As I slowly unfurl from the otherworldly smooth cocoon of retreating in Ojai with magical beings, my awareness expands and I can sense some pieces of my experiences, ancient and brand new, connecting and coming full circle, while I step delicately back into linear time and space.
It doesn't hurt at all, this connecting, snapping and clicking into place. It’s a kind of tidying up plus a sigh of relief, even if temporarily, as if I had been an unfinished anthropomorphic jigsaw puzzle, expelling a heaving exhale as my last few odd-sized shapes were finally able to nestle in, finding their just right spot. It’s akin to experiencing some sense of conclusion, not realizing I’d been holding my breath for far too long, waiting on the feeling of being complete. And here I am, deep breathing again, reveling in the freedom of amplification and contraction, basking in the full circle experience that comes with drawing in and out, my pieces knowing they fit.
It could be more of a cracking wide open rather than a sliding into place, all my morsels settling in the dust of the cleaving and falling. Maybe it’s both. Can’t it be both? Regardless, it doesn’t hurt, this congealing or rupturing, whichever it is. There is no sting, only relief. It just feels like I’ve come out the other side of something I was trying to get a grip on, trying to understand. It’s like I can finally see things that had been obscured or held just too far beyond my peripheral vision, and now they have come into focus. I have clarity where before there was cloudiness and uncertainty. It feels like a full circle settling into the deep understanding of a few things that had strayed from my knowing, eluded me, and now they have re-nested in, cozied into my bones, the truth of them now so obvious but luckily not painful.
My word for the year is Emerge. And wouldn’t you know it, you’re damned if you do Emerge and you’re damned if you don’t Emerge. My own Emerging, in many forms, the more visible of which includes being asked to co-host retreat gatherings, being asked to guide at retreat gatherings, and hosting my own Make-to-Mend gatherings, has sparked bucket loads of support and encouragement from those who love and appreciate me enough to be uplifting. I relish this and bask in the sweetness of recognition and belonging. These dear friends can see me, and see themselves in me; we reflect possibility and expansion to one another.
But then there are those whose feathers are ruffled by others’ Emerging, by my Emerging. A wise friend told me that oddly this indicates I am doing something exactly right, that I am on path, I am releasing an old story of myself and creating a new one with velocity. When we Emerge it can be triggering and provocative, making people uncomfortable, leaving them wishing we’d go back to being our old less growth-spurty selves. They narcissistically make it all about them, as if you are intentionally trying to cause them a specific kind of pain in your own Emerging. Their feathers get ruffled from jealousy, their own lack of self-worth and their shortage of maturity. They may even tell you that the only reason you are Emerging is because you are the “little darling” and they may then go on to collaborate with a mutual friend who they also labeled a “little darling,” and you will wonder at your naivete. And yes, this may come from your dearest sweet sister, who you trusted and held in high esteem, who you believed would rise to the occasion and celebrate your Emerging with you. But fret not. This too shall pass. In the wake of your immense pain and disbelief, when your Emerging plows full steam ahead and you get on the other side of it, the side where you click into place or crack wide open with a new understanding of the space you inhabit, all will be OK, my dear, all will be right. You will come to wish your un-supporters well, the ones whose skin you got under, the ones who turned away and put up a wall. You will even regain and come to have an unfathomable and whole-hearted love for them, especially since they prompted this shift in you, this lucidity on the other side, because you will know: it’s not about you. Period. You will have your guides and mentors to thank, your sisters who do stand by your side through thick and thin to thank, and time itself to thank for the perpetual turning of the wheel. You will not only survive the initial growing pains yourself, but you will painlessly Emerge a bright star who can see clearly and be clearly seen. You will thrive.
Right now I am basking in the stillness that comes after being in sacred circle with sacred women who are cultivating their wild roots and sacred wings. This serenity is born of the sweet sip of lingering magic these enchanting women offered, settling in profoundly, its nectar soothing my soul. There is so much comfort in the aftermath, knowing that together we are becoming the peaceful, bold, love-laden women we intend to be. Even in the Mystery and the spaces in between, when old and new are juxtaposed too angularly, making the path less clear or the journey more awkward, we have one another to reflect our courage and wisdom. We asked Spirit to guide the right women to gather with us and gratefully, powerful women full of contradiction and shifting paradigm, yet solid and centered like the mountains surrounding us there in Ventura county, floated in on sweet scented zephyrs, ready to create, connect and restore together.
