountains, I started to ask questions about Malta, a place I knew nothing about. Soon one of the daughters was singing an old Maltese folk song about a pastry. It was recommended that I eat this pastry if I visit Malta, but I was warned to be careful how I asked for it because the word for the pastry also meant a certain body part it resembled.
We had a few laughs over that one. And that’s when the riddles, jokes, and one-minute mysteries started.
A few didn’t quite cross the language barrier.
“What has ears, but can’t hear?” one of the girls from Malta asked.
I paused. Nothing came to mind. “I give up. What is it?”
No hint of recognition from me or the Malaysian couple. “Huh?”
Lesson learned – the Maltese word for the handles on a pot also means “ears.”
But most of them translated impeccably well. I had even told some to my students in the US when I taught environmental education years ago.
“What goes around the world but stays in a corner?” – A postage stamp!
“What has a head and a tail, but no body?” – A coin!
“You’re lost in the woods and you come upon a cabin with a candle, dry wood for a fire, and a kerosene lamp. You only have one match. What do you light first?” – The match!
The Maltese family and I also shared “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Whoops” with the Malaysian couple. Who knew this silly game was played the same way in two countries 5,000 miles apart that spoke different languages?
There was so much laughter. It was the laughter of children playing child’s games even though there were no kids in the van. It was the joy of people from different corners of the globe recognizing similarity in each other. The freedom of being fully present, enjoying the company of strangers that felt like friends for a moment.
Two nights later I was sitting in a café in the small capital city of Ljubljana chatting with a couple from Texas while my waiter brought me his favorite Slovenian craft beers. The family from Malta happened to walk by and stopped to say hello. I stood up and gave each of them a hug. In that moment I felt like I could belong anywhere.
And so, in those times when I feel like the odd person out, like I’m weird and different and don’t fit in, or when it feels like division has more power than unity, I remind myself of the riddles in the back of the van. Of the collective belonging felt through laughter shared equally across continents, the simplicity of human connection, and the strength in our commonality.
NOTE: This blog post was equally inspired by my experiences in Slovenia and Brené Brown’s new book on true belonging, Braving the Wilderness and, in particular, the Maya Angelou quote she shared: “You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.”
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.