Create Your Tribe: Be Vulnerable

Create Your Tribe: Be Vulnerable

I’m not sure if I chose my tribe or if my tribe chose me, but I’m certain it was a bit of both. I really couldn’t be more fortunate to have the people in my life that I do right now, while also knowing how quickly it can change. Creating my tribe has been the single most important dynamic in my life to date. Of course, I didn’t know this when it was happening, but I do know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without each and every one of them.

As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a psychologist and so… I didn’t do that! But I did earn my bachelors degree in psychology and worked in mental health for ten years. I mostly wanted to help people, and in my early twenties I heard, for the first time, that I had what was called a “servant’s heart”. This is what I’ve found to be the common thread among my tribe members. Most of us serve in some fashion; some in direct care, others in community-building and organizing, and some by taking care of their families.

Fulfillment, self-care, and vulnerability

I’ve determined three essential practices in finding and creating my tribe. When I say it’s come by trial and error, I mean it! So, I’ve narrowed it down to this:

I acknowledge that each person has something different to offer, as I do to them.

I’ve learned that no one friend, or my husband, can be everything I need or fulfill all my wants. Wouldn’t that be a mighty huge task to assign to any one single human being?!

Choose self-care and your tribe will support it.

This is a huge one for me! Some of the earliest and strongest connections I made were with women who, gracefully, showed me self-care. It has taken about 15 years for this concept to settle in, and most of my circle know when to nudge me in the right direction when I’m struggling. One important lesson I’ve learned is to create time whether it be with my children, husband, or friends, and I now know that I can’t give “quality time” until I’ve made sure my soul is. And, perhaps the most beautiful, of the lessons I’ve learned, is the power of ‘No’. I’ve learned when, (not always eloquently) and how, to say no.

This leads me to my humble pie; be a work in progress!

While this seems obvious, it requires a scary amount of vulnerability, which can make it difficult to attempt all the time. And, for anyone that’s ever been burned while practicing such an effort, you know how difficult this is to do. But it’s so important! I really believe that when we stop learning and growing, we begin dying. When you find the right tribe—as with my tribe—you may be able to trust and let your guard down. I want to continue to be a work in progress. When I allow myself to be vulnerable to my tribe, I have access to their wisdom, experience, and knowledge, and just maybe, at the ripe old age of 39, I’m beginning to learn vicariously… maybe.

My career, much like my tribe, has shifted over the years and I now have the privilege of continuing to fulfill my servant’s heart as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Coincidentally, my psychology degree serves me far better in this career than that of a social worker! My tribe has grown, I am incredibly thankful and humbled, and my heart and soul are replenished every day while doing what I love!

I’m looking forward to the many years of finding more tribe members. And, I hope to have the opportunity to give back as much as I’ve received! I deeply believe that we can move mountains; together we can change each other’s world.

“Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won’t understand it. Some will outright reject it, but many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, ‘Me, too.’ And your tribe will gather. And you will never feel alone again.”
—L.R. Knost

Creating Your Tribe – Expose Your Inner Self

Creating Your Tribe – Expose Your Inner Self

I remember walking into gym class, returning to the school that I had attended through 4th grade. Over the summer I had moved and I started 5th grade in another school in the district. But a custody change between my parents led me back to the school I had known all my life. After my dad enrolled me, the principal told me I could go join my class in the gym.

I walked into the gymnasium just as they were beginning to pick teams for kickball when my friend Robin spotted me and yelled “Lori’s back! Suddenly, I was surrounded by a mob of pre-teen girls screaming at the top of their lungs as they hugged me and welcomed me home. The reunion was cut short by the shrill of the gym coach’s whistle and his stern instructions to get lined up. He announced, that in honor of my return, I would be the captain of team A, and I proudly took my place in front of all my classmates ready to pick my team. (This was an honor generally reserved for the most athletic persons in the class, a drastic contrast to my being the last one standing; finally going to a team by default, not because I was picked.)

Looking back, I think that was the moment that defined the friendships I would take with me through Jr. High. I remember how wonderful it felt to be back in the comfortable surroundings of people I knew. How, for that one moment, I felt like a rock star.  How quickly the moment changed when suddenly I was faced with the dilemma of: do I choose a team to win, or do I choose a team of my friends, who, (after all these years I’m sure I can say this without offending), suck at physical fitness.

The gym coach, beginning to lose patience, yelled at me to make my pick, and I was stuck. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to pick to win or pick my friends. I could look at the line, and see that the true athletes were hoping that I wouldn’t choose them, and my friends – my true blue, ride or die, friends – were anxiously waving at me to pick them. Of course, I did.  I picked Robin, Teresa, Jenny, and Kelly. I don’t know who else I chose, but I know that these classmates were the right choice because today, 45 years later, Robin, Teresa, Jenny, and Kelly are still my friends.

Moving forward 40 years I have surrounded myself with many Robin’s, Teresa’s, Jenny’s, and Kelly’s. Some have been in my circle for a long time, others have already broken away and a beautiful few are entering. I pride myself on the tribe that I am part of.  For many, being part of a tribe is necessary, for me, it’s an honor and a blessing.

Being part of a tribe, however, is not always easy.  Maintaining deep relationships is more than clicking on a little icon to let someone know you like their photo or meme, sending a group text to announce your birthday party location, or a Snapchat to share what you’re having for dinner. Social media is a great venue to keep in touch with casual friends, however, I wouldn’t invite all my electronic friends to a pow-wow in my blanket teepee. In fact, there would be very few.  And I would choose them today, in much the same way I picked my kickball team all those years ago.

