“Who were all those amazing women and where have they been hiding?!”
Said the email from one of the amazing women after workshop I.
It is time. To come out of hiding.
This came to me so clearly this morning, I had coffee with a woman I’ve known for a long time, but never really seen until today. Like me, she’s been working in progressive causes for many years and we have crossed paths and smiled at each other. For my part, I was inclined to like her because so many of the women I knew and love loved her.
But this morning, we got together for coffee and I learned what a badass she is. A truth teller with so much heart.
She is working in a new job, fighting human trafficking. On election night, when the woman we’d both been pulling for didn’t win the mayor’s race, she realized she couldn’t live with the “cushy” (as she called it) job that meant working for people and purposes she didn’t believe in.
She put in her notice two weeks later, with nothing lined up.
“I have never felt more like myself in my life,” she said this morning. She is a couple months in to a new job she loves. And we talked about what it’s like when the truth is a door that you walk through. And how, in our late forties (Wait, late? Never wrote that before… But yes. 47. Late 40’s. Owning every bit of the wisdom I’ve earned.)…how in our late forties it feels like we’ve arrived finally…
And then she goes to a conference on child sex slavery.
And then I have a conflict with a colleague.
And then Trump tweets.
And it is clear that there’s no arriving and the world is a total shitshow and we are each standing alone, perched above the (hissing Princess Bride voice) Pit of Despair!
“What keeps you going?” I ask.
She looks up. Then tells me about how, in the middle of aforementioned conference -- on such a difficult subject that I actually don’t want to type it again… okay. Fine. Child sex slavery. Whew.– in the middle of that conference, they paused the program to put a slide of “puppies in dungarees” on the screen and talk about self care. “Not as taking a bath or getting your nails done or drinking a glass of wine,” she said. But as feeling your actual feelings and noticing what’s happening to you and doing what you need to do to feel and keep going and show up for each other in the work, even if that means taking the time to talk about your feelings in the middle of the work day.
We both come from the martyred, urgent, must not stop non-profit world. This is revolutionary stuff.
“What keeps you going?” she said.
“Stories,” I say. Because that’s what stories do for me. The ancient ones, the ones that name patterns that we know, or are trying to break or learn from, the patterns that resonate in our souls so much that we tell these stories over and over, trying to feel what's real and live our lives and answer the questions: how do we know when to leave our homes? Say yes? Say no? Risk everything? Befriend the animals?
Come out of hiding and cross a threshold.