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Archive for November, 2017

On Being Vulnerable

I spoke  with someone about vulnerability yesterday.  And they spoke to me of intimacy.  And it turns out these things are two threads wound together.  We find intimacy when we are able to be vulnerable.  And we are vulnerable when we admit that we might not have it all together.  So I’ve been doing this project now for three months, a project which I am loosely calling “The Intimacy Interviews.”  And it makes complete sense that, in this project, I am asking sometimes complete strangers to be vulnerable with me.

I have no doubt that these women are holding nothing back from me.  And I am grateful beyond words.  And when I think about why they are doing so, of course it’s maybe because of the anonymity involved.  But I think there’s something else.  I think that we all have these stories locked up inside us that we are dying to tell.  Because we know we will feel better when we do.  But we keep them in; because we are scared of being judged; we wonder if anyone else can relate.  We are uncertain as to what it all means.

And that’s where we come to uncertainty.  Recently I’ve become part of a women’s group called Boss Babes.  It’s an organization that is just getting started.  The goal of the group is to empower women by sharing stories and doing some light networking.  The idea behind this is that Together We Rise.  Yeah, sure maybe we are all uncertain.  But when you are vulnerable enough to share with others and then to listen….truly listen…maybe you start to hear some truth that sounds familiar.

The other night we had our first meet-up in town and about 75 women attended, which was super exciting by the way.  Although I knew many faces in the room (I am so incredibly grateful every day that I surround myself with strong women), I made it a point to speak to new faces.  I told a couple of new people about my project and they told me what they were working on.  A few brave women stood up and told their stories; they were stories of difficult decisions having to be made in their lives, what they’ve done to heal, and what they are doing to affect change in the space that surrounds them.  And I listened and I thought, ‘thank you’.  I listened and I thought, ‘me too.’

I’ve been in situations before where I’ve felt as if I couldn’t be vulnerable.  In relationships that were toxic and professional situations in which I felt were keeping me held in place.  And I’ll admit it; not all of these situations involved men.  Some involved women and the mindset that I hope is on its’ way out of ‘if she succeeds then I can’t’ or ‘there’s not enough for all of us.’

It’s only now that I’m on the other side can I see why my life feels so completely limitless now.  I rent yoga class space from a woman with an online following and entrepreneurship that astounds me.  I could be jealous and wonder why I don’t have that yet.  Or I could learn from her because I know she’s happy to share.  There’s room enough for both of us.   I have started taking walks once a week with a woman who is creating a new business and doing something that I would love to do.  I could whine about why this hasn’t magically dropped in my lap.  Or I could talk with her for an hour each week and swap ideas about life, both of us admitting what we do not know.

And maybe there are people out there who are admiring what I am doing.  Which is great,  but I have no idea what I am doing, trust me.  But what I do know is the mistakes that I made and what has worked for me.  So now I’m just piecing it together from here.  And if anyone ever comes to me and wants to know how I did it, I will tell her.  Because we rise when we all rise.  Not when we elbow people out of the way in our efforts to always be first.

When this project wraps up and when (not if) it goes to print, it will certainly be the most vulnerable piece I’ve ever put out there.  It is, by far, the most intimate journey I’ve ever taken in my life.  And I have no doubt that this is all possible because I’m not doing it alone.  Every week I am talking to a different woman who seals her hands over mine and says ‘go forth with my story and allow it to help others.’  When we share….all of it, the peaks, the valleys, the shining moments and the black holes…..when we share all of this we learn.  When we learn, we succeed.  When we succeed, we rise.  And there’s just no telling where we can go from there.

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Yep, that’s right.  I have completed nine chapters (well, let’s be honest… nine shitty first drafts) of my book.  I decided to take a little break from writing my forthcoming chapter so that I could update this blog with my progress.  The little project that just floated into my head a few months ago has quickly become this thing that I devote 15-20 hours of my week to; with absolutely not a single complaint.  It’s the work I wake up excited to do. And….it’s the project I feel as if I was always meant to do.

