Connection Is Why We Are Here

deeclarknz.comNeuro-biologically, we are hard-wired for connection. Connection is why we are here. Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The feeling of being connected is the ability to link or associate with something, to belong; like what holds the pedals of this flower

Ask your closest friends and family about connection and they will tell you their most excruciating stories of heartbreak and feeling excluded. That place where we see at a distance what we long to grab hold of and feeling like it is too far away or attainable.

That place that screams from the deepest part of our heart and says, “I feel alone and it doesn’t feel right”. I have been there. I have been holding the hand of someone whom I desperately desired to connect with and feel the distance is too great a span for meaningful connection to occur. I have felt that no matter what I do, there is no kindness or gentleness or acceptance. It makes my heart weep and scream and whirl.

In the midst of the screaming and feeling alone, we begin to gather shame. Shame is the fear of disconnection. It is the belief that there is something about me that if other people know or see, that thing will make me unworthy of connection and I will remain alone.

Universally, we all feel shame unless we have no capacity for human empathy. It looks like: “I’m not _____ enough.”

  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not thin enough.
  • I’m not rich enough.
  • I’m not beautiful enough.
  • I’m not successful enough.

Shame unravels connection.

In order to connect, we must find the courage to tell the story of who we are with our whole heart. We must be willing to be imperfect and fully who we are, letting go of who we think we should be to be considered worthy of connection. We need to be brave enough to see that we are different from those standing right next to us and that truth makes us beautiful and unique.

We must fully embrace vulnerability. We must allow ourselves to be seen, really seen. On my walk to the beach this morning, I met this gentleman who was walking his pet lamb (isn’t it cool that he has a pet lamb and is taking it for a walk?). I stopped to say hello and make a connection. He told me, “She does not like the lead. She is a bit stubborn.” I rubbed her ears and said, “We girls can all be a bit stubborn at times, can’t we?” As I walked away, I was flushed with a sense of shame that I had just told a complete stranger that as a woman, I have a stubborn streak. Yet, after thinking about it, I felt brave as well. I looked at an imperfection and declared it openly with vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and joy and creativity and of belonging and love. When we find that vulnerability and tenderness are important, we will surrender and kind of walk into it. When we do, we find a willingness to take risks that bring us closer to each other; let our hair down, ask for help, initiate an embrace, love without guarantees and more.

According to Brene Brown, true, meaningful connections can be made if we will follow these 4 simple steps:

  • We allow ourselves to be deeply and vulnerably seen.
  • We love with our whole heart even if there are no guarantees.
  • We practice gratitude and lean into joy during moments of terror when we wonder, “Can I love you this much?”; “Can I believe in this as passionately?”; “Can I be this fiercely brave about this?”
  • We believe that “We Are Enough”. Because when we believe that we are enough, we stop screaming and we start listening. We are kinder and gentler to ourselves. And we are kinder and gentler to those around us.

To feel vulnerability means that I am alive. That you are alive. Being vulnerable opens the door to being connected which gives fulfilment to the purpose of our lives.

We live in a vulnerable world. What makes you feel vulnerable?

Embrace your vulnerability and get connected!


The One You Will Never Lose

She is always there.

Will you accept her?

Will you love her?

Will you value her?

Will you esteem her?

If you will, there will always be someone in the room who accepts her.

She, my dear, is YOU.

(A Word A Week Challange: Chilled)

the 3 simple ways to find appreciation and significance


If you want to be seen, stand up.
If you want to be heard, speak up.
If you want to be appreciated, shut up.”
― Bill Cosby

do you long to feel significant? do want to be appreciated for the amazing person you know you can be?

yeah, me, too.

one of our strongest core needs is for acceptance; to be seen for who we really and fully are.

in our search for acceptance we begin to hide who we really are in fear that our differences, our idiosyncrasies, our quirks, our failings, and our weaknesses are too undesirable for others to see. we convince ourselves that if others really knew who we are or what we really are, they will walk away from us. we fear their reaction. then, we make a decision that fitting in is more important than finding joy by expressing who we really are. we begin to bury our true self and project an image we want others to believe.

we hide.

mired in a state of insecurity, feeling small, invisible, irrelevant, and insignificant many of us journey through life silently, withdrawn and fearful.

this is painful and leaves us dissatisfied.

i’ve spent much of my life demanding perfection of myself and falling short and feeling inadequate on a regular basis. “i’m not good enough” and “what i have to say is not important enough” can run our lives and leave us feeling empty and unappreciated. even though we understand this to be true, appreciating ourselves, accepting and loving ourselves can be easier said than done.

here are 3 simple ways to find significance and appreciation:

1. if you want to be seen, stand up. i found a trusted friend that i could allow “the real me” to stand forward to. i remember days that i felt paralyzed, wanting to run and hide. yet, i didn’t. little by little, I began to stand up and shine in my own brilliance. what we don’t realize is that people are usually rooting for us to succeed and are truly interested in the unique being we are. they want to know what makes us tick, what inspires us, what brings us joy. when we are courageous to reveal who we are to them, we enrich their lives and inspire them to be courageous as well.

