The first night after rolling back the clock, I found myself waking in the dark. As I lay there, not wanting to open my eyes because I knew I’d never go back to sleep, I focused on the sound of my ceiling fan hum. That glorious white noise tends to help me sleep heavier, but that night wasn’t enough. And then I heard it, “Who.” “Who.” “Whoooooooooooo.”
I often wonder, “where do I live?” From rabbits in my courtyard, to coyotes howling at the full moon, to the various birds and seasonal foul that make a road stop on the nearby golf course to their winter home, I am so grateful to have such vibrant life in my backyard. Once again, I got to thinking, “Is this owl talking to me?” Then, the hooting continued. I finally fell back asleep, only to awake the next morning to track down why this nocturnal animal called out in my sleep. So, first thing that morning, I googled “owl spiritual meaning”. Instantly, a list appeared, from translations from Hindi to Celtic meanings. I opened the first link to read that the owl is sacred to the Greek goddess of learning, Athena, and is depicted as a symbol of status, knowledge and wisdom. In other cultures, the owl is the protector of the dead, thus often misunderstood as an evil omen. Death is not the end all be all, it also has the meaning of transition.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, I find myself in Washington DC for the next round of the Civic Accelerator. Unfortunately, I didn’t build in a lot of time for playing tourist, so instead I decided my morning exercise routine would be to run around the White House and the National Monument. It’s been a little over a year since the latest administration has been in office and I can only think that the past year has been like traveling down the rabbit hole, so much has happened personally and within the outside world that I can’t help but think this must be some sort of psychedelic trip. Like, is this for real?!? Then I thought back to the, “Who. Who. Whoooooooo”, and I realized it was a question. Who do you think you are? Who are you? As I’m running, I’ve come across the National Christmas Tree and I think about the pitch I developed for this round. I learn in my first day of this week of challenged thinking, that to help us develop that authentic voice that we should design a visual port key (I know you read this and are thinking Harry Potter—and yes, it is in that same vain and yes, that pun was intended—I’m a HP N.E.R.D). It is a huge responsibility that I am grateful for, but it calls for my vulnerability.
Being vulnerable is something that is difficult for me, but it is important for me to be completely authentic as to why I’m involved and why it’s important to invest and help scale the life changing organization I am representing. I really had to dig down deep to some memories that I had buried deep inside, not necessarily wanting to relive them. And yet again the stubborn owl, now in my head, reminded me of the transition, changing energy in one form to another. This transition or “death” is not a physical exclusivity instead it can be a transition in emotion, mind and/or spirit. It has been a cathartic exercise and has been liberating to remove myself from the shame that I didn’t commit, yet has shackled me my entire life.
The weekend before Dia de los Muertos, I received a message from a family friend informing me that her office had received a call to highlight my mom for Humans of New Mexico. This is the same office that houses my mom’s memorial scholarship. I was proud once again to honor her, her life’s work, and her legacy. She is continuously omnipresent in ways I need her guidance most. Just days before my departure for NYFW, the article written about her, her impact on University of New Mexico Students and following your dreams appeared on our family ranch refrigerator. That article had been written over 30 years ago and was found by my aunt as she was cleaning out closets. The request for information from Humans of New Mexico (the link is here if you want to read it) was that reminder of WHO I am and where I come from. We all have a legacy and we should live with the notion that we only die once, but we live every day until that last breath.
Which brings me to today, Wednesday, November 15, 2017, and the accelerator segment in which we were challenged by Smallify to seize opportunities by answering problems faster in creative and improvisational ways. At the end of the segment we were given a gift, one of the values. I reached into the gift bag and drew out a FEAR LESS button. What resonated with me so powerfully was that in 2015, my mantra was FEARLESS. It was superficial. I was scared shitless. I was feeling the strain of piling debt, relationships, not knowing what to do or where to go to, and honestly, felt I had no support in my work and personal life. Today, I fear less probably because I’ve seen rock bottom. There is so much I’ve gained from the experience to help me be stronger and more authentic in what I do today. As the Smallify founder, Dave, left and I thanked him for his time and shared knowledge, he mentioned to me what positive energy I provided to the group and how that makes it easier to create an impactful learning environment when you feel the support in the audience. That comment took me back to a conversation I had in a meeting a few weeks ago with a colleague. I was waiting in the conference room when he walked in. As we shared our greetings, he mentioned, “you are always smiling. Is that something you always do or is it that you are genuinely a happy person?” I laughed and thought about it for a moment and realized, smiling is my favorite (of course I had to throw that in), but honestly, I judge people at first sight (keep that in mind the next time I see you). And maybe, judge is harsh but it’s my reality. How are you projecting your genuine self? I believe happy is a constant choice I make. I choose to look for good in every instance and if I can lighten or provide hope even when it may feel hopeless, I feel that empowers me and those around me.
As I’ve focused on the premise to fear less, I am seizing opportunities to test ideas without fear of failure because if I haven’t succeeded, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I no longer fear the “no”, either hearing it or saying it. This has driven me to start conversations in retail. Not me taking on the role as the retailer again (I suck at that role) but becoming a supplier to retailers that find worth in my value proposition of Making Impactful Entrances. I am building a shop-able website for my patrons that want to wear Hopeless + Cause Atelier but don’t live in Albuquerque. I am pulling crazy inspiration into design and challenging the status quo. I have found the WHO, Mr. Owl (and it didn’t take me three licks to get to the center of that Tootsie Roll pop) and it is To Give – To.
To Give my voice To those who haven’t yet found their voice.
To Give my knowledge and share my skills To empower others.
To Give my soul work To inspire others to dare greatly in order to fail greatly and succeed greatly.
To Give my smile To remind people how you live is a choice.
To Give my hand and heart To provide hope.
Who are you? What is your To Give To and how are you living it? And I purposely didn’t share the reasoning behind my Christmas Tree port key. If you would like to learn about it, shoot me an email, invite me for a coffee or wine conversation, but know I will challenge you to find your own port key.
Con luz y amor,
Dar (To Give) A (To)
(Quien eres esta dentro de ti)