Fierce Inspiration: Lessons from ‘Braving the Wilderness’

Fierce Inspiration: Lessons from ‘Braving the Wilderness’

By Brene Brown

We aspire to be passionate, dynamic, and capable women.  We also know that in order to fulfill our potential, we need to connect with others and help each other grow in confidence and skill.  In her latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown challenges our thinking about what it means to be connected in the world. Brown, a University of Houston research professor, suggests that in order to be our best and most authentic selves, we need to stop trying to fit in and let ourselves feel more vulnerable and uncomfortable. We need to show up as our true selves and engage with others in ways that will build true belonging.

This is a far cry from the stereotypical networking event where we awkwardly attempt to meet as many people as we can and make small talk while balancing a canapé and a cocktail.  It’s also far removed from the idealized social media world where selfies show a beautiful, perfected, idealized version of our selves.
Brown’s message is about reconciling our unique human nature with our interactions in the world.  She uses the term “wild- hearted” to describe those who brave criticism, fear and hurt. They stand alone and with others. They are tough and tender, excited yet scared. The wild-hearted person sees the struggles and injustices in the world, works to better them and is still able to find joy in life.

In her book, Brown guides us to be more wild-hearted.  Here are 4 lessons from Braving the Wilderness.


Write yourself a permission slip.

It seems silly, but you might need to write yourself a permission slip. “Permission to be excited, goofy, and have fun.”  The inner work of becoming your true self is often lonely and unfamiliar, yet we don’t have to be so serious. Sometimes you will feel uncertain, and facing our biggest fears can be difficult and even frightening. You don’t have to do this work from a dark, dreary place. Being authentic can be joyful.

We’re already connected to others through our spirit of humanity and love.

There is much to divide us in this world such as gender, race, and politics.  If we can look past those things, we are reminded that we are alike in crucial and transformative ways.  We all want to be part of something meaningful and something that is bigger than we are. We need to come back to our common humanity and find trust and respect. If we are connected at the spirit, we are free to be ourselves and engage at a more meaningful level.

We need to engage with others in authentic ways.

Brown encourages us to get to know and understand people we dislike or distrust, or those who challenge our ideals.  She reminds us that “it is not easy to hate people close up.” Be willing to question them. “Tell me more.” “Help me understand why this is so important to you.” “Help me understand why you don’t agree with this idea.”  We can be civil, speak the truth, and listen to each other. In this way, we can build real understanding and find ways to come together.

Show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can bear witness to the inextricable human connection.

Attend funerals.  Help others during times of disaster. Connect with people who are struggling or hurting.  These are all times of human connection.  These things matter. But it doesn’t stop there.  Be a part of a crowd. Attend concerts or athletic events where people of all kinds come together and share in music or traditions. Sing the school song and feel the sense that you are part of a bigger community and that you are all bonded. Engaging with others in times of pain and join, especially engaging with strangers, Brown says, is like “lightening in a bottle.  We have to catch enough glimpses of people connecting to one another and having fun together that we believe it’s true and possible for all of us.” Collective joy and sadness transcends what divides us.

This is a book well worth reading.  It will stretch your thinking and help you come into yourself more fully. It will also help you to understand how we fall apart as a group or as a society and what we need to bring ourselves back to meaningful connection and the transformation that can happen when we work together in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves.


Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is an educator,  freelance writer and speaker. She is redesigning her life to live more simply, happily and well, and working to help others do the same.  She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin.

8 Books That Will Change Your Life

The beginning of every year is a natural time to start thinking about the hopes and dreams you have for your future.  This is not about resolutions, which are often tossed out before the last of the holiday cookies, but planning and achieving goals that will help you move forward in the direction of your dreams.  One of the best ways I’ve found to be inspired and informed is through books. Here is my round-up of the most thoughtful, helpful, motivational and inspiring books I’ve read or reread recently.  If you are or want to be a high achiever, these books can help set you on a positive path forward.



Playing Big - Tara Mohr


This book is a great guide for women, who often hide their brilliance behind self-doubt, perfectionism, fear, and other habits that hold them back. Mohr empowers women to use their inner wisdom and be confident in their knowledge and experience. If you want to live a larger, more confident life and move forward with your aspirations, this book will be your mentor.  Mohr will encourage you to own your brilliance and let your life shine.


Essentialism - Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

If you are caught in the trap of working harder and harder, trying to get everything done and craving balance in your world, this book will speak to you. McKeown makes a case for getting off the hamster wheel and filtering life’s options to select only the best.  Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, and choose only the best and most important things, you can make your highest contribution towards things that really matter. McKeon reminds us that if we don’t prioritize our lives someone else will. Changing our frame of reference towards only the essential will guide us to a life of impact and fulfillment.


The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins

We all want to know that our time on earth means something. We want to enjoy our lives, feel peaceful about our actions and choices and contribute something of value to the world.  Goins will help you identify and understand your calling so you can avoid going through the motions- working to earn a paycheck and living for the day we can retire.  He contends that your life, when well-lived becomes your calling, and ultimately, your magnum opus.


