In the moments we may get stuck, it only takes one person to nudge us onto that path we are really meant to be on. One person. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are supposed to move on and other times we are knowingly stuck and at a loss of what to do. I call that person an angel drop.
[Intro with music]
So happy to have you here with me this week, one of the last few episodes of what has been a roller coaster of a year. It’s been great and unbelievable, all at the same time. It feels like we may be on an uptick, as the year ends, but we’re not going to say anything. Stay quiet. Don’t want to jinx the new year. Totally use that superstition a lot. No jinxing.
Have you been taking in some of the hilarious memes that are closing out the year? There’s one that sums up these last 2 years so perfectly. It’s helping me finally exhale and embrace some lightheartedness again. It says, do you realize that 2022 is 2 weeks away but we are still processing 2019, which is now almost 3 years away? How did that even happen?
Hopefully, the last 2 years have been all of our nightmares compressed into just one long one and we are free to skip happy for a while into this next year. In all that time, it has been imperative to have had someone, 2 legged or 4 legged or winged, physical or virtual alongside us to ease the apprehension and isolation. And as we go into this winter, right now, we’re still feeling it. Do you feel it? Ok, Omnicron, come on in but you’d better not be the bad guest that wrecks my house. Come in. Stay awhile. Leave. Be nice.
We are human creatures and regardless of our tendencies, we still need contact, understanding and unconditional love. It makes us feel more confident to do bold things when we feel supported by someone. When we feel someone’s by our side.
That’s what we are going to talk about in today’s episode: In the moments we may get stuck, it only takes one person to nudge us onto the path we are really meant to be on. One person. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are supposed to move on and other times we are knowingly stuck and at a loss of what to do. This happens throughout life because thankfully we have so many opportunities to move onto different paths, and try different things and free ourselves to move from one to another..
Who was that one person who set you on another path? Were you helped onto a path that you may not have taken alone, if it weren’t for that one person?
Tough Times Being the Only One
Decision making is a pretty typical yet lonely path. Just more of the human condition where sometimes we either find ourselves alone with it, literally, or we just don’t feel confident in those around us helping us make the decisions.
From the beginning, we all have stories to share of feeling like we just didn’t fit in. We didn’t fit into the family, school, friends that we were in. Before we could make decisions for ourselves, they were made for us. Depending on where everyone was in their lives, your parents, your friends, even your teachers, you were being influenced by them and vice-versa. You were either feeling great about your situation or what the F about it.
But hopefully by now, you have had the time to reflect on who you really are and can embrace your whole self. Now, not just the easy parts, but those prickly pieces, too. Ones that make you hesitate, or cringe, or totally flip out. But, if they are there, then there’s a reason, even if it’s just to acknowledge that it’s what makes you different and unique.
Still, you can find yourself in tricky situations that you didn’t anticipate. Situations where you are alone, without your core people. Perhaps, the only one of your identity because you’re one of the first that got through. Or, maybe, the only one of your age because you took the fast career track or maybe you’re just starting over. Regardless, it’s unnerving to be the only one without someone who can empathize with you.
Especially, when it comes to decision making. Even the most base decisions in our lives have always been made with others. I don’t know if it’s because we don’t want to take ownership of the decision or we just want to take ownership of something bigger.
Things like ‘where do you want to go out/’ or ‘which outfit do you like better?’ Questions that you aren’t personally attached to are definitely easier to ask. But questions that seem to reflect who you are, those you want to rely on someone who you identify with. You probably tend to trust them, that they can empathize with where you’re coming from and so you don’t feel judged by their response. It makes it easier to ask for help.
Look For Your Only One
I love seeing more and more women rise into leadership, become founders, create groups to support each other and be out there present and en masse. The journey is less isolating and normalizes the idea of women in power for those creating their own path. Encouragement, empathy and just a shoulder to cry on can be the answer for those moments of uncertainty. These keep us upright and facing forward and ready to take on a bigger sense of our life, then if we were doing it alone.
It’s like hiking on an incline, step by step, and feeling good about the progress. It’s ok, it’s not a race. We are just going to go through this. Then, you come around a bend and there’s this scary wall to scale and woof! What do you do?
