the company you keep

I finally used a Christmas gift card on In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, and it is a DELIGHT. As a compilation of inspirational Q&A and straight up advice from numerous female artists, it'll absolutely sit on my bookshelf for years to come whenever I need a dose of encouragement. 

(Promise this isn't a sales pitch for you to buy the book. Even though you should absolutely buy the book.)

Diving into the pages of In the Company of Women got me thinking about, well, the women whose company I share. And the argument that says, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Right now, my five people include my husband, my son, my boss, my sister and a good friend. Those five represent the most valuable arenas of my life right now: love and commitment, parenthood and mothering, career and growth, family and support as well as creativity and friendship. 

{Quote: Thelma Golden, In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney}

{Quote: Thelma Golden, In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney}

The above-mentioned friend has also invited me, for about half a year now, to outings over cocktails and tarot cards with a group of women on the full moon every month (#MOONBABES). I kept saying no, even though I wanted to go, because it seemed like whenever the day came, I felt tired and overwhelmed and out of energy to meet new people. 

This month, she diligently and kindly invited me again, and the day came, and of course I felt tired and overwhelmed and out of energy to socialize, but I said to myself, "Go. Just show up."

That's how I found myself quite literally in the company of a dozen women I had never met before. Some had names that circled my social media feed, some had recognizable faces. All carried their own quirky spirit, open-faced vulnerability and hunger to connect on their faces and in their bodies.

This was a tribe, I thought. One I wanted to be a part of.

I've lived in my city for about five years now, longer than any other place except for my hometown. Longer than Chicago, the city that felt like home for so long, until it didn't. I know how to get around, I have favorite places to eat and drink and shop, and I have a few different friend circles--but meeting up with these women reminded me that cities are ever-changing based on the people who reside there, and an opportunity to open yourself up to new friends is always around the corner. 

So I think about the women whose company I keep--those I know:

  • my newer mama friends in town, with whom I've bonded over a walk or a quick text or a cup of coffee with a look of "holy shit, how do I do this, help me"
  • my college girlfriends, who know a totally different variation of me and love me just the same now, who have been at my side through thick and thin, through failed romances, idealistic expectations, anxious loss and hopeful planting
  • my best friend from growing up, who inspires me to dream bigger, who knows me and my family like the back of her hand, who doesn't let miles of distance or years of not seeing each other get in the way of staying connected
  • my coworkers, many of which are new mamas, who have offered a hand or a story or a laugh every single day
  • my writing pals, who respond to my late night "can you review this" requests with love and open-minded critique, who trust that I will do the same for them
  • my favorite authors, who teach me to use my voice by putting words on the page, who remind me that this work is WORK but it is also a calling with great responsibility
  • my fellow yoga teachers, who know deep down in their bones and in their hearts that mindful movement is a game changer, a yoga practice can be a form of therapy and guiding others is a gift
  • my cousins, who hold the fabric of the cloth of our family's history and are loyal to a fault
  • my aunts, who provide kindness and advice whenever I ask for it
  • my grandma, whose tough exterior masks a lifetime of sharp wit, making ends meet and living by her promises
  • my sisters, who are my whole heart
  • my mother, oh, my mother, who has taught me more about forgiveness, honesty, generosity and faith than anyone else

 And those I don't know, the women:

  • who have given me an extra tampon over the years
  • who have lent me a dollar
  • who have bought me lunch
  • who have given me career tips
  • who have responded to my emails
  • who have inspired me from afar
  • who have stuck up for me on the fly
  • who have looked me in the eye while making conversation
  • who have listened to my late-night relationship ramblings in a bar bathroom (okay, that was early twenties, but damn if y'all aren't reliable on that front)
  • who have said hello, how are you, and meant it
  • who have poured me more wine from across a table
  • who have answered my questions
  • who have asked me thoughtful questions
  • who have encouraged me
  • who have marched for me
  • who have fought for me
  • who have protested for me
  • who have lost everything for me
  • who have called me out
  • who have celebrated with me
  • who believe in me
  • who have expected more of me
  • who have challenged me
  • who have let me down
  • who have left me
  • who I have yet to meet
  • who I have yet to learn from
  • who I have yet to thank

In the great company of women, indeed.