Personal Lean-In Network--Crossing a Line

"Friendship bears out. It's worth it every time." Shauna Niequist

"Can you call me?? I am so worried about Jess and want to do something??" A separate vox came through from Jessica Cabeen after the latest update from Jessica Johnson about her son who had been in the hospital undergoing multiple, traumatic surgeries for a week. That's all it took. My spirit had already been mobilized, longing to do more than offer words of encouragement. Sometimes they just aren't enough, even for the giver. 

In the scheme of things, the visit that Jess Cabeen and I made to Jessica Johnson and her son in the hospital is not that grand. We were able to visit for an hour, bring some caffeine, a few comfort items, and share some laughs. Being present to witness Jessica nurture her son, respond to the slightest cue in his voice, eye the nurses like a hawk, and naturally produce a tired and loving smile with each interaction with her boys evoked strong emotion and made me appreciate her friendship so much more deeply. It was powerful to be able to see her children in the flesh after feeling like I know them from years of photos, stories, and their voices in the background of our Voxer conversations. Yes, I even hugged her youngest boy a few times, an act I long to do every time she posts an adorable picture. We existed normally in a space together for an hour, and the topic of work or professional life came up but once. It is these joyous nuggets that remain this morning and prompted me to reflect. 

The realization hit me hard yesterday that we have crossed a line and transitioned into a Personal Lean-In Network. It has been slow, natural, and one of the largest blessings of my adult life to be able to exist within a circle of comfort with these ladies. After the visit yesterday, Cabeen and I had a chance to put a timeline to our connection (although Johnson may correct it with typical on point accuracy). Johnson has been our glue and for anyone connected to her, this must not be a surprise, as she has a gift of seeing common ground in people and bringing them together. It was first Jess and Sarah then Jess and Jess, and then we became the trio and have not looked back. 
One of the greatest epiphanies of yesterday was realizing that yesterday's Mouse Meet Up (which is what Cabeen coined as our connect point. See picture for explanation) was only the second time Cabeen and I had met in person. Our enthusiastic hug and easy conversation in the 1.5 hour car ride was as natural as if I see her every day. And in a way, I do. 

In a highly vulnerable and reflective blog post yesterday, Jess Johnson referenced that we are all writing a book together. Putting it out publicly like this makes it very real and is another example of how these ladies are helping to build a better version of myself. Writing a book surrounding educational topics has been a long term goal for me, and I am honored to be collaborating with these incredible women. 

These ladies will always be an integral and critical part of my Professional Learning Network, but I am so honored to know that we have crossed a line together. May you all take those steps with your own PLN if you have not already. Meet them. Hug them. Meet their children. The power in it is reviving, affirming, and comforting. Through this PLN, we are finding more balance than ever, and I cannot wait until the next road trip. 
The great Mouse Meet Up 2017
Starbucks is Johnson's life link. 

Honored to meet this strong boy in person!
When you live four hours away, you better visit the capitol!
My five year old's gift to Jess's son. 


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