Here’s the quick and dirty of what my typical week looks like these days.  I do an interview every week with a different woman.  These interviews have been with strangers, friends and acquaintances; but I haven’t left a single one without this crazy feeling of bonding and connection.  It’s usually about a two hour long sit down, with coffee or wine and I record all of the material on my phone so that I can devote all of my attention to what is being shared.  A day or so later, I transcribe the entirety of these interviews.  And then I write.  And I read from a stack of research books; two recent ones are “It’s Not You: 27 Wrong Reasons Why You’re Single” by Sara Eckel and “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray and What It Means for Modern Relationships” by Christopher Ryan.  The former gave me a feeling of extreme hopefulness, the latter not so much.

Oh yeah, and I’m also starting to figure my shit out a little bit.  A few weeks ago I had such a feeling of ‘aha’ in regards to unraveling why I’ve been so terrible at relationships as of late that I almost decided to shout to the universe ‘OK, I’m ready now! Send in the soul mates.’  But luckily the wise little voice inside of me stepped in and said ‘Not so fast grasshopper.’  And I always listen when she calls me grasshopper.

But the way that this book has been lining up organically will just never cease to amaze me.  For example, a few weeks ago I had an interview in which a woman talked to me about a run-in that she had with her first boyfriend.  I didn’t know what story she would tell me when we sat down but it just so happened that within days of that interview, I had lunch with my first boyfriend.  And you’ll have to wait for publication to read about how those meetings couldn’t have been more similar but also entirely different all at the same time.  But it was a chapter I could barely see through my tears as I typed it out.  “This book is almost writing itself,” my dear friend Miranda said to me.

Which all brings us to Chapter 10.  I went to Columbus this past weekend to do an interview and I booked a hotel for the evening so that I could enjoy some time in ‘the big city’ and hopefully also interview an ex.  This ex was a big one; you know, he’s the one that when I say his name all of my friends roll their eyes because he’s that much of a jerk.  But! But…..though our time together was brief it was intense.  I had never felt as much connection upon meeting a man as I did with this guy.  And then he just disappeared (they call it ghosting these days…..yes, it’s such a common occurrence in today’s dating world that it has it’s own name…..I explore this phenomenon in Chapter 9 which is about online dating and is called Tinder is the Night).  But I digress.

This dude lives in Columbus so I contacted him and told him about my project.  It wasn’t super weird to text him; we have been in contact off and on for the past two years since he told me he couldn’t ‘do’ a relationship.  So, he agreed after I promised him that it wouldn’t be a bash fest with him on the receiving end, rather just an open, honest conversation about wtf happened.  He texted me a few weeks ago asking when his interview was and we agreed on a day.  And in the past week, leading up to my Columbus trip, he stopped answering my texts.   It didn’t surprise me at all.

My interview took place at my favorite coffee shop in Columbus.  There were parts in this woman’s story when my eyes welled with tears simply because what I was hearing was so beautiful and authentic.  My heart was absolutely full when I left the interview.  And I never heard from the dude.  But I did go to a book store following the interview and spent an hour or so wandering the 32 rooms of books.  I checked into my hotel and starfished on a king size bed, surrounded by my newly purchased novels and began to read.  And then I took myself out to dinner and had a meal that would probably be my requested final meal—steak with chimichurri sauce, perfectly cooked asparagus, corn soufflé and a Christmas beer from a local brewery.  I went back to the hotel and had a facetime phone date with the aforementioned Miranda.  And so despite what could be a disappointment in what I had planned in light of what was not happening….despite all this…..my heart remained happy.

As I transcribed everything yesterday, all of the threads of this chapter started to weave themselves together.  It has something to do with a nickname that a friend of mine gave that dude after he broke my heart, it has something to do with what happened when I met with a shaman the morning I left Columbus, and it has something to do with beautiful words of wisdom I heard in my interview.  And it has everything to do with the certainty I have about this path that I’m on; it has everything to do with this immense trust I have in what’s to come.

 

********For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been selected to attend the Haven Retreat in Whitefish, Montana in late February with New York Times Bestselling author Laura Munson.  Please check out this link for details on the retreat and how to donate if you so choose.  Any amount helps.  Any donation over $40 and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a handmade knit hat made by the one and only Shannon Oakes (I’m modeling this hat in my profile picture).  If you don’t want to use GoFundMe, I accept cash and checks.

https://www.gofundme.com/4g7hd4g

 

 

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