The Brave & Brokenhearted Manifesto

Have you read Brene Brown’s Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted? It’s a story I go back to each time I feel like dipping out when the going gets too tough.

Paragraphs three, four and five are my favorite to re-read over and over when I need the reminder.

And it goes like this:

There is no greater threat to the critic and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise. 

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; we choose owning our stories of struggle, over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes. 

We are the authors of our lives. We write our own endings. 

We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure. 

Showing up is our power. Story is our way home. Truth is our song. We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.

I won’t let my past dictate my future. I get to write my own ending. I’m not one to play the victim but I can work on not feeling like the villain.

Side rant: it drives me batty when people are hell-bent on playing the victim, turning every injustice into a personal attack on their own day.

Will you look in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions? Will you look your truth in the eye and not run from it? What would happen if you stopped running and started to tackle it?

Hold yourself accountable. Save yourself. It’s only ever up to you to make a difference in your own world. Ask a question. Seek understanding before you judge.

Tackling my own demons has been my biggest struggle these past two years, and yet, the most rewarding.

Stay hungry for the growth my friends.

 

 

Poppy’s Creme Brûlée

Did you read today’s Taste Test recipe and tense up a little bit? I wonder why it’s made out to be such a difficult dessert to try, maybe it’s the fancy top hat above the ‘u’ that makes it seem way to fancy to try? Let me tell you, I’d rather make Creme Brûlée any day over that damn bread that gave me bruises!

I got this recipe from my Dad (aka Poppy). He made it on Paint maybe a decade ago and emailed it to me. I kid you not, he made it for me on Paint and it is carefully preserved in my cooking binder between two plastic sheets.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. I hate the word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

What you need:

Mixing bowl, wire whip, ramekins, pyrex oven pan, heavy bottom saucepan, thermometer, torch spark, and wire sift.

  1. Gather supplies/ingredients. Get some water boiling and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 1/2 cups heavy cream in a heavy bottom saucepan until it reaches 175 – 180 degrees and remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile place 6 egg yolks, 4 Tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in mixing bowl and whisk until frothy.
  4. Remove 1/4 cup of the hot heavy cream and slowly pour into egg mix while whipping vigorously to temper egg mix. Repeat with another 1/4 cup.
  5. Slowly pour entire tempered egg mix into heavy cream while whipping with might. Scrape bowl well with rubber spatula.
  6. The mixture will be frothy on top. Use a skimmer to remove the froth. Be sure to let liquids pass through simmer back into mix before dumping froth. Repeat until very little froth is left.
  7. Place 4 ramekins into your baking pan and fill pan with water until the water reaches halfway up ramekins. Pour approximately 2/3 cup of mix into each ramekin.
  8. Bake in over for 20 – 25 minutes. When sides are firm but the center is slightly jiggly the custard is done. Remove from oven and leave in water pan for 10 minutes. Place in fridge and chill for about 4 hours.

To Serve:

  • Sprinkle 2 teaspoon of sugar over top of the Brulee and lightly shake the ramekin back and forth to get an even coat.
  • Brown sugar with a torch. The tip of the flame that is yellow is the hottest part. Sugar should meet flame at top of the yellow tip. Use a right to left back and forth motion starting at the top and work your way down as sugar carmelizes.
  • Note: I like to serve it with a whipped cream rose and strawberry fan on the side or on a plate with a spoon. You can also serve whipped cream on top of Brulee wit
  • h a sprinkle of raspberries, too.

My Findings:

  1. Do not dump all of the hot heavy cream into the egg mixture, it will curdle the eggs. You need to have patience and not rush the tempering.
  2. If you don’t have a small wire sift to skim the top, use a spoon and carefully de-froth the top.
  3. The boiling water is for the water surrounding the ramekins before it enters the oven. I think the boiling water help keep it at an even temp. in the oven and it takes longer to bake if you don’t use heated water, don’t quote me but that sounds right.

Would I Make It Again?

