I often lament networking and what it has become. Even in the rooms with the best intentions, my experience is that it is most often a festival of business cards and prospecting coffees. Clearly I want it to be more, to be a place where true relationships are built, where we can be vulnerable, part of a community and grow together. It just never seems to happen. I have accepted this state of affairs and now go to these events in search of amazing stories, choosing to seek out the positive instead of the negative, just understanding the thing for what it is and what it will be.
I have learned many things this past year. One of the best is the joy of being wrong.
This past Monday, Hilary Johnson, the Phenomenal Connection 72, invited me to come out to the Hatch Tribe Holiday Social. The Tribe is a group of women entrepreneurs who gather to support and learn from one another. It's an incredible group focused on creating ground up empowerment for women, a group I have been incredibly enamored with since meeting Hilary and speaking to her more about it. I absolutely had to go to this event, to observe the tribe like some rogue scholar, to bask in this amazing energy that must be present in this room. Mary Ann and I were beyond excited when the night finally came.
As excited as I was, I felt that I knew exactly what I was in for. I would enjoy some refreshments, speak with some incredible people, hear some of their stories and leave with my soul a bit more refreshed and my heart happy. In fact, that is the way the evening started out, with some delicious food, some incredible conversation and some phenomenal women. I was sincerely spoiled as the only man in the room.
Then the time came when Hilary spoke up and directed us to take a seat on one of the many meditation cushions around the room. This was different, exciting, the first great indicator that my perception of the world and my experiences were about to change. I seated myself jollily towards the middle of the pack and waited to see what would come.
We were prepared for some soul questions, a type of guided meditation led by Kelly, the founder of Still Soul Studio where we were gathered. She sprayed rose water on us, a remarkable scent that held in my beard for a few hours, honestly it was really fantastic. We then closed our eyes and walked through the exercise, asking deep questions of ourselves about our wants, our dreams, our gratitude and our challenges. My mind emptied, allowing answers to those questions, visions of them, to dance across a waiting stage. When we opened our eyes, I felt refreshed, focused, simply incredible. A piece of me was restored and revitalized.
What happened next actually lifted my heart entirely, like seeing a dream you always wanted happen before you as simply as the sun rises and sets.
We all went around the room, introduced ourselves and shared what we learned this past year. I sat among these incredible women sharing our smiles and cries. These amazing women told tales of triumph and of great loss. There were beautiful smiles and amazing laughter, holy sounds echoing in this sacred space. Tears were shed, both of loss and joy, but always knowing that the room, the energy of these people, was here to help, to heal, to support. There were no titans here, no giants, just people, open hearts and equals. I shared my story, was mentioned in another and felt a new power within myself in the presence of such struggle, such hope, such genuine power and strength.
As the stories were shared, the women in the room smiled. Hilary, at the front of the room had her smile grow larger with each one and the fire in her eyes burn as though it could light a thousand suns. It is the look of someone who is seeing their dream live, breathe and grow. In this room of stories and lessons, with so many amazing women, and one man, gathered on meditation cushions, a holiday miracle happened. It happened in the way of such miracles, not with granduer and trumpets' fanfare, but with the gentle breeze, the gentle song of the wind reminding you that it cannot, and will not, be stopped.
I am still enamored of this group of amazing women, even more so now that I have been invited to sit in their circle for an evening and learn from them. Many times I have reflected on how much I love Hilary's vision of the future, her passion and drive to watch a new day rise. I could write about the greatness of this tribe, of these women, forever. It would be a phenomenal way to end this piece, but I want to do something different.
I want to address the men out there.
How do you empower?
I will not waste words on whether or not such a group as Hatch Tribe is needed, they absolutely are. My question to other men is directed at how we react to these groups. Do you run away? Imagine that this group is only for women and so they can have their own thing and we will take the rest? Or do we stand with them and celebrate this incredible community of amazing and powerful women?
Perhaps the world would be a better place if we understood the abundance of the world, of opportunity, and the joy present when people win, when we forge community, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and support each other.
To Hilary and the incredible women of Hatch Tribe, thank you for sharing your lives, your stories and your passions with me.
Thank you for letting me spend a night as one of you.
Thank you all for being you, beautiful and flawed in the best way.
Photography by Christine Angeline Photography