First of all, people responded! I seriously had no idea what to expect in terms of WHO would respond or HOW MANY would respond. Within two days, I had over twenty people on my team! Some of those people were not terribly surprising – good friends and close family who I routinely talked to on the phone or saw in person frequently who, of course, wanted the best for me. Some of those people surprised me immensely, coming from facebook groups that I was a part of or the loose poetry/writing community I’ve created for myself or out of my other past lives or from my extended-family tree. I was especially surprised by the handful of male friends that came out of the woodwork because the surgery in question was a hysterectomy and I thought many of them wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot-pole (One of my younger male friends, from the poetry community, even took this opportunity to ask me what exactly a hysterectomy was – and got an education, let me tell you -- haha). The huge initial response that I received to my request for teammates sent a huge jolt of positive energy through me. For close to a week, I was constantly – day and night -- responding to messages and connecting with people who were signing on to help me. Their concern was humbling. Their willingness to support me was… validating, mind-boggling, ridiculously uplifting.
Second of all, we all did great work together! When people joined my team, they chose whether they wanted to be a cheerleader, a teammate or a coach. My coaches sent me uplifting messages, privately and publicly, at least once a week, but many of them sent them at least several times each week. Many of these messages were so heartfelt and so thoughtful that they brought me to tears each time I read them. My coaches gave me a constant deeper vision and sense of why I was doing what I was doing. They helped me keep my eyes on the prize and to stay dedicated to the bigger picture of my life’s goals. My cheerleaders sent me mostly public memes and pictures and inspirational words. Their constant positive attitude filled me with an “oomph” each day that helped me push through the fear I was feeling to an attitude of badass-ness that kept me on track. And my teammates… well, this is strange to tell… my teammates – who needed the most from ME – were actually the members of Team QueenPrincess who probably created the MOST positivity in my own being, because…
Third of all, I learned quite clearly, that the best way to help yourself is to help others. My teammates were tasked with identifying something that they too needed help with. They sent me an explanation of this in a private message. And MY task, then, was to support them in that endeavor. I did this through messages, memes, check-ins. And, though the coaching and the cheerleading was AWESOME and the Team QueenPrincess experience would not have been remotely the same without those, it was my teammates and their mutual need for support that filled me, daily, with the true understanding that I was not alone and that I wasn’t the only one fighting.
Finally, the Team QueenPrincess experiment was a raging success. I walked into that surgery more pumped full of positive MOJO than I have ever been at any other point in my life. This positive MOJO carried me through a strong, healthy recovery and back into my regular life with remarkably few bumps and bruises along the way.
Early on in this process, my husband and I wondered how I could make Team QueenPrincess into a thing. I mean, it was so successful and so awesome. It was like SuperBetter (which is an amazing app that you should totally check out) and (the good parts of) Facebook and (easy) therapy and a fun (albeit virtual) get-together all at the same time. Could I make Team QueenPrincess an app? Could I make it an ongoing project? How could I translate the energy Team QueenPrincess created for this one event into an ongoing bank of MOJO anyone could tap into whenever they needed? Once my recovery was successful and life settled back into normal, these questions seemed less urgent and, mostly, we stopped asking them. Although, from time to time, one of us still brings it up, shakes our head at the pure awesomeness of that project, and wonders.
Several weeks ago, I was hanging out with one of my main cheerleaders and she asked whether the Team QueenPrincess project helped. Did it get me through the sugery and the recovery like I hoped it would?
Oh man, did I not make that clear enough? Because I had wanted to make it abundantly clear to all of the members of Team QueenPrincess that truly and simply – and NO BULLSHIT – I would not have been able to get through this without you. I thought I mentioned it enough on the blog and on my facebook page. I thought sending the personal thank yous to everyone at the end of the project (and the end of my recovery) was enough. But then it occurred to me that maybe I had only made it clear that MY journey was successful rather than making it clear that my journey was successful BECAUSE of my team.
So, let me say on record that Team QueenPrincess was wildly successful. My Teammates – and I hope many of them are reading this – made it possible for me to walk my ass into that hospital on the morning of that surgery with as little fear as I possibly would have been able to feel; to smile and joke with nurses and doctors (who normally scare me to death) as they came in and out of my life that day and the weeks afterwards; to soak in every little bit of love I was given those weeks before and after my surgery; to appreciate the sun and the breeze and the rain and the birdsong and the sounds of dogs barking and kids playing and the smell of people grilling and burning little campfires in their backyards that all came through my window as I lie recovering, in my bed; to continue to move my body in the ways it could move – slow walking, very light stretching and exercising my legs and arms – it was amazing how good these things felt, how strong even the slightest movements made me feel. Team QueenPrincess made everything possible. I, sincerely, do not believe I would be the same person today in body, mind or spirit without having entered into that endeavor and without those amazing people who (for whatever reasons of their own) entered into it with me.
