I find inspiration at all times of day or night and in all circumstances. Lately, it has arrived, special delivery while I am striding on the elliptical at Planet Fitness (a.k.a. The Judgment Free Zone) . Would that I dwell in that lofty place in my life outside the purple, black and yellow decor. I am always seed planting for the next good idea for my blossoming creative crafts of writing and speaking and considering ways to spread the word about what I do, as well as what others do that I want to share with the world. I pondered what it is that connects people one to the other and what has folks wanting to do business with and be in personal relationship (friendship or romantic) with each other. And then it came to me…we want to be around people who help us to feel good about ourselves; who we are and what we do. We want to use the services of people we trust and who we believe have our best interest at heart and who want to see us grow and move on; not dependent on them, but who offer whatever it is that they do and then encourage us to spread our wings and soar.
Not that someone else ultimately has the power to give us self esteem or take it away from us…that is an inside job. Certainly there are circumstances in which we hear something over and over again and begin to absorb it and believe it and then take it on as if it were true. In my work with abuse survivors, I see it all the time. I remind them that the only power someone or some thought has over them, is that which they grant and then we work together on ways to reclaim that power, that truly belongs to them. I have been awestruck when I witness people moving from victim to surivor to thriver mode in their lives. I define a thriver as someone who has overcome their pain and challenges, while acknowledging that the original incident(s) occurred, learned and grown from them and now reaches out to support others on their healing journey, paying it forward.
I know that I much prefer to be in the presence of people with whom I can be the best me possible; those who support my stretching and shining. I choose to be that for others as well, partly because I know it feels so good to bask in the love, that I want to shower it and scatter it too. There was a time in my life when I allowed for toxic interactions with people simply because I had the erroneous belief that I had to let everyone in who knocked at my heart. It took awhile, but then I recognized that I can say no if someone’s expectations don’t match with my willingness to fulfill them. We all have that right and it takes practice to exercise it. My barometer is that when being in someone’s energy brings out the worst in me; angry, fearful, hiding my light so as not to ‘make them uncomfortable’, taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings’…..ad nauseum, the whole co-dependent dance that I did habitually, I look at what it is I need to change; thank them (even if silently) for stirring it up and then choose not to repeat the interaction and walk away from the relationship if need be. If being with someone brings out the best in me; loving, clear, productive, compassionate, free to create, then I choose to spend more time with them, co-creating wonder. As I do both, I find that I attract even more amazing people into my life. I marvel when I consider that there were some people who weren’t even on my radar a year ago and now they so enchant me.
Tuesday night found me in the presence of women who matched the second scenario. Sherryl Frauenglass and Dr. Julie Krull came to my home as the “Official Tour Correspondents” for the Awesome Women Hub tour. They call their great adventure “Let it Shine” With Sherryl and Dr. Julie and have affectionately nicknamed their Road Trip, the “Let It Shine Road Trip”. We had become facebook friends over the past few months and when I heard about the road trip, I asked if they were going to be in the Philly area. Turns out they were and in less than a week, we had gathered together 15 women ranging from their 20′s-50′s…some of us old enough to be mothers to each other. I gazed around my living room in awe as the ‘conversation’, as Julie and Sherryl continued to refer to it, flowed. One by one, we shared our stories of love and loss, of empowerment and triumph and ideas for healing what is not working so well on the planet. These were all women who walk the talk, not just wax wistfully philosophical. We spoke about the paradigm shift that is taking place between women and between men and women. For far too long, women have felt mistrustful and competitive with each other, believing in a scarcity model. I would sadly hear women say that they didn’t trust other women and to that I would suggest that perhaps it was because they didn’t truly trust themselves. I am delighted to be part of overlapping circles of women who support each other in success, knowing that a rising tide lifts all boats. I also find myself saying “I’ll have what she’s having.” when I notice someone doing what I would love to do. Men are supporting women in being at our resilient best as well, as we are encouraging them to live fully human, not limiting themselves in emotional expression because they have been taught to stifle their gentler side. ‘Real’ men feel and heal. ‘Real’ men cry and acknowlege vulnerability. ‘Real’ women lead. Awesome men like Jeff Brown, Gay Hendricks and Arjuna Ardagh are at the forefront of upliftment of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.
It reminds me of a few lines in a poem by Judy Chicago:
And then all that has divided us will merge
“And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong”
Some of us have known each other awhile, while others were ‘strangers’ when they walked through my front door, becoming family of choice a few hours later, laughing, smiling and hugging our farewells. Julie and Sherryl are putting together a project called Documenting Women On The Leading Edge of Change and I am so eager to see the outcome. I will keep you updated.
I love the concept that we are the average of the ten people with whom we spend our time. Think about the folks with whom you hang out. Are they positive, happy, successful people (not just monetarily)? Are they cranky, grumpy, critical, pessimistic? When you leave their presence, are you glowing or d0 you feel like taking a shower because you’ve just been slimed? The next step is to decide whether you want to continue in that pattern or if you want to step outside of it and make a change. Releasing old relationships isn’t always easy and sometimes brings pain, but consider how long you choose (and yes, it is a choice) to subject yourself to that which no longer serves. Are you willing to be inspired and uplifted or are you reconciling yourself to feeling limited and stuck? I am blessed to be surrounded by inspiring women and men who help me to shine my light out into the world. It didn’t happen overnight and it did come at the cost of my limiting beliefs and fears falling away and it did mean letting go of relationships that were more hurtful than healing. Cutting away dead vines and weeds from a plant helps it to grow. So too, is it with people. It doesn’t serve you or them to keep on the hamster wheel of the same day after day negative interaction out of obligation or habit.
I have a long time friend who would begin our phone conversations with telling me about all of the challenges he was facing. This went on for months and I would listen and be as supportive as I could, all the while, feeling frustrated for him and it would bring out my co-dependent caregiver instincts. Finally, I said to him: “The next time we talk, I would like the first words you say to be about one good thing that is happening in your life. Then, if you want to tell me other stuff; go for it.” Of course, once he acknowledged one good thing, more followed. His life did a 180 in a short period of time. Yes, he (like all of us) still faces challenge and change. The difference is that it happens less often and he has more of what he wants in his life; asks for it and receives it. How cool is that?
I invite you to bring to mind the names and faces of those ten people with whom you spend most of your time; family, friends and colleagues. Consider if being around them helps you to be at your best. If not, can those relationships be adapted in any way? Not that you have the power to change them; simply the power and responsibility to change your interactions with them.
Remember, it’s not just what you know, but who you know…