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
Last Friday at Toast2U, Brandi asked all of us to write our fears, stresses and worries onto little yellow strips of paper and tape them, one-by-one, to Pete the Empowerment Piñata - a rainbow colored donkey full of Kit Kats and positive affirmations. Once Pete was covered in all of our grievances, we beat the hell out of him with a yellow dollar-store wiffle ball bat.
For the first time that I could remember in my adult life, I had to actually search for worries. That’s not to say that life is perfect - because perfect doesn’t exist - but life is so damn good. It had been a week of so many gifts from so many amazing people that I was too filled with gratitude to think about much else.
So I chose "fruit flies" to tape to Pete. Chez Adams has recently had an outbreak of fruit flies - little f’ers that are completely impervious to every known pest control measure known to man.
Flash forward to Saturday and Kira’s writing seminar where I was doing a timed writing about my first journal:
"I don’t remember anything I wrote in the red journal except one particular line recapping the day’s events at school. 'What do you think Paul wanted to ask Stormy in the cafe?' it read.
The contrast between the two events stuck me. How did this seven year old girl who wouldn’t spell a word wrong in her own journal for fear of admitting she was imperfect become a woman who couldn’t think of any big worries in life so she taped “Fruit Flies” to Pete the Empowerment Piñata? Have I really learned so many lessons in the forty years in between that this calm is a new, more natural state for me? Or am I batshit crazy in denial?
Like, am I Oprah or am I Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch?
Truth is, it doesn’t matter. Tom Cruise was as happy as he had ever been when he was jumping on that couch. Bliss was his perception, so bliss was his reality. And if fruit flies were the only thing stressful enough in my world to tape to Pete the Empowerment Piñata last Friday night, that was most certainly my reality.
In fact, it was and it is.
For far too long I believed that if I “fixed” everything about myself, dug in real hard and eliminated the imperfections, that life would get easier and I’d be happy. I know now I had it backwards. I made a conscious decision recently to be happy and life just got easier. It’s given me the energy needed to tackle some pretty big stuff, some hard stuff and some important stuff.
Part of that important "stuff” was taking an idea I had in my head for a while - Bliss Camp - and putting it on paper so I could bring it to the SheHive. Based on the research of positive psychology guru, Shawn Actor, Bliss Camp is a 21 day gratitude challenge that tests the theory that there are a defined set of tools we can practice for 21 days that will flip the script in our head to find happiness first.
Want to test the theory with me?
Bliss Club kicks off Friday, June 9th, and ends Friday, June 30th, with an evening of random acts of kindness at the SheHive and downtown Ferndale. We’ll meet once in-between, online. Click here to learn more and/or to register.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
I have been turned down for more jobs in the past year than the last 20 combined...
Jobs I was perfectly qualified for, jobs I was overqualified for, jobs that I would have absolutely rocked. For one of them the recruiter told me I was the only qualified candidate she had come across in the state.
Still didn’t get the damn job.
Now, of course, I work. I run the SheHive as well as facilitate classes and events here. I coach private clients. I do management consulting for a few small nonprofits. About once a month I present or speak at a local conference or for some local group. My plate is full, the work is highly satisfying and the money is enough that the Mister and I live pretty comfortably, I can still travel pretty much when/where I want and I drink good coffee. (Because... priorities.)
So, why can’t I just let go of this idea that I need a j-o-b?
Lessons Will Be Repeated Until Learned
“Maybe it’s a wake up call from the universe,” I wrote to a member of my Masterminds’ cohort recently. “Maybe I’m not supposed to work for anyone else anymore.”
“That doesn’t sound like a wake up call. That sounds like the universe is trying to beat you over the head,” she replied.
They say we are destined to repeat lessons in life until they are learned. Applying for jobs that I am more than capable of doing/qualified for and getting rejected eleventy-billion-f’ing times is supposed to be teaching me… something. I have to believe that or believe that all the successes and accolades I earned in my career up until this point were lies - which, in the face of repeated rejection, can feel true at times. But I know it’s not.
Illusions vs Reality
I’ve spent the better part of the last six months trying to uncover what it is that a job provided that I’m missing now...
I miss the validation of someone (anyone!) telling me I’m something. I went to grad school three years ago with the idea that I’d come out on the other side primed to be a Vice President and eventually a C-suite level executive at a nonprofit. I left that career track to pursue my passion of creating the SheHive (but apparently forgot to tell myself so).
I miss having a community. I was deeply entrenched in my work community - we shared laughter, tears, failures, triumphs, births, deaths, marriages, divorces and everything in between for nearly two decades. When I left my job, I left behind people I thought were my friends. People whom, save a very select few, I no longer have any relationship with.
I miss a steady paycheck. I’ve come to discover that a steady paycheck meant much more to me than money.
The Lesson in Front of Me Now
Three hundred thirty two days ago i walked out of the doors of what is likely my final full-time job for the last time, or at least for a long while. It was a declaration that, from that moment forward, only I got define who I was, what I did and what success looked like for me. I forget that moment of bravado and hope from time-to-time and revert back to what used to serve me well - the familiar. That place where I could coast by on the expectations others had for my life.
Apparently the universe isn’t going to let me do that anymore.
Is there a lesson you are repeating right now? I’d love to hear about it! Email me at email@example.com or leave it in the comments below.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD