At the beginning of every meeting, our President, Mary, would start us off with the six most powerful words I've ever heard:
Now, in part, Mary was telling us to mind our manners in the gentlest way possible. It was a reminder to put away our smartphones and our day planners and act like our mamas raised us a little better than all that. But, her words have always stuck with me.
"Permission to be Here" is a great phrase. You're truly allowing yourself to be in the moment -- to devote all of your attention to the matter at hand. You're fully listening to the person who is speaking; you're fully engaged in the dialogue. And you don't have to feel guilty about doing so.
So often, we find ourselves over-committed. We take on too many responsibilities with the greatest of intentions. We join clubs, we start new projects, we do things for others, and we want to do it all.
I'm pretty sure that when scientists finally unlock the chemical and physiological differences between men and women's brains, they'll learn that it comes down to this: Men Compartmentalize; Women Multi-Task. Think of your father, beau, or brother's ability to Actually Be Watching TV rather than having the TV on while he does three other things. It's a trait I'm trying to emulate a little bit. Sometimes, I take Saturdays to let the laundry go and JUST watch football. I try not to jot down notes about other tasks during meetings. I try to be where I am, and not a million miles away. I give myself permission to be here.
I've since moved to another town and Mary has, sadly, passed. I think so often of the legacy that Mrs. Mary Rigby left with her Junior League of Nashville members -- not just the legacy of voluntarism, fundraising, and community service, but giving ourselves a little more peace and self-awareness in everything we do. It truly is the greatest piece of advice I've ever been given.