What Will I Do With My One Wild And Precious Life?
Last week I was preparing my home and studio for my first session of Summer Slow Jam. It was a busy day. It was also a deeply emotional day for me. There were no specific anniversaries to mark, no particular event or struggle that brought on several episodes of tears. I simply began remembering all of the beautiful people who have crossed my path since I took that step to leave the academic world and embark on a wild woman path which eventually turned into my Dance on the Wild Side. As I tidied up and dusted and cleaned corners and put away all the guy’s shoes and socks that seem to procreate and multiply overnight, I cried. It wasn’t a sad cry for the most part – just an emotional gratitude and realization of how much gift, inspiration, support and growth I have experienced for myself, and witnessed in others. The witness part – being allowed to walk for awhile alongside another’s powerful journey is the greatest honor and gift of doing this “job.”
People often tell me they want to do what I do. I hear many times over people express the need to leave their toxic work environment and follow their own creative passion. They feel desperate to do something more meaningful with their lives but are caught in the traditional paradigm of society’s version of success and the need for financial stability. They feel trapped by benefits and retirement pensions. I completely understand that desire to step out of the “mad collective stream of life.” (Woody Harrelson) I often hear them express a sense of guilt for longing to leave their “good” jobs and be a freelance artist or facilitator. I hear this so much that I thought of becoming a personal coach and helping people break free of the bonds of traditional work and set forth on expanding their creative desires and dreams. Truth be told, there are already plenty of personal coaches embarked on that path and honestly – I don’t think I would ever feel qualified to nudge another in a change of directions. But what might I tell those of you who think about doing this kind of work?
How do I express my experience to another seeking to be doing the type of work I do…? A visual picture that comes to mind is the ocean and the shore. People come like the waves rolling in – each beautiful and unique, and they come and soak into you, and spill their individual stories, joys and sorrows into my sandy shores and then retreat to become part of the whole body of life. People come and go. Sometimes they stay for awhile and then move on. Sometimes we form lasting bonds, and sometimes we have only one splash of a moment together on this journey to connect. There are those who have crashed onto my jagged edges like waves on the rocky shores, and helped me to soften and find the tender places, and sometimes that journey is a painful lesson. I often miss those women and men who have come and shared and moved on, and I always send a beam of light and love to them wherever they are. I am sometimes the child who wants to catch the waves and hold on. Letting go is not easy for me and discerning who is a friend, and at what level, is also not always easy. My heart sometimes gets bruised in this business and that can be a difficult aspect of this work. I am learning that we are not separate. Just like the waves on the ocean we are all a part of the one vast beauty of existence. Along with all the delight of sharing of my gifts and passions, that never ending coming and going of people in my life has become a spiritual connection. Community is formed and continually shifts. People arrive and then leave and then often return again – always leaving their special gift of self, like a seashell on the shore. There is always an ebb and flow.
In this business there is no salary guarantee and no promise of a pension to compensate for the rough moments, and one must be prepared to allow for expansion and contraction of universal energies that affect all of us. I must always be open to moving forward with no easily visible hewed out path to follow. I must learn to listen carefully to the shifting energy of the seasons, the moon and planet alignments, my intuition and the spirit guides – who are now my “boss.” Unlike many traditional jobs, this one has no secure boundaries or schedule. I might passionately put out an exciting class offering which fills up in a day, or it might completely flop. A community event may have 2 participants one week and 30 the next. There are seasons of high interest and times of pulling in. No guarantees.
Late in the afternoon of my emotional day of preparation, my friend Gretchen arrived at my door. She wasn’t able to come to this evening session, but instead she presented me with a bouquet of gorgeous flowers from her gardens, she also brought a gift from our cherished friend in N Carolina, a woman, a mother of a murdered child, a gifted artist, who had attended just one Women’s Empowerment Retreat but left an unforgettable etching in my soul. I opened the box to see a sculpture that she wanted to share with me, of a flower with a candle holder center. She also sent several of her gorgeous pieces of art work that came from her own work with her Goddess project, each with deep significant stories behind them. The spirit and loving energy of these two friends encompassed my evening, lingering like a balm, with seven more women who came to Slow Jam. The sense of love, connection and peace just permeated the space like a bright candle. These are the “benefits” of my work!
Who comes to my events? Who has come to the shores… a shattered mother mourning her murdered child, showing us her struggle and valiant triumph in accepting her grief through her art, love and strength, a woman in great duress, praying for the safety of her daughter and her fellow troops in the armed services in Afghanistan, women proud and strong, crones and college students, women betrayed, women confused and depressed, women celebrating life transitions, women finding their strength and passion and demonstrating that it is possible to come forward out of darkness; women in love and women out of love, women empty and searching, women brimming with life and willing to share their positive energy; women inspiring us with their stories, spirituality, intelligence and strengths – giving all of us the courage and inspiration to keep moving forward. And yes, there are men who have a strong balance of both masculine and feminine energy to show us what is possible when we are balanced in love. Always we celebrate exactly who we are and where we are on the journey, and practice non-judgment and self love. We learn so much from our collective wisdom. Always we learn to welcome our shadow side, allowing it to teach us and transform our life. We learn that we are so much more than our story. We come together in a safe sacred space where we can un-mask and be real. At our ending meditations we have had women curl up together and weep. We have had women laugh so hard they roll around choking happy tears, and we have had quiet restful space carved out for us – our special time. This is a “coming home” community. These are my people!
I stand in the swirling energy of the waves and feel all the emotions of being receptive. I learn to ground myself. I call in spirit of tree and trust sinking my roots deep. I call in Spirit Guides and open wide my soul to the light for nourishment. When I embrace the dark it is often a time of re-entering the womb, a secret time when tender new life emerges. It is a gift to be able to use my creativity, energy and wisdom and step forward to offer them to the community. It is a gift to find the courage to step off that cliff of security and find wings to fly. I have learned that I cannot open my wings and sail off that cliff and demand that I land with precision in any particular spot. Learning to jump involves letting go of outcome attachments. I haven’t learned to market myself to a point of great financial gain – really, nor do I think I want to anymore. This path requires a great shift in paradigm from safety and security to a different kind of prosperity. I know there are personal coaches out there who will allow you to pay them to convince you otherwise – and I’m sure it is possible to reach that place of financial success. I think it’s safe to say that I’m never gonna be Oprah! Lord, I can’t even get on Oprah! What I can do is practice being grateful for every precious moment in the present, and for every fragile and vulnerable soul who has crossed my path and invited me into their sacred story. That’s rich!
The biggest lesson I have learned so far? Happiness comes from within. No job, or career, house, children or spouse can make me happy. I can have it all and still be miserable if I haven’t learned to go deep within and realize my own profound beauty. We must cultivate the state of happiness and peace daily, moment by moment in all our choices and attitudes. I would tell anyone who wants to do what I do to first – know and trust your passion, second – learn to exchange your idea of security for receptive expansion, and third – put your authentic intention out to the universe. Envision a happy heart, and dream success and joy, and… if you figure out how to do all that and make money… please come see me!!
I am sure this could become a conversation that could take many different avenues and perspectives… from specific details to lofty spiritual and philosophical ideals. I have barely touched on many of my heart held thoughts and dreams. If any of you have read this far… and would like to be part of an ongoing discussion, please contact me or respond to this newsletter. I am so open to a dialogue!
“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Many thanks to my dear Mary Oliver for inspiring the title to this newsletter!
Aho ~ Emmy Your Wild Woman