Let’s talk about the shit show that was the last 18 months …
As I mentioned before in my last blog post, I really struggle sometimes with being vulnerable and sharing aspects of my personal life. I tend to opt to keeping my vulnerability “in check” by discussing both my business and professional experiences only (as there are plenty of those stories to draw on), and not my personal ones. However, I have been feeling more and more called to step into deeper aspects of my own vulnerability, particularly the personal ones.
Despite my best intentions to keep doing what I’ve always done. I continue to hear that whisper over and over again, and the downloads keep coming (sometimes fast and furiously), that something more is being asked of me. That, in order to help emerging enlightened leaders and light warriors activate their own light at a higher and more purposeful level, then I, too, must step forward and do more.
Or, should I say … to allow myself to be more … more fully ME.
I feel we are in a time right now that is asking for us to be extremely real. To be raw. To stand naked in our own vulnerability. To be more human. To release all the branding, the marketing, and the shiny ways we like to show up, or think we should show up.
To release the facade. To let our guard down and show our truest selves. The stuff that we often think makes us unlovable, unworthy, undeserving, or just plain weird. The very stuff that in one breath we pray and hope that someone will see the real us, and then in the next breath we hope they don’t see who we truly are.
It’s the ultimate dichotomy we live in every day … “Please someone see me for who I really am. The real me. The full me.” And then, “But wait! Please don’t get too close. What if you see the real me. I don’t want you to see that. I don’t want you to see my idiosyncrasies, my weaknesses my fears, or my vulnerabilities.”
“Really see me, but don’t see all of me.”
Isn’t it ironic that we vacillate between these two opposing ends. We carry such fear and shame around showing the good, bad, and the ugly. If we show too much good, people will think we are showboating or too positive, living a fairytale, or that by some mysterious waving of a magic wand, we are one of the chosen ones, the lucky ones.
If we share the bad, we are playing the victim. We receive pity or judgment from others around us in how we are not taking responsibility or accountability for our choices, for our lives. We shame ourselves and take on the shame of others.
And, the ugly … well, that’s just a whole different can of worms. Talk about waking the haters up! And, when they do, man do we spin. We lose our sense of self. We live in a space of deep regret, guilt, anxiety, and shame. We let other people’s opinions of us wear on us, break us down. We are convinced that our stories aren’t worth telling … that no one wants to (or needs to) really hear them. And, we let the “stories” we tell ourselves become our reality. We let the opinions of others and those stories take our power.
We play small, as a result.
I think sometimes it’s easy to think someone has their life all figured out or that they have all their shit together when we see endless “happy” social media posts, emails, and stories about the A Track … you know, the side with all the hit singles, the part that looks the best.
Just look at how we angle our phones to take pictures, the filters we use, the way we tell (perhaps, spin) our stories and even our truths.
It’s all to showcase us from the best lighting, the most appealing perspective, the more favorable pose. We forget sometimes, to show the ugly underbelly, the smeared mascara, the disheveled hair, the bags under our eyes …the B track, or “the messy middle.”
Because it’s in the messy middle where we get stretched, where we get curious, and where we grow. And, it’s also in the messy middle that others can connect and resonate with our stories, with our truths, and with our wins.
So, let me share a little about my recent messy middle …
Going into 2020, I felt strong. I was clear on who my ideal client was, the direction my business was headed, and how I was going to create impact on a bigger level. I had taken the time and care to plan, to assess my leverage points, and to restructure my business, allowing me more time and space for face-to-face interactions, smaller in-person masterminds, and intimate retreats experiences.
I was ready to play full out, and stay in my “lane,” to quietly build my “empire,” and simply lock in and focus on the people and spaces with whom and where I wanted to play. I was excited and content. I had vision and a strategy. I put all the pieces in place. I felt more ready than ever.
Well, as they say, “good intentions …”
As we all know, 2020 had a very different plan in mind, and some might say … it had a complete shit show in store for all of us.
When March 13, 2020 hit (the day everything was shut down in Austin), my plan unraveled quickly and I found myself wondering what the hell had happened. Like everyone else, I was stunned, shocked, and a little unsettled.
Assuming all would resume back to “normal” rather quickly, I didn’t sweat it. Until I did. My entire year went under. Everything I had so diligently planned in my business now was a bust. I was losing expected revenue and opportunities (live speaking and training events) faster than I could keep up.
The bottom dropped out. And, it stayed dropped for several months.
Clients, opportunities, and money were become scarce. Live events were being canceled. My retreats were no more. I grappled. I cried. I stressed. I let myself be angry, and grieve, and feel numb. I allowed myself space to wallow, to veg out, to sleep, to indulge, to just do nothing.
Then something shifted. I heard that whisper once again. It spoke gently to me. It held me in the deepest levels of compassion. “It’s ok,” it told me, “you are fully and deeply supported. It’s ok to just be right now. This is for you. Lean in. Listen. Stay open.”
At the same time, I had felt compelled to work with another mentor and join a mastermind where I got to explore more of my own spiritual awakening. I could feel the pull. At the beginning there was so much resistance, yet my YES to join was deafening and resounding. I felt myself holding back in my vulnerability, not allowing myself to fully connect in the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, the other women in the mastermind were lovely …
I just didn’t trust me.
