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Episode #19: My Scores on Brene Brown’s “Wholehearted Inventory”

As I began to listen to the podcast “Unlocking Us with Brene Brown” and the 6-part Summer Sister Series on Brene’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, I went onto Brene’s website and took the “Wholehearted Inventory”. I received the report that explains that: “Scores are organized by the 10 guideposts and represent the daily practices of wholehearted living”. The report goes on to explain that: “Scores are presented on a CONTINUUM between the letting go of behaviors and the cultivating behaviors. “Cultivating” meaning to try to acquire or develop (a quality sentiment or skill). And finally, the report explains that it “is intended to be a GUIDE for areas that you may want to work on in your daily behaviors”. As Brene often says – I think – “Let’s dive in!” Guidepost #1 is: “Letting go off” WHAT PEOPLE THINK and “Cultivating” AUTHENTICITY. MY score – again, it’s on a continuum – is about 55 – 60%. It’s one of my lowest scores, or one that needs the most cultivating. Let me just say – I KNOW – the IRONY is not lost on me. Here I have this podcast, Audacious Freedom, and I am sharing some of my most inner thoughts, stories and secrets, really. And yet, HERE I AM admitting to you that I’m working on LETTING GO OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK and I’m WORKING ON AUTHENTICITY in my daily behaviors. You just can’t make this shit up! MAYBE my score should be higher than 55 – 60%, but REALLY this tells me that I answered the questions very honestly. I answered how I FEEL, not how I’d LIKE TO FEEL or how I’d like OTHERS to THINK I feel. I don’t remember WHAT the questions WERE, I just know I answered truthfully and didn’t want to hide my truest self from MYSELF or from anyone I might share the results with. Like with you, my listeners. At the time I took the inventory, I did not know I’d be recording this episode and sharing the results with you – it was simply for my own self development. And I DO want to work on my authenticity. Maybe I should retake the inventory at the end of Season 2 of this podcast and see if I’ve moved the needle on Guidepost #1?? Something to consider for sure. MOVING ON to Guidepost #2, “Letting go of” PERFECTIONISM and “Cultivating” SELF-COMPASION. My score for THIS guidepost is about 65% and that seems right to me. I think I’m getting better about not trying to be perfect and about being kind to myself. There are enough other people – not TOO many though in my life, who HAVEN’T been kind to me at times so I am VERY MINDFUL of the self-talk in my own head ABOUT MYSELF. I am doing the best I can in my own life and in treating others with kindness, even though I’m NOT always doing EVERYTHING they’d like me to do. It may not be enough for some, but I’m NOT trying to be perfect for myself or for them. And BECAUSE I LOVE LANGUAGE, I had to look up the definition of PERFECT: adjective 1. Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics; AS GOOD AS IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE. Free from any FLAW or DEFECT in CONDITION or QUALITY; FAULTLESS. PRECISELY ACCURATE; EXACT. Highly suitable for someone or something; EXACTLY RIGHT. UM, YEAH NO. I’m FAR from perfect and I think anyone who tries to be and FAILS to be, runs the risk of being too hard on themselves. I mean “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”. Who THE FUCK could that be? It’s sure as hell NOT ME and for you listeners who’ve been tuning in to all of or even just SOME of my podcast episodes, you may ALREADY know this about me: I’m NOT PERFECT. And I encourage everyone out there to go easy on yourselves and to practice self-compassion. Sleep in, skip your workout for today, eat those french fries, drink that second Mai Tai at the new Tiki bar, GO AHEAD. Those things don’t make you LESS perfect. They make you AMONG THE LIVING; they make you HUMAN. Moving on to Goalpost #3: “Letting go of” NUMBING AND POWERLESSNESS and “Cultivating” RESILIENT SPIRIT. My score HERE is a 70% and it would have been LOWER for sure during the first 6 months to a year of the pandemic when Netflix was my dearest friend during my morning cardio and strength training – it was ON even when I did Pitates and yoga! I watched up to 2 hours a morning during my workouts then to WIND DOWN at the end of the workday for me