I have been a little obsessed…with the idea of German grocery stores ever since Edeka’s Supergeil commercial made it’s debut. (You’re welcome for that link, by the way.) Not only are German supermarkets home to Ritter Sport Butter Biscuits, they apparently also have suave old dudes, frolicking about, singing and dancing to industrial music in their aisles.
Could it get any better?
I’ve since learned that Aldi is owned by a German company and I’ve wanted to go ever since because, well… frolicking dudes and German cookies. Also it’s supposed to be hella-cheap and full of organic and non-GMO food and that’s important too, I guess.
There’s an Aldi down the street from me and every time I drive by — which has been approximately eleventy-billion times in the past three years — I think to myself, “I should really go shop there sometime.”
Yeah, you read that right. I’ve been thinking about going for three years. Clearly grocery shopping isn’t high on my priority list.
Anyhoooo… after overhearing my friend Brandi talk about a trip to Aldi a few weeks ago, I decided to finally give it a go. Except I have this whole weird social anxiety thing that’s been acting up recently as these things tend to do in times of high stress (and trust me, starting a new business is definitely a time of high stress).
In the past year I’ve managed to earn a Master’s degree, quit a job of 16 years, launch two businesses and travel to two foreign countries, but not knowing what awaits me on the other side of Aldi’s electronic doors (groceries?) is legit, straight up giving me anxiety.
[Photo credit: Flickr | Mike Mozart]
So I called Brandi.
“I’m having far more anxiety over shopping at a new store than one should, but here we are. So… which Aldi do you go to? Is it cool? Are they nice? Do I have to bring my own bags? Will they laugh at me once I step inside? And what about the frolicking dudes? Like, are they real?”
Brandi was super-cool and talked me off the ledge by answering all my questions without judgement. I decided I had enough information to finally face this silly fear and, as we talked, I steered the car towards Aldi. Just as I was pulling up to the corner to turn into the parking lot Brandi added, “Oh, and you’ll need a quarter for the shopping cart.”
My gentle snowflakes, I have never been so relieved to be sans one shiny quarter in my life. I drove my ass right past Aldi and straight to my local Kroger.
Dodged that bullet.
The cart locking system at Aldi. [Photo credit: Flickr | Matt Katzenberger]
Except I couldn’t get the “Aldi thing” out of my head.
More so, I couldn’t get the “anxiety thing” out of my head. For years I lived with anxiety and limited my life because of an overwhelming fear of the unknown. That was the old me, however. For the better part of the last decade I have reveled in a new life — one free of social anxiety and depression. I’ve been going a little backwards lately and it breaks my heart.
I don’t want to be that former version of myself again.
So, I’ve been gathering quarters in my coat pocket for a week now, preparing to face this (admittedly, laughable) fear. Sunday night another friend, Susan, who knows about my “Aldi anxiety” sent me a “What you should know about shopping at Aldi” video.
I thank the universe for my Hive who supports me in facing even the most laughable of fears. Monday morning I decided I had wasted enough time and energy on something that, in the scheme of things, really didn’t matter all that much.
Okay, not my actual Aldi. [Photo credit: Flickr | Thor1414]
I went to Aldi.
And I had to ask someone to show me how to unleash the carts with my shiny quarter. And the cashier smirked at me when I tried to bag my groceries at the conveyor belt (there’s a shelf at the front of the store you go to after you check out). And I didn’t buy enough bags the first time through to carry all my groceries, so I had to go back through the line a second time. And a very aggressive (or near-sighted — or both) woman damn near took me out trying to get to the frozen organic mango chunks.
I’m pretty sure EVERYONE knew it was my first time at Aldi. *gasp*
But just like every fear that has ever been placed in my path, I survived it. In fact, I’m kind of like an old-school Aldi pro now.
The “Aldi anxiety” was really just a displaced fear of some other stuff going on in life right now — stuff like quitting a job and leaving behind everything that has ever been familiar. Every day I’m stepping into strange new places and having to rely on the direction of complete strangers to survive. It’s unsettling to say the least.
But, just like Aldi, I’ll survive this unknown territory too. II’ll do it because I have a pocketful of tools (quarters and otherwise) to lean on — tools that many wonderful women helped me to develop. I’ll do it because I have a Brandi and a Susan that will show me love without judgement. And I’ll do it because I believe that I don’t have to define myself by who I used to be. I went back there for a time, but I didn’t stay too long.
Change works like that, after all — back and forth, zigs and zags. It’s not a linear process as much as we would like it to be.
So, what’s the “silliest” fear you ever faced down?
