Sisters, something’s been on my mind and I need to share it with you.
For months I kept hearing something. Long time members were complaining.
Over and over I heard, “WESOS is not the same.”
It’s hard to admit how much that hurt. I see myself as a caretaker of this child that is growing out of our collective efforts. I felt protective of her. So I’d get angry and point back to our WESOS purpose: women supporting women in life and business. That certainly hadn’t changed.
But privately, I would ask myself, “Has WESOS changed?” For months I vacillated between a defensive, “They’re wrong!” and a worrisome, “Am I doing something wrong?”
That thought, “WESOS has changed,” grated on me. I heard it as if an angry school teacher was telling me she was disappointed in my lack of effort or knowledge. But one day a new voice emerged. It was as if a kind and loving WESOS Sister stretched her arms out to embrace me and lovingly said, “Yes, WESOS is not the same!”
Finally, the answer dawned on me: WESOS isn’t the same. For years I had been saying that WESOS was in its embryonic stage. Now she’s growing up.
What an incredibly subtle, yet powerful shift.
In that moment, I felt something new for the future of WESOS. I felt energized by the amazing women who have courageously and staunchly helped WESOS to mature as we’ve opened our community to the world!
It is true. WESOS is not the same. And that’s a good thing.
In 2013, back at the HoneyJam Café, I shot a video of a WESOS Sister asking, “Is it too grandiose to think we [WESOS Sisters] could change the world?” I love that video — it’s still up on our WESOS Facebook Page—because it articulates what has been our collective vision since conception. A vision like that demands growth and change to make it a reality!
But beginning stages tend to get messy. Attending meetings used to mean many of the same faces gathering for a monthly breakfast and presentation. For the most part, the people in the room didn’t change much. We were growing, but often the limited room sizes caused new members to be seated outside the presentation room. There wasn’t “room at the table” for all participants. It wasn’t consistent with our vision. Everyone should feel welcome. Everyone should have a seat.
So at a pivotal meeting in 2017, after adding a partner and talented Chapter Leaders, we rolled out a clear mission and vision with a path to get us there. On Friday, January 6th at the Woodridge Café, WESOS’s gestation ended. A new WESOS was born.
Just like any newborn, she continues to grow and change. Sometimes there are growing pains, but we are here to protect her and ensure she grows healthy and strong.
Currently there are twelve WESOS chapters in Chicagoland. While many still have waiting lists, now every single week provides an opportunity to attend a WESOS function. We, as sisters, are being challenged to get out of our comfort zone, meet new sisters, and demonstrate the WESOS Way. Our message is spreading; we keep growing. Today’s larger community provides exponential opportunities to support and be supported by new members.
Sisters, each one of us is WESOS. Our lives and our businesses are all growing and changing. Like any parent, we can wish she’d stay an infant or we can welcome each new phase and stage: scooting to crawling; tottering first steps to a full-out run. Our role is to support her and cheer her on as she evolves. That is the natural course of things.
Has WESOS changed? Yes, indeed. And isn’t she glorious?