and the school day for my daughter, we’d sometimes watch a few episodes of a series together – and later we chose to watch our own shows in separate room when we ran out of mutually interesting shows to watch together. It wasn’t until the SPRING of this year – 2021 – that I opted for a NEW morning routine with a variety of podcasts rather than Netflix shows keeping me company as I exercised. There’s so much to learn from the many podcasters out there and I feel like I have been getting to know them and the people they interview PERSONALLY with their VOICES and often their LAUGHTER – and occasionally their TEARS – coming into my ear through my bluetooth. I ALSO discovered that the LOCAL COUNTY LIBRARY – just two blocks away from our home, allows you to check out 50 – yes, FIFTY, that’s five zero – books at a time for weeks on end. I checked out TWENTY-FOUR BOOKS – all written by women, many women of color and/or in the LGBTQ+ community and I have been reading their stories in the evenings in bed before lights out. Their stories are often about HARDSHIP starting at an EARLY AGE, perhaps OVERCOMING some of that hardship with EDUCATION, ACTIVISM and, in many cases, their SUCCESSFUL CAREERS. These PODCASTERS and AUTHORS feel like my SISTERS in the universe, my ANGELS ON EARTH who have INSPIRED me and given me the COURAGE to tell MY OWN stories in this podcast. They are the REASON I have been developing what Brene Brown calls “Resilient Spirit” and I’m EMBRACING my TRUEST NATURE and what I BELIEVE has been my CALLING. To share my VULNERABILITY and INNER THOUGHTS and EVEN some SECRETS, NO MATTER WHAT others might think of me. I DO have a RESILIENT SPIRIT and rather than DIMMING my bright light during what I hope will be the last months of COVID-19 life, I am RAW and TRUE and MY AUTHENTIC SELF. I ALSO scored a 70% in the NEXT Guidepost, #4: which is “Letting go off” SCARCITY AND FEAR OF THE DARK and “Cultivating” GRATITUDE AND JOY. There is SO MUCH I have to be grateful for and I try to find joy in something every day. My daughter and I are healthy and fit, we eat good food, we live in a BEAUTIFUL and JOYFUL home in a neighborhood that has access, just a couple of blocks away, to shopping and dining. Earlier on during COVID-19, that DINING was TAKE-OUT and my daughter loved the near-daily walks to Ben & Jerry’s or the local gelato place. We are grateful for our friends and family who love and support us and for my professional career which supports us. It’s been very encouraging to see during COVID that many employers have been investing in developing their people, which has meant opportunities for me and many others in my profession. I truly have not found ABUNDANCE to be SCARCE and I know there is ENOUGH for EVERYONE. I recently heard a wonderful quote and I wish I could remember who first said it, “What you appreciate, appreciates”. And isn’t that SO TRUE? ONe of the biggest things I ALWAYS tell myself is, “I have plenty of TIME.” I’m in NO RUSH. I will GET IT ALL DONE. WITHIN plenty of time. And it’s amazing how – no matter how long my to-list is, I’ll LITERALLY see time free up on my calendar. A work meeting will be cancelled because not enough participants accepted the invite. A FRIEND will text me on a Friday morning of the day we’ve SCHEDULED lunch: “I’ve just got too much work to get done and I have a deadline for a project on Monday. Let’s reschedule, she’ll say. SO, because I APPRECIATE how much time I have, the amount of time I have APPRECIATES and I get my shit done! I was going to go to Guidepost #5 next in Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Inventory, then I read THIS on the report: “You will notice that Guidepost #5 is absent from the report. Thai is because we discovered that “CULTIVATING INTUITION AND TRUSTING FAITH” requires a combination of complex assessments rather than a concise set of items that can be incorporated into a more comprehensive inventory. SO, we’re jumping to Guidepost #6: “Letting go of” COMPARISON and “Cultivating” CREATIVITY. It feels to me as if this guidepost is very similar to the first one: “Letting go off” WHAT PEOPLE THINK and “Cultivating” AUTHENTICITY. Because if you CARE what other people think, you’re probably COMPARING yourself to them. And if you need to “work on” AUTHENTICITY, you probably also need to “cultivate” your CREATIVITY. Regardless of how similar these two guideposts might be in MY mind, I