In my early 20’s I had my first real grown up relationship with a sweet young man named Austin.
We met in Jasper, and although my intention was to work there just for the summer and return to university in the fall, we decided to move in together instead and we stayed there another 3 ½ years.
After that we moved to Calgary to go back to school. He took welding at SAIT, and I took graphic design at ACAD. After about 6 months though, we were not doing so well as a couple.
I had recently gotten a job at Lululemon and was really loving it there.
I loved the clothes, but more than that I was loving the culture. At that time, Lulu was still franchise, and Russ was seriously an amazing owner. With 20ish women and the odd man working there, he could have had his hands full, but he created an environment of integrity, authenticity, and a lot of fun!
Lululemon brought me to my first yoga class, taught me how to have difficult conversations, and how to create goals.
Truly, Russ and my experience at Lulu helped form my path as a yoga instructor and coach today. I will always be grateful for that time in my life, because even though I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to “be” when I grew up, I definitely learned about my passions!
One day after I came home from work, Austin looked very sad and stated that things weren’t working with us.
I kind of brushed it off and said, well let’s keep trying.
I come from a family that sticks things out no matter how bad, and one thing I knew how to do very well was how to stay.
So I asked “What do we need to do to make things better?” We had been through this before, and I thought we’d just have a talk and move on.
“I don’t want to try anymore,” said Austin quietly.
BOOM! The floor fell out from under my feet, and I was falling. The reality of what was happening was swirling around me and I had no idea what I was going to do or where the ground was.
“Okay,” I said.
That was the last night he slept there. He moved out the next day, and I was left with the emptiness and confusion of a first love break-up.
I was floored how 5 words suddenly changed everything in my life.
Nothing was the same. Who was I even without him? What did I even like? I knew what WE liked. I realized that I had lost myself somewhere.
I wasn’t just grieving the relationship, I also had the huge task of discovering who I was and rebuilding me. The worst part was, I was totally alone in a big city without him. I had nobody else.
I called Lulu the following day asking for a personal health day, and to see if someone could cover my shift for me. It was Jenn V who answered, she asked if I was alright and what was wrong.
I started crying, and told her that Austin and I had just broken up. Jenn V was shocked, and assured me that my shift would be covered.
I stammered out a “thank you,” and said, “you know what the worst part is? I’m totally alone. I have no one here and I don’t know what to do.”
“Don’t be silly, Tina,” she said “you have 15 of the best friends you will ever have right here!”
Of course I started bawling at this point, because there was a part of me that knew it was true. That store had the most loving, supportive, and compassionate environment I have ever been in. I still have friends from the 4th Street store, and love to see how their lives have grown and developed over the years.
So why do I share this story?
Not because I love sharing my ugly cry moments, but because Jenn V was my light in one of the darkest moments of my life.
She gave me the greatest gift one human can give to another: she made me feel safe.
All of us, are powerful beings. We influence our world with how we choose to live every day. We are interconnected and we touch each other all the time without even being aware of it. I don’t know if Jenn V to this day knows how powerful her words were to me and the effect she had on me.
Life is really hard for all of us.
As much as we try to control everything (you know you do!), and mitigate risks, there’s no guarantees. Every single one of us goes through loss, and a very long list of challenges and tragedies that we also share.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Ian Maclaren
To be kind, is to see the humanity in front of you and to also acknowledge your own.
Kindness is the very practice of goodness. It is not being blind to suffering in front of you, but to say “me too” and “I’m in here with you.”
I know who you are, and I know what you can do. You can change the world with your smile, and you can make another person feel safe. You can change a life.
So, what’s one way you can start changing the world one life at a time?
Practice seeing people.
Look people in the eye. Smile at them. See them as friends, or even family, that you just haven’t met yet. Let them into your heart, and let yourself be moved. Most importantly, let yourself be seen by reaching out and saying “I’m in here with you, you’re safe.”
“How close does the dragon’s spume
Have to come? How wide does the crack
In heaven have to split?
What would people look like
If we could see them as they are,
Soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
Reckless, pinned against time?
– Ellen Bass, If You Knew
You might be wondering how you can live more purposefully, more impactfully, more authentically.
I’d love for you to join the Sisterhood in the Soul Strategy Sessions. Learn how to design a life that is meaningful to you, and how to live powerfully with an incredible group of women waiting to be the best friends you’ve ever had and all saying, “Me too, I’m in here with you, let’s do this!”
I always love hearing from you! What do you do to reach out to others to make them feel safe? Is that important to you? Share your comments here.
Do you know of someone who needs this? Share this on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, or forward to those you love. You can be the light in somebody’s day, just like Jenn V was for me. J
Thank you for being the light that you are!