, March 09, 2018 | More Post by

Welcome to our series called Co-Founders’ Corner! These are posts by either of our two Here for the Girls Co-Founders, Rene Bowditch or Mary Beth Gibson. Enjoy these (sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always interesting) reflections on life!

Musings About Meaning

Since the beginning of time, humans have contemplated the meaning of life. So picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends have gathered beside a roaring fire after a long, hard day. Donning animal pelt loin cloths and gnawing on roasted meat, they gaze up at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing wooly mammoths all day long while saber tooth tigers chase after us. What’s the point of it all?

Fast forward through the millennia to the present. So now picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends are relaxing by the fire pit after a long, hard day. Decked out in animal print LulaRoe leggings and sipping on chardonnay… or something, they gaze at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing after things all day long while our boss/children/spouse chase after us. What’s the point of it all?

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. As human beings, we are compelled to find meaning in our existence. There are two questions really. The first is very complex – what is the meaning of life – and I have to tell you, I have absolutely no idea and no illusion that I ever will.  That is way over my paygrade. So I will leave it to the people with lots of letters after their names who are way smarter than I am to tackle that one.

That leaves the second question then –  one I that I do have the capacity to tackle – what is the meaning of my life? My time on this earth is limited, so what the heck am I supposed to be doing with my life? Does what I do even matter?

Some of you may have heard of the poem entitled the Dash. The reader’s digest version is this:  On a tombstone is the date of birth and the date of death and in between is a dash. It is what we do with the dash that matters.

When I was younger I felt all this pressure to figure out what to do with my dash.  I was on a mission to solve the mystery of the meaning of life because I couldn’t squander my dash!

I used to think that my life would be meaningful if …

If I had a husband who adored me

If I had children to care for

If I had a successful career

If I had hobbies I enjoyed

If I had tons of friends

If I had lots of stuff like clothes, and jewelry, and a house and car

So many ifs!

I ended up with all of those things– my adoring and adorable husband, three amazing sons, three fulfilling careers so far, a variety of enjoyable hobbies, lots of loving friends – and the stuff – way too much stuff. And I am grateful for all of it. Very grateful.

But is that meaning of my life? To have all of those things? No. I am so much wiser now.

Paradoxically, the harder we try to find the meaning of life, the more it eludes us. It is in experiencing life, reveling in the moments, that the elusive is exposed.

In the grand scheme of things, what I do won’t go down in the history books and survive through the millennia. Nonetheless, what I do matters very much to the people who share this time and place with me.

We do have limited time on this earth, and each of us is on a life journey. We are all learning, growing, struggling, seeking, succeeding, failing, loving, losing. Life is full of beautiful moments, and it is also full of pain. It is the contrast of emotions that allows us to appreciate the richness of our experiences. It is the people in our lives who have the ability to influence, for better or worse, how we feel about our experiences.

The meaning of my life, is to be the person who:

elicits a smile on someone’s face

extends a kindness to a stranger

comforts someone who is scared or lonely

celebrates another’s success

sheds tears with a friend

respects each person’s humanity and the need to be loved

The meaning of my life is to make other people feel meaningful. It is simple. Not easy, but simple. I am not always good at it. It takes intention and effort. But you know what? Every morning when I wake up, I have any number of opportunities to fulfill my meaning.

It’s a work in progress. I am a work in progress. But when all is said and done, when the final date is etched in stone, my dash will have mattered if I have enriched other’s life experiences.

So, if any of you want to explore for themselves, the age-old question “what is the meaning of my life,” I invite you to join me for an evening by my fire pit, gazing at the stars. You don’t have to wear anything animal print, and barbecue mammoth won’t be on the menu, but I can hook you up with a glass of chardonnay… or something.

Mary Beth Gibson

, June 01, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our series, Co-Founders’ Corner! These are posts by either of our two Here for the Girls Co-Founders, Rene Bowditch or Mary Beth Gibson. Enjoy these (sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always interesting) reflections on life!

