Column: Cures for a Killer Hangover

“Have you ever read Brene Brown?” Marilyn asked, when I herded my kid into the library one day after gymnastics.



“I have had an email drafted to you for weeks and I haven’t had the courage to send it.”

And so, we do what people do in such moments (while trying to keep the toddler from pulling the stacks over) – we channel Brene, TED celebrity and Patron Saint of Wholehearted Living.

I’ve had a few “I’m never drinking again” mornings, but the worst kind of hangover has nothing to do with alcohol and leaves an entirely different taste in your mouth than dead-furry-thing.

It’s a vulnerability hangover. And it comes in a great tidal wave when you realize that you just let your secret heart show itself.

If you’re smart, like Marilyn, you catch yourself before you hit send, and you confront the person who almost tricked you into revealing yourself.

(If you’re a fool on constant deadline like I am, you hit send and then spend the hours after you glimpse your face in the paper oscillating between remorse (“I’m never writing something so personal again”), denial (“What newspaper? Who reads these days anyway?”) and panic about the next deadline.)

The #50DayWellnessChallenge was an invitation made by the Winds of Change, to help mark a 50 day countdown to the Wellness Gathering, and invite people to delve into what wellness means for them.

With the Gathering complete, the madness of the holiday season ahead, and the prospect of New Year’s resolutions around the corner, we wanted to hear how it went. Learnings? Take-aways? Regrets? I sent out a call. (Basically, I wanted to know the secrets of the successful, having pretty much flunked my 50 Day commitment.)

Dawn Johnson, earth mentor, frequent contributor to the Wellness Almanac and Stewardship Pemberton driving force, was one of the first to jump on the Challenge. She submitted an impassioned and inspiring report on her 50 days, but just 12 hours later, in the cold shock of morning, tried to take it back. “I just re-read this and it sounds arrogant and braggy.”

Not a quality you’re likely to associate with a person so grounded and generous. I recognized the symptoms of a vulnerability hangover and replied: “No take-backs.”

Brene Brown talks about being wholehearted in the way we approach life – she calls on people to make a habit of courage. And in Brene’s realm, an act of storytelling is both an act of courage and the best cure for a vulnerability hangover.

Brene Brown

“In one of it’s earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart,’” she writes in The Gifts of Imperfection. “Over time, this definition has changed and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences – good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”

Check out some of the #50DayWellnessChallenge stories in over the coming weeks… You’ll meet a librarian who wasn’t actually a great reader until she got a part-time job with a no-limits borrowing allowance, a massage therapist who realized that self-care is always the last thing on her to-do list, a herbalist whose friends are too talented in the kitchen for her no sugar kick to stick, new mamas who aren’t as physically active as they were once were but can’t bring themselves to count running around after toddlers as activity.

But here’s what yoga instructor, Laura Zgud, discovered, “Wellness has a natural compounding effect on you. The more you do the more you want to do. The easier healthier choices come to you and the easier it is to see the healthier options that are out there.”

And I’m thinking the same probably applies to vulnerability. The more you put it out there, the easier it gets? Here’s hoping.

Courage, says the scientist, has a ripple effect. Brene Brown promises, “Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little braver.


If you a. crush on Brene Brown, b. think a #50DayWellnessChallenge might be worth reading about, or c. have ever made it to the end of this column in the Question, please take a minute to visit and help The Winds of Change gauge how a community-powered Wellness Almanac can be even better in 2015.

2 thoughts on “Column: Cures for a Killer Hangover

  1. cindyfilipenko says:

    Brené Brown’s work around vulnerability is so awesome and accessible. Great column, Lisa, I think we all need to share the word about the truly inspirational writers, speakers and thinkers who can genuinely change minds.

  2. dawnjohnson2013 says:

    Good morning Lisa!

    Love the angle you took on this – and I am a huge fan of Brene Brown! I have her parenting manifesto sort of ingrained in my head..Thanks for putting my vulnerability into perspective!! XOXOXO D

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