November 12, 2019

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” Criss Jami, author & musician

Are you among the people I know, like myself, who have struggled lately with uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability? Whether it’s a financial strain, loss of a loved one, be it human or pet, a new diagnosis or the return of a disease, or disc-connects with people who don’t share your beliefs? Consider these definitions from

Vulnerable (adjective)…capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; open to moral attack, criticism, temptation; open to assault; difficult to defend.

Word Origin: First recorded in 1610–20; from Late Latin vulnerābilis “injurious, wounding,” equivalent to Latin vulnerā(re) “to wound”

Gee, that sounds like fun. Sign me up!

When we feel vulnerable, sometimes the best medicine is a simple gesture of compassion. I once was good friends with a single mom who had two adorable sons, both pre-school aged. Harry, the eldest, was quite magical, very much a performer. He had a slight speech impediment that endeared me to him even more. “Harry” would come out sounding like “Hay-wee.” He loved playing Super Mario video games. Mario would sound like “Ma-wee-o.”

My name, back in my single days, was Kate McKern, which through Harry’s mouth would come out as “Kate MuCoon.”

When I got news of being laid off from my television job, I immediately called and left their mom a message. “Well, it happened,” I whimpered into the answering machine. “I lost my job. I’m feeling really vulnerable. Call me when you can.” I took myself for a walk, and when I returned the light on my answering machine was blinking, telling me I had a message. I pushed “play” and was treated to the most compassionate message of my life.

“Hello Kate MuCoon. This is Hay-wee. My mama told me that you’re feeling ver-wee sad because you got some ver-wee bad news. When I’m sad, my mama pats me on the shoulder and says, ‘there, there …there, there …” So, Kate MuCoon, THERE, THERE, THERE, THERE. Bye bye!!!”

The “there, there…” message has comforted my soul numerous times since hearing Harry’s message in 1991. I have learned to ask for a “there, there…” pat or hug. My husband has learned to listen to me when I’m ranting about something, feeling vulnerable, and, at the appropriate moment, ask, “Do you need a “there, there…?” My answer is almost always yes.

Are you feeling vulnerable today? Do you need a “there, there…” pat and hug? Or does someone you know? Try it. It’s amazing what a small dose of compassion can do, for yourself and others, and maybe, just maybe, for the greater good of all.