DID score a little HIGHER on this one – a 65% instead of 55-60% as I did in “Letting go off” what people think and “Cultivating” authenticity. I have often been guilty of comparing myself to others, beginning probably in junior high school – what’s everyone WEARING, what kind of HAIRSTYLE do they have? Some of you listeners may have heard in a previous episode or two of Audaction Freedom, I have shared that I ended up finding my own unique style of dress and wearing my hair as a teenager when I couldn’t look like many of the other girls. I learned to be CREATIVE and UNIQUE OF AND ON over the years – the “off” moments being many of my years in a corporate setting where we weren’t given much freedom in the fashion department. And NOW, in my mid-fifties and for the past several years, I’ve dressed in my own unique way again and I LOVE being DIFFERENT. 

So, I’m not sure WHY my score on this guidepost is low – again, I don’t have access to the questions in the inventory after taking it. And AGAIN, I just KNOW I very CONSCIOUSLY answered each question HONESTLY. So, I guess I’ll just have to keep “Letting Go Of” COMPARISON – however, that might be MANIFESTING itself, and, “cultivating” more creativity. This NEXT guidepost I LOVE because it’s my strongest score: an 85-90% for guidepost #7 which is “Letting go of” EXHAUSTION AS A STATUS SYMBOL AND PRODUCTIVITY AS SELF-WORTH and “Cultivating” PLAY AND REST. GOOD LORD, HOW did it come to be that so many of us HAVE IN THE PAST or currently NOW measure EXHAUSTION AS A STATUS SYMBOL and PRODUCTIVITY AS SELF-WORTH? I have ALWAYS LOVED PLAY AND REST or down-time and have UNABASHEDLY sought after a great deal of both. I’m not sure I ever had to “work at it” – it’s always been in my nature to find joy and to have fun. Le’s break this down: EXHAUSTION AS A STATUS SYMBOL. What the fuck, people? We’re not MACHINES. We can’t just plug in and keep going. Even our COMPUTERS – which ARE MACHINES – need a REBOOT every once in a while. They freeze up on us or we can’t close out of an app. They are EXHAUSTED and need a little break. It’s the same with your PETS – they NATURALLY know when to REST, they know to STRETCH their bodies every time they stand up, AFTER a rest. HUMANS should be no different. We should SLEEP when we’re SLEEPY and move our bodies – stretching, strength training – maybe also do cardio, yoga and/or pilates to keep ourselves STRONG. If we DON’T take the time to REJUVENATE our bodies and our minds, it has been PROVEN that our PRODUCTIVITY DECREASES – and often our RESENTMENT toward others around us who we PERCEIVE to be LESS productive that we are – our RESENTMENT toward those *slackers* INCREASES. And the other fucked up part of this guidepost to be “letting go of” is PRODUCTIVITY AS SELF WORTH. Again, what the FUCK? Is this a goddamned COMPETITION? I’VE DONE or I HAVE TO DO X number of things MORE than anyone else, THEREFORE, MY SELF-WORTH is GREATER than anyone else’s. What about the QUALITY of the things *you’ve* done, people? Does it MATTER how WELL you’ve done them or at WHAT COST? Are you RESENTFUL toward some of the people you love because you CHECK OFF more things on your TO-DO LISTS than THEY do?? Are you PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE – or just plain AGGRESSIVE – toward people in your life who make CONSCIOUS CHOICES in THEIR lives to make time for PLAY and REST, to be IN TUNE with their own bodies and MENTAL HEALTH needs?? AND some of you RETIRED people out there – and you KNOW who you ARE – are you ENJOYING your RETIREMENT or are you still on the FUCKING TREADMILL or goddamned hamster wheel of EXHAUSTION AS A STATUS SYMBOL and PRODUCTIVITY AS SELF-WORTH?? Are you IMPOSSIBLY and INEXPLICABLY and ANNOYINGLY NOT able to PLAY and rest NOW that you don’t have to HUSTLE and EARN an INCOME? You HAVE the money to RETIRE, so have you not actually left the DAILY GRIND? You know, in the Spanish language there are a few ways to say the word RETIREMENT: 1) el retiro, 2) la retirada and 3) la jubilación. I PERSONALLY LOVE JUBILACION, because it has the same LINGUISTIC ROOT as the word in the ENGLISH language JUBILATION which is defined as: “a FEELING of GREAT HAPPINESS and TRIUMPH”. So there you go, for those of you RETIRED people who haven’t truly settled into your retirement yet: go ahead. You’ve *EARNED* it. This is YOUR time of GREAT HAPPINESS and TRIUMPH. It’s time to PLAY and REST. 

