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The Intertidal Zone

· Brene Brown,Belonging,Mindfulness,Maya Angelou,mums4achange

“You have resources yet to be unleashed. Make bold courageous choices. Live as though you have the power to change the world – because you do.” - Caroline Myers

Living in the intertidal zone: right on the coast in enviable real estate and with views to die for but, completely at the mercy of the tides and the sea, it is also a hard and challenging place to live. I have just finished reading Brene Brown’s latest book ‘Braving the Wilderness’. If you haven’t come across her yet, Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston, describing herself as a researcher storyteller, and has a very down to earth but extremely engaging way of talking about her research discoveries. Brene’s top rated Ted Talk on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ is well worth a watch:

In ‘Braving the Wilderness’, Brene talks about belonging and how we as humans have deep within us the need to be connected. More often than not, as we grow up, we can end up fitting in to belong or go the other way in only finding value in being different or defiant – though these are both flipsides of the same coin she says. True belonging requires us to be exactly who we are. The book orbits around a key quote from Maya Angelou:

“You are only free when you realise you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

We can fit in and do what is expected of us, but this can be completely at odds to the person we really are and what we would like to do with our one wild and precious life. To stand up and be ourselves can take real courage as we find that we are out there in the wilderness totally alone, or as I am now thinking of it - since a wild Easter walk on an exposed seashore - the Intertidal Zone. We can cause ourselves much pain through not living true to ourselves and following instead what we feel is expected us of, and for whatever reason finding ourselves unhappy or unfulfilled in a job/marriage/life. In turn, this can lead to bottling up or brooding upon that pain or, just being sunny despite the fact that inside we are hurting. This is not benign, it can cause a whole host of health issues for ourselves and we can unthinkingly act out this pain onto others. We can see this played out within families right through to international level and without delving too deeply into the political, there are ways to forge unity – even if we disagree - rather than allowing the divisions we see to widen.

Living in the intertidal zone is challenging, it requires you to stand strong in the face of the waves, to adapt and cope with the exposure of the hot and drying sun but, the alternative is hard too and on balance I choose the wilderness for its real beauty and sheer aliveness. It is a wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability and criticism. I remember when a very dear friend of mine told me she was moving to Nepal with her young family. They were following their journey (literally!) but found that many people did not understand and were ready with all manner of negatives about their well thought through decision. They bravely moved to the wilderness and 8 years later have provided a full, wonderful life experience for themselves and their children. So the question is: do we want to live small? Or do we want to live a fuller life or at least explore fully what that might be? It doesn’t necessarily mean moving to another country, it is a move in mindset on a daily or even minutely basis, deciding to do things a different way, your way – and exactly what that is will be personal to each of us. In the same manner, the global problems that we face will not be solved through continually doing things in the same way, in a way that ultimately doesn’t serve us, as Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Together, we can carry this change in our hearts, stand tall like a lighthouse on the shore and shine our beautiful light on the world. It takes courage to stand in the waves but it is so worth it – in Maya Angelou’s words, “The reward is great.”


I have decided to share an excerpt from a piece of writing I wrote in my ‘Mums4aChange’ writing group this week, on the theme ‘Still I rise...’, as it is inspired by Brene Brown and Maya Angelou (Disclaimer: I’ve certified it a 12 as there is a swear word, you have been warned!)

“Alone, exploring the darkest reaches of space, I realise I can belong everywhere and nowhere: still I rise. Wading through the endless trenches and ditches of bullshit and lies muddied and wet: still I rise. The truth and authenticity are worth fighting for; even if I stand alone I will not compromise: still I rise. I know that life demands this of me again, it turns up in some other guise, I will not capsize: still I rise. I am learning to be grounded and fly through the skies, to balance and equalise a strong back, a soft front and a wild heart: still I rise. I know now that it is wise to continually replenish my supplies to revitalise: still I rise. To humanise, to hold hands with my fellow traveller guys, we energise and maximise: together still we rise."

With love and wishing you well, Clare x

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