You may start to notice that I am an inspiration junkie. Creating opportunities to Crack Open, look inside and grow is like drinking water or eating food. It is a daily ritual that allows me to feel more alive.
So when I heard that I could spend the day in an environment that would break me open to face my fears, and be motivated for change, I said “Bring it on.” Saturday morning I was greeted by this magnificent sunrise as I drove out of Bend. Where was I going? I was heading to camp. And who was my camp leader? World Muse and Amanda Stuermer.
Amanda Stuermer is not only a dear friend but a woman who always felt a deep knowing that she needed to make a difference in this world. Her selfless and inspirational contribution is called World Muse http://theworldmuse.org/?page_id=69.
Muse offers a camp each summer at the Caldera Arts Center just outside of Sisters, Oregon http://www.calderaarts.org/caldera/. This is a three-day women’s retreat devoted to inspiring positive social change.
As I walked into Caldera I was welcomed by a morning “coffee talk” with Jensine Larsen, the founder of World Pulse, http://worldpulse.com/. Their mission is to lift and unite women’s voices to accelerate their impact on the world. It has transformed over 2.2 million lives.
What inspired me most was during the Q and A when a woman spoke up and said, “If any of these women ever need a place tostay I would love to open my home. I don’t know what I can do for the world but I can offer them a good meal and a glass of wine”. As chills ran down my spine I was reminded of the wonderful quote by the Dalai Lama, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” Thank you World Pulse for creating ripples and therefore creating change.
My next Muse was Marriane Elliot, she was speaking about writing as activism. My time with Marriane was incredibly helpful as a writer. She had us do writing prompts for 5-10 minutes, continually reminding us to not let the inner critic invade our creative process. After writing we were encouraged to share one piece with someone in the group.
After looking around I noticed all the women already had partners so I shyly asked Marriane if she would listen to my piece of writing. It was a letter to someone who I was hurt by after the death of my father. After Marriane listened and thanked me for being vulnerable, a teenage girl came up and asked if we would listen to her writing. Her raw words about loss, grief, and suicide are embedded in my brain. From all the writing we did in that hour and a half, I thought that it would be my words I would remember, but it was not, it was the words and images of one broken and beautiful teenage girl.
I met Naseem Rakha as a fellow speaker at the Muse conference lastspring. I was about to go on stage in front of hundreds of people to speak about Truth. She encouraged me to not speak from my note cards but from my heart. Naseem was another one of the Muses at camp whose spirit, strength, and knowledge of the written word transformed my writers DNA. As I was soaking in all this information the inner critic came out screaming, “Who the hell do I think I am, I have to get in an MFA program, I don’t know anything about writing”. But instead of going to that dark place I decided to just breathe and begin to write. Write about witnessing my father dying in the first and third person and as a prose. Writing about love, loss, and longings for a man who will never hold me again. Cracking me Open to heal yet one more way. Thank you writing, thank you Naseem.
It was only 1pm in the afternoon and little did I know what was ahead of me. The last workshop I chose to attend was about the body with Dr. Melody Moore who also started a program called One Love Fits All, http://www.onelovefitsall.org/.
I chose this one because I heard Melody was an expert on eating disorders and this is an issue that comes up time and time again in my office. I have my “stuff” but I have never had an eating disorder, so I am continually looking for more personal and professional information on this subject to help my clients. I thought I was going into this workshop as a student, boy was I wrong. Within the first few minutes…BOOM… my own wounds around my body exploded.
One self exposing exercise consisted of spending staring into another woman’s eyes. It was torture for me, I wanted to crawl out of my skin just staring, I could not fix or listen or do anything, just stare.
Another exercise asked us to step into a circle if we had experienced negative thoughts or images about our body. Stepping in the circle again and again I recognized I am not alone in my internal struggles around my body. What I think was the most powerful was when we had to write on sticky notes all the things we hate about our bodies and then stick them onto another woman.
There were 100’s of heart wrenching things said, I hate my saggy boobs, I hate my fat ankles, my skin hangs all over my body, my thighs are as thick as tree trunks. This was just one workshop in one small retreat in one small part of the world. How many women feel this way about their bodies and WHY??? I had to come face to face how our negative images of our bodies take away from our power, our faucet of inspiration that could truly change the world. I was awakened to the naked truth that even though I sit everyday with women helping them to accept their own bodies, I still need to accept mine.
Isabel Allende said it best, “I can promise you that women working together- linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.”
I thank you World Muse for having the courage and tenacity to create a space for this peace and prosperity to grow. I realized Cracking Open is not always the easiest path. But for me it is a must, it is the road I have chosen. By getting my hands dirty the soil of my soul I am forever changed. Driving home the bright sun was setting into the horizon and I heard these words, “We are never too old to go back to camp.”
*Some photos compliments of the amazing Amanda Conde.