May You Fully Open Yourself To The Joy Of This Week

Here we are in the midst of the holidays and all the emotions that come with this season.

Memories and hopes really take over ….  while I gaze at our ornaments, wrap gifts, clean house and give Atticus a bath in preparation for the coming days.

The notion of vulnerability is becoming increasingly therapeutic for me.

It has become the pivot point to awareness, truth, joy, healing, growth for me…. 

As I wind up my memoir, I see many parallels between my life and nursing practice.

I am seeing how I have protected myself from life and how we as nurses protect ourselves from others’ pain and suffering.  As a profession we juggle the fragility of saving lives and the heart connections of caring each day, we see patients’ deep human needs in their most vulnerable life moments, which can be heart breaking.  That’s where our work is located, in vulnerable life moments.

I’m returning to Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability.  I remember when she said that we can’t really experience deep joy without experiencing its underbelly of vulnerability.  I have read and reread this, and have underlined and am now highlighting the words that are sinking further into my psyche.

I announced to my husband a couple of months ago that my New Years resolution in 2018 will be to cry more.   So I’m practicing now.  More on this next week, I love New Years.

For now, Let’s Soak Up the True Joys of the Holidays.

Here are Brown’s insights into how to open ourselves up to Joy while balancing the simultaneous underbelly of fear of loss.


Even those of us who have learned to “lean into” joy and embrace our experiences are not immune to the uncomfortable quake of vulnerability that often accompanies joyful moments. We’ve just learned how to use it as a reminder rather than a warning shot. What was the most surprising (and life changing) difference for me was the nature of that reminder: For those welcoming the experience, the shudder of vulnerability that accompanies joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection or simply the moment before us.

Gratitude, therefore, emerged from the data as the antidote to foreboding joy.  In fact, every participant who spoke about the ability to stay open to joy also talked about the importance of practicing gratitude. This pattern of association was so thoroughly prevalent in the data that I made a commitment as a researcher not to talk about joy without talking about gratitude.

It wasn’t just the relationship between joy and gratitude that took me by surprise. I was also startled by the fact that research participants consistently described both joyfulness and gratitude as spiritual practices that were bound to a belief in human connectedness and a power greater than us. …

Participants described happiness as an emotion that’s connected to circumstances, and they described joy as a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude. (Brown, 2012,p 123)





Brown B. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. London: Penguin; 2012.
image courtesy of mike arney

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