2. if you want to be heard, speak up. i found that it’s not necessary to bolster and qualify everything i have to say. expressing my passion about what i am voicing, even when different from someone else’s point of view, can be met with appreciation and respect. it is important to know what i want and possess the ability to communicate it to others. beating around the bush, hem-hawing, being mousy and indecisive are frustrating. most people appreciate a person who is confident and direct. this often empowers them to have the courage to speak up for themselves.

3. if you want to be appreciated, shut up. ok, i am not contradicting myself here (nor is Bill Cosby who originated this point). validate others. listen. in the same way that you strongly desire to be heard…recognize that others do as well. our inner critic can drive us to be critical and judgemental as a means to level the playing field. if we criticize the person in front of us, we somehow feel less critical about ourselves…only, it doesn’t work that way. when we validate others, we are offering them the opportunity for acceptance, appreciation and significance and we begin to release ourselves from our own inner prison. what we sow, we reap. encouraging others to be brave enough to stand up, speak up and find appreciation speaks to our hearts that we can be braver, stronger and bolder as we endeavour to release who we really are. people appreciate us giving them the freedom to be their true self.

be free to love everything about you. your strengths and your flaws -they make you who you are. come to love who you are, then you can then be free to love others. allow the real you to stand up and shine. find courage to explore ways to express yourself and you will discover freedom.

make your journey meaningful, satisfying and significant by being really and fully you…appreciate yourself and watch others follow your example.

love is a lifeline

20140225-150101.jpgyou know “that person”, don’t you? i’m sure you do, we all have a least one. that person that is not very loveable.

seriously, i am the person who loves all the ideals of love. i love the warmth and comfort of love. let me just snuggle and nestle in -my heart will sing!

however, life is not full of ideal love.

in fact, before you finish your first cup of coffee some mornings, you might be jolted into the reality that love is not for the faint hearted and that there are unlovable qualities in people.

but here’s the thing, “good” and “bad” behavior is really more about the condition of the heart and soul. behaviors aren’t the person.

maturity is required to love the unlovable (or anyone for that matter) and see that person as loveable and redeemable.

dealing with someone who is drowning in a difficult situation or who is in desperate need of help with their own survival can be exasperating.

wreckless words and behaviors throw out after-shocks that are painful to the heart.

“that person” needs a lifeline; an anchored line of hope and help that they can depend on.

love is the lifeline.

love is the ray of light that penetrates deep.

as a lifeline, love does not always feel warm and comfortable. to “that person” accountable/tough love can feel anything but comfortable.

but, people (including “that person”) need something they can take hold of and hold onto while they journey toward a successful outcome even when the successful outcome looks impossible.

it’s far too easy to label those around us as an enemy, adversary or a “write-off” and walk away.

if our choices define who we are and what we are made of, then committing to the most difficult act of love shows strength of character.

did you know that love and forgiveness exploit weakness?

it does!

we’ve all heard the stories of how someone with a cold, hard-hearted and unloving defence had their position weakened when consistently, faithfully confronted with love.

love never fails.

it’s love that keeps us inseparable.

it’s love that removes fear.

it’s love that trusts “that person” to find their way out of desperate situations.

exhausting? frustrating? painful?

sure it is. that’s why it’s called self-sacrificing.

but it’s the very reason someone steps out in the face of danger, sits up all night with an ill child, endures unspeakable tantrums, rescues an addicted loved one or puts their life on the front lines of war.

we lay down our lives for the sake of love when others tell us we are crazy.

we know in our hearts that within “that person” in need our love…there exists something worth redemption.

redeeming love is equally difficult to accept and to offer.

i know in my own life that there have been people who have provided redeeming love to help me through my desperate life situations.

we know that because we’ve been redeemed by love that enduring with love is worth the pain.

so, don’t give up.

help “that person” understand that they should reach out, take hold and hold on!

Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love is an excellent portrayal of the struggles and victories associated with loving someone out of a difficult situation.

whether you are the one offering love or the one in need of a lifeline, may i suggest you read it as a source of encouragement?

the person committed to love in this way will need faith, loyal friends, strong moral values and courage to sacrifice himself for greater good.

are you up to the challenge?

come on, take a deep breath and get back in there…”that person” might be depending on you to throw them a lifeline.


You are beautiful


how do you feel when you look in the mirror?

what could you possibly do, put on, or change that would make you more beautiful than you are right at this moment?

