We are wired for connection. Sometimes, the acute way I feel that need, the depth of it, and the lengths I will go to to satisfy it surprise me.
It's like the most profound itch. It cannot be ignored and cannot be quelled by a superficial scratch. It demands something requiring more effort. A response as deep as the need. And when it comes, that intense scratch that finally hits the spot, that satisfies, that stops the longing, it feels so good. It’s like “Ahhhh….yes. That's just what I needed."
I had that experience last month when I gathered a group of women at Santosha in Cedar Key, Florida. It’s a soulful and beautiful retreat space created by my loving partner, Greg. It was a transformative experience which I am still processing and integrating, and which I'm just about to repeat, on a larger scale, at a women’s festival in North East Pennsylvania.
The Santosha retreat was small, intimate. Five women I know well, some for decades. Where Womyn Gather is large, hundreds I expect. It's a brand-new experience, and I know very little about what I'm getting myself into.
The Santosha retreat was was orchestrated and directed by me. It was on my turf, on my terms, and I felt responsible for everyone’s comfort. Where women gather is in a place I've never been with women I've never met. It involves activities I never experienced. I am responsible for no one but myself, and nothing but 2 hours of sister work-share, and my own comfort.
Hosting the retreat at Santosha bumped up against the edge of my comfort zone. Where women gather blows hole right through it.
Before both there were anxieties, some the same, some different. Last month, I worried if everyone would enjoy themselves, if I had gathered the right women, if the reality would match my vision. Today I’m wondering more about my own physical comfort. How many blankets and towels? What rain gear? Before both I remind myself my primary job is to show up. To be real, to let go, and to discover what is possible beyond the limitations of what my mind can imagine.
Both retreats are adventures. Before this one, I'm reflecting on some of my learnings from the last.
The Grass Is Always Greener Where You Water It.
My dear friend Marie shared this simple wisdom, garnered from a Facebook meme – author unknown, while we were together last month. It nicely contradicts the old cliché about greener grass, and opens my eyes to an obvious, if sometimes obscured, truth. Our best selves are not out there. They are right here, always inside us, if we remember to bring ourselves fully to each moment, and each interaction. We are the people we want to become, already. We are in relationships that offer all we need and desire, right now. The hard part is remembering to nourish and care for ourselves and our relationships so they keep growing stronger and more beautiful. So they can reveal their true beauty.
All our relationships, with ourselves, our partners, and our friends, need space, time and attention. Give it and they thrive, withhold it and they die.
Women Totally Rock!
Bring together a group of women, large or small, and what do you get? Different ages, stages, and personalities. Different backgrounds, situations, dreams and desires. Different skill sets and temperaments.
I can see how this might be the backdrop for a juicy reality show, sensationalized as a recipe for disaster. But that has not been my experience. A skill I observe in women is out ability to make things work. We know how to come together, and we know how to take care of each other. We know how to open up, to share ourselves, to laugh and enjoy the journey, to hold each other through the the ups and downs. To remain present through change, pain, pleasure and suffering.
The time is come for me to pack my bags and go, but I'll continue to reflect on the journey. For now I’ll offer a note of gratitude to all the women in my life. Your fingerprints are all over me, and I am so much better for it. You all have taught me, shaped me, and inspired me.
I'll end by borrowing from Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets….you all make me want to be a better woman.
I love you all! Thank you!