When Are We Too Old?

(first posted on July 17, 2011)

runner

I never thought I could run more than 50 yards

This week I reached a significant milestone that I could not have imagined reaching two years ago. I ran 5 miles. As I ended my longest run ever I was immensely grateful that my body is healthy. I have never been hung up on age, well except when I was young – I couldn’t wait to be older. But, lately I have been thinking, is there an age when I will stop feeling like I can do anything I set my mind to?

I have never considered age to be a limiting factor.  People are not too young to be a project lead or a director if they have work ethic, emotional maturity and the smarts to do it. No one is ever too old to go back to school, to fall in love or start a new career if they want to.  I have always thought that a person’s mindset and energy level are far more indicative of what they can do than the year that they were born. 

Our health is probably the most important contributing factor to how young or old we feel.  A couple of years ago, I was feeling exhausted all the time so I went to visit a homeopathic nurse. After a couple tests she was able to tell me that biologically my body was 69-years old – I was 43. My enzymes were not digesting properly, some of my body chemicals were deficient and others were overproduced. I had hip and back pain due to repetitive braking and accelerating in rush hour traffic. Unlike that IAMS dog in the commercial whose “insides are a thing of beauty”, my insides were a mess. And, that’s exactly how I felt. After an 8-week detox program, some digestive enzymes and lifestyle modifications to reduce stress, I believe I am finally getting my 36 year-old body back!

How old we feel also has a lot to do with mental toughness. There are countless stories of people who have refused to give in to an illness and with their strong minds willed their weakened bodies to heal and get strong again. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the “mind-body connection is now scientifically proven” (Power of a Super Attitude, USA Today, 10-12-2004). Skeptics say that the mind cannot cure illness, but admit that a positive outlook can lead to better living, which allows healing to occur, if healing is possible at all. I happen to think that science has yet to catch up to all that our minds can do.

I have proven to myself that exercise is a key part of staying and feeling healthy. As long as I take care of my body and keep my positive attitude, I think that the “I’m too old” line is still a long ways off for me.  Of course there are some things that I am happy to say that I am too old for…rollercoasters, egomaniacs, and BS….I have always been too old for those.

What are you doing to stay young?

Much Love

What To Do When The Unexpected Happens

Photo of a canoe(first posted on July 10, 2011)

It was a hot Saturday in July when my friend and I decided to go down to the Potomac river and rent a canoe. Neither of us had much canoeing experience but, feeling adventurous, we went for it.  Pretty soon we were getting our canoe, paddles, life vests and off we were.

Getting out of the docks was the first challenge. It seemed we could only go in circles. After a few tries we were finally able to zigzag our way out into the beautiful scenery. Oh, how beautiful it was! Seeing the sky and the trees reflected on the water seemed otherworldly to me. It was so tranquil and peaceful that I could feel all of the week’s stress, and my sweat, just evaporate from my skin. It was very hot. So, we decided to take off our life vests.

We continued to zigzag our way down the river as it got wider. We stopped to enjoy the scenery but for some unknown reason we decided to switch places. We both stood up in the canoe and began to switch. This is where it all gets blurry in mind – you can probably guess what happened next. We tipped over our canoe and fell in.

As my ankle hit the side of the canoe, I clearly remembered that my friend did not know how to swim. I also thought about my lack of swimming skills. Due to a couple of drowning scares as a child, I panic in deep water. These were my thoughts as the water fully engulfed me, filling my ears and heart with dread. As I continued to descend my thoughts turned to the real possibility that one of us, maybe both of us, could drown.  

We came up at the same time. I saw my friend’s eyes filled with terror as he grasped for the capsized canoe. I have never spoken so firmly or assuredly to anyone as I did that day. I said, “Listen to me, we are NOT going to die today. Do you hear me?” I repeated this until he nodded and said, “Okay.” We had not seen another canoe for a while and there was no one around where we capsized. The peaceful solitude that felt so heavenly just a few minutes before had turned threatening and ominous. We had to consider our options. I looked around and the first thing I noticed was that our things – our shoes, wallets, vests, oars – were swiftly floating down river. While he held on to the canoe, I swam around and gathered everything and put it on top of the canoe. We had fallen in at a very wide part of the river so either shore seemed impossible to reach. Even if I could swim to shore to get help, I knew I could not leave him. I tried to put the life vest on him but he was so scared that he was unable to release his grip from the canoe. I tied the vests around him as best I could. By now he was calm enough to ask me to teach him how to swim. “Well,” I said, “you have to put your legs behind you and kick.” We came up with a plan to try to hang on to the canoe and kick our way to shore. Just as we were to implement this plan, out of nowhere, appeared another canoe. “Do you guys need help?,” they said – like angels sent from heaven! The two young ladies helped my friend onto their canoe. I swam behind them while tugging our canoe and our belongings.

