One of the coolest thing about owning the SheHive - besides ALL of it - is that I get to spend a lot of time exploring my life’s purpose. Recently I’ve been diving deep into the idea of my future self with the women in the S.H.E. group and again with the Book Club while reading Playing Big. I’ve visualized my future self, journaled about her, collaged her perfect day in an art journal and even had conversations with her.
The guided visualization to meet your Inner Mentor (your future self) provided in the Playing Big book was probably the most powerful of all the exercises for me (you can download it here). Which is surprising because I’m always a little skeptical of guided visualizations - especially when they begin with “Imagine a big beam of light shooting from the middle of your forehead up to the sky. Now climb that beam of light,” because… seriously?! Why would I climb a beam of light when I have my trusty unicorn right here next to me and I can ride it?
That’s sarcasm, by the way - my trusty unicorn left me at age 10.
But I played along with the visualization, rode the moonbeam into space and then climbed on another to travel back to earth twenty years in the future and soon I was having a conversation with my Inner Mentor - a 20-year-in-the-future me.
And, no, drugs were not involved in this in any way.
Future me has a name other than my given name - Gretchen. Which she told me in our conversation. (Again, I swear I wasn’t high at the time). I laughed when she shared her name because my husband, Bryan, has a friend who calls me Gretchen because it’s German, like Ursula, and also because he’s kind of a jerk.
The thing about guided visualizations is that your brain can be kind of tricky and instead of just giving you a clear and concise message, it can tell stories in images or symbols or even through feelings. Your work is to make meaning out of all of it. Or at least that’s what I choose to do because I find it fun - like solving a puzzle.
The first thing I discovered was that Gretchen means “pearl” and pearls symbolize wisdom acquired through experience. Which all seems rather appropriate for a Mentor, right?
There were a lot of other images in this visualization too - the color brown, my least favorite color, was very prominent. I discovered it symbolizes security, honesty, elegance, grounding and stability. There was also a boat (strong and sturdy faith and curiosity) and a silver circle (perfectly imperfect, timeless). In the end I had pieced together a story about my future self of a wise, steadfast, curious and elegant woman.
I like her.
Now I’m not going to become Gretchen overnight. Particularly because that bitch lives by the ocean, wears a lot of cashmere and very obviously spends more time at the yoga studio than I do right now. She’s also very elegant which means that she probably doesn’t call her Inner Mentor a bitch or use the word fuck near as much as I do and she’s probably discovered a healthy coping mechanism that she enjoys as much as carbs.
But there are things I can do to evoke her every day - small things that bring me closer to the women she is… the woman I want to be twenty years in the future. This morning I meditated like she would. Tonight, when I went out to walk the dogs with the Mister, I took off my sweatshirt and put on a sweater Gretchen would wear. Small things, but two steps closer to being that elegant, wise sitting by the ocean in her cashmere.
Have you defined the woman you want to be 20 years, 10 years, 1 year from today? What’s most remarkable about her and what’s one thing you can do to become her today?
With much love and gratitude,
P.S. Another exercise in Playing Big is to give your Inner Critic a persona. Mine is Cheryl. She wears polyester ALL the time, purses her lips and types very dramatically. Gretchen wouldn't call her a bitch... but I would.
SheHive founder, Ursula Adams, joins Teri Williams of Soulful Living on Empower Radio to chat about SheHive.
[Click Here to Listen]
There’s been a lot of talk recently about why women are leaving corporate America and how they can reclaim it. Everyone from the Harvard Business Review to the New York Times is writing about how we’re leaving the workplace in droves in favor of flexibility and to raise our families.
My favorite piece (and, yes, that is sarcasm) was a sidebar article entitled, Advice, insight from men to the women who want their jobs that ran in the Detroit Free Press a few weeks ago. I'd link to it, but as you can imagine there was a little controversy over the topic and It’s since been removed from the Freep’s website. But, to recap, one top male executive suggested that we more carefully choose a partner that can help with the childcare if we want *his* job.
So, to clarify… if only we had all “married better,” gender bias, pay inequity and glass ceilings wouldn’t exist.
I’ll just wait here while you laugh (or cry… or throw up in your mouth just a little bit).
I can’t - and don’t and won’t - speak for every woman out there, but as for myself I didn’t leave corporate America to raise my family. My daughter was 22 and rather self-sufficient when I quit my job to start my own business. My husband was a wee bit older and mostly self-sufficient. And here’s a news flash - I am more than a mom. I have many other needs that have nothing to do with my role as a mother.
I left my corporate job because the system is broken.
Corporate America wanted me to buy into the idea that the only way to happiness and glory was working 60+ hours a week to satiate the pocketbook or (most often) ego of a shareholder / donor / master who didn’t know or understand a tenth of what I did about my own work. Corporate America wanted me to leave whole parts of myself at home and pretend to be someone in the workplace that I wasn’t. Corporate America wanted me to acquiesce to a male-dominated idea that competition trumps cooperation. Corporate America wanted to spoon feed me scarcity when I needed abundance. And Corporate America wanted me to believe that my feminine qualities - of emotion and nurture and love and collective leadership - were “wrong” and had no place in the work place even though EVERYTHING we know - from science to our gut - tells us differently.
Corporate America is a broken system and I was done beating my head against a brick wall from within trying to change it. So I opted out.
So, no, I don’t want to reclaim corporate America - I want to divorce it. And I’m choosing to “marry up” to myself by creating spaces and places where women don’t have to force fit themselves into roles that don’t fit, that don’t work and, worse yet, harm them. I want women to gleefully declare who they are without fear and discover a sacred truth that they already have everything they need to carry out their very important work - whatever that work is - within themselves.
It’s what I want for every woman who walks in the door of the SheHive and, most of all, it’s what I desperately seek for myself.
Now pardon me while I step off this soap box and get back to my very important lady-work that is equal parts joy, compassion, mad knowledge, badassery and some glitter and glue.
What broken system is no longer serving you that you are going to opt out of? I’d love to hear about it. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD