Courage. Love. Trust. Honor. Family. Truth. Charity. Loyalty. Unity. Passion. Joy. Kindness. Humor. Hope.
I just celebrated my 40th birthday. My parents surprised me with a beautiful sterling silver bracelet titled “Words to Live By” – essays on humanity. The note on the front of the booklet that accompanied the bracelet read (and yes my parents still call me Princess):
Happy 40th Birthday Princess! Words you have lived by…now…and forever! Xoxo Dad & Mom
As I was sitting at my desk at work the other day, I looked down at my bracelet that I wear proudly on my left wrist and started thinking about what all of these words mean to me. My parents picked this bracelet because they felt like I embodied each of those values and then it hit me that this wasn’t my first time wearing my values on my wrist.
I have had the distinct honor of serving as a small group facilitator at the Kappa Kappa Gamma Leadership Academy in past years. This amazing retreat is one that combines both collegiate and alumnae women and takes them on the journey of leadership. I could go on and on about this but that would take several posts with how important this program is to me. One of the exercises that we engage in is a values hike at which point we make bracelets highlighting a value that we hold dear. A value that we want to wear outwardly like wearing our hearts on our sleeves. A sign to those around us of a value that defines us and what they can expect from us in return. Or perhaps even a value that challenges us but that we strive to embody. I have a collection of my value bead bracelets from over the years that I love – each of them reminding me to “live my life” with those values at the center of my heart. Now I have a beautiful bracelet that reminds me of what others see as values that I share with those around me.
Why is this important to me now? Why is this weighing on my mind as being something that I wanted to write about? Part of that answer is that now I have a daily reminder that I wear in the form of my birthday gift. Yet I still feel like there’s a deeper rooted reason. In my barre3 class this past week, Katie Schrier, barre3 Atlanta South Buckhead studio owner, shared some motivating thoughts as we were holding in a power leg posture. The three part sequence of movement throughout class begins with a static hold to fire up the muscle group that we are working…in this case our legs. Facing the barre, Katie talked us through getting setting up properly in the posture.
Stand a forearm’s distance from the barre. Place your feet hip-width apart with your toes, knees, and tops of your thighs pointed straight ahead. Place your palms lightly on the barre (or bring to heart center), life your heels high, and root down onto the balls of your feet. Bend your knees forward and slide your back down an imaginary wall. Keep your hips stacked over your ankles and your shoulders stacked over your hips, and engage your core muscles. And hold…
As we were all in our static hold, Katie started to tell a story as she so eloquently does throughout class. She started to tell a story about an exercise she had engaged in where fellow studio owners at the recent barre3 studio owners meeting, stood in a circle and started throwing balls across the circle to one another. Slowly at first. Naming each other as they tossed a ball and calling out various rolls that they each play. Mother. Wife. Husband. Friend. Etc. etc. The number and frequency of balls would increase faster and faster creating an overwhelming sense of having to balance all of the balls in the air. She brought us back to our postures and we moved into the second sequence in power leg of starting to move one…small…inch Just like our focusing on all of the elements of power leg and getting set up and trying to maintain our literal balance and slowing down into thoughtfully moving into small one inch movements, we also were reminded of all that we try to balance in our daily lives and slowing down to move thoughtfully throughout our days as we find a centered balance.
The most poignant moment through this class was when Katie had us face the mirrors…step away from the barre… and told us that this was our opportunity to –
Face your character.
Wow. Three little words. Three powerful little words. Now I was not only wearing my values that make up my character. Now I was literally facing my character in the mirror. A moment for me to look deep within myself and show myself that I had the power to go deeper and remind myself of the strength I have within me every day. All the values that I wear on my wrist on a bracelet are a physical thing but ultimately they all are within me. They are my character.
So back to Leadership Academy. There’s another exercise we do similar to the one highlighted above with the balls but instead of various rolls that we play, we share values we hold dear. I am constantly reminded during this exercise that I not only respect these values and work at living these values but that as more and more balls get thrown into the mix that it’s easy for me to take the path of least resistance and perhaps move away or even drop one of the values that make up my character. So rather than moving away from a particular value, – Courage. Love. Trust. Honor. Family. Truth. Charity. Loyalty. Unity. Passion. Joy. Kindness. Humor. Hope – I can instead prioritize them for the time and place I am in at that moment.
Time has gotten away from me. I’ve had a lot of personal goals – all valuable in their own right – but in trying to meet and obtain those goals, I sometimes lost focus and lost site of the values that I held dear. So now, after all of these timely reminders – my bracelet – Katie’s motivational words in class – my memories of experiences at Leadership Academy – I have been given the gift yet again of taking the time to set myself up properly – much like Standing Power Leg. Prioritize those values that I hold dear for this time and place and hold. Hold before I start moving again – whether one small inch or towards bigger goals – and face my character – so that I can truly live outwardly for others those values that I hold dear in my heart and wear outwardly on my sleeve.