A friend of mine recently asked, “Can a book really change your life?” To that, I said “yeah DUH.” The trick is that you have to let it though. These three books aren’t the end all be all or the perfect guide to living life, but after I listened to them, and actually took action and implemented the advice into my life, I became much healthier and self-aware. I could talk for hours about each book I’m going to share, but I respect you and your time, so I’m only writing about one at a time.
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
If you aren’t familiar with this researcher/educator/superwoman, Brené Brown, PhD, let me fill you in. Brené Brown studies and teaches about guilt, shame, and vulnerability. Fun stuff right?!!? I was first exposed to her research in a high school theology class, and when forced to read a transcript of an interview of hers during that not-so-excellent time in my life, my response was along the lines of “k cool?”. But THEN I watched her TED talk, and I became the Brené groupie I am today. I went through a wonderful phase of life while living alone during which I listened to several of Brené Brown’s audiobooks, podcast, talks, and her Netflix special. It was heaven (It is not all sunshine and rainbows though; The topics she covers aren’t for the faint of heart).
Braving the Wilderness is a book about finding “true belonging” while having the strength and ability to stand alone. Major themes she hits on include: leadership, security, and communication (if you’ve been here before you know that’s my favorite!!). Brené Brown says that pretty much every story of pain and courage includes prayin’ & cussin’, and that pretty much sums up the tone of this book.
In reference to the title Braving the Wilderness, she includes an acronym for “Braving” that can serve as a road-map to healthy communication in relationships of all kinds (friends, partners, co-workers, family, you get it).
As silly or juvenile as it may seem, sometimes you just need a permission slip to allow you to do the big scary thing that isn’t actually so big and scary. Recently, I gave myself a permission slip to stand front and center in my dance classes. 10/10, would recommend writing yourself a permission slip on paper or a note in your phone.
“The story that I’m telling myself”
In one section of the book, Brené shares an inside look at her marriage and how she has productive conversations with her husband when she’s feeling particularly shameful or vulnerable. She expresses what she’s thinking and feeling by starting with “the story I’m telling myself…” and then shares how she perceives the situation. I was able to look back on a lot of past situations and identify times I was just telling myself a big old story.
“Soft front, strong back, wild heart.”
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes and something I’ve continued to remind myself of ever since I first listened to Brené Brown narrate her audio version of Braving The Wilderness. All three aspects have to work together and lately I’ve been trying to take note of when I’m losing one of the three.
Strong back means having a backbone, standing up for yourself, and aligning your actions with your morals. Soft front is the opposite of putting up walls or a shield. You can and should armor-up that strong back of yours, but leave the front open and vulnerable. She says, “A wild heart is awake to the pain in the world, but does not diminish its own pain. A wild heart can beat with gratitude and lean into pure joy without denying the struggle in the world.”
Bits of wisdom
- “I shall not be moved.” -Maya Angelou” -Brené Brown
- “People are hard to hate up close. Move in.”
Like I said, I could go on for ages about all the concepts and lessons in this book, but I had to cut myself off. I highly recommend listening to Brené Brown narrate the audiobook in her own voice.
Keep an eye out for the next installments of the series! For more book recommendations check out books to read this summer or audiobooks to listen to based on your fave TV show.
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