"forget your perfect offering,
just ring the bell that you can ring,
there is a crack in everything,
that's how...the light...gets in..."
This was a theme of this last week, as we gathered at River's Bend to create lasting friendships, & get a taste of future collaborations at the YES! Evolving & Emerging Economies Jam. For a decade, this, taking a week to focus on my own Blessed Village, has been some of the most nourishing, & highly-impactful work of my life. To come-as-we-are (pajamas? fine), babies-in-tow, brands irrelevant, image & masks removed, with purpose + impact in each of our collective hearts, is a rare gift of radical support, & long-term benefits to my heart, my family, & my own bottom-line.
May I share a story, vignettes from the way? I promise you it contains many returns, & just as many questions. There's a profit planning map down there.
I was 26. My brother had heard there was a YES! fundraiser, & I found my way there, hosting two tables of generous friends. I was not actively in my heartwork; D & I were successfully fundraising for plastic surgery clinics, managing 42 investors. Eventually we guided them to 78 clinics, & a sale for $247 million. Our bread & butter was cash commissions, and stock equity in each clinic, which would pay us dividends each month. This sounds great, but please remember that I'm a creative, & D's a healer. We were so out of our innate element, it took every ounce of force & drive we could muster. We had been trained in sales by a few genius narcissists, & needless to say, the more we sold, the more our lives felt like a pressure-cooker. We were able to create these kinds of results because we were surrounded by psycho, driven, self-made multi-millionaires who lived by the mottos, "By any means necessary," & "Whatever it takes." Our own, intimate work was about transformation, probably to heal from our excessive use of 1990's American values, & that transformation was the "secret sauce" in the coaching, but really, our money-making wasn't aligned with our values. So it was "taking" everything. It was all about the "means," & there was no end in sight. D was dying to know what his purpose was, & I was dying to travel the planet & be in diverse creative community. As a result, we fought constantly, spent way more than we made, & there was tons of judgement because we didn't have our focus on a vision that matched our joint values. D suffered from fatigue, adrenal failure, & a bunch of random emergent ailments that eventually informed his work at CI. We had been running, flying, & tossing about that hamster wheel for five years.
Then, at the fundraiser, YES! placed a "wishlist" on each table. "computers. bookkeepers. event cooks..." Event Cooks. Umm. That's me. I mean, sure? Why not?
A month later, I dragged my 3 year-old, mom & brother to a mossy, luxe-hippie estate in Forestville, where we made meals for a handful of movement founders & community leaders in their 20's:
-Shilpa, a secret Harvard alumni, had written many books on Walking Out & Walking On, a global network of renegades who rejected the common path for something altogether unknown. She spent her nights on a dirt floor, & days weaving kati fabric in the lineage of Ghandi, while inventing workshops on zero-waste, filmmaking, & whatever struck her fancy.
-Jaime was a grounded, kind DJ & writer, passionately advocating for at-risk youth. He had a large inheritance he was slowly giving away, to reform the prison/modern slavery system, with an emphasis on New Orleans.
-Malika was a mother, & renowned civil rights leader in Selma, Alabama, carrying on the work of her family & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
-Ocean had offered environmental education to thousands of kids, in 65 countries (& now runs Food Revolution). His wife Michele presided over YES! alongside her two screaming, highly-autistic four year-olds, River & Bodhi.
-Evon was a father of many, Alaskan tribal chief, led land-based programs for extremely high-risk Native youth, & a serial entrepreneur with a eco-silk screening business.
-Holly had founded her own organic farm, an artisan co-op bakery/cafe & a non-profit movie theatre with a film festival that sells 75,000 tickets each year.
What the what?
Once I found my Blessed Village, with grounded, true experience worth learning from, I immersed myself in their gesture of vulnerability, kindness, compassion & warrior-clear commitment. Over the years, in deep relationship, slowing down, confronting, unpacking, healing, & co-creating with each of them, I've learned the nature of this kind of consistent project fulfillment + realization.
Each of them was developing themselves at three levels:
Individually: They seek to know themselves, to understand their own motives & the nature of their Spirit + purpose. There is a curiosity around boundaries, reactions & capacity. There is an honoring of history, & a soul-impulse to (self) leadership.
Interpersonally: They seek to live with, learn from & love amongst diverse community. There is a willingness to be awake to our entanglement. There is a surrender to seeing the needs of others. There is an overwhelming impulse to service in each interaction.
