Tag Archives: Brene Brown

Something I (Seriously) Don’t Have Any More Time For

Worrying about whether or not people are making fun of me behind my back and I just don’t hear them.

“Pictures of People Who Mock Me” is provocative. It’s a much-read article from Salon.com, a daring idea for a series of photos, and it stuck in my imagination, so I would say it met at least some of the author’s/photographer’s goals. It bothered me, though, in two ways I’m not sure she intended.

My first GENIUS and BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLY WISE response was to think, “OH MY GOD. People probably make fun of me for being fat and I just don’t notice because I am a.)oblivious and b.)not just fat but also hard of hearing.”

That surely wasn’t the intent. That first response didn’t last very long. I just don’t have time to wonder, at least not for very long, if anyone’s response to me has anything to do with how much I weigh.

It occurs to me, of course. Today in the pool, I got there early enough to snag the lane I wanted. Another woman got there just a little later. Typically, people waiting on a lane sit on a bench by the pool. She sat on the side, straddling a lane marker, kicking her legs gently. She wasn’t right next to me, but close by. It occurred to me she might be trying to get those of us in the pool to hurry it up. It occurred to me she might look at me and think she deserved the lane more than me because she was in better shape. It then occurred to me that maybe she just wanted to make sure she was first in line because she really, really wanted to get her laps in. Whatever she was doing probably had absolutely nothing to do with my size, my fitness level, with me at all.

But I swam one more lap than I had planned just to make sure I wasn’t ceding my place in the pool out of insecurity on my part. (And on the off chance she was trying to be intimidating.)

Second, I’m doing lots and lots of difficult, ongoing, hard work in my own head about shame. Did I mention it’s difficult? Everything Brene Brown ever wrote helps me. The people who did indeed mock Haley Morris-Cafeiro were wrong to do it. Mean to do it. If they saw themselves as shaming her in order to motivate her, they were mean and wrong and totally not up on the research that shows shame is not a good motivator for change (cf: everything Brene Brown ever wrote).

But since shame makes everything worse, not better, it made me uncomfortable to watch the photographer shame the shamers.

And then also, I had a whole train of thought about weight and body image and how we stake our place on the planet:

Engine of this train thought: it’s all about attitude. If you believe you’re beautiful and if you’re confident, you pull yourself past anyone who is making fun of you IF they bother to make fun of the Big-Ass Engine Who Could.

Coal car for the Big-Ass Engine Who Could: it’s all about energy. If you’re busy and you got places to go and things to do, people will have a hard time catching up to you to make faces behind your back. And you really don’t have time to spend on people who can’t be bothered to criticize you to your face. Probably don’t have time for people who CAN be bothered to make fun of you to your face.

Freight Car for the Big-Ass Engine Who Could: people who walk around mocking others have a bigger problem that whomever they are mocking. We all have issues. Baggage. Freight. Mocking others is one really ineffective way to deal with our own stuff.

Caboose: Beyonce.

Queen Latifah. Adele. I mean, seriously. It’s not about the pounds.

I know fat-shaming is real. I know it’s a problem. I also know someone who wants to shame has only one part of the equation. If I refuse to be shamed, all the fat-shaming in the world will fall flat. (Not that I’m resilient enough to resist all of it, in all the world. But don’t try to get me out the pool before I’m ready.)

I’m larger than I’d like to be. I’m working on it. I’m not sure reading/looking at “Pictures of People Who Mock Me” helped me, but it’s not her job to help me. It’s mine, and I’m doing it, and in regard to this article, I’ve done it.

And now I’m done.

Besides. Why would I spend any more moments at all on any of the above when I could be hanging out with our new kitten?

Vanessa Quivertail

Vanessa Quivertail

Two Week Sonnet, Day 7

Riding the line between abundance and chaos,
My stupid focus is on lack, lack, lack.
I try gratitude, but follow the switchback
Back toward loud whiny-assedness:
Too much. Too much! There really ought to be less
Except of course when there needs to be much more.
A good friend named my mountain bike “Pathfinder”

Well, that’s it. It was a sestet after all. Moving on! With the same basic back and forth theme. I’m piggy-backing “less” on the ABBA rhyme scheme from the first quatrain. So, once again, I’m in the land of nonce sonnets (a sonnet that meets the basic rules of the form but doesn’t follow a famous/established pattern). I’ve always been pretty noncey. It’s the “ballpark” notion of prosody–my first prosody teacher would say fairly often, “Well, let’s call that a ballpark sonnet,” as in, it’s in the same ballpark. I try to be a little more precise than that, but for me, a poem has to follow some sort of rules, even if the rules are brand new. There has to be some kind of surface tension holding things together. I wonder if it’s surface tension I mean?

