I’ve been back home from my coast to coast travels for a week (although there was an overnight trip to Kansas City thrown in there a few days ago to see Ray LaMontagne and Brandi Carlile), and I’m just now beginning to feel a bit more settled. As I wrote last week, this re-entry has been rocky. The rockiness stems in part from the widely diverse portions of my trip and the unfortunate timing of them, as well as from some difficulties I found myself immersed in and having to manage immediately (and ever since) upon my return. I’ve learned the hard way that a creative retreat scheduled back-to-back with an intense training institute for work does not a good combo make. Although I ultimately had no control over the scheduling of these two very important experiences, I wish I could have done it differently. Flying directly to research training in New York City following the Tribe retreat in Oregon couldn’t have been worse timing. Suffice it to say that being launched into discussions and presentations on heady emancipatory research methods and philosophies did not allow for the time and space I desperately needed to savor, reflect, percolate, reminisce, re-live, journal, sing, smile, and cry about my experiences with the Tribe in Manzanita. I tried to get up early each day while in NYC to write “morning pages,” to journal, to capture my memories, thoughts, and feelings about this inaugural Tribe retreat…but it simply wasn’t enough. However, I am grateful that I carved out these little bits of time as it allowed me to at least hold on to some fragments of my experience with eight other amazing women in a small coastal town in Oregon…
There are 11 of us in the Tribe. Two of us couldn’t make the trip. It broke all of our hearts. The rest of us 9 came as almost-strangers. I knew the most members having had the luxury of meeting 3 women previously. Some of us knew one other person in the group, whereas most knew no one with the exception of their online personas via blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Yet we each took a leap of faith…a chance to find community and support for our creative journeys. An opportunity to perhaps discover mirrors for our lives. We each said “yes” to a calling, a yearning, a longing. We each trusted the Universe to do its thing. And we each did our part.
I can’t possibly recount all the details of our 3.5 days together. But I can tell you that when a group of women come together with open hearts and courageous souls, MAGIC happens. I can tell you that there was poetry and songs and dancing. I can tell you that there was creativity with words, paint, glitter, ephemera, tesserae, and film. I can share with you that there was an abundance of love, kindness, joy, trust, compassion, patience, faith, sharing, play, and wholeheartedness. I can also tell you that there was doubt, heartache, fear, uncertainty, sadness, and not-knowing. And there was room for it all.
I can tell you that I’m savoring the shared experiences of our histories as well as our disparate paths. I can share that I’m holding close the expectations of thinking and planning grand and then the shift toward beginning small, starting close in. I can tell you about the bravery of being re-pictured and the strength to roar. I can tell you that it takes courage and struggle to know oneself, truly know oneself. I can share with you the constancy of the ocean and the stars, and the surprise of the sun. I can tell you about the small and not-so-small kindnesses. I can tell you about the collective conversations, and the more private ones, too. I can share with you that there is power in a tiara. I can tell you about the “yes, those earrings/dress/pants/t-shirt/ring/scarf is perfect for you.” I can share with you the ways in which 9 voices formed a beautiful collage. I can tell you all of these things. And yet…none of it scratches the surface of all that transpired, all that we shared, all that I felt.
As I have been reflecting on this gift of a retreat, I’ve also been diving (again) into The Artist’s Way. Much of what Julia Cameron writes regarding sacred circles for the Artist’s Way is exactly what I was looking for in putting together the Tribe and dreaming this retreat into reality. Cameron writes, “as artists, we must find those who believe in us, and in whom we believe, and band together for support, encouragement, and protection.” She goes on to say, “Like neighboring constellations, we can serve each other both as guides and as company. In walking your artist’s way, my deepest wish for you is the company of fellow lights and the generosity to light each other’s ways as we each pass temporarily into darkness.” YES! This is what I was craving and needing (and still need!) when I began to put this seed of an idea out there. I am grateful to the 10 “yeses” I got in return. I also want to encourage any of you reading who don’t have this support to create your own group, your own Lovebombers, your own Tribe. The Universe will rise up and meet you. It will do its thing!
Thank you to Sophia, Darlene, Celina, Elizabeth, Sarah, Melissa, Rebecca, Emily, Stef, and Lindsey ~ for saying “yes,” for being my neighboring constellations, and for allowing me to light some of your way. And thank you, Universe, for doing your thing ~ as always.