A to Z: Lean

Week two, day six of the A to Z Blog Challenge: Lean. Actually, it’s Lean In, but not Sheryl Sandberg style; more Brene Brown style.

In case you’ve missed it, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Women, Work and the Will to Lead, recently was published. It’s about the lack of women in leadership positions in government and industry, how women unintentionally thwart their ability to have a seat at the table and how to Lean In to the things that will get women there.  Great. I hope droves of women heed her advice and take their seat at the table. I won’t be among them. I’ll be leaning in to the key elements of my life, one of which is writing, and I’ll be doing it Brene Brown-style.

Brown’s books, The Gifts of Imperfection, and, Daring Greatly, explore the results of her work as a shame researcher as well as her own story of transformation. One of the actions she encourages people to take in order to practice what she calls wholehearted living is to lean in to discomfort. Yes, instead of feeling something uncomfortable or downright painful creeping in and scurrying for the nearest Starbucks, mall, bar (or whatever else you do to escape and numb it all away), lean in to it. Feel that shit. All the way. It won’t break you. And it won’t last forever. (In fact, I have a little theory that if you lean fully into it,  and really feel, you might get through it faster. A bit like running — you can plod through the 5k and feel mildly crappy for half an hour or you can burn like hell for 20 minutes and be sipping a cold one while everyone else drags in.) There’s growth in leaning in. It makes your heart bigger (again, sort of like running). It makes you more honest. It makes you stronger. And kinder. And if you’re a writer, you should be living there anyway. You’ve got to lean in to your characters’ discomfort. They might not have guts enough to lean in fully, but you, the writer, must know all the options. When things get tough, lean on in and know that you’re not only growing as a person, you’re deepening your writing practice. And if you need it, you can give yourself a pat on the back from me, because I agree with Brown, who says,

I think courage is the ability to tell your story.

Lean in. Tell your story.


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