Confessions of a Professional Mom

Confessions of a Professional Mom

Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.

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You Might Be a Stretch-Mark Friend

March 15, 2016 , , , , , , , , , ,

shutterstock_210873520“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share
with someone else when you’re uncool.”
-the movie, Almost Famous

Chapter 4, of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, is curiously titled, “The Vulnerability Armory”. Needless to say, she had me at armory. I need all the tools I can get to live a happy #wonderfullife.

As I was consuming chapter 4, like a velvety red varietal, I abruptly stopped when I got to page 170 and re-read the “daring greatly” quote from Theodore Roosevelt that says: “It’s not the critic who counts.” Brown goes on to consider the men and women she’s interviewed who defined themselves as that critic, and how the “not counting” was definitely felt. I paused and thought, “how many times have I been the critic and when I am, is it because I feel the need to be heard and seen?”

Cause for pause…brick to the head!

Brené (I call her Brené because we’re almost besties…OK maybe some day) recognized that, ultimately, being the critic stems from the fear of being vulnerable and it can unleash cruelty, criticism and cynicism in all of us. She suggests that taking responsibility for what we say is one way to check our intentions and “if you don’t feel comfortable owning it, then don’t say it.”

The opposite situation, of course, is if you are the critiqued (or critique-ee). How does that feel? How do you process it? Does it matter what everyone thinks and says about you or just the people who matter? Who are those people?

To keep both of these situations in check Brené recommends cultivating a safety-net community who will support you when you’re feeling attacked or hurt and who, in return, will be accepting of your constructive criticism. Here’s her two-part strategy:

ONE: Only accept and pay attention to feedback from people who are also in the arena, occasionally getting their butts kicked and figuring out how to stay open to feedback without getting pummeled by insults. If you are not helping, contributing or wrestling with your own gremlins, I’m not interested in your commentary.

TWO: Carry a small sheet of paper in your wallet that has written on it the names of the people whose opinions of me matter (aka: Stretch-mark Friends). Read the excerpt below for definition of a Stretch-mark Friend:

“I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles. You have to know that I’m trying to be Wholehearted, but I still cuss too much, flip people off under the steering wheel, and have both Lawrence Welk and Metallica on my iPod. You have to know and respect that I’m totally uncool.”

-Brené Brown

(Revised slightly from Brené’s description)

To be considered a “stretch-mark friend” our connection has to have been stretched and pulled so much it’s become part of who we are, a second skin, and a few scars to prove it. (like the inside of my thighs) And we’re not afraid to be totally uncool with each other.

It is thought that most people may only have two stretch-mark friends. I realized that I have many more than two. I will be so bold as to list them here (focusing only on the women in my life and, please note, if you’re not on this list it’s because you’ve never seen me poop, pick my nose, give birth, slip and fall, pass out, cry uncontrollably, fail, lose my temper, or be completely embarrassed, lost or clueless while realizing my pants are on inside out and backwards:

Melissa Gruber
Lori Sallee
Laura Brill
Christina Haakenson
Beth Goldfarb
Cheryl Savala
Sandy Buonarigo
Connie Barnhouse
Molly Knox
Vanessa Lindberg

In the words of Brené’s friend, Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing: “Don’t try to win over the haters; you’re not the jackass whisperer.” Pay attention to people’s opinions that really matter. Spend your constructive criticism on people who really care to hear it.

Are you a stretch-mark friend? Who’s on your list?
Share this post with them.

Stay sane, my friends.

P.S. This completely changes the way I feel when I look at my thighs. Who knew…stretch-marks are a good thing!

Allison DeFord



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