Cook kits, a podcast, a book & motivation

Doug and I have been doing some last-minute gear shifting in advance of our trip to the Olympics in a few weeks. My goal has been to lighten up where I could. This included, at last, buying a much lighter cook system by Toaks. I love the JetBoil and still plan to use it for camping, but where weight really matters for hikes over 5 days and such, lighter without going ultralight is definitely an asset.

One Esbit tablet gave me enough fuel to boil 500 ml of water plus bring another 500 ml of water to a simmer. So, You could definitely make a dinner and then some coffee or tea with one tablet. Another upgrade I am super impressed with is my food cozy from Packit Gourmet. I’ve written about them in the past and I am absolutely in love with Dottie’s Chicken and Dumplings meal they make. Seriously. I could eat that stuff at home and enjoy it.

I have another “training” hike coming up this weekend. I will be trying out Archer’s Fork Saturday and Sunday. Looking forward to trying out the Toaks on the go and doing some water filtering. Maybe having a campfire too if my knife comes in time. Well, that and, logically, also the miracle of not chopping off a finger in the process as I in no way have proper bushcraft skills. Still, as author Scott Carney says in his new book which I am reading, “What Doesn’t Kill Us.” The reason why his book caught my eye was for the elusive idea of personal challenge and building strength. I don’t think I will be jumping into icy water anytime soon, but I might do some hiking in the colder weather and feel OK about going it shirtless at times.

On a related note, I was listening to an interview with Cheryl Strayed this morning at work. “On hiking, getting outside, being kind, and writing like a ‘mofo.” The thing that spoke to me was that she said she signs up for half marathons. She says, “it’s the thing” that keeps her motivated. Not running specifically, but any goal. Just as I did during my brief running days after my heart attack. The part that resonated with me was that for the past two weeks, I have been dealing with variable levels of depression due to a complication in Nick’s health partly. But probably just my normal ebb and flow of personal motivation. Negative self-talk that tells me I am not doing enough. Not being outdoors enough. I am just not enough. And then there is one of my go to mantras that I use during panic attacks, stressful meetings, and yes, when pulling myself back out of a rut. “I am enough.”

I guess the reason behind all these #Outdoors posts of mine, the new treadmill, my weight equipment, the naked Yoga classes, meditation sessions and struggle with the Mediterranean diet is just that. It’s all part of this journey called life. So yeah, maybe it’s time to put my running shoes back on and enter some races this fall when I get back from a month of travel in September. Some new outdoor adventures which might include the Dolly Sods if I am lucky enough weather wise in October/November. But I think most importantly, remembering to be kinder to myself and others. Every day. I wonder what is going to go through my head as I hike through the Hoh Rainforest. Up the mountain ranges. Soak in the Hot Springs. This trip is going to be one of my highlights of 2018 for sure. But the whole entire set of events that are prepping me for it is just as, if not more so, because I’ve made new friends. Played outdoors with my buddies. Made campfires. Started a hiking program and a walking routine with Eddie. All in all, low points or not, I’ve got a lot to be grateful for this year.

Posted in outdoors, personal

Family night

So, my Dinner Party Prep paid off big time. Eddie and I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of my cousin and her girlfriend tonight over a big heaping pile of my very first crab boil and, thanks to advice from my mom, peach cobbler. The peaches, corn and redskin potatoes were all fresh from this past weekend’s haul from the Clintonville Farmers Market. They also served as the inspiration for tonight’s menu when I was Googling “what to do with this big pile of vegetables” on Sunday.

Everything turned out pretty damn good. Of course, over the years, Eddie and I have thrown many many parties. Yet there are nights like tonight that give me a fresh take on what it means to actually be physically and emotionally present with your tribe. I guess you could say, one of my favorite things about life is the simple act of sharing a family meal together now and then. It makes all the difference in the world actually.

Next up? A weekend full of hammock camping, time by the pool and some Jet Boil Ramen experimentation with any luck!

