So we gathered. For three extraordinary days last weekend, six women, from Canada and the USA who, over the last nearly 18 months have been meeting every week on the phone, came together in person for the second time.
The first time last June was a sheer delight!This time, along with the yumminess and fun of playing together, the RICH-ness we all experienced was even deeper.
Part of our fun together – a painting that organically emerged from me (with the encouragement of Tricia Chatfield, one of our group) from blue and yellow blobs of watercolour paint. I see a kind of ‘mother bird’ surrounded by many ‘babies’ flying out in the world – a sense I often feel in my work!
Thank you all, so much, for your commitment to our group, for overcoming all obstacles to traveling such distances, and for to coming all the way to Ohio. I’ve been so grateful, for so many reasons that you were here, blessing me and my/our home with your presence, your laughter, your tears, your talking, your affection, and your singing. There’s something in the ring of our women’s voices that is so lovely and memorable.
Next, what next?”
As I searched in me to find words to describe the experience to Bruce when I came home last Sunday, I said something like “I’ve known for ages, felt it in my bones and lived it the best way I can myself, but after this weekend I now have the lived experience in my body of what’s possible for us when we come together in community in a shared commitment to relate to each other with Respect, Intimacy, Courage, and Honouring of our humanity.”
And we have each gone back to our separate lives to meet whatever is there, with the in-our-body knowing that we are not alone. There’s a community of kindred spirits who stand with us, and have our backs.
Meg goes on “No matter how despairing the circumstances, it is our relationships that offer us comfort, guidance and joy. As long as we’re together, as long as we feel others supporting us, we can persevere. … No matter what tragedy people are experiencing, their suffering is alleviated when they learn that others are standing with them. … A Zimbabwean, in her darkest moment, wrote, “In my grief I saw myself being held, us all holding one another in this incredible web of loving kindness. Grief and love in the same place. It felt as if my heart would burst with holding it all.””
It was wonderful to re-connect with them on our call this week, continuing to create our “incredible web of loving kindness” in the virtual form … standing with and for and holding each other as we each engage our unique work in the world – “because it is good, not just because it has a chance to succeed.”
And having this experience has been important for me this week as I’ve engaged with others outside this group. Women (and men) I partner with 1:1 who are meeting the challenge of being in business, especially, though not exclusively, in the tech world where having their voices and contributions honoured is challenging and often feels daunting. And men (and women) who feel in their lives, and sometimes in their work, drawn to express and create what Nora Samaran calls a nurturance culture, and often find themselves and what they offer being undervalued, or even dismissed.
Though Nora was writing primarily to men, I believe what she says holds true for each one of us “What we need is a model for slow self-love that brings the shame up into the light, and reality checks with others who accept you unconditionally, hold you accountable, and aren’t going anywhere. We need a model of justice that recognizes the lived reality of interdependence and learns to do it well, not a justice of shame that frightens us all out of looking at our shadow sides or weakest selves …” As we support each other in nurturing and expressing the unique gifts we came here to offer, our world is transformed.
Some of us are called to work at the level of system change. My work is with individuals and small groups who are looking for that model that Nora calls “slow self-love”, that in a safe and non-shaming community respectfully allows for the emergence in us of the parts of us that have gotten in the way of our freedom to express who we are. A community where:
- acceptance does not require agreement with
- difference is valued and celebrated
- and where, in real time, we recognize the challenges and are learning to live in the nitty-gritty, messy awesomeness of true interdependence.
Perhaps there’s a slightly skeptical part of you that’s hearing a quiet whisper to explore more, or maybe you’re aware of the inner tug of a deep heart longing. If you’re curious and wonder if there’s a way I could partner with and support you on your journey, I’d love to hear from you.