Amy, Brené & Megan.

Admittedly and for the record, the catalyst for this post and every single one that follows is my trusted astrologer (no, friends who know me, not Susan Miller).  Having felt the weight of something happening in the universe in the six weeks leading up to my birthday, I scheduled a session with Amy as soon as the idea dawned on me.  I was experiencing almost constant physical-bodily anxiety since the very end of August which coincided with my taking a leave of absence from my LA life and heading back to the east coast to be with my family.  I wrote this leave off as my family needing me--my dad having trudged through 8 straight months of chemotherapy--but the moment I set foot inside my grandma's house, I realized that this time was likely to affect me in perhaps a more profound way than I could have expected.  Perhaps I needed to leave LA and go home.  This was, to say the least, humbling.

That's an entirely separate story, however.  The point is that I scheduled a call with Amy and she pretty much told me that I shouldn't plan anything for the next 6 months.  Because great things were coming and all of them are unexpected and any plans I make will be undermined by whatever is coming that I cannot plan or forsee.  This news was a relief.  After not maintaining a regular schedule of anything, not working under my designated title at my company and meditating literally whenever and wherever I wanted to every single day, I felt like a blank canvas.  Working with a painting that already has shapes and shades and color in place is a hell of a lot easier than making the first stroke.  At least for me.

Amy also told me that I should be writing publicly--like a blog or something.  So I listened to Amy.  And, ultimately, myself.  Because the moment she told me I should be writing, my heart chimed in and said, "Yes, Megan. You knew that. If you keep all your little truths to yourself, you are shutting people out. Disconnecting and disengaging. If you share these things, people will in turn share with you. Connection will naturally occur and you will experience something very special on the regular. Duh."

Why would I not have done this sooner?  I could argue that this doesn't matter because it's in the past and that I'm here now so why even bother looking into it further.  But therein lies a shift I think is important to explore and understand.

Writing, for me, requires immense vulnerability.  More so than walking up to a complete stranger whom I am intrigued by and introducing myself.  More than public speaking.  More than initiating sex.  More than being totally naked for hours while a group of people silently draw me (I had a figure modeling phase).  More than taking my harmonium out onto the Venice boardwalk and chanting.  Writing leaves me feeling the most exposed out of all of these things.  It requires me to be vulnerable.  And being vulnerable is scary.  For this, I turn to an expert in the field.

If you haven't heard of Brené Brown OR if you've ever felt shame, fear or loneliness, watch this.  Brown's research links our ability to be vulnerable with our feelings of worthiness... or lack thereof.  And what stops us from opening up and being vulnerable?  Shame.  Brown sums this up nicely in her book Daring Greatly:

In reality, being vulnerable is uncomfortable, humbling and exhilarating.  Photographer: @nyamaste

In reality, being vulnerable is uncomfortable, humbling and exhilarating.  Photographer: @nyamaste

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Well-put.  I can relate to this.  But does anyone else? (Humor me.)

She also writes:

The only people who don't experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.  Here's your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you're a sociopath.

OK--it's not just me.  Phew.  She goes on to explain that resistance to shame is not the answer.  She instead argues that we should develop a "shame resilience" practice.  Brown, again:

Shame resilience is about moving from shame to empathy--the real antidote to shame. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.  Self-compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept--it happens between people--it also heals best between people.

Wow.  I love this.  I love this because Brown's theory (based on 10+ years of research, I should add) requires that we share our collective stories.  A shame resilience practice can then really only go so far if you are keeping the practice itself confined to only yourself.  On a very personal level, this gives me a solid argument for publishing this post and every post that follows.   I'm in fact testing her theory and working on my own "shame resilience" practice.

Rather than focus on all the reasons NOT to have a blog--no one cares; it's narcissistic; you'll just stop posting after 2 weeks; if you write your truth and people actually read it, your words will turn people off because it's just too much so stick to writing about how much you love those new yoga pants/avocado toast/#fullmoonvibez/*prayer-hands-emoji* and call it a day (note that I've done all of these things and think they're awesome... seriously... I avoid buying electronics or signing contacts when Mercury's in retrograde and post sunset pictures gushing about how much I love Venice because all these things are true for me)--I've chosen to test Brown's theory and practice the public aspect of leaning into my own vulnerabilities by writing about what I think matters underneath this material world we all get to play in.  And also, maybe avocado toast.