Just got back from a weekend retreat, not very far from where I live in suburban Bucks County, PA about an hour outside of Philadelphia. It drew women from all over the country and from Canada as we celebrated the Divine Feminine. A bit more than a year ago, most of those gathered were not even on my radar screen, let alone in my heart, as they are now. Waking up from a much needed nap, I am ready to share the experience. Rare for me, since I would likely have made this keyboard my first stop following my re-entry. I wanted to savor it for a little bit, drinking in the lusciousness of it and letting it settle into my pores.
Roll back the clock a year ago and last March, I turned up that same driveway through a development, past a golf course and into a kids’ camp called Diamond Ridge….perfect name since it did feel like the ideal place to mine treasures. There I embarked on an adventure of many lifetimes, when after years of inviting, enticing, cajoling and nudging from my friend Janet Berkowitz (the other face-embellished one in the photo above), I attended The Woman Within training. It allowed me to begin the process of peeling off years of layers of pain, grief, shame, limitation and hesitation that had kept me stuck in yukky, mucky mire. I faced the multiple losses, miss-steps and choices I had made in the past few lifetimes at least and leap frogged me into the life I am living now. This community of women has become a safe landing place to deepen the cave exploration as they sometimes held the lantern for me, lest I stumble on the path and plunge into a chasm.
A year later, the woman in the mirror bears some resemblance to the one who set foot on that same road, only now she is more willing to be seen for who she is….someone who is less afraid of being judged by others and more importantly, by herself.
I took a leadership role at the retreat, as I facilitated a workshop called Authenticity: Revealing The Real. I began it by sharing the concept that is so beautifully portrayed in the movie Avatar. The way the characters on Pandora greeted each other is with the line “I see you.” The Zulu greeting Sawubona means ‘I see you‘ and the response, ‘Ngikhona’ means ‘I am here‘. I asked the women to turn to their neighbor and offer that as well. While I was teaching, I become abundantly aware of how often I run the gamut from desiring to be seen, being embarrassed about wanting to be seen, to allowing if ever so briefly to be fully seen, to hiding again and then resenting that I’m not being seen. It can get exhausting.
Earlier in the day on Friday, cosmic coincidence struck again as it does often in my life. I was at Target and this lovely woman greeted me in the cosmetics aisle. Her role is beauty concierge, so said her name tag. I was picking out cruelty free (of course:) makeup….the company is called ELF. Her name is Michele and she asked me my name and then said she recognized me from Facebook and that she reads my work. Blushing and gratified at the same time; felt like crying. When I got to the retreat, a few of the women told me the same thing. I had the same response.
There are time we creative folk feel like we operate in a vacuum and so it feeds our souls and fuels the fire. I am willing to be fully seen, heard, known and accepted for who I am. Are you?
Photo: from East Coast Sage Circle Community Weekend (pictured Janet Berkowitz, Char Tosi -founder of Woman Within International and yours truly, at Talent Night)