I learned some very important lessons from this experience – never take off your life vest and never stand up in a canoe – but I also learned about what to do when the unexpected happens.

  1. You are not going to die. We tend to immediately think of the worst possible scenario. Fear can paralyze us. But, when the unexpected happens, we need to think clearly and take action. As soon as you feel overwhelmed by the situation, take a breath and establish firmly with yourself – and others – that you are not going to die and the worst possible scenario is NOT going to happen. Once you eliminate that possibility, you can focus on the actual options to get through it. You will discover abilities in yourself that you never knew you had. 
  2. See what you can do immediately. Doing something about the situation, even if it’s small, gives you some control, it calms you, and gets you time to think about the options. The calmer and more relaxed you are, the better decisions you will make.
  3. Take action. Once you have narrowed down your options, select the best one and implement it. Move forward with the desired outcome in your sights. Commit to that vision and if the first option doesn’t work, go to the next one. Never lose sight of your desired outcome.
  4. Ask for help. Sometimes we feel that we have to handle everything ourselves because we are responsible, it’s our job, or nobody else can understand the situation as well as we can. Being the sole swimmer in an unexpected situation will be exhausting. Ask for help from those around you. Pray and ask God for help. When you find yourself going up river without a paddle, the rock of your faith will be there to pull you through.

Today, we can be sure of one thing: that all the best plans and even the best strategies cannot prepare us for the unexpected. Thankfully, not all situations are life or death, but they can sure feel like it. Like me and my friend, you will be called to your use your will, your wits, and your best swim to get yourself out from underwater and back to shore.

Much Love

Iron Butterflies

 

My friend Favio invited me to attend an event at the Inter-American Development Bank a few weeks ago. It was there that I first heard of the Iron Butterflies. The author, Dr. Birute Regine, uses the phrase Iron Butterflies to describe the inspirational women she met who embrace and apply their intellect, power and the right combination of masculine and feminine skills to lead change in their organizations, their communities and the world. I was fortunate to meet two of the Iron Butterflies: Deborah Rosado Shaw, Founder of Umbrellas Plus, LLC and Dream BIG! Enterprises, and Maria Lopez, the first Latina judge in the state of Massachusetts. Both women were amazing and gave great advice.

At the book signing I was immediately drawn to Dr. Regine and wanted to know more about her book. An Iron Butterfly herself, she earned her master’s degree and doctorate in human development from Harvard University, was a psychologist in private practice for 25 years, and a visiting scholar at the Center for Research on Women at WellesleyCollege. She describes this book and her work as her calling “to ring the bell” about the era of women and of the social transformation that is taking place that values feminine leadership models of collective effort, inclusion, empathy and interdependence. I asked her for an interview and she was kind enough to spend a couple of hours with me to tell me more about her experience.

I was curious about what had set Dr. Regine on this quest for Iron Butterflies. She explained that in a previous book she wrote about complexity science, all of the accomplished leaders she had interviewed were men. These men exhibited well developed soft skills – nurturing relationships and fostering collaboration – which made them very effective leaders. Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World tells us about the journey of over fifty powerful women and how they have charged ahead with their femininity in a society that has traditionally ignored the value that women bring. Birute describes the experience of meeting the Iron Butterflies as inspiring and surprisingly familiar, as if she were visiting with an old friend. The women she met were from different countries: the United States, Canada, England, Italy, Colombia, Australia, Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq. They had walked different career paths: doctors, artists, a federal judge, CEOs, lawyers, a professor and others, yet all seemed to share a few common qualities. Birute says that the most surprising of these was their vulnerability. Iron Butterflies embrace their vulnerability and by doing so have opened the door to life’s lessons, self discovery and rewarding opportunities. Like butterflies, they have evolved and broken free from a dark confined space to reveal the full beauty and power of their wings.

 I love this book and am honored to know the author who has been called to wake us up, to shake us and show us that a new era is here and it’s time for us to also break free and change our world. In many ways, this book has confirmed what I have felt and been called to do over the past 15 months. It is my hope that the strength, generosity, wisdom and vulnerability of the women in this book will come through the pages and awaken the Iron Butterfly in you.

 Here is an excerpt:

Unemployed in the Big Apple, with a five-year-old child and no savings and steady income, Pat began to question the merits of her dream to work in the media. Should she return to teaching? Go home to Georgia? Or should she stay the course? “It was a horrible time with huge amounts of doubt,” Pat recalled. “I don’t know how I got through it.” To make ends meet, she picked up all kinds of odd jobs, and with the help of a Russian neighbor who babysat for her son, she even worked nights for a spell as a waitress. “Every day I was trying to decide: should I stay or should I go? And my mother kept urging me to forget the dreams and be practical. Come home.”

She managed to keep her doubts and fears at bay until one night, after months of trying unsuccessfully to leverage odd freelance jobs into something that could pay the rent, she admitted to herself that she need to borrow money. Reluctantly, she borrowed what she needed from her best woman friend – an amount, Pat feared, that would stretch her friend’s resources. Nevertheless, Pat picked up the money in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm and took a taxi home. As she stepped into her apartment, she realized she had left the bag in the taxi. “The loan and every bit of security I had was in that bag. That was it. It was time to pack up and head home, forget the big dreams, accept the condition of fear.” Just as she gave up hope, her phone rang and a voice asked, “Is this Patricia Edenfield Mitchell?” She hesitated to answer, remembering her mother’s warning not to talk to strangers. Then she heard words from heaven. “This is Rabbi Goldberg,” the voice said, “and I have your bag.”

Within minutes, there he was, standing in the rain giving me back everything: my friend’s loan to pay rent, my identification, my dreams. As I tried to thank him and tell him what this meant to me, he smiled and said, “Well, Patricia, everybody needs a rabbi some time, and tonight you got yours.” In place of fear and insecurity, I now had a rabbi and a month’s rent. I landed a television job in Boston soon after that, and the big dreams started coming true in ways I had never imagined.

…More than anything, keeping fears at bay, trusting the unfolding process of life, casting your fate to the wind, and honoring your journey to your true purpose defines what I call courageous vulnerability. It’s a challenge to not give up, to persevere when yet another mountain looms in your path, to exercise patience when you can no longer see any light at the end of the tunnel.

 Much Love

Feliz Cumpleaños America!

(first posted on July 3, 2011 – see Spanish version below)

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

When I first heard of America, it was when I learned that my mom had left and we didn’t know when she would return. I was told that America, as theU.S. is referred to in other countries, was a special place. For months after my mom left, my grandfather would tell my brother and me how magical America was. People in America could get anything they wanted, he said. All they had to do was push a button and food or money would come out of machines. Everything was mechanical, he would say, and you had to especially quick in the bathrooms, because they had robotic arms that would wipe your rear end once you had finished your business. That was the America that I expected when I first landed in Miami in January, 1976.   

It turned out that my grandfather’s imagination was not too far off the mark. The very first thing we saw at the airport that blew our minds were the escalators. Then, it was the wonderment of the luggage belt, the vending machines, ATMs –  indeed,America was the place where I could expect everything to be at my fingertips. I felt incredibly lucky.

When the day finally came that I could become a naturalized American citizen, I was very excited. I had been in the U.S. eight years and I felt incredibly grateful to have learned a new language and honored to become an adopted daughter of the United States. By now I had learned that money did not grow on trees, the streets were not paved in gold, and there were no robotic arms behind the toilet. I had learned that I had to have goals and work hard so I could enjoy the life of an American.

What did being an American mean for me? It meant that I had a right to speak up and expect certain things like good customer service, safe products, safe foods, and I could give my opinion without any concern for who might be listening. It meant I could be myself and accept others for who they are. It meant that I could study and be anything I wanted – except be president of the United States- but that that still left me tons of other opportunities.  As a bonus, I got to enjoy the music, food, customs and beliefs of both my Hispanic and American cultures. Being an American meant that I could have a chance at success, regardless of where I came from.

A chance. I think that is what Americais all about. It’s not so much a place as it is a concept. The concept that people deserve a chance to be free, to prove themselves through hard work, to provide for their families, to contribute to society, and to aspire to be anything they want. A chance at what is possible. I think that the first settlers must have felt that same sense of wonderment, excitement and awe forAmerica as I did when I first landed here. Our founding fathers must have felt that as well and they committed to preserving that concept for future generations. There are a few who would want us to close America’s gates, limit opportunities to a select few, and negate that chance to others. But, if we did, America would become just a place and we would lose our edge and our very essence.

As a Hispanic American, the fourth of July has a dual significance. On that day, I celebrate the birth of this nation, and the ideals that continue to make it special and magical. But, on the fourth of July I also celebrate the chances that I have been given with the honor to call the United States my home.  Feliz Cumpleaños America!

Much Love

La primera vez que supe de America fue cuando mis abuelos me contaron que mi mami se habia ido para alla y no se sabia cuando regresaria. America, como se le dice a los Estados Unidos en nuestros paises, es un lugar muy especial, me dijeron. Los meses despues que mi mami se fue, mi abuelito nos contaba, a mi y a mi hermano, cuentos fantasticos de America.  Nos decia – en America, usted puede tener todo lo que quiera, solo es cuestion de empujar un botoncito y ya! Comida y hasta el dinero sale de las maquinas. Todo sera robotico, nos decia el abuelito y cuidado en el servicio! alli le sale una mano por detras que le limpia el cu**. Cuando aterrizamos en Miami en enero de 1976, en mi mente esa era la America que yo esperaba conocer.    

Resulto que la imaginacion del abuelito habia acertado muy bien. Lo primero que nos fascino en el aeropuerto fueron las escaleras mecanicas! Luego nos sorprendieron el circulador de maletas, las maquinas de refrescos y los cajeros automaticos – verdaderamente, America era un lugar donde yo podria encontrar de todo y tenerlo a mi alcanze. Me senti increiblemente afortunada. 

Cuando por fin llego el dia de hacerme ciudadana Americana, estaba muy emocionoada. Llevava ocho años en los Estados Unidos y me sentia muy agradecida de haber adquirido un nuevo idioma y mucho mas emociona de convertirme en hija adoptiva de este pais. Claro que ya entendia quel dinero no caia de los arboles, y que las calles de America no estaban pavimentadas de oro, y tambien que no habian manos roboticas para limpiarme despues de usar el servicio. Para ese entonces, ya entendia muy bien que en America hay que hazerce metas y trabajar muy duro para disfrutar la vida de una Americana.

Que significaba para mi convertirme en Americana? Era sentirme con el derecho de expresarme libremente; era de esperar y disfrutar de ciertos beneficios como productos buenos y seguros, comida nutritiva y sana. Era poder expresar una opinion sin el temor de quien podria estar escuchando. Ser Americana era tener la libertad de ser mi misma y de aceptar a los demas. En America, yo podria estudiar lo que quisiera y aspirar a cualquier carrera – menos a la presidencia de los Estados Unidos – pero aun sin eso, me dejaba miles y miles de oportunidades que no hubiese tenido en mi pais. Como bonus, teniendo las dos culturas, se me duplicaron las cosas que enriquecen la vida – la musica, la comida, las costumbres y las creencias. Lo lindo de ser Americana es tener las oportunidades para triunfar, sin importar de donde vengo y de cual familia soy.

Una oportunidad. Esa es la esencia de lo que es America. Darle a las personas una oportunidad. Es precisamente esta idea – de que todo ser humano se merece la oportunidad de vivir con libertad, de sentirse util y trabajar duro para proveer para su familia, y contribuir al mundo y la sociedad, y aspirar a cualquier carrera – esa es lo que destaca a este pais. Me imagino que los primeros en llegar a estas tierras sentirian maravilla, emocion, y admiracion por lo que America podria ser, al igual que yo los senti cuando pise tierra Americana por primera vez. Los fundadores de este gobierno sentirian lo mismo y se propusieron a preservar esta idea para el gozo de las generaciones futuras. Hoy dia, hay algunos que desean que se cerrazen las puertas de America y se negazen la oportunidades para guardarlas para el beneficio de unos pocos. Pero, si asi fuera, America no seria lo que es, y se convertiria en un lugar como cualquier otro, y no solo perderiamos algo muy especial sino que tambien nuestra escencia.  

Como una Hispana Americana, yo celebro el 4 de Julio con mucho patriotismo y con doble razon. Celebro el cumpleaños de America y la preservacion de sus ideas, las cuales la hazen un lugar unico y fantastico. Pero, tambien celebro todas las oportunidades que he recibido con el honor de llamarme una ciudadana de los Estados Unidos. Happy Birthday America!

Con mucho Amor

I (Almost) WonThe Lottery!

(first posted on June 29, 2011)

Do you ever daydream about winning the lottery? I had one of those moments last week in the car when the numbers of my odometer caught my attention. I began to daydream, what if I played that number and won? My husband and I like to dream like this but we never play.

