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Come Closer; chapter four braving the wilderness

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because the sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

James A Baldwin

This time last Monday I was sobbing in my car at school. The pressure of my pending new book release, a broken car being towed to the mechanic but the real story was bathed in jealousy.

There is always fifty-five sides to a story and in the wake of my meltdown over the last week, I have zoomed in on the foundation of the story that held me captive in that moment.

It was a metaphorical pimple that screamed out for attention and I had to unpack the depth of the pain. This is the beauty and the sheer terror of community. It is easy to hold judgements and let pain slide when we watch humanity from a wide angle lens. But what about when it’s on micro zoom? What about old wounds that surface, from your family of origin and how come it is so painful to face them with authenticity?

Each Monday, we have been walking through Brene Brown’s latest book “Braving the Wilderness” with our online book club Mondays with us. And I find myself here today in chapter four.

People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.

Recently I sat in a workshop “How to Deal With Anger” by Anne Galambosi. She unpacked many different ways that we can make friends with our anger. One of the greatest lessons that I took away from her workshop, was to come close to my anger, rather than push it away. She brought a participant up on the stage and held their arms. She said, “Struggle, wrestle, come on try and make me let go of you”. And the more distant she was from the person, the harder it was to break away. However, she showed us, as we come close to the anger. The person was easily able to break free.

Brene says it this way…

“Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalising anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection.”

The closer we become to anyone, humanity, our family, our friends, our work colleagues,  and in of our relationships, especially when they are accessed from an authentic place, the more likely it is that we will face conflict.

I love the question that Brene explores in this chapter around conflict, emotions and having a different view.

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed, my default is “agree to disagree” and shut it down. What do you think about that approach?

My answer is this.

I am terrible at agreeing to disagree. I am not the flight person in this scenario. I have learnt to fight.

The problem is, my fight tendency has ruined some relationships because they have felt attacked in the midst of my struggle to find a middle ground.

What about you?

Then she goes on to ask this question.

So if we decide to be brave and stay in the conversation, how do we push through the vulnerability and stay civil?

The greatest discovery I have been walking through has been where I find my identity and how I answer this question in the midst of differing points of view.

Conflict transformation could possibly be my greatest lesson that I am learning as a leader. The easy answer is to learn to walk away. This could be a solution, because then maybe space and time, would help me to respond with more grace and kindness.

How do I stay in the place of difficult emotions like jealousy, rage, envy and strife without maiming my fellow human being?

I am learning to breathe in the midst of these interactions. I am learning to comfort my inner child and reassure her that she is okay. I am learning to talk openly with safe people about my weaknesses and the places where I fail. And most of all, I am being kinder to myself in the aftermath of interactions gone wild.

My book club question, for the comments below and in our group is this…

What are you learning in the midst of conflict from this book?

Deep breathing over here.


Have a great Monday gang.


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Chapter one: the art of belonging

Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown

I am far from a Brene Brown virgin. I’ve read all her books, google searched her podcasts, shared her quotes and stalked her wisdom from my internet cave. However, I was not ready for the undoing that this book has created. I feel like one of my life values and pursuits has been ripped open and shredded and now I am unsure of how to repack it back inside.

The pursuit of belonging;

Of course, we all want to belong. Of course, we want to feel loved, nurtured, valued and seen. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that at the heart of the human condition.

To be loved and love in return.

I read chapter one and two of “Braving the Wilderness” with gusto, cheering her on from my coffee induced couch and then I put the book down to rest. For a month.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get all deep and thoughtful for you here on my blog. But I had committed to our conversation over on our online book club “Mondays with us“. I was trapped.

Then I started to explore the theme of this book…

The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone

It was like the axis of my world shifted. I can’t really explain it, but I sat in my big grey reading chair, on a nondescript Spring afternoon repeating to myself. “It is okay Amanda that you often feel like you don’t belong”. 




But belonging is the ultimate pursuit of happiness, isn’t it?

I have heard people talk about the lonely walk of leadership and nodded my head in serious contemplation but it still never sunk in. I watched people wrestle their identity, unique voice and personality but still, I just thought this was the walk of the uncommon pursuit of authenticity. I have sat and listened to women on my personal retreats, mentoring consults and events, but I just thought that this was the human condition.

No matter how many friends we have, no matter how loved we are, each and every one of us struggle with this pursuit of belonging. And often we are told that belonging, our tribe, our gang, our family, our friends or our community is the pinnacle of a life lived strong.

