The Wisdom of You

On my way into the supermarket yesterday, I ran into a friend whom I have not seen in eight months.  Masked, we nearly walked right by one another. Once we realized our error, we stood talking six feet apart while others slalomed around us with their carriages. Oddly, we had very little to say. Once we said our good-byes, I went inside feeling funny.  Was it sadness? Disappointment? Or something else?  Strength?  I turned to transition for some needed perspective. Days later, I am still surprised by where this reflection led me….

Safeway, San Francisco, CA

Before running to the store, I was on a call with an advocacy group that is working to support women whose careers are being upended by the home schooling needs of their children. I chose not share this with my friend. That choice itself was perhaps the biggest clue as to what was going on for me.

Two stories popped into my head before I could make it out of the produce aisle; one about cabinets and the other about gardens. Together they reminded me of an important choice, one full of possibility that we make everyday even when we are in the midst of great uncertainty.

The story about cabinets hailed from a transition workshop I hosted for individuals who had suffered traumatic brain injuries.  Eloise, a strong woman who had progressed significantly beyond her initial limitations, described an unexpected transition in the wake of her accident. She said, “When I grew up, I was taught that “x” means “x” and “y” means “y.” I held on to that thinking until this all happened. Now, I am not sure.  It is like I am cleaning my kitchen cabinets. I take everything out before I put it back in. I am asking; ‘What is this?’ ‘Is this worth it?’ ‘Do I believe this anymore?’  And, you know what, I am leaving a lot out on the counter.”

The second story comes from Dishing on Disruption, the free weekly event I have hosted consistently throughout this pandemic. A few weeks ago we talked about times in our lives when we moved forward in a meaningful way. Attendees shared stories about a husband’s death, advocacy for family members, unsuccessful fertility treatments, divorce, and career mishaps of every variety. As a follow-up, I asked attendees to share the advice they would give themselves today based upon that earlier experience. Veda, a thoughtful, smart and incredibly gifted women, said, “I would turn to my garden for wisdom;  like roots I would reach deeply to get nutrients, I would bend toward the light, and grow.”

These two stories reminded me that something important happened in that supermarket parking lot. I made a choice. The choice I am talking about has to do with our willingness to let others see us.

How visible are you?

Our willingness to be seen relies on one of our greatest  – and sometimes least used – assets, our voices. The voice I am talking about has nothing to do with pitch or timber or range. Our voices are something more:

  • Voice is a composite of all that we are.
  • Voice, like transition, is a choice.
  • Voice needs exercise. Without use, voice will not retain its vibrancy.
  • Voice, like our democracy, requires our active commitment. It can easily get shrouded by air brushed expectations of what we should or could do.
  • Voice serves as a bridge to connect who we are to the circumstances of our lives.
  • There are many ways to express our voices; loud, sparkly, silent and strong. The truest expression of our voices may be sitting silently next to a friend.

By the time I reached the supermarket’s check out line, I was in a different place. I could have easily been feeling alone, discouraged over a friendship on the outs. Instead,  I was honoring a choice I made, and considered my willingness to make another one.

My wish for you today is that you look with courage at voice and that you see opportunities all around you where your voice – your true voice – inhabits those opportunities you have to be seen. Keep in mind, a grateful world awaits your voice in all its possibilities.

Warmest wishes for a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.   Linda R.                Drop me a note at (2 s’s and 2 t’s!)


From Novofemina’s Archives:  Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving 2014 Post: Walking with Thanks

Thanksgiving 2013 Post: A Beginner’s Mind

Thanksgiving 2012: Transition Suspended

Thanksgiving 2011: Her Place At The Table


Subscribe to the hottest podcast around, Destination Unknown. The podcast explores transition and its expression in our lives. Here are a few sample episodes:

Redefining Ourselves a look at risk and redefining who we are

The Big Shift a look at the fear, loss and hope that accompanies a shift in our identity


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