My alarm went off at 5am and my sweet Grandma drove me to the Indianapolis airport for an 8am flight, which was actually delayed to 930am. I fell asleep in the waiting area, felt my mouth getting dry from the absolutely attractive double chin sleep coma I was in and hurried to board when they immediately called my group number. I sat down in the aisle seat forcing my eyes open to allow the window seat person to take their seat next to me. A young girl with a huge family strolled up the aisle, her brothers in front, Mom across the aisle and Dad and little sister a row behind us. She sits, I pass out.
I wake up to the announcement that we are about to land, which is really 20 minutes (at least) in the distant future. I wake up slowly. Grab a stick of gum. Stare off in a deep train of thought of the previous days' events which in including speaking in Dayton, a casino with my Grandparents and a four hour lunch with my Indiana family.
I can feel an energy next to me. Her need to connect. With someone. Anyone.
I create an opening.
I pull out my purple and gold angel cards and I begin to shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. I pull a card and nod, of course. Truly, these cards are so on point this month it is unreal.
The young girl seated next to me whispers, "What are those?".
I tell her they are angel cards, can be used for daily guidance or inspiration. I ask her if she would like to pull one and I hand her the deck. She shuffles. Looking up at me in the midst of shuffling a few times and quickly back to the task at hand, in hands.
She pulls a card. Shrugs and hands them back to me.
I tell her I think they are super weird and I love them. She smiles at the acknowledgement of weird and begins with the questions. Thank God I grabbed the gum.
I learn all about her family, where she is from, she is in the 8th grade and recently moved to Canada from Indiana. She has half brothers, a full blood brother, and a stepbrother and a stepsister. I comment that she is the Brady Bunch, yet I don't know if she knows what I mean. (Note to Self, you are getting older with these references).
She goes on to tell me about her family reunion and that she beat her 22 year old cousin in a 'Smart War'. (Note to Reader: A 'Smart War' is when you go back and forth with questions that cover a span of subjects like geography, math, science....I would have totally lost to her, too.) She has lived on farms, thinks Canadians can be super strange and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
I like her. She is spunky and courageous. She is curious and can hold her own.
She looks up at me after scanning the plane and asks me, "Have you ever had Stepdad?".
I tell her I have not.
She looks towards the row behind us again and tells me that she has a Stepdad and that it is hard.
She looks back once more, just to triple check, and then leans into my shoulder and says, "He called me a joke yesterday. He said I was a joke."
Everything in my heart is sad and I momentarily panic. I scan my brain for what to say, how to support in a quiet, non-intrusive way (as I almost turned to the Stepdad and asked him why he called her that, my new friend who wins Smart Wars and wants to be a doctor). Images of the movie the Way, Way Back start to replay in my mind when Steve Carrell (the Mom's boyfriend) calls Liam James (the son, Duncan) a 3 on the life scale (great film, watch it!).
Finally, I respond. I asked her, "Do you think you are a joke?"
She shook her head with a no.
I said, "Good, me neither. Choose not to believe him. You have that choice. Right now. Don't let that statement stick with you. Don't even worry about why he said it. You win Smart Wars and are going to be a doctor and save lives, don't let that statement stick."
She nodded and told me again that it was just sometimes hard to have a StepDad.
Our plane landed and put on the brakes. No open gate so we sat together for what seemed like forever. It was forever.
Before we could continue that conversation, her brother (the blood brother one) turned around and put a Colts hat on her head. She did not react, she just smiled and put up a peace sign.
She is too cool.
I have been thinking about her since I landed home. Her goals and dreams, her family life, her Canada life. And I have been thinking about what her Stepdad said to her and how she confided in me. I replay the conversation, wondering what I should of or could have said to be better in that moment. Did I do it right?
I think about the work I lead and how so many times I have had to unravel stories of my own that got sticky, other 'mean' voices that got stuck and created reactive patterns and repeat actions over and over again. And I hear it in others, too. I pray she does not let that comment stick.
I remember back in the days on the playground and we would sing the chant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". I remember saying it to some of the mean boys in my grade and I can hear the edge in my voice, the tone of protection and the shield I was trying to hide behind, as I was most likely holding back tears.
I do agree that sticks and stones can totally break bones.
I wholeheartedly disagree about the words part. Because I have had a lot of words hurt me. My friend on the plane shared that her Stepdad's words hurt her feelings. Words hurt.
I write this with a bold request of you and truly of myself, too: Be responsible for your language, your words, your vibration.
Be responsible for the words both that you speak outloud and that you speak in your mind. Check in to see if the voice is trustworthy or perhaps a voice from the past that got sticky playing on repeat, like a comment from a Stepdad or a bully or someone that was your friend. You can politely ask those voices to leave. And when that doesn't work, you demand they leave and throw in an eff bomb or three. This is a righteous act of self love when we listen deeper, own our language and take responsibility for our vibration, our frequency, our energy.
Words get sticky.
You have choice, always to believe them, ask them to leave or choose a new belief. Always.