Posted in food

A summer dinner party prep

“Oh, the summer night has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne.” Bryan Procter

I don’t know what it is about this summer, but it feels like a big one. The quote I opened with reminds me of how I feel right now. How I felt at camp this past weekend. Hiking. Grateful for the apex of a career that has to lead me to become an architect for collaboration platforms at one of the biggest companies in town. More open to making new friendships and actively working on reaching out to others. Being a better husband. And, yes, cooking for friends and family.

So the fresh Ohio corn I got at the Clintonville Farmers Market on Saturday inspired me to try something for the first time. A crab boil. Or Low-Country boil depending on where you are from. I am a huge fan of seafood, especially stewed. I’m also enamored with the idea of a meal that is so large that it’s meant for a celebration with neighbors, friends, and family. It’s what Eddie and I have always enjoyed about cooking. The time spent with people, laughter, storytelling, and mirth.

I’ve prepped the peaches for skinning. Staged the cobbler ingredients. Talked with mom about her tips on the best way to make the cobbler. Defrosted the crab, shrimp, and sausage. Tomorrow brings the test however in cooking two things I have never made before. We are having my cousin and her girlfriend over for dinner to celebrate sharing company together.

So here’s to summer… and his sapphire throne.

Posted in food

Books, coffee & fresh vegetables

I bought a Kindle copy of “No Recipe” by Edward Espe Brown last night before shutting down for the day. I guess I was sort of inspired by my trip to the farmers market and another book I am reading titled “Zen in the Age of Anxiety.” I was reading the second book yesterday morning at an old favorite restaurant of Eddie’s and mine called “TheWildflowerr Cafe” in Clintonville. This whole meditation and mindfulness thing I am pursuing right now is interesting. What I did not expect in the Zen book was the idea that there would be a time when mediation actually became onerous. Not enjoyable. That’s when a light went on in my head. You see, my practice faltered and stopped pretty much a few months back. I’ve beat myself up numerous times over that fact too. What I read kind of helped me to recalibrate my thinking on what it means to actually practice meditation. Like for the long haul.

That aside, I got some really great produce at the market. I may not be ready to forego recipes just yet, but who knows, maybe a series of “chef” meals are in our future once I read the new book?

What I’m sort of planning this week are the following:

Posted in food, personal

My Lake Vesuvius lakeshore hike

After months of research, planning and calibration I spent my first night in Wayne National forest this weekend. When I was up in Portland visiting Doug last year I picked up a used copy of “The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide,” by Andrew Skura. There is an excellent section where he talks about the various types of outdoor experiences. Backcountry hiking, backcountry camping, and <car> camping. Since 2017, I have been primarily a car camper. It’s been a great deal of fun too. Yet, I have been intrigued by taking another step. Especially in light of my goal to hike the Olympic Mountains in September with Doug.

I’m grateful to Jason Wish, the guys from SBOutDoors, Bryce Newbold and Outdoor Adventures for the videos they have posted on YouTube. These comprise a very important part of my research. As a non-Boy Scout, the education from the documentation they have compiled has been a huge asset. I must, however, return to something Anthony Skura talked about though. He was getting a little coaching when one of his hikes was falling apart. He was told to do “whatever is right for you.” As a man with underdeveloped outdoor skills, and heart disease, reality is definitely a constant reminder for me to “do what is right for me.” The new book that I am reading on my Kindle Paperwhite by Brené Brown, “Braving the Wilderness”, is talking about being your true self a lot right now. One of the things I liked most from my reading at camp the other night was the idea of writing permission slips to ourselves for various things that we might not do normally. This is also consistent with the saying that Anthony Skura mentions. “Hike your own hike.” HYOH. Mantras and ideas sometimes flock together. Maybe it’s indicative of the Universe trying to teach us something. Or our own clouded quests toward growth. I don’t know. But I am giving myself permission to explore hiking. To get lost. To make, hopefully non-lethal, mistakes. To have fun. To be myself outdoors. To hike my own hikes. To create more balance and harmony than darkness and anxiety.