Know Yourself

As the years have evolved, I’ve gotten to know myself better, and love myself for who I am. While this step is an entire blog in itself, it’s probably the most important step in building an amazing tribe. This doesn’t mean that when I was 10, I knew myself in depth, but I did know that I had nothing in common with the kids who could pass the annual physical fitness test on the first try every year. I was much better suited to the kids who would much rather tie-dye scarves in art class or belt out the chorus of every song on Casey Kasem’s top 40 countdowns.

Get to know your potential tribe

I belong to a networking group, and for two years, I met these people every Tuesday for breakfast. Every week, I sat at a different table until I found myself gravitating to one table more often than others. There was something about the people who regularly sat at this table. Just recently, one of the persons at the table told me about his excitement that Jesus Christ Superstar was going to be on, and he couldn’t wait to watch it. When I told him that my son was going to be “Roman Soldier #1”,  he was even more excited. This was all the confirmation I needed that I was at the right table. I could lead this table into any kickball game, and know that we would have a great time! This doesn’t mean that the other people in the group are not tribe worthy, it just means that this table is MY tribe.

Make connections

Jenny was my first friend in life.  I met her in kindergarten when I had transferred from another school.  She was in the office and showed me how to get to our classroom. Once we got there she introduced me to Kelly and other girls who were friends of hers. Quickly we all became friends.  Today’s connections may not be as organic or simple, but we build community when we help others make connections.  Dig in. Get personal. Find like-minded people and skip the small talk. Expose your inner self.

When I think about how the best members of my tribe came about, I realize that everyone is there because of a connection. It’s been a wonderful discovery to grow together, and even if Kindergarten is the biggest connection we have, Jenny, Robin, Teresa, Kelly and I, are a tribe to be reckoned as together, we continue to expand our tribe, and yet we know that there is a grand peace pipe waiting in the Chief’s teepee when we all get together again.

You are uniquely and wonderfully made!

You are uniquely and wonderfully made!

What does unique mean? By definition, there is only one, there is no other. Isn’t that incredible? I mean think about it. You were created to be…you! Even if you are a twin, they are not you!

So why is it then, that we, as women, can’t accept and appreciate our uniqueness? Why can’t we look at ourselves and say, “hey, I’m pretty awesome”? We tell others that, but we don’t believe it for ourselves. We covet, we want to look and be like others. I can’t tell you how many times people say to me, “When I get a body like yours, I’ll be done trying to get fit.” Why would you want a body like mine? Why wouldn’t you strive to be the best YOU can be instead of trying to be like someone else??

You are wonderful!

You are the perfect balance of you. We are born perfect and we allow others to make us believe we are less than perfect, therefore we are no longer wonderful to ourselves. This madness has to stop! Self-destruction is unnecessary and unacceptable!

I was raised in a little town, Greenwich, Ohio. My father came from Germany and my mother came from Pennsylvania. As with any little town, there were cliques, which made it difficult to fit in. In my mind, I was so different from other kids. We didn’t seem to have much money, so my dad fixed everything. Instead of us getting a new piece of furniture, like I saw other kids getting, my dad would refinish it and reupholster it.

We never had a new car and took a lot of handouts, including a microwave that had the three buttons on the bottom.  We lived in a trailer that sat on a tiny lot. The only thing I had going for me was the neighborhood football game because the water tower was in my backyard and that yard was huge! That is where I became quarterback princess, because daddy taught me how to throw a football better than any boy.

I grew up being different or unique from other girls, or so it seemed to me.

I never felt accepted. Kids picked on me and bullied me. “Bubble butt” was my nick name, one of the meanest things I heard as a child. I wasn’t your typical girl. I loved to play football and watch it for hours. I loved to play fast and slow pitch softball and one of my favorite places was hanging out in the woods or climbing trees. I did the boy stuff.

It was hard for me to find my place in the world, where I belonged. It was hard for me to accept that I was unique. My thoughts and abilities were different, but it was ok. I just didn’t realize it.

Turning 40 was an important age for me.

I learned how to accept who I was. Notice I said “accept who I was.” I came to realize that I am not a typical female. I am not crazy about shoes, sweaters, painting my nails, (toenails of course so they look good when I kick). My idea of dressing up is blue jeans, boots and a sweater or a jean jacket. When I go shopping, I gravitate toward the training clothes every time I walk into Tj Maxx. As a matter of fact, I am just not used to dressing up. I’m just not a girlie girl.

My favorite thing to do is lift heavy things, spar (controlled karate fighting), punch, kick and practice kata. Not the normal thing women like to do. I love to teach hard-style, showing how to move from one place to another in the fastest hardest way. I am passionate about improving people in their daily life, making their life better by improving strength, mobility and flexibility.

Personally, I never liked myself…

I didn’t like how I looked. I had a bigger butt than most, I have Vitiligo (a loss of pigment in my skin), my feet stick out when I walk. I have adult acne at 46 years old. My nails don’t grow. Guess I’ll stop there. My point is, it’s all OK! I have accepted all of these things in me. I don’t necessarily like them, but I accept them. They are me, they make me up. I have recently accepted that I am uniquely and wonderfully made!! My uniqueness is mine and I own it. We all have uniqueness and we need to accept it as that, not faults, not errors, not mistakes…uniqueness. Embrace your uniqueness and love who you are.

You are uniquely and wonderfully made, love who you are.

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