A Love Letter To The Inclusive Woman.

A Love Letter To The Inclusive Woman.

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The woman who walks through life with open arms. The one who laughs the loudest, focuses the feelings, who looks you in the eye like you’re the only one that matters.

You know her. She’s the steady rock on the shaky ground. She’s the shaky hand with the steady gaze. She’s the one who breaks first and shows you her wounds, then also shows you how to repair them – and then later when you’re hurting, you remember the one who showed you how to move through it all instead of around it.

She’s the inclusive woman.

Inclusive is infectious.

Inclusive is knowing loneliness and instead of putting up walls to protect yourself from hurt, plowing them down to make sure you feel WITH people, not AT them. That’s what walls always end up doing, anyway. Breaking the WITH, driving the AT. Handball courts. River dams. The red rubber ball bounces back even harder; the water smacks the sides and breaks up the otherwise steady current. Or worse, stops it altogether, so all you see is glassy nothingness. A mirage that folds over itself as if to say, Nothing to see here. Forget what’s under the surface, that flow never mattered anyway.

To be inclusive is to let go of the cynical crutches that are so easy to lean on when we’re scared or unsure. It’s to invite people in with a hug and a smile, to keep your wits about you but give everyone a chance. It’s to banish the “prove,” disarm the doubt, and raise that second eyebrow to meet the other and turn judgement into joy.

Raise that second eyebrow to meet the other and turn judgement into joy. Click To Tweet

The exclusive has standards to be met and hoops to jump through. The exclusive asks you to “earn” their time, their trust, their attention. The exclusive is the fabulous in-crowd and the fabricated Instagram captions; the stuff that makes you FOMO and fear that you’re just not welcome there. Somehow, though, you still feel you should try.

And yet underneath the exclusive facade of wild self confidence and sky-high standards is a person who just longs to be loved. They have forgotten that the way to get love is to give love, the way to belong is to invite in the world, and the way to be seen is to look inside yourself for validation. The exclusive creates cliques and mocks others and has checkboxes to be filled before giving the green light.

Living in the exclusive is no way to live. Because when you only let in some, you really let in none. When you censor yourself for most, you limit yourself for all. You’re looking to protect yourself and you’re looking to be safe, but in the process you’re telling yourself to always stay on the lookout for the enemy. Exclusive is where judgement breeds, where rifts are dug, and where even true love can turn sour.

And yet INCLUSIVE can sting, too. It can claw at your skin and slap you in the face. The more accepting you get, the more truth you see. The more truth you see, the more accepting you’re challenged to be. It’s like the universe or whatever is haunting and heckling you. Ya think you’re so altruistic huh? Ya think you’re sooooo empathetic? Well try THIS on for size, why dontcha?! (and yes, the universe sounds like a 1920s mobster in this scenario.)

Inclusive can feel like walking on fresh-polished marble wearing brand new socks, each mini-step feeling slipperier than the last. Fighting for control is useless and will keep you in one place. The only way to move forward is to make each step deliberate, strong, grounded, and sure.

Life opens up when you open up to it. Click To Tweet

But the tradeoff to resisting the fight and strengthening your step is that life opens up when you open up to it. And people open up when you open up to them. Not always, but most times. Not immediately, but eventually. And as they come around, they’ll bring others along with them. And so on, and so on. We say we’re sick and tired of seeing people display tropes of the human experience instead of experiencing the experience itself – but it’s got to start somewhere.

And so the only question really is, how bad do you want it? Enough to open? Enough to let go?

The way to banish the exclusive is to be the inclusive. The way to open what’s closed is to turn your own key. We’re all just looking to do our very best with this life we’ve been handed – and your “very best” only floods in when your dams have been blown open and washed away.

 


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A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

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My first big meltdown when I moved to New York City two years ago wasn’t upon touchdown or our first night in an empty apartment. It wasn’t because someone was rude to me, or I lost my way, or I missed a subway stop or four.

Nope. It was in the gym locker room.

I remember that first week so clearly: the champagne buzz I felt from the newness, the novelty of being able to get anything.you.want.at.all. delivered to your apartment instead of having to lug it home in bags that cut off circulation in your fingertips. The way you could be walking, skipping, singing, sobbing down the street and people accepted you like whatever you were doing was a part of the flow. The waking up early just because we were so excited to experience the morning. I remember so clearly. It was love at first footstep.

