November 2019

I Know What You Do, But Who Are You?

When you walk into a room full of strangers, how do you introduce yourself? For many years, my lead sentence was that I was “the CEO” or “the Mom.” I hid behind the cape of a title, a role, or a function because I didn’t feel I would be admired or accepted without those trappings. I wasn’t good enough or interesting enough as-is.

I was hoping to be seen as Superwoman. Able to leap buildings in a single bound or something like that.

But when I lost my CEO job during the recession and my children grew into independent adults, everyone could see that behind the costume, behind the cape, there was no Superwoman. There was just me.

I had to find ways to define myself that felt more closely aligned with my human values and my human-sized strengths.

The formula that works for me is STRENGTHS X VALUES = PERSONAL SUPERPOWER.

I found that aligning my natural abilities with the things I cared about created space for me to find a diverse range of amazing women with whom I could truly connect and be my human self. That space is called Parlay House, and we meet on a recurring basis in cities across the globe to talk about the very human truths we share. We’ve found that as we’ve grown, with one woman taking time to bring another into our circle, we touched off an inclusive cascade that lets all of us define and frame ourselves in more meaningful and relevant ways.

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I’m Not Alone.

Over the course of the last few years, Parlay House members have told me very similar stories about finding new ways to reframe and value themselves.

Jamie Higgins told me that, “In 2016, I left my lucrative 20-year career on Wall Street to become a stay-at-home mom. For the first time in my life I didn’t have an answer to the “So, what do you do?” Well, at least not an answer I was proud of. To keep depression and regret at bay, I threw myself into volunteering at my children’s schools, but I still felt lost, not feeling understood in that community. Then I realized that if I wanted to materially change my life, I needed to do different things. Enter Parlay House. I was so nervous driving into NYC that night. Nervous that I had no business as a “boring stay at home mom” to be with these dynamic women. I was wrong. I was welcomed and supported and I even made a great friend. I continued to get out of my comfort zone and try different things. I started taking writing classes to ignite an old passion. Then I wrote and I wrote some more, and now I’m almost finished with my first novel. I stopped fighting the fear of being lost and started enjoying the circuitous routes and dead ends. That’s when the magic happens. Now, I’m happy to say I’ve arrived at my next destination.”

Ivy Wolf-Turk wrote, “At a time when I was struggling to re-enter the world after serving time in Federal Prison, feeling isolated, with all options of my old life foreclosed, the thought of joining a community of loving, open, kind, and welcoming women gave me hope. I had heard about Anne’s personal struggle and the beginning of Parlay House in an article I read while incarcerated. It gave me a sense that there were women who would be interested in “who” I am, rather than what I “did”! It changed my perspective on what might be possible, and after experiencing Parlay House I was invigorated to pursue my passions and dare to dream again. I met many remarkable women who embraced me and supported me in ways I could have never imagined!”

Ivy went on to found Project Liberation, a non-profit organization that helps women re-enter society after prison.

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You Are Enough

My One Small Thing for November is that when the culture says to spread myself as thinly as possible over the next six weeks, instead of trying to be Superwoman, I’m going to find a few small things that feel like part of my core truth. Like welcoming strangers into my home and having fewer, more connected conversations.

Where is the intersection between your strengths and your values?

SHARE IT SMALL: Might you be brave enough to take off your mantle of being Superwoman with one person you trust, as a way to try out being fine as your human self?

SHARE IT BIG: If you are feeling extra gutsy, get some clarity around this season and hone in on what you are best at doing. And then ask others around you for a hand. It will likely turn out that doing things together provides you relief from trying to be everything to everyone and create more opportunities to truly get to know those around you.

SHARE IT WITH ME: I’m gathering stories of Parlay Effects– outward cascades of good, including our continued self-awareness, self-respect and self-love. If you’ve found a way to reframe your quest to be a superhero into finding a few superpowers, send me an email so that I can witness and learn from this all-important cascade. It’s what I call The Parlay Effect.