I am telling anybody who will listen or read this story about the impact and importance of Thrive, Arianna's bold quest for wellness, willingness and the need for a redefined success metric.
At the end of March, the nation's workforce professionals, the people who focus on knowing and meeting job needs across the country, were in Washington, D.C. at their annual conference. It's a three-day event with a plethora of speakers and workshops, all dedicated to improving the odds for their communities and their jobseekers. While my day-to-day job is tilting at the bureaucracy, my role at the conference was to provide a Pilates class each morning, with the short-term goal of an invigorated day and the long-term goal for more flexible bodies leading to more flexible minds. Joe Pilates once wrote, "How can we expect world peace when not one of the leaders at the United Nations can do my basic five exercises?" I have long believed that our political systems will have more positive impacts as those participating in and benefiting from them take better care of themselves. The opening speaker was Arianna Huffington who, thankfully, reinforced my belief. Of course, she did much more than that for the large audience that was charmed by her humor, compelled by her vision and moved by her personal candor and reflections.
Undoubtedly, there are myriad tales of impact. My redefined success barometer flew up and off the chart, the next morning, when a woman who gives her all for job seekers in Georgia came a little early to my class, pulling me aside to say that Arianna had inspired her. She asked if, despite her years of inactivity, it would be OK that she joined in.
Yes! I cannot adequately express the joy and grace of that moment. I got to be a part of her choice to change, her first step toward health and toward thriving. As is so often the case, she taught me more in her vulnerability and willingness than I taught her in movement. I remember my first step toward wellness. I wasn't like Arianna, in a pool of blood on the floor, but I knew I needed help. I've had a life full of extraordinary experiences -- traveling well and often, "succeeding" time and again, "failing" a time or two or more, teaching young and older students from Montessori through college, working at the legislature from a variety of angles and for Governor Barbara Roberts and earning a Ph.D. and other badges of note. The list goes on, but I knew that something just wasn't right. A lifeline toss from my neurologist led me to a just-around-the-corner-from-work spot for Pilates in a tiny back room, and something took hold. Was it Pilates or timing? Personality or philosophy? I don't know; I only know how much walking in that door changed my trajectory, my chance to be successfully me. I later trained to teach in Boulder, and when my "let's make a studio" plan didn't work out, I rethought how best to share Pilates. Now, I love the places and the people where and with whom I get to teach. My Pilates practice and my nomadic teaching are key to my "third metric," to my redefined success, my being well and willing to staying in touch with wisdom and wonder and more. Another part of thriving for me, another door that opened because I took those first steps, is a renewed active connection to the sea. As I learned and then taught Pilates, I also gained new-found courage to learn to row on the Bay. I am now learning to sail upon it (windy) and to swim in it (cold). And, as President of the San Francisco Dolphin Club, I get to wander the waterfront in many ways, pulling many of the threads of being successfully me, together.
Today, I feel myself leaning forward again, smiling, thriving, exulting into an ever-changing realm of possibilities, and I thank the gentlewoman from Georgia and the woman who stopped by to inspire her and her colleagues. They illuminated my day, and they reminded me of the impact of the choices I get to make.