Coach Yourself to Success, Revised and Updated Edition: 101 Tips from a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals at Work and in Life by Talane Miedaner

If you have always wanted to have a personal life coach, but couldn’t afford to spend the money, here is your answer. Miedaner offers many suggestions for ways to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.  Some suggestions are common sense (Stop Shuffling and Start Organizing, Pay Off Your Debts) but others are less obvious and more empowering (Design Your Ideal Life, Raise Your Standards).  If you are just starting down the path to self-improvement, this is a good choice.


One Big Thing - Phil Cooke

One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Phil Cooke

What are you doing well, and not so well? What excites you and what doesn’t? What reflects your genius, calling, and expertise and what doesn’t? What makes you different? The answer to these questions is the key to your success.  If you learn to identify and focus your one big thing, you can standout, communicate your ideas and find success.  This is a short, easy to read book with many inspirational quotes and stories.


The Best Year of Your Life by Debbie Ford

This is a classic self-help book and one of my favorites. Imagine yourself a year from now, feeling that you are on top of your game. What would that look like? What qualities would you need to develop in order to achieve this vision? Ford focuses on behaviors, habits and choices that help you to become the person you hope to be.  I love Ford’s question, ” At the end of the day our life is in our hands. What will you do with yours?”


Living Your Best Life


Living Your Best Life by Laura Berman Fortgang

This is an older book, but it is still wise and relevant today. Berman helps you discover what you really want in life and then offers practical, exercises, check-lists, and concrete actions to help you give yourself what you want. Fortgang operates from the premise that deep down, you already know what needs to change in your life, this book helps you to do the work.


Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J.  Palmer

Parker Palmer is among the wisest people I have ever met. This is not a loud or flashy book filled with actionable to-do items for how to lead a better life. Instead, it is a quiet, reflective conversation as Palmer shares his own stories as examples of how examining your life can to lead you to follow your natural talents and limitations.  If you are willing to do some soul-searching, Palmer can guide you to find meaning and understand your own life.

I hope you find this list useful and helpful in inspiring you to meet your goals this year.

What other books have you found to be helpful as you create your ideal life? I would love to hear about them in the comments.



Michele Meier Vosberg, She is Fierce! Contributor

Michele Meier Vosberg

Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is an educator, freelance writer and speaker. She is redesigning her life to live more simply, happily and well, and working to help others do the same. She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin and blogs at

Find Michele on Twitter @liferedesign101 |  Facebook | Instagram 

5 Ways to Find More Energy

5 Ways to Find More Energy


As summer turns to fall, many of us move from the slower days of vacation to renewed interest in productivity.  A few weeks ago,  I was content to laze around with a cool drink and a hat to ward off the hot sun. Now I am energized, inspired by potential, and looking forward to the days ahead.  I am optimistically planning projects for the future. Where is all this energy coming from?

I started thinking about energy – how do we get it? My energy bucket is filled. Here are the ways I have refueled:


1. Spend time outdoors


I had a friend who said the sun was like a personal battery charger. When he was drained he went out and got some sun. As children, we played outside all day long and we had plenty of energy.  Like many of us, in my adult life, I spend far more time indoors than outdoors. An hour outside with my laptop on the patio or pulling a few weeds does seem to give me energy.  An evening walk to enjoy the fresh, crisp air can fuel me for days.


2. Accomplish a few little things


We all have lists of small projects that we need to accomplish. Just looking at my work and home To- Do lists drained my energy. One Saturday, I decided to wipe as many things off my home list as possible. I touched up paint, filled some nail holes in a wall, and cleared dead flowers out of vases. I paid bills, filled out some insurance papers and ran some errands. Many of the tasks didn’t take nearly as much time as I thought they would. I felt accomplished and energized to have so many little jobs done.


3. Do something big you have been putting off


When we moved, we downsized drastically. I got rid of a lot of my oversized furniture but we kept the sofa. It was fairly new and really expensive. It was also huge and designed for a great room, not the little living room in our new cottage. I finally bought a new couch- a much smaller one in a lively apple green color.  Having accomplished the most daunting task first, I found myself excited to finish other projects. I bought curtains, and started looking for a couple of smaller chairs. The transformation is energizing.


4. Clear out some space


Clutter is an energy drainer.  I cleared my desk of the endless piles of sticky notes. I deleted old items in my In-box.  I took a bag of clothes to a thrift shop. I gathered up some books we had recently finished and took them to our Little Free Library. Each of these tasks took only a few minutes, but it inspired me to tackle even more space clearing projects. Space feels good and empty space leaves room for energy.


5. Plan something fun


This one may seem obvious, put planning something fun is good for the soul- and your energy level. Make it something big like a vacation or something small like a dinner out with friends. It isn’t the size of the event, but the anticipation that gives you energy. As the old proverb reminds us, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. I have planned several small events in the next month, and just thinking about them makes me happy.

Energy is sometimes elusive, but it is filled with great potential. Journalist Nellie Bly once said, “Energy, rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.”  No wonder we crave energy, it makes us happy, productive and optimistic. It is worth seeking and finding.

What about you? What do you to refuel your energy bucket?


Michele Meier Vosberg, She is Fierce! Contributor

Michele Meier Vosberg

Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is an educator,  freelance writer and speaker. She is redesigning her life to live more simply, happily and well, and working to help others do the same.  She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin.

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