For the past year now, we have all been consumed with safety. We have had to constantly adjust our lives; unable to plan and limiting our freedoms. Yet, as Esther Perel points out in her blog, How Erotic Thinking Helps Emotional Connection, finding freedom in confinement comes from the imagination.
This sentiment has helped me so much. From my last three previous #100dayproject practices, I have found that finding creativity and rituals in confinement very useful. If the project was without limitations, I would have found it more difficult. Limiting the drawing to pen and portraits was enough of a confinement to push my creativity. The daily practice gave me connection, routine and an outlet. It also felt useful (enough) and it helped me feel more alive in an otherwise rather mundane lockdown.
As some of you know, Tribe Women set out to produce an online offering to ensure our programme was more accessible. We want to be able to offer places to women with caring responsibilities or who lived outside of Edinburgh. I wish I could say that taking things to online has been a smooth transition. Along with writing the new programme and learning new platforms, we have also rebranded and renamed Tribe Women. New beginnings all around just felt right. (We are very excited and all will be revealed soon! You can get a clue to the new name from this previous blog post).
It has been challenging. Not just hard work but the uncomfortable kind of hard work. At many, many points throughout the process, I plateaued. I was stuck and I questioned my abilities. This part of the process is what Brené Brown refers to as the messy middle, or Day 2. This is a place filled with uncertainty, struggles, where you can feel tired, vulnerable and overwhelmed. This is a place where everyone wants to avoid, but there’s no escape if you want to progress. Brené describes the messy middle as a dark, vulnerable and turbulent place we will do anything to avoid it. Unfortunately, it’s a non-negotiable part of the process. Experience and success don’t give you an easy passage through it, they just provide you with the faith knowing you can navigate it. Brené breaks it down into these three stages;
The Reckoning: Walking into our story
Becoming aware of and getting curious about our emotions and feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave. (This was uncomfortable but being curious, instead of judgemental, about my emotions helped me be empathetic).
The Rumble: Owning our story
Being honest about the stories we are making up about the struggle. Challenge them to determine the truth. Identify what is self-protection and what needs to change in order to move forward.
Write a new ending to our story based on the learnings. Use this to transform ourselves and change how we engage with the world. (Honestly, I am not quite out of the messy middle yet but I have started rewriting the story of this process and that in itself has been a revelation).
In her podcast, Unlocking Us on Day 2, Brené likens the messy middle with the hero’s journey. The part where the protagonist looks for every comfortable way to solve the problem. Every easy way to solve the problem. Every way to solve the problem that does not require the hero’s vulnerability. How can I solve it without being vulnerable?
I have to admit, that was me. The programme was not about me so why would I need to be vulnerable? Not to mention, being vulnerable doesn’t mean being personal, necessarily, so what does it look like in this context? After all, the programme is so much about the sum is greater than its parts. This was about community; each woman who was involved in the past on every level contributed to its greatness. Yet I was the one writing and rewriting it.
Then I took my own advice.
I surrounded myself with people who were on my side and supportive, they reminded me that I was enough, and that I was heading in exactly the right direction.
The middle isn’t pretty, but I had hoped that it would be full of essential realisations and so far, it has been. This process has once again, fortified my belief in community. The right conversation with a trusted colleague or friend was what always got me to the next stage. There is a paragraph from one of the new courses which I wrote;
Not only can you learn and share from one another, you can proceed with the confidence that you have champions cheering you on from the sidelines. Nothing supports a growth mindset quite as much as a network of inspiring and fiercely talented women.
Now I trust our messy middles, our lockdown confinements feeding our creativity and finding the magic through community, even more. We also cannot wait to tell you about Keystone soon!
It might sound cheesy but I have to agree with Brené;
“If we believe in ourselves, if we reach out together, and if we lean into a little bit of that grace that says, “We can get through this.”
As always, would love to know your thoughts,