Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Acknowledgement: It Can Be Life-Changing


I found it fascinating to learn that the molecules that form cells seek feedback from their environment.  That only by getting feedback from markers in an environment does an atomic structure “know” or sense that a change has taken place.  The second president of the United States, John Adams, intuitively stated:

“A desire to be observed, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as one of the keenest dispositions of man.”

The outpouring of acknowledgement and support I received. before and after my one of posts became a WP Editors’ Pick and was featured on Freshly Pressed (WordPress – you rock), was incredible.  It has been life changing.  I’ve learned that I am not alone.  I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to read, to like, to follow, and to comment with your whole heart.  Again,


That experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I’m sure of it.  The acknowledgement and support were something I really needed during this challenging season of my life.  Sometimes change can plunge you into a dark abyss where you feel there’s no escape, and sometimes it can cause you to soar to heights you never dreamed possible, and when you least expect it.

Right now I am soaring.

To express gratitude to you, dear readers and friends, I’d like to share more scintillating gems of wisdom from Brené Brown.  For those of you who may not be familiar with her, I’ll share a little background.  Dr. Brown is a writer, researcher, and educator.  She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work where she has spent the past ten years studying connection – specifically authenticity, belonging, and shame, and the effect these powerful emotions have on the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships.

Time to examine the gems courtesy of Good Reads.


“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success.  In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

lightbulb_a“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”  lightbulb_a

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”

“Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling.”

heart brain

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart.  When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

“Here’s what is truly at the heart of wholeheartedness:
Worthy now, not if, not when, we’re worthy of love and belonging now.  Right this minute.  As is.”

“One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on “going it alone.” Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone.  Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves.  It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.”  The truth is that we are both.”

“Even to me the issue of “stay small, sweet, quiet, and modest” sounds like an outdated problem, but the truth is that women still run into those demands whenever we find and use our voices.”

“Compassion is not a virtue — it is a commitment.  It’s not something we have or don’t have — it’s something we choose to practice.”


Share your favorite scintillating gems of wisdom by anyone, yourself included.  Or share an acknowledgement or light bulb moment that changed you, and enhanced your outlook on life as well as your well-being.  Vulnerability welcomed.

Graphics courtesy of

Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

35 thoughts on “Acknowledgement: It Can Be Life-Changing

  1. Congratulations, Victoria, on being freshly pressed!!


  2. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing!
    One of my favorite Brene-isms is a mantra I keep on my phone and truly practice (it’s why I started my blog!)
    “If we own the story, then we can write the ending”
    I read this over and over in a quest to understand what it meant. It wasn’t until I started putting pen to paper that I truly started to understand and live it. After 46 years of hiding behind a house of cards made of false and unreachable perfection that I finally let myself “show up and be seen.”
    I would love to feature your words on my page at some point. Would you be okay with that?


    • “If we own the story, then we can write the ending”

      Michelle, reading that gave me goosebumps, and so did your followup comment. Thank you so much for sharing so personally. Your comment reminded me of a time when I used to sing solo in church — ‘special music’ is what they called it. After special music, the sermon would begin. The preacher thought he was paying me a compliment when he told the congregation “this is how you come to church and not show up.” Meaning that people shouldn’t see ‘me’, but God in me.

      For years I lost my identity and thought it was necessary to ‘show up but not be seen’. Religious indoctrination wasn’t the only influence on my psyche, but it did play a big part in my identity crisis and the unrealistic strive for perfection — striving to become like someone else rather than being authentically ‘me’. If we look around, we can really see this message throughout our culture, especially in the media and fashion -‘beauty’ industry.

      “I would love to feature your words on my page at some point. Would you be okay with that?”

      Gosh Michelle, it would be an honor, and I promise to be on my best behavior. :mrgreen:


      • Oh Victoria! You are awesome!
        I’m laughing out loud at “being on your best behavior.” As you’ll see from my next post (probably today) that good behavior is not a prerequisite!
        I also got goosebumps when I read about your preacher’s comments and “not being seen.” So many years that was the case for me, too….and I can’t sing a single note!
        Thank you so much for your words of wisdom–timing was perfect (yes, perfect!)…I’ve been scared to post what I’ve been working on because it reveals a very imperfect side of me–again, you’ve inspired me to just “show up.”
        Thank you, friend!!


        • Michelle, I have a huge smile on my face right now. Huge! I am really looking forward to your post, and I admire your courage to share what you perceive as an imperfection. I want to share an epiphany I had when, not long ago, I was living within 50 feet of a river lined by majestic trees hugging the water’s edge. I was smack dab in the middle of the city, but you’d never know it by the incredible view I had which obscured city life and muffled city noise. I’d sit out on the veranda enjoying my first cup of coffee most mornings, weather permitting. I’d admire the wildlife, and the beauty of the river as it glistened in the sun.

          Then one morning I went out and noticed that a large tree had fallen in the river, and was lodged in one spot. It looked unappealing to me and I thought it ‘ruined’ my breathtaking view. After pouting about it for a while, it suddenly struck me that there was beauty in this. The tree would provide nutrients in the water as it decayed. It would provide shelter for some fowl and fish. I watched turtles crawl up on the downed tree and take in warmth from the rays of sunlight. I was humbled. Your post, I believe, will do the same. Even though you may perceive it as imperfection — others will most likely be nourished and warmed.