I am not a fan of the lottery. I grew up watching my parents play every week, for decades, and they never won anything. The odds are so stacked against you that I would rather buy myself a caramel macchiato or a Rita’s Frozen Custard than buy a lottery ticket. But, something about that day compelled me to buy four lottery tickets.

What if I won? Well, first I thought, I really wouldn’t need much more than a million. I mean, after taxes you only get to keep about half. But, after paying off my mom’s house, our house, and putting some money into marketing and my retirement plan, we would take a cruise and donate some of the money to charity. I went home and put my tickets in my meditation space and actually prayed that I would win. I planned to help others with the money so I felt that it was okay.

The drawing was on Monday. On Sunday night, I started to think about the real possibility of winning. What if I really won? Would I change my plans about what I would do with the money? Would I be as charitable or would I hoard it? I began to feel real anxiety about this and that despite my best intentions, money from gambling would bring negative elements into my life. I did not want to win anymore.

The next morning I checked the lottery results. My numbers were 1027. The winning numbers for Monday were 1028.  I couldnt believe it! So close. Phew, what a relief!

Much Love

PS. By the way, I later found out that the most I could have won with this ticket was $5,000 🙂

Ladies, Let’s Talk Money

(first posted on June 27, 2011)

Dough, moolah, dinero, bucks, whatever we call it, this subject is taboo for us women. But why? Especially when our financial well-being is at stake? Despite all of the progress that women have made in the workforce, we still earn less than 80 cents on the dollar of what men earn in similar jobs. Can we play a role in changing those statistics? Absolutely.

Let’s start by acknowledging that talking about money makes us uncomfortable. Whenever I am talking to a potential client, I dread the money talk. I think this is because my approach is towards building a relationship with my clients. I ask a lot of questions, they ask a lot of questions, and it’s all very friendly and easy, like a (good) first date. Every question brings us closer together and we find that we should really work together. Eventually, the time comes to talk money and suddenly we are opponents defending our respective corners. The money talk forces us to be on opposite sides. The quickest way to get back on the same side may be to agree to whatever they are willing to pay me as long as they hire me. But, while that may ease the discomfort of the money talk, it leaves money on the table and lowers the market value of my time and skills.

I think that most of us would feel comfortable saying that our time, our talents, our skills are very valuable. But, just how much they are worth? That’s a trickier question to answer. Starting out as a professional speaker, I struggled with establishing a fee. Having had a salary all my life, I was not sure what my time was worth as an independent presenter. I researched what other speakers charged and came up with a number that seemed high to me. The first time I told a client what I charged for a workshop, I cringed as I said it. They hired me.

People will pay you what you say you are worth. If you tell them that you are worth less, you will get less. We have a tendency to under price our time and talents. Whenever I was getting ready to negotiate for a higher salary, my husband would always push me to increase my number. I resisted, feeling greedy and selfish for asking for “all that” money. In the end, I would ask for a little more than what I had originally thought and got it. Still, my raises were 20 percent below what my male colleagues were paid.

We have to learn to have the money talk so we get the money we deserve. So, in this week’s blog, I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned which I hope will be useful to you whether you are negotiating a contract or a salary.  

  1. Your goal in any money talk is to get as much as you can and leaving the other person feeling positive about the negotiation and that they also got a good deal. Trying to get as much as you can is not about being selfish or greedy; it is about recognizing that what you bring to the table is valuable and it deserves compensation.
  2. Know your numbers. Yes, you have a minimum of two, maybe three. The first should be what you want. If you know you tend to ask for less (like me), then the second number is what you want plus an increase. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, this number is your asking price. The last number you should know is your walk-away price. You have to one so that you don’t reduce the value of what you offer or pay more than what you can afford. 
  3. Someone told me that the first person to mention their number loses. I don’t proof that this is true, but whenever I can avoid being the first person to mention a number, I will by asking the other person what they have budgeted. I know that their number may below what they actually budgeted, (usually by about 10 to 20 percent). If the other person is unwilling to go first, then before I give them my number, I recap all of the deliverables I will present to them and the quality they can expect.
  4. Let’s say they go first. I immediately know how my far my position is from theirs. Let’s say that there is the unlikely scenario that their price is higher than yours. Do you still negotiate? Absolutely. Ask for more. Why? Because you want the other person to feel that they got a good deal for something that has a high value. And, it will help you negotiate higher prices going forward. Remember, the goal of negotiation is for both parties to feel they got a good deal. What if their price is your walk-away price? Do you still give them your number? Yes. You want the person to know what your services are worth and give them the opportunity to bid for your work. If the numbers are really far apart, make sure to demonstrate to the other person that you are willing to work with them by brainstorming on how you might still be able to work together.
  5. Be prepared to offer value-added benefits in order for the other person to justify the higher price. Here are some examples: a speaker might be able to offer a free CD of the talk for each participant; an IT consultant might give a certain number of free hours of training; an employee might give up some vacation hours per year. Even if you get your number, offer value-added benefits if you can afford it. Your client will feel good about hiring you and will increase the likelihood of being hired in the future.
  6. Be prepared to ask for other benefits if they cannot pay you what you want. This could be tickets to attend your client’s even where you can network, a free booth at a conference where you can sell your products, paid travel, meals and parking. If you are negotiating for a higher salary, you might ask for more vacation days per year, a contribution to your 401K plan, flexible work schedule, college courses or training.
  7. Sometimes, the other side is just unwilling or unable to budge from their position. You have to decide if accepting their offer is worth it. Could this relationship yield paid work in the future? Could they provide access to other opportunities? Do they have a strong brand that would add credibility to yours? Would they be willing to be a reference? Consider all of the non-monetary benefits of having the business relationship but make sure that you “cash them in” if you decide to keep it.

