Enjoying being part of a Virtual Bookclub

Last year I was invited to join a virtual book club, what a joy and revelation it has been!

I would never have read or even be aware of the books we have read, and I have learnt so much.

Not just from the books, but the members’ thoughts and revelations about their own lives and their experiences in relation to the book.

All our books are linked to our group members’ work, a very broad description to encapsulate us all is helping others, well that is certainly the intention and thankfully, the feedback! That makes us sound like saints, we are not, we don’t do it for free generally!

So I shared my idea of writing a blog about each book that brought our combined thoughts together and provided a brief overview, so you can either get the gist, or dig in and buy the book. Everyone was happy, so here it is!

Rising Strong By Brené Brown

You can get this on Kindle or Paperback

For 2 of us this was the first Brené Brown book we had read. She was well known to us all from her youtube videos and TED Talks. See how media has changed what and how we know about stuff!

This is a really easy and pleasant read, full of stories to illustrate her message, she actually opens the book with the benefits of storytelling based on research and calls herself a researcher-storyteller.

Brené is extremely open, making herself vulnerable in her disclosures and stories of her family life and in particular her marriage. A couple of us felt she had kept a journal and turned it into a book. A lot of books are written that way. It’s not a bad thing.

She also quotes from other experts and her previous books, they were all relevant so we were OK with this!

Some of us felt she had really understood, nailed a feeling that we personally had experienced but could not put into words, she got us. In some ways it was a bit of an emotional read because you can’t read it and not reflect about your stories, your rising strong times.

One of our members was put off by the title, as he stated it’s not even proper English, and another didn’t like the Americanisms, such as the 3 step process of Reckoning, Rumble and Revolution, another liked it. Thank God for differences!

Her book is very much about facing the fact that we all fall in life, many times; big and small falls and the process of rising again is complex and can be tough, yet, we more often than not, do rise again, Brené, we feel was exploring the ‘how’.

She considered creativity and how it had a part to play and met with a PIXAR executive, who said ” I don’t even know who a character is until I’ve seen how they handle adversity”.

This made me think of people who have defined themselves by their fall and rise, it’s the ancient Hero’s journey.

We all face adversity. It’s how we deal with it, (I think) which is what this book is about. I say ‘I think’ as we felt Brené had not quite nailed what the book was saying or trying to do, it wasn’t clear, it was insightful, useful, funny, challenging, but we didn’t feel we went on a journey with this hero of ours.

Brené touches on ‘how’ as being able to accept we are often vulnerable, yet don’t share this. Our vulnerability is driven by a fear – what is that fear? We should explore our emotions.

Vulnerability, we hide it like a dirty disease (my words not hers) we often feel shame and guilt at not being what we tell ourselves we should be doing, earning, producing, weighing, living with, the list goes on.

Yet when we are vulnerable we are whole, because we are not hiding anything, we are a full moon, not blocked by the shadow of the earth. This is true in an idealistic world, yet we all felt that the truth is, vulnerability shown at work could be costly in different ways. Wrongly or rightly.

When we do fall, whether it be a trip on the kerb or falling off a cliff edge, we go through a mental process of dealing with the fall. How we understand and approach the recovery process impacts the wholeness of our healing recovery. Do we blame others, get angry, find a reason why, or do we face facts and recognise that it truly is us (a big percentage of the time) that needs to be held accountable?

No wonder we prefer to tell ourselves and others a slightly different story, as a good friend said to me “the truth is overrated”. Brené suggests we need to know the true story and face our emotions to rise strong healthily.

Our conversation turned to how we thought we personally approach stressful situations, and that maybe being British is different, we are not navel gazers really. We don’t have therapists in the same way as the American culture does. The stiff upper lip, wrongly or rightly comes to mind.

Another point we discussed was Brené’s family like some of the groups, had a philosophy along the lines of “Doing not feeling, fixes problems”. Well apparently, this is not very helpful, yet for me personally, action instead of exploring my emotions has literally been a life saver. I did the exploring afterwards, well I think I did! Who knows? Did I do it right? Am I whole?

Of course, we could and perhaps should explore why we think the way we do, why we feel the emotion we are experiencing. Reflection, if you are prepared to be honest in it, can be truly life changing, perhaps that’s why we should all have a therapist!

In summary, a good thought provoking read, easy to read, we would all recommend it, unless you are highly allergic to Americanisms and the odd swear word. One member said she loved her irreverence. Good Read.