Hello Loveful Human Beings.  I’m Nicki and I have the beautiful honor of calling Patience my friend.  When she asked if I would do a monthly post on her soul shaking site (while she is creating magic in hardback), before my voice said yes, my heart sang, “oh yeah!”  So this is me.  Raw. I’m lucky that I get to be raw as part of my job at The Bounce Collective, a leadership development and coaching company.  I do the youth development stuff there and have been known to call myself a “love teacher.”  (not on paper, just in the moment).  Because that’s what it all comes down to. Love.

 

 

Ubuntu.  I am because we are.

Everyday, I embody this African philosophy a little more fully.  Because of the village in which I live—the North Side of Richmond.

Last spring, I was sitting in a circle of women at a North Side coffee shop. These girls have been meeting for coffee and conversation every Friday for years.  And I have never been a regular attendee.  Most of the time I miss because life gets in the way.  And sometimes I miss because I just don’t make it a priority.

On this particular morning, sitting at this round table in the window, the sun shining in to create beacons of light over the heads these vibrant women, I was overcome with emotion.   A truth emerged.  I was missing my WE.

I navigate life through a me, we, world lens of relationship.  And at the end of each day, I do a soul check, of sorts.   The big question, “How did I show up today in my relationships with self, other, and community, at large?”

My ME check (just a taste… I dig pretty deep here): How aligned were my body, mind, heart, and spirit today?  What did I learn about myself today? What was asking to be seen in the shadows today?  How was I better today?  How can I be better tomorrow?

And then, generally, I move right into…

My World check:  What was calling for my voice today?  How did I rise to create impact today?  What did I produce today? What ideas are asking to be born in me tomorrow?

And usually (not surprisingly) by this point, my soul needs some rest.  And my WE check gets a glimpse, at best.

Who did I reach out to today?  What did I contribute to their world?  What did they offer me?   What was between us?

On that morning in the coffee shop, I sobbed.   In the safety of my tribe’s bosom, a painful revelation was born.  I had not been reaching out; I was not actively contributing to these relationships; I was not open to receiving the bounty surrounding me; and I was desperately missing the loveful abundance that, despite my neglect, would always exist between us.

My obsessive focus on ME and World was eclipsing my connection to the individual members of my tribe, a tribe that extended beyond this round table to include a whole village of amazing human beings.

And my beautiful friend, Amanda, an aura of white light embracing her, looked deeply into my eyes and said, “You are here. We see you. “

And, in that perfect moment, I realized that the work of ME and World begins with WE.   It is in the faces of individual people that we find our mirrors… and our purpose.

Ubuntu.  I am because we are.

Fast forward to last week, 2 days before my 40th birthday.  I am standing in my kitchen, a deluge of family activity around me.  And, as if it were coming from the Heavens, I hear my favorite song, “This Little Light of Mine.”

“Where is that coming from?”  I ask in dismay.

And then I glance out my window to see Amy and Suzy (of the coolest girl band in town, “Dirty Blonde”) leading a parade of 50 angels– men, women, children, dogs…singing out their light-filled hearts, strolling down my street with flowers and tears and birthday love…for me.

I sat on my front porch in a puddle of tears, drinking in each divine face.  If my heart could have spoken the depth of emotion in that moment, it would have said, “You are here.  I see you.  Each of you, in your unique brilliance.  I am.  Because we are. ”

“Nicki done made me cry… I’m gonna let it shine…” was the last verse I heard and it made a permanent imprint on my soul.  For it is in the reflection of our tribe’s tears that we can truly see ourselves.  That we can heal.  That we can know love.

Huge gratitude to my friend Amanda, who birthed this tribute.   I have no doubt that its ripple will forever impact MEWE, and our little North Side World.

Ubuntu. 

 

Nicki Peasley-  I am the CEO of my home, managing a team consisting of a 40 year old, an 11 year old, an 8 year old, and a 6 year old. In my spare time, I am the YOUth development director for Bounce, writing curriculums and working (playing and learning) with elementary and middle school youth.