I found out that in the end, it is still about the relationship and the money talk is a necessary conversation to establish our mutual commitment and respect. Your skills and your time are valuable. Let’s talk money and get paid more. If you have a successful negotiation story, I invite you to please share it.

Much Love

We Attract What We Need

(first posted on June 19, 2011)

The friends in our lives fulfill our emotional and spiritual needs

At a wonderful Texas retreat with friends

This week I heard Iyanla Vanzant say on the Oprah Show, “You attract what you are.” Those five words rang in my head and I repeated them to really absorb their meaning. The mental picture was a magnet drawing in similar matter into its magnetic field.  Hmmm, I began to test this theory with different scenarios: when I am insecure, do I attract people or situations that add to my insecurity? when I am confident, do I attract people or situations that add to my confidence? When I am fearful, do I attract people or situations that add to my fear?

I began to see how this might be true. But, as it relates to the people who are constants in our magnetic field, what do they say about us? I mentally surveyed all of the friends that have remained in my life since high school or college, or who were once work colleagues and now are friends. I have many qualities in common with my friends. I will tell you about one of them. Dionne and I met during my junior year in college. To describe her in a few words, I’d say she is vivacious, spiritual, responsible, compassionate, feminine, and my Aries sister who can make me laugh in less than 15 seconds. Whenever Dionne and I talk, we hear each other in a way that no one else can. Because we both suffer from elevated levels of responsibility – we feel it is our duty to ensure that things are getting done and people’s needs are being met without the inconvenience of our feelings or needs – our antennas are tuned in to the things that we say or do when we are putting ourselves last. With profound understanding of how we tick, we have been each other’s support for many years.

I continued testing other relationships and wondered about people in my past. If people were no longer in my life, did it mean that I had outgrown that part of myself? I thought back to people who at one point seemed would be friends for life but, are no longer. Yes, there was that one friend I met during my freshman year of college. We were hardly ever apart for the next four years. It reminds me of how socially insecure I felt during that whole time. I wanted people to like me and to be smart enough to make it to graduation. My friend was sweet, funny, smart, but also a little weird and went out of her way to be different and edgy. What we had in common was our extreme vulnerability. But, we could not be more different in our approach to adapt to our social environment. We remained friends for a little while after graduation but then we went our separate ways.

It may be true that we attract what we are. But, another truth I found from my own reflection is that we attract what we need –  at the time that we need it. Thinking back to the beautiful relationships in my life, I can see that each one gave me what I needed at the time. The friend in college, who felt just as vulnerable as I, provided a balance for my deep desire to fit in with her need to be different. Sometimes, we also attract the opposite of what we are to challenge us or encourage us. One day that I was feeling unsure about a business decision I was making, I received a call from a friend who for twenty minutes told me why it was exactly the right thing to do. It is no accident that now that I have started my own business, many of my friends are creative, entrepreneurial and have a positive outlook on life.

We attract the people who will teach us something, challenge us and help us grow. We do this unconsciously. Pay attention to the people that are around you at this time in your life. Can you see what it is you need? This is part of your growth. And, during these growing experiences you will find people who are of similar matter, and they will become those dear and cherished friends who will hear you and “get you” because they are just like you.  

Much Love