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On Courage, Vulnerability + Winning

On Courage, Vulnerability + Winning

Here goes. 

I think that a lot.

When I gather up my wits and put on more lipgloss to do another thing, say another thing, survive another rug-pulling heart-splitting thing.

Here goes nothing. Here goes something. Here we go again. 

Recently I went through a break up. Well, am going through would be more accurate, because, of course, a break up doesn’t end with the relationship. And all break ups are hard, but this one really blindsided me. It was a real heartwreck.

I have a support system. I’ll be fine. But this loss made me want to put on armor. Pick up a sword. Shout things. Slash tires. Spread lies.

I’m French and Italian. I burn hot. I’m loud. Passion and rage are blood born.

All of that rage and sadness is well-placed, I’m sure – but perhaps it’s less a reaction to the circumstances, than it is to the vulnerability underneath it. Misplaced attachment leaves us so skinless sometimes, and that feeling can be intolerable.

But hurt doesn’t need to turn to hate, and we don’t have to rush to numb the discomfort with food or drugs or lashing out which only creates more pain. This time, I’ve opted for stillness instead of destruction and reaction.  I keep thinking, Stay vulnerable. Stay soft. Wait to see what incredible things will fill the spaces left behind. Don’t hurry. Gather in. I’ve been doing All Of The Things even more than usual. Exercising, cleansing, eating greens, drinking juice, avoiding alcohol, I’ve enrolled in classes, am writing.

Not perfectly. But doing. Intentionally. As gracefully and artfully as possible.

It doesn’t make it hurt less, nothing does that. But I believe in always choosing among the best of your available options in any situation. Slashing tires is never that. Ahem.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not all posture and grace and only mildly altruistic. I’m also motivated by winning.

I will win at life if it kills me, I think. And then laugh because we all know it will either way. I’ll die winning then.

Recently, for both related and unrelated reasons, people have been bringing up Brene Brown’s vulnerability TED talks to me. I saw these talks. You probably did too. So have millions of other people.

I am sharing anyhow, because she does such a knockout  job of articulating how important it is to be more comfortable being uncomfortable. Life won’t stop doing that to us. Loss happens. And tolerating vulnerability, being willing to face head-on our fears of being unlovable, is how you win. And we all need more wins.

Vulnerability is strength, not weakness. It is where we connect, where we generate love, courage, and as Brene says, it is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.

Being able to embrace this part of being human is imperative to your health. It is the lever you can practice moving around so you can stop numbing yourself out with food. It is how you find peace of mind and keep going despite loss or grief or failure. Staying in it, accepting it as a fact of life, allows you to choose carefully how you want to fill the spaces hollowed out by loss. Winning doesn’t happen without those things happening first. It just doesn’t and it never will.

She also says that vulnerability is loving with your whole heart, even when there is no guarantee.

And that is enough reason right there. Because what’s the alternative?

Fight for what you love, darlings. Love your peace of mind. Love your ability to freely pursue fulfillment. Love your children and each other. 

That is all.


If you haven’t seen the videos yet, they are some of the best minutes you will spend. If you have seen them, you might watch them again.

Here is the original.


And here is the follow up.

Love you. For real.



Your comments and support are madly appreciated. But please limit commentary to personal stories and thoughts on vulnerability. No commiserating about my break up. Thank you. 

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8 Responses to On Courage, Vulnerability + Winning

  1. Cindy says:

    I think I would add, I REALLY don’t want to, but. . . here goes!

    • mworden says:

      Totally, Cindy. Stepping out of a comfort zone, having to rewrite your future plans, doing the mending and rending and remending required to carry on despite life and other people not participating the way you hoped- these things never look like pleasant options, do they? But so glad we can. I mean, really. If nothing else, it makes for great stories. Sigh.

  2. laura m says:

    I needed this post today, This morning I sent a close family friend a message saying that I am no longer going to care for my grandmother and do not want to be called when the next emergency occurs. I recently came back from a short and much needed camping trip only to discover that my 90 year-old grandmother had completely disbanded all of the care I’d set up for her and in three days destroyed months of work (both physical and mental). We had a meeting with social workers on Sunday and I decided to let go when it became clear that she doesn’t want help. That she needs help, but because she is of sound mind (?), she gets to make decisions even if they are poor ones. So I’m done.

    I feel good about my choice, but I was dreading telling this family friend. I anticipated her judgment and felt defensive. I decided to just tell the truth. I wrote and told her that I am exhausted, tired of the abuse, that it has been a thankless job and that I no longer want to do it. I told her that I feared her judgment and that sometimes I don’t have it in me to defend myself or explain. That I’m letting her know as a courtesy, but that I would appreciate it if she didn’t question me.

    I felt vulnerable hitting send both because of the subject of my message and because I was honest about simply being sick of my own grandmother. Normally I would have qualified everything I wrote. My vulnerability came in the form of being honest and when it comes to things like this…I lie all the time.

    Much to my surprise I was rewarded for my vulnerability with a truly loving message where she validated my feelings. The best part was realizing that she didn’t become defensive, she was never aware that I felt judged, she thinks I am doing an amazing job and wonders how I have been able to handle it for so long.

    It was great to be understood, but I sent the message not expecting that and not needing it. A huge step.

    • mworden says:

      Sorry I didn’t reply to this sooner, Laura. As always, holding so much love for you and your incredible movement on and upward, against the odds. Adore.

  3. Allie Quady says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting these Ted talks. Although millions may have seen them, I had not and I plan on sharing with my friends and family. What a wonderful lesson to learn on a Weds morning. A lesson we continue to learn throughout our lives I think.

  4. […] I talk a lot about weathering uncertainty and staying strong when you feel vulnerable, but make no mistake — discomfort isn’t comfortable.   […]

  5. […] in, I set an intention to raise the bar. And did many things to support […]

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