Okay, so I’m stepping OFF the SOAPBOX I see that I have CLIMBED UP ON. Let’s MOVE ON to Guidepost #8. ANXIETY AS A LIFESTYLE – to be “Letting go of” – and “CULTIVATING” CALM and STILLNESS. My score on the continuum is 80% and I’m proud of that. It’s one of my top 3 scores and I’m continuing to cultivate CALM and STILLNESS by MEDITATING. Not EVERY DAY and not these two-hour long morning and evening meditations and CERTAINLY NOT any kind of days or weeks or months-long SILENT meditations. I mean, GOOD FOR YOU if that’s your thing. Good for YOU. I MEAN it. But that’s NOT MY thing. When I feel anxious – which isn’t too often, thankfully – I sit in quiet, close my eyes and call on my angels, the universe and love to guide me on where to put my attention. Usually within just 5 – 10 minutes, I feel a DEEP CONNECTION of love and support and a lump in my throat. Tears fill up my eyes, I open them, stand up to get a tissue and blow my nose, then I WRITE. I write down what I FELT from my angels, the universe and love. I write down the messages and the two or three things I am meant to focus on for that day or the next few days. It’s a short list because there is only so much I can CONTROL in my life and the world. And that STILLNESS in meditation gives me my calmness to embrace my day. 

Guidepost #9 is “Letting go of” SELF-DOUBT AND SUPPOSED TO and “Cultivating” MEANINGFUL WORK. While this is one of my 3 LOWEST scores, I think I can pretty briefly sum up what’s happening here – and AGAIN, I answered the questions on the inventory HONESTLY – and there are TWO things to say here. 1) In terms of “Letting go of” SELF-DOUBT AND SUPPOSED TO, I was raised CATHOLIC, so that’s where the SUPPOSED TO comes from and maybe because I so often DON’T DO many of the things we are made to feel guilty of if we DON’T DO them – may of those SUPPOSED TO’S – at times can lead to SELF-DOUBT. And because it’s not very often that we are PRAISED or SUPPORTED or LOVED for NOT doing the SUPPOSED-TO’S, we’re MORE often made to feel guilt – or SHAME, even worse for NOT doing the SUPPOSED-TO’S. And let me see if I can get this right from some of Brene Brown’s OTHER work: she says GUILT is “I DID something bad” and SHAME is “I AM bad”. She goes on to define SHAME as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of BELIEVING that we are FLAWED and therefore UNWORTHY of LOVE and BELONGING – something we’ve

EXPERIENCED, DONE or FAILED TO DO makes us UNWORTHY of connection”. WOW. Jesus Christ, I say. That shit is FUCKING HARSH. Okay, so the second thing I want to say about THIS guidepost is about “cultivating” MEANINGFUL WORK. WELL, HERE I AM. HERE I AM with Audacious Freedom, the podcast. Here I am doing the work that MATTERS to me. The work that makes me feel as if I am FUCKING FLYING – the way that I am flying in some of my DREAMS. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL in these dreams to be flying – soaring SLOWLY just above the tops of buildings. SOARING SLOWLY, in no hurry to go anywhere or to do anything. Just SLOWLY and yet POWERFULLY – with my ARMS out to my SIDES – almost FLOATING above the world below me, maybe even the way an ANGEL might float. HOLY SHIT. I never THOUGHT of those DELICIOUS DREAMS like that before. And you know what’s the most DELICIOUS part about those dreams? It’s that I have the FUCKING ability – IN THE DREAM – to become CONSCIOUSLY