In a moment of confession I will admit that I am mildly obsessed with Pinterest -- meaning that I scroll through it at least once a day and obtain many of my ideas for dinner, craft projects, and outfits. In my recent scrolling, I came across a couple of quotes that are really defining the space that I am occupying in my life right now so I wanted to share them with you.
“A goal should scare you a little, and excite you A LOT.” Joe Vitale
“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.” Unknown
“This is my life…my story…my book. I will no longer let anyone else write it; nor will I apologize for the edits I make.” Steve Maraboli
I share these with you because I think that we all have times in our lives when we feel as though there are many things and lots of energy bubbling just below the surface. We have no idea what comes next and what it all might look like, but we know it’s coming. It is in those moments when we have a choice to make. We can shrink from the world, become small and afraid and let the bubbling simply peter out and never know what the “next” might have looked like, OR, we can show up, real and alive, maybe still a little scared, but a lot more willing, and invite in whatever is “next.”
This is one of those moments for me. In the relationships that are the most important, in my work and my professional career, in my spiritual journey, and my opportunity for adventure and growth, this is a moment when I can feel in a very tangible way, all the energy and possibility that is bubbling just below the surface. And I am attempting to be more committed to that possibility than I am to my comfort zone. I am also attempting to follow some really good advice I received recently, and recognize that I do not need to fight for respect or to be heard. I am at the table in so many aspects of my life. I can now leave my sword at home and quietly and confidently show up with arms open for the “next.”
So, today I wish you the same – the willingness to believe in your own possibility, the curiosity for life, and the peace to embrace the NEXT. We all deserve that.
During my trip to DC, I spent some time exploring the city, and that meant riding the metro. I have to say that I love riding public transportation for so many reasons, but one of those reasons is simply the ability to interact with other individuals in a way that does not happen anywhere else.
When I was on the metro last night on my way back to my hotel after dinner, there was a group of young ladies in the same metro car. All of these girls were probably between the ages of 15 and 18 and were obviously part of some sort of conservative school or church group. They were all dressed in the same charcoal gray, ankle length skirts, with long-sleeved black button-down blouses, and their hair pulled back in a low bun.
At the next stop another young lady, probably about 15 years old, came onto the car with her mother. She sat in the open seat next to me and was as physically different from the group of girls as possible. She donned dyed blue hair, a bright blue sequin jacket, ripped black jeans and black combat boots.
Not more than a minute after the blue-haired girl sat down, one of the gray-clad girls came over to her and asked if there was a ukulele in the case she was carrying and if she played well. She answered yes to both and the girl asked her if she would play for them. The blue-haired girl giggled nervously for a minute, looked at her mom for some encouragement, and then unzipped the case, pulled out her instrument and began to play and sing a soft folk number that I recognized but could not identify. The gray-clad group quickly crowded towards our end of the car gathering around the girl with smiles from ear to ear. And when the blue-haired girl was done, one of the girls from the group asked if they could sing for her. She smiled and said “of course.” They sang a melodic hymn in a perfect a cappella.
It was a moment that I will not soon forget. A moment without judgment where a group of young human beings connected through their talent, their music, and their humanity, without thought of how different they looked. They were not scared away from each other based on the fact that they probably walk much different paths and in much different places. They allowed themselves to reach across their divide and connect around what they had in common simply because their paths crossed for a moment in a D.C. metro car.
Imagine if we adults allowed ourselves such freedom. Imagine the divides that could be bridged, the relationships that could be built, the talents and ideas that could be shared, and the commonalities that could be discovered. Imagine the connectedness that we could experience if not for fear of differences.
I had an experience recently that made me realize how complex human beings are. Sure, I have always known that. How could I not? I studied psychology after all. But my recent experience made me acknowledge it again.
The experience involved someone who I see in my professional life almost every day, and with whom I have built a relationship over time. We talk about both professional things and personal things, and I feel as though I know him pretty well. I have always known that he has an array of talents that range from the work that he does in his job, to music.
Recently, this individual provided me the opportunity to listen to some of his original music, and through that I saw a side of him that I had not known before. His music revealed his heart in a way that the normal context in which I see him does not. I felt blessed and honored that he shared this with me, and it made me think.
