And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud...
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~Elizabeth Appell
Last week I attended the San Luis Obispo Women’s Legacy Fund Luncheon with 595 other women (and less than a dozen men). The energy and power in the room was palpable. It was clear that this was a room full of women who showed up open to whatever is possible. Open to the promised message of inspiration from speaker Katy Sullivan. Open to enjoying a heart connection with others who were also open and present. Katy Sullivan, born legless, went on to become a Hollywood actress and break several world records in track including the 200 meter run at the 2007 Paralympic National Championships. Katy spoke to us about being in the present moment. She shared how she trained for six years for her first Paralympic games and when she stood at the starting line for a race that would last for mere seconds, she realized that more than winning, she wanted to be fully present in that moment. As her competition focused on the finish line, Katy says she looked up at the crowd, smiled and waved like a beauty queen – breathing in the sights, sounds and feelings of that moment. She told us that this is also how she has chosen to win in her life. To be present in the moment, to step into whatever shows up next. Listening to Katy I felt affirmed for the way I have chosen to live my life and live my work - in the present, connected to all that is happening. And I choose to be open to whatever appears when I am grounded in my space. I’m not a Bible reader but there is one story that relates to this recent experience and its truth lives in me. It is the story of Pentecost. The Apostles, feeling vulnerable, afraid and adrift, gather together in community for meditation (prayer if you will) and in that moment, feel the flames of the Holy Spirit fortify them. Buoyed by this energy they are open to whatever is possible next. The essence, the nugget in this story, is the power of a group willing to practice vulnerability. And in that vulnerability open up to possibilities that they could not have anticipated. This truth has stayed with me since I was a young. Last Saturday, a group of 10 women came together in the same way at the Equus Coaching facilitated by Kasia Roether and myself. Not unlike the Apostle’s, each of these women showed up vulnerable, seeking understanding of what is next or how to proceed. Starting with simple community building exercises I watched them connect from their heart space. I could feel the openings as they transformed from individuals to a community where one person’s exploration provided insight for all. This is why I love group work. So many times, when I stand in front of a new group, I begin to question if my commitment to helping them sink into their heart space and connect from that energy will seem crazy, woo-woo, or if I’ll be judged and be chased from the room. And every time, l pause for a moment as the thought runs through my head that maybe this time I should not do the breathing exercise. Maybe this time I should not re-introduce them to their own beating heart - the truest witness in their lives since 6 weeks after conception. Then I remember my own experience with ease, joy and abundance. And how the others who taught me were brave enough to share. I recall my commitment to doing what feels right in my heart and allowing my work to unfold from my most authentic place. Then I do not let fear of rejection stand in my path. The feedback is clear. As I stood on a stage in front nearly 150 women from my community on Monday and invited them to join me as I lead them in my heart space activity, I dared to open my eyes and look out. I saw the peace. I saw the attempts. I saw the shoulders drop and the jaws rest. I felt the energy shift and received the hugs after and email messages of appreciation. Yesterday I stood in front of 30 municipal employees. Again my brain challenged my intention, but I let that go and moved on. One of the few men in the group responded that as I led them, he felt himself sink into a place of peace he had not been able to go to before. I encouraged him to download the heart space recording from my website. My intention in sharing this is not for it to be about me. This is about you. I invite you to be open and to connect to your own energy. I invite you to stand in the space of your deepest, most authentic integrity and to connect with others through your heart, not your thoughts.
The beautiful picture is of my daughter, Lily – known as Nor’eastah in the roller derby world. I’m sure you can also see in her the beauty, power and energy of being in the present moment and staying true to her authentic self. This place is available to you too. A friend reminded me just this morning of my favorite quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Elizabeth Appell* So this newsletter today is dedicated to each of us we embrace connection as a place where sinking into our vulnerability releases the tightness of the bud. And increases our connective energy! P.S. Kasia & I are planning another Equus Coaching day in January or February 2016. Space is limited. If you are interested and curious, click this link to get on the email announcement list. Individual sessions are also available on a limited basis by emailing me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*There is some debate about the origin of this quote (Elizabeth Appell or Anais Nin). Regardless the message is eternal and valuable.