“Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment, it is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.”
– Brené Brown
As we begin to work through the topic of ‘restoration’ this month on Kitchen Fellowship, I’ll start with a deeply personal story of healing and transformation that’s unfolding in my life. I’m hesitant to share because it’s not easy to talk of dark areas of life that cause sadness to well up. But I’m hoping my transparency will encourage you to share your heart and stories along with me.
Let’s start with this picture. That’s me there…on the right.
When I was little I wanted to be a professional ballerina with every fiber of my being.
Not just because that’s what little girls do or because my parents thought dance classes would be cute. It was a desire I embraced and adored.
Ballet was beautiful, healing, and a profound way to communicate without a single word. I loved infusing the world with grace through dancing.
Leotards, top-knot buns, Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Barber were my BFFs. When not in class I’d spend hours twirling around the living room. I kept a notebook to catalogue French ballet words like pirouette and relevé.
I was ALL IN until…
I took lessons in preschool on up till one day, in 4th grade or so, my mom told me I wouldn’t be able to attend lessons any more. “I’m so sorry,” I remember her saying as she kneeled in front of me, her sadness evident.
My little mind raced. I remember feeling confused and shocked.
But I pushed the sadness of a lost dream away, moved on with life, and danced an ounce here and there but never at a professional level.
Looking back, it makes sense. There were plenty of reasonable family circumstances that contributed to that decision.
Fast Forward to Present Day
I noticed that I had become excessive about setting and reaching goals. Striving to prove to myself that I could do what I’d set out to.
Frankly, it was getting out of hand. I’d set outlandish personal and business goals and feel pressure and anxiety to achieve them. When the mark was missed I’d slump into sadness or frustration because of a silly failure.
It was time to mine for the root of this behavior because I longed to live restored. After prayer and journaling the ‘ballet dream’ surfaced and confounded me. An experience I hadn’t thought of in years. Several theories rose to the top:
- Because I couldn’t achieve that dream, I’m obsessed with making everything else in my life happen.
- Life’s trying to teach me that failing is okay. Embrace it as a necessary path to success.
Happily armed with this new insight I assumed I could “tone it down a notch”. Embrace a slow, steady, meaningful pace in business and life.
Yet the striving continued and the sadness of unmet goals hung over my head. Have you ever been here?
Uncomfortable with a sliver of the way you’re existing but unsure how to usher in healing?
I began to evaluate and pray about this frustration because I so badly wanted to be free. Where was the pressure coming from? Was it internal or external? Did it involve my heart alone or my perception of other’s expectations?
My life coach asked a beautiful question unrelated to this story which goes like this:
“How did that feel?”
I came home from my life-coach-coffee-date, asked myself that question in relation to the ‘ballet dream’, and promptly had an ugly cry that was snotty and beautifully freeing. I was honest about how it actually made me feel for the first time.
When my mom told me that my lessons would come to an end my little mind thought:
“Don’t let her know you’re sad. Don’t let on that this disappointment hurts.” (Which is an odd belief my parents never instilled in me… so I’m not sure why these were my first thoughts. Mom was always at the ready to soothe our bumps and bruises.)
Losing ballet made me feel so sad, broken, and uncomfortable, which I’m finally able to admit to my 30-year-old self. And since I didn’t acknowledge that as a young 4th grader and grieve the loss of a long-held dream in that moment — it actually led me, unaware, into strange ways of living.
I took on the burden of ensuring others would never feel the hurt and sting of disappointment.
There it is, at long last. The root of my striving. The impetus of the up and down joy and sadness of achieving or not achieving a goal.
That realization made my heart burst with healing, freedom, and love. Like a rubber band popped inside my chest, I could breathe again, and my tired feet slowly hopped off the treadmill of managing everyone else’s happiness and sorrow.
I’ve acknowledged the good which flourished from that lost dream; how quickly I developed the ability to sense when others were hurting and honed my ability to encourage and build others up as they reach for their dreams and goals.
The past few months have been restorative and wholly different as I’m learning to leave that way of relating to the world behind.
Which Brings Us to This…
Where do you need hope? What are you longing for?
Less anger and more joy in daily life?
Peace and fulfillment as you work?
A heart of kindness as you relate to others?
How could vulnerability be the “birthplace of everything you’re hungry for”?
Could it be that barring the broken and bruised parts of your soul is the first step towards living life restored?
What’s ragged and in need healing in your life right now?
Feel free to share transparently in the comments below. We’re gentle — and with you in this journey towards restoration.
Over the next four months let’s focus on restoration!
Here and in the KF community on Facebook –>
February: Personal | March: Relational | April: Communal | May: Global