Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on TED.com
Arrival, a beautiful movie
The movie opens with a reverie about time and memory, set in a scene of love, the love a mother feels for her child, and loss. The images fade. Louise, a professor of languages, goes to her university to teach. The students are mesmerized by news on their laptops: twelve shell-shaped black space ships have landed around the world. This happens with slow and quiet dread, not with bombast. Louise is tapped by the military to try to communicate with the aliens.
There follows a thoughtful, absorbing story about the frustrations inherent in communication. Louise is tasked with finding out where they came from and most importantly, why they’re here. But the aliens’ language isn’t even sound-based–it’s written in smoke. The aliens produce feathery circular symbols.
While Louise is on the makeshift military base set up around a shell in Montana, she experiences memories of her beloved daughter, who has seemingly died of a rare, incurable illness.
The secret to the aliens’ language is its oneness. An entire thought complex can be seen at once; their language doesn’t begin and end over a period of time. In the way that language shapes thought, all time is one for the aliens.
And so Louise is feeling and inhabiting this oneness. The closing question is heartfelt and poignant, and one I’ve pondered: If you knew in advance everything in your life, how it would all play out, would you choose to do it anyway?
Losing a child is the hardest thing any parent can face. So if the parent knew beforehand about the loss, would she choose to have the child anyway, just for the journey of loving the child for however many years the child was with her?
A question worth pondering asked by a movie worth seeing.
The Gottman Institute: The Art & Science of Love
My husband and I had a rude and rough couple of years.
Sabin was briefly ensconced at the antipodes with people who thought they knew him better after 12 minutes than I did after 18 years, and they brought out his worst self. They encouraged him to forget his family–to lose sight of his integrity. I frittered away our months apart with people and pastimes that took me away from my mission in life. I wasn’t my best self, either.
Love brought us back together and our union needed repair.
There were tools that aided us. I’ve blogged about those before. I read several books and used an excellent program developed by a California-based marriage counselor.
In particular, and with some mirth because he’s funny, we watched videos of Dr. John Gottman talking about what makes a marriage work. I bought Gottman’s books and googled The Gottman Institute.
After one fierce fight that ended with me in tears and Sabin apoplectic with hurt and anger, I said, “Enough. We’re going to a Gottman workshop.”
Sabin agreed, if skeptically. He was more amenable when I assured him that there was no public disclosure.
The time came and we flew to Seattle a few days early so we could hike Mt. Rainier. I figured two days of exercise on the mountain would exorcise Sabin’s physical restlessness.
We arrived early at the Seattle Sheraton on the morning of the workshop to secure good seats, close to the front. And there began two days of extraordinary learning.
The first day focused on building the ground of being of love through Drs. John and Julie Gottman’s research-based techniques. We listened to lectures on love maps, fondness and admiration, and bids for connection, and then we practiced the skills through carefully thought out exercises. The exercises were good fun as well as good practicum for a marriage. They deepened the friendship, connection, and trust that are so essential in the union.
It was fun to tell Sabin all the good things I think about him–and even more fun to hear him describe my strengths!
We also practiced a “stress reducing conversation” according to a Gottman script. It was an effective tool. When Sabin spoke about the stresses of his life, he was able to feel my empathy; when it was my turn to confide, I felt his empathy. We finished the exercise feeling heard and cared for. Our hearts opened and we felt close to each other.
But it wasn’t just the exercises and lectures that taught us and moved us. Equally eloquent was the way John and Julie Gottman related to each other. They were at turns playful and somber and they were always palpably connected. They teased each other, finished each other’s sentences, demoed exercises together with zest and relish, touched each other affectionately, listened respectfully when the other was saying something of heightened import, admitted to fighting, owned their own parts in their conflict, apologized for hurting each other, and praised the other.
Julie and John were modeling something critical: a real marriage, hugs and warts and tears and laughs and all. A marriage wherein both spouses are deeply committed and deeply engaged in the ongoing work of building a strong and joyful shared sense of “we.”
This was most evident the second day of the workshop, when the Gottmans addressed conflict.
Around 10 am of the second day, I witnessed one of the most profound human interactions I’ve ever seen–and I attended a 4 years hands-on healing school which included a great deal of deep personal process work. But this was astonishing: Julie and John demonstrated their script for repair after a regrettable incident.
I’ve never seen two people be more real, more vulnerable, more honest, and more sensitive with each other. It was deeply soulful. It showed the power of being real, being vulnerable, being honest, and being sensitive with your mate.
Julie and John worked through an actual fight from a few years earlier, following one of the scripts they’d written. Julie dissolved into tears, remembering early life traumas that had played a part in her responses. I was in tears watching her. With candor and grace, John also talked about his triggers. I marveled at his insight into himself.
The goal was to understand each other better. It achieved that and so much more. It was a marvelous process.