But, I kept showing up. Our first mastermind was in person just before the pandemic hit. We were isolated in the mountains and we dug into some rather deep work. Old stories, programming, and trauma all found their way to the surface. For what I thought I had worked through was once again bringing me another layer to heal.
So much healing. I continued to resist. I hate being vulnerable. I am not comfortable sharing my deepest, darkest stories and traumas with others. I don’t want to play victim. I just don’t want to be in all that energy again. I am not a fan of group shares or being the center of attention (I know that sounds crazy as that’s what I love to facilitate for others and I love taking the stage and activating an audience … however, when it’s focused solely on me and my deepest shame wounds, I d rather run and hide or stuff it way down, versus let myself be an open target).
Again, I heard that whisper … or, I guess I felt it. I was becoming more of a witness that even as I tried to resist, I found myself just watching things unfold and play out. I found myself sharing stories and trauma. I found myself saying and doing things that were much more expansive and definitely not in my comfort zone.
And yet, I couldn’t stop it. My higher consciousness was is the driver seat … has been in the driver seat the past several years. And, something about this pandemic and the last 18 months has promoted her to an entirely new and heightened level.
I still struggled. Clients fell away. And, then if I wasn’t already turning everything on it’s head, I got called to start a community online called Unpacking Racism. I thought originally this was to be a space for 20-50 people within my inner circle and network … not what it became: an engaged community of nearly 1,500 people, many of whom I didn’t know.
“I am in over my head,” I kept telling myself.
Hell, I still feel in over my heads some days. Even as I was putting the initial community together, I felt the resistance. I didn’t want to do this. As the resistance increased, so did my the speed at which my fingers created magic. I felt as if an energy took over and whether I liked it or not, this was happening.
The intent behind the group was to open up discussions around racism and our own individual biases. To ask meaningful questions, to listen, to learn, to engage, and to look for solutions within our own communities. Much of that has happened. And, like any group, it took on a life of its own.
I felt responsible. Even if I wasn’t.
I found myself consumed in the group. I wanted to be sure every voice was heard. I wanted to respond to every thread, every post. I wanted to find answers for people. I wanted people to feel safe. I want to make sure the integrity of the community stay intact.
I lost myself in it for a while. Fortunately, I have a powerful network of friends who speak my language and called me out on it directly. They reeled me back in. They made sure I was practicing my own self care. They made sure I learned how to disengage.
Well, starting the community had some other effects, as well. I was using my platform to speak out, to be clear about what I stand for, and what I will not tolerate. I was clear on what I was and was not available for. Where I had clients drop out before when the pandemic hit, I felt another wave as I lifted my voice and my leadership platform more.
And, things got ugly … the haters really started to hate.
People started to use my platform to spew their hate, their racism, and their politics. I found myself releasing a lot of people from list and social media platforms. It felt like a constant battle day-in and day-out. I even remember one person reaching out to me with a very charged message claiming that “as a leader I should not stand in such convictions or be so polarizing. That as a leader, I should remain neutral.”
Let’s just say that was the fuel I needed to find myself. That was the fuel I needed to take a break and restore my soul. Because I am clear, that for me, leadership means standing for something. It means standing up for what I believe and in being a champion, an advocate, for those whose voices are being lost. It means be crystal clear on my convictions and being strong in how I choose to use both my voice and my platform.
It also meant I had to let go of thinking it was all mine.
I realized I was being a bit arrogant to think this all weighed on my shoulders. I was, in fact, only to be a facilitator to open the space and allow others to lean in the way they needed to. I didn’t need to, nor should I, really be engaged in every thread and post. I am not responsible for the world or for how others choose to show up.
As leaders I find we sometimes try to carry too much. We wonder why we feel burnt out, overwhelmed, or even resentful. I realize much of this has to do with our own arrogance in thinking we should be “carrying” others. That is not our job, nor our responsibility. This was the lesson that presented to me last year.
My role is to speak my truth. My role is to be in integrity with my authentic self and intentions. My role is to disrupt, catalyze, and facilitate safe spaces for people to connect, lean in, and lead themselves. My role is to be the example I want to see in the world.
My role is on what I can control, what is mine to lead, and what is my responsibility.
My role is to release that in every other capacity. For my role is not to do those things for others. In fact, my role is to practice more non-interference and to practice letting go. My role is to be a guide, to support those who need access to the tools to find their own way HOME. My role is to light a fire under others so that they then feel empowered to activate their own light from within.
The past 18 months have been a journey, and one that in no way is done. I am a work-inprogress and the journey continues. As I heal another layer and expand, I am given more to unpack and shift. I get to rise up and meet it and see what gifts and lessons the journey has in store for me. I get to learn how to create real WELLth for myself as I continue my own SOUL Quest. I get to experience both the human and spiritual aspect of what presents.
For that, I am eternal grateful. For, opening to GRACE is an ongoing experience, and one I am committed to engaging in.
With love and deep reverence,