Washington, D.C., Here We Come!
My husband and I relocated from Queens, NY to Silver Spring, MD in November 2016. It was the BEST one year wedding anniversary present that I could ever have imagined. We had talked about making the move, but I never thought things would fall into place so quickly. It’s been a real treat to become tourists as we make new memories in our new home -- taking bike rides through Rock Creek Park, hiking in Great Falls, visiting museums, and tasting new food.
With the move, I’ve come to realize how much I had taken for granted familiarity and connection. I did a lot of complaining about the daily inconveniences of the city (e.g. long subway commute, the pace and expense of NYC). It wasn’t lost on me, though, as we packed up our lives, that there was a lot I would miss, foremost of which would be the people who made the place special. For me, the one constant throughout the transition of making a new life as a newlywed woman in a new place and launching a new company, was Tide Risers. I’m forever grateful to the phenomenal women who shared their time, wisdom and personal stories with me each month last year.
To participate in the 2017 NYC Tide Risers cohort required that I sync my monthly business travel to NYC with the UnstickHer session schedule. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth the extra effort. I still don’t know of any other year-long experience designed specially for women and committed to providing each woman the space to get “unstuck” personally and professionally.
As I gear up for the launch of the spring recruitment cycle and early application process for Tide Risers D.C., I’ve been thinking more about my own Tide Risers cohort experience -- what surprised me, what challenged me, and what has stuck with me. I share these reflections mindful that no two Tide Risers’ experiences will ever be the same. That’s the point, after all.
What Surprised Me: An Unlikely Friendship
Jamie Renwick and I couldn’t possibly be more different (not in-person, not on paper). Before joining Tide Risers, we had worked with and for some of the same organizations, lived in the same city, and shared over a dozen LinkedIn contacts in common. I’m 100% certain that we’d walked past one another, without even noticing, on more than one occasion. We really shouldn’t have been strangers, but I’m not sure what would have led us to sit down and have a conversation had we not both agreed to go through this experience of being Tide Risers. And that’s a scary thought, as we would have missed out on a delightful friendship.
Jamie and I have learned lots about each other’s upbringing and formative experiences. Along the way, we’ve discovered how similar we are in so many unexpected ways. I’ve come to appreciate that one of the best things about Tide Risers is that it creates a safe space for the exploration and discovery of self and others. This value around finding commonality is what Lara Holliday, our fearless founder, says is most fundamental to community.
What challenged me: Learning to Listen Deeply Enough
I thought that I was a listener. As a storyteller and strategist, I listen for the nuggets in others’ narratives and then help my clients to make the connections. Various interactions with fellow cohort members revealed to me that I had some unfinished work to do as a listener. Listening is one thing, but what does it mean to “listen deeply enough?” Enough for what? It could be listening deeply enough to challenge or confront one’s own beliefs; enough to make the other person feel heard and validated; or enough to be comforted, affirmed, and convinced in a moment of uncertainty or distress. It is difficult enough to keep the most basic commitment of showing up each month, let alone to really show up and shut out the distractions of the the day, of life, of the world around us for three hours. It was a challenge for me, and I didn’t always get it right. I’m grateful, though, to have been made aware of the need to keep growing. Shout out to fellow Tide Riser, Callan Blount Fleming, for teaching and modeling.
What I’m taking with me: The Power of Reflection
If someone were to ask me what I got out of the monthly Tide Risers UnstickHer sessions, I would say that more than anything, the journaling exercises and small group discussions gave me space to think. I knew at the start of the cohort experience that I needed to make a big career change, but I didn’t know what that change would look like. Could I leave my job and start a business? Was I ready to take that leap? Should I play it safe and look for a job? How would I minimize disruption to my life? Did I have what it took to #bossup and step out on faith? It’s one thing to obsess over a big decision; it’s another thing to reflect, leaving room for the answers to come. Tide Risers UnstickHer sessions gave me the space for reflection, for planning, for preparing myself mentally and emotionally. That practice is what I’m taking forward in my personal life and also as facilitator of the Tide Risers experience for other women.
How will Tide Risers surprise, challenge, and stick with you? I’m excited to find out together. If you’re a woman leader living in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Northern Virginia, please sign up to receive our newsletter and an invitation to our Tide Risers pop-up event later this spring.
Danielle Kristine Toussaint, founder + CEO of She Thinks Purple, is a storyteller, strategist and social impact leader. She’s a founding member of Tide Risers and excited to expand the network to Washington, D.C. in 2019. Danielle has been the writing pen behind op-eds and speeches for Huffington Post, Forbes.com, and TEDx. Danielle holds a B.A. in Political Science and African American Studies from Yale University and a M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.