I want to tell you the story behind these new photos.
I didn’t schedule a photo shoot. I didn’t pay attention to hair or makeup. I didn’t think through what I was wearing that morning.
I’ve been working at a beautiful, new co-working space – The Hivery. It’s an amazing place that supports women in creating the lives and work they desire.
In that community, there’s a lovely woman, Sophia Mavrides, who is a brilliant visual designer and photographer, and she offered to take these pictures as a gift.
I’m honestly a little surprised, and teary, that I could show up in a community where I felt comfortable enough to ask someone to help with photos – and help that very same day – so I could send them on to Design*Sponge for a quick turnaround. It was incredible that that person said yes. While I truly love (and believe in) paying other women for their work, it was also very special to do something outside of that transactional mode. And it was incredible to have such a beautiful place, a place lovingly created for women, to take those photos.
I was surprised to observe in myself an attitude that was essentially this: “I’m going to take some quick photos at the end of a rather hectic day, without any attention to my hair or makeup, and with no thought to what I’m wearing, because I have bigger fish to fry today, and I’d rather look like the real me anyway.”
That attitude in me is partly, I think, a fruit of motherhood but it was also about the place and way these photos were being taken. With the support of people who embrace me, value me for my contribution and make me feel at home, I didn’t have some of the self-objectifying and self-critical thoughts I’d otherwise have on a photo-taking afternoon.
I am an only child. I grew up with lots of friends, but not with what I would call community. Community – understanding what it is, finding the communities that are right for me, feeling a sense of belonging – continues to be a growth edge in my life.
It has been so moving to me to be a part of (and feel a part of – that’s the harder part, no?) this particular community at The Hivery, and to see how it is nurturing all the women who are a part of it, including me.
So what does this all mean, and why is it relevant to all of us?
1. Hurray for virtual and independent work, but don’t forget about the nourishment of community. It’s remarkable to be alive in this time when working independently and flexibly is easier than ever, but this wonderful way of working can also leave us isolated. Virtual communities can make a huge difference, and physical community undeniably gives something different and important. I think we often intuitively know if we need more community in our lives, and if you have that inkling, I hope you’ll listen to it and do something about it.
On that note: before this co-working space existed, I was part of a small, roving co-working group with a few other women entrepreneurs. A few days a month, we met in one of our homes, working in a shared space for the day, then breaking for a long catch-up, brainstorming, laughter-filled lunch. It was amazingly nurturing for all of us – personally and professionally. Any woman working from home can do that – for free – in her community. Just put out the call.
2. Hurray for doing inner work, but don’t forget about the importance of being known and loved by others. I’ve spent the last several years helping women develop the inner resources, the mindset shifts, and the daily practices for their playing big. This is so important, particularly as a corrective to the way women are socialized to put others’ opinions above their own, to people-please, and to turn outward rather than inward for guidance.
And yet, it never felt right to me to do this work primarily through one-on-one coaching, because I’ve always seen how women make the journey better when we do it together. Being seen for who we are by others matters. Learning from others and cheering them on helps us. This is why I believe so strongly (and have focused my time and energies on) group programs for women. Both inner work and supportive relationships are needed.
I know that many of you already live and breathe community in a way that I am eager to learn from. I know many of you, like me, find this an area with some edges and challenges. I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and wisdom in the comments.
Love to you –