Book Notes: I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown

This post was started in June 2017… It was just found today.

In Chapter 1 of I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Taking the Journey from “What People Think?” to “Am I Enough” by Brene Brown, I was brought back to a parenting moment, a few years ago… (I didn’t know how to put it into words but Brene shared it beautifully), “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.”

When my youngest started middle school I was attempting to move my three kids toward more independence.  One night, my eleven year old was very upset and said to me, “You are shaming me about brushing my teeth”.  It cut to my core.  And I ended up feeling my cheeks “red with shame”.  I took a deep breath and vowed to shift my parenting strategies toward developing kids who would become great adults through relationship, connectedness, compassion, and non-judgmental love.  It’s been an interesting journey, and I loved every minute of it.  I blogged about my attempt to use Vicki Hoefle’s guide: Duct Tape Parenting.

As I journey into “Forever Sobriety”, I’ve come across this book, by Brene Brown, and it is really helping me to understand the feelings that I had about myself after being drunk. The Next Day Shame that spiraled me down into the ugly dark place.

Brene introduces her book by introducing shame and the responses people have to the concept of shame.  Through her years of research she notes that, “We FEEL shame. We THINK self-esteem).  Shame is an experience that is becoming a destructive part of our culture.  She feels the best way to overcome shame is to tell our stories…and that takes courage.

We have a human need to belong, relate, and feel connected.  Shame takes that away. Brown introduces the idea of shame resilience.  Courage, empathy, and compassion are key components to shame resilience.  The notes that compassion is not a virtue, but a commitment.

She has organized the book into eleven chapters.  In Chapter 1, she shares stories to build definitions of not just shame, but also: guilt, humiliation, and embarassment.  In Chapter 2, she explores shame resilience and revisits the four big basics.

Chapters 3-6 will dive deeper into empathy, courage, compassion, and connection and how women with shame resilience had these four things in common.  She presents strategies and how to put them in place.

Shame is driven by fear, blame, and disconnection.  In Chapters 7-9 she explores these and other issues such as perfectionism, stereotyping, gossiping, and addiction to gain awareness of how these problems deflate resilenece to shame.

Her finals chapters present ideas for changing our culture.  What does shame resilience mean for all of us and our multiple generations.  She is hopeful and confident that everyone can develop shame resilience.  Her biggest hope is that we share our stories and connect so that we are not alone.


Isn’t it amazing that when someone else tells us a story, similar to our own we can feel a spectrum of things from physical pain to relief that we are not alone.  When I hear other blog stories, along the journey of sobriety, I am pleased that I have moved away from fresh memories of self-damaging shame and toward brighter shame resilience and connectedness.  Brene defines:

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling of experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging”.

Chapter 1 also goes onto to differentiate between embarrassment, guilt, humiliation and how they differ from shame.  Embarrassment is the least powerful of the emotions.  But as I reflect as a teen, I think what I should have shrugged off as this…I turned to shame in myself…that I was bad and imperfect.  I became uncomfortable in my own skin.  Guilt and Shame are both emotions of self-evaluation.  But guilt can be a motivator for change, where shame can lead to poor decision choices.  Humiliation is where we get publicly called out and whether or not we deserve it is the differentiator.  The research shows if we feel we deserved the humiliation, we are more likely to find ourself in a place of shame.

Brown uses a shame web to explain expectations of: who-what-how we should be according to our community.  She finishes the chapter with shame connections to fear, blame, power, and disconnection.

In Chapter 2,


June 2, 2020… I’ve been rereading my Blog Posts… connecting myself to my own “Operator’s Manual”.  This was an incomplete post…

There are no coincidences… that I found it today.. It reminds me that I am a learning, growing, evolving human…who needs to give herself compassion on her own journey.

Merry B…

I’m feeling an urge to move higher…wider….deeper than … just… b.sober

I am going to expand my “being”.  Sober is a one of many pillars that will build my foundation.  But … I want to B more.  I want to go in search of bright brilliance.  I want to radiate.


It’s a new season – summer.  A new quarter to explore and learn and grow.

My path has led to Kundalini Yoga and I’ve begun the journey with Guru Jabat and her online course on Mind Body Green:  Kundalini Yoga101.

Shout out to Dr. Sara Gottfried and her latest book:  The Brain Body Diet.  Dr G’s “sharings” led me to checking out the class on mgb.

I’m intrigued.  I’m curious.  I’m engaged with GB and her class.  She is a magnet in ways I didn’t imagine. I could be a groupie!  I’ve never had a crush on a rockstar.  If asked who in the world I would want to have “dinner” with…she would be the gal.  Calm.  Funny.  Engaging.  Glowing.

I want to glow.  I decided to become a “Goddess in Training”


So in looking for an image … I found there is an “actual” program: Warrior Goddess Training.  Maybe all we need to do is ask for what we want and “google” can lead us to it?  