It’s so tempting to reassess when the big challenge comes up, even in a group. Do you turn around, proud of your accomplishment but say, “hmm, I think we’ve had enough”? Do you rest and think about it for a while, like “hmm, what should we do? who’s feeling what”? Do you collectively help each other to the top and just go for it?
All the options are valid and relevant depending where you are on the path, especially if you don’t know what’s at the top of the wall. Talk about hesitation. I’m sure you’ve been here. We get stuck in that moment. Almost frozen, not knowing what to do. There’s just too many options. That self doubt may creep in. Having others around you in that moment softens the decision making even if the decision is to take the more difficult route. You know what this feels like. You can do amazing things when you have your core people around you.
But sometimes, you still need that one person who knows you better than you know yourself in the moment. The person who knows when it’s fear or doubt that is making you hesitate. They stand steadfast in pointing you in the right direction and won’t let you back down. The beauty is that they won’t leave your side either. Just because they put you on your path, they have no expectations and no demands. Instead, they stay nearby in case you need them, not hovering, but always within reach.
And still, you can go even further when you have the one who randomly appears and puts you on the path that you’re meant to be on. Someone who has no skin in the game but can point you towards success on your terms. The funny thing is, you don’t go looking for them, they come to you. In the midst of your every common day, in the middle of your struggle, someone will walk into the moment and have the answer you were looking for.
More than a mentor, less than a parent… I call them an angel drop.
Time To Walk – You Can’t Do Only One
Angel drops are ordinary people. They happen into your life as if the universe put them there for a specific reason. How often have you known what to do but you still hesitated? You thought it was right but you just wanted to be sure before you put it in motion. Right? That’s where we can all get stuck for a moment. It’s in that moment that we need those angel drops. The sudden appearance of someone completely random who is going to give you the reassurance you needed. It’s reassurance you were seeking rather than an answer. You already had the answer.
We needed this the most in the pandemic when we were confined to our own spaces and disconnected from people, from our dear friends and family who we readily rely on and from the random stranger who may offer something completely unexpected and valuable. The disconnect with people during a time of huge unknown was really a double whammy. We were so unprepared for this huge disruption because we hadn’t experienced anything like this in our past, or even stories from other generations.
So, here you have this disconnect with people and you have this confinement in our own spaces. This left us alone in our decision-making, without any reassurance.
Binge watching rose to an all time high, followed by sweatpants and Pelaton. Thankfully, this year, Apple came out with a new series on their Fitness Plus platform. It’s a walking series called, ‘Time To Walk’. This will give you reason to binge walk instead of binge watch and you will feel so much better. Now, this isn’t just a gentler version of Pelaton though. ‘Time To Walk’ is 30 minutes of walking with one of your friends who’s been through a difficult time. These friends just happen to be celebrities, or royals. But in those 30 minutes, they share their common struggles that make you feel you aren’t alone with yours.
I listened to Cynthia Erivo last week as she shared her quandary as a youth. Cynthia is a brilliant musical performer who won so many awards, an Emmy, Tony and Grammy, for her performance in The Color Purple. And then, later received accolades of nominations for her role in the movie, Harriett.
Now, no spoiler here for the walk, but Cynthia shares her turmoil of feeling on the wrong path while she was at University. So, she is still a teenager and feels compelled to go in a different direction. She chooses to step off. And, during that time, she has no role model, no mentor and she’s making this choice alone, which is really compelling. But it was her angel drop, her random person, who would put her on a path that matched her gift with her success. It only took that one person, one woman, to give Cynthia the faith to just go for it.
Only One in High School
I feel like I didn’t have enough angel drops early on in my life. Or maybe, I just wasn’t paying attention or listening. Some instances would have been true life changers if I had only had the one person who would have stood with me. Still, I had some amazing angel drops who spontaneously stepped in and changed my course, gave me the reassurance I needed.
In high school, I had set my sights on being a record album artist. I know I’ve told you this but it’s really important. I loved walking into record stores and flipping through the stacks. Never really considering the artist, but more the beauty of the covers. So I started off year one in Art class, planning to take art all 4 years.
