This poem was inspired by Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I was initially scared to post a poem like this because it showcases something that is culturally perceived as uncomfortable and avoidable. So, all the more reason to post. I want to lean into my vulnberability and have the courage to share my creative voice over …. and over again. 


In my kitchen

this morning

I found myself

weighing out

and measuring,


and flipping and stirring






(All thanks


Brene Brown

and my sweet

inquisitive heart.)


I began to knead,

my hands

and knuckles

working the dough

in question,

a cloud

of powdered sugar


of salt.


In my heart’s recipe

I find

Guilt noted in italics:

“I did something bad.”


What of shame?


There, in the ingredient list,

bold black print:


“I am bad.”


As a child,

I was sent

to sit on the stairs

in the back of the house

as punishment







The steps were encased

by the wooden poles

of the bannister,

the paint


if you peered through,

craning your neck,

you could see

your forgotten joy

in the other room.


I was told


I was naughty.


Am I still

on those stairs,

feeling naughty,




for my forgotten joy?


My hands,


from the remnants

of their work

in my kitchen,

turn upward,

palms quivering

tips shaking

fingers curling

into soft



I wrap them

to my chest,

the residue

of shame

smearing my clothes


but not staining.



I whisper to my heart,

beneath the mess in my hands.


I whisper

“are worthy of love.”




This poem was inspired by Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. In it, she writes: 

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Shame is something we all experience…To feel shame is to be human.

Shame loses power when it is spoken.

Children who use more shame self-talk (I am bad) versus guilt self-talk (I did something bad) struggle mightily with issues of self-worth and self-loathing.

And if we all have shame, the good news is that we’re all capable of developing shame-resilience…to develop more courage, compassion, and connection as a result of our experience…The less we talk about shame, the more we have it.

Thank you Brene. Check out her work here. 


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