AWARE that I am DREAMING – AND I have the POWER and the CONTROL to EXTEND my flight in my dream. I have the POWER and the CONTROL to keep flying – to SOAR – to SOAR SLOWLY for LONGER. To ENJOY, to ABSOLUTELY TAKE NOTHING SHORT OF PURE DELIGHT in the – what I can only otherwise describe as – SUPER HUMAN experience I have been GIFTED with. THIS, THIS is the ONLY WAY I can describe the work of this podcast. The PURE JOY, the DELIGHT, the DELICIOUSNESS, the FREEDOM, the POWER of being RAW with my stories to you listeners, of SHARING with you my STORIES and some of my secrets. Of TRUSTING you, my fellow HUMAN BEINGS to SUPPORT and LOVE me anyway. 

And the FINAL guidepost, #10: “Letting go of” BEING COOL AND ALWAYS IN CONTROL and “Cultivating” LAUGHTER, SONG AND DANCE. So, this was one of my 3 lowest scores, at 55-60%. So what does it mean or look like to BE COOL AND ALWAYS IN CONTROL? Well, I take that as to ME – it’s kind of a few of the guideposts combined, like “letting go of” #1 WHAT PEOPLE THINK, #2 PERFECTIONISM, #3 NUMBING AND POWERLESSNESS and #8 ANXIETY AS A LIFESTYLE. It COULD be like even MORE of the guideposts too but that’s what initially comes up for me. ANd my first thought is, “who wants to let go of being cool and always in control? Who DOESN’T want to breeze through life WITHOUT a single OUT OF PLACE HAIR on your head, without A SINGLE BLIP in your RELATIONSHIPS, without a single thing NOT going your way the first time and WITHOUT a SINGLE SURPRISE or UNEXPECTED or UNPLANNED EVENT? I guess that’s something we could ALL hope for – AN UN-MESSY life. But we all know that LIFE can be quite messy – I know MINE SURE HAS BEEN at times. IT’s most interesting to me about this guidepost that as we aspire to “let go of” BEING COOL AND ALWAYS IN CONTROL, we can develop daily practices – we can “CULTIVATE” daily practices – of LAUGHTER, SONG AND DANCE. That’s so beautiful to me. The IDEA of more daily laughter, song and dance in my life. When I think about it – and I don’t have to think very hard about it AT ALL – OF those three – LAUGHTER, SONG AND DANCE, only SONG is the one I have AT TIMES ROUTINELY made time for on a regular basis. AND I”ve let that one slip in recent weeks. For a few months this year, when I felt a little anxious, or when I needed to transition from one activity to another, I would sing La Vie En Rose a cappella walking around our apartment. I’m not suggesting I sang it well or in tune, but I would sing it. Often two or three times in a row. And I loved it so much, I’m wondering why I stopped. Maybe it’s because I felt I didn’t NEED it any more, especially if I’m not feeling a little anxious these days. And that’s a GOOD thing. But why not sing La Vie En Rose or any other song on a daily basis? I CAN say that regarding singing, I DO love to sing in the car, but I am so seldom in the car, because we can get to many of the places we need to get to on foot, because those places are only a few blocks away from us. And when I DO need to drive somewhere, it’s usually no more than a few miles away, so that doesn’t give me much time to find a song on the radiation that I want to belt out at the top of my lungs. But when I DO find a song I want to belt out at the top of my lungs, I don’t give a FLYING FUCK who sees me, even if I’m sitting at a stoplight. I feel like a goddamned rock star and that feeling brings me so much joy. 

