Thursday, October 28, 2010

Being Me. Being You. Being Us.

”To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E.E. Cummings.

Lauren Kaminsky works in our Girls on the Run-Chicago office. You need to check out her blog sometime: Back in July, I made the trek with Katy Brown and Liz Kunz, from the International office to announce our exciting new partnership with Garmin. I had the opportunity to meet Lauren. I also had the opportunity to meet Olivia.

Olivia rocked! She was vibrant, fun, a little nervous, honest, real, present and best of all her fabulous OLIVIA-SELF. Last week Lauren shared with me a beautiful tribute that Olivia wrote to share her thoughts about our experience of meeting each other.

Here it is:

Hi, my name is Olivia, and I am a Girls on the Run participant. I have had a wonderful experience by meeting Molly Barker, the Founder and Vision Keeper of Girls on the Run. When I first found out that Molly was coming to my town I was so excited, but then all my joy was drained when I found out my parents couldn’t take me. I was so upset, I thought that would be the perfect time to meet my hero. Then out of nowhere my guardian angel appeared and offered to take me. She was planning on going and had to pass my house so she picked me up!

Once I got to the Garmin store in Chicago, Illinois, I knew it was a day to remember! There was a giant Girls on the Run poster and all the employees were wearing Girls on the Run t-shirts. I ran though the door and I was overwhelmed with excitement. Then we were led upstairs for the main event, when I caught sight of Molly. Her smile filled the room with glee. And then it was my turn to meet Molly. I was definitely anxious, and I had butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as she spoke my anxiety was gone. I started to smile and immediately we got into a deep conversation. She kept saying things like “I love to meet Girls on the Run participants!” and I was so excited that I was finally able to qualify in that group. Then when we were in the middle of a conversation of “silly bandz” it was time to listen to her speech.

Molly talked about girls who had a wonderful experience in Girls on the Run and girls who accomplished great goals and all that she said was inspiring to me. I was sitting in the crowd thinking. Thinking how Molly has helped so many girls my age with so many problems that can be solved with a life changing run. And I realized that I wanted to be like Molly when I grow up.

Wow. What can I say? I share this with you because it made me cry. It opened me up. It made me realize how important being true to ourselves is as we push the mission of Girls on the Run forward. It reminds me of how important our work is in the lives of little girls.

It reminds me of my humanity!

Speaking at the Garmin event and/or any large event is something I truly enjoy! I have found that revealing my innermost self is, ironically, a much safer thing for me to do with a large group of unknown folks, than with those I know intimately. There isn’t the same chance for being hurt. If someone I don’t know rejects me…well…I can handle that. It doesn’t matter…at least not at the same level of “matter” that I risk if someone I know, respect and love, rejects me.

And yet…truthfully? There isn’t a single person within my circle of intimate friends who would reject me should I share myself completely. Not a one. The ability to be that open rests not in their response to me, but in my fear of a response that never will be.

And so…lately I’ve intentionally and almost forcefully had to make myself be a friend…not only in being a good listener, but in being a good talker/sharer/revealer. It’s been a little bit scary to admit I don’t have it all together…that I still have self-doubt…still struggle at times with relinquishing the Girl Box messages…that I sometimes feel as if I’m blazing a trail on my own and without direction…to admit that I feel anxiety at times…wonder if I have the strength and courage to mother two teenagers…confused, cry at night and shout out in anger.

I’ve noticed, though, that the more open I am, the more I receive. It’s like the blockages which have limited me from sharing my fears have been removed and made room for more “others” to feel safe in sharing theirs with me. The depth of my conversations with people…all people…not just those I know intimately, now well up from a beautiful and richer space. We get to the stuff that matters more quickly. There is an immediate comfort with each other, simply because I am more comfortable with myself…all of me…the raw, the real and the vulnerable…the strong, the brave and the courageous.

I credit Olivia, you, the girls and the spirit of Girls on the Run for this transformation…a space for me to practice self-acceptance and the power of trusting others …and then finding the courage to translate that into my personal life…to step outside my comfort zone and get real..I mean REALLY real with those closest to me. To admit my humanness and love myself not in spite of it, but because of it.
What ways has Girls on the Run helped you become a better friend, partner, spouse, sibling, daughter, person in your intimate relationships. Let me know at

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