By the third year, it was mechanical drawing and drafting, which wasn’t really high on my list because I had grown up watching the engineers at my parent’s corporation doing this as a job. So, to me, this was work, this wasn’t art. But, in order for me to take art in the fourth year, I had to take this class and that was really a bummer.
I said, okay, I’m just going to get this over with because I was expecting I’d have the same teacher for the last two years, which was a young woman by the name of Ms. Kip.
Only One Even in Art Classes
I don’t know if Ms. Kip’s still here, but if you are, God bless you. We learned so much from her. We had fun and she really taught us camaraderie, how to appreciate each other and how to give compliments on each other’s artwork in class. Because, you’re all in it together. You cannot criticize other people’s projects when you’re the next in line to be critiqued, right? It teaches you to be compassionate and kind.
So, the first day of class, I’m walking right into the same art room that we always go into and she’s walking out and I said, “Hey, Ms. Kip, where are you going? Class is going to start.”
She said, “Oh, well, no, I’m not teaching this class. You have a different teacher.”
“Hmm”. Sirens going off. “Okay”, I say and we part ways as I walk inside. This room was really long and as I glanced down this long room, trying to find a chair at a table, I realized there are 30 guys and me, just as the bell rings. Now, at 16, I turn right around and walk out the door only to be blocked by Ms. Kip, who I guess understood what was happening because she had just left that room.
I said, “Excuse me. I am not taking this class.”
And she just looked at me and said, “Yes, you’re going to take that class”.
I said, “No way. It’s nothing, but 30 guys and me”.
Now, I’m a dorky girl. Other girls may have loved the idea. They might have thought it would be fun to be flirting and loving the focus. Not me. No way, too much attention.
But, without any more discussion, Ms. Kip turns me around, puts her hands on my back, guides me into the classroom, sits me down at the table closest to the teacher and I could feel my cheeks burning.
This was like when my mom stood me in front of our dinner table with all the boys staring at us and declared, “we are going to buy your sister her first bra!” Everyone was so excited! No, it was mortifying! This was the same sensation.
Band of Brothers
Can you imagine? I felt like a 5 year old starting Kindergarten. Ugh! I couldn’t lift my head to acknowledge my fear that all these guys would be laughing at me. For a dorky girl in the 70’s, who loved science and overalls, this was my worst nightmare.
But, as it turned out, having Ms. Kip push me gently into my fear was one of the best angel drops of my life. I would not have put myself into a situation that was 10 times as bad as being home with all brothers. And so, I would have totally missed this life lesson, actually two life lessons, relative to these young men.
Regardless of the numbers, everyone was a little afraid. In one regard, I learned the guys felt really vulnerable because the class was going to be demanding. You can’t have an abstract, do-whatever-you-want, mechanical drawing or nothing could be built. Each drawing had to be precise. So, even though there were 30 of them, they were more at ease with talking about my situation than focusing on theirs.
It would prove to be my first real “Band of Brothers” and gratefully, there would be more. Now I use that term endearingly but it’s really a reference to an emotional WWII book written by Stephen Ambrose about the severity endured by this airborne unit. But, in the smallest sense, nothing to do with what they went through in the war, having a ‘band of brothers’ is when I feel that the guys have my back. That they’re looking out for me like I’m one of them.
I felt totally at peace. I felt safe amongst the big group of guys realizing that instead of making me feel like an outsider, I was being included.
And, the new teacher, Mr. Como, well, he had never taught before. He was a contractor that was helping the school develop the class. He felt just as awkward and vulnerable as the rest of us. And the beauty of that man is he admitted it to 31 teenagers at the risk of being ridiculed. But, he taught us something amazingly important that I’ve held to this day.
We learned to let our guard down, put aside our worries and feel safe in a very awkward situation. In that moment of vulnerability, we trusted him. If he’s scared and we’re scared, then we’re all in this together. So, in an act of reciprocity, of giving back to him, we tried so hard to learn with him so that he felt good about his first teaching job. And we felt good about what we were doing. It was a total win-win situation.
Let Go and Follow the Lead
It was such a sobering moment. If it weren’t for Ms. Kip leading me into that situation, a situation I was ready to bolt from and never look back, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with using drafting to create my buildings. This took me into structural engineering, totally prepared for both the love of buildings and being the only female.
