Aug 19, 2013

Vulnerability Equals Connection?




To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S Lewis 


Man, you gotta love good old C.S don't you? When was the last time you used the word vulnerable in a sentence? Would you say you use it every day? Once a week? Are you sure you know what it means? When was the last time you felt vulnerable? What makes you feel vulnerable? Is being vulnerable good or bad? Does Jennifer have a new obsession? Yep....vulnerability is what is trending in Jennifer Baird's world right now. It all started with an innocent enough looking email from my son Zach who lives in Europe. He sent me a link to a TED talk about vulnerability by a woman named Brene Brown. I had never heard of TED. I have a friend named Ted :) Anyway, I had rarely thought about vulnerability but within seconds of watching this video I was sucked right in and became fascinated with Brene Brown and her research. I am longing to have you over so we can grill a steak and sit in my hammock and talk about vulnerability until we can not talk about it anymore. Yeah, it is good to be in my brain....oh and my hammock :)

So lets start at the beginning...what is vulnerability? Actually lets start with vulnerable. What does it mean? It means you are open...... accessible....susceptible...sensitive....exposed....if you find that you can describe yourself as guarded...protected...safe...secure...strong and closed you do not have to worry in the slightest about being vulnerable....you are indeed the opposite of vulnerable. If you are vulnerable you are capable of or "susceptible to being wounded or hurt." You are open to attack or damage. You are open to moral attack,criticism and some temptation. Whew,sounds like a good time, eh? This vulnerability thing has a bad rap. Most of us think it is weakness. But it turns out we desperately need vulnerability. Brene Brown, my new best friend, points out in her talk on TED that after years of research she has come to realize that we can not connect without being vulnerable. And connecting is what we darling humans crave. No it is not Twinkies we crave :) Connection is why we are here....not Twinkies :) In order to have connection you have to allow yourself to be seen and that requires you to be vulnerable....yeah, good times :)

I have been searching my mind for moments that I know I feel vulnerable....

 when I wear a swimsuit...duh :)
 when I have to play the organ in church...ugh.
 when you give me a math problem
 when you ask to see my garden and it has weeds in it
 when I realize I did not shave my legs
 when I realize that you see me singing my guts out at a stoplight
 when you ignore me
 when I make a mistake

So you have to be okay with vulnerability in order to have connections. I have to be okay with the fact that I forgot to shave my legs so that I can tell you and connect with you when you in turn confess you did not shave yours either...and you tell me you keep a razor in your car for this very purpose and we can giggle about that and thus connect :) I have never in my life felt like protecting myself before... but now I do and I see it does restrict my ability to connect. I am not connecting much these days. I am longing for something to snap me out of this safe mode I have locked myself into. Hopefully the team from Star Trek is on their way in the Starship Enterprise with the code? Or maybe Jason Bourne is the one who will save me? I would even be okay with Superman getting in on the resolution of this :) Someone has to know how to fix this. Now I know why people who get bit by dogs sort of freak out when they are around dogs and are not really interested in being around dogs and you see fear in their eyes. It seems unreasonable to you if you have never been bit by a dog but I confess after the last two years I totally "get" it :)

I am working on writing a bill that would convince congress to require everyone in the world to watch Brene Brown's presentation on vulnerability and she also has one on shame that is fabulous. I am going to give you the link and trust me the twenty minutes is worth it. I love understanding what it means to be human and what we need and thinking and wondering about all these things and Brene researches this for a living and does a gosh darn good job of it. Brene Brown TED talk about vulnerability

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