If all goes according to plan…
I’ll be sipping an umbrella drink on a beach with Mr. Adams this time next week. If I’m not, chances are it’s because I’m still sleeping off day one of our Great Dominican Adventure of 2017.
Or… because the plane went down on the way to Punta Cana.
Which is a completely morbid thought, I know. But it’s a thought I have every time I book a flight. What if the plane crashes? I do all my laundry and clean my house like June Cleaver on Adderall before every flight because, if that bad boy goes down, I don’t want whomever has to tend to my affairs afterwards to know just how badly I kind of suck at the whole adulting thing.
Has it been enough?
In all seriousness though, I don’t spend a ton of time obsessing over death, but I have to admit to having spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it and my subsequent legacy over the past few years. It’s one of my favorite hobbies and, in an odd way, kind of my job.
Someone really smart (okay, it was my kid), once told me that the real purpose of shavasana — corpse pose — is to prepare you to learn how to die. So now, at the end of every one of my yoga practices, I lie in shavasana and — after I’ve stopped cursing my favorite yogi’s love of a 15 minute pigeon pose — I ask myself, “If this really was my death, would it have all been enough?”
Yes, it has been enough.
Sixteen thousand, nine hundred and forty-six days on this earth and I can finally say, in all honesty — yes, it was enough. I know 2016 was a shit year for many, but for me it was the year that I dared greatly to become the person I really wanted to be — a person who lives without regret. It was the year that I decided that I was the only person who was going to define my destiny. It was the year I decided to stop talking about my dream and decided to make it happen by quitting my job of 16 years and launching the SheHive.
My gentle snowflakes, it has been enough. And if the plane ride to Punta Cana ends up being my demise… well, what a fan-fucking-tastic exclamation mark on a life well-lived.
That’s not to say that I don’t want more…
Or that there isn’t room to grow, places to see, people to meet and lessons to learn. It simply means I’m not broken and I don’t need to be fixed — I only seek to be a more full, truer version of myself than I was 10 years ago… 10 months ago… 10 minutes ago.
I believe we can all lead wonderful lives filled with a comfortable tension between being happily-satisified and wanting more for ourselves.
More of me in 2017
It’s one of the many reasons I am so looking forward to 2017 at the SheHive. I can’t wait to carry my beautiful whole self into that beautiful whole space and become a truer version of myself — a woman who is a little bit better with her finances and a little more conscious of her health. A woman closer to getting the book out of her head and on to paper. A woman who is a little more badass than she was the year before. A woman who has grown her tribe exponentially.
And, mostly, a woman who can continue to say, “Yes. It was all enough.”
And that will have been legacy enough.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016, was the first time I ever cast a ballot with more female candidates on it than male…
And, sweet gods and goddesses, it felt good! I had no idea how much it actually meant to me to see women running our country until I saw the graphic of the glass ceiling shattering when Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination. Since then I’d become obsessed with women truly breaking through. I cast my ballot and left my polling place downright giddy and hopeful.
And then I wasn’t.
My dreams weren’t completely dashed. Some of the very qualified women that I had hoped to see in office will soon be there, but too many will not. I woke up the next morning sad, angry, frustrated, outraged, hurt, scared and one million other things all at the same time because it didn’t feel like much of anything had changed at all.
My modus operandi in situations like this is to immediately channel hurt and anger — and all those other very “unladylike” emotions — into action. To start fixing. The day after the 2016 election I chose differently. I decided that I was going to grieve and I also decided that my grief looked very much like me throwing both middle fingers up in the air and scowling.
And those fingers and that scowl stayed there all day.They stayed there in the face of each and every friend who called to ask how we were going to start moving forward, they stayed there in the face of every beautiful Facebook meme about unity and they definitely stayed there in the face of every single, last man that dared to tell me how I was grieving incorrectly — and there were a lot of them.
(Seriously, dudes… of all days, the day after the election was NOT the day to try and challenge a woman!)
I refused to be placated or soothed or overlooked or fall in line. My standard response to every call to action, every demand for something different was the same, “NOPE. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow either.”
“FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS!” I kept telling myself. “Don’t eat them or shop them or tuck them away. FEEL, like you were designed to do!”
A Space to be HeardI was so thankful that the night after the election we had scheduled a Waggle — a free, open-door conversation we host every Wednesday night — to talk about the election at the SheHive. A group of us gathered, cracked a bottle of wine, opened some cookies and had an honest and thoughtful conversation about the election with Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. Some things we all agreed upon and some things we just had to respectfully agree to disagree on. I cried, I yelled and I even laughed a little and, by the end, I felt better.
I felt heard.I went home that night a little less angry and so very grateful for the brave women in my life that allow me the space to FEEL and process like I am designed to do. No shame, no guilt, just love and acceptance.
