Dinner Date

Have you ever been asked that interview question, “Who would you invite to a dinner party?” This thought popped into my head the other night and I immediately knew my guest list.

Brene Brown, Molly Barker, and Ellen Degeneres

If you know me, then this list does not shock you. If you don’t, well here’s why:

GRATITUDE.

It is a word that sings in my spirit. It connects me to others and helps guide me through these darker days in life. These women exude gratitude and vulnerability. Hell, Brene made a career out of vulnerability and I have certainly taken a page out of her book – literally.

These women shine light on shame and give back to the world around them. They remind us all that it is okay to be who we are. It is okay to be scared, to be sad, to be JOYFUL. AND that you can be all of these things at the same time. One emotion does not cancel out the other.

Maybe this post sounds a bit too ‘chirpy’. My daughter has cancer and I’m writing about gratitude. It sounds like I’m turning into one of those Positive Patty types that I can’t stand. I promise I’m not.

For me, gratitude isn’t about shitting rainbows. Being positive and grateful doesn’t mean oozing fake smiles and laughs. It is about finding sunshine in the beautiful gray. Life is not black nor white. It is not good nor bad. There is bad in the good and good in the bad – and it’s our job to walk through it and accept that balance.

For nearly fifteen years, I spent every ounce of energy pretending life was all rainbows. I was petrified to be vulnerable or to be myself. Truth was, I did not know myself.

As I took those brave steps through the doors of the Carolina House and into recovery, I began to shed that mask. I discovered not only who I was, but what it felt like to have real emotions and how to take care of myself during those times.

On March 2, 2011, I drove out of the Carolina House knowing two things: 1. I was going to make recovery my job and start a family and 2. I was going to pay it forward. I had no idea why I felt so compelled to pay it forward and I certainly did not know how, but I knew I was going to follow my gut for the first time in my life and it told me that I was destined to help others. It was all I wanted. It was what I craved. Helping others was going to ultimately lead me to my life’s mission and passion.

I tucked that idea away and six months after that day I met Hydie Wahlborg, executive director of Girls on the Run South Louisiana. Hydie’s real and authentic spirit led me to ‘meet’ Molly Barker. We haven’t met in person, but she knows me and I know her. We are kindred spirits who text and connect regularly.

It was actually because of Molly, I had the guts to share my blog. Just a few days before I allowed my friend to share the blog, Molly posted about her sobriety anniversary date. What? Molly Barker? Wow. She was throwing it all out there – the good, the bad, the real. And it was the real that made me love her so much more.

Molly Barker is real.

I began this blog anonymously and did not share it for a year. When I finally allowed Anne to share this blog, Brene Brown was not on my bookshelf. Vulnerability was not in my everyday language like it is today. But the more I shared my writing and thoughts, the more vulnerable I felt. I became a vulnerability addict without even knowing it.

A few months later, I stumbled across a Texan named Brene Brown. Her Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability stopped me dead in my tracks. What? “Shame metastasizes in the darkness.” Why yes it does, Brene. Yes it does. My entire life, the eating disorder secret, was just growing in the dark. The minute I shed light on it. Boom. The shame and embarrassment obliterated.

Brene Brown is vulnerable.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows Ellen Degeneres. And I’m pretty sure a million people want to meet her/already feel like she is their best friend. So why do I want her at my dinner party? Other than the obvious entertainment factor, she absolutely oozes life, love and acceptance.

I have always loved Ellen. Who doesn’t? But it wasn’t until I was on bedrest in the hospital that I really fell in love. Daytime TV sucks and when you can’t get out of bed and it hurts your head to read, you are forced to make the brutal decision between soap operas (hell to the no) or yappy talk shows.

My day would creep by until four o’clock. ELLEN! She made me laugh, cry and love people from all walks of life. While she is known to give away some large checks and prizes to those who deserve it most, her message of acceptance is what really rings throughout. Not only in accepting others, but in accepting ourselves.

Our media and society tell us we should look this way, talk that way and weigh this much. Ellen says we should be who we are and love ourselves regardless of what everyone else says. Her closing line at the end of every show says it all, “Be kind to one another.”

Kindness. Acceptance. Couldn’t we all practice it a bit more?

Ellen Degeneres is KIND.

So that would be my dinner party: real, vulnerable, accepting. A table filled with love and gratitude for all things authentic.

Now, if I can only figure out what the menu would be. Oh the possibilities…

  

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