WALK THE PATH FOR 21 DAYS WITH ME AS YOUR GUIDE
I AM AUDREY GORDON
I never wanted to be a writer. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a Supreme Court judge. I had a deep desire to see justice in this world and I viewed judges as wise counselors whose job it was to uphold the morals of humanity, to give a voice to the voiceless and when two people just couldn’t agree on something, to mediate and bring peace and harmony.
But early on, I discovered that my destiny didn’t involve a bench or a robe and that my natural strength lies in communicating ideas and concepts. As a designer, I use images. As a marketer, words. I am now using my skills to start a dialogue about what matters most to me: understanding ourselves as we come to know God. I am picking up where religion has left off, by sharing my own personal experiences and anecdotes to remind us of the valuable lessons and stories we still need to hear.
That desire for justice I had as a child remains the same: to uphold the morals of humanity, to help others speak their truth, and find peace. Turns out, it’s an inside job.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” – Jill Jackson Miller
From the outside, everyone looks at New York City as this multicultural mecca with people and cultures from all over the world co-habitating within 5 boroughs. While that may be true, it is very easy to live in the city and never socialize with anyone outside of your socio-economic status (or people just like you), especially if leaving the island of Manhattan requires a lot of negotiating. That was my reality when I lived in NY from 1995-2000. I was living in one of the most phenomenal cities in the world and I was doing everything I set out to do: graduate college, get a cool job in “the city” and get my own place. I just did it all within my comfort zone.
I had a killer apartment in Chelsea that was ridiculously cheap and after some time of living alone, my roommate from college, who is someone I’ve known since I was 9 years old, moved into the tiny bedroom that had remained empty since I moved into said apartment a year prior. I ran with a posse of about 15 people. Almost everyone I knew I had known since high school or was a friend of a friend from college. We went to bars not clubs and drank a lot… I mean a lot…. most of the calendar year below 23rd Street and then in the summer, out on Fire Island. We were never Hamptons people. That required way too much effort and the environment could never support our variety of shenanigans. For a long while there, I was happy and having fun.
At 24, I was working at a design studio in SOHO and I loved my co-workers. We hung out outside of work where I had more opportunities to dip my toe outside my little world. They were more creative than my other friends and quite a few of them were significantly older. There was one particular guy, Peter, who was definitely not your garden variety of creative. It was through him I learned about squatting (living in an illegal abandoned building) and Burning Man. I remember one year at Christmas, I was in the holiday spirit as usual. I was buzzing around the studio singing Christmas carols and doing my own little jig as I sometimes do. “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too. Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.”
I headed out of the office to go get a bite to eat and when I came back to my desk, my screen saver on my computer was changed to a picture of Santa Claus on the roof of a building with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a hand gun in the other. I was shocked. I laughed, because I guess it was funny. But I was shocked. I thought to myself “What?… Huh? Some people aren’t into Christmas?” It took me a minute. Even though I’ve been to way more Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitzvahs than the average American, it had never occurred to me that regardless of religion, some people just might not be into Christmas. Peter was laughing. He was highly amused with himself as I was probably annoying the fuck out of him. But my world was turned on its side that day. My bubble burst. My little safe world of thinking I knew everything just crumbled before my eyes. Wait? Not everyone is like me?
This was such a blessing in disguise. This was the imputes of my desire to “go find myself.” It wasn’t long after that Peter invited me and another co-worker out to Burning Man. And this was the Burning Man back when there were no signs or welcome committees and only 10,000 people. I wanted to be cool, but that experience was so out of my comfort zone it freaked me out a bit. But after that I realized there was so much more to this reality and if I stayed in my version of NY I would miss it all. That following year I decided to move out to San Francisco. I planned to only stay for a year; I wanted to learn more about myself and to make sure I was me, because of me and not because of my surroundings. It turned out at after a year in SF I had only begun to scratch the surface of the complex, deep, expansive person I am, and I quickly learned that finding yourself can take a lifetime.
I’ve been out here in San Francisco for the better part of 17 years and like to say it’s the “call of the wild” that keeps me out here. It could also just be the warmer weather and lack of humidity. I’m inclined to think that San Francisco also has a larger capacity to hold space for my brand of being more so than New York and that I’ve probably been a California girl at heart the whole time. And, I’m still finding new parts of myself on the regular. Sometimes they are parts of myself that have been hidden behind a story I kept telling myself and sometimes they are revealed by meeting someone new who inspires me. It’s an ever-evolving process.
When I was in junior high school I had many crushes. The two that stick out the most are twins, Will and Dan. I’m a sucker for dimples and they both had them. I had spent equal time assessing the situation and passing them both neatly folded notes after class, but Dan took the lead in winning my heart – probably because I thought there was a good chance that he liked me back.
