Reflections on Within 2018

For the first time in a long time I feel incredibly inspired and at peace. It took a gathering in warm Palm Springs of sixty or so of the most creative female leaders in tech to cause a stir in me of something that has been too tired to spark. It took four days of introspection, community building and inspiration. It took putting my own self first and simply being open to receiving the gifts I would be offered. Gifts of vulnerability, of camaraderie, of passion, of friendship and joy. It took these amazing women to draw out of me a creativeness and vibrancy I have been worried was gone.

I’ve been fucking tired.

Maybe it’s the massive and exciting role I took on and rocked the shit out of about 18 months ago. Maybe it’s my thyroid disease diagnosis. Perhaps my back injury and constant physical therapy. Maybe it’s moving homes, nightly insomnia, international travel, public speaking and mothering a small human. All I know is I’ve been running on empty for a while, and been mindlessly checking the self-care boxes in attempts to replenish and stay on my feet on a daily basis. Get a massage? Done! Delegate more? Check. Read more fiction? Yes! Stop doing work email on the weekends? You bet! Infrared sauna? Yep! My life has been a balancing act of attempts to continue to be the me I’ve known for thirty plus years.

But it’s time for that me to evolve.

I’m a high energy, type A, get shit done, don’t stop moving, constant maker of all the things human. And something needs to change in order for me to keep showing up as my best self and live my life to my values. If I want to keep being a creative spark in the world who speaks her truth, nurtures growth in others and lives joyfully then I need to truly fill my own bucket before filling others. And right now my bucket is a bit leaky.

This week I found a tribe to both help me mend the holes, but also fill me up.

To gather some of the most creative female leaders in tech together and create a space where they can be both inspiring and vulnerable was a feat. Mia Blume started Within to continue her work of coaching and supporting this growth in women leaders in such a tough, tough field. What she has created is astounding.

The passion was palpable in the air every single activity — from digging deeper into leadership values, coaching each other, to learning the philosophy of Aikido and daily meditation — you could feel the attention, openness and supportive nature of the space, and the women within it.

Mia, a heartfelt thank you from the bottom of my leaky bucket.

It’s isolating as a women leader working in tech, we all have our unique struggles and there are so few of us that it’s impossible to get all the support you need within your own company, and as I’m now realizing, even within your own region. We simply don’t have the support systems we need — especially in leadership. We simply don’t have access to the few super-senior female leaders around us. They are just one human too.

I’ve found energy and passion in giving back to other women through many means, and I lean on my local peers and connections constantly. But I’ve not been inspired to grow myself for too long. I’ve not been able to see a future path for myself. I’ve been feeling I’ve hit the much discussed glass ceiling and “peaked” in my career already. And I was coming to some kind of acceptance with this. As someone who had constantly strived for bigger and bigger challenges and learning opportunities this caused me to feel a bit lost. This week I spoke with women leading global teams, leading multiple disciplines across many platforms, leading other leaders and having such impact. I realized that I have so much more growing to do as both a human and a woman in leadership and most importantly, that there are no limits to the impact I can have. Even if the path is not clearly paved.

This tribe of women has shown me that as long as I put my own well-being and creativity at the center of my path and growth I can still be a spark in the world.

“Women are viral. If we look at a circle of women and there’s one woman who is well, she will naturally heal that circle of women she’s with.” — MILCK

Life will continue to get tough. I will build my resilience muscle. There will be naysayers. I will do what I know is right. I will know the true meaning of leadership by going through trials with my teams and continuously showing up as my best self — which can only happen when I nurture myself too. #realtalk.

The first thing that was asked of us was to be present and open to a restorative focus. To be open to receiving everything the week would bring. To receive and be filled up. To be inspired. To learn through others experiences and soak up their wisdom. Bottling it all up inside of me — my heart, my brain, my body. Storing it as a healing ether to be replenished continuously. Harnessing the energy of my fellow women’s moments where they drop a truth bomb that sends a shiver down your spine and alights a spark within you. That’s magic. These women have magic. And I have it in me again.

We all received energy and creativity this week. We all gave it to each other too. That’s powerful beyond measure. And that’s how we thrive in our worlds.

We are all stardust.