I grew up as a gay woman in Ireland when it was under the rule of the Catholic Church, literally. Oh, and I didn’t drink tea or alcohol, so three strikes against me! I learned early that to live inside the box that people expected me to live in wouldn’t work for me, so I forged my own path. I had a fabulously strong mother for my female role-model, and learned kindness from my father. I was always championing people’s causes but was cautious to not draw attention to the fact that I was gay. I rebelled with my hair and my clothes but was a supportive and kind friend to anyone who needed me. I am independent yet needing of acknowledgement by others, that “pat on the back” that says you’re doing a good job...
There was, and still is I suppose, a ying and yang to how I live my life.
At 20 I traveled to the other side of the world and spent a year in Australia. I was young yet confident in my own skin, and I had an amazing time. It was here that I kissed another girl for the first time (and I liked it!)
One of the other adventures I had was going into wine country to pick grapes. My sister and I lived in a three-man tent (we needed a three-man for the two of us and our ridiculously large suitcases.) We stayed at a campground and one evening had a bit of a harrowing experience. We were out by the picnic tables having dinner. There were other “residents” there, including a few men who had consumed a few too many beers. One of them offered me a drink, but I don’t drink so I declined. He got persistent and took offense when I refused so became belligerent. Somehow I managed to stay calm and dodge the guitar he was swinging at my head! I haven’t thought about this incident for many years, but it came up as I was thinking about resiliency. If I had been a different person, this event would have had me running for the hills! But I stayed put and persisted. I don’t claim to be stronger than the next person, but I have been in many situations in life that I’ve been able to learn and grow from, rather than let them bring me down. Even when they do bring me down, it’s temporary. I don’t stay down, and I come back stronger than before. I attribute this to my ability to embrace change and lean on my strength of perspective.
Ah Perspective – I’ve always been able to see various sides of most situations. I’m sure that’s in part because I’m a Libra, so have a natural tendency towards “balanced”. This ability is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it makes it hard for me to make decisions, I vacillate between options (including kissing that girl in Australia.) It can occasionally get me in trouble when I chime in with alternative ideas, unsolicited. Most of the time though, it’s an amazing gift to have and I love it! It means that when someone is beating themselves up, I can help them see another way to look at themselves. This often leads to a new appreciation of themselves, and I love it when that happens! When a client is struggling with determining a way forward, I can help point out alternatives and strategies, which can lead to amazing action and outcomes. Perspective is pretty cool!
I turn 50 this year, so there are many stories to tell and adventures to relate, but I’ll save them for another time. During the years between my journey halfway around the world and today, I’ve studied character strengths and coaching, management skills and meditation, and all of this (and life) has taught me that there are many ways to approach change, challenge, and commitment. We all have so many skills and strengths and when we learn how to leverage them, we become unstoppable! My advice, take any opportunity that comes your way to learn, grow, have fun, and persevere. If you feel like you’re “done”, take another look at the situation. Can you use a new perspective and change the situation? Sometimes you don’t know how amazing you are until you surprise yourself by what you do.
All of my life experiences have brought me to this place, this point in my life. I am a woman unleashed and I’m here to make a difference!
So, what’s next for me? I want to help those of you who are socially-progressive entrepreneurs, women running for office for the first time, women who are working and trying to make, no ARE making a difference in the lives of others! Especially those marginalized by society. If this resonates with you, reach out!