Letter from the Editor Spring 2022
I have a friend with whom I get together almost weekly. We trade talents (his musical, mine writing), have dinner, and connect over similar backgrounds and diverse interests. We always meet at his place, because it is so neat and tidy while mine is – well, frankly, usually chaotic and a mess. With three dogs, young adults coming and going, and construction that seems like it may never end, my sweet historic tudor is a standout in the neighborhood – for all the wrong reasons.
When our conversation turned to the topic of personal finance and organization, he admitted that (he believes) he is a bit of a mess. As we talked, my friend told me how much anxiety it was provoking – along with some shame. We are both engaged in spiritual and emotional development, so we explored that for a minute. “Interesting,” I commented. “You are hiding that mess while I am hiding the mess of my house…aren’t we all hiding something?” The older I get, the more accurate that statement has become, and the more unnecessary the whole sham seems to be. Can you relate? I mean, we all know someone who is hiding an embarrassing vice or addiction; or a tangled mess of a relationship or circumstances. Some of us are hiding a story from our past that we don’t even want to acknowledge, and some of us are just hiding our imperfection.
One of my favorite authors has had a lot to say about how and why we hide, as well as how to free ourselves from the guilt and shame that hold us hostage to the perceptions of others. Brené Brown has written a number of best-sellers, but arguably one of the best is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. In it, Brown quotes the famous Man In the Arena speech by Theodore Roosevelt:
''It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.''
In an interview after her book was released, Brown summed up the message: “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” Wise words that have encouraged me to live a little more daringly, with less concern about what others think of all the less-than-perfect aspects of my life that I once kept hidden. Not surprisingly, I have found that the more authentic about my mess I have become, the more accepting I feel toward the messes of others – and the more open others seem to be with me. Maybe authenticity begets authenticity. That’s an encouraging thought.
In this issue, we are thrilled to bring you several examples of people in our community and beyond who are living fully and authentically, including nationally-acclaimed author (and Arlington native) Leslie Lehr, whose struggle with breast cancer became the basis for a best-selling book and Dr. Timothy Pawlik who is leading a team at The James Cancer Center to develop a new app with a suite of resources to provide spiritual support to patients facing grave diagnoses.
As warm spring days unfold, here’s to caring a little less about an image of perfection and instead seeking more opportunities to risk a good ass-kicking. I’ll meet you in the arena.
PS…after our last issue, many of you emailed or texted me feedback, which is always welcomed and appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.