Brene Brown talks so much about vulnerability and how letting ourselves be vulnerable allows us to connect and build relationships. Sharing our art, our creativity, our music with another human being is such an awesome way to be vulnerable.
So that is my challenge for you and for myself. Recognize the ways in which we reveal our heart through art and creativity, and share it with another human being. It may allow someone to see you in a way that they never have before, and begin the building of a relationship.
I have been thinking about my plans to travel throughout this year. In the next month I am going to DC twice. Over the summer I always spend time on the Cape. In the fall I will be traveling to India. And I am hoping to fit in another vacation at some point. I think about this in contrast to some of the youth to whom we provide services.
Some of our youth have literally never been out of Manchester. I don’t mean that they have never been out of the state of NH. They literally have never been out of Manchester. These youth have grown up in poverty and lived in Manchester their whole lives. None of their immediate family members own cars and everywhere they go they either walk or take a bus. The entire world that these youth have experienced and know is within the less than 35 square miles that comprise Manchester, NH.
This is a worldview that I cannot even imagine, and thinking about it makes me so grateful for the traveling that I have done throughout my life and the opportunities that I have had to experience other places, people, and cultures.
So, whether it’s going to the next town or state, going to the other side of the country, or traveling to another part of the world, if you have the opportunity to expand your worldview, take it. And when you do, think about all the individuals who have grown up or live in poverty who do not have the same opportunity.
I don’t know what you all believe as far as a Higher Power, faith or spirituality goes, and sometimes I am not even sure what I believe. Growing up in a Catholic family and having the opportunity in my adult life to experience many Christian religions as well as Buddhism and a smattering of other Eastern religions, I have heard many times something to the effect of, “Ask and you shall receive” and “The Universe provides what you need.” This is not a concept that I have always believed or that I have always really understood. And time and time again I have been shown its meaning through the occurrences in my life and come to believe its truth.
A few weeks ago I told you about an experience that I had that really rocked me – when I was told that my hard edges were keeping me from progressing further in my career (March 9th blog entry) and I also told you that it was a challenge that I am willing to take on. Since that original conversation I have reached out to three other colleagues for their feedback and thoughts, read two books about leadership – one about women in leadership and one about Gandhi as a leader, reached out to my mentor who has known me since I was 10 (December 29th blog entry), talked to my mom, and invited my “work crush” for coffee (February 9th blog entry). And as I took action, the Universe answered and provided me exactly what I need.
Through this journey I have learned some things and gotten some amazing advice that I would like to share with all of you because I think that if it can benefit me it can probably benefit others.
“Be patient. If your heart is happy, stay with it. Stay the course and roll with the waves. “
“You are a passionate person who feels emotions deeply. You don’t have to lose that. You do have to figure out how to express them more intentionally. You want those you lead to know what to expect and who is showing up to work every day.”
“Be a good steward. Truly be a servant leader and let the rest happen organically.”
“Live your values and to do so you must first know what your values are.”
“Remember the goals and mission of your work. Stay laser focused on that because it is what matters. Don’t let the rest distract you.”
Holding onto these words and really embracing them has allowed me to breathe. It has allowed me to simply exhale and to remember that as long as I continue to truly follow my heart, I will get to all the places I am supposed to be.
It has also become clear that all the opportunities that I require to grow will come into my life as long as I am open to them – coffee with my work crush will happen this coming week and she has all but said that she would become my professional mentor. And, I am in the beginning stages of planning to attend a mission trip in the fall that could prove to be life changing.
So, wherever you stand on the religious or spiritual spectrum, believe in the world’s ability to give you what you need and perhaps it will come.
I’m Erin, and I’ve used my 15+ years of human services experience working to understand youth who are on the fringes as an attempt to create services that have the potential to change their life trajectory. I get out of bed each morning with a renewed sense of purpose, and I go off to work to play my part. I believe that if we each do our small part, that collectively we have the potential to change the big picture.
To me, this is more than a job; it’s a journey, a mission, a calling, and an honor.
I don’t believe that I have all the answers, but with some regular meditation, a solid support network, and a commitment to this work--no matter how hard it gets, I believe that much can be accomplished.
I invite you along on this journey. Share what you have learned, what keeps you going, and what makes you crazy. None of us are in this world alone and I am grateful that we can walk beside each other even if only for a few moments.
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