Iron Ridge Campgrounds is a truly wonderful place. Finding it was pretty simple and only a little over a two-hour drive from Columbus. It’s set inside of Wayne National Forest so the tree cover and geological makeup are very pretty. Situated on the very southern border of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, the area reminded me of my trip to Shawnee State Forest last Fall. Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” since the landscape is comprised of large tree dense hills which hold mist in the mornings that hint at what you see in the Smokies proper.

I stayed at site 33 further back in the campgrounds. You drive up and pull off onto a ledge. From there you walk down a stone path to a landing below the road line which hides you from the rest of the area to a large site surrounded by white oaks, with a nice metal fire pit and a picknick table. Dinner was Outdoor Herbivore Pacific Crest Vinaigrette and Good to Go Mexican Quinoa Bowl with some Folgers instant decaf coffee. Both dishes were delicious and something I’d repeat. After putting the food kit away, I started a fire and got out my Kindle. It’s July so the temperatures are a little warm right now. But around 9 ish a cool shift started to happen as the sun began to set. I like to think of this as the microclimate within Wayne National Forest. It felt great as the moon began to rise and stars started to pop out between the gaps in the tree canopy overhead.

At around 11 or so everything was still and the only sounds were of the forest itself, bugs and such, and the crackling of my modest but roaring fire. I noticed that I smelled sort of off, bug spray and sweat, and decided to hoof it up to the shower room to clean up a bit before turning in. Like I said earlier, Iron Ridge is an excellent facility. The restrooms and showers are clean and modern. Pretty luxurious for camping in a forest. I didn’t expect to have that so I didn’t pack a towel or soap. Regardless, the shower felt good and served to wash the grime of the day off of myself. As it was dark and no one was around, I hoofed it back to my campsite in my underwear and sandals then stripped down back at my picknick table and air dried in the cool air while reading more by the firelight.

I didn’t know whether or not there would be trees suitable for a hammock so I brought my Kelty 1 person tent, my Therma Rest bedroll, and my new Big Agnes air mattress. I slept on top of my sleeping bag as it was still a bit warm, albeit comfortable. Taking a gamble with the prediction of rain, I left my rain fly off so I could watch the trees and stars overhead as I slept. I had a great night there and I would definitely come back to this spot again.

Morning came and I rose pretty early so I could start the hike in time to get out before the thunderstorms rolled in. While Iron Ridge does connect to the Lakeshore Trail at Lake Vesuvius via the Whisky Run trail, I only had my site reserved for one night so I packed up and drove the short distance to the trailhead by the dam.

Now came the part where I needed the permission slip. While I am averaging over 50 miles worth of walking and running per week right now. Sometimes with a weight vest. It’s an entirely different experience to strap yourself into a 23 lbs. backpack however and then head out for an 8-mile walk. Once I reached the trail entrance, going clockwise, I remember one moment where I thought “you can turn back.” Instead, I did a little walking meditation and paid attention to what my body was saying. It was telling me that my pack was imbalanced and aggravating my right shoulder. So I stopped. Took the pack off and reconfigured its contents. After that, It was a whole different ballgame.

I was clipping along at about 3.5 mph and enjoying the morning sun and wonderful views from the bottom part of the lake. The rock outcroppings, trees, Lillie pads in the water, flowers wildlife and smells were beautiful. While there was very little elevation gain, yeah, some hills that I’m still feeling in my quads today, the experience made me a trekking pole convert though. They helped me balance. I suspect they also helped with pacing as well. I broke my first pair of poles by using them the wrong way of course. But my new Black Diamond Pro Shock poles were awesome. They also doubled as spider web removers as well.

Toward the north part of the first half of the loop, the lake narrows and you run into more bugs. Still, it was beautiful to be surrounded by trees. Some of the guides and maps I read talked about walking along a road. Which I thought was actually walking on the road. Wrong. It’s just a segment of trail that runs adjacent to a road which you can’t see. That was a nice surprise.

The one thing that sort of went wrong with my packing, which I became aware of the day before while driving… I forgot my boots. Instead, I had my camp sandals on. This was the footwear I bought at REI in 2015 to climb Saddle Mountain with Doug. And while not ideal, they worked in conjunction with my wool socks treated with Permethrin to ward off ticks. That is until I stomped ankle deep into a pool of mud. Once I got over the mental distraction, it was totally fine.

I stopped for a fruit and nut bar and to fish my rain cover out of the main body of the pack to put in the front outside pocket in case the thunder I was hearing turned into a full-on storm. It was pretty though hearing the raindrops hit the leaves above while impacting on the lake surface a little further away. It was, again, just as wonderful as running in the rain. Maybe more.

I came across a family of deer at one point. Heard the deep bellow of frogs. Saw all these beautiful magenta flowers at the water’s edge. Walked beside amazing rock outcroppings that were peppered through the green landscape consistently. As I made my way south toward the end of the trail, I got the elevation gain they talked about. Again, grateful for the trekking poles. Even under shade, it was warm enough that I was happy for the moisture wicking clothes I had on. I was sweaty from balls to skull. Still, I felt dry enough that I wasn’t feeling chafing or uncomfortable. Here’s to Patagonia Quandary Pants, 2UNDR boxer briefs and race running technical shirts.

There was one beautiful rock outcropping about two-thirds of the way through the trail going clockwise, however. This would be a wonderful lunch spot for anyone doing this hike and probably has been. I was not hurried, but I decided to skip this in an effort to avoid any severe turns in the weather.

Once I got to the end, I saw the dam proper. There is this beautiful bridge you walk across back to the parking lot though. It’s just, well, perfect. I am immediately planning on coming back to witness the change of color this fall. Maybe to reflect on the Olympic Mountain trip thinking back to this hike as the moment where I gave myself permission to live a little more freely. Outdoors. With just myself and my thoughts in nature.

Posted in outdoors, personal

Hocking Hills hike

Today brought an opportunity to return to the Hocking Hills region for another training hike. I went out with another group from Hike Ohio, which I am quickly beginning to really enjoy. It’s just a great group of people doing what they love. It reminds me of running races only it’s sort of the opposite experience. No one is running and everyone is talking to one another sharing stories and information about the experience. While this may be the way I did racing, I found that I would “zone out,” listen to my breath and count the miles toward the goal. Both hiking and running are wonderful experiences, but like I said, I am really enjoying the company of others at this stage in my life.

Hocking Hills Hocking Hills Hocking Hills

As we were gathering early in the morning before all the family cars arrived, the resident Naturalist told us about Grandma Gatewood. That she was basically the mother of the ultralight movement as she decided to “go for a walk” one day with just a potato sack, a pair of Keds and a shower curtain for shelter. He also talked about the actual man whom the Old Man refers to as the trail’s namesake. Some crazy old guy who chose to live out here with his dog away from society. There are some days when I feel the same way I suppose.

FitBit Hike Log

The time came to head out and we all single filed through the walk ahead though. We hiked around 7.5 miles of the Old Mans Cave tail networks. Climbing roughly 2000+ ft elevation gains under mostly cloudy skies in Ohio summer humidity. It was a pretty beautiful way to get in a workout. We came upon a lake where Dan, our hike leader, talked about how he and his dad would come out to this spot when he was as young as 15. I thought that addition was really great. Something that I think Brené Brown would have smiled at. The courage to share. Make it personal.

Selfie with Dan and the folks from the head of the pack

It’s funny though, as a white guy, I kept noticing how white everyone on the trails were. That is, with the lucky exception of my hiking crew. We had a handful of different nationalities. I really enjoyed the diversity and shared perspectives. I mean, come on, what’s not to love about a guy named “Yoga?” Or the Hispanic women who were laughing and having a ball together bringing in the rear of our troop? This was quite possibly one of the best-organized hikes I’ve been on to date. An experience I hope to repeat.

