Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The audacity of authenticity

It's a new year and like many people I've been thinking a lot about fresh starts and new and inspiring ideas.  I wasn't really sad to see 2010 go - it wasn't my favorite year.  Mostly because I lost an amazing friend named Lorelei. 

Lorelei was a huge mentor in my life and taught me more about authenticity than anyone I've ever met.  She lived a truly honest life even through her battle with brain cancer.  She demonstrated vulnerability.  In fact she became in the end a picture of how beautiful vulnerability is.  She lived large.  She didn't sugar coat the pain, but instead by embracing it she modeled fantastic beauty and joy.  I miss her so much!

I think Lorelei would have loved the book I just read by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection.  When I read what Brene has to say about authenticity, my thoughts naturally go to Lorelei.  So as my kick-off to sharing some of my thoughts about the book I have to begin where the journey in many ways began for me.  Knowing Lorelei and witnessing her battle with cancer these past two years has changed me.  I cannot help but embrace this life I've been given in a new way.  Petty differences and drama are exhausting to me and I simply don't want to waste my time on them.  I have a renewed passion for living a wholehearted life!  And one of the fundamental ways I'm resolving to be more wholehearted is by choosing authenticity. 
Brene notes that authenticity is not something a person has or doesn't have - instead it's a choice:

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Choosing authenticity means
* cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to be vulnerable;
*exercising the compassion that comes from knowing we are all made of strength and struggle; and
*nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough

Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving--even when it's hard, even when we're wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we're afraid to let ourselves feel it.

Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace,joy, and gratitude into out lives.

I'm aware as I write this list out what a tall order living an authentic life really is!  I've had some practice and for me even though it's not easy all the time , I can't imagine living any other way.  It's a choice and a process and if we're lucky I think the more we practice it the closer we get to our true selves - the selves God designed us to be.  I know this because I've seen it.  Cancer ravished my friends body and eventually took it but her soul became brighter and brighter.  In the end - she shined.

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. - Anne Lamott


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