When I was in the 3rd grade, we had a dance party in our classroom for the holidays.  As my all-time favorite teacher, Mrs. Feder was warm and kind and knew how to have fun with a class of 8 year olds.

But with my shyness getting the best of me, I didn’t get up to dance.

Towards the end of the party, Mrs. Feder came over to me and said that I had to dance with her during the next fast song.

Of course it never played.  The party ended and I hadn’t danced with Mrs. Feder.  I hadn’t been brave enough to just get up and do it.

It’s a theme that’s played out throughout my life, the chances I’ve had to get up and have fun not taken because of my unspoken fear of looking silly.

I don’t do vulnerability well.

The concept of vulnerability has become much-talked about recently, mainly because of the popularity of the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.  Funnily enough, I’ve started and stopped reading it a few times.

I think the whole subject makes me uncomfortable.  Take, for example, this nugget that Brown tweeted recently:

The greatest vulnerability challenge: Our capacity for wholeheartedness = our willingness to be brokenhearted. #DaringDammit

Just reading that makes me want to crawl under the covers and snuggle with my pillows.

The basic premise is that you can’t find joy—or have a truly intimate relationship, for that matter—without being open to being vulnerable.  I’m pretty talented when it comes to getting other people to open up and tell me about their feelings, but I’m starting to see with crystal clarity that I am an expert at using that as a deflection to being vulnerable myself.

It’s time to open my heart.

The regrets I’ve had over the years were because I’ve let something go unsaid or unacknowledged. I get a stomachache just thinking about that.  I wish I could have told Mrs. Feder how much it meant that by encouraging me to dance, she acknowledged that this quiet kid deserved to have fun, too.

So, for the month of August, I’m dedicating myself to being open hearted and living as gracefully as possible, with gratitude as my tool.  Each day I’ll be posting the thing I’m most grateful for – a picture, a quote, or a story.  And, throughout the month, I’m also planning to send Grace Notes to people who have touched me in some way.  Most days I’ll include a brief summary of what the person means to me.

It’s time to spread a little love.