Come one March on St. Patrick’s Day, in our yellow locker lined hallway, Dan, bless his little heart, bought me a dyed green carnation and asked me if I’d go out with him. I, in the moment, was shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Something I had wanted so badly was actually happening. I don’t know if I genuinely didn’t know what to say or if I wanted to play it cool, but I told him I had to think about it. I suppose I spent the day in the “do I or don’t I?” internal debate, and I remember anticipating the class where I could talk to one of my best friends, Jen. I told her that Dan had asked me out and that I didn’t know what to do. I am not sure why, but she said I couldn’t go out with him. I don’t remember the specifics, but I ended up telling him no.
A few weeks ago while sitting in my meditation, this story showed up again. It has a few times over the years even though I’ve already forgiven Jen, who is still a friend of mine, for being, as I recalled, the bitch who kept me from my first boyfriend. I’ve also come as far as realizing it had nothing to do with her and it was my way of playing the victim and placing the blame on her. But it wasn’t until this moment in my meditation that I wanted to take full responsibility for my actions and own what was true for me at that time so I could uncover what I was really hiding from. I realize now that I said no because I was scared of being seen (vulnerable and imperfect) and I didn’t think I was worthy.
I still cry at the thought of my middle school-aged self and all her insecurities. I see pictures of myself, surrounded by people I called my friends, some that are still my friends today, and I can see the pain of being so uncomfortable with myself on my face. Did everyone else see it too?
I am not sure how long I cried in my meditation, but it was a deep, cathartic cry that dug down to those parts of myself that haven’t had a voice and that I’ve kept quiet and numbed with food and alcohol for years. I’ve been inviting that little girl out lately and encouraging her to let me know what she needs, to share her truth and to cry if she needs to, to sing off-key (something I never wanted to do as a kid), knowing she is loved just the way she is, with all her seemed imperfections and is seen and is worthy. I believe this is how we can begin to heal those old wounds. I cried in that meditation tears of pain and anguish for not loving myself back then and not believing in myself and for letting someone else’s cockamamie value system run my personal narrative. I can’t believe I didn’t love myself for that long.
So does time heal old wounds? I know why this is coming up for me. I know it is the child-like self that is closest to our highest, truest, most authentic version of ourselves and it is this version of me that wants to heal as much as she wants to help others heal: to heal our self-induced suffering, the suffering of those in need, the personal suffering that is in such turmoil it gets inflicted onto others. It is not time that heals these wounds, but the stillness and inquiry into who we are where we can create the most significant, life-altering changes, healing our wounds and finding peace within ourselves.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” – Jill Jackson Miller
Not too long ago, a friend reached out to our community and asked “Who are the women out there who are really successful, and leading from the feminine”? I loved that question. Here was my answer.
Loved this post and not surprisingly very relevant for me in this moment (and by moment I mean starting 3 weeks ago). I’m going through a full reorg (Network Care term) and fully reviewing who I am at my core, what my passion and purpose is, how my choices have gotten me to where I am today and how I can change it all. I’ve completely moved through life often making decisions based out of fear and then to pull me through, lead from my masculine. This hasn’t been working for me.
You gotta’ do what you gotta do. Party through the pain, Power through it. It is what it is. These aren’t even the good ones. And while we all are Tony Robbins fans, and a lot of his work comes from Soul, it is still often packaged and manufactured from the masculine. While I’m with you on there being a lot of Feminine Empowerment leadership out there, some of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well.
I also wanted to note, it’s not just Manhattan where this is a problem — it’s a national epidemic, maybe even global, where the core may be rooted in Metropolitan areas where high paying careers are in the most demand. It could be a little softer outside of NYC, but it’s how we all have been taught is the path to success.
So who’s doin’ it well? It’s a little hard to answer, but I do have some ideas. I think it may be hard to tell, because we aren’t behind the scenes, and I do believe the reflection of leading from the feminine may look exactly the same as leading from the masculine in the end — it’s how the leadership is developed, it’s where it steams from that is different, right? So Sara Beak comes to mind, and mostly because she talks about how she got the smack down from Andrew Harvey and had to reevaluate her career.
I can’t watch this video enough. I love it for so many reasons and it’s a reminder of where I should be working from. As a result of her shift, the work she developed looks exactly like it did before, but now she is leading from a much different space.
Your question also has me wondering — what are the similarities of leading from the feminine and leading from Soul. Is it the same thing — or just similar? I’m also a new Devon Franklin fan. He definitely leads from Soul, and I have a feeling it also may be the feminine. I am about to start his book Produced By Faith, where he talks about fulfilling your purpose using producing a film as a metaphor. That sounds super masculine — but it’s talking about the creative process. So, I’m not sure yet if he’s a good one. I’ll let you know.
When I try to think of people with even bigger celebrity status — this may be a generalization, but I think singer/songwriters in general lead from their feminine. People like Shawn Calvin or even Sheryl Crow… Boonie Raitt, Indigo Girls.. real grass roots type artists. I can throw in there Alicia Keys and Jill Scott. More recently from a business perspective Jessica Alba is doing a pretty good job too. Just a thought.