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How I Became MAD

 
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I have been doing this work in some form or fashion for almost 30 years. It is the work of my soul. It is why I'm here.
 

I’d like to share a few highlights with you

 

When I was 20, I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into…something. It was the middle of the night. No one saw me. And I was in bad shape. I felt death coming, and it was a blessing. Right up until I heard a voice that I didn’t even recognize as my own cry out, “NO! It’s not time yet!”

That “NO!” was actually a yes in disguise. Yes, I’ll stay here. Yes, I’ll claim my life. Yes, I’m here for a reason.

That night, I chose my life.

 

When I was 23, I attended my first women's retreat – it was called "Sisters and Allies" and was organized by black women who invited white women and other women of color into a dialogue they had begun amongst themselves five years before called "Black and Female: What is the Reality?" And in that room I was given a profound gift.

I was seen in a way that helped me to better see others. I was heard in a way that helped me better hear others. And I was offered patience, love, and sisterhood beyond what I knew was possible.

 

And thus began what would become a 20-year journey to better understand issues of gender, race, power, and class – how they shaped my world, how they often divide us, and how we could bridge those divisions. I went on to hold roles as a facilitator, a trainer, and a board member of what became a nonprofit organization called Be Present.  

 

When I was 31 I had my first daughter and at 35 I had my second, and like billions of women before me, motherhood reshaped me. After a successful career that included stints in sales, marketing, training and fundraising – I pulled the plug on working for others and started my own business. I haven’t received a paycheck since.

 

When I was 39, I woke up to my body, and it was like waking up from a long and complicated dream. This time, there was no car crash, no blood, no broken bones – but some part of me was dying nonetheless. When I asked my then-husband for a separation, I said,

 

 

“I know this sounds crazy, but I feel like I’m one cell division away from cancer.”

 

 

And that’s when I lost everything. My marriage ended. Friendships faded. Finances tanked. The fabric of my life began to unravel. And weirdly, as it did, I came alive.

 

I won’t lie. It was pretty painful at some points. But it was also liberating as hell.

 

I learned that when your body comes alive, you can’t lie to yourself anymore. You can’t do things you don’t want to do. You can’t fake it anymore. And you realize how much of your life revolves around trying to get love or approval or safety – or just to survive even – and how much of yourself you’ve bartered and betrayed along the way.

 

I also learned that I wasn’t alone. I had tapped into something primal. Again.

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So, here’s the thing to know about me, about my work, about this thing I’m calling MAD Life.

And about why I don’t have a lot of letters after my name, and certificates in this and that, and an “as seen in” page with impressive logos…etc., etc…

Everything I've explored over the years started out as personal. But I quickly discovered, after no more than two steps in any direction, that there was no such thing as a personal journey that didn’t have a collective component to it.

I came to see how all these threads were connected, and that once they were untangled, they could be rewoven into new and beautiful patterns. And I learned what it would take to do that.

I saw that, with resilience and courage, with unflinching honesty, with the willingness to look, to speak, to feel – to change – we could redefine what it means to be alive, what it feels like to be connected, what it looks like to belong.

 

That discovery turned into a passion, and ultimately, into this growing platform I’m calling MAD Life.

 

So many times in my life, I wished for a linear path. A pithy answer to the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?” or even the hipper version, “What’s your why?”

While my friends climbed the corporate ladder, or got professional degrees, or focused on raising their children, or cracked the code to internet cash – I meandered through this subterranean, often invisible world of our most primal fears, our deepest desires, our encoded wisdom, our acculturated silence – and bit by bit, I untangled it.

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Which brings us to today.

I am 51. I find myself in the midst of cultural and political movements that have been a long time in the making. Generations of trauma, divisions, and disconnection have delivered us to this moment – and let’s be honest. Things could go either way. Our collective body is one cell division away from cancer.

I know exactly how that feels. And I know a few things about what it takes to wake up from it, to live through it, and to create something new from the ashes of the old.  
 

Go figure. Turns out I have been preparing for this moment for my entire life, without even knowing it.

I am MAD. I am here. I am ready.

I hope you are, too.

 

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