What I learned about friendship from getting stepped on.

Step One to the Ignited Life:  Find (or cherish) your posse.

I was stopped at a light, weeping with laughter while listening to a Fresh Air interview of Russell Brand on NPR.   I looked over at the car next to me and saw my friend in the driver seat.  It looked like she might be crying, so I honked to get her attention and we rolled down our windows, and both shouted (almost in unison)  “Are you okay?!”  It then became all babble as we each tried to explain to the other that we were both actually doing the same thing:  “I’m fine!”  “I’m listening to NPR.  Just laughing so hard that I’m crying!”  “Me, too! The Queen and the underwear! Ha!”  We then each drove merrily, quite literally, on our way.

The friend I’m referring to is on the list of people for whom I would drop everything if I knew she was crying and needed a friend.  We could have each seen the other crying and pretended not to notice or just turned away, hoping not to get involved, thinking of all the things on our “to-do” list and the places we need to be.  But being disconnected from the people in our life not only reduces our discomfort but also our opportunities for joy – and that’s not going to get us to an “ignited” life.  And this, my friend, is the year we are going to live an ignited life.  You need to be a part of a group of women that are connected closely enough that you create a safety net for each other.  Only in a place of emotional safety are we able to fully express ourselves and able to find more joy.  One person can’t do it alone and a spouse can’t handle it all (especially if he becomes the center of your sh*tstorm).

You need a team, a tribe, a posse, or whatever name you want to give it (a gaggle?  maybe, but never a herd).  Everyone needs a group of people that they can call in when life’s sh*tstorms pass through.  I have a strong mom posse – I know that when (because, you  know it’s not “if”) the sh*tstorm comes, they will show up with coolers of frozen meals, bottles of wine or offers to babysit my kids – whatever is called for to help me get through it.  And I would do the same for them.  Most importantly, we make it a priority to be there for each other- on the bad days, on the good days, on the days we feel fat and the days we dare to rock a bikini.

Personally, I prefer posse to tribe because it sounds less granola and more badass – a tribe brings you gluten free muffins, a posse brings you vodka (in truth, my group would probably bring both but if they are reading this I want them to remember I’d prefer the vodka).  I think I got my posse training from being a cheerleader (I’m going to work the word “posse” in as often as I can, my opportunities to feel like a badass are few these days).  For all the silliness that goes along with wearing a short skirt to cheer on the football team, there is some value to being part of a team of girls that rely on each other for their safety.

Mullets help you keep your hair from getting stepped on.

Mullets help you keep your hair from getting stepped on.

It’s not easy for a group of self-conscious, hormone-raging teen girls to work together to create a pyramid.  It takes a while to learn who you can trust and who will pull your hair to save herself on the way down.  You also learn that the experienced duck and step swiftly away from those that flail their arms and legs on the way down in a panic while those that tuck and roll always have many hands reaching out to catch them.

To climb up a pyramid, you have to step into a place created by the other girl bending her knees to create a step for you from the crook between her thigh and waist or from her soft forearm turned upward and held tight against her side for leverage.  If you get scared and stomp as you step, or grind your foot into her neck, the girl that just lifted you up gets hurt.  Building a pyramid of girls, or a posse of moms, takes time, compassion and trust.

If you create that mutual trust, on the day you are the one that needs to be lifted up – remember to step gracefully, stand with courage and try not to drag anyone down with you.  Then, when you need it, another woman will bend the softest part of her body toward you and offer, “Step here.  Use me to lift yourself up.  We’ll do this together.  I’ll spot you if you fall.”  And that is a gift that will ignite your life.

I hope you have a badass posse of your own.  If you are looking for one, I encourage you to start by reaching out to help women around you.  The right ones will reach back.   And if you already have one, show them some love with a shout out in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Love this ! So true too. I think you need more than one posse!

  2. I don’t think I could ever express enough how important my posse is to me. Even when I go though unbearable absences from the women I care about the most, I am always thinking of them, hearing their laughs, or wishing we were tearing it up together. after my daughters for whom I’m hell-bound to raise as strong and well adjusted women, my posse is the most important thing in my life.

  3. Thanks Keri! So Happy to have been part of the cheer posse! Sending a shout out to my “shine posse” who remind me the importance of laughter and not to take myself so serIously!

  4. Esther Durán Lumm says:

    Great advice, Keri. I just had lunch with my kick-ass posse, my co-advocates in the community! So important to have several posses!!

  5. Dana Lemon lapreze says:

    this is perfect keri! I love it, being an army wife, we must form posse’s at every duty station to help us get through deployments, tdy’s and various schools. I know all too well the power of a great posse. The band of army wives i’m with now i adore and i know they adore me back. 🙂

    • Well you are pretty adorable, Dana! Those of us that grew up moving around a lot definitely became good at forming a good posse quickly. I’m glad that skill has continued to come in handy for you. xoxo

  6. So exactly how big does one’s posse need to be, to be called a posse? lol. I always enjoy reading your posts even if they don’t apply to me! 😉 Miss you!

    • A posse is whatever size it takes to handle your bad days, girl! Thanks for the love. I bet these apply to you lately. I’m sure you could use some more energy now that you are working full time, right? Miss you, too! xoxo

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