There are lots of different ways to put people into categories – like introverts or extroverts, spenders or savers, glass half full or glass half empty, cat lovers or dog lovers. You get the drift. I have fun putting people into categories, and I do it without judgment. People are just who they are.

One way I like to think about people as they travel along the river of life is in terms of speed boaters or kayakers. The speed boaters know what they want in life, they have set goals, and they have a route mapped out for getting there. They are full speed ahead. An example would be my brother. He knew by the age of 40 that he wanted to be a successful business owner, marry, and have children. And he did. I admire him greatly. I am so not him.

I am more like the kayaker. I am along for the ride, drift with the currents, steer when necessary, and paddle through the rapids. Here is an example:

I was in my late 30s and living a very contented life. Somehow the river had taken me to a nice smooth stretch where everything was just flowing along so comfortably, and I was enjoying the pleasant view along the way. I had an awesome job as a human resources executive in a Fortune 500 company. I was part of a successful team rolling out innovative strategies in our division that was being recognized across the company. I worked hard but was rewarded well – well enough that my husband was able to be a stay-at-home dad. He actually had the harder job – taking care of three boys under the age of 5 – but he enjoyed it, and he was good at it.

I received a call from a colleague, Carrie, who had just attended a personal development conference, and she was pumped. Now this was someone I worked with but didn’t know super well; she was so moved by her insights, she wanted to share them with me. She asked, “If you could do anything, and success was guaranteed, what would you do?” Without a whole lot of thought I immediately responded with, “I would be a rock star, like one of the Go Gos!” Carrie said, “Well then why aren’t you doing it?” “I can’t sing.” “Okay, well seriously, what would you do?” Again, without a whole lot of reflection but from the heart, I responded with, “I would start a non-profit for young women to help them improve self-esteem.” “Why aren’t you doing that?” she asked. Hmmm… Well, let me count the reasons: I have a job I really enjoy working with a great team doing great things. I get paid very well to do it. I am the sole bread winner, and Bo would not be able to replace our income even if he did work. And on top of that, I know nothing about running a non-profit and no idea how to start one.

That was the end of the conversation. I thought. Little did I know there was white water ahead, and I was going to have to start paddling like hell to get through it.

Fast forward two years. There was a major change in the company, and the promotion I had been promised was gone, along with my position. Out of the blue, the successful, happy HR executive was on the streets. The job I loved – that was my identity and that supported my family – was gone. I was shaken, scared, depressed, angry, confused, lost. Equipped with a decent severance package, I took some time off to enjoy my family before initiating a job search. A workshop I attended for people in transition presented the benefits of starting a franchise. I was hooked. I could start my own company and if I worked my ass off, could replace the income I had lost. I was used to hard work. I could do this, so with equal parts of trepidation and daring, I purchased a coaching franchise called The Entrepreneurs Source.

The stress of it all had taken its toll, however, and more rapids loomed ahead. Six weeks after investing most of our life savings in this franchise, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and immediately embarked upon a grueling, year-long treatment regimen that included intensive chemotherapy followed by a double mastectomy and then radiation.

My comfortable existence was now completely shattered. I worked the new business while undergoing treatment, but it was hard having the energy to learn a completely new career while fighting for my life. Not to mention, the things I valued before, like money and professional success, weren’t high priorities any more.

It was during treatment that I met the woman who would ultimately become my friend and co-founder, Rene Bowditch. We began hosting a group for young women with breast cancer to offer them love, support, and encouragement while they were going through a life-transforming journey. That small support group, initially six women in Rene’s home, is now a ten-year-old non-profit that is continuing to grow and spread a special brand of love to young women all over the country affected by the devastating disease of breast cancer. And you know what? One of the most important things we do is help these women rebuild their self-esteem after breast cancer, and if they never had self-esteem, we help them build it now. Somehow the river had brought me to the thing that I said would do but was too afraid to.

I don’t know what else life has in store for me downstream, and my kayak may have dents, but I have my paddle and my helmet, and I know I will be okay.