Systemically: They live with a certain response-ability to the Whole. There is some "systems thinking," a willingness to make connections, to see what isn't healthy & right, & to ponder their own role in each system.
Each of them is right-sized. They come from a place of commitment, vs. achievement.
Yes, they have some things to show for their lives & their work. None of it was done alone.
None of it was done alone.
And, not much of it is done. They are in for the long-haul.
They let their hearts be big enough to feel what's missing, to long for change, & to show up. They let themselves, & their egos, be small enough to join movements that already existed...to ask for help. They expand enough to speak truth. They elevate enough to point out discrepancies + injustice, & to make invitations. They are small enough to seek elders, respect culture, & listen to Earth. There are so many layers to each story. So many layers of failure & surrender to support & respite. The stories of pushing thru are endless. This isn't about creating "team." This is about creating your actual, true Blessed Village.
This is a picture of mine. Yours will look altogether different, with different values, & different measures of success. (Phew!)
So please build your Blessed Village, and spend dedicated time with them. The ones who are growing the same intimate edges as you. Who are singing different notes in the same conversation.
From a power, not force perspective, a "perfect offering" threatens to call forth your "winning formula." Like stagnant, obvious, force-filled, personality-driven nonsense. It can cost a lot.
What if there was freedom to just ring the closest, most obvious bell?
What is the closest, most obvious bell for you?
For D, it was about healing. Truly healing himself, of profound physical pain & an addiction to comfort, winning, & the padding of luxury. Eventually this turned into his heart's work, to bridge others to their own true healing, & to make accessible work that's been exclusive to those with ridiculous resources. It's also a chance for him to share his beloved practitioners, his own Blessed Village.
For me, it was about curiosity + listening, a return to the work I began at 10 years old, & really, a family tradition. As a facilitator, I'm ringing the bell that others speak first, almost like a tuning-fork, and it's music to my own ears. So much of what I share was already said. And still, I love the process of refinement, & bringing a conversation into full realization as a project, business, or movement thru my ability to hear the dream being born.
Again, the returns from finding our Blessed Village, from living mask-free, & unpacking the cargo of life into safe community spaces, have been priceless. It's made us plenty, sure. But who cares about all of that if we were to be apart or had heart attacks or became awful people? As a sign of success, we got into a classic gender-based argument today. It sucked, but we were still together every single hour today. He didn't have adrenal failure. He dropped the kids off at school & picked them up, too, while I ate the recovery chocolate bar he threw my way in desperation. And I didn't lose my shit, because I just filled my travel + community baskets. (And chocolate) This kind of workability is real, raw, & on our own terms.
Tonight, I get to play the role these others have played for me, for the new Jammers. I get to share their initiatives, to help them deepen connections, to play sister to their children, partners & spouses. It's a circle. And better, it's a spiral.
Because I truly get more than I ever put in, no matter how much I put in.
YOUR TURN. PROFIT PLANNER. DRAFT ONE.
Just for kicks, consider starting everything from scratch, designing for right livelihood, & building in the needs that have been elusive.
The community that holds you & inspires you is likely going to be the one you want to serve. It's likely to contain your teachers, guides & supportive team. Here's some questions:
How would life look, if it all came true?
If you didn't have to build it yourself?
You don't. The longing you feel is Spirit dreaming thru you. It's *GIVEN*. It comes with a community you are already, karmically entwined with.
1- Start with the "Returns" circle in the center. What returns are important to you? Include all of them - you deserve all the returns. So name the secret agenda, & anything you haven't been willing to say out loud. Love? Escape? Fame? Complete independence?
2- What if your Community was the defining factor in your success + impact? It is.
What do you really want your Blessed Village to look, feel, & sound like? What are they wearing? What are they saying? How do they hold space for your fullest expression? What does their impact look like?
How can you spend quality time with them? How can you cultivate deep-seated, long-lasting, meaningful community?
3- Your Systems: What's the learning curve? Name any software, courses your need to take or gaps of skill or information. Name the basic processes in your production, business, & communication to management, team members, market & constituents.
4- Your Service: What's your vision for what's possible? What's your commitment/mission? How are you going to show up as leadership, what's your role? What aspects of your gesture are you going to use?
5- Your Invitation: What's your talent, or what conversation are you building, or what's the nature of your transformation? What are your offerings, products, or experiences?
Now that you see the landscape, who can you share it with, to dream into the next moment with you? Set the date.
We'll work on this some more, so mark it up!