When you bring a group of women together and begin a conversation something wonderful happens. We let down our guard and we become real with one another. We let go of our work and public personas in favour of relaxing into who we really are. We become “real women.” Women who say what we mean, with passion, with heart and with certainty.

I created a LeanIn Group last year, called ReInvent Your Life, for the purpose of gathering remarkable women who strive to be more authentic and more aligned with what we most want out of life. We are not radicals but we are radically committed to making the most out of the second half of our lives.

We begin our meetings with an open, honest sharing of what is happening, what we are doing and what is/is not working. Our group is a collective of support and encouragement and accountability. We inspire each other by our actions and the results of those actions. It is, in essence, a support group where we can bring our dreams, our hopes, and most importantly, our real selves.

It is the kind of group that I would highly recommend in corporate settings where so many feel isolated, uncertain and overwhelmed. It is the kind of professional development that costs very little but can have huge impact on individual goals, personal esteem, leadership and well-being. When individuals feel supported and connected they become more confident, more creative and more involved.

Not being in the corporate world any longer, my focus has shifted from team leadership to self leadership. Our LeanIn Group is a powerful forum of affirmation for self-leadership. It is exciting to hear how we are each taking responsibility for the level of quality and contentment we are experiencing these days. We have awakened to our desires and are letting them lead us.

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I recently heard Michelle Obama speak at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. It was a privilege to hear her thoughtful commentary on a variety of subjects. One of the things that stood out to me was when she pointedly said that she places high value on her time with her women friends. She joked that it was even more important than her dates with Barack. And I get it. We need that time. It restores and sustains us to have women in our corner who appreciate us as we really are behind the lipstick and eyeliner. Behind the must-do and because. Behind what you see and what you don’t.

Real women. Real women who work and raise kids and run companies and build businesses and then go home to study and cook and clean and take out the trash in high heels. Real women who have doubts and fears and worries and sadness and losses and stresses and messes that we clean up before we can rest. Real women who have dreams and creativity and talents and loves and hopes and hearts that will care for others long past the latest hour on any given day. Real women who want happy as the centre of our being and joy as the soul of our success and kindness as our story and legacy. Real women who lift one another because we respect one another and want the best for one another.

I salute these real women with a poem from my She collection…

I am a woman
she said
whose boldness
was not born in me
but was acquired
delicately
and desperately
I had to learn
she said
to own my heart
to stand apart
in a sea
of sameness
I had to fail
she said
more times
than I recall
so that I could
finally
stand tall
I am a woman
she said
pay attention to me
and see
that my beauty
is not in my face
but in every trace
of what I’ve overcome
to be the one
you see  ♥