Almost there End of the road

Next up? I am planning a solo shakedown hike and overnight at Lake Vesuvius. This trail has been on my radar after having done months of research and watching others guys YouTube hiking videos which, since I am not a Boy Scout type, have been equal parts education and entertainment in some ways. It’s also a hike that my tattoo artist Andy Johnson told me about last year, no doubt to keep my mind off my back. Anyway, this will be a tent camping trip since I am still working on my knots, but there will be a fire at night so I am looking forward to reading at the end of the day while sparks float gently upwards into the summer night air.

It’s funny, this whole goal of hiking through the Olympics, and the training involved to get there, is making for an exceptionally memorable summer. I can’t help but close this blog by stating, again, how grateful I am to be alive. Enjoying the once unrealized possibility of returning to the outdoors. Life is good.

Lunch break at the waterfall

Posted in outdoors, personal

Witches Hollow hike

Meetup is a service that I know very well from my days as a tech consultant. It’s typically used to organize special interest groups surrounding a given technology stack, product or discipline. As I am working through a long distance hiking training program that I put together for myself. I was happy to recently discover that it is not just limited to tech. It also has some great hiking resources. One of which is a group named “Hike Ohio.” This post is about my first outing with a group of like-minded strangers to Clear Creek Metro Park to hike out to a location called “Witches Hollow.” Queue spooky sounds here.

The drive down was just a return to an area near Hocking Hills. I spent many years of my early adulthood road tripping down there to go hiking in my early 20’s with many friends. At one point, I took a date and well, we had a good time all by ourselves so to speak out in the woods. He was a glass blower. Ah, young lust-filled romance. That’s one moment I still have not forgotten across a couple decades.

When I got into the area finding the Park Office proved to confuse Google Maps. So I drove around a bit, eating into my 30 minute cushion that I have learned to add to trips for the first time because I suck at direction. The kind folks from Hike Ohio posted a sign so I eventually righted my course with 10 minutes to spare.

We all gathered under the trees in the shade. It was a 90 plus day here in Ohio today. Hot, but pleasant. Everyone applying bug spray and sunblock in turn as it’s a heavy tick season here and there were no clouds in the sky. We got a really great intro of the hike from one of the park volunteers and we all started walking down to the starting point passing Written Rock on the way.

From the paved road, we dove into the woods, off trail, and followed our guides to Clear Creek. At which point everyone but a handful of us pulled out a change of shoes. Ummm, yeah, forgot those. So I shucked my boots and socks, rolled up my pants and put a toe into the most refreshing water imaginable. It was about ankle to knee deep walking across slippery mossy sandstone slabs. I was grateful for my last surviving REI trekking pole to keep me from embarrassing myself too badly. From there we dried off and headed onward.

A mile or so later we came into the hollow. The hemlock and tulip trees were beautiful against the fern and moss covered terrain with rock and cliff outcroppings everywhere. Evidently, this area became known as “witches hollow” back in the 1970’s when it was suspected that either Pagan’s or witchcraft practitioners gathered here. More likely it was a great place to smoke pot and do hallucinogenic drugs in my opinion however. The space was beautiful, serene, and yes, magical.

The whole experience got me to thinking about a guy I have been talking with on the AHA Support Network. He had a heart attack at the age of 39. He’s going through all the things that many of us went through. Worrying about his fiancé. How he’s going to provide. Thinking ahead to all the things he may or may not have lost as a result of heart scarring. It’s a dark place to be that I know only too well. It also reminds me of several books I am reading right now on my path to being a better meditation practitioner.

My conversation with the man I spoke about earlier has brought me back to pondering what I need to do to cultivate the strength to cope. Not just with heart disease. But with the nature of suffering, impermanence, and change in life itself. The fact that control is an illusion but we have a choice to not buy into suffering. To be grateful instead of fearful.