Hell yes. It’s easier than it looks (and sounds). I remember being so nervous I was going to fuck up the tempering I was SUPER and ridiculously slow at it. I never thought the mixtures would ever be melded as one…so find a happy medium, you don’t have to be a psycho like I was the first go around and you can’t dump half or all of it in one or two shots.

Have you ever tried to make Creme Brûlée? How’d it turn out? Tell me in the comments.

Creme Brûlée quotes or sayings

Come be my friend on Instagram. I’m hilarious.
This is my Dad’s recipe that he wrote up on Paint for me some 10 years ago. I have no idea where it came from or if it has his own tweaks.

 

 

Give Yourself A Break – Strive For Imperfection, Instead

This morning on my drive to work I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, Jen Gotch Is Okay…Sometimes. It’s described as a podcast that “is weird and original and funny and honest—just like me.  Each week I’m going to get in your ear, tell you about my fears, my pain, my triumphs and hopefully in the process help you become more self-aware, build your own emotional intelligence, and more than anything else, FEEL LESS ALONE.”

It drops every Tuesday and has become one of my favorite listens on the drive to work. I missed this Tuesday’s episode so I caught up this morning and wow, did it hit home and put into perspective what I was blogging about yesterday that I didn’t know at the time I was blogging about. Does that make sense? 

If you missed it, yesterday’s blog Cutting Loose Ends talked about how I’ve been struggling with carrying the thoughts and opinions of others while trying to fight the urge to self-isolate and block out. Let’s not get it twisted, it’s still annoying how much people dump on unsuspecting souls. The trick is to not let it stick and define you.

Yesterday I think was I was blogging about (but didn’t know it at the time) struggling with perfectionism and after this morning’s episode about striving for IMPERFECTION, it gave me some perspective on what I wrote about yesterday, weird right?

Here’s why letting go of perfectionism will help me let go of other people’s actions:

Trying to ‘live up’ to other people’s expectations is a waste of damn time. I want to be successful both personally and professionally. This need to excel at excellence means trying to do everything to the best of my ability, a.k.a. as close to perfect and efficient as possible and I don’t want to let anyone down so I put a lot of value in what others think and say about me (which pains me to write because ew, I wish this wasn’t true) and forget I do this, hence yesterday’s frustration.

This does nothing but distracts me from my own inner voice. I know me, so I should listen to her more often because when I’m constantly filling my head with what others have put on me, it stifles my inner thoughts and feelings. So fuck that shit, I need to be more self-aware so I can internally combat this.

She continues on to say:

“What if we just decided to be imperfect?”

Being comfortable with being imperfect actually helps us achieve more since we’re not overwhelming ourselves with undue pressure. “Let’s not worry so much,” Jen says. “Let’s not try and strive for something that actually isn’t achievable because you just end up feeling awful all the time.”

“We still need to have aspirations, but what if what we aspired to was to be better than great and less than perfect? I think we could manage that.”

She lists three sweet spots to focus on while striving for imperfection, here they are:

  1. Say no to the ‘having it all’ culture – this doesn’t help you focus on the now. When you focus on the ‘having it now’ aspect of life, it forces you to dismiss the achievements of today and yesterday and leaves you feeling never enough or satisfied. Let’s collectively agree to knock this behavior off!
  2. It’s okay to fail – all I have to say about this one is if you never fail how are you supposed to learn? Growth comes from standing up after falling and learning from your mistakes. Let’s all agree to fail a little harder!
  3. Done is better than perfect mentality – I suck at this one, it was even hard to write, but I can acknowledge what it’s trying to convey. If you get tied up in all the little details nothing will ever move forward. This isn’t promoting laziness, it’s promoting to take a breath in the middle of that big project and acknowledge the fact it’s not going to be perfect no matter how hard you strive for it (project, relationship, the dream) to be. Focus on completing it, not all the little tiny ways it’s going to be a shitshow.