Do you feel like you often break the rules?
Does friendship disappoint you, leaving you wondering what you are doing wrong?

And the penultimate question…Do you often feel left out, isolated or lonely?

This, my friend, is the art of belonging and we were not designed to arrive. We are in an ever moving state of becoming and we were created with this weird little programming glitch which asks us to keep on moving towards a goal that always seems to change.

To pioneer. To explore. To discover. To unpack. To reveal. To move. To plant. To respond. To expand. To edit. To befriend. To let go.

Since that moment in the corner of my bedroom, I have been trying to refind my internal footing again. It is like the thought, that maybe the pursuit of belonging is not the final quest of a life lived satisfied.

So its okay that I don’t feel like I belong.

It’s alright that I feel alone often in this journey.

What if I have been seeking constantly to fit in, to feel like I am cared for, noticed and belong but it’s not actually the point?

What if I was designed to keep discovering my greater tomorrow and not everyone from my past will understand the journey I compelled to walk?

What if this longing for a tribe was designed not as a destination, but a need for travelling companions that encourage, direct and give companionship to the journey of life?

So here I am once again Brene, cracked open and I have more questions than answers.


Here is my question to you all?

What emotions does the idea of standing alone bring up in you?

In the words of the amazing Dr Maya Angelou;

You are only free when you realize you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.


Here we go.



If you would like to join us on the journey of Braving The Wilderness, you can buy Brene’s latest book through Book Depository with free shipping here, and you can join us over at our private facebook group Mondays with us here. Happy reading friends.

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When life is brutiful and you are unsure whether remaining in the present is a good thing.


The flowers I bought myself last week are wilting and lately even coffee doesn’t bring the satisfaction it once did. As I sit here to write, my two-year-old has her arms crossed and is shouting “I have juice Mummy, I have JUICE!”

Considering she has already consumed two glasses this morning, my soft and consistent no seems to be redundant.

Motherhood is hard,

Marriage is relentless,

Being a daughter is tiring and I wish I could escape the present not embrace it.

The journey of this book “Present OVER Perfect” by Shauna Niquest, was enthralling when I was knee deep in rice paddies as I read it overseas on holiday, but reality lately has been biting and you know what? Staying busy seems to hold a greater reward.

When I slow I ache with dissatisfaction.

I would prefer to sleep for days and not face the complexity of what my present holds.

My son this morning drew on the class news bag, with a permanent black texta, declaring MAX and drawing a pretty divine airplane. The problem is that it is a shared, special bag across the whole class and showing up to the teacher, is like walking to the principal’s office and finding my messy, creative self in trouble again for breaking the rules.

Yesterday I took myself off to a counselor’s couch and I held this book firmly in my shaking hands and began to unpack the nerves it had been hitting. The present makes me shake with the brutality of it all.

Then as I walked my feeble heart back to the car and I reminded myself of the journey and the brilliance of holding my heart raw, rather than calloused and brittle.

Mary Oliver reminded me in the last page of the book with this…

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice-

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

What did you learn from this journey?

Thanks for walking this journey Book Club friends, I kinda feel like I need to start the book again and re-read its offerings.

Amanda Marie

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The onion layers of pain, life and rejection.

Park Moments

Day in, day out my life seems to be unraveling lately.

It is not a falling over, “I can’t do this anymore, sigh”. It is more like the sting of an onion when it is cut open and the layers we peel off, to find the shape and brilliance of its core.

Present Over Perfect, came at a time when I knew some layers of my internal onion were needing to be shed but the question I asked myself was “Do I have the courage to actually face them?”

Thomas Merton said it this way…

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realising who you are at the deepest level.”

In the past, I have sat in the drivers seat believing if I just schedule more, rearrange more and control more then everything will feel better.

I think one of the hardest parts of this present over perfect journey has been the realisation in me, that I have been hoping for a silver bullet or a formula with the golden answer. Questioning why I say yes to people constantly, unpacking the deep need for acceptance and people pleasing has been unraveling in my essential self.

I am okay with imperfection.

I wrestled that onion layer quite a few years ago. I have made peace with that place of putting my work and heart on the line and often step forward in vulnerability. The deeper place of unraveling, though, is where I get my sense of purpose and value from. I struggle to remain present in my moment with my today because I constantly striving for my tomorrow.

Yesterday I sat in a park with this book and felt the pain of this realisation. There is so much about my doing, that is tied up in my sense of belonging and no matter how much praise or approval I get, until I sit with the pain of rejection, I will never be able to move forward.




