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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Women Kick Glass with Collaborative Connections

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

The space is beautiful, perfectly lit, and well-appointed as we are surrounded by reminders that a hand-written note still matters and provides the occasion for connection. There is a buzz of energy and anticipation that only takes on a more pronounced  and poignant hum with each attendee’s arrival. Tasty and tasteful treats are presented along with wines that hit the mark. No warm Chardonnay here, and yet the wine is far from focal. The connections, long-standing and emerging, are the full focus of the inaugural event of Women Kick Glass in New Jersey, generously hosted by Heidi, the owner of the lovely Engraved Images shop in Far Hills.

This event has been much anticipated by Dr. Nadine and me since our earliest contact with Women Kick Glass, founded by JeanAnn Morgan, an inspiring entrepreneur who seeks to bring women together to support one another. The focus on women empowering other women to be fearless in their careers and personal lives made this a natural bandwagon onto which we would surely need to jump. Having jumped in with both feet, we were honored to be the presenters last week in this full room of warm-hearted, open-minded sisters. It was our goal to facilitate discussion about taking a more mindful and intentional approach to managing and maintaining relationships, in particular our highly valued and treasured friendships. When a group of women shares ideas, thoughts, and feelings or simple head nods and knowing smiles, the sense of being heard and seen is contagious. Entering a room with positive expectations contributes to the likelihood that such expectations, even lofty ones, will be met.

One part of the conversation that continues to resonate with me is the notion that we are all looking for safe spaces where we can be open and giving. As human beings we are drawn to help one another, despite the cultural reality that it is easy to get swept away by our own schedules and obligations. However, when you put all of our overly committed tendencies aside, most of us really want to offer something of ourselves to make the lives of others a little brighter. We want to blossom and shine, not only for our own recognition, but primarily to make the journey a little smoother for those we meet along the way.

Some of us have been raised to believe that we must choose between success and kindness. We feel that we cannot be both competitive and genuine. Excelling at work and keeping it together at home feels elusive. However, many examples demonstrate that we can possess and exude all of these qualities and ideals. We need less judgment and more acknowledgment of all that we already do. So many stories from the past week come to mind:

I heard from women who skillfully navigate rooms filled with colleagues who talk over them and take credit for their ideas. Yet, they manage to identify that supportive peer with whom they can share frustrations and strategies so that they can express a gracious yet firm presence in moments of challenge.

I heard from women who are being quite intentional about creating their legacy. They actively ponder and discuss what their children will bring to future generations based on the teachings of their parents. Will they be attentive listeners who offer full presence and empathy to another human being? Will they find ways to serve that impact their community? Will they provide a loving presence to family, friends, and those in need? Will they find friendships that help them to feel uplifted and validated?

I heard from women who bring vibrance to their professional interactions by infusing them with other interests and training. They bring the whole of who they are and what they know in order to offer clients uniquely comprehensive services. Finding the niche’ that allows for the expression of one’s gifts and pays the rising costs of tuition--that’s a winning combo!

Of course, I could go on and on. When I am in the presence of those who are willing to share their stories, it is truly an honor. And, the best part is when impressive, accomplished people are willing to share what they have learned with others, to pay it forward, if you will. Each of us can be that to someone else. We can be the person who is open and generous with our time and our knowledge. When we share, we too reap benefits, much in the same way that when we teach, we learn. There is always beauty in the open exchange.

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections: 

Wowza!!  Dr. Zan is right: we had a spectacular evening together at last Wednesday’s Women Kick Glass event.  As Dr. Zan lovingly and comprehensively described, it was about professional women coming together, having a common desire to connect.  The participants came to meet new “sisters”-- to exchange information, to learn from each other, and to support one another in our pursuit of successfully negotiating our daily lives.  I overheard a lot conversation which included the “knowing” type of laughter that says, “Yep, I get it!”; or “I feel with you!”; or “That happened to me, too!”

There is so much literature and research that substantiates what we women already know about friendships and close relationships--that they’re good for us physically, emotionally and spiritually.  First, we’re actually hard-wired for connection. Our vagus nerve, which innervates multiple systems in our body, is strongly associated with feelings of connection and compassion toward others. Interestingly enough, it also regulates digestion, and promotes empathy.  In my mind, this is a persuasive argument for having food at social gatherings, like the yummy treats and beverages at our Women Kick Glass event last week. Nothing like promoting good-will over cheese and wine!!

Along with physical health, we also know that friendships are strongly correlated with emotional wellbeing, lower stress levels, and happiness.  One study from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center showed that forming new friendships with others outside our usual group is initially stressful.  But, quickly, as the friendships develop, people’s stress levels diminish, and they become comfortable seeking out interactions with others from different groups.  These results suggest that we’ll reap significant benefits by overcoming our initial reluctance and opening ourselves up to others. By doing so, we counteract the fallacy that we can’t connect without competition.  We remove our self-imposed isolation created by thinking that no one really understands our situations. We crave connection; that’s why last Wednesday’s event was sold out! The Women Kick Glass group joined together to create an atmosphere of encouragement and openness that stimulated, uplifted and inspired us.  In this milieu, we thrive!

I heard the best example of this from a participant at the Women Kick Glass gathering.  She seriously considered skipping the event, because she’d just learned that the next morning she was to do a presentation to the CEO and staff of a major corporation based in New York City.  But at the last minute, she decided to lend her support to us and come hear our presentation. At the end of the evening, she told me with enthusiasm that she enjoyed the gathering and was very glad she came.

But the real compliment followed in a text to me the next night.  She reported that she’d only been able to sleep four hours, then rallied herself for the tedious commute into the City to present her program to the CEO and his team.  She said ultimately the feedback was terrific, and she received great reviews from the CEO. She shared with me: “...The President and CEO made a comment at the end of the session-- how great the training was -- well done!!...I really think attending [Women Kick Glass] last night added to my confidence level…”

So I close by expressing my gratitude for having been part of a magical evening, inspired by JeanAnn, hosted by Heidi, invigorated by all who were able to attend, and supported by each and every one of you who love and endorse “Collaborative Connections” in your daily lives.

#trueheightsconsulting #womenkickglass #collaborative connections #empoweredwomenempowerwomen #femalefounders

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