A Space to be Heard… and to FeelWe spend an awful lot of time hiding our feelings as women. Somehow becoming emotional has been equated with weakness over time. I call bullshit. I don’t feel weak because I spent November 9th angry and sad — I feel empowered. I feel full.
And I feel grateful.
I’m winding down from a long weekend spent with some of my best girlfriends from grad school - my hive, my wolf pack, my ride or dies. Friday night we were talking about our first impressions of each other.
“I was so intimidated,” Barbara said to me.
“Of me?!” I asked.
“Yes, you were so put together!”
“Put together? I discovered halfway through our first day that my pants were on backwards,” I laughed.
Which is totally a true story.
It’s amazing how much of another person’s story we write in our own heads before we actually get to know them. They’re better than us, more put together, smarter, funnier, prettier…
And, truthfully, we’re not really writing their stories - we are writing our own. A story that says, “I am less than.”
Stepping into unfamiliar territory is, almost, always scary. I’m in Texas right now because the SheHive launches in three days and I am scared shitless. Scared that it’s going to fail, that I’m going to be a laughing stock, that it was a bad idea, that I’m going to bankrupt my family, etc., etc. I knew that I had to spend some time with a bunch of women that I trusted to help me remember that I am enough - now and always.
It is all I want for every woman that eventually walks through the SheHive doors. Which got me thinking…
Walking through the SheHive doors for the first time is going to be a scary proposition for a lot of women - for me, for Andrea, for the instructors, for the women that just want to be a part of a community. We’re all worried that we might not fit in and that we’ll stand out (and not in a good way).
I want to say to you, in no uncertain terms, if you want to be a part of the SheHive - you are welcome. Not just welcome, I really, really want you to be a part of my community and I want to be a part of yours. You are not a fluke, you are not the one women that is not going to belong and I will do just about damn near anything to help you find comfort in this community. Period.
We are all scared at times. We are all worried that we might not fit in. We are all worried that we are going to be the laughing stock when everyone else finds out what a fraud we are. I promise you that you are nowhere near alone in these feelings and if you just step a foot in the door, magic can happen.
So, please, tell me what it is I can help you step foot inside the SheHive for the first time. Do you want a personal tour? A coupon so you can bring a friend along the first time? A bottle of wine and a late night talk about how much I value you?
I’m game… because a whole bunch of women that mean the world to me just did the same for me and I am so very grateful.
There is magic and immense comfort to be discovered in the company of your future hive. How can I make it a little less scary to help you take the first step towards finding it?
Two days ago I started a blog post about how I was feeling scared and ungrateful and full of SHOULD. It started…
Today I’m feeling ungrateful, angry and scared. Three weeks away from opening the SheHive doors and all I want to do is run in the other direction and go get a job. I’m so tired and I can’t find any of the excitement I’ve had for this business anywhere. I feel like it might not ever come back.
I didn’t get a chance to finish the post because Mr. Adams called to tell me that our female Pitbull, Butters, had been taken from our backyard. You want perspective in the world? Have your fragile, senior dog stolen from your back yard and then spend two nights worried about what it is she is facing out there in the world without you to protect her.
For the last 48 hours we have been searching everywhere, calling everywhere, posting everywhere and we were never, never alone when doing so. Every time we went out looking for her, we’d run into a neighbor doing the same. My posts on Facebook had over 700 shares. People I didn’t even know called me to tell me they were worried about her and out looking for her.
Last night I just gave in and turned it all over to the universe and the neighbors and the friends and the people I didn’t know that were calling to say they were in my corner. Butters, the SheHive, life… all in everyone else’s hands. I joined Andrea at a class on small business taxes in the evening - an oddly welcome respite for such dry subject matter - and then came home and went to bed at a reasonable hour for the first time in months.
An hour ago a woman I have never met called to say she found Butters - seven miles away, dumped on the side of the freeway. “She’s okay!” she yelled into the phone as I answered it. In two hours I am leaving for a meeting with Andrea and a sweet, sweet woman named Amanda that is going to help us launch the SheHive. As I type this the HeHivers (Andrea’s husband and Mr. Adams) are at the SheHive laying down our carpet.
A few months ago, in a moment of clarity, I took a white board marker and wrote a love note to myself and my family on the bathroom mirror… “You will always have everything you need.” I believe it, but sometimes I forget. This week the “everything” I needed was everyone else - and they all came through.
What a powerful reminder that with the exception of one person, this world is made up entirely of other people. And what a powerful lesson that those other people are my people - people I can lean on, people I can trust and people who are rooting for me too.
With so much gratitude and love… thank you, my people.