If you’ve read this column before, you probably know there are many things I love about my work for Experience Life and, by extension, Life Time. The team, the readers, the members, the work, the mission — for me, it all adds up to an incredible experience that I feel so grateful and fortunate to call my professional life.
One aspect of my role that I haven’t shared much about, however, is my involvement with WELL: Women Empowering Leadership at Life Time. This affinity group is all about supporting and lifting up fellow women, and as a member of the board of directors, I get to help create opportunities for women across our organization to do this throughout the year.
Facilitating the WELL monthly events requires forward thinking and teamwork, so our board meets regularly to brainstorm and conceive new ideas. Most recently, we held our first-ever retreat, where we planned for 2024 while also connecting more deeply, as individuals and as a collective.
During an amazing dinner on our final night together, we got the chance to engage with each other more personally. As I reflected later on the conversation that took place over that meal, it occurred to me that the timing was serendipitous: This issue was in its final stages of production, I was just starting to think about what I wanted to write here, and this real-life experience matched the theme to a tee.
This edition of Experience Life is all about celebrating the whole you — including the parts that can be hard to see, tough to acknowledge, and difficult to embrace. Those might be behaviors or characteristics that we consider weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or even negatives. Yet through others’ eyes, they are often attributes to celebrate.
“With a simple prompt, we had opened ourselves up to each other — and I, for one, have felt more whole ever since.”
Our discussion at that WELL dinner was an exercise in celebrating one another. Earlier in the day, we had all received sheets of paper with “In a Word” written across the top and everyone’s names listed down one side. Our board chair asked us to, throughout the day, think about and write down one word to describe each woman in attendance. That night, focusing on one person at a time, we shared what we had come up with.
Giving and receiving those words was nothing short of transformative. For several of us, it was our first time being physically together after years of virtual meetings, yet we knew each other. We saw one another.
Themes emerged as we took our turns, the explanations behind the words offering deeper insights and creating a stronger web — of validation and connection. We laughed, we cried, and we let ourselves be vulnerable as we celebrated each of us, accepting and embracing parts of ourselves we perhaps didn’t or couldn’t see before.
As the evening drew to a close, we all knew we had experienced something special, maybe even a bit magical. With a simple prompt, we had opened ourselves up to each other — and I, for one, have felt more whole ever since. If I could bottle that up, I would; the feeling is, in a word, powerful.
During these final months of the year, my wish is that you, too, are able to seek and find that sense of wholeness — even if momentarily. Perhaps it’s through personal reflection, meaningful conversation (read this article on five ways to engage in more authentic communication), or a bit of fun (for tips on that, see “Make Room for More Fun!“). As mindfulness expert Sharon Salzberg says, “Find some community of understanding, where you can reflect on what you’re going through, where you allow your vulnerabilities to be shown, and where you support one another in truthfulness.”