          I’m so happy our paths have cross, my friend. ღ


  3. beautiful vi. I like to address u as “vi” coz V stands for victory. shall return to respond fully.


    • Hey Sarala, I don’t mind at all that you call me “vi”. You’re right, V stands for victory, and my name, Victoria, means “victorious spirit”. Yes, I am victorious. It took me a while, though, lol.

      I look forward to your return, Ms. “Staight and Honest”. 😉

      Thank you for being so thoughtful. xox


  4. Soaring is good. 🙂

    And a little piece of wisdom, from my favorite band: “Laughter is eternity if the joy is real.” (Get On Your Boots, U2)


    • *waves to Vance*

      “Laughter is eternity if the joy is real.”

      Wow! Not to sound cliche, but that’s profoundly simple, yet simply profound. I love to laugh, but I do remember a time in my life (a good portion of my life) when my laughter was a facade that hid my sadness. U2 rocks (pun not intended), and so do you.


  5. Dr. Brown certainly has a way with words. As do you, my friend.
    I think my favorite gem from her is, “Numb the dark and you numb the light.”

    Your recent posts bring to mind one of my all-time favorite quotes:
    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.”
    -Helen Keller


    • “Numb the dark and you numb the light.”

      Those are powerfully profound words.

      “Security is mostly a superstition”

      I have always adored Helen Keller — and like you, she is one of my humanitarian heroes. I am older than you, and it took me a while to accept this profound truth, though the evidence was all around me. It makes me realize how much we truly need one another for survival, and the importance of not deluding ourselves with superstition. Superstitious belief gives away our dignity, demeaning our capacity to look out for each other, and not giving credit where credit is due. Dr. Carl Sagan, another humanitarian hero of mine, eloquently said:

      “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.



  6. You are certainly welcome, my dear, but I think most all who have written to you (including myself!) would like to thank you! Your thoughts are warm, astute and encouraging. I am so very happy for you! As for a saying…I’ve been thinking about this one lately – one of my favorite lines from the show MASH, said by Dr. Sidney Freedman – “Take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”


  7. Victoria, congratulations and great post.


    • *Waves to my favorite buddy from Kenya*

      Mak, thank you for taking the time to congratulate me again, and for reading my blogs. I’ve really enjoyed your blog, our long sessions of discourse this past month — ‘and’ your patience *wink* when I rambled on and on posting and quoting research. You have such a good heart and much awareness.


  8. Wonderful post, Victoria, and some great quotes from Dr. Brown, thank you!

    Two of my favorites are:

    “You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant


    If you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. ~ Anne Lamott


    • The Anne Lamott one is one of my all time faves too. She’s one of my heroes 🙂


    • Thank you Christina. Congratulations on your recent run. You are such an inspiration, my friend.

      Those quotes will be saved in my Favorite Quotes file, for sure. There’s so much wisdom in those words, and are representative of why I will not give up on hope for humanity. Healing comes through understanding, and forgiveness and compassion are by-products of understanding. All of those things that are mentioned — using food, drugs, sex, cigarettes, and alcohol, etc., as bandages to cover the pain, are examples of ways people find necessary dopamine and serotonin.

      Studies show that people who have experienced trauma during their childhood tend to have fewer neurotransmitter receptors in specific regions of the brain due to the traumas and/or acute stress happening during critical stages of brain development. Knowing this allows for finding other ways to provide those necessary neurotransmitters without bringing harm to ourselves and others.

      Sending love and smiles your way.


      • I had no idea about that link with children and trauma–hmmmmm. Thank you for that, I’ll be researching further.

        Sent from my iPhone



      • I hadn’t heard that about trauma link in children either, I’m assuming emotional trauma enough to produce PTSD during childhood could cause fewer neurotransmitters to develop?


        • Jennie, I will be writing a post on my NRP blog related to adverse childhood experiences and brain development. There was an extensive CDC study, by the same name, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) — — which included over 17,000 people. I will highlight many things that were discovered in that study, and what I learned from listening to a 2 hour lecture by Dr. Robert Anda, a co-Principal investigator of the study. This short video below is not the lecture I mentioned but a short excerpt of some of the causes and findings. If you’re interested in watching/listening to the 2 hour lecture, let me know and I pass on the link.

          These links below are not from the study, but thought I’d share them with you here, as it will take a while to put my ducks in a row with the post. There’s so much data I’ve collected and need to condense so that it’s reader friendly and not overwhelming. An excerpt from a study abstract:

          “Stress promotes major changes in dopamine receptor densities within the mesoaccumbens and nigrostriatal systems.

          This study investigated the effects of stress on brain dopamine receptor densities in two inbred strains of mice. […stress significantly increased D2-like receptor density in the nucleus accumbens whilst reducing it in the substantia nigra.”



