The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection

Are you a perfectionist? Or do you always feel like you’re not quite enough? Learn how to be accomplished without being overwhelmed.

I tried to be perfect that day. I had practiced the music routine for weeks. At age fourteen, I desperately wanted to be a twirler for my school. On tryout day, the music played and I marched and twirled to “Feeling Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel. I thought it was going pretty well and, at the start of the next move, I confidently grabbed the ball of the baton and prepared to throw it in the air. But at the moment I swung my arm, something went terribly wrong. The ball came off the end and, instead of going up, the baton went cartwheeling to the side, nearly taking out one of the judges. If the judges hadn’t been sure about me before this moment, seeing my baton hurtling toward them made their decision easy. So while many of my friends were selected for the twirling squad that day, I didn’t make the cut.

Although I was able to bounce back from the experience, not making the cut was the first time I was told I was not good enough to be a part of something I really wanted. Rejection is an unavoidable part of all our lives and can lead us to opportunities and careers that suit us better. But everyone processes it differently, and that’s the tricky part. Some people fuel comebacks with these feelings. They return stronger or they excel at something new. And hard work does pay off. Coaches successfully use this strategy to prod athletes into improving their game. Students study harder and get better grades. People work harder at their jobs, get promoted and recognized for their achievements. And while some are happy with the challenge, for others, this feeling of never being good enough, or worthy, becomes a debilitating trap. Always striving for perfection can permeate our thinking. It’s a mindset that can ruin relationships and prevent people from experiencing their imperfect, authentic, and happy selves. And in the end, no matter what successes we have achieved, it’s our happiness and our relationships that are most important.

Brené Brown has a solution. Brown has spent years researching and studying the damaging effects of what she calls “shame storms” and has written a guidebook to help people avoid the pitfalls of trying to be perfect. As a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Brown writes and speaks regularly about her findings. In The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, and in her very popular TED Talks on The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame, she shares her personal struggle for perfection in a warm and engaging style. She encourages readers and listeners to take an honest look at their own lives and examine how they can change their way of thinking to become successfully happy people.

Brown offers ten guideposts to what she terms “Wholehearted Living,” a lifetime practice of cultivating the positive things in life and letting go of the negative ones. She suggests the only way to true happiness is to get away from the feeling we have to “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.” Instead of worrying about being perfect, about what people think, and insisting on certainty, Brown suggests alternate strategies such as cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, and gratitude. Practicing these strategies is the key to feeling worthy.

Brown’s message is both powerful and freeing. It’s not about becoming a slacker. It’s about embracing who you are. She writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

I moved on from the twirling debacle years ago, but now I’ve found Brown’s book at just the right time. As I am learning to juggle a new job with my responsibilities at home, as a mother and director of all household activities, I will need to remember that perfect is not always necessary. My family will still love me if our dinners aren’t as exciting or if my kids are down to their last clean pair of socks. I accept Brown’s “invitation to join a Wholehearted revolution;” in a culture that places such value on achievement, this one is a win-win!

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Text Me, Love Mom by Candace Allan

Text Me, Love Mom cover

Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest
Candace Allan


About a month ago, we were in the middle of a torrential downpour at home. My thoughts jumped to one of the first things a mom thinks about when it’s raining and her kids are out in the world. Worried and ready to spring into action, I texted my freshman son at college: “Did we get u a little umbrella when we did your college shopping? If not, I am getting u one and bringing it up on Sunday . . . ” Of course, we had gotten him an umbrella and all was well on campus. But now that my kids are beginning to launch from the nest, I can’t help but want to stay in touch.

That’s why when I saw the book, Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan, I knew I had to read how another mom coped with the same feelings. Right away, I identified with what she said: “For years and years, I never thought much about them moving out of our home and how my heart would deal with that. It was what we were preparing them for — the launch from the nest. In the middle of it all, it was hard to believe it would ever happen. ”

When we’re raising a family, being in the middle of it all is our only reality. It’s hard to see the longer view when we’re immersed in our daily lives. When they are little, our children need us all the time. The babies are on our hips and the bigger ones have their arms around our legs. They’re looking up at us — for reassurance, for praise, and for guidance. As our children grow, our busy lives may change, but one thing seems to remain constant: our children are still children, just bigger and with different needs, and they still sleep at home. Then one day, as if by surprise, they are adults and they leave the nest, leaving us with a new role to play and a new self to consider.