In class, Sabin and I did the exercise around a recent fight. Since returning home, we’ve done the exercise around the painful episodes from the last two years.
The Gottman Institute weekend ended with presentations and exercises around shared meaning and helping each other attain life dreams. In a real way, Sabin and I are already strong in that area, because we both feel so strongly about arts and letters. He’s been the strongest supporter of my writing, and I’ve always supported his art.
For me, the best part of the weekend was being in the field of the relationship between Julie and John Gottman. So that’s what a good relationship is, I thought. Perhaps the Gottman tools could even have helped my difficult first marriage. It’s possible. It’s for certain they’re a great blessing for Sabin and me.
In his thoughtful way, Sabin voiced the most beautiful, most telling comment about the weekend. “I never before understood about the sacredness of marriage,” he told me. “Now I do.”
The Power by Rhonda Byrne
Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret and now The Power, is close to people who are close to my husband, so I had the good fortune to meet her. She was lovely, with the contained grace that I associate with people who live from a strong sense of purpose.
Upcoming Author Events for Traci L. Slatton
Guess what? I will be doing some public events around New York City. How much fun is that? I love to talk about my books!
I’ll mostly talk about THE YEAR OF LOVING but I’m sure Immortal, Broken, and Fallen will creep in…
*I will present at the Hamilton Grange Library on January 28, 2017 at 3:00 PM. The Hamilton Grange Public Library is at 503 W. 145th street.
*I will be a guest at the Women’s Novels of New York Book Club on February 2, 2017 at 6:00 PM. I don’t yet know where that event will be, but it will be fun!
*I will present at the Riverside Library on February 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM. The Riverside Library is at 127 Amsterdam Avenue.
Stay tuned for more information!
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
Because I am married to a classical figurative sculptor, Michelangelo occupies a luminous position in our home. His wisdom matters to us.
In this case, I’m quoting him because, well, he’s a Big Deal around here. I don’t know if this bit of thoughtful humility on his part really applies to the situation at hand. I am thinking rather simply about hard work. Specifically, editing sound files as I turn my novels into audiobooks.
Sound editing is some of the most laborious, tedious, difficult, grueling, and time-intensive work I’ve ever done. It ain’t fun. And it requires perfectionistic focus. It’s a good thing I’m detail-oriented, because I hone in on every single click, hiss, hum, rattle, or pop in the narrative that I read with such feeling, and recorded so carefully.
Two different programs, Audacity and Wavepad, serve to manipulate the audio files, to filter out noise and to optimize the quality. First I use Audacity for recording. It’s a great free program, and it works beautifully for basic noise removal, equalization, and compression.
But…I record in my office, not in a foam-insulated studio, so there’s some reverb. I nailed a big fluffy quilt up behind my desk to absorb some of the echo. But there’s still a little awkward sounding whoosh in the background. Enter Wavepad, which has a marvelous high pass filter that, yes, filters out the reverb. God bless Wavepad.
I suppose I am learning a new skill, and that’s an asset. I’m always grateful for assets that I acquire through hard work.
Nor ought I complain. I know people who work much harder all the time. I’m thinking specifically about my beautiful stepdaughter, who is such a lovely young woman, sweet and loyal and thoughtful and grateful, a pleasure to be with. She’s studying diligently for the MCAT’s while working at a high pressure medical research job.
So I’ll keep chipping away at the giant, obdurate block of stone that is my raw recording files, hoping to reveal the art within.
Glowing reviews of The Year of Loving
Two great review sites recently put up excellent reviews of my latest novel THE YEAR OF LOVING.
The first site is Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews. What a cool title for a book enthusiast’s site, and what a terrific model for her children! She’s publicly proud to be a Booknerd. Kudos to Mrs. Mommy.
This book is a realistic romance that will have you guessing and touches on many areas…love, motherhood, life, struggle, romance, friendship, betrayal and so much more. The main character is raw and harsh, but also funny and smart. This book is one that romance readers will certainly enjoy.
The rawness of this story pulls at your heart and fills you with so many conflicting emotions. Her first ex-husband, and the father of her children is such a hateful and petty man. The way he turns the children against her and lets them do whatever harmful thing they want makes me want to strangle him. I would think his current wife would get tired of all the court cases and BS but she seems to be of the same ilk as he is. The second husband doesn’t seem too bad, just a little narcissistic and immature–Pretty much a perfect rebound guy, but not great husband material. It does sound like he has an awesome talent which leads me to believe that he will be going places.
The struggle with the daughters is heartbreaking. I’m not sure how things will end there but, I felt bad when Sarah tried so hard with no positive response.
Whenever I finish a novel, I email HCharju and ask respectfully for her to review my new book. She’s a thoughtful reader and a reviewer who sees to the heart of a story. I’m lucky to have discovered her.