Rolling the clock back to the spring of 2005 and I find myself in the 5th floor walk up apartment in Manhattan of Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski. Surrounded by blankets, pillows and pj clad strangers, save my brave friend who trekked the few hours up there with me, I was attending a workshop that would become a way of life for me. Cuddle Party is a relationship enhancing, communication and boundary setting workshop. It just so happens that consensual, non-sexual, nurturing touch that could include snuggles, cuddles, hugs and massage are part of the world wide phenomenon that was created by Reid and Marcia as somewhat of a social experiment that blossomed beautifully. Although I am cuddler by inclination, it had never occurred to me that an entire workshop was being wrapped around it like a comfy quilt. By the time it had ended and we were helping to fold blankets and tidy up the space, I knew that it had to be brought to Philadelphia- appropriately named The City of Brotherly Love and I was equally certain that I was going to have to become a certified facilitator so it could stay here. That summer, Reid came to the area to facilitate and I embarked on the training program. By January of the following year, I was named Cuddle Party facilitator #27. Now there are around 100 people certified to teach this workshop worldwide. In the interim, I have facilitated over 250 of them up and down the East Coast, from here to Virginia and Maryland. It has been one of my greatest joys and honors that attendees have trusted me to create a safe space for them to explore relationship matters and facilitate healthy touch.
A few years after I took the leap into the ‘puppy pile,’ way across the country in Utah, another affectionista, named Monique Darling entered the realm of Cuddle Party facilitator. We became friends when we had support calls as she was going through her certification process. Her enthusiasm matched mine and to date, she has offered 369 of them. When the opportunity came to team up with Monique and Reid to teach in my neck of the woods, I was giddy with delight. She and Reid have taught together, she and I have taught together, but I’ve not taught with Reid. Let the games begin …. as we put on the books, what we were referring to as an ‘epic event’. Between the three of us, we figure we have facilitated close to 1000 of them.
Since they were each coming on separate flights, I was to pick them up at the airport. A few days afterward, I discovered that they were due in 90 minutes or so before the event was to begin, which wouldn’t allow much time for travel and then set up. I took a breath and remembered wisdom that Reid shared a long time ago, when I would call him, nerves all aflutter, right before my first few workshops. He would say “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.” I would sigh, smile and proceed to accept the truth in it.
I left for the airport with plenty of time to spare, mentally going through the checklist in my head about what needed to be done to prep for the workshop as soon as we arrived. As I was enroute, I get a message from Reid that his flight would be an hour late. Not even a moment of panic, but still a thought “Now what are we going to do?,” arose. Immediately, a spark of brilliance and the words “Call Rusty,” came through. He was going to be attending and knew the area, so I called him and he was more than happy to be Reid’s airport shuttle service. Whew~ I could let that one go.
I pulled up at baggage claim just in time to scoop up Monique, since her flight was early. Laughing along with Spirit’s sense of humor, we headed for my friend Christina’s lovely home in the woods where the workshop was taking place. As it turned out, we arrived in perfect timing and began the teaching and 20 minutes later, Reid and Rusty arrived and he merged seamlessly and the workshop flowed smoothly. At the end of the evening, participants floated out the door on an oxytocin high and I felt elevated for so many reasons; one among them that I really had surrendered outcome, without attempting to control it. What a relief and such a departure from my habit of attempting to micromanage. Ahhhhh~ Surrender is a beautiful thing.