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Be Still

When I was a child, I remember hearing my parents talk about how quickly time passed. I never could figure that out! It seemed like it took forever for the weekend, or my birthday or Christmas or whatever I was waiting for to arrive! But now, I am channeling my parents! The days fly by and 2017 has gone so quickly!

My mantra for this year was Be Still. In March, my husband and I moved from the house we had lived in for 25 years and started renovating an older home on 5 acres of trees in the country. I have taken a little bit of time off from Reagh and Associates, so I have been a little still, but working in my business has been replaced with working on our home. I have learned to drive a tractor, run an auger, pull fence posts and replace them…all things I never imagined doing. It’s has been a different kind of busy and not really the stillness I imagined! Sometimes life takes us places we never imagined going, right? When it does, we can self correct if that seems like the right thing to do.

So, what about 2018? I am sticking with BE STILL, since I didn’t quite accomplish what I wanted this year! I have no shame about that. I got part way there. For next year, I am feeling called to do less public speaking/training work and more coaching work, which is my real passion. I have a lovely environment that allows me to do my coaching work virtually, and I am going to make good use of it. (Yes, I can still see you on video! Yes, my headset works out here!). When I am not doing what I love for work, I hope to soak in the sights of our new home, breathe deeply, maybe do a little creative work, practice gratitude for all that I have… and be still enough to take it in.

What does 2018 hold for you? What will you do to make it happen or self-correct when the road leads another direction? How might I be able to help you achieve your wishes?

May your holidays be a time of peace, reflection and warmth! Happy 2018!

A BIG Thanks….

While I was being a little still in 2017, a number of amazing guest bloggers wrote for A New Leaf. I want to offer a big shout out to all of them…Sarah Caplan, Katy Kelly, Bethany Renner, Lizz Mahar, Sarah Sparks, Claire Oswald, Elom Dossa and Marissa Buckles. They didn’t agree to write about just any old thing. They agreed to target their blogs to topics related to vulnerability. I am indebted to them for sharing so openly and honestly. I have great hope for their futures. Mine will be better for knowing them. If you missed reading the blogs, it’s not too late http://www.reaghandassociates.com/blog/

Listen When You Are Told: You Are Enough!

I just had my 30th birthday, which certainly feels like a milestone. In many ways, my life looks exactly the way I hoped it would by the time I turned 30. Happily married? Happily employed? Good relationships with friends and family? Check. Now to wrestle with everyone’s favorite question: What’s next? Because up to now, there’s always been an easily foreseeable next step. Even now, there are clear goals for my next decade. Things like paying off my student loans, getting my master’s degree (aka finding a way to pay for a master’s degree while still paying off undergrad loans), and starting a family.

The last decade of my life was about learning how to function as an adult. It was a series of lessons on finding and staying true to myself even when I was unsure of who that was. It involved the constant decision to chip away at the walls I had built to safeguard myself from feeling vulnerable and exposed. I went through a particularly hard time with these hurdles right after graduating college, with a job that was less than ideal and more importantly, less than I was capable of. I was dating someone who was going through hard times himself and I let him treat me less than I deserved. I stayed in unfortunate situations for far too long, because before that, I had always prided myself on being “adaptable”. Adaptability is, in Daring Way terms, my shield from vulnerability. I had to come to terms with the fact that I could not make myself fit into this life, and it felt like massive failure. And, here’s the kicker: I had to share that fact with other people.

For some, this might seem trivial. Many people naturally seek assistance and guidance from others, but I’ve never felt at all comfortable with the fact that I can’t handle something on my own. Taking on more project management duties at work over the past year has made me continue to face the fact that sometimes, there’s just no way to know everything you need to know or be everything you feel you need to be. Sometimes, you have to admit that you can’t handle everything put on your plate. Sometimes, you may have to admit that even if it’s a great plate, it isn’t the plate you really want.

In my extremely limited 30-year-old wisdom, I know that my life will always be about this struggle. As I look forward to what’s next, I find that old vulnerability creeping in. Can I handle the coming challenges? If I’m lucky enough to start a family, will I be a good mother? Can I juggle motherhood with furthering my career goals and keeping my sense of self intact? Is that a selfish thing to ask? If I take a leap and try a different career path, can I not only succeed, but thrive?

The answer, of course, is who knows. What I do know now, that I didn’t know at 20, is that I am enough. I also know that when I inevitably forget this fact, there are loving people who will not fail to remind me. The only real question is, will I listen?

The Catapult Moments

For three years in my twenties I lived by myself in a small apartment on the south side of Chicago. I hated it. It felt like something I had to do, a rite of passage. I missed having a roommate, family, a partner, someone to share a small snippet with after a long day. Yet, during this time I also was really forced to learn about myself, my preferences, my finances, all the stereotypical ‘adult things.’ While the process of living alone was not one I found enjoyable, it did allow me the space to grow. I believe the concept of ‘finding yourself’ is a journey that is never finished, but this period in my life catapulted me forward.

Leadership has been much the same for me. A little more than a year ago I was promoted into an executive level position with my agency. When I applied, I’m not sure I knew all this position entailed or rather if I was again moving forward out of expectation, a logical next step, another rite of passage. Like living alone, I have found it isolating. The breadth and depth of the role has challenged me in ways I never anticipated. It has made me question my career path, my community and myself. Yet this questioning has served as another catapult. I have had to examine myself as a leader, a community organizer, an innovator. I have had to re-evaluate what work/life balance means to me, questioning what it looks like to be a good friend/daughter/partner.

Recently, I found myself living alone again. I still did not enjoy it, but this time I embraced a different way of dealing with the uncertainly, the vulnerability. I practiced giving myself more grace and taking strong comfort in the belief that ‘I am enough.’ Harder in reality than just putting the words on paper, I did not always master it, but somehow living alone wasn’t quite so unbearable.
Now I am working to execute the same belief as it pertains to my leadership. I am not always prepared, perfect, or happy. Mistakes occur, gaps in my knowledge and skills, which cause me to question my competence. Yet, I try to give myself that grace, that space to learn and lead. It may not always look like I think it should and I may not always succeed but, I know I am enough. This time in my life will be another one of those ‘catapult’ moments, not because of the job or where I live, but because I am investing in myself.