Okay, so NOTE TO SELF – SING more every day. Sing La Vie En Rose or sing to a song on the radio – at home. I don’t even have to WAIT for a song to come on the RADIO. I can PLAY one of my favorite songs on so many different platforms, it’s inexcusable NOT to. Why WOULDN’T I want more JOY in my life every day, NO MATTER HOW MUCH JOY I think I experience every day already? Okay, so more singing is coming my way. I say BEWARE fellow drivers out there in the Washington, D.C. suburbs and BEWARE our neighbors. AND BEWARE my daughter. Mama’s gonna be doing some more singing! Okay, so what about “cultivating” LAUGHTER AND DANCE? Just like with singing, I have at times built time into some days to dance, especially my favorite dance, The Pata Pata. Damn, does that dance and that song by South African Miriam Makeba EVER make me happy! For those of you NOT familiar with Miriam or her song or the little line dance to her song, it’s a quick one to learn and if you JUMP to it rather than STEP to it, it’s a fucking awesome cardio workout! So, now to LAUGHTER, the final of the 3 behaviors to “Cultivate” on guidepost #10, I’d like to do much better. I’d like to be more like my daughter who naturally seeks out laughter and who I often hear laughing behind the closed door to her room and – as I have mentioned in at least one previous episode – she even laughs in her sleep while dreaming. Damn, what a GIFT! She is also FUNNY and makes herself laugh. I LOVE to laugh – a good belly laugh or a giggle that you can’t stop – that’s such a wonderful feeling! I think in the last few years or so I read about LAUGHING CLASSES, where people get together to laugh. Even with the pandemic, I’m going to look on-line to see what I can find – I’ll bet there must be virtual laugh classes somewhere! I have always LOVED watching stand-up comedians and comedy movies, but rarely if ever do they make me belly laugh or giggle uncontrollably. The closest I get to that kind of emotional or physical RELEASE is when I CRY. And I gotta tell you I CRY way more often than I LAUGH! What the fuck is THAT all about? And there is NOTHING wrong with CRYING. I tear up or cry about injustices, for the underdog. I cry HAPPY tears of JOY all the time for MYSELF, for these podcast episodes, for SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS – even for goddamned COMMERCIALS sometimes! I gotta tell you, I want to research the effects on the mind and on the body of crying versus laughing and I will NOTE it as a potential FUTURE podcast episode! I will also research laughing classes or groups or whatever and research other ways to integrate laughter into my daily practice. And DANCE. I’ll throw in at least a couple of Pata Patas a week, too! And SONG. I’ll be sure to include more singing, too. 

So, when I reflect on this ENTIRE exercise to complete the wholehearted inventory and to sort of evaluate my scores on each guidepost, I am grateful for the awareness of the areas I would like to continue to develop. Thank you, Brene Brown for this inventory and for your 6-Part Summer Sister Series with Ashley and Barrett. I am ALSO grateful for this work that allows me to see what I am ALREADY DOING WELL in terms of “Letting go of” some behaviors and “Cultivating” the ALTERNATIVE, OPPOSITE, HEALTHIER behaviors that the WORLD needs more of. The behaviors that, in MY opinion, every human being needs more of. AND I want us all to give ourselves the GIFT of CELEBRATING ourselves, as WORKS in PROGRESS, and for everyone out there having the courage to be vulnerable to take an honest snapshot of where we are in terms of certain behaviors and where we’d like to go. I’D like to continue to go on this journey of self-development and growth, and to share my raw stories and emotions with you along the way.

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