We never know, ya know?
We just can’t.
One day we feel like we are just moving slowly and steadily through life…. Things are going well, or well enough and the next day the winds pick up unexpectedly and all of a sudden, we are absolutely taken by storm. There’s a “rupture” that takes place and takes us down — leaving us believing that our lives are being uprooted, at best or at worst, fully destroyed. One way or another we are being asked to simultaneously DIG DEEP and LET go… and this process is both transformative and completely heartbreaking…. Or at least it was for me.
This is my story — or a part of it — and although I know I am exactly where I need to be, and where I have been called… I also want you to know it still stings.
I was living a good life…. A relatively quiet life…. And one day — through a series of events — I felt like I was literally “plucked” out of my life by the scruff of my neck, whipped around for a year or so… and then literally DROPPED in a village in Mexico… at 11 pm at night…. Picked up by a stranger in a not-so-safe area of Mexico… I found myself, in the dark, standing on a street, knocking on the door of the house a woman I had never met, speaking a language I didn’t speak.
There I was. It was gut wrenching. It was destabilizing. It was reorganizing. It was necessary. And it was right.
Life is like that sometimes…. And we can’t make sense of it at the time… I beat myself up for “leaving”… I wept on mountaintops, in my bed at night alone in a foreign country, and at the edge of the ocean. For many, many moons… I wandered and wept and prayed.
That was seven years ago — more or less… and now I am sitting at the kitchen table, listening to the work of some 20 men constructing the “next evolution” of something I can’t yet truly know. I moved to this house and retreat center, with the faltering support of a Mexican partner, and the arms and the “fuerza” (strength) of six amazing women, brought to me… and to this dream, from the stars :: Mira, Margi, MaryLynn, Suzanne, Andrea and one other great woman…. they, along with me… formed, a bond called the Seven Sisters. I couldn’t have done it alone, and still truly, could not. The vision of what we do together… what the Seven Sisters does collectively, remains strong…. Amidst its shifting and changing expressions.
What we have built and continue to build — as evidenced by the laughter of the Mexican workers, saws and pounding stones — is called La Sagrada. This is a healing space… for ALL of us. A place where women come together to reconnect to their very own, deep wisdom. This is a place to recalibrate one’s dreams and visions, and to go deep. I’ve come to learn, after owning and operating multiple retreat spaces, as well as facilitating more than a hundred retreats over the nearly 30 years I have been teaching yoga, training yoga teachers and coaching women… that women need more than a “feel good” tropical retreat. They are longing for depth and LASTING transformation. Although hugs and booty shaking sessions are fun and all, they need to know what it feels like to be stripped down to their bones and stones, as margi says… and KNOW that they are still ok. They need to know that their tears are welcome, their traumas valid, and their hearts honored.
This place is an extension of the Seven Sisters… of which I am but one… and this place is an extension of ME…. My heart-opening journey lives in these walls… and my evolution, transformation and liberation … lives here as well. I am not your guru, but instead, I am your evidence that tears wash away grief, and broken hearts heal. We, the Seven Sisters, and La Sagrada are evidence that life is going to knock you on your ass and bust your knees open to the bone, from time to time… hard times are not chosen for the wicked, and none of us are strangers to grief, loss, and deep, lasting scars and cosmic transformation. And that no darkness, can keep you in the dark. Yesterday I walked through the construction site, smiling, holding my head high and my heart wide open…. I said, yes a LOT and I said, no… even more. I said, you are doing great work, and I said, this needs to be done a little differently… and I explained and showed them what I meant. They are not accustomed to the voice of a woman telling them how to do their work, and they are not accustomed, to such love. I honored their calloused hands and well-worn bodies and I reminded them that life is sacred… and that what we are building is not just “ladrillos y cemento” (bricks and cement), but we are building dreams for the future, and healing for the masses, stronger families and I promise that what they are doing will help us all grow a world overflowing with very good women. I looked at each and every man with deep love :: as if I was their mother, their daughter, their sister.
I did not hold back my love, my knowledge. I did not hold back my power, my voice, nor my desire for excellence. I did not demand respect. I joined them in a desire to work hard and build something very beautiful.
Circle back to that cold, wet day in the coastal foothills of Oregon some seven years ago… I remember walking to the barn mid-morning to feed the goats. The crisp winter air burned my nostrils. The mud was thick, the sky low, as I carried my heavy body through the tall grass. The weight of something I did not yet understand consumed me. I had been vacillating between waves of grief, anxiety attacks and some sort of soul paralysis. Ten paces from the barn door, my breath caught in my lungs. I could go no further. Huge tears blurred my sight. I uncontrollably raised my chin to the sky and gasped, exhaling a wail reminiscent of a mother who had lost a child. We were miles from other houses, so I collapsed, and I let go. I grieved. Deep and loud. My knees gave way and even my mouth began to weep, as saliva and tears streamed and pooled on the earth. I tore my gloves from my hands, scratching at the ground, feeling the earth swell beneath my fingernails…. I was grasping — trying to hold on to everything…. my vacant marriage, my dreams, this land, this life. with all my might, …I clung to what I wanted… but it was no use. I was merely a wave in a tsunami of change and all of my efforts were futile. The only thing I could do was let go.
And I DID let go…. And if you listened to me last week, you know I am a self-proclaimed expert in leaving claw marks on everything I have ever let go of.
But I am HERE now. Stronger than I could have dreamed. More trusting than I could have imagined. Readier than the readiest. Generous. Loving. Willing. Stronger than ever, and learning, still, how to forgive and to be soft when the world is just plain, hard. I know I am a good, a very good woman. l have come to love equally — my laughter and my tears… I love how I dance in the kitchen, talk to the animals, and how much I long to love and serve through relationship. I am passionate, purposeful, and alive. I am not afraid of myself. I am not afraid of my power. I am not afraid to be invisible, nameless, nor am I afraid to be a goddess, a witch, a leader, a woman carrying sweet medicine behind her eyes and on the breath that carries her voice.
This is what my pain has taught me.
We each must walk alone for a while… In our own, unique ways… we must each curl up and wail to the moon — for all this is part of growing whole.
But we are only alone for a short while, dear One… and then our sisters come to us and hold up their mirrors. Our sisters come, intent on holding us and loving us back into our wholeness…. These women come from the keys that we swallowed and from the stars… and they are here, now, to be loved, seen and to be helped and be held and we are all here to remind each other that wherever you have walked — this is YOUR unique journey, and it is good and right. Your road is your own… and it has been paved with stone, and blood, and broken and woven dreams, specifically for you to arrive exactly where you are — right here, right now, and if you need to hear this today :: where you are, who you are, and how you are right here, right now… Is RIGHT sister. You are RIGHT where you belong.
Keep going. I love you. And I KNOW you’ve got this… How do I know? I know, because I AM YOU. I am merely another sweet version of YOU.