When I consider the scenarios of what could have happened, either in avoiding the class or having a bad experience in class, I realize how lucky I was. If I had been my stubborn self, I would have missed it entirely. And, if I hadn’t opened up to the realization of how everyone else was feeling, I would not have gotten through it.
But then, maybe it wasn’t luck. Maybe it was courage to listen to the universe and let it lead me to where I would be successful. One of the happiest moments so far is thinking about how I affected so many people through engineering. Getting the vision of what they wanted and putting it down in real terms, having it built into reality. It’s really amazing. The big bonus is being part of some really iconic buildings. I cherish having worked on the Oracle Flagship Headquarters in Redwood City. And the building at 7th and Figueroa, in downtown L.A., that high-rise is in so many movies and it’s the backdrop of the nightly news. I love this.
And I feel so very fortunate for all of it. For the guys, for the new teacher, from my own teacher who knew to push me back into that class and for me, not being so stubborn and just rolling with it. It’s funny where the universe takes you if you just let go. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. Each of us relies on something different to make that decision, that decision to just let go. If you caught last week’s episode, ‘Can Superstition and Faith Coexist?’, it highlights faith as the moment of letting go. When you set yourself free of all that causes struggle. Sometimes, it takes getting into a really bad situation and sometimes it’s a quick, joyful leap.
In most cases, the one who showed up in your life and reassured you to move forward, that’s where you put your faith. Where you chose to let go and follow their lead. It wasn’t because you knew they had the right answer. It’s because you trusted them and you took that leap.
Be the One, She Needs Only One
It’s so important and too often we are so caught up in our own journey that we don’t consider what others are going through. If you think about it, if you are experiencing this typical situation, this common human condition, then don’t you think others are, as well? Let’s take some time to consider this. Let’s get prepped for thinking of others when we walk out our doors today, because you, too, can be someone’s angel drop. You may be the person they need in the moment that could change their life.
I want to take a moment to focus on a painful realization of this year. Something that absolutely stunned me into disbelief and I ask you to all join in to help heal this tragedy. This was published by the CDC here in the U.S just last week.
During 2021, the attempted suicide rate of young girls, ages 12-17 years old, rose 51% during the summer, compared to the year before. 51%. This is absolutely heart wrenching. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association in Pediatrics, the rise in attempted suicide was correlated with the isolation and disconnect from social peer groups created by the pandemic.
During this period, screen time rose to almost 8 hours a day, and that’s no including time needed for school and homework. So basically, their entire day was being based on the screen because, well, what else is there to do? I get it. Gen Z is off into technology that the rest of us are trying to still figure out.
But, as interaction with screen time rose, so did the need for human connection. There was no comfort level in going into that screen time. If anything, they felt more and more isolated and yet, not to be in it, was to leave them at home where people didn’t understand their world.
It is changing that quickly. Without it, young girls were left alone in their own thoughts and concerns and feeling no empathy because you can’t understand what you don’t know. Technology and the pace that it’s moving is making it too difficult to understand and empathize.
Although each generation has had its own trauma, this generation of young girls, Gen Z, are the only ones that have been forced into sudden isolation at the most challenging time of life, their teenage years, and left within the confines of homes that may not understand their tech based world. It’s isolation times bazillion.
We still need human contact. We need empathy and personal involvement. Technology is creating more resources, more accessibility to knowledge and entertainment, but it has not replaced another human. We still need human touch. We need gathering in person. Life is evolving at lightning speed but our DNA is not.
We have a lifelong responsibility to the next generation to align with them and lead them forward or, even better, follow where they want to go. It’s really the premise of this podcast. To link together, realize each of us comes from a mass of humanity that may have us sharing personalities with the stranger next to us. We are all the same. We have crossed paths in the past because you don’t know in your heritage what happened three generations, 4, 5, 6 generations back. You might have crossed paths in your DNA with someone right next to you.
So, as we close out this year with only two weeks left, let’s make a promise to ourselves, to each other, that we’ll stay present in the presence of other people. Because ladies, you may be the only one that they need in that moment to set them on their path. It only takes one. You may be the one. You may be their angel drop.
Step into your truth, ladies. Ciao!
[Outro with music]