I went to my first concert when I was maybe 12 or 13…my sister and her best friend were going to the Roxy in Hollywood to see a Christian band called The Newsboys. At the time, my sister and her best friend were nothing short of obsessed with the group…for months beforehand they learned everything there was to learn about each band member, adoring them with a devotion matching that of a Beatles fan…and because I idolized my sister, I idolized the band as well. And before you stop me for divulging these possibly embarrassing details of my sister’s teen years, let me assure you that my embarrassing moment is coming.
So, my dad takes the three of us down to Hollywood, and while we wait in line to enter the theatre, The Newsboys arrive at the scene, they are there, in the flesh. As they emerged from their limo I was overcome by teen hormones and little sister enthusiasm, and let out the most humiliating, unconscious, and un-christian-like scream of delight.
I ended up having a great evening at the concert, but I can now laughingly admit that it was not my finest moment.
The reason I bring this up is because I had a similar experience of “twitterpation” recently. I was “Newsboys-at-the-Roxy” excited to attend Brené Brown‘s book signing in Austin the other day. She just came out with her third book, Daring Greatly, which discusses “how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.” (By the way, I haven’t even finished it yet, and already it’s a game changer!) Weeks ago I’d put the book signing on my calendar, vowing to myself that I would make it there. There were several reasons why attending the signing might be difficult, but I decided I would do everything within my power to be there.
My excitement grew as I realized that the roadblocks to my attendance of the event were being cleared. I started to think about what I might say to Brené (we’re on a first name basis in my mind), about how I might convey to her just how much her courage inspires me, and that I’m so thankful for her willingness to share her research. I didn’t want to just be another person who loved her work, I wanted to be memorable somehow. Should I make a poster to hold up during her talk? Create a tacky home-made t-shirt? I had to laugh at myself – it was like I was back at the Roxy, and all I could do was try to somehow prevent myself from going overboard or borderline stalker.
The night finally arrived and I got an early start – it was an hour+ drive and I hoped I would avoid rush hour traffic…the only problem was that Austin was in the middle of one of the worst rainstorms I’ve seen here. I actually considered turning back, and probably would have, had it been anything else other than the chance to hear Brené in person. Once I finally made it there, I walked around the store, grateful to be alive, but also sheepishly aware that I had arrived a few hours before her talk was to begin. None of my friends could make it that night, but part of me was grateful for that, because one of the things that I love about Brené is the type of people she attracts, and I was excited to see who I might meet there.
From her blog post, “the perfect protest“, where readers posted pictures of their own “perfection protest” signs (you can see my response here), I ended up following some pretty spectacular blog writers (Kelly Rae, Superhero Life, Joy Tanksley, and Less is More (Fun) to name a few). The type of people that read Brené’s work and support her seem to all be working towards the same goals of vulnerability, connection, compassion, and courage – those are the type of people I want to hang out with!
Despite going stag and having to brave the rain, the only real damper on the evening was the knowledge that the bookstore’s website stated that I had to purchase Daring Greatly from their store in order to get it signed. Blast! I had ordered her book weeks ago on Amazon…but I had a plan. This same bookstore also sells the artwork of Kelly Rae, which I love, and she and Brené are good friends. I tentatively asked the staff if I could get a Kelly Rae print signed, and to my relief, they graciously agreed.
I sat in the front row, sitting next to a friend of mine who happened to be there (he is an awesome faith community leader, and you can read his account of the night here), and the night was everything I hoped it would be. She is authentic and funny, and vulnerable, just like she is in her books. She’s the real deal.
When I got up to the table for her to sign the print, hands shaky and heart racing, she held the canvas to her cheek as if to send a hug to the artist. After signing it lovingly she asked me to hold it up so she could take a picture. I then thanked her for introducing me to such amazing women through her blog, for being the “captain of the dream team” of all these writers…and then she was on to the next admirer.
And just like that, because of scrambling to solve the problem of my Amazon pre-order, I had unintentionally given her a memorable moment. I kept thinking, “I’m in Brené Brown’s phone!”
It’s somewhat of a silly story, but the fact is that I have a lot of respect for her, and it was really an honor to meet her; she is one of my heros…one of the ones that I look up to the most. She is a hero to me because I know that she’s not perfect, gets scared sometimes, and she goes out there anyway. She has people that call her names and say mean things, but she continues to walk in her value of living a life of vulnerability ad courage ….and that is what Daring Greatly is all about.