“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
— Maya Angelou
It was super challenging whilst I was