Hopefully, this helps you in the same way it helped me peel back the foggy layer that was suffocating my brain yesterday. Gotch ended the episode by asking her listeners to ditch perfectionism and do ‘all of the things you’re waiting to be perfect, to do.” Challenge accepted, and I hope you join me.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude about seeing my brother-in-law tonight and having a cookout! What are you feeling gratitude towards? Let me know in the comment section, below. 

Cultivate it.

play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

 

The Difference Between True Belonging & Fitting In

School was out for the next couple days because a snowstorm blew through upstate New York and I was excited to have the day off to play in the snow. After getting bundled up and prepared to be in the frigid temperatures until exhausted from fun, I went outside to find my two siblings to play.

After searching the front and backyard, checking the neighbor’s yard and woods behind both our houses, I found them hiding behind a snowbank across the street. They were making snowballs and giggling.

When I went to jump into the ditch with them, they both scowled before letting me know I wasn’t invited. “Go away, you’ll tell on us. You’re no fun.”

“You’re no fun,” was a phrase I was familiar with, both my parents used it to fling it at me when I didn’t laugh at their jokes or understand what they thought was so funny. My siblings and parents shared this and no matter how hard I tried to fit in with the jokes and fun, it never worked.

I tried to be fun for years and then succumbed to believing I wasn’t fun and lived out their truth.

After reading through the first half of Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown I finally felt like someone understood how I felt when it came to family.

She speaks about the moment she didn’t feel like she belonged in her family and how it affected her until she was in her mid-forties.

“Even in the context of suffering–poverty, violence, human rights violations–not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. It broke all three for me”

– Braving The Wilderness, page 14

And when our heart, spirit, and sense of self-worth breaks, there are only three outcomes according to Brown’s research data…

  1. You live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it/and or inflicting it on others;
  2. You deny your pain, and your denial ensures that you pass it on to those around you and down to your children; or
  3. You find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empath and compassion for yourself and others that allow you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way.

The pain I feel is deep, so deep I don’t even know where the roots are to rip them out of my being. While I’m no expert, I will honestly tell you I’m extremely good at doing numbers one and two.

For years I tried to fit-in and for years got rejected, but I continually knocked on that door hoping it’d open and the outcome would change (not just with family).

Constantly setting myself up for disappointment made me the expert at numbers one and two. Anger has been my shield for MANY years and honestly, I’m still fucking angry.

I’m afraid of losing my anger armor. If I don’t have anger protecting me, then who am I and what will happen to me if I leave myself vulnerable and open to other emotions?

In Braving The Wilderness, Brene defines the difference between fitting-in and true belonging which sounds simple because on face value who doesn’t know the difference between fitting in and belonging? It’s in the word.

Her clarification between the two words was the flashlight I needed to start navigating my way out of the cave.

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in an by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitues for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

She goes on to add true belonging also includes having the courage to stand alone when it’s needed, and feel comfortable with that decision. i.e. standing up for what you believe in wholeheartedly, even when you’re surrounded by different opinions.

I’ve been trying to fit into family and friend relationships for my entire life, basing my worth off what they’d give me in return. You get told throughout life that ‘family is everything’ and ‘all you have is your family,’ so it’s a confusing message when you don’t feel like you’ve ever belonged which makes it even more difficult to stop knocking at the door.

This new understanding of true belonging has lifted a burden off my shoulders I didn’t know was there. True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are, therefore freeing me of the responsibility to feel like I need to fit in.

“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.” — Maya Angelou

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for the relationships I have at my office. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

Shame. What Is It Good For? Absolutely​ Nothing.

Do you have shame? Apparently, we all do according to Brene Brown. Here’s what I learned after reading Brown’s chapter about shame and how to combat those nasty gremlins talkin’ nonsense inside your head. Sharing in case it helps one of you, too. 

neonbrand-432959-unsplash

Do I have shame? “Well, I don’t know,” was my first thought after reading the question. On the surface level, I’m not ashamed of who I am, how I got here or where I want to go. There’s a chip on my shoulder I’m a bit proud of and have a deep inner strength that propels me to keep pushing forward–no matter what. All characteristics I’m proud to own.

