Strength in Vulnerability

While mowing the lawn I happened to notice a large greyish-brown lump at the base of one of our bird feeder poles. Moving in for a closer examination, I discovered what I think was a cicada in mid-metamorphosis.

Head thrown back in pain or ecstasy—I’m not sure which—he lay himself bare; exposing his soft underbelly as he emerged from his hard, protective shell. Vulnerable.

Many of us have an aversion to vulnerability, oftentimes equating it with weakness. In actuality, strength comes when we open up to life—when we’re vulnerable.


Had he not been willing to undergo this process—leave his bubble of safety—he wouldn’t have been able to free himself from his protective armor and reach his potential. Flight.


He made it look easy, but it’s not. It’s taken me a lifetime to shed my tough exterior and be strong in my vulnerability.

When was the last time you were vulnerable?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

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72 thoughts on “Strength in Vulnerability

  1. I am just now learning this important fact ,Great pictures illustrating your point ,made me want to shout-look at me I also am vulnerable.

    • Cinamon – I feel a bit guilty in that it seemed like such a private moment to capture on film, yet I felt it would be the perfect visual to support this post — Strength in Vulnerability.

  2. Thank you for this post, Laurie. I enjoyed learning about the cicada.
    The last time I was vulnerable?
    I wrote a silly story to mark my wedding anniversary and read it to my husband. Now over the years I’ve shared many of my stories with my husband. But this silly story came from my heart. I was worried that he wouldn’t like it–he’s my harshest critic, other than myself. But, I’m pleased to say, he liked it.
    It does take courage to be vulnerable. That’s why it’s wise to carefully choose who to that soft side to.

  3. Wow, I had a nice comment and lost it because your blog said it couldn’t post it. I think two little words that I thought were not too racey must be prohibited. I’ll remember that “next time”. Wish I had saved my comment first for faster editing and not had to rewrite the whole thing.

    I had noted that during one of my daily hikes, my gaze was once attracted to what I thought was an unusual blue and white flower. It turned out to be a cicada emerging. I was awestruck and glad I followed my curiosity.

    You asked – “When was the last time you were vulnerable?” And I answered, last night in yoga class. I quiet my mind and go into my body. I allow my yoga teacher to become the mind in me that instructs my body’s actions. She will say on occasion – “Thank you for trusting me with your body.” I would call that allowing myself to be “vulnerable”. It pays off nicely . . .

    • Deb – Oh, I’m sorry your first draft got lost. (Note: I always type my comments in TextEdit and then cut and paste them, that way if they get lost, I just grab it and slap it back in)…

      Yes! I would quite agree that trusting your yoga instructor implicitly is a great example of vulnerability. Further, I fully understand why you do it — the benefits are beyond amazing 🙂

  4. When life puts one in a position of needing to be strong, it grows more difficult to also be vulnerable, I think. When I do open that door, the rewards are worth it. Thank you for a lovely post.

  5. The answer to this Laurie is most recent post on Creative Potager that details the painting process for my large 36 x 72 inch oil on canvas seascape painting complete with video clips. I don’t believe I made it look easy though 🙂

  6. Pingback: Finding Strength in Vulnerability – The Key to the Heart | Muse In The Valley ©

  7. I love what you’ve shared today, Laurie. Imagine coming across this metamorphosis and receiving such a gift from nature. It so perfectly stands out as a visual reminder of vulnerability! This is timely for me. I was actually sharing today with a friend how difficult it is to be a sensitive daughter to two parents, both in their 80s, who have really never learned how to be comfortable with any level of vulnerability. I’m so often left “guessing” about what they need or how to lend support. And in turn, I need to learn how to allow myself to be vulnerable with others–I haven’t had the greatest family examples. LOL! This really hit home…I am going to really think about it and see how I can personalize the message. I’m appreciative.

    • Debra – I’m so glad this post resonated with you. I know from experience that elder care is difficult. When I don’t know what to do, I ask myself: “What would I want my son to do for me if I was in this particular situation?” And then I move forward 🙂

      • Thank you, Laurie. That’s a really good way for me to proceed…at some level we all want and need the same things in life when we’re either not well or afraid. If I ask myself the question about what would I want one of my children to do for me while I’m working with my parents, I can also practice articulating my own needs. ox

  8. Laurie- this is timely for me. I’ve been vulnerable for about 2 months with crazy symptoms which my doctors and I think are extreme symptoms of menopause. I haven’t felt like myself for a while and I’ve had to be very dependent on others…not my strong suit. The good news is I’ve grown immensely and figured out a lot about myself. I’ve been forced to make changes in my lifestyle. Thanks for the post!

  9. Whoa. Coolest photos EVER. I love that you captured this moment (reminds me of the butterfly hatching I witnessed a few springs ago!)… But, wow. You’re on the money: vulnerability is the key to living fully. I think writers who know how to harness that vulnerability are the ones who write the most evocative, moving fiction with the most believable characters (and that goes for non-fiction, too)!

  10. Great pictures – thank you. Great words. Hard work.
    Actually, I think I am taking a break from being so vulnerable and hoping that if this weight is the protective covering then it will be shed.

  11. Vulnerability. Laurie, I took a small step, no a leap, away from my comfort zone yesterday. …and then, you know what I did? No, No…Okay, I’ll tell you. I looked at my bright smile and happy person in the mirror and yelled, ‘YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!’ and at the same time pumping my fist. It felt good to take the leap into the unknown (vulnerable!!), and I’ve changed my old self-talk from, “I always stop or quit” to “I KICK ___!” Seriously.

    Thanks for this great post…timing is everything.