“They didn’t want me, they threw me way like a piece of unwanted food scrap and I was not respected in the process”

The pangs of rejection and the reoccurring theme of striving therefore birthed in my today.

Shauna explains it this way…

“If this journey has been the peeling of an onion, layer by layer, shedding external selves like skin, it seems we are reaching the centre. The centre is reached, once again, through silence, time, honesty, loss; by leaving behind all the voices and expectations, all the selves and costumes of other times, things that worked then but don’t work any longer”

The pain of this kind of self-discovery is as present as the first cut through an onion, the sting in our eyes, the rank smell that assaults our senses and the impossible feelings that we cannot cut through the pain.

Then as we make our way through the layers, we process them, we discover, we explore, it is like the aroma changes, from the butter of friendship and life, and the onion sweetens and releases the pain, encouraging us towards its lessons learned.

I am in a state of unraveling lately and my greatest lesson is around where I get my sense of significance and acceptance from. It feels like I am realigning my foundation and the cracks that rejection from my past has created are being filled in and restored once again.

This morning I took the time to say no, in brave ways that I have never done before, shifting and making space in my diary for nothing. Time for me. Time for my family, time to refuel and recover.

These little steps of recovery are monumental in the present day. Every time I prioritise the important over the urgent, I am reminding myself that living in the space of people pleasing and a regret is a place of future pain.

My book club question is this…

“Is there a layer that this book has been unraveling, that is painful but has purpose?”

As this journey with our book club comes towards the end, I am realising that I have just begun a whole new season of self-discovery.

Facing the pain of rejection is very real for me right now. Readjusting where I get my foundation of love and acceptance from and if I never did anything more with my life, for the rest of my days, would I live like I’m loved?

Amanda Marie

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The aftermath of a speeding fine and running on empty

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I’ve just sat down in a cafe, waiting for a client with the shame that only one thing can induce. The flash of a speed camera. I’m normally the kind of person who intentionally drives slowly. This morning as I rushed my littles to school, my fuel tank was on empty and I was listing all the things I needed to achieve today.



What was that?

Couldn’t be.

Breathe deeper.

It will be okay.

What was I thinking?

“Amanda, you know better than this…”

Shame dialogue, panic attack rising, bills looming.

This book club and Shauna Niquest’s latest offering “Present Over Perfect” came into my life at a time when I knew I needed to reprioritise what I said yes to. We all know busy, though. We all know what it feels like in the wake of a flash from a speed camera and the sheer terror of hoping we make it to the fuel station. Yet are we able to see the warning signs in our internal lives? Also just as significant a question “How do we respond to ourselves in the melting pot of these flashing lights?”

Lately, I have been drawn to this word;


When we hear this word, it is easily associated with helping those in need in developing countries. I have been reflecting on the word compassion in my own life.

Self-compassion. The way I extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness to myself. All week I have been reflecting on how I speak to myself in times when I am disappointed. When I am disappointed in myself.

Do you disappoint yourself?

Are you filled with regret over something that has happened?

How do you speak to yourself?

With compassion?

The meaning of compassion;

“Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

What if we extend the same compassion to ourselves that we extend to others?

No one’s approval is enough to make up for a lack of self-love, which is really a lack of self-awareness.

When we feel a desire to be loved, it isn’t other people’s love we need. It’s our own relationship with love that we’re longing for, our own awareness of being interconnected with others, our own sense of the magic of our own interwoven existence.

To seek the fulfillment of this desire in others’ approval is a losing battle. It will never be enough. No one can compliment you enough to supplement for the acceptance that you need from your own self, in each moment. Acceptance for your struggles and your talents. Acceptance for your humanity. Celebration of that humanity.

Love is an inside job.”
Vironika Tugaleva

The way we walk between spaces with ourselves impacts everything.

Today I sit here, in the wake of a speeding fine, my fuel tank is now filled and am slowly unpacking the distress I feel from wasted money and the fine.

The only way that this can be resolved, however, is through grace extended by self-compassion. Change is available to us, when we reframe our decisions from a place of grace rather than shame.

Shauna encouraged me with this quote from her book;

“What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management.And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honesty, connection, grace”

My question for our book club today is this.

In what areas of my life can I show myself more compassion?

I am off to find a quiet space and make peace with my raging insides. Happy Friday friends.

and what a profound book this is!

Amanda Marie