For my New Year's resolution for 2016 I vowed to practice positive talk. I know that shouldn't have to be a goal - but I had just had my twins the year before and I was struggling to find myself as an unemployed woman who had held executive positions in her adult life, a new wife, a renovating homeowner, a business owner, but especially as a new mom.
I joined a twin moms group of amazing and supportive women - well, the majority of the ladies, until it got gossipy (totally a word). It's a sick social phenomenon that we have all witnessed and most likely participated in. A group of like minded individuals having a shared experience begin to bond on sharing theories or feelings. We will assume that someone is a "flake" because they cancel plans on us frequently. We can judge quickly and harshly. We see this as employees. We go to happy hour after a ten hour day and sit around and vent about a policy, a procedure or a person we just can't stand. We make assumptions based on our reality and we compound our familiar experiences in a negative way. One person adding to the horror story at a time.
Why? Why is it simpler to vent and bitch and assume then it is to share positive stories and experiences? The answer is, it isn't harder.
I found that as I made good on my resolution to practice positive talk and didn't join in on the negative discussions, or make assumptions or express judgements of others that people learned to keep those thoughts to themselves around me. And I reached out to that "flakey-plan-canceling" friend and...get ready for this...I ASKED HER! You know using "I feel" words. I feel like you cancel on me/the group a lot. Novel, right? And the universe made me eat humble pie. You see, this flakey friend - she was in a dark and lonely place; a new mom to twins, scared, tired, alone, trying to do her best and she just couldn't face the world - she suffered in silence.
Saddened I had to learn this valuable lesson through my friends' depression, I am glad it had the impact that it did. It has kept me in a higher thought space about others. What does that mean? Well, it means I assume good intent and good natured humans. If my emotional compass seems to waver, I make a phone call to get myself straight about MY reality.
This lesson hit me from the receiving side last Spring. I was at a fly fishing event and was confronted by a talented designer and manufacturer of apparel. She lashed out at me, accusing me of cloning one of her pieces. Now, the tired-hot-headed-old-minded-Kelli may have had some choice words and a puffed up chest in defense of such an accusation - but instead I was empathetic and sad for this person. They were given this misinformation about my "clone" almost a year prior and she had been carrying that disappointment/hate/anger - I'm not sure, maybe all of these feelings - around and never got confirmation or denial of said information, she just believed it.
Does it just take someone who we believe to be a 'valid' source, or a friend, or an industry leader to believe on a suggestion alone? The reality is the information was inaccurate and the result of what I can only assume was one of these group get-togethers of bonding through negative talk. You see, I had designed - scratch that - I AM STILL DESIGNING - a piece of apparel (it's been over six years and 11 prototypes in the making), it is not a replication of any one piece but a compilation of several pieces that I put together based on features I liked, features that pre-existed her line. And here's a truth: unless you have a patent or a trademark chances are your ideas and products are not completely unique. It doesn't excuse what a copycat artist did to talented designers like Andrea Larko and a bunch of other artists just had to deal with (Slacker Tide literally copied their style, technique and features of a handful of fishing artists and sold them). There's ethical and legal. I prefer to be both.
Another truth: I'm not trying to be Patagonia or Simms. I'll never have an interest in making rods or waders. I don't guide illegally. I love designing graphics on functional pieces of apparel that women (and kids) love to wear and work well in the outdoors. My heart soars when I help someone learn how to cast or help put a check mark on their bucket list of going on a hosted fly fishing trip in honor of their late husband. I am in awe of my friends who have only fished with me a handful of times and are rigging their own rods and net their husbands big fish! I like creating unforgettable experiences for anglhers (and anglers - yes, we did a corporate men's trip with my buddies at 5280 Angler) to enjoy the sport of fishing and make lifetime memories.
Here is my lesson learned: people will either admire you or fear you. OK, don't start thinking pedestal and hand fed grapes - admiration is represented on many levels - and so is fear.
I think of those in my circle of friends and why I enjoy their company and it can all be tied to admiration; the way a friend courageously battled cancer, the bravery of facing a huge mountain on a bike, the way she loves your brother, her dedication to fitness..... And fear...well, the apparel I supposedly cloned confrontation was the result of fear. We all have experiences with fear, but giving life to it just allows it to grow. Instead of detailing how it represents itself, I ask you to consider this...turn fear into being fierce.
Fierce /firs/ (adjective) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity
There are so many positive movements right now that echo this. Heather Hodson has been creating a positive platform for women to share with her United Women on the Fly website, Facebook and Instagram. Jen Ripple of Dun Magazine has launched a movement with #positivepolicy2018 to ask folks to think twice about posting something negative online. Recently I saw a new movement #FindYourFishyTribe - which I love - spearheaded by a woman finding her strong and helping others as well @findyourstongwithsara
Join a movement. Connect instead of creating a disconnect.
And then watch what happens - the world feels a little lighter, the sun - a little brighter and your lines - a little tighter.
We are creating a mascot, if you will, and a movement called #fierceandfishy We have yet to name her, she is the icon for this blog post. Help us name her.
To creating vibrancy!
Please ignore any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors - or just poor English writing skills...this comes from a never ending stream of consciousness in my forever running mind.