Advertisements

It started with one friend I happened to meet in front of my house one day…over the years he brought some more friends but in the last  few weeks every day someone brings someone new. I looked out in my back yard and before I knew it, there were about 20 kids, yep, 20.

And everyday I try to remember their names and we talk about school, and their families and every once in a while kindness. These kids play with my kids, and swing on the tree swing, ask me if they can have another clementine and tell me it’s okay my house is a mess when I apologize…and some days they just come to say hello and other days they stay…they are polite and kind, funny and some times a handful…and I am working my way through meeting their families, still so many to meet….and I love how our unintentional community rec center sort of unfolded together and the light they offer to me and my family.

It wasn’t long before I asked them if they wanted to go Ding Dong Ditchin’. They were totally in and yet still a little cautious. I thought back to the first time we went, and what a dark place I was in (even though you would never know in that old post). I was desperate to know kindness could change things for me, even if my world was falling apart…it was if I knew, somewhere deep, I had kindness… it would hold my hope for me when I was doubting and scared…or maybe it was just so dang fun, I just forgot all about my troubles.

Over the years as things got better, it just represented sheer joy and a thrill…and it turned into our signature act of kindness, which I so love. Even today, I’ll hear my friends talking or say, “Oh yeah, I got ding dong ditched….!!” and it always makes me smile, knowing how far kindness has traveled, and how we turned a prank into verbage of goodness.

…and I love how nervous I get just thinking about it, how my heart pounds, how hard we laugh, how we check to see if they got it…and how the rows of houses, apartments and places goes on and on…there will always be a need for anonymous kindness…

how it checks our perceptions and preconceived ideas about the world and each other, how it invites us to believe kindness is alive and stirs part of us to pass it on. I never, ever would have guessed what would come from one day of desperation and flowers and being with a gaggle of kids…but I am so, so grateful. It feels like I always return to the message my niece Madeleine wrote on the first card we ding dong ditched…Hope is never too far away.

post hurricane truth

My PTSD sort of sets in at the mere mention of a tropical storm. I grew up in sunny south Florida and lived in Homestead when Hurricane Andrew rolled through all those years ago. So much has changed since then, I live 1,000 miles away, I have babies of my own to protect, I know that storms, even in all their destruction, bring people together…and when there is fear in your heart, every invitation of love is a good idea.

It started with a food conversation, I guess storms and food have that one thing in common. We decided that at 5pm all who wanted to would gather, Jen (the mayor of the street commune and neighborhood)  would make her famous curry soup and naan. Yes, six batches of naan should be enough, although there really can never be too much naan.  I spent the day running to help with naan, making breakfast casserole and puppy chow while kids played their own version of monopoly with tiny stuffed animals. There were lots of rules to follow.

When the wind picked up and the sky grew dark, the naan and Irene worked their magic and 30 people, (neighbors, dear friends and family who just happened to be visiting, grandparents seeking higher ground, etc.) gathered in one house to ride out the storm together. Somehow happy chaos found her way into the storm…along with some piano playing, a shot of vodka and the holy breakin’ of igniting glow sticks. Everyone bringing their own light in some way.

I looked around and wished everyone had this sort of community, because the truth is life is full of all kinds of storms…what if each one were greeted with such love? I imagine we all would be doing a helluva lot better. We woke up to lots of trees down, some on our street, damaging the houses of the people we care about and live with. It seemed like the only perfect response was to do what we knew from the night before. So we set a long beautiful table with linens and flowers, right in the middle of the street and all the destruction…and ate naan cakes.

We all decided that when the power is gone you should just empty your refrigerator and eat like kings! The morning turned into day, someone brought out Balderdash and beer, the kids played in the street and I chalked what I know to be true over and over again…if ever there was a perfect storm, it was this one.