The Antidote to Emotional Bankruptcy
It all started with an email. The message was innocent enough. The sender probably had no idea what the consequences of sending it would be. It was from a woman who had won a Weekend Pass to the retreat I am hosting in September, “Burnout to Bliss.”
I had sent her group a link to my “Burnout Quiz” as a follow up to our discussion on women’s empowerment. Mrs. F is a full-time teacher with two side businesses and several children. She wrote to tell me that she had taken the test and scored extremely high, an indication of severe burnout. She mentioned that she was really looking forward to the retreat.
Her words sunk in. So far, the reaction to the retreat has been mixed. There was quite a bit of local interest, but no one from out-of -town had signed up. I had been questioning whether to even have the retreat. But, when I read those words, it started to hit me how important this experience was going to be for the participants. More than a wonderful, relaxing and centering weekend, this might be the only chance some women get to replenish for a whole year, or several years.
I started to think about the state of our country, with its endless work ethic and growing list of addictions… the widening sense of separation, the disillusionment and depression. It’s like the entire country is on the verge of the epiphany I had just before I started writing my memoir, Center of Gravity – simply that “This isn’t working.” My life wasn’t working much in the same way that the lifestyle in this country isn’t working.
And everything we’ve been taught is simply wrong: If you just work harder… You’re not good enough… If you buy more stuff… You need this thing to be happy… you need this person to be happy… step out of line and you’ll be fired… just work harder… try harder… Fear… Fear… Fear…
Fear is the primary force that has been driving our country for over a decade. What a load of rubbish… Fear has been driving us to give way more energy than we have. I thought about the beloved comedian and cultural figure we lost this week. Had he been overwhelmed by the evidence of our country’s growing emotional bankruptcy? I started to think about all the women in our country who consistently give more than they have.
Mrs. F is a teacher and there are legions of teachers out there who are completely drained by the demands of 20+ children asking endless questions all day long. Teachers can’t afford retreats… A plan began forming in my mind. What if I could provide a way for teachers and seriously depleted women to attend the retreat? That’s when I decided to provide a discount and scholarship to the Weekend Pass. I would also provide it to hospice workers and nonprofit managers…
Christine Lagarde, the newest Chairman of the International Monetary Fund foretold the tension that the growing income inequality would create in the world. The lie that is “survival of the fittest.” simply no longer works. There can’t be one survivor on this planet, we all must survive, because we need each other. The only answer is that we have to start taking care of each other. We’ve got to start being a global community. Women are excellent at care-taking. We must lead the way. But, before we can take care of the world, we have to stop and put the oxygen mask on. We have to start taking care of ourselves.