In any case, once I said “switchback” in line three, I was back in Missoula, so the mountain bike was bound to show up.

Terrific picture NOT taken by me--go to this website: http://www.mesenko.com/Landscapes/Missoula/14933008_mVjHV3/1904593193_MZGcfRk

Terrific picture NOT taken by me–go to this website: http://www.mesenko.com/Landscapes/Missoula/14933008_mVjHV3/1904593193_MZGcfRk

Two books I’m reading, well, three, are in my mind in terms of content or theme here (beyond the basic back-and-forth theme, which is more of a structural principle): Anne Lamott’s Help Thanks Wow, Bren√© Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me and Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ. Instead of being all monkey-minded, whiplash-mooded, and spiritually spastic, I’m aiming for some measure of mindful equilibrium. “And how’s that working for you?” I say to myself…. I’m tentatively calling this poem “Sustainable Chaos,” even though I already wrote one other poem called that. Listen. If George Foreman can name every child “George,” I can use the same title more than once. But “Sustainable Chaos” appeals to me in terms of how I want my life to feel and be.
Decisions, decisions. Today we reach the end of a sestet–a little six-line cluster. If we’re going traditional Petrarchan, we’ll push on for a couple more lines to complete the octave (8 lines, if you didn’t know) and THEN shift gears. The rhymes seem to indicate I’m in an octave, not a sestet. I was kind of mis-remembering, forgetting I’d set up “whiny-assedness” to rhyme with “abundance and chaos,” only remembering that “less” rhymed with “ness.” I thought briefly about trying to rhyme with “less” so this could decide to be a sestet.

I’m a little worried that the two less/more lines are too obvious, but I like having them as end words there in the early-middle of the poem.

Well, really, it’s tomorrow’s decision, where to go from here. Just feeling the impendingness of it today.

p.s. I told my husband last night what I was up to with this and he totally got it, how hard it is for me to do this just one line a day, since I often write a sonnet, or most of a sonnet, in the car on the way to work.

Fortunately, this isn’t the only writing I’m doing.
So, no Babe the Blue Ox in the Slough of Despond yet. But there’s time. We’re only five lines in. A whole universe of crap can happen in 9 lines in a sonnet. Right now I’m thinking the next line will begin

Except for when

but I could totally change my mind by tomorrow.
I decided I’d try to write a sonnet over a two-week period (14 days–seemed liked fate), one line a day. Curious if I’ll do it–I’m trying not to anticipate what I might write the next day or later, though it occurred to me this is kind of a version of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which made me think of Paul Bunyan, so they might show up, with Babe in the slough of despond or something. Or not.

(Vulnerability) Hangover Cure

Did you pull a Harry Bailey? Go too far
Too fast on the mouth of your shovel, straight through the ice?
Don’t panic. In this movie there’s always a George
To plunge in and save you, no matter the risk.

I’ve been there. That’s daring greatly. That’s the price.
Just let your liver process what you did,
Whatever it was. You were right to try, even if
You decide to do it differently next time.

Sweet old Clarence puts it all on George,
“Every man on that transport died,” in the world
Where Harry’s dead because George was never born.
But if both Bailey boys had stayed at home,
If Harry had taken his turn at the Savings & Loan,
If he’d played it safe, those men would still be dead.
No heroes, no love stories–the movie would end sad
If we Harry Baileys didn’t always push
too hard, too fast, too loud, too soon, too much.

Since this is post about practicing empathy, I will save for another post my current progress in working on shame & vulnerability & daring greatly & then suffering multiple vulnerability hangovers. I will just dedicate this to a friend who was brave enough to admit she was having a vulnerability hangover & say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you to Brene Brown. (And also I need to learn how to do diacritical marks on Word Press.)


Also note, this serves as further evidence for how HARD it is for me to write a sonnet in 14 days rather than an hour.¬† I wrote this in the bathtub in the back pages of I Thought It Was Just Me. And the water didn’t even have time to get cold.