And then I lost it. I mean, I knew it was coming at some point – I definitely cried my second night, mostly out of sheer exhaustion – but I didn’t expect that my anticipated feelings of shock, overwhelm, and longing would show their sad faces in the women’s locker room on Greenwich Avenue after I made a corny joke to a stranger thrice my age and she genuinely giggled back.

My gym had been my safe haven in LA, and LA had been my safe haven in my life. Having grown up visiting the City That Never Sleeps on a regular basis but living in the City That Sleeps In Then Goes On A Hike my entire life, I was very familiar with New York but not enveloped in her. It wasn’t just my immediate neighborhood that I felt protected by in LA; it was EVERYTHING. The street signs, the off-ramps. The familiar faces and the predictable reactions. The sunrises, the sunsets, and the days the ocean-fog took over the whole sky so you couldn’t tell when one finished and one began. I knew LA from birth. She WAS me.

I tried my best to recognize this when I lived there, but just like so many things, there is always some little important bit of a-ha that happens when you no longer have that thing you loved. For me, that a-ha came in a locker room when I realized how alone and unfamiliar I felt within my surroundings. How, while I valued anonymity, I also valued (and took for granted) my ability to CHOOSE it.


Humans are pack animals; we’re tribal. We’re not meant to wander the hills alone until we find a mate and then go back off again to raise and let go of our kin. Our brains are hard-wired for connection, and even the most introverted of us need to feel a sense of togetherness to truly thrive. It’s been proven by sciency people who are book-smarter than I am: loneliness leads to depression and is a huge indicator of how long you will live.

I’ve been watching and reading a lot of Brené Brown lately (you should be, too!), especially the interviews and articles surrounding her newest book, Braving The Wilderness. The book is all about belonging, and (no, this isn’t a spoiler) how “fitting in” is actually the exact OPPOSITE of belonging.

When I moved here, I wasn’t looking to fit in – I wasn’t interested in molding myself to fit the shape of someone or something else – but I was struck by how shaken my sense of belonging had become. And moreover, how much I tied my sense of belonging to other people RECEIVING me.

That’s why the older woman laughing at my lame-o offhand comment got me so choked up. That’s why I started to panic as I became new eyes on centuries-old surroundings. I felt unfamiliar. I felt routine-less. And the smallest things like seeing the same parking lot attendant I only thank-you’d and have-a-nice-day’d and gym members I never even spoke to and just silently awkward-nodded to while we grabbed adjacent dumbbells were things I didn’t expect to crave. I thought I was autonomous in LA and above all that neediness, but boy did I have myself fooled. I was dependent on other people to validate my experience.

The last couple years have brought more change to me than I thought possible: two apartments, two neighborhoods, a new job, multiple events, brand new soul-friends, marriage. And as I contemplate where I go from here, as I head closer and closer toward my thirty-second year, which I have ALWAYS felt in my gut holds something major for me (micro- or macro- major, who knows at this point), I think about how my sense of belonging has changed too – or maybe how it hasn’t. I am on the precipice of something big, but for the first time in a while I’m hesitant to take a much-needed step to fall and build my wings on the way down.

Brené says that we belong everywhere when we belong to ourselves. So if I belong everywhere, then why is it that I’m so tied to THIS sense of place? Maybe it’s for the same reason people stay in relationships that are fine but not GREAT, or stay in jobs that earn enough to live but don’t add enough to LIFE. Because I “know” this sense of belonging is secure IF I just do all the right things, and check off all the to-do boxes, and it’s a very external and define-able belonging. Predictability and ease. Mother-effers.

Once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity - which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it - everything is magic. Click To Tweet

When I moved here, I felt placeless. I remember telling my friend Sarra that I felt freaked out by the amount of places I could go where I knew no one and no thing (Soak it in while you can, she said). I belonged to no one and no thing. I was trying to see where I fit, and tried on a lot for size. I don’t think I really knew how to belong to myself yet. That’s the cool thing about New York, though: it FORCES your identity out of you. The people who try to fight the force are the ones who have it hardest in life, but especially life in this city. But once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity – which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it – everything is magic.

