Standing Room Only

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Be present. Ride the wave of life. Celebrate moments. Live a Life Worth Celebrating.

The first Facebook page I started for my business was called, “Live a Life Worth Celebrating.” That was the last line of the eulogy I delivered for my husband’s memorial service in 2005, and it felt like the energy I was taking into the world after watching this vibrant man succumb to cancer and die.

From the beginning of my arrival on Facebook in 2008, I brought the energy of celebration. Reading posts for 15-30 minutes every day, I began to experience the lives of virtual strangers and personal friends: waiting for the birth of a baby; waiting for the death of a loved one in hospice; book launches; new houses; new jobs; posts asking for prayers; posts filled with discouragement and hope; humor, joy, and sadness. I have celebrated and provided feedback every day, and shared and celebrated posts. It is a normal part of my day in person and on social media with strangers and friends. I have also reviewed and written feedback for people publicly and privately. The message is, I see you, I feel you, and I celebrate you. It’s really amazing to think of how many people I have watched, and celebrated all over the world. What a gift!

The way that I am currently challenging myself is to notice when I feel jealousy, and when I pull back instead clicking like or commenting. The first step is noticing the jealousy. The next step is to feel and explore the feeling with inner questions, then healing it enough to authentically celebrate someone.

It happened yesterday when a man in his sixties posted that he was asked to speak about, “Writing to Heal,” at a conference. My jealousy barometer began to rise with the inner voice of, “Why doesn’t anyone ask me to speak about Writing to Heal?” (First of all, that is not true. I have spoken on radio shows, online, at women’s meetings and a recovery center, as well as in Heal My Voice programs.) So, I went a layer deeper. The man had established a relationship with Writer’s Digest for 24 years, and it was at a conference for Writer’s Digest that he would be speaking. The banter in my head, “I didn’t start early enough. I didn’t align myself with organizations that have enough visibility. I have been playing too small.” The bottom line is that the inner critic brought me to, “I did it wrong and I am a failure.” Taking a deep breath, I placed my hand on my heart, closed my eyes, and slowly repeated, “I love you. I love you. I love you. You are enough. You’ve done enough. Everything has happened in the perfect way. You have been exactly where you needed to be. What do I want?” As I allowed myself to feel my love and compassion, I could see that I am already in a process of expanding my message to a larger audience. I just don’t see it in physical form yet. The jealousy is connected to my desire. I am in the process of becoming, and the audience will be people who will benefit from my experiences, knowledge, and wisdom.

I took another look at the Facebook post. I looked at the photo of the man. I felt an appreciation for his journey and for his heart. I felt my jealousy melting. I viewed him with compassion. And when I wrote the words, “Congratulations!” I really meant it. Good for him! Congratulations. It’s his time to speak at this conference. I could feel the love welling up inside of me. Later that day, he clicked Love on the comment I had written to him, and I felt a wave of love in my body. It feels awesome to celebrate people and to fill up the love inside of me, too.

Writing this post today, I remembered a moment with strangers from a few years ago when I felt ecstatic celebration in my body.

A story of celebration:

I was in NYC waiting in the standing room only line in the hope of trading in my bus ticket and catching an earlier Megabus back to Baltimore. To pass the time, I was watching people board the bus to Boston while keeping my fingers crossed that the gray clouds gathering in the sky would not turn into a thunderstorm.

The crowd of people boarding the Boston-bound bus had dwindled down to three people; a young woman in her 20s and two Megabus employees all looking in the same direction, as if waiting for something to happen.

As I watched the scenario in front of me, I saw that the woman was asking, motivating, and persuading the employees to postpone departing until her friend made it to the bus. The woman was pointing at her phone and then pointing down the street as if to prove that, “She is on her way, arriving any minute, don’t leave without her!”

I found myself swept up in the moment, looking off into the distance, hoping to see a glimpse of the woman, then looking back to make sure the bus did not leave. My body began to tense with anticipation, as I heard the bus driver start the engine of the bus. Like watching the quarterback in a football game throwing the ball and waiting to see if someone would catch it and run to the end zone for a touchdown, I was holding my breath, silently cheering for the moment we would see the woman appear in the crowd.

And there she was! I saw a woman burst through the crowd, carrying a duffel bag and running from a block away. I jumped into the air with excitement, clapping my hands. I saw the woman by the bus pointing and a Megabus employee signaling to the bus driver that one more person was on her way. Breathlessly arriving at the bus, the duffel bag was handed off to an employee; the two women had a quick embrace then boarded the bus.

I was so happy! I had witnessed a moment between two women that had ended in a victory for both of them. I had tears of joy in my eyes, as I felt the power of women supporting each other. There were using their voices and standing up for each other, being supportive with love and conviction.

As I basked in the joy of this moment and watched the bus pull away, I thought of how it could have been another story, an ending that would have been a defeat for both.

It could have been a young woman sitting on the inside of the bus fuming because her friend was late. “Oh, she is always late. I hope we leave without her. This will teach her a lesson.” The bus would have driven right past the woman leaving her behind in NYC. I might have seen the woman standing at the side of the road, watching the bus drive by, her shoulders slumped in defeat and a duffel bag dropped onto the sidewalk. I might have felt a heaviness in my heart as I watched her, not even aware that there was a woman gloating on the inside of the bus. Being left behind and gloating would have been a defeat for both women. I wonder what I would have done in that situation. Would I have offered support in some way? Would she have received it? Or maybe the woman would have waited for her friend and together they would have taken the later bus?

I am grateful to say that I see more of the cheering these days. I am grateful to be a part of women’s circles where we are listening to each other, healing our stories together, carving new pathways that give us the experience of women cheering each other on to victory. We are inspiring each other to have a voice in the world; reaching out our hands to encourage, support, listen, and celebrate each other into a fuller expression of who we really are.

The time is now! Who are you cheering on to Victory? And notice…who is cheering for you?

Written by: Andrea Hylen; Heal My Voice

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