Shannon in a nutshell; moved out at a young age and paid all her own bills without EVER having to ask for help, got herself through college and graduated with a Bachelor’s despite having to take a year and a half off to deal with the joys of being a Navy wife. It took longer than everyone else, but I paid my way through junior college and figured out how to manage University with loans, internships and a solid year with no day off to get me in the position I am now.

Point blank, nobody thought I could do it and nobody paid my damn rent or filled my refrigerator with groceries, or gave me daily pep talks to counter-act all the other shit that life was flinging at me in those years.

I did it, and then me and my man did it, together. And I’m proud of those years, proud to say we did it alone. The flame that burned deep in the pit of my gut kept me pushing, climbing and propelling myself to the finish line, is what I’m truly proud of about myself because not everyone gets the guts and glory.

But wait, one simple question breaks all that internal strength and leaves me fumbling for words. So, where’s your family? Boom. Instant shame. Well, instant shame mixed with anger, let me explain.

When people find out I’m not from around here (or wherever I’m living at the time) they immediately want to know how I got to the patch of grass we’re now sharing, which is great because I’ve gotten extremely good at giving the watered down ‘me in a nutshell’ version to people.

I’ll get to the end and without fail, the first question is, “so, where’s your family.” Cue anger. “Wtf do they have anything to do with this conversation,” is what I want to say, instead it’s, “oh, we’re spread out. Some live back in New York while others have planted in Florida.”

People are curious, I get it. But can I just control the conversation and only talk about what I want to talk about? Of course not, and this is where I begin to understand shame.

My family couldn’t pay for my college tuition, or give me the movie ‘going away to college’ experience. No dorms. No sororities. No college keggers. I had to pick (what I say in my mind) lower end schools because I couldn’t afford the fancy four-year state universities my friends got to attend. I had to work, pay bills AND try to finish school.

That’s shame.

It sounds silly to write down, but it’s true. The shame gremlins (what Brown calls the nasty voices in our heads) tell me I’m not smart or good enough because I didn’t go to a state university with a competitive football team, which leads to the circumstance of my parents not being able to provide that luxury.

On one hand I’m proud to have hoofed it myself, but on the other hand, I’m ashamed of why I had to hoof it. The reason I’m proud of myself for making it through is the same reason I’m ashamed, strange right?

I don’t want to be labeled, ‘less than’ because of circumstances out of my control i.e. finances. So when somebody asks me about my family after learning of my life’s journey, I assume it’s because they want to know where the hell my family has been through all of this and I instantly feel shame, not because I’m ashamed of them but because the person doing the asking is probably judging them for ‘not being around,’ and that makes me angry, too.

Brown says, “shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions we experience. The people who don’t have it lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here’s your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you’re a sociopath. Quick note: This is the only time that shame seems like a good option.” 

Okay, Okay, I admit it, I have shame.

According to her definition, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging, and that there are 12 shame categories that’ve emerged from her research.

  1. Appearance and body image
  2. Money and work
  3. Motherhood/fatherhood
  4. Family
  5. Parenting
  6. Mental and physical health
  7. Addiction
  8. Sex
  9. Aging
  10. religion
  11. Surviving trauma
  12. Being stereotyped or labeled

Sidebar: There’s a difference between shame and humiliation (yup, apparently they’re not the same thing even though they sound pretty mutually exclusive). Shame is thinking “I am bad” while humiliation or guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame holds us back and keeps us from being our best self. My best guess is that because I think less of myself I limit myself to opportunities that seem “too grandiose,” and possibly in other ways I can’t even see because I’m still operating out of shame, fear, AND guilt. WOOF.

How do you combat shame? Talk about it. Give it a name. The more you talk about it the less control it has over your life.

Cheers to hoping that Texan Brene Brown is right, because my damn gremlins are telling me this whole post was a waste of time and it’s not helping anyone, and that I just want to bable about myself…

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online.