Name: Heather Young
Hometown: Pass Christian, MS
Circle Start Date: October 29, 2018
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
The last five years have been all about transition and reinvention for me. My two children left the nest after homeschooling—more like “van schooling” around the country in a glorious, never-ending field trip—and I shifted my focus from creatively educating them to becoming an entrepreneur as a professional organizer. In March I achieved a major goal when, after rigorous training by the influential Japanese organizer Marie Kondo and her team, I became a Certified KonMari Consultant. I now use the KonMari MethodTM described in Marie’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to coach and support the courageous as they confront their clutter and achieve order, peace, and joy in their homes. When I’m not immersed in personal and business development, I’m likely planning our next trip! Travel is very life-giving to me, especially when I can share the experience with family and friends. I took a deep dive into wine studies a few years ago, and visiting wine regions around the world has been driving our choice of destinations lately.
What attracted you to the Circles?
I’ve always loved conversations in small groups with the goal of understanding and connection, and I deeply value honesty and openness. Given the transitional season of life I was in, I noticed a tug several years ago to expand my circle of friends to include more women from my community whom I admired for various reasons. In January 2018, BFCs came onto my radar while I was listening to the Spark Joy Podcast interview with former BFC leader and fellow KonMari Consultant Patty Morrissey (Episode 18). I went straight to the website and discovered there wasn’t one in my area, but that I could start one. I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to stretch myself as a leader, to open my home to new friends, and to be a part of a movement I absolutely believe in. Even so, it took me till August to reach out to Patty with all my questions about becoming a Circle Host. The advice she gave me that was most encouraging, then and to this day, was to make my Circle my own, not to compare it to others, and to trust that it would become just what it needed to be.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group?
I began with a list of over twenty women I looked up to and wanted to get to know better. I also knew that I wanted my Circle to meet in my rather small home, which could comfortably accommodate eight people max. I reached out to potential members via text messages until I had four committed—two close friends and two acquaintances—and I invited each of these women to reach out to one additional friend. Our group has grown to seven participants, and monthly attendance vacillates between three and six. Although we are all women, we are diverse in age (20s to 80s), ethnicity, religion/spiritual practice, marital status, and personality type. Just as Patty predicted, a real bond has developed among our members and everyone is very comfortable being vulnerable and speaking openly. It is the safe and edifying group I envisioned it would be! We always end with hugs and I am caught off guard every time they say, “Thank you for doing this!” I am the one who is thankful—for their continued commitment, their wholehearted engagement in the discussions, and their support of one another.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
Hosting has been a great practice for me in letting go of my expectations and agenda, in overcoming the distracting feeling of responsibility to keep the conversation flowing, and in being able to just relax and enjoy what is being said and to truly listen—in staying present. To that end, I always refer to the questions listed by virtue on the BFC blog to get the discussion started (a great resource that keeps my leadership stress-free) and then witness how conversation blossoms from there. The group really does take care of itself when I simply hold the space and get out of the way. I am applying this lesson to other areas of my life—with varying degrees of success at any given time!—being mindful and open to what my experiences and relationships are teaching me and not trying so hard to manage them all the time.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
That’s like asking which child I love the most! But if I had to pick one virtue above the others at the moment, it would be Order. After all, there is a reason I love to help people declutter and organize! I know firsthand the enormous impact our physical space has on well-being, on productivity, and even on the likelihood of connecting with others through opening our homes with hospitality. I appreciate that Ben expanded his definition beyond the physical to the temporal: “Let each part of your business have its time.” It was very interesting to me to read in his Book of Virtues (which I presented to each member before our first meeting as a fun, light introduction/welcome gift) that Ben really struggled with Order. My first thought was “I wish I could have helped him with that!” and then I got tickled thinking about Ben Franklin holding up some breeches and asking, “Do these really spark joy?”
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
It goes along with my recognition that life is more enjoyable and flows more smoothly when I’m not trying to micromanage or obsess over my agenda, when I can take a deep breath, relax and stay open and flexible. Especially with a new business, I could easily get overwhelmed trying to do everything myself or get bogged down trying to do it perfectly. My commitment to myself is to take the pressure off, to maintain a playful and creative attitude, and to reach out for help when I need it, leaning on the strengths and gifts of others in my community.