Tools of the Heart
Walking on Venice Beach in California today, I had a flash of a memory. It was 1987, I was in a court battle with my soon to be ex-husband and he was trying to prove that I was an unfit mother. All of the anger he had about my leaving our marriage was channeled into discrediting me. His argument was that I had started to read Tarot Cards and I was wearing crystal earrings. In essence, I was exploring new ideas. Without going into the insanity of that time of my life, I was reminded today of how isolated I was and how the unpredictability of my husband’s behavior felt too vulnerable for me to let anyone into our home to see his behavior and how I was treated. When I really needed support to leave the marriage, there was no one there to help me. I started going to Al-Anon where I could talk about the alcoholism in my family and talk about my feelings. I connected with a woman who invited me to a circle of four women. One of the women is still a coach and mentor thirty+ years later. She communes with angels and helped open the door to my intuitive voice, as I built confidence in myself.
From that point on, I built and joined communities of people who were seekers, visionaries, out-of-the-box thinkers. And even in all of those different tribes and groups, I have been able to weave in and out and sometimes close the door to move on in life. Grateful for what we have shared and knowing that I am called to something else.
This year feels like a big year of restructuring my life. I have lots of tools for structure that include timelines, calendars, Note app on computer, lists of bite-sized tasks. I have a daily review, weekly review and monthly review. I have vision boards that are co-created with Spirit. And there are two things that are super important in this year of steering my ship to a new location.
1. Space for breathing and listening. Balancing the inner and outer work. Balancing time to DO and time to BE. Being an empty vessel and listening for guidance.
2. Support from like-minded people.
*Coaches: My coaching support this year is with two women who have known me for a long time. I need them to listen to what I am intuiting and reflect on where I have been and where I am going. I need coaches who have traveled other unknown territory with me and who can be there holding space. (At another time, I would hire someone who could teach me something new. Someone who was a few steps ahead of me and who could listen and guide me. This year is about me tapping into my wisdom and knowing and being held.)
*Tribes: Some tribes are short-term and some are long-term. The key is that there are like-minded people who are supporting ideas, and have connected purpose and are challenging each other to rise. Al-Anon was an amazing place of support for me for three years back in 1987. I even started a lunchtime Al-Anon meeting at Johns Hopkins when I started a new job there. When it was time to move on, I turned the reins over to someone else. (For someone else, Al-Anon would be a 30-year commitment that would continue to support them beautifully.)
*It is important to notice my energy when in a tribe. Knowing when to be immersed and when to step away and have time alone. Consciously Woman and On Purpose Community are amazing tribes of women that continue to expand and grow. The Writing Incubator is a writing community I lead for Heal My Voice. It has a rhythm of 3 ½ months with six weeks off. It is a powerful community of women who want to write a book, develop a program, or explore through writing as a life process. I am aware of the importance of a tribe this year and tuning in to what I need moment by moment. This year I will be weaving in and out so I can support others, support myself, and create space for listening. It is a dance. Sometimes I lead a tribe. Sometimes I collaborate. Sometimes I sit in the energy like a hot tub of support.
*Friends and Family: This can be the stickiest group. I need my friend-familial tribes and I also need to set sail for new destinations without them. There is even a quote in the Bible that has been repeated in business settings and personal growth seminars: Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household.”
Here is my interpretation of that: Imagine that you have a friend who is a great cook and she has been teaching you how to cook for years. In that scenario, you have found your own cooking expression and someone approaches you to write a cookbook and host a TV show. That is your calling. Now, maybe this friend who has been so generous with you over the years will cheer you on to grow and be visible. But, maybe she will have other feelings and out of loyalty to her, you say, “No,” to the offer because you don’t want to betray her. Your friendship with her becomes more important than you following your calling. Or you take the offer but you feel guilty and a group of mutual friends start to belittle you and talk behind your back. I talk about the stickiness with family and friends because there are times, in order to grow into a new pair of shoes, in order to express more of your essence, you have to set sail and leave. Let other people explore their feelings without you. Watch out for co-dependency or relationships that require too much expectation to play small. It isn’t that they are bad people, it is the discomfort that gets created when you claim a bigger role for yourself. Even Jesus was aware of not being seen as a prophet in his family and knowing that he had to take his message to other communities. This is when you REALLY need a new tribe that can support your expression.
Two more areas of friendship and family and collaborations I want to shine a light on.
This year my goals are to redefine my life. That means change and it means I will really be tuning in to who I think I want to be as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a business owner. I will have to release some of the “shoulds” to make room for an expansion of my business, a love relationship, an expansion of joy and freedom and adventure. It will create feelings for me and for others. I need space to explore and listen to my inner voice and allow room to feel the discomfort and let it dissipate. There will be grieving and sadness. I will have to release some behaviors. There will be amazing gifts on the other side.
Pay It Forward: There is a co-dependency that can happen in communities. “You did this for me, so I have to do that for you.” Instead, I look for ways to flow in giving and receiving. Sometimes the flow is between two people. Sometimes the flow is in receiving from someone and knowing that when I am filled up because of someone’s generosity, I have more to give in other areas of my life. Giving back to someone in the same way you have received can be limiting. Give out of the generosity of your heart and learn to receive from the Universe.
FOMO: Fear of Missing Out: One of the sticky areas. Right after my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, which was the beginning of a HUGE change in our lives, I was unable to go to a phenomenal family celebration. It was probably the largest gathering of relatives from around the world and I was crushed not being able to attend. I can remember sobbing and telling my sister that my heart was breaking because I couldn’t be there. This was the beginning of 5 years of disentangling from family and friend events. In order to grow, I had to release the idea that I would be present for every birthday, anniversary, funeral and reunion. I was about to grow beyond my tribe and letting go of attending every event brought up a lot of grief. It also brought up criticism from some of my closest friends and family members. This isn’t a better than scenario, this was a, “You must leave everyone behind to express your voice and to fulfill your mission.” And that is what I did when I moved to California in 2010 and spent a year writing and doing Blogtalk radio shows and listened to an inner calling. “Heal My Voice” was birthed from that. Two hundred stories written by women healing trauma, loss and grief was birthed from that. Women being ready to use their personal power to lift up the planet was birthed from that.
Now, it’s 2019. It is time for another wave of expansion and redefinition and adventure to explore unknown territory with self-determination and audacity. Bring it 2019.
I am ready and listening!