It’s funny, but while we were all spraying our bodies with bug spray and sunblock back at the Park Office, I fished out my red notebook from my backpack and jotted this down “cultivate a feeling of appreciation.” I think it’s going to become its own post. As an atheist, warming up to any ideology that smells spiritual is really difficult for me. Yet all the Buddhist philosophy I’ve been driven toward over the past two years seems to tug only more strongly. Like a compass when you find the point on the horizon to triangulate from. I think some of my answers lie in the direction of embracing a practice of observation, acceptance, and appreciation.

When I started camping again, after a 35-year hiatus, at the end of July last year, I never would have dreamed it would have led me here. Let alone to taking a huge jump with my best friend starting at the Hoh Rainforest and ending, 50 miles later, on Hurricane Ridge. But that story has not happened yet. More than anything, right now, hot as blazes or not, I feel incredibly grateful for today.

Posted in outdoors, personal

A thought and a view from my morning run

One of my favorite views of downtown from the running path to stop at and think about things in the early morning hours. Todays thought “observe, don’t react.”

Posted in running

My hiking training plan

I’ve been planning this post for a couple weeks now. My exercise routine has been in a slump and I’m using the 50-mile hike in September to recalibrate. When I was running half marathons this was a little easier because I had deadlines and goals to meet. I will be talking about a combination of walking, hiking, Yoga, weight training and walking meditation to prepare for carrying 25 lbs. on my back up to an elevation of 6000+ ft.

Building a base

This is a concept that I learned when I was running longer and longer distances. My cadence dropped down to running once a week, walking about 1 to 2 miles a day with ambient activity, weights once a week and a Yoga session. I have been progressively adding more activity into my weekly routine. This includes a goal of at least three two-mile walks upon waking in addition to two runs. One weight training session at home with my dumbbell set. One naked Yoga session with the guys I practice with (body acceptance there). I’ve also scheduled some longer hikes, the first of which is coming up next weekend at Lake Vesuvius backpack trail, the longer one, in Wayne National Forest. Along with adding some recreational camping trips to hone my outdoor skills such as knot tying. Which I suck at. Lastly, mental preparation for days of walking 10 to 12 miles in a day… hence walking meditation to help me calm my mind and get through the days ahead.

Diet

I’m no longer vegetarian but my diet still has a strong focus on fruits and vegetables. For protein, I am consuming lean chicken, turkey salmon, and tuna on a regular basis along with vegetable proteins. Mornings start with, groan, decaf coffee and a fiber-rich whey protein smoothie with bananas, blueberries and a beet. I have one additional goal which is to reduce the amount of wine I drink. Typically Eddie and I will enjoy some great red, white or rose with dinner depending upon what we are pairing it with. The calories there are what I want to manage better as my weight sits around 172 and I’d like to trim down to 164 by the time September rolls around. No easy task for someone who is on beta blockers.

Dr check-ins

Through summer I plan to check in with both my GP and cardiologist one more time. I’ve got an all clear as long as I listen to my body. I will be watching cholesterol, blood pressure and wearing my Fit Bit to track things like my heart rate while exercising and VO2 max variability over time. I don’t have any real physical concerns however this leads into part two of the emotional health prep below.

Mental health prep

One of my favorite topics. Not. Today marked the actual start of my training program as I added weekly Sunday or multi-day hikes to prepare for the rigors of hiking. I was on the struggle bus emotionally since I woke up. I met a friend for brunch at The Keep. She has Type 2 diabetes and really struggles to keep her sugar and cardiovascular health on track. She’s doing great though. The day progressed and the anxiety in my head remained consistent. Given some really beautiful weather, I packed up my day pack, grabbed my trek pole and headed out for a five-mile hike with some hills.

A funny thing happened though. Almost immediately upon entering the wooded paths, surrounded by green and outdoor sounds, my anxiety began to ease up. I practiced a walking meditation several times. Eventually, I felt a lot more stable and, momentarily at least, free from my ghosts. Lesson learned there. There is something to the Japanese idea of forest baths. I went from feeling like crying to relaxed and grateful during the course of five miles.

