I am taking an online course with Stephanie Lee called
If you don’t know who Stephanie Lee is, may I suggest that you look her up? Her art is beautiful and she is a powerful voice among women and artists. I have been lucky enough to spend a little time with her at art retreats and she is lovely.
I am very behind on the course…(confession time, I am an online course addict and I NEVER finish them but I am determined to remedy that this year)…so I’ve just caught the last couple of classes. This week’s lesson was about friendships/relationships. It is the first FB live I have caught with her.
Here is the irony of this. It wasn’t until I started watching this live feed that I remembered what a part of my friendship story Stephanie has been. A few years ago I found myself looking HARD for friendships. I was actively engaged in trying to connect with women, to my detriment. I was running from situations at home and frankly, from having to look inward for companionship. There were things going on with the key relationships in my life that I didn’t want to see. I was trying to force relationships instead of letting them happen organically. That was not the right way to go about that. Stephanie was one of those women I was trying to do this with. I saw her in an interview, she seemed to think the way I did, and she was coming to Utah to teach at a retreat at a friend’s home. I was all over that. I went to Washington to a retreat she was teaching at and by the end of that year there was a plan for her to come and teach in Utah for one of my retreats. I was over the moon with excitement.
Let me back track a minute. I have had some really hard relationships with women. I take full responsibility for my part of those relationships. I got hurt pretty badly as a teenager by girls and when I got married and became a mom, I thought .BAM. I don’t have to have women friends anymore. My husband and daughter will fill all of those needs. That was not a fair thing to put on them. It just isn’t, it isn’t their job to be everything to us. Girl friends are important, they just are. So fast forward many years and I found myself in a situation where my daughter was going to be leaving the nest, my marriage was rough, I had no idea who I was anymore, and I started grasping for friends. I had some seriously bad self esteem and had no skills when it came to friendship. I saw certain women and thought that they were my people, whether they wanted to be or not. Dammit…be my friends!! It led to disaster. DISASTER.
Back to the retreat in Utah with Stephanie. Some things happened that I did not deal with well, in hind sight. It’s 20/20, right? I ended up with some serious heart ache, worry and stress. FOR MONTHS. I gave every bit of energy to worrying about these relationships that weren’t even real. Guess what happened? My home life suffered. I spent all of December depressed and sad, that doesn’t make for a happy Christmas. My family, the people most important, were put in second place. ????!!!!! The retreat fell through. I was devastated. I let go of my business at the time because I thought I was ruined. I bad mouthed people every chance I got. It wasn’t pretty. NOT AT ALL. Nothing I am proud of.
Here is where Stephanie comes in. She said some things to me that have stuck in my head. They became things I asked myself often when dealing with situations. She handled things in a professional but firm way, which hurt at first, until I was able to look at them with clearer eyes. When she started talking today, many of the things she had said to me came out of her mouth again. She is firm with her intentions. She is also very kind. She owns her emotions instead of letting them own her. It was so refreshing today to hear them with new ears and know that I am in such a better place. So much more at peace with who I am as a person.
There is something else that happened when this situation was unfolding. A wise woman said a prayer over me. The words that came out of her mouth became my mantra. Restore. Look towards your people. Take care of home first. Anytime something came up with someone or something I said to myself, “As long as things are alright with my family and I, none of the outside stuff matters.” My relationship with my husband improved. I tended to my people more, and my home became the focus of my attention. I won’t even pretend that it solved everything. There are still people who even hearing their name puts my defenses up. It isn’t their fault. I can own that now. I am not perfect at keeping my opinions to myself about these people but I see it and am trying so hard to do that. Seeing your behaviors is half the battle, I think. I am consciously trying to change the way I behave.
It has taken a couple of years to be where I am, and I am not done. BUT I have learned that if a relationship doesn’t feel right, if the connection is not real and true, I don’t have to give it my energy. I can look at that person and wish them the very best. I know that I am not every person’s cup of tea. That’s OK!! I don’t have to be and they don’t have to be mine. That doesn’t mean either of us are bad people. It means we are human and different and how beautiful is that?? I have learned that I want deep connections with people; I want to have real conversations and be able to show up raw and insecure and have them love all of those parts too. I want them to truly SEE me. That is what is important to me. Knowing that is awesome. AWESOME! I want to meet them where they are and love them back as well, wherever that is for them.
So, why this rambling on?? Because maybe someone out there, someday, will need these words. I know I could have used them. I could feel it in my heart that I needed to say them and I try to listen when it speaks to me. Also, Stephanie is starting a new run of this course soon. It isn’t just for artists, it’s for creatives, it’s for women. Like I said, I am only two classes in, but they are resonating with me and maybe they would with you too. I like to share when I find something good.