This post originally appeared on my personal blog, Fumbling for Words, in October 2010 when I was imagining Sophia Leadership into existence.
Here’s the thing… Sophia won’t leave me alone.
She’s like a kid who won’t stop begging and pleading and stomping her foot until she gets a big red lollipop. But she’s not just an annoying neighbourhood kid who goes home at the end of the day – OH NO – that would be too easy. SHE HAS MOVED IN AND IS TAKING OVER MY LIFE! She doesn’t just want lollipops, she wants everything I’ve got to give!
No, I haven’t mysteriously given birth to a fourth daughter named Sophia, and yet it sure FEELS like this is something that is being birthed in me.
A few months ago, I shared an epiphany about how I felt called into a new space, a new vocation… something I tentatively called “Sophia Leadership”. It was based on a pretty strong sense that what the world desperately needs right now is a whole lot of people (women and men) who will step forward in courage and trust their feminine, spiritual wisdom. I believe that this wisdom can shift the course of leadership and help the world move in a direction toward light and hope instead of darkness and despair.
I believe all of these things, but… a whole lot of doubt and fear keeps drawing me away from that beautiful epiphany. Even though I finally took a BIG step and moved away from my full time job with the intention of more fully committing myself to writing, teaching, and consulting, there was still a huge piece of me that thought “I have to be practical. I have to pay the bills. I don’t have enough skills for this work yet. I won’t find work in Sophia Leadership – at least not right away – so I have to market my other skills in communications, public relations, blah, blah, blah.”
But here’s where things get interesting… You see, every time I let myself follow fear into that tunnel called “practicality and paying the bills”, Sophia finds me and lures me back.
First, there was the horse.
The day after I’d told my boss I was quitting my job (in July), I went on my annual pilgrimage to the Folk Festival. As I often do at some point when the crowds have begun to overwhelm me and I need some quiet, meditative time, I wandered to the edge of the fenced-in area where there’s a labyrinth, some outdoor art, and very few people. As I wandered, I wrestled with just what I was going to birth once I’d walked away from my job. The argument was there in full force… “I’m pretty sure I’m being called to do this Sophia work.” “But that would be foolish! Nobody will get it and you won’t make any money and your family will hate you and… blah, blah, blah.”
Standing by the fence, I watched two horses and riders approach. It was a mother and daughter out for an evening ride. They stopped near me, and we began a conversation. I grew up with horses and have always felt a strong pull toward them. This moment was no exception.
“What are the horses’ names?” I asked. Well… you’ve probably figured out by now… the bigger of the two, the most magnificent horse I’ve seen in a long time, was named Sophia.
“Why did you call her Sophia?” I asked the woman, trying not to let on that this was hugely significant for me. I saw the woman’s eyes light up. “Well, I named her that because I’ve been reading about how Sophia means wisdom and how there were knights in King Arthur’s court who used to worship the goddess Sophia.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the next thing she said sealed the deal. “It’s a good thing my husband isn’t around,” she said with a blush and a sideways glance over her shoulder as if she expected him to vapourize out of thin air. “He hates it when I talk about this stuff and doesn’t want me to talk about it in front of other people. He thinks this goddess stuff and feminine wisdom is a bunch of horse shit.”
And then it came to me, like a lightening bolt… “It is for women like this – women who have been taught not to trust their feminine wisdom – that you are being called into Sophia Leadership.” Gulp.
I wish I could tell you that was the end of the internal arguments, but that would be a lie. Apparently I’m a slow learner, because even after that encounter, I spent the rest of the summer wrestling with what to call my business, whether to be a generalist or a specialist, what kinds of contracts I should look for, etc., etc.
The truth is, I need to pay the bills, and that keeps weighing heavily on my shoulders. I created a generic website. I started accepting contracts that I knew I could do quite easily, but that weren’t really on the path Sophia was leading me down. But then, once again, it seemed Sophia had different ideas.
I was supposed to be working this week, but the contract got taken away. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I breathed a sigh of relief, and began to focus on taking October as my sabbatical/thinking/learning/growing month before jumping into any kind of work.
Which leads me to yesterday, my first day of self-employment. I decided it was time for my annual pilgrimage to my dad’s grave in the town where I grew up (two hours from where I live now). I enjoyed a lovely drive out into the prairies, wandered around the almost-ghost-town where I once lived, spent a little time talking to my dad, and then headed to Neepawa, the nearby town where I’d gone to high school, to find a place to eat lunch.
For reasons I can’t explain, I felt an inexplicable desire to visit the Stone Angel (a monument in the cemetery that was made famous when Margaret Lawrence named a novel after it). I’ve never been a huge Lawrence fan, so the Stone Angel never held much significance to me. I don’t think I’ve visited since high school. But this time the thought wouldn’t leave me alone. I had to visit.
I drove into the cemetery, and before I even realized that I’d reached the monument, my eyes fell to the base of it. Guess what name was there? Sophia. She was the wife of the founding father of Neepawa in whose honour the monument was erected.
I stopped my vehicle, stood in front of the monument, and started to cry. There was Sophia, in beautiful weathered stone, looking down at me and nudging me once again.
As a bit of a postscript to all this serendipity… today, things got even more freaky.
I got a note from my friend Desiree telling me someone she knew online thought she should connect with me because we have a lot in common. She chuckled when she told her we already knew each other. Then I got a note from my friend Lianne, inviting me to join a blog party. One of the other women she had invited turned out to be the same woman who’d told Desiree she should meet me. She said she’d never heard of me before, but had been inexplicably drawn to my blog today (through a link on Jamie’s blog) and then found out both Desiree and Lianne are connected to me.
For some reason that I don’t fully understand, Sophia chose me for this work and she is NOTHING if not persistent.
I GET IT Sophia! Here’s that big red lollipop, and here’s ME!
So… guess what I’ll be doing for the rest of the month? Hanging out with Sophia and letting her guide me down this path.