Wrapping it all up

There is a great book by Sakyong Mipham called “Running with the mind of meditation.” I attempted to read it two years ago during my running phase. It’s giving me a framework for the walking meditation and observing my anxiety without reacting. I also just finished Brené Brown’s excellent book “Daring Greatly.” Both texts taught me something about myself so far. It’s a way of thinking that is helping me to heal myself. Just as training for hiking, eating clean, getting better sleep is strengthening my body these books are helping me to train my mind. My ultimate goal is to embrace what Ryker Gamble said in his final Instagram post before he and two friends tragically died while having an outdoor adventure.

“Life isn’t about responsibilities, tough decisions, and hard work, it’s about feeling bliss and living in the moment.”

That is what I ultimately reinvent myself as. Someone unburdened by anxiety and fear. A man who enjoys life for everything that it can be. Outdoors as much as possible. Laughing often. Making many new friends along the path and while camping. That’s what life is about for me right now.

Without further ado, hope to see you outdoors in the near future. Onward!

Posted in outdoors, personal, running

How to be a better sharer

So I’ve been reading “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. Her insights and writing are noteworthy both on the personal and professional fronts. Yet she has this habit of embedding unexpected gems. The section titled “Clarifying intentions, setting boundaries and cultivating connection” is great.

She sets the tone in the first sentence of this section. Stating “much of the beauty of the light owes its existence to the dark.” She’s talking about our willingness to perform and think in ways that challenge our own entropy, apathy and fear. Times when we allow ourselves to reinforce disconnection rather than seeking to connect on a personal level with those around us.

While I am not anti-social media, I did close most of my accounts save for LinkedIn and the AHA Support Network. I have noticed that my own habits have changed when it comes to networking with people. Even with my writing on my simple blog. Less screen time, for me, has meant that I find ways to connect with others in more meaningful ways. It’s funny, because some of my family members have lamented that they miss seeing my “goings on” within the Facebook app. While I am flattered, it becomes something akin to broadcasting rather than spending time, face to face, with someone else.

She talks about oversharing as a mechanism to turn vulnerability into a shield. Which defeats the purpose. This made me think about how “good” of a Facebook user I was. Broadcasting. Everything. Well not everything, but sometimes, looking back, I have ample opportunity to laugh at myself. Driving this thought further, on the professional scene we often times seek ways to share our successes and lessons from failures. This is great but it sets me to wonder about… are we doing it right?

I’ve spoken and written about active listening. This is a great technique for when someone around you is broadcasting, or as Brené says – oversharing and thus “floodlighting.” But what do we do when we find ourselves broadcasting? She provides a suggested checklist to help from doing this. And it’s awesome.

Vet your stories with close allies, friends and mentors first. Share only experiences that aren’t “fresh wounds.” Perform the following self-questionnaire. Hone your message. Choose the right time for delivery.

  • Why am I sharing this?
  • What outcome am I hoping for?
  • What emotions am I experiencing?
  • Do my intentions align with my values?
  • Is there an outcome, response, or lack of a response that will hurt my feelings?
  • Is this sharing in the service of connection?
  • Am I genuinely asking the people in my life for what I need?

These thoughts all line up with making us better communicators. Friends. Colleagues. They also provide us with a caution to not misuse vulnerability, sharing, in ways that push people further apart than closer. I once worked with a man who had a great philosophy. He actively helped others to network and find jobs that brought like minded people together. For the simple fact that they enjoyed each other’s company. I loved that thought. His idea is all about being brave enough to share things in a professional capacity. Sometimes too much. But always there for one another driving toward a common business goal. I learned a lot about people from him. And in the process, myself. Brené’s suggestions in her amazing book about vulnerability ring true. We should all do what we can to choose to share, not over broadcast, and constantly invite others to share with you in safe, empowering effective ways.

The benefits of taking the time to review how we share may be realized both in the personal and professional arenas. Who knows, like my old colleague, the two may actually merge… making everyone the better for it.

Posted in personal, professional