Emily Dickinson said that “beauty is not caused. it is.”

your beauty …just is…it exists … in the entirety of who you are.

there will be flaws…

and differences…

but they make you uniquely YOU!

you are enough.

treat yourself with the same grace, respect, honor and kindness that you for do all things beautiful.

you’re worth it!


What Nelson Mandela Believed About Love and Hate


i love this!

it’s so true.

no one is born filled with hatred…we teach it to one another.

love is powerful.

love is healing.

love answers so many if life’s dilemmas.

as my friend, Jeannie, posted today on Facebook with this photo:

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.

You taught us much about hope, perseverance and forgiveness.

Thank you.

i quoted Jeannie because i couldn’t have said it better myself. (Thank you, Jeannie, for your thoughtful heart, encouraging spirit and inspiring life! you cheer my heart almost daily…and you should know that you make a difference in my world!)

it’s the Christmas season and we are focused on an atmosphere of love…

may we all look beyond the outer package and see the heart with eyes of love…

and honor the examples that have gone before us to show us the way (even in the face of much adversity).


(i could not find photo credit. as always, if anyone can provide information…i will be happy to provide appropriate credit).

Together is My Favorite Place

20130811-223127.jpgi spent some one on one time at work this week with my stepson.

i listened a lot.

i spoke less.

i didn’t challenge his opinions.

i heard his heart.

i appreciated his uniqueness.

i accepted him for who he is.

i received his gift.

it blessed my heart.

together is one of my favorite places in the world.


the #1 way to drive out the fear rejection

20130808-003220.jpgdoes that feel like i’ve suggested that you cut your arm off?

to be honest, sometimes it does. fear is such a paralysing force. our head says, “yes, i agree. that is an amazing principle to live by. i’m inspired. yes, i will give acceptance. I will then reap what i sow.”

Then, maybe even before you finish reading this post, “bam” someone is all rude, annoying and another inspiration comes to mind…something about letting someone have it, right in the face.

we have good intentions. we do.

it’s not about trying to be good. it’s not about ignoring poor behaviours. it’s not about trusting the other person not to ever hurt you.

why do we fear rejection and withhold acceptance?

I can hear someone saying, “because i keep getting rejected! And…(no) AND…i accept others and they just do not respond.”

i’m not talking about sowing acceptance until the next difficult person comes along…i’m talking about commitment to a value with a determined heart not to back down or compromise.

making a commitment that leaves no wiggle room for backing out.

i can feel the squirms. how? because i’m looking in my heart and i feel them there, too, sometimes. “yes, but what if…?” that’s the fear of rejection. “And if it doesn’t work…?” fear.

the law of sowing and reaping (an equivalent result for your action; what goes around comes around) works. period. it’s a law the produces every time. whether we believe it or not.

again, i can hear, “yeah, well, it hasn’t worked for me!”

look at how i’ve worded it concerning actions…an equivalent result for what you do.

if you or i decide to put acceptance and love into action:
1. it takes courage
2. it takes faith (to even attempt what
doesn’t feel natural or logical).
3. it takes action…consistent
action…not one time or only when it’s
convenient…(this is how sowing is
4. it takes a lifetime commitment (not a
season, or once in a while…the
“time” component is all the time,
every time, always, forever, never
5. it takes harvesting/reaping…even this
is an action word. when the subject
is love and acceptance…i think the
first harvest has to come from our
own heart. otherwise, we give up at
the first sign of rejection, difficulty or

the squirms, wiggles and non-commitment come because we like to have a back up plan…in case, plan A doesn’t work or doesn’t work quickly enough.

therefore, acceptance with wiggle room looks like this:

“i sow acceptance…

as long as…

you are mostly just like me. i’m most comfortable with my thoughts, belief, opinions, way of doing things, & choices. are we clear?
good then i can accept you…

…if not, we have a problem.”

most of the population will reach for the easiest options.

people who are determined not to live mediocre lives and want success, are not afraid of tough choices, risks and the hard work required to achieve their goals…in this case, “getting rid of the fear of rejection by giving acceptance”…and making the law of sowing and reaping acceptance a non-negotiable part of their emotional well-being life plan.

so, what exactly are we accepting so unconditionally? certainly not every action.

we are accepting each other’s undeniable value and their right to respect for the person -they, we, you, I-were designed to be. allowing them to walk their own path, make their own changes and grow at their own pace.

truly, the quickest way to no longer fear rejection is to give acceptance.

it’s worth pondering.


