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The Me Too movement is, well, moving. Gretchen Carlson, the woman who came forward regarding Fox News Executive Roger Ailes, was interviewed today and talked about how her decision to use her voice has given other women the courage to use their own voices in coming forward, leading to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein and eventually to women globally finding their voices to stand up for themselves. Safety in numbers. It is a beautiful thing, these women coming forward through the strength they have found thanks to the brave vulnerability of others. I still wonder how they can be so brave. I worry. I worry about what people would think. I worry about my parents feeling pain on my behalf. I worry.
Michael Phelps was on Megyn Kelly today. He was sharing how he struggles with depression and anxiety, and he is participating in a documentary to help others with their struggle. Another brave spirit, coming forward in transparency. A man who has been called perfect, with his record setting gold medal wins, letting us all in on his imperfections.
It has been on my bucket list, ever since I first saw Glennon Doyle Melton on SuperSoul Sunday and read her book Love Warrior, to be this fabulously transparent, open and honest person. Anne Lamott does it quite well also, this ability to show up and be seen, unapologetically real. I want to be brave like that. Brave enough to be vulnerable and open before others without fear of reprisal, fear I will no longer be loved if they learn I am not perfect. (Which is kind of funny, because they obviously already know I’m not perfect!)
It’s kind of like the rest of my life, where my artist half conflicts with my Type A business woman half. My business suit is telling me to “shut up – fake it till you make it!” Meanwhile my messy smock, covered in paint and clay and all the things that get messy to create beauty, is telling me to stop hiding behind the wall of implied perfection and share my imperfect self so that I can give others permission to do the same.
I don’t know when or how I will figure out this whole transparently vulnerable thing. For today, I will just start with this: Me Too.
Recently I told my husband Danny I had decided to go back to school. I have this wonderful job that I love to the point that I had decided I needed more. More education. More growth in business. More status. More. I was determined, and no one was going to change my mind.
Then something amazing happened. It was July 12th, the eve of little Katie’s passing, and I found myself reading a post that I wrote on Katie’s birthday in 2014. That person who was writing from her enlightened state during that moment three and a half years ago taught her future self a valuable lesson: what is important in life? I suddenly realized that for as often as I preach it, it was time to start walking the talk.
There was an internal shift that was immediate. Everything changed in an instant. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this fast train I had put myself on was heading in the wrong direction. I haven’t changed my mind about my job, where I have the opportunity to use my business brain to contribute in a collaborative environment and continue to grow both intellectually and emotionally. I love it and I am sure I will continue to for a long time to come. But it is enough to do all I can in that environment without having to commit every waking moment to more more more, to the detriment of my personal relationships and my creative self.
Even better, Danny is experiencing a similar shift that puts us both on the same train, heading in the same direction. We have talked for a long time about downsizing. How much do two people need? Do we really need a 3300 square foot, five bedroom three bath house for two adults and a morky? What price are we paying for thinking that we do? The need to work more, do more, make more, at the expense of time with our grandchildren and nieces, children and siblings and parents? The loss of time to focus on the creative energy that God has blessed us with? I know from experience that is not a price worth paying.
When Katie was sick I was unable to work for a year due to her need for around the clock care. The wolf rang our phone a lot during that year and the year that followed as we worked our way out of debt. It was an added burden to all the pain we were already suffering, but in the end, I would not have had it any other way. I thank God every time I think back to that time, that I made the choice to put her care above everything else. I have long since forgotten the ugly phone calls from bill collectors and the need to buy groceries on credit. In time our finances were back to being healthy again. What I will never forget is that I was able to spend every moment of her last year with her, and that is something I will always be grateful for.