“Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?” Eminem, Loose Yourself
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? Or are you the type that doesn’t believe in making them because you never keep them? I was going into 2017 bright-eyed and with open arms, continuing with the momentum I had built in 2016. A couple of weeks before the New Year, I made a plan to hit the road and head west to California. As I tend to do, I needed an escape to focus on the upcoming year and was fortunate that one of my besties opened up her home for the holiday. As road trips always give me the opportunity to do, I had time to think. I took time to reflect on the past year: where I was, where I wanted to go, those who filled my life with inspiration, love and lessons. 2016, was incredible by so many definitions: accomplishments I couldn’t have imagined and impactful people who came in or out of my journey. NYE was wonderfully filled with laughter, conversation, and time with loved ones. Then on the drive back to New Mexico, I hit a brick wall. I don’t know if it was the cold I caught and/or the gloomy weather (self-diagnosed Seasonal Affect Disorder) in New Mexico that prevented me from spending time to set my goals and intentions, or even hit the gym (to get those endorphins flowing). I just wanted to bury myself under the covers in my bed. I was in a funk and not really excited about the New Year–AT. ALL.
The Wednesday after the New Year holiday, I woke to the sound of wild geese flying above my casita. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. Throughout various times of the day during the fall and winter months gaggles of geese fly above and take respite in the nearby golf course. Something that I love about my casita is that while I’m in the suburbs, there is a real sense of nature. The lack of lighting gives way to the beauty of the stars at night. My courtyard is filled with rabbits and at times coyotes that go hunting for their next meal. Various birds flock to the nearby trees and wild fowl take to the golf course as part of their migration patterns. For the first time in 2017, I arose with purpose and excitement for a new challenge (and honestly, I was over the head cold). I was starting a new consulting role with a relatively new non-profit organization that was born out of another non-profit I had the pleasure of serving a few years back.
At the end of that first day, I was asked to introduce myself to the team, not just my professional experience, but my life story especially as it related to the work of this organization. I gave that look to my friend and colleague, because he knows how private I am. And he responded to my look, “Right now they see you as a community leader and a professional. After hearing from you, they will understand that you are not much different from their own children and are an example to what their children can accomplish.” I put my big girl pants and talked about my professional life and what drove me to do the work I was impassioned to do. I shared a bit of my childhood to get the point across but not to overwhelm them, as I know they have their own life stories. I came home that evening feeling good about the day and focused on how I could use my skills to grow this organization, but still not feeling ready to sit down and focus on my goals.
Had they changed so much from the previous year? Professionally, I had accomplished all that I had set out to do in 2016, even beyond what I had fathomed a few years prior. After I had presented at 1 Million Cups in 2014, I had a conversation with someone who had planned to ask what my 5-year plan was, but ran out time so he asked me afterwards. As a New York Fashion Week aficionado, I answered, “To attend Paris, Milan and London Fashion Weeks.” He said, “No, you will be showing in Paris, London and Milan Fashion Weeks.” On my drive to LA, his comment returned from my memory. Hopeless + Cause Atelier was given a HUGE opportunity to show in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t by luck. It was through hard work and starting small in Albuquerque. It wasn’t just me. There were SO many people that believed in my vision and helped make it reality. At times when I’d get close to doubt, I would receive wonderful reminders that this indeed was something I needed to explore. I hope through my work, I gain the same opportunity to show in New York City and beyond. I’ve worked and hustled toward this dream and there has been resentment and nay-sayers, but all I have to say (and cover your eyes if you’re not a fan of profanity).
“Don’t be afraid to shine. Remember, the sun doesn’t give a fuck if it blinds you.” Unknown
And the sun came out, but I still wasn’t ready to write down or even verbalize what I hoped to accomplish in 2017. Then I recalled my personal goals for 2016. The most significant personal goal was to spend quality time with people who would help me grow. There was a time that I was spread so thin and thought that I had to respond to people immediately. I didn’t know if I was coming or going and most of the time I spent with loved ones was filled with anxiety of the million things I had going on, or being constantly interrupted by notifications popping up on my phone. For my 2015 NYE trip, I left my phone at home. I also turned off all notifications from that point forward and in most encounters, left my phone in my bag in order to provide my full attention to the person in front of me. I was actually present in conversations and experiences. At times it made me sad to recall, because there were moments during that crazy time in which I missed out on life. Now please note, I don’t judge too heavily those who have their phone out and check it occasionally, but I do pay attention to the addiction to alerts on electronic devices vs. human interaction.
“We must constantly remind ourselves to look at things in a different way.” Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society
Then the squawking from the gaggles of geese came back like an alarm. I had tried to ignore them for a week and a half, but they were constantly reminding me; I needed to write. I needed to create. Before doing that, I did simple research to learn a little more about these creatures. I grew up with geese (life at a feed store). What I remembered was that they were territorial and especially protective of their young, so much so, that my Doberman Pinchers were afraid of them. I also know that they used their honking sound to communicate and the pitch levels indicated danger. When I was a child, one of the haystacks caught fire and it was the geese that woke my parents to notify them of the threat (again, feed store life). After reading a couple of pages on the internet, it was interesting how some of their traits resonated on me and how I was feeling in the moment. From what I read, migrating geese tend to honk louder in order to stay together and as a form of encouragement. The contact calls use to communicate remind me of bagpipes. Bagpipes played at my mother’s funeral…enough said. As geese fly in a V formation, each goose flapping its wings creates uplift for the bird that follows. By flying in a formation, the gaggle provides 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Also, by flying in this formation and by taking advantage of the wing span vortex of the bird in front of him, each bird can save energy by reducing drag. It is said when a goose is injured, or shot down a few withdrawal from the formation to care and protect the bird until it dies or is able to fly again. When a goose gets tired it rotates back into the formation and gives another the opportunity to fly in that point position. I loved reading this and really thinking about what it could mean for me in the upcoming year.
“You really should think about writing a book, even if it were nonfiction many people wouldn’t believe it.” Nina Wells
What is in front of you may not what be what it seems. Sometimes we have to look deeper. How do we care for ourselves and others? Do we uplift, provide reprieve or warn of danger? Do we create energy or drag? This year, I have decided to focus on this narrative: Once Upon a Dress. I plan to not only create through this inspiration but also to write about it. For those of you who’ve inspired or challenged my novelist tendencies, I am taking it to heart.
Once Upon a Dress is not to be taken in the literal sense because not everyone’s “power” is found in a garment known as a dress, but instead how they’ve carried themselves. It is an interesting year and time ahead. I know I have only one shot and this is my opportunity to take flight.
With light and love!
Geese references courtesy of: http://www.interestingfunfacts.com/cool-facts-about-goose.html http://suewidemark.com/lessonsgeese.htm