LOL…off to check it out.

Summer of Self Care


I know better.

I know where “burning the wicks at both ends of the candle” leads me.

And this time, as I KNEW I had *simply* done too much in the month of May. That reflective fact didn’t help me crawl out of the bed this morning (or the last few mornings).  And because, school is on break, and all the teens were sleeping in…it just seemed easier to keep rolling over into a semi-fetal position.  I justified it as refilling my cup (along with binge watching Netflix) But, in reality all of that slothing around just exasperates the anxiety that feeds the dread to get up.  What a mess.

Thankfully, I had an appointment with my Life Coach today and had a “vent” session about how I allowed overwhelm to creep back into my life and how in the past this would have been the perfect excuse for me to “have a few cocktails”.

But instinctually (THANK THE UNIVERSE) I knew that was a terrible idea and drinking would have just numbed and subdued the signs I am feeling that are clearly adrenal fatigue and inflammation (don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to exercise, lower back pain…sadness, frustration, annoyance)… I would have put myself down a terrible rabbit hole. So I’m going to give myself a big pat on the back for seeing the signs and not repeating THAT terrible pattern. At least I am still sober.

Now it is time to “put my pieces back together again”.  Unlike Humpty Dumpty’s aides, I can do that!  Self Care must come first.  All of us in our blogging world have written about it:  Sleep Hygiene, Clean Eating, Hydration, Breathing….all of this DOES matter.

I know what I have ahead of me, but I didn’t know how to start it up again…and then I opened my email and there was a message from one of my favorite “mentors”:

Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD

She calls it RESET 360.  And her latest book lays out a framework to:

Lose Weight, End Anxiety and Depression, Remove Toxins, Find Balance…

BRAIN BODY DIET:  40 Days to a Lean, Calm, Energized, and Happy Self

Brain Body Diet: 40 Days to a Lean, Calm, Energized, and Happy Self by [Gottfried, M.D., Sara]

I have a starting point for my action plan.  It is time to be “More Than Sober”… I am reestablishing my search for “Optimal Me”.

Anyone want to join me?

Merry B Sober 101

101 Days … Uninterrupted Sobriety.  No cocktails.  No dulling drunk moments.

I am…

  1. Enjoying amazing sleep and waking up refreshed and eager to start my day.
  2. Feeling vibrant.
  3. Not interested in dulling my senses.
  4. Finding inspiration and creativity for many aspects of my life.

Love this post by Hannah Kingston…she mentions many things I am also finding beneficial to my alcohol free world.

I am ready to fly… (and literally pondering getting a pilot’s license).

Excited for new day, new month, new season….

Sex Ed

Sober Sex.

I’m not really “doing it” very well.

I have decided to get better “educated”.

I gathered some reading material.

And so it begins.



I thought I knew “quite a bit” about the topic, but I was surprised to learn a lot of (what now seems very common sense) information about my own body, my brain’s role in all of this, and why I had lost interest in sex in my mid-50s (and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with being menopausal).

One takeaway from Dr. Emily Nagoski: We all have natural accelerators and brakes.

Unfortunately for me, just as I was dabbling in the personal journey of my growing sexuality, I was in the alcohol-rich environment of a “reputable party school” of higher academic learning.

Booze became my buddy to drop inhibitions, soothe rejection, mask awkwardness, heighten the fun factor.  Mr. Buzz, aka dopamine push, made anyone with me seem amazing and exciting.

It was artificial.  Like so many other parts of life that can get tweaked by booze.  Cocktails ramped up my natural accelerator…and probably, sadly, set some brakes that I may not have naturally been disposed to …for later in my sober life.

I blamed my change in sexual desire, over these past ten years, to menopause.  I thought I was aging and/or in need of fixing.   After Sex Ed class this week, stress is more likely the extinguisher of my sexual being.  (And I had the aha moment that the past ten years has been my journey in sobriety…not just menopause.)  My Sober Self wants MORE for myself as a Sexual Goddess than I allowed my drunk young self to ever experience.

Guess what else I used alcohol to manage… yep…. stress.   So I put myself on a terrible merry go round.  Drink to relieve stress… the dopamine fed my pleasure zone…husband seems more attractive to brain…inhibitions drop…I am more open to having sex (although it is dulled by the alcohol …but at least the partner is happy to be getting some… so the relationship can bob along).  But while this little roundabout was going on…my internal stress gets heightened by the effect of alcohol…and all the stressors are still there…and the biggest extinguisher of sexual desire is…. STRESS.

Shit Show Alert. I created a Sexual Stress Mess.

I need to reintroduce myself to a sexual self – a sober sexual being.

Lots of great information and ideas in this book.  New awareness.  New self-acceptance. Things I want to model and pass down to my kids.  Adventures to explore with my “significant other of almost three decades”.

If you want to see my notes click over to the Books I’ve Read page.


Since making the discovery that I am an Island Girl, I have participated in Relationship Development Quick Start Program and started this book, finished this one and started this one.

All of this put me down a path of better understanding of Masculine and Feminine energy and the role they play in our physical health and wellbeing.  (Cause…Just saying…I don’t feel in my core that we can have strong romantic relationships if we are not flourishing as individuals).

One important aha moment:  Alcohol dulls my Feminine “Spirit”.  Now that I am in search of my true self, I don’t want to shove her back in the dark shadow by drowning her with toxins.  As I reflect, I believe I allowed society to intimidate me to squelch my own passion development, because good girls don’t think or do “that”…

Alcohol eliminated inhibitions and gave an excuse to exercise those desires…but sadly took away the sensation and attentiveness to the moment.  I robbed myself.

No more.

Our Oracle has a job: Tend or light and fire.

Your Oracle steers by the light of the moon. Your Oracle has night vision and can see in the dark. Your Oracle always has your back. Your Oracle is on “team you.” Your Oracle’s guidance will at times be great news, sweet as honey. At other times, it will burn away all that no longer serves you, and all that is no longer you. Tirelessly, she will make sure you are walking your Feminine Genius path, no matter what you need to learn or how you need to grow as you go.

Using an exercise from Feminine Genius, (Oracle Practice #3: Calling Your Oracle), a quiet mind goes within and “attempts” to connect with the inner self.  I was encouraged to find meanings in research if a name floated into my consciousness.  Like a bling…it flashed… I’ve don’t know anyone by this name.  I have never considered it for a pet or child, so I took it to mean that this was my new friend.

Meet my Oracle… Violet.


{The following may….or may not be of interest ….to anyone but merry….although if you read further you will discover that amethyst is otherwise known as the sobriety stone}

As a color…


Violet is a spectral color, near Indigo (have always loved the concept of Indigo Children). It is at the end of the visible spectrum between blue and invisible ultraviolet.  As a spectral color, it has its own wavelength  (380-450 nanometers).  It is a dominant wavelength and violet objects actually reflect violet light.

Spiritual calming of emotions, it represents future, imagination, and dreams.  It can inspire and enhance psychic abilities and spiritual enlightenment while keeping us GROUNDED.

Color of reconciliation.

Violet is one of the first/oldest colors used in cave drawings.

As a flower…


It has a long bloom from spring to frost and can bloom through winter in warmer climates. Good Luck Symbol for Women.

Love. Modesty. Virtue. Affection. Faithfulness.

Luxury. Royalty. Extravagance. Individuality.

{I’m having fun at this point in my research, seeing a connection to the relationship developments I want to build with others ….and the individual growth I want for myself}

As a crystal…


  • Stimulates and soothes the mind and emotions
  • Fire, Passion, Creativity, and Spirituality
  • Logic, temperance, and sobriety…prevent drunkenness and overindulgence.
  • Control evil thoughts
  • Increase intelligence
  • Protection of travelers and soldiers
  • Assistance to hunters
  • Couple’s stone
  • Healer
  • Natural Tranquilizer
  • Boosts production of hormones
  • Stimulates sympathetic nervous system and endocrine glands
  • Oxygenates blood
  • Treats digestive tract, heart, stomach, skin
  • Strengthens immune system

Amethyst honors Artemis, Greek Goddess of the hunt and childbirth-love of mountains and forests, and, Diana, Roman Goddess of the Moon.

Violet is valued in Chinese culture as the harmony of the universe.  It is a combination of blue and red… a balance of yin and yang.  (Night/Day, Hot/Cold, RightBrain/LeftBrain)

In Hindu and Buddhaism violet is the CROWN CHAKRA.  As the petals unfold of the crown chakra, one finds wisdom. One assimilates knowledge and integrates it.  We know.  We understand.  We manifest destiny.

Cleansing and purifying, the color of magic, ritual purifying, connecting,  mystery, and mysticism. Rebirth and illumination.

Van Gogh, an avid student of color theory, used violet/purple often in his Iris and Starry Night paintings.

Purple has become a color of choice by politicians who want to portray a combination of the two parties.  Assertive and Confident (red) +  Peace and Cooperation (blue).

Physical level Gifts of Radiant Health

  • Healthy Nervous System
  • Sharp Mind
  • Excellent Cognitive Skills
  • Healthy reflexes
  • Connected Mind Body Spirit

Mental level Gifts

  • Imagination
  • Open Minded
  • Curious
  • Deep Thinker
  • Love of Learning, Studying, Reading
  • Find Connections and Patterns

Mental level Challenges

  • Materialistic
  • Greedy
  • Dominating
  • Rigid Mindset
  • Over-Intellectualizing

Emotional Level Gifts

  • Intuitive
  • Sensitive
  • Wisdom/Mastery
  • Aware
  • Emotionally Balanced
  • Peaceful Calm
  • Joyful
  • Connected to Heaven

Emotional Level Challenges

  • Overwhelm
  • Confusion Frustration
  • Apathy
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Lack of inspiration
  • Feeling Ungrounded

The Key to Chakra Healing is the VIOLET FLAME.  It burns with all the colors of violet from deep magenta to pale lilac through violet and purple with flickers of silver, gold, deep ruby and opalescent light.


{and coming full circle to my discovery of male/female}… 

The Violet Flame of 3 merges the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine (Blue, Pink, Gold)

The Divine Feminine (Right Brain and heart) of crystalline pink brings love, nurture, compassion, adoration, and reverence for all life.

The Divine Masculine (Left Brain, throat, and heart) is a sapphire blue bringing desire, inner resolve, power, leadership over ourselves.

When these merge and balance our “Higher Centers” a gold ray of energy awakens.

Gold Flame embodies wisdom, discrimination, illumination.  Love balances power and wisdom blends with love.  The violet flame of forgiveness and transmutation activates within us.


I’m on a journey to rediscover and embrace my whole being.  Remaining sober will allow for deeper progression while using numbing substances of any type would clearly halt and probably send my spirit running to hide again.

I’m confident that it won’t take much coaxing to allow myself to shine brightly.  I’m committed to being the most courageous version of myself to allow all of it to unfold and emerge.


It’s April 1, 2019… some call it April Fools Day.

I’m grateful I am no longer fooled by the crap society has been feeding me about alcohol consumption.  “Wine is good for health”… A reread of this post reminds me that NO ALCOHOL at all… is the healthiest option.

Building off of Functioning Guzzler’s post, I recalled a pondering in our blog world regarding drinking and international economics.

Imagine Las Vegas, a town lubricated by alcohol 24/7.  Could the be fiscally sound if there was no alcohol to diminish inhibitions to gamble hard earned money away?

I cannot think of very many public events that do not have alcohol: sporting arenas, concert venues, even most movie theaters.  Golf Courses, Ski Lodges, Bowling Alleys,  and Pool Halls.  What about tours at Beer Gardens, and Vineyards.  Then there is vacation:  Cruise Ships, Resorts, Hotel Lobbies… what other jobs could those people do if they are not serving cocktails?  There is so much Fu**ing alcohol swirling around in our society.

I just spent a weekend in a new town with a large group.  As I sampled various Sparkling Waters, there was a lot of drinking.  Every meal had a drinking option.  As the weekend went on… everyone started complaining about how poorly they slept the night before…I was so happy to feel fresh and awake each day (even while nursing a cold).  But it all just reminded me of how much of an economic adjustment it would take if everyone realized that liquor is NOT a health enhancer.

What if everyone just stopped ordering alcohol?





Merry B Sober 2 Months +

  • Finishing construction on a new home.
  • Traveling and leaving some of my teens behind. (Insert Mom Guilt) 4 out of 5 weekends in March.
  • Entertaining out of town houseguests between these travel weekends.
  • Reunion of my Father’s buddies for March Madness for the first time since his death.
  • Participating in Therapy for my relationships.
  • Not eating as well and being exposed to lots of restaurant/bar opportunities to accept a drink.
  • Looking ahead to graduation celebrations and other social gatherings.

These are just a few reasons why I could have justified drinking.

I choose to live AF.

As I pack for another trip, to a place with great food and wine pairings… I am reminding myself that THIS is my journey.  This is my choice.

I do not drink.


I Do Not Drink Pinot

For a few moments I sorta forgot I wasn’t drinking anymore.  After a long day, we walked into a hotel room and the concierge left a bottle of Pinot Noir from Cambria to welcome our visit.

For a fleeting moment, I could imagine how great it was going to be to celebrate our weekend….WWWWHHHHHHAAAAAATTTTTTT… WTF… I don’t drink…..anymore.

So here I am…announcing to all of you…that I am not drinking today.

Off to dinner and a bottle of sparkling water with lemon.


(from “A Star Is Born” soundtrack)

[Bradley Cooper:]
Tell me somethin’ girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?I’m falling
In all the good times I find myself longin’ for change
And in the bad times I fear myself

[Lady Gaga:]
Tell me something boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?

I’m falling
In all the good times I find myself longing for change
And in the bad times I fear myself

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

[Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper:]
In the sha-ha-sha-ha-low
In the sha-ha-sha-la-la-la-low
In the sha-ha-sha-ha-ha-low
We’re far from the shallow now

[Lady Gaga:]

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

[Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper:]
In the sha-ha-sha-ha-low
In the sha-ha-sha-la-la-la-low
In the sha-ha-sha-ha-ha-low
We’re far from the shallow now



…Just had to have this in my journal.