6 potential risks to maintaining acceptance


hi, everyone. i have been a busy girl over the past week or so and have missed writing. i hope you have enjoyed the encouraging quotes in the meantime.

when last i wrote, my topic was acceptance. i had planned to do a bit of fictional writing to help me demonstrate the point but like life often does…things didn’t work out that way.

i’ve been thinking about women in the Bible because, after all, the point of sharing a person’s story is so that someone might be able to grab a few helpful tips- which i believe is why we have the examples found there.

we give poor Eve a bad rap. i’ve heard people talk about wanting to give her “what for” because of all the trouble she caused us women. poor girl. lol

the truth is that often we make similar mistakes (that have not been indelibly written down in history for all generations to judge).

we are not given a lot of information and details of her life, just a few key points.20130806-221657.jpg

therefore, i like to try to put myself in her shoes based on how things sometimes go in my life…and see if i can learn from both.

1. curiosity. i’m a curious creature. many of my women friends are, too. just try to keep a secret from us. curiosity eats me up. i talked to my daughter tonight who was so proud of the birthday gift she’s bought for me. guess what…her husband would not let her tell me what it was. 😉 I could tell she was excited and although, I controlled my curiosity (I WANT TO KNOW-even though I only have to wait until tomorrow).

in the same way, just tell a woman “no” with no explanation.

our curiosity if uncontrolled can set us on dangerous paths.

2. desire. desire in itself is not wrong. in fact, it is part of our design but like anything else, if we misuse it, it’s not good. curiosity that turns into a driving desire requires attention. this is the driving force behind buying shoes that we can’t afford (anyway!), spreading gossip, and attempting to beat the odds by breaking “the rules” without regard for the consequences.

3. questioning authority. entertaining desire long enough can cause us to question authority…including our own. i’ve talked a lot about life values. allowing desire for instant gratification, things we have been told we can not have or things we have determined are not a part of our core values can drive us to ignore authority (or boundaries) irregardless of results. we become willing to compromise agreements, structure and discipline for temporary satisfaction.

this is usually the point where we reason with “someone” -not for wisdom but agreement -that maybe doing what we want to in spite of wisdom won’t be so bad. after all, how bad could it be? for Eve, surely dying was not really the result of something simple like eating a piece of fruit. what did it mean to “die” anyway? it couldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

4. lack of responsibility and respect. following compromise and subsequent consequences, we really begin to point our finger placing blame anywhere else but the rightful place…our responsibility. justifying our actions with blame seems to be logical to us for some reason.

and respect? well, “pity the fool” (did you hear my Mr T voice?) who attempts to hold us responsible for our actions.

5. pain. consequences cause us pain. we don’t like pain. rightfully so. this pain, as we’ve discussed before, can cause us to interpret many things differently than they are meant to be. we begin to feel distance, shame, and rejection.

6. fear. fear then attempts to set up residence within our hearts. at this point fear of rejection, as an example, can direct our behaviour toward rejecting before we have the opportunity to be rejected.20130806-222316.jpg

these 6 elements describe the process of events in Eve’s disastrous decision. although few of my decisions have effected generations of people, i can relate completely to similar circumstances in my life. I dare say, you can as well.

the key to maintaining acceptance of myself and then others, truly is to accept responsibility.

1. understand i am accepted. i am uniquely designed for love and by Love. maintaining a sense if acceptance begins here. then i must accept myself and know that i will make mistakes, be humble enough to say the words “i’m sorry” and move forward.

2. understand the boundaries and expectations. everything exists within appropriate, healthy boundaries. crossing the boundaries can be painful and sometimes fatal. just try to make a fish live out if water. it won’t happen. we live in societies, communities and within relationships that require boundaries, agreements, laws and structure for well-being. we may not like them but irregardless, they are necessary and for our own good.

3. i am responsible to guard my heart in regard to acceptance. not everyone is going to accept everything about me. however, i can produce acceptance in others in a few ways. i do not have to be dependant upon others accepting me. i do not have to interpret actions as rejection (even when it feels like it is). i can sow (give) acceptance and i know “what goes around comes around” or “what i sow, i reap”.

4. when necessary, accept responsibility for poor choices and the resulting consequences without blaming, distancing or rejecting. the consequences usually pass if behaviour is tempered through it. usually, there is at least a second chance offered. learning to humbly make restitution goes a long way toward restoration.

a friend of mine in the states lost her son because a drunken driver hit his car. the driver accepted responsibility & the resulting punishment. my friend and her family have embraced the driver and accepted her although the drinking and driving devastated their lives. they have committed to accept her mistake and help her through the difficulties ahead. rejection did not have to be one of the results.

we are amazing creatures. our very design makes us adventurous, curious and desire more. that’s a good thing most of the time. when we blow it -when pain comes- of our own making or not- our sense of acceptance does not have to be destroyed. we can keep it in tact and fully functioning. we can take action, guard our heart and protect our acceptance as a precious gift.

it’s good to be sharing my heart with you again. thank you for reading!