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32 Things You’ve Taught Me

by Chelsea Leader Gold
 ∙ Sep 16 ∙ 6 Min Read

On Sept 17, I celebrate my 32nd birthday and I own the fact that, while I used to think birthdays were overplayed, I now love them…and every other excuse I can find to reflect and cheers to memories new and old with those I love.

Two years ago, I marked my 30th at camp with this community (and my best girl friends who joined us all for growth there). It was one of the happiest weekends of my whole life, and about a month before a handful of big challenges rolled in to teach me what I’m made of. And what you are, as the community that helps me find home in myself and in the world.

So this birthday, I’d like to celebrate YOU, and the mark you’ve made on me over the last 12 months, since I got engaged; planned and rescheduled a wedding due to a global pandemic; connected with partners and ideas that are equipping us to bring Campowerment to awesome new heights; terrestrially lost my best friend — my Grandy — and spiritually gained my best sidekick — her spirit; started therapy (bless); founded another business that I am falling madly in love with; found an even deeper level of connection with my family; found my faith in the Universe’s divine mystery; and came to understand that if I really want this kind of richness in life for everyone, that I have to confront more of life’s hard truths, and share them.

To get through it all, I’ve had the BEST resource…I’ve had your support and insight, your love and wisdom, your letters of encouragement and your acceptance of me…exactly as I am.

So this is an ode to you —

This year, the women in this community have taught me…

  1. To pay attention like it’s the strongest currency in the world.
  2. That change finds momentum in community.
  3. How much fun it is to receive unexpected handwritten letters and physical mail. (Go USPS!)
  4. That in order to belong, we have to be willing to stand alone. (via Kimberly Cabot)
  5. Exactly where to look for life’s answers (directly under my nose).
  6. How powerfully I can shape the legacy when I realize it’s the story of the life I’m living now.
  7. That the relationships we have are the relationships we think we’re worth.
  8. In case we ever needed the reminder, nature is our home!! And the lessons we find in it are brighter and fit more naturally than the ones we learn indoors. I swear you all taught me that by telling me to go outside when I needed clarity; to go for a walk when I needed balance; to get some fresh air when I felt stuck. It always fed me. Nature rules.
  9. How goofy it is to aim to know as much as we aim to know for sure (like why we’re here on Earth, and what comes next? LOL to thinking we could know that).
  10. That un-learning is a team sport.
  11. That tie dye did NOT come back into style…it never left.
  12. That our accomplishments only matter if we think they do.
  13. That the narrative that women tear each other down is skewed; it’s something we have been told to keep us small. Those who keep telling it or even believing it haven’t experienced friendships and community like this one, and I want to get to them with Campowerment’s magic, because belonging and support like this is the antidote to that lore’s poisonous thinking. Let’s grow together
  14. That it’s not just me: my sister really is other-level inspiring.
  15. How much fun it is to pull cards from an Oracle deck, specifically this one.
  16. That therapy can be so very key to collecting new tools when a life hurdle feels too big to navigate with the tools we’ve got.
  17. That, in our commitment to being anti-racist…and generally upstanding citizens, we should look not at our intention but our impact. What do our well-meaning words or thoughts or actions actually DO or cause? (via McKensie Mack)
  18. How beautiful we each are, even/especially in sweatpants (or no pants), no makeup and with yesterday’s leftover hairdo’s.
  19. That dancing is part of our life force and we should never go too long without breaking it down…even if alone at home. (hollaaa, Tasha Blank)
  20. That planning is something we do for control of our little lives and not to be taken tooooo much for reality until actualized. Rolling with the punches when someone else’s plans melt is one of the kindest things we can do for one another. Because one day it will happen to us and we’ll be blown away by that gift too.
  21. To focus on being part of the great experiments instead of having all the answers. What a relief! Special thanks for this one…
  22. That finding my way of listening is as important as finding my voice.
  23. That flamingos were either everywhere before and we didn’t notice or our lil’ QT angel Grandy is flirting with all of us, almost all the time. (Let’s go with the latter…)
  24. That camp friends really are the best friends, forever.
  25. That activism, like most anything of value, is a practice that is ongoing and perpetual. We don’t ever complete our work standing up for what we believe, and that lifetime work is an honor and privilege.
  26. That the soul needs to hear the same song over and over and over again until it’s ready to hear its real meaning. Same goes for lessons we brush past 1,000 times until they hit.
  27. How to be wrong gracefully. How to really own that.
  28. That spirituality is really a DIY frame-working game.
  29. That (Nov 2019 camper) Tamatha Thomas-Haase and I are on to something huge in modernizing our culture’s relationship with death…Meet & be a part of Grand Exit here. Yeee!
  30. That I’m a BAMF (and so are you)!
  31. That our promise to build experiences to make you feel a certain way in collective learning is what transforms. That actually the digital format we (probably I) pushed so hard against is what will likely allow us to impact so many more women by sharing these experiences, crafted with love, light and big ambition by women that span generations, far and wide. (Cool!)
  32. That life is exactly what we make of it. Nothing more, and nothing less. That if we want to it to be joyful, we must find and create joy. Want it to be meaningful, we must find and create meaning. Impactful…Infused with companionship…laden with purpose…it’s all up to us.

Thank you for the lessons. Navigating life with you is almost unbelievable. Stay weird, stay close, stay together, stay in the game. And if you haven’t already, get yourself a community like this one – become a Founding Member of 😉

From the campfire & beyond,

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