I saw a listing for an untitled new Brene Brown book a while back. I immediately placed an order at my local bookstore and got noticed not only will I get the book, but I will also attend a live zoom launch for ‘Atlas of the Heart,’ now the official title of the book.
The book arrived just in time as I lugged some items into a thrift store. Decluttering moves slowly, too slowly for one person in my family, but I realized taking back my places doesn’t happen for this person.
I am doing this for myself.
People talk about self-care, but it’s hard to practice for me. Doing something for oneself, especially as a woman in my culture, gets accusations of selfishness from family members. (Note: Yes, I know this happens everywhere. At this moment in my life, it’s time to take stock of my Portuguese culture and my cultural standpoint. Even writing that makes the inner critic accuses me of selfishness and narcissism.)
Two TED talks and an appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday propelled this researcher into the mainstream. Type her name in the author field of a database and see the peer-reviewed articles done after hours and hours of qualitative research. It’s what drew me to Brown; she can back shit up, putting her head-and-shoulders above some authors aiming for thought-leader status. (No joke, there’s an LinkedIn Learning course on how to be a thought leader. That’s worth a post itself.)
Knowing my prepurchase qualified me for a live zoom launch made my day. I sat down with a bowl of cereal at 7 pm central time, called it breakfast for dinner, put on my headphones and listened to her talk about her latest book. It’s a gorgeous, colourful book, a little heavy to hold, but the set-up looks like an atlas as readers visit all the regions of the heart. Brown talked about pity being the ‘near enemy’ of empathy in her launch. The term ‘near enemy’ caught my attention and a chapter on envy versus jealousy. Hello, this is new. Brown has talked about comparisons, and this marks the first time, for me, both will have their own chapter. She repeated in her launch and in her podcast ‘Unlocking Us’ about how we need more granular language beyond happy, sad, angry. I have tried to go more granular as I feel ‘better,’ but I see things unnamed floating around or given broad terms like the ones listed.
In the past, we followed people pouring our hopes into them, investing the people we admire with almost god-like status. (Did I say past? I still see it now.) What I like about Brene Brown are often the same qualities possibly driving people crazy. Her Texas drawl remains; she tells stories from the facts she gathered rather than separating the two. She laughs and swears, often in the same breath. Brown practices what she preaches upfront bout the failures and the struggles. While she has built an organization, she’s honest about the work going into making an organizational culture that balances results yet practices authenticity and vulnerability.
Did I mention missing book launches? Some in-person events have returned to my local indie bookstore with vaccine checks before entering the space. Most book launches/events I attended have happened on Zoom. I like having my breakfast-as-dinner or plain dinner before my computer, but I miss dressing up. I would go and have a glass of wine, either at the event or at a nearby bar, doing a debrief if someone came with me. As we face the possibility of another variant, while vaccines now roll out for ages 5-11, whatever the map, make sure to know what true north looks like. Sometimes writers help us figure that out.