Community, it seems to be an illusive creature in the Pacific Northwest. Community is difficult to describe, but so blissful once found. It can be a place to learn and grow; a place to be disappointed but not give up hope. Community can be challenging yet fulfilling; brutal and unsafe. The greatest trait of community is it can be built with one simple task: authenticity. Showing up as your authentic self is the only requirement to build a thriving and sustainable community. Yet authentic self seems to be rare and on the endangered list. As we sift through our complicated identities do we lose site of authentic self? I would have said no prior to my 10 days of Camp community. My whole goal in joining this community was to be fully in my queer self as I am everyday in my Black self, disabled self, storytelling self, hippie self and empathic self. All layers of my true self were lost. I forgot who I was for a few days. My core was shaken. The last four years I have met, fell in love with and celebrated my authentic self. I couldn't see her in the mirror at camp.
Authentic Regent made some afraid. Made quite a few mad, some jealous and even a couple proclaimed their hatred. Some flirted wildly but shut down when a professional showed up. I stuffed myself away. I wanted to protect the precious authentic me for those who I knew appreciated it. It was in that place of hiding I had my realization about this community. They had been hurt for so long that only their spiny quills showed to those new. Yes, there was oppressive and racist structures, but that is every where. Yes, there was privilege due to class and nationalism, but that is most places in this country. What was missing was permission. There was no permission to make mistakes, to miss a name or forget a pronoun. No permission to be sensitive or need a few minutes to process information coming at you fast. No permission to question authority or wonder why some friends weren't present. It's time you give yourself permission.
Renewal and rejuvenation are the messages I have gotten from the universe the last three months. It has been a complex transition. I over analyzed, I over planned, I doubted. I was waiting for the "right" time. The time has come. It actually has been here for awhile, but I wasn't ready to listen to Spirit's call. I am ready for the uncertainty of a career shift.
As many of you know, I have been working tirelessly to launch my coaching and consulting business successfully. This includes a revamp of the website, new look for marketing materials, and most importantly, a shift in the type of work I am focusing on. After the violence of Orlando and Baton Rouge, I struggled with how this continues to be the norm, the norm of violence and silence. I found myself angry that so much energy is still being expended just to prove to many that racism, and all forms of oppression, are daily realities for most of us. In processing and healing through this anger, I’ve discovered that the work of just training and workshops on the basics of institutional racism and oppression isn’t the right niche for me. Although a critical part of liberation work, my skills and talents are much more impactful when working with individuals, groups, organizations, and small businesses that have made the commitment to equity. My work until this point has been 80% working with those that feel equity is important but still struggle with how it is important to their work and the personal growth that must accompany any collective change. How many more people need to die or live torturous lives before it is enough to motivate all to action?
I’m shifting my energy to primarily coaching those who are motivated; those that have hit roadblocks or barriers to their journey of embodying equity itself and living the values of justice and building sustainable and thriving communities, not just having it on paper or in policies rarely kept. For me, this is what I can do to impact culture change. Supporting skill building and self-actualization for those who which go deeper into personal accountability and actively working to upend our social programming that upholds oppression.
I will still offer training and workshops, however my main focus is my coaching. Coaching is how Spirit calls me to lend to transformational change. It took me too long to listen to Spirit.
Are you ready to listen to your Spirit's call?
As a Black woman, I am often requested or nominated to lead or support various "diversity" initiatives. Over the years, my feelings about these requests have gotten more emotionally complicated. I'm a firm believer that people of color or other target groups of oppression, should be "leading" any and all equity projects, initiatives or programs. Yet my heart also knows, diversity and inclusion are just code for, "we don't want to share power and we will allow more black and brown or queer faces here as long as you assimilate.".
it's all in the story.
We are guided by the belief that storytelling and narrative is an essential tool for building relationships. As humans, we are filled with stories that need to be told, even more so witnessed. FROS works with those who wish to develop the skills to listen to these stories, to provide opportunities for these stories to thrive and share a greater story to the rest of our communities.
How the Stories we tell Shape Our World...
Founder of Fostering Real Opportunities