A group of women gathered at Oceanstone, in a small group, talking… about important things, things that profoundly touched our lives and presented as massive invitations for us to stay true to our Self or to, once again, lose ourselves in how it has always been. (See today’s entry for my Emerging Futures blog.) The seduction of the past – of that which is familiar, bringing us some bizarre sense of comfort in its mindless repitition and perceived predictability – invites us to rely on illusion for our sense of control in the present and in defining the future.
Not so with this small group of (in my experience) truly courageous, curious and relentless women! Each in her own way was willing to stay with the sense of chaos in her body; with the daily turmoil that wracked the body and created the polarities of ‘How can this be????” and “How can this NOT be????” Finding the truth of who we are, somewhere in that upheavel, is always what the journey is about.
Their lives, and mine, have been changed. In our four days together, we laughed and cried; we challenged, rejected and embraced; and we stood tall in our own turmoil and trusted that it would lead us to where we needed to go. Not that the intellect or knowledge would lead, but that the body would lead… and as we surrendered to what appeared and relaxed into our own uncertainty, we would be just fine.
Not always fun, not always easy and frequently causing some of us to wonder : what are we doing here? – we stayed in those tough conversations and came out the other side. And that’s what it takes.
I can’t even remember how many times I made the comment: “Read the book.’ Simple. Start there and see where it takes you. And if you’re not willing to read the book, it’s not likely that you’ll ever be willing or able to follow the path that takes you to a new paradigm. As we talked about that, we all realized that it’s not about the book – it’s about the choice to read it equating with a conscious choice to choose life, differently. Once that door is opened, it’s close to impossible for it ever to close again.
It was one of the most potent experiences of my life! I know that it was equally so for the other women present. I also know that each of us went home and that all those in our lives have already been touched by who we have become. And they, in turn, will touch the lives of others just by being themselves. Our evolution is indeed, yet another gift that keeps on giving.
During that week, I was mindful every single day of the power of contagion of an awakened collective. Here we were – women gathering in a small group, talking… – choosing to be in each other’s company as we stood determined in our intention to find ourselves. And so we did, even when it would have been so much easier to just stop looking! I also know that given the power of contagion of this awakened small collective, the world has already changed.
Does this mean that we now have an obligation to do something to the world? Not in my books! I believe that the reason we were able to make such huge leaps in our own lives is precisely because each of us was there for our Self. As in all great things, we engage because doing so brings such great joy! Anything else is a bonus.
And so, here I sit, in awe of what has transpired. As I’ve written elsewhere, I am clear that these Emerging Futures conversations, particularly at this depth and pace, require that paradigm shift to occur, first. Anything less, and the pressure will be too intense to resist settling for so much less just to find a sense of peace in our mediocrity.
Women gathering in small groups, talking… IS the most potent force I know. Imagine if we knew that and chose to engage it mindfully. And it’s just a conversation…
I was reading Marie’s Blog today and what came to mind for me was ‘crumbs from the table’.
Thoughts of : dont’ be selfish; wait your turn; don’t take too much; stand in line; don’t be pushy; stop being so demanding; what about everyone else; stop whining; stop complaining; just take a bit; blah, blah, blah…. and more blah blah! Sheesh! What a pain in the ass that is!
When I wrote When the Horse Dies, Get Off….and Stop Dragging It Around!, I was mindful that some readers may find my words and my perspective ‘harsh’. I was unwilling to make things pretty, to soften the blow or to pull a punch. I grew up in a home with a Mom (some of you know and love her like we do!) who did all those things and I figured that what we ended up with wasn’t anything I wanted in my life. She did what worked for her – and I chose to do something different.
From that thought came another: how willing are we to have a better life than the one we were trained into? How many of us are willing to do it differently from how our mothers did it if/when we do, it could be experienced by her as a judgement of her life? That somehow she did it ‘wrong’ or ‘wasn’t enough’? How many of us put up with ‘stuff” because we don’t want to make someone else look bad?
I think Self-ish is what we are designed for! What I’ve discovered over the years is that when you or I or my children pay attention to and engage the signal from Self…. when we are willing to listen to and honor that which is Self-ish in us…. we are all better off for it. Wherever did we get the idea that sacrificing Self (i.e. giving up on Self, giving Self up!) could possibly be of any use to anyone? I, for one, am long done with that.
I can be open, honest, clear and direct – and I can be kind. I can tell the truth of my epxerience – and I can still love and be loved. I can ask for what I want…. no, not strong enough…. I can TAKE what I want – and I can still be considerate and respectful. These are not mutually exclusive experiences. Maybe we need to pay more attention to that.
If you and I are not telling what is true for us, then what we are telling is untrue. The only thing that can come from that is a life of illusion. Living a life of illusion will lead us to resentment, disappointment and an eventual sense of hopelssness and (far too often) despair. I’ll pass on that one, thanks.
Today, in conversation with a wonderful businesswoman and friend, we talked about trusting others and ‘turning things over’. (In that context, we were talking about handing things over to staff to take over but the conversation is as relevant when applied to family, friends, colleagues, etc.) That idea of letting something go because someone else takes an interest in it; or someone else is engaging in that process/experience with us, moving toward proficiency. How do we do that in a way that is not a duality, meaning holding on tight or letting it all go at once? What popped to mind was an image of a small child learning to walk. That’s really a two-person dance, in the early stages. I think back to when my sons were much, much younger and I am mindful that we instinctively knew when it was time for him to let go of my hand – and when it was time for me to let go of his! There may well have been that brief moment when he thought he was ready to walk and my ‘motherly instinct’ told me otherwise. So, rather than let go completely, I might have softened my hold but still been touching, or I may have let go but been sure to surround his body in some way, ready to catch him on the way down! And then, one day, it happened : we both knew it was time, we both let go and he was walking on his own. I was unwilling to let go until it ‘felt right’ for me to do that. I held on for me, not for him – and then it was time.
Instinct. Intuition. Gut response. Signal. Internal cues. Call it what we will, but we are always on receive from an impulse in the body that says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘not now’. Maybe it says ‘turn left’ or ‘stop’. Whatever it says, we have to be paying attention to notice. It’s a dance – and we both have to be willing to play.
So, Marie, thanks for that reminder. Abundance, it is! In all areas of my life. Lots of time. Lots of money. Lots of opportunity. Lots of room to change my mind. Lots of moments to accept or decline. Lots of people to love and be loved by. Lots of moments to consider before I choose. Lots of choices! Lots of… everything! Why? Because I say so. And that’s how my world turns.
How does yours turn?
Women gathering in small groups, talking…. and these are the things we talk about. When we do, are we talking each other into doing the same-old-same-old? Or are we inviting each other to consider giving ourselves permission to try something different? When we gather and we talk, do we become the disapproving voice that shames another woman into compliance? The voice that keeps someone small? Or do we invite and encourage each other to say what is below the surface; to speak the unspeakable and engage in ways that some might consider Self-ish. Or do we allow ourselves to be unsure, uncomfortable and keep moving forward anyway?
Women gathering in small groups, talking… is a force for change or one that reinforces the status quo. But either way, it’s a force that is having a profound impact on keeping things flat or welcoming new ways of being. None of us is a zero factor in the lives of the women we gather with. We matter. Our voice matters. What comes out of our mouth, matters! Today is a great day to begin to ponder: what is the force that I am when I gather with other women? What does my voice carry into the world?