I don’t think everyone is able to belong – or rather, find a sense of belonging – in NYC. You’ve got to be a little wild, a little crazy, and very comfortable getting uncomfortable, to even catch the first glimmers of it. That process and this city will kick your ass before you realize that your recovery is a part of your becoming. It will spook you, but your challenge is to never let it SCARE you. You’ve got to be next-level brave to become and belong – everywhere, but especially in this city that could care less whether you walk around anonymously and disconnected or full and enmeshed.

And now, I’ve found my way, and I’ve found my spaces. I have a “place.” Of course, I know that’s just a feeling and an illusion. And I wonder: is my newfound sense of place, coupled with my acute memory of what it’s like to NOT have one, keeping me in a new loop that doesn’t serve me? I think so; maybe. I’ve been here before, so I can recognize when I am here again.

The great thing, though, is that I know that I am my own and no one else’s, and that an external sense of place is fab but an internal one is fabber. If I know I’ll be okay no matter what, and I know I will be mine no matter what, then maybe, just maybe, I can start to take those steps that lead me to places I don’t know yet.


Two years ago I woke up for the first time as an NYC resident. I know it’s only been two years but I honestly can’t imagine waking up anywhere else.

Brené Brown says that true belonging only comes when you belong to yourself and yourself only, everywhere and nowhere.

Living here, I finally feel like I’ve found where I belong.

belonging sense of place katie horwitch

“I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.” ― Ed Koch


 

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The WANTcast, Episode 013: On Being Who You Truly Are with Jay Pryor

The WANTcast, Episode 013: On Being Who You Truly Are with Jay Pryor

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Jay Pryor is a true force of nature: a life coach, speaker, corporate trainer, and author who inspires people to harness their power to create the lives of their dreams.

He works exclusively with women, and among other reasons, has a great reason why:

He used to be one.

The world is not happening to us. We are happening to the world. - @jaypryorcoach Click To Tweet

Jay was born as a female and transitioned to male in 2001 when he was in his 30s. I knew I needed Jay on the WANTcast the second I heard him speak on personal power, how women hold themselves back, etc – but when I heard his story and mission, I knew I needed to lock it down ASAP. He’s THAT powerful.

You (hopefully) know I don’t play favorites, as I am constantly in awe of the guests on the WANTcast – but honestly, I’ve been telling everyone I know that this podcast is coming up, even the people who don’t normally listen to podcasts – that’s how important I think this episode is.

jay-pryor-quote

In this episode we talk in detail about Jay’s experience transitioning, his reality show stint, and having a need to do more to help a cause without even knowing what that help looks like. We also talk about why Jay chooses to work specifically with women, being “hijacked” and how to get your brain back on track, the huge things holding women back, and so, so much more.

There’s a lot of talk about LGBTQ rights and gender equality right now in our culture. And as Jay and I discuss, no matter how tense the conversation can get sometimes, it’s ultimately that exact tension that will bring about true, lasting change in the long run. This deep conversation with Jay isn’t just about the trans community or gay community – it’s about how each and every one of us can move forward fearlessly into the person we truly are.

This episode took me a while to edit, and not because I edited a lot of it. Just the opposite actually – I barely edited anything. But I found myself transfixed by it and having to go back because I wasn’t in editor mode I was in listener mode. That’s how good Jay is. Get ready, because you’re going to want to listen a few times to soak in all the goodness he has to offer – both to us and to the world.

WANT JAY:

Play in new window | Download | Listen in iTunes | Support the pod by shopping Amazon

Show Notes:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Lean Inside
It Gets Better Project
DCATS
Jay on Dance Moms
I Am Cait segment
Laverne Cox
Stone Butch Blues

North Carolina restroom laws
Kroger being awesome
Daniel Golman’s Emotional Intelligence

Being Boss podcast w/ Jay
WANTyourself: An Afternoon Of Moving Forward Fearlessly – BUY TIX HERE

Be the one who's willing to take a different step in the dance. - @jaypryorcoaching Click To Tweet
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Jay’s awesomeness is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Shift Of Power: Lonely Is Love With Nowhere To Go.

Shift Of Power: Lonely Is Love With Nowhere To Go.

