In 1996 I started an organization called Girls on the Run. The program was originally designed to address the Girl Box…an imaginary place many girls go around middle school. The messages of the girl box vary, but the overarching theme comes from a cultural belief that girls and women must conform to a set of stereotypes in order to be “good enough.”
Delivered to just 13 girls in its first year, Girls on the Run was and continues to be deeply rooted in the belief that human interaction is the key to transformation. This year the program will directly serve nearly 180,000 girls! This direct contact is not through social media, newsletters, or webcasts…but actually through living, breathing human beings who talk to, run with and experience each other in the safe physical and emotional space created by the Girls on the Run curriculum and the amazing volunteers who deliver it.
I have personally seen, lived and come to know the power and transformation that comes from this deep and soulful human connection.
I’m currently working on a new project (www.theredbootcoalition.org) that brings that same kind of real-life human connection and safe dialogue to communities …the goal being to explore and break free from many of our culture’s other polarizing boxes…politics, race, religion and economics…so that we can all live fully into our greatest human potential.
The Red Boot Coalition is made up of courageous, joyful and heart-driven people who yearn for a richer and more compassionate approach in how we engage as a nation. Red Booters are action takers. We gather together, in person, once a week in a variety of locations to discuss and practice the Eleven Red Boot Steps. We then carry the positivity and skillsets we’ve obtained as a result of practicing these steps with each other, into all aspects of our lives; and by doing so create communities where real people and real leaders engage with respect, joy and compassion.
Ironically, since working on this project over the last couple of years, I find that I have been pulled more and more deeply into the social media frenzy. Every morning, I wake up and before my feet have hit the floor, I’m checking to see what’s going on with my latest post, what’s trending in the world and how any of this might relate to the work that I do.
I’ve also noticed an increasing sense of both anxiety and helplessness. I am a feeler, an empath, someone who is highly sensitized to my surroundings. All the tweets, posts, breaking news stories and celebrity gossip mags –particularly those that fuel fear, mean-spiritedness, violence and a kind of hurry-up-we-better-do-something-or-else urgency– that slam into my life during what feels like every waking moment have me feeling strapped onto an emotional roller coaster that has become harder and harder to stomach.
I’m not sure I know what’s real and what isn’t anymore. Facts, opinions, stories, news and entertainment seem to be streaming together in a kind of sordid reality show that has me no longer living my life, but rather unsuccessfully and painfully trying to engage in a chaotic world that is very much outside of my control.
And so it is with a sense of relief, absolute certainty and an overwhelming abundance of joy that I’ve made a decision to put all my energy into what I believe the world desperately needs right now…human connection…face to face…real people talking with real people…listening to each other…finding that shared moment that can only come when we look each other in the eye.
So… I’ve decided to go dark, for a time anyway, on my Facebook and Twitter accounts and move my energies back to what I do best. Writing and Connecting. . I just know that the amount of time and energy I am currently putting into interacting with my computer screen, as well as managing the anxiety, frustration and sense of urgency associated with it, will better serve THIS woman and the world I want to live in, by getting out, reaching out and actually living in it.
My daughter wrote a paper yesterday that really hit me and is one of several factors that has brought me to this decision.
She writes, “How different would our world be if we lessened our reliance on Google and social media and instead read books, lived life and talked to people. How ironic that we know more but no longer know each other? How much bigger would our lives be if we joyfully and curiously exposed ourselves to a variety of people, places and perspectives? What might happen if we formulated opinions based on our own life experiences instead of cruising briefly on the internet for an opinion to validate the one we already have? Instead of relying on someone else to write our stories and perspectives, we should write them live them, BE them!
I’ll be silent from my Facebook pages and twitter account starting Friday, for an undisclosed period of time.
I would, however, really like a continued dialogue with you but one that is more intentional and directed so please feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I mean it. Email me anytime. I want to know your joy, your fears, your hopes. Maybe we’ll even share a cup of coffee sometime. I might rather like that.
I will also be writing more in depth wanderings and telling more stories over here. I will continue to keep the www.theredbootcoalition.org website and Red Boot Coalition Facebook page up to date.
So Ciao ya’ll. I’m going in…or out…depending on how you look at it. Can’t wait to find each other HERE again.