I found a portal in Ojai, a gateway to abundant riches, and if you lean in just so I will whisper in your ear the secret spot: it’s a circle of brave women who dare to carve out the time and space to step into exquisite self-care, thereby blooming into, and remembering, their truest and highest potential. If and when you find yourself stepping into one of these luminous portal circles, prepare to lay down your heart armor, as there will be no need for keeping a barbed wire cage around your magnified heart. In fact, here you will lay all your weapons down, your gremlins and busyness will fade and instead you’ll take up the tools of Making and Mending. And this is another piece that clicked into place and cracked me open while co-hosting this retreat: permission to tune into our own frequencies and listen carefully for our soul’s deepest longing, is no small thing. It is transformational. I knew this. I know this. But my perception had always been from the standpoint of a retreat participant, not a host, and that’s different, way different. What I was privileged to witness was extraordinary and solidly confirmed for me that women who claim space for their innate creative self-expression to blossom, recover empowerment and their healing flourishes. Certain and clear, no doubt about it: click, crack, connect.
Another clicking and cracking, or full circle coming, if you will:
So I've spent the last 20 years with one lover, and I would be a big fat fucking liar if I didn't admit it has been one hell of a tumultuous ride. The combination of us both bringing childhood trauma and very little healing in from the get go, not to mention being young and naive, did not give us a solid footing to begin with. We have had to fight long and hard to keep our partnership (in the midst of actually fighting and being very unkind to one another, more often than I’d like to admit, some might call it screaming, ranting and raving) intact: hours and years of therapy, lots of space/time/separation, time in nature, rehab, seeking spiritual growth, medication, meditation, you name it, we've tried it, all in an effort to pull through and not end up divorced, like our parents, many times over. You might be able to imagine that finding myself pregnant, six weeks into the relationship, didn't contribute to any easy beginning either. But we soldiered on.
Within our first five years together we found a therapist we loved and who we stayed with for many years. Early on, we told her our vision for our relationship included being elderly together, sitting on our front porch in our rocking chairs, holding hands. I can’t type that out, let alone say it, without tearing up. She brought us back to that point, over and over. Every time we went in and had given up, asking her to walk us through separation and divorce, she reminded us we’d said that and had made that agreement and promise to one another. Lots of times it pissed us off. Several times we’d regretted we’d mentioned it. And countless times we were thankful but not until way later, numerous years later. So we limped along, gathering tools for the journey and learning to seek solutions instead of simmering in blame, resentment and anger. Once in a while we had fun and even enjoyed spending time alone together. This became just ever so slightly recurrent as our kids got older. We hung in there. But it was frequently rough and I was often looking for exit strategies.
Fast forward to last Tuesday night. I was flying in from Santa Barbara and Chad was picking me up at Sea-Tac. Jasper was still at his grandpa’s, Gus had moved out, and we were going to have the house to ourselves. I had been gone 9 days, leaving a mere week after spending 5 nights in New Orleans together, alone, celebrating our twenty year anniversary, alone, and I missed him, finally, after all these years. We had such a blast in NOLA; eating, biking, listening, taking it all in, BEING ALONE! We stayed in a straight up Love Shack if you know what I’m sayin! So more than two weeks after NOLA I fly in from Santa Barbara, get my luggage and hop in the truck when he pulls up to the curb, dying to be alone with him again. And this is the part where some of my BIG pieces begin falling into place: unrequested he hands me a small cooler full of ice, and a giant convenience store cup full of ice with a lid and straw. Inside the cooler is a hard apple cider and a kombucha to choose from and also baggies of sliced cheese, salami and rice crackers. I snack and we talk and touch and laugh while catching up. He brings me hOMe to a tidy nest; plants alive on the deck, gardens bulging, bees drifting, animals fed and watered, clean sheets on the bed and all the laundry done. I jump in the shower to cleanse off the travel grime and when I emerge, candle light and incense fill the bedroom. Full circle.
Never have I been so in love with this man. Finally, I look forward to being with him, especially alone. In my more frequent travels of late I’ve gained a new appreciation for all he does to support us, mostly happily and satisfyingly, allowing me to pursue the work I love to do out in the world. On the car ride home from the airport he said, “Look at you. It’s amazing what you are doing. Look where it’s going and where it’s come from. It’s just so cool. You did this. You are doing this!” And that’s when I sob and feel immensely blessed by my good fortune, our hard work, and him, because he did this as much as I did and we are in this together. Without his constant love, support and growth, I would not be Emerging, not like this. I am settling into a deep knowing that when we do our personal soulwork, everything shifts and we do transform. So much has changed over the last couple years, in ways I never imagined possible. Oh, we have set backs, yes we do. But we are winning in this relationship the more cracked open we each become, the more our pieces shift and situate into place just so. I could have endured double the pain in the lessons learned along the way if I’d known it was going to be this good on the other side. More of my pieces are fitting into the whole of me. I am coming more and more home to myself, with my wild roots and sacred wings. I am the full circle.