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Shift Of Power is a new series on WANT that explores the darker parts of our emotions, empowers us to embrace them, and shows us how they can make us stronger. From loneliness and “uncoolness” to fear and jealousy, Shift Of Power shines a light on the shadows of our psyche – recognizing that these are very real parts of us and can, in fact, serve a higher purpose if we allow ourselves to feel them full-force. Part prose, part essay, part self exploration, Shift Of Power looks at the inner workings of what we truly want from a whole new angle. Because in order to want it all, you need to learn to feel it all. That, my friends, is power.


lonely

It’s 5:09. Jeremy just left and the house is silent. The turntable’s still singing (yes, we listen to records), the laundry’s still running; the armchair still caves where he sat and did work. I look at the dishwasher waiting to be loaded, the stacks of books just waiting to be read. My thoughts are wanting to be written, my ears distracted by the noise.

And the loneliness stings.

Loneliness hits at the most unexpected times – avocado shopping at the grocery store, sitting in traffic on The 5, driving your car out of your garage into the sunshine of 11am Sunday. It’s undiscerning and undiscriminating, and it certainly doesn’t wear a watch. It comes when life is quiet and you are not, or maybe when everything around you is vibrant and you tiptoe in – or when you look in your refrigerator and realize you need to buy something other than condiments and wine to have on hand at all times.

Lonely is a disconnect, a conscious choice or a unexpected wave.

Loneliness hurts in a way that’s obscure. It’s an absence, sure; but a confusion of sorts. It settles on in when you’re making other plans, or maybe when you choose that you need something more.

Lonely hits you when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself like you used to. You’re a real live adult, when did that happen?

Your body curves in a whole new direction; there is something different in your eyes. What is it? They’re worn and they’re wild, they’re eyes that are strained from holding themselves so wide open for so. very. long.

It’s the look of time passed and dreams in flux. It’s the realization that everything you want is not necessarily everything you need.

Clarity. Vision.

Soften your gaze.

Lonely is the body that’s changed shape by the day, week, year, decade, the supporting examples of this idea that even our own selves are not constant or reliable.

Your body is reliable.

Lonely is what happens when you ache to uplift; lonely is the first guest to arrive and the lingering last guest to leave. Lonely is the self-aware, the uncharacteristically quiet, the first two layers unpeeled instead of the whole dissected onion.

Lonely is the half-budded, thirsty flower with the bright pink petals and the golden pollen, just waiting to burst, just wishing to color the landscape and feed the bees.

Lonely is the song you try to sing instead of just sing. It’s wishing to sing and not getting the chance.

It’s all of the trying and wishing, really.

Lonely is missing your friend because you both evolved in different ways and just don’t relate any more. Lonely is getting a solution instead of a shoulder. Lonely is missing the familiar reliability of life, the structure of tradition, the ease of just be-ing for a whole forever and that being enough. It’s wanting to dance.

Lonely is that necklace that you wore so well, that one that’s now neglected because you just can’t get the tangles out.

Lonely is the change that comes with time and the transience of life in general. It’s all so sad. Life sometimes makes me sad. Not because the world is a petrie dish of dysfunction, not because it is not majestic (respectively – it isn’t; it is). Because it is ephemeral, and that just makes me so sad.

And that sadness – it’s not a bad thing.

Lonely is not a relationship status; lonely isn’t crowded or alone. Lonely is the aching for wide open exchange, and no matter how many friends you have or great your love life is or how perfect your job is, lonely is the confusion that sets in when you wonder, when you hold back, or when the external becomes a guise or overcompensation.

And lonely cannot be solved by being social, by going out, by striking up conversation. Lonely is vague. Lonely is living hazily, living in parentheticals and footnotes and swift asides and question marks lined up like window decorations.

Lonely is what happens when you question the way you give.

Lonely is the what-ifs of what’s out there…

I turn off the record and I silence the laundry. I open the windows; it’s so stuffy in here. I watch the weekenders strolling on the streets below, the regulars sitting on the sidewalk asking for spare change. A child waves. I wave back.

Target your love, focus your voice. Spread your wings and embrace the world. Just a simple moment of care and connection – a fleeting one, even. It’s all out there waiting, it’s all out there glowing.

In the depths of your loneliness lie your truest desires: to love and be loved.

Delete your footnotes and erase your parentheses. Own the person who is so uniquely you. Let it fill your heart as you fill the hearts of others.

The opposite of loneliness is reminding someone, “You’re not alone.”

Wave hi.

Wave back.

Give your love somewhere to go.

Lonely’s just love with nowhere to go.


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