          Child Maltreatment and Brain Development


          • I’m sorry it took me a bit to get back to you! I’m definitely interested in listening to the two hour lecture, you can email me the link if you’d like ( I bookmarked all the links you’ve included so I can go through them, thank you! 🙂


            • Jennie, again, please accept my apologies for taking so long to get this lecture to you. I’m posting it here rather than sending it to you via email, just in case someone else wants to watch it. IMO, and to save you some time, no need to watch/listen to the other two speakers. Dr. Anda (first speaker) is the one with the most important info.




  9. Wonderful stuff, Victoria. I am going to now check out Dr. Brown’s work. It is compelling and it strikes a chord with me on many levels, as does your own writing. I love the quote about compassion being a committment. As I move through in this new life of mine, I find myself leaning more and more in that direction, even against my (old) will. It’s a strange phenomenon for me. But I am open to it and invite it and yes, yes…it does feel like something that needs to be fostered and tended to. And the rewards for that caretaking is greater than I could have imagined. Freedom, release, knowing that I am doing the right thing. Going against the grain…feeling compassion for a bully, feeling compassion for an aggressor, feeling compassion for those who have harmed…these are the places I find myself going in an organic way, and it’s quite trippy, to be honest. It might be residue from living in a different way, or the sparks from spirit grinding against practice. I don’t know. But it’s interesting to observe.

    As for the FP – again, congrats. I have noticed those who got FP’d have gone on to acknowledge and thank WP. I even read that it was de rigeur to do so. Well, of course now I feel horrible because I didn’t do that when that happened to me, and now it feels too late…ha ha. I will probably have to make an amend for this at some point. Oh awkwardness, how I offend thee!

    Thanks for this…loved it.

    Love and light,


    • YES, you are doing the right thing, Paul, and many people will not understand this (going against the grain), but I certainly do. Your post was awesome and exemplifies an evolved and aware mind. I have come to see the human condition in the same way you have, which is why I diligently work towards staying abreast of the research, and helping to bring awareness about the connection between human behavior and the environment. Because of our lack of knowledge throughout human history, which served to promote superstition, judgement and a lack of empathy, humans have been doing the very things that promote conditions that harm on an individual basis and collectively.

      Many have labeled these problems as ‘sins’ caused by ‘evil’, rather that a result of the conditions in our environment (including culture) which affects neuroplasticity, gene expression, hormones, neurotransmitters, mental health, and ultimately behavior. The human brain is both complex and fragile, and we are completely intertwined with our environment in all that that entails. 50 years ago, we had an excuse in lacking understanding about human behavior. We lacked the technology. Everything was guess work. Humans’ propensity for superstition leads to judgement. The lack of knowledge plus the archaic methodologies used to deal with these issues have only served to exacerbated the human condition. Today, we have no excuses. We have the knowledge available at our fingertips. We have the resources and the tools. This information brings understanding and understanding leads to forgiveness and healing. Your post reminded me of this video.

      Thank you for your words of wisdom and for your awesomeness. I have grown quite fond of you, Paul. You are a beautiful and compassionate soul, and I’m honored to be your friend.


  10. Congratulations (again) on being Freshly Pressed — well deserved!

    Thank you for introducing Brene Brown to me. I’m ‘stealing’ some of these quotes, especially on vulnerability! They are more than gems; WOW!

    My shared “wisdom”? As you know, I am very fond of the symbolism with a birdcage…and a permanently open door. With that image I add this:

    Love me without fear.
    Trust me without questioning.
    Need me without demanding.
    Want me without restricting.
    Accept me without change.
    Desire me without inhibitions.
    For a love so free…
    Is a love without end.


    • And thank you, again, for your thoughtfulness, and for taking the time to comment even when you’ve been in the midst of a major move, getting settled in, and new jobs to boot. You’re right — these are more than gems, they are precious gems. 😉 It has been an honor to share Dr. Brown’s research and her words of wisdom, especially because they have profoundly touched so many lives.

      I loved your words of wisdom, D. The “Trust me without questioning” is iffy on my end. Guess it depends on the interpretation. Trusting without questioning (i.e. religious beliefs) got me into a heap of trouble (suffering) throughout my own life. lol

      Professor, your words are indeed precious gems. Thank you for sharing them here. While we are on the subject of precious gems I’d like to mention that your friendship has enriched my life. All my best to you in your new adventure. I’m excited for you.



  11. Hi Victoria! Your Vulnerability post was amazing, that internal dialogue – “who do you think you are” and “never good enough” I was like “Oh, yeah, I know that!” The whole post made a difference in how I looked at some things. It also answered the question I’d been banging my head against the wall for a few years trying to answer, why I hadn’t been able to write my poetry for so long. I didn’t even THINK of the fact that I closed myself off, how could I write poetry if I refused to allow vulnerability to be seen? And then I understood why I was able to start writing it again this year, I started opening back up. Your post helped me see that and honestly it made a huge difference in that last bit that was still keeping me wrapped up. Thank you.


    • Jennie, I was so touched by your post. I feel honored to have been instrumental, at least in part, in helping you unearth more precious gems that are within you. You’re so incredibly talented and I’m looking forward to the wonderment I will experience as you share those priceless gems with us. ღ


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