In Text Me, Love Mom, author Candace Allan writes about her experience raising four free-spirited children in Calgary, Canada, and how she coped with watching them leave the nest, one by one. Allan tells her story without pretense and shares her children’s adventures and setbacks. Despite being an early helicopter mom, she learned over time how to give them the freedom they needed to try new things . . . as long as they stayed in touch. Even as three of her kids chose nontraditional paths, selecting gap years and travel after high school, Allan and her husband allowed them to find their independence, mistakes and all.

Text Me, Love Mom is written in a breezy and humorous style and also includes each of her children’s thoughts during those years, which gives her story a rounded perspective. As each of her kids moves out, Allan wonders, like many parents, if she has prepared them enough for their adult lives. And it’s not just the basics like buying and cooking food. She worries if they know how to handle money or how to trust the right people.

In retrospect, Allan admits she didn’t follow the advice she often gives now. “I had long-warned my friends not to let their kids start school at four and a half years old. Now I also tell them not to send them off to university, especially boys, at seventeen or eighteen. But no one, myself included, wants to heed that advice. We are all so anxious to have our kids take the next step. Proving what?”

Allan also offers reassurance to parents who are anxious about their own children’s departures. It’s a transition for parents as much as it is for children, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of parenting. She realized that sending them off was simply a new phase. “Those goodbyes were momentous, but they weren’t the end, or even the middle. ”

Text Me, Love Mom is a fun and loving look at the ups and downs of showing our children how to launch from the nest. Our family is just beginning this launch and, for now, I’m still holding on tight. But Allan’s experiences assure me I’ll be okay. I think I can follow the advice she gives parents like me to respect my kids and give them the room to branch out. But if I absolutely have to let them go, I’ll be sure to remind them to text their mom now and then.

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The Epic Minivan – Heart Beings article

I recently joined the team of contributing writers at Heart Beings, a website dedicated to empowering people to reach their full personal potential by embracing self-affirming attitudes and becoming part of an accepting community.

Heart Beings published my first article yesterday and I am sharing it with you here.

Originally published on

Where Human beings become Heart beings



The Epic Minivan

When Four Wheels Become a Part of the Family — or Do They?

article by Barb Vitelli, Contributing Author on Monday, 26 October 2015

I didn’t want to get a minivan. I liked my Geo Prizm. I had two little guys buckled snugly in the back seat and I was comfortable in my small car. But our family was growing. I was eight months pregnant and we needed a bigger car. As much as I wanted to keep things as they were, three car seats would not fit in the back seat of my sporty Prizm.

The van joined our family about two weeks before our next son was born and that was the beginning of an epic era. I joined the parade of moms in minivans, traveling our streets and moving our children through their days — first preschool, then kindergarten, grade school, parks, grocery stores, the mall. A few years later, another baby boy arrived, but there was plenty of room! Our bigger boys happily shifted their seats for the baby.

For years, our van was filled with the things our young children loved: little cars and toys, plastic play phones, books, markers, and papers. Each boy decorated his area with stickers, some from cashiers for being good, some from the doctor for being brave, others from school or party bags, with each sticker marking time. And I drove our boys with a mother’s pride. Oh, to look back in the mirror and see four little faces doing their little boy things!

Then middle schoolers became high schoolers and growth spurts meant more trips to the grocery store. The back was filled with sports equipment as we headed to practices and games. The van had a new purpose and I was a willing driver.

My husband and I watched our children grow, but in many ways we were suspended in time and the van was our constant. In this bubble, we traveled together, always as a group of six, to visit grandparents, go on vacation, or simply go out for a family dinner. Days upon weeks upon years.

Then, in a blink, we were loading up the van to take our oldest son to college. Six of us drove him to college and five of us came home, happy for him but a little sad, too. And while it was the beginning of something new, we held onto the van. It was in pretty good shape and we still needed it, we reasoned. In another blink, our next son was off to a different college, and this time, there were only five of us to help with the move. Yes, we were beginning to see a change.

After 16 years, the van was showing its age. The windows weren’t working as well, the horn was harder to beep, and the directional signal blinked weakly. As we faced the inevitable, I felt a twist of anxiety. The van had kept our family together. What would happen now? But the fact was that our boys were becoming adults, with their own paths to travel. And while our lives will always be connected, we were all facing new directions.

I drive a new and smaller car now. And after accepting the change, I made a happy discovery. The connection to our children, minus the van, is just as strong. Perhaps that faulty directional signal was telling us something — that it was time to let go and get a new car, one that would drive us confidently down new roads.

IMG_0826For more information about Heart Beings, Where Human Beings Become Heart Beings, visit their website at

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