When I was in my early 20s, I lived at home while at university and was friends with a woman we’ll call B. She was worldly and, to me? The epitome of cooooooooool. Went out on Sunday nights, drank spritzers on patios any day of the damned week, knew how to really talk to men, travelled when the she had enough money. She even had a belly piercing. I was deeply impressed. Right before one of her travel jaunts, she invited me to one of those said patios for a couple of rounds of those said spritzers. She had two things on her mind: she was leaving for a trip for three weeks in two days and needed someone to take care of her cat. Could I help her out? And when she got back, she’d need a new roommate. Was I interested? She’d need a decision in the form of first and last month’s rent upon her return. (Also impressive to me back then…she created urgency wherever she went…hot.)
I felt like I got tapped on the shoulder by a deity and one does NOT say no to a deity. I couldn’t keep the cat, but I begged and cajoled my sister into taking her for the three weeks. Sweet one that she is, she acquiesced. B didn’t have the time or the wheels, so we made arrangements to come and get the cat.
Leaving my sister with limited information and limited food + litter supplies, B was off on her adventure.
Every once in a while, I’d hear from my sister that the cat had done something. She wasn’t complaining, merely noting how her life would need to change if she ever got her own cat. Taking care of another living being, no matter how independent, is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I would always end these conversations with expressing my sincere gratitude and by proxy, B’s. I was certain B was thanking her lucky stars for my sister’s generosity. I also assumed a bottle of Rioja would be offered for her trouble, or at a minimum, some bucks to cover the costs of the food and litter my sister needed to pay out (and some other items the cat trashed).
As week three came and went and we didn’t hear from B, I started to suspect that my sister’s kindness wasn’t top of mind for B, and that she and the stars had other things to talk about.
About a week later, I walked into the bar I worked at, surprised to see B sitting there, holding court with her glass of wine. She’d been home for a number of days. I asked if she intended to call my sister to arrange to get the cat back. Sure…when she was ready, now did I or did I not want to hear about the hot men she met?
She then asked for my decision (and rent money).
Last Tuesday, as part of my Step into Your Starring Role telejam series, Kate Swoboda and I talked about the courage required to step into your starring role, and she shared the non-negotiables required to do so. (Watch it here...she's so very good.)
I didn’t know it to name it then, but my non-negotiables were pretty clear to me in that moment at the bar some years ago. Gratitude, generosity and connection are something I insist upon for my own life, and I needed those values light and bright in my future roommate’s value system too. Respect and responsibility, too, natch.
This was a friend I could sip wine with. This was NOT someone I could live with.
When B finally came to get the cat, her hands were empty. No offers of money, tokens of gratitude or cards of thanks. B took the cat in its carrier from my sister, thanked her and walked out the door. It was then that I declined her invitation to move in together. She was surprised, disappointed and pissed. Who says no to a deity?
Those values of gratitude, generosity and connection are the foundation for my Brand of Joy. They are shining bright when I am in my starring role. And they are alive and well in my most cherished and powerful relationships with friends, family, colleagues and clients. Non-negotiable.
And for me, that is everything.
PS - Join Tara Gentile and I TODAY in the next in my series of Step into Your Starring Role telejam series. We’ll be talking about Translating “Starring Role” into the “Real World” and the questions are already rolling in.
PPS – there’s still time to join us for my 12-Week Step into Your Starring Role program. We begin September 23rd. Your non-negotiables want your attention…and I know they’re part of your starring role.