Another thing I learned from the Team QueenPrincess experiment is that it is often vital to ask for what you need. I needed help and I asked for it.
My husband – though as flawed and jacked-up as I am – is a pretty amazingly supportive spouse. A few nights before I posted my request for Team members, we had a frank discussion about how he could not be my only support for what I was about to go through. He was scared too. And on top of caring for the children, all of the routine chores, trying to calm me down, his own fear was just enough to weaken his superhuman strength of carrying me through this all on his own. We decided together, that night, that I needed to reach out for more support.
Of course, when I told him about Team QueenPrincess, he laughed at how I had twisted that “reaching out” into a typical JodiAnn-style theatrical production – but hey, baby, that’s how I roll.
As my brother Mitch was dying, I noticed he got clearer and clearer about what he needed. I don’t want to be alone. I want an ice chip. Scratch my head. Turn the radio up. No visitors today. For him, making his needs clear became a clear and basic necessity.
Volunteering this weekend at a triathlon, I noticed how much easier it was for me to help people when they were clear and firm about what they needed – which tends to be how the majority of people running their asses off (who also just swam and biked their asses off) are. Water. Heed. Two Waters. Just pour it on my head. Splash it on my face (I loved this one!). I was particularly struck by the one-legged athlete who rolled through our 5K aid station on the way out, explaining, as she passed by quickly that when she returned back our way, she would need a cup placed between her mitts (she had to wear mitts to protect her hands, I presume). As promised, she rolled in, clearly -- and cheerfully! -- explaining how she needed me to hold her front wheel (she was in a three-wheeled racing chair/bike) and then how I needed to place the cup of water between her palms so she could drink. As she rolled away, she called out, “Thank you for being here guys!” (– and THAT moment, I’m going to deal with in another post immediately following this one). As Volunteers, obviously, we were there to help – it was the ONLY thing we wanted to do. So, when people were clear about HOW we could help them, it felt great. We knew what they needed. We gave it to them. They got what they needed. We felt helpful. Awesome. A quick, simple, basic, human exchange. So good.
Though we don’t all want to go around constantly broadcasting our needs as though they are more important than anyone else’s, there is absolutely something to be said for making our needs clear. I think very often we do not make our needs clear because we worry too much about imposing upon others. When, in reality, the imposition we become in our bad attitudes or constant disappointment, when we don’t get what we needed because we didn’t make our needs clear, is far more disruptive for others than a simple request for help. As long as we stay cognizant of the fact that EVERYONE has their own needs – and sometimes our needs conflict and compromise has to be reached – there should be nothing embarrassing or shameful or selfish about making our needs clear to others.
People want to help you much more than you realize. Often, I think, people stay away or shy away from being helpful because of their own insecurities. I’ve mentioned before how when my brother was diagnosed with ALS, my mother actually stayed away from him for a little spell. She told me on the phone that she didn’t want to “bother” him. My mother’s own insecurities kept her from realizing that probably the first person on earth that a person wants to see when faced with the worst thing that has ever happened to them is their mother. My mother’s own insecurities kept her from realizing how powerful her presence was and her hugs were. So so so powerful that I wish I could have one every single day. My mother’s hugs were amazing MOJO. I wish I would’ve asked for more of them.
But let’s get back to the heart of this message. Team QueenPrincess: just about a year ago today, you made something that felt impossible in my life, totally 100% possible. You did this by stirring up more MOJO than I thought existed in the world. And yet, I know that each of you out there is saying to yourself, “well, I didn’t do that much.” And, of course, you did! You did WAY more than you know. But… also, THAT’S the exact beauty of a TEAM! We all worked together! We all did our part. And we got the job done… beautifully!
So, thank you, yes, THANK YOU Again! Thank you always! Thank you a bazillion gajillion times! But also, WOW! Look what we did! I hope you can see it as clearly as I do. I hope you can see that consciously, intentionally building positive MOJO in our lives can have a profound effect on conquering our fears, on getting jobs done, on seeing us through, on living with more love. And I hope you understand that I’m still on your team. And… for those of you who were not on the original Team QueenPrincess, there are still – always – open spots! We don’t make cuts – and we can have as many people on the field as we want!
Let your needs be known, with love, Teamies!
& always and forever, Vaya Con Dios!