    • Terri – I know first-hand your bright smile; I’ve been a recipient on numerous occasions. Combine that with fist-pumping the air and and positive shout and you’ve got one heckofa winning combination 🙂

  12. I work at being vulnerable every day.
    I feel so overwhelmed, and so inadequate to do what needs doing, yet I keep at it, doing what little I can each day.
    Fortunately we are not encased in exoskeletons like insects, and don’t need to shed our skin to grow – our skeleton is on the inside, where it is free to grow, and our outsides are relatively soft and squishy – which is not so good from a protection perspective, but does actually help us from many other perspectives.

    It seems to me that one of the things that helps us to be as cooperative as we are, is that we are all so soft ad physically vulnerable. We damage relatively easily, so must have quite highly evolved systems of behaviour to keep us safe.

    Being vulnerable, showing our weaknesses, is a big part of maintaining social stability – at many different levels.

  13. Beautiful post, Laurie. Writing is most definitely a process by which we bare ourselves, and without that vulnerability our stories don’t have that ‘ring of truth’ that makes them resonate to readers. Great photos; it does look like a painful process, but only the cicada knows for sure! 🙂

    • Don – I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I got to witness the morphing process up close and personal. I had my iPhone(5) in my pocket so I was able to stay back a respectful bit and simply zoom the lens. Thank you for stopping by.

  14. I shared your wonderful post with my Son, who is eight going on 21 … Have you ever heard of or seen a cicada killer wasp? We were sitting out on the front porch and one of these intimidating wasps stopped on over to pay a visit, I was a little scarred vulnerable and he was as well. Seriously, these things are quite large. These “killers” are really harmless and a little cheeky – Discussing vulnerability with a kid is hard, as I passed him his new friend from my fingers to his – Bravery, courage, making daddy proud? Maybe a little bit. Surrendering to the moment and being aware, vulnerable is extremely powerful. Thank you so much for a wonderful post, as always. 🙂

  15. Ah Laurie, what a timely post! And frankly the very last blog correspondence I make here, before boarding the plan to the U.K., as we are leaving the house in about an hour. I realized how vulnerable I am just days ago when I underwent a routine kidney stone procedure (I am a veteran of those nuisances) with the blast and that infernal stent. The stent in fact has kept me awake every night since Thursday with little sleep, as it’s given me non-remitting discomfort and dull pain, even more nagging in fact than the stone pain of last week before the procedure. The doctor refused to remove the stent, feeling it would be dangerous while taking the flight as the two stationary stones left would possibly move down and cause more problems. So I may have to live with this for two weeks more during the very last time I would have ever expected or wanted something like this. I may actually have to enlist some help at a U.K. health center.

    So yes, vulnerability in this case rears it’s head uninvited! Ha!

    • Sam – Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, what incredibly poor timing for this to occur. I’m going to hope against hope that you’re have such a SPECTACULAR time that you forget all about that doggone stent!


  16. when was I vulnerable last…
    I think I am more these days…for I want to be just me with no armor
    or masks…the masks were the first to go…though I was always told I was way to “me” and blunt…but I discovered one of mask when it fell was holding in such anger that I thought I had let go of…it was an eye opener …..
    slowly the layers of armor are peeling off……thats a toughy for me…
    your words always flow into my thinking section of my spirit ….
    I like that ( well most of the time…)
    the cicadas are singing out side tonight…what a photograph !…creepy to be laid open
    he had no choice but to trust everything would be as it was suppose to be….
    Thank you Laurie…always an interesting journey of thoughts here…
    Take Care..

  17. I keep learning, too, how important it is to be “real” and vulnerable and present. Like you said, it can be a lifetime of work because our instinct is to protect ourselves from what we perceive as threats. When something arises that threatens us I do believe it’s possible to relax and shift gears and allow ourselves to open rather than close. Not necessarily easy, but with practice we can learn to open rather than to close. Great blog. (And I saw on FB that you had SO many hits on your blog. That is the coolest! I love the way your blog is blossoming.)

    • Kathy – “shift gears.” Yes, that’s precisely what it is! From chaos to calm; from false to authentic; from fear to courage…and so it goes.

      (and I’ve still not been able to pinpoint a reason for the sudden influx of views for this post, but I don’t “need” to understand. Rather, simply be grateful)…

  18. Absolutely true,but you need a lot of courage and wisdom to commit to that step.

    You are fantastic and God bless you.

  19. Vulnerability is the key to be not identified with anything – disidentification is the path to Silence. Great Post. I’m only vulnerable when with real friends, who accept me 110%, or when alone – but new encounters are also openings to probing vulnerability on either side of the river.

  20. That’s a stunning picture you captured, Laurie! I feel vulnerable and exposed every time I walk out my front door alone. In a couple of weeks I am going to leave my bubble of safety and fly by myself for the first time in my life – keeping my thoughts on the reward, a visit with my daughter. 🙂

  21. I have found that my ability to be vulnerable ebbs and flows. The easiest place I have to lay myself open is writing. Words often escape me in face to face life but I work at trying to connect the two every day. Breaking free from a life time of silence is a journey into vulnerability every day. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of continuing to work at it, not always take the easy way out.

  22. Pingback: Vulnerability | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

  23. Love this post. Great reminder. Recently I had someone make it seem as if my vulnerability was NOT a place to live in but something to go in and out of. As if it was a weakness. How does balance their vulnerability and how much should one live in it? xo

  24. Still trying to catch up with my post after 2 months travelling. I think It was Paolo Coelho who said ‘A boat is safe in the harbour, but that is not the purpose of a boat’. We must all sail away to find ourselves, our true worth and to live life to its full potential.

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