Open has been my word for 2015.
What do I mean by word? Basically, I chose a word that focuses my intention for the year. The simplest, and most complex of resolutions. So this year, I will open.
Open my heart.
Open my mind.
Open my arms.
Open my house.
Open my everything.
Believe it or not, I struggle with open sometimes- particularly when it comes to my heart. I'm tenderhearted by nature and have also been wounded- in big ways and small.
Our wounds often close us off, because closed off provides protection. (Think turtle.)
There are times when I can almost observe myself from afar - the big hearted me telling the scared hearted me to open up. Reminding me that the more I open, the more I will experience- the more I will live. (A turtle can survive tucked inside it's shell, but that's all its really doing- surviving.)
I knew 2015 would be a big year- and I wanted to open to it, open to life.
One of my biggest openings happened this past month. For much of the last year, I was struggling with my role at heARTS. Long before I had actually started my nonprofit, I assumed that when I did start it (never if, just when) I would be the Executive Director. I knew I had the leadership skills and was well-rounded enough to take on the various tasks. Over the past two years, I have proven that I can do the role of ED, but it has also felt restricting - closing. heARTS always seemed like my mission in life- but what I'm learning and opening to is that heARTS is just part of my mission.
The role of ED is a nice box that fits neatly into this world of ours- but as this year began, it became clear that I didn't fit neatly into it. I wasn't sure what that would mean - but a little voice inside steered me in the direction of co-chairing the board.
Initially, I didn't listen.
Sometimes when you don't listen, the universe takes care of things for you, and a series of events made it clear that I did indeed need to shift from a someday paid position to an always volunteer role as a board member. As soon as I made this decision I felt so OPEN! I saw a future at heARTS that included all of the things that brought me immense joy and opened me up to the bigger, more expansive mission ahead of me (more on that in a minute.)
A couple weeks after that big decision and shift - I felt another opening. This time in the form of a bucket of tears. Something happened- I'm still not even sure what- but I started crying on a Friday night and the tears didn't stop flowing until well into my Saturday.
The sobs came from the deepest part of me and crippled me with grief. There were moments when I wasn't sure if I would ever stop crying. That's the thing about opening, it's scary and filled with uncertainty and why most people don't do it. Instead they stay closed- protected.
So open, I continue.
This quote from Parker Palmer (who I adore and have the highest aspirations to be like) showed up in my newsfeed this week as I was working on some significant changes to my website (aka more opening.) I was feeling a bit more clear and a bit more confused all at the same time. So many passions, so many interests-sometimes I feel like a crazy concoction craved up by a pregnant woman. From an outsider it makes no sense, but to the craver it magically hits the spot.
His words express the wholeness of my mission, my highest good - to break hearts open so those hearts can turn their ripples into waves of positive change in this world.
Breaking hearts open... those words sound scary (remember, opening is scary), but oh how amazing it would be if we all walked around just a little more open-hearted. If we spent just a little more time focused on our being rather than our doing. If we recognized the ripples we create in this world- in each of our worlds.
So, who are these hearts and how will I break them open? Here's what I plan to be:
Coach and Consult for Youth-Serving Organizations: I believe that some radical heart opening is needed in the professional fields that serve youth. The stress (and yes, trauma) that shows up in youth-oriented spaces leads to policies and practices that create disconnection and distrust-- and ultimately cause harm to young people, their families, and even practitioners. Youth work isn't something I do, it is my way of being. My youth work practice will now focus on how adults can work better with and on behalf of young people. I want to break open hearts so more youth can be truly seen, heard, and valued.
Resilience Coach for Individuals: I've spent my entire professional career coaching young people, parents and other professionals. My background in family social science and youth development have honed my ability to honor the unique lived experience of each person and the wisdom that comes from those stories. I'm eager to partner with folks who are ready to exercise their hearts and break open to the possibilities held within their stories.
Speaker and Community Builder: I want to break open hearts all over the place and am ready to speak to communities of all shapes, sizes and causes about how I found my path to thriving. I'm also available to guide workshops and retreats as an expressive artist and restorative practitioner.
Consider this my bold declaration of purpose, my opening to what comes next and my acknowledgement that there is no box for this, so things may get messy.
(P.S. Make sure to check out the complete overhaul I did to this site and sign up for my emails with an upcoming announcement about a friends and family referral discount on coaching services!)
About the blog:
Reflection has been a constant on my journey. This blog is a collection of my thoughts and ideas about my healing and the world.