In The Arena

You all know that I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown. I first heard of her sometime after my divorce. Life was actually incredible during that time (which shocked even me) as I had been putting into practice all the stuff I talk about on the blog for a few years. And I was eating up anything that could take me further down this path. My friend sent me the Ted Talk by Brené and my friend said…ohhhh…you’ll LOVE this! Sure enough, I sat in my car after getting a killer parking spot in Brooklyn and listened to the whole thing in awe. I had been living many of the things she was talking about and had been trying to explain it to people. So it was amazing to hear Brené articulate it in her own very brilliant and relatable way.

So – “In The Arena” – Brené’s phrase for being vulnerable; for showing up and being seen.

When have YOU been in the arena in your life??

I’ll tell you mine…

  • I was in the arena as a single, divorced, infertile woman, one who could have been broken to pieces over my life. But instead I decided to show up and thrive. And I held my head high on every date I went on, I held my head high in a very family centric church culture. 
  • I was in the arena as I tried to live a spiritual life that was a little different than those around me at church. I went to church for years during that time of spiritual development. And I shared my truths. And I encouraged women and men to share theirs. And I disrupted some of the traditional thought patterns and ways. Remember the Women of Faith Lecture Series? (for example). That actually caused quite a ruckus and I was in the arena during many sit-downs with male leaders who felt uncomfortable. I never imagined that would happen, but it did. 
  • I was in the arena when I met Danny and wrote this dream man of mine from a far, putting my whole heart and love out there, not knowing if it would be fully received in person, not knowing if I would be enough. But I shared my heart anyway. Because that’s who I wanted to be. I wanted a relationship where we both could share fully.
  • I later came into the arena again when I started this blog and gave up other pursuits and income to do it. I mean, who am I? A PhD like Brené Brown? Some world famous person that people will want to read about? A pinterest worthy photographer with an instagram worthy life? A graphic designer who could whip this blog into a brand? I was just a woman with a message to share. I couldn’t not share it. So I shared it. And it’s just been me and this keyboard. And I’ve been in the arena with every grammar mistake, every bad or grainy or filtered photo, every less than functional way to share this message on this site, 0 instagram posts, and 5 years of my life where I’ve made nearly no income. Ha. At times, that’s been a lot to swallow.
  • I felt the arena very wide around me again when we moved to Ecuador. When we decided to work on this project in bigger ways. That’s a big public stake in the ground. And that’s a heck of a lot of living outside of the box. We were doing the opposite of everybody we knew. And I mean everybody. We sacrificed a lot to do this; to do this thing that we believe in. And we could have failed hard. And we did, in fact, fail for one year and two months to be exact. I mentioned here I was ready to pack up and head back and give in to the traditional path. That would have been it’s own arena. It was the last thing I wanted to do. 
  • Though, the arena here in Ecuador continued when we finally got in sync with the project and said, “We’re staying longer. Yes, we’re crazy enough to still see if we can do this.” And the arena gates opened again. 
  • And of course, we are in the arena NOW, AT THIS MINUTE as we mentor people each week and are also on the brink of launching more events for 2016. Will we be enough? We’re going to show up regardless.
You can maybe see that I believe in living in the arena. Ha. It’s kind of been my thing. I think it will be a sad day if I ever stop.

I think if we’re not in an arena or if we’re holding back, we might want to think about how we can get in there. Can we more fully declare our dreams and act on them, can we be more fully seen by others, can we love more fully without fear… 

What have YOUR arenas been? What arenas do you want to get in right now? I would love to hear.  
P.S. Photo is from a break during our Salt Lake City retreat. At first I thought I was going over notes for the next class. But the truth is, Danny’s voice was giving out and I was probably go over HIS notes to cover things he wasn’t going to be able to say. And yes, this photo is grainy and I can’t figure out how to fix it, even though the original is so beautifully crystal clear. But it will have to do. Welcome to my arena. 🙂 
Photo by Becky Kimball, a really talented professional photographer we hired for that event. 

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  1. Heidi Hansen January 25, 2016 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Might I add 🙂 You are also in the arena when you post about the details of being in the arena. You are surfacing your vulnerabilities, identifying them and then posting them here so we can relate and identify our own. You are broadcasting those vulnerabilities — now THAT is being in the arena. And if we're not already in the arena with you, we are on the sidelines cheering you on as we slowly step foot inside to join you. But sometimes it takes others to send out the invitation from WITHIN the arena to get people to join. Miss. You. Both!

  2. Ruth January 25, 2016 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    I want you to know that I read your blog, because you are one of THE most honest people I have ever come across. Next to my husband of course. Even his honesty frightens me sometimes. Just because I am not use to it. I am so grateful for the path you have chosen and that I get to be a very small part of it, by reading your blog. I would love to be in SLC, when you come again. We will see what life brings by then. So far, life has happened more often than not, when we have had other plans this last year. Many good things have come and others a little unexpected. Thank you again for sharing your story. As for the arena I most want to be in right NOW, it is involves more one on one time with my husband to grow our relationship more. We did a lot of growing our first year of marriage, but it has tapered off the last year and half or so. We need to get back to that path, so we can be stronger than we are now.

  3. Jo Schaeffer-Crabb January 26, 2016 at 4:08 am - Reply

    it sure is beautiful to live without fear. It reminds me of a lovely podcast ( about a woman who literally didn't have the part of her brain that processes fear. What a powerful gift. I've started this year thinking, what would I do if I was just 10% more courageous?

  4. Mara January 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I'm taking Brene's online class, too. I already have so many pages of notes! 🙂 My current arena is my job. It's awful. I'm getting treated unjustly. I'm trying to show up, be seen, live brave. I will no longer take things sitting down out of fear (which is what I've been doing.) I'm fighting back and feeling more like myself than I have in a long time. Is this an arena I want to stay in? Heaven's no! But I'm working to get myself to where I need and want to be.

    Good stuff – this arena. 🙂

  5. Sarah January 27, 2016 at 4:19 am - Reply

    My current arena:

    Moving across the country for a new job for my husband with three small kids to a place that I didn't really want to move. I left the best of friends and an amazing neighborhood. And then I had some crazy anxiety issues crop up out of seemingly nowhere!

    But here I am. Trying to take care of myself and three young kids and get everybody adjusted and taken care of. But I'm showing up every day to my life and trying to make it a life I love. I tell myself, "I'm here, and I'm doing it". Even if my face is marred with blood and sweat and tears. Lots of tears. Even if I feel anxious for no dang reason. I show up and I sit with the discomfort.

  6. SarahLeeAllenBrown February 2, 2016 at 2:02 am - Reply

    I love this topic. I am always in the arena of chronic health issues. I wake up and have to analyze and make decisions for my body and course-correct all the day long. It's exhausting. But I am happy most the time and am trying to use all my suffering to connect with others, have compassion, and learn about what truly matters in life (spoiler: being super healthy is a benefit and a blessing…but it is not required for an abundant life).
    I am also in the arena of saying no to certain commitments so that I can say yes to many others. It's like saying no to a sprint so that I can finish a marathon. It requires courage and self discipline to not ceaselessly dwell on what others may think of me not meeting their expectations.
    There are so many others, but let me say this: each time I step into the arena it makes the next time a little more reachable. Let's build a house there, friends. We'll need to bring our own supplies and labor side by side, but let give others the message that we intend to set up camp and, by doing so, convince ourselves that's where we belong!

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