The Board

While there have been times in the last few months that I’ve considered giving Facebook the boot (too much time sucked, too much negative energy, just too much too much), there are certain elements and connections and people I have via the social media mogul that keep me coming back for more. And actually, that’s very much in line with the point of this post – how much better you can serve yourself by picking your company wisely and surrounding yourself with the very best – the people who will see and nurture the good in you no matter how bad things get. And thanks to Facebook, I was recently reminded that the people in our inner bubble – our true guides – are ones we need to choose wisely and hold close. The advice and counsel of others who might be talking in our ears? Well, perhaps not so much.

I first remember being introduced to this concept as an adult several years ago in Patti Digh’s book Four Word Self-Help. It’s a fab little piece and one four-worder that jumped out at me was, “Give Up Toxic People.” At the time, I had a neighbor who, whenever we chatted in our front yards, would just go on and on and on about everything wrong in her life. It became so draining to talk to her that I started to avoid initiating conversation. I mean, I get it – we all have Tuesdays in our lives, but every day cannot be Tuesday. If it is, then please find a professional to help you see beyond those days, because even someone such as myself, who does not believe that every moment of every waking hour is filled with sunshine and roses, knows that attitude and perspective and HELP can go a long, long way in finding the better. Anyway – after reading Digh’s discussion of toxic people, it was pretty clear to me that my neighbor was not someone in which I could invest any more of myself. We could still be cordial and polite but vulnerable and connected? No. In the years since I have come to this same place, this same conclusion, in other relationships and friendships, and while the giving up part can be very hard, I have found doing so to be beneficial in the long run. When you make these hard decisions and changes, you are ultimately healing and protecting your heart by walking away from those who do not truly support or see you. Naturally, my yoga practice of the last year+ has deepened this belief for me. As I continue my journey to self-acceptance and radical self-love, I see how beneficial it is to keep the company of those who will listen rather than lecture, offer acceptance before advice, and love me, faults and all.

As all of this has been rattling around in my head lately, it was a beautiful moment of synchronicity last week when a friend posted on Facebook about a speaker she had seen many years ago who asked the audience who, if given the chance, would they select to sit on their own personal Board of Directors for their lives. People to “council you, to support you, to offer solutions to your problems and to see the ‘big picture’ and to help you achieve a happy, successful life.” My very wise friend (who totally gave me permission to steal all of this for a blog post – thanks, K!) went on to list examples (spouse, family members, teachers, coaches, friends, etc.) and then beautifully ended with the following:

            Evaluate the people you are surrounding yourself with, giving your time to, whether it be physically, emotionally, professionally. Evaluate what they are bringing to your long term “big picture”. Take care of the people in your life that take care of you. And learn to value the opinions and advice from your personal Board of Directors. Your future self with thank you for it. 

After reading this, I was first grateful for the amazing connections and ideas the interwebs bring me on a daily basis; I doubt I could have survived this SAHM gig before Al Gore invented the Internet because how else would I, could I still feel like a part of the outside world while being consumed by the life and times of my littles and their daily grind? Secondly, I was totally inspired by the ideas in this question/post. We hear all the time that it takes a village to raise a child, but aren’t we all children, in some ways, always? We all deserve a village of our own and having a wise Board of Directions within that village is a no-brainer. As much as I may be an introvert, even I believe that this life was not meant to be lived alone. Why on earth do we expect ourselves to have all the answers? To always know what is right? Why not take guidance from others and take comfort in their support, love, and occasional hugs or high-fives? If we are to give up toxic people, then we should also be motivated to find those who fit our hearts and our lives – our Personal Board. 
So what do you think? Could you sit down and make a list of those who you would like to add to your Board? You’re the CEO (or whatever business analogy makes sense here – c’mon people, I’m an English major!), so you get to decide. Let go of the flapping jaws – the people who don’t have your best interest at heart – and hang on to the ones who do (even if they sometimes disagree with you). And then ask them. Ask them to serve. Write them a letter (another idea from Miss Digh – through her Project 137 – that I participated in a few years ago). Let them know the importance, the role they have had in shaping your life, and how you hope they continue to do so. Let us nurture these connections, these relationships, so we can perhaps have more sunshine and roses days, or least know that we’ll be loved and supported when our mood comes up more rain and thorns. 
I plan to do this. I don’t know what number I’ll land at for my final Board (six? seven? ten?) and I may bend the rules a bit (as in, can I put someone who is already gone from this world on my Board? Because I’d sure like to, in hopes that spirit guides count here, too) in order to get to my final number, but why not? Why not let people know you value them in such a way? This is not to say these people will lead every step of your life. But if they are already loving and guiding you, why not acknowledge their presence and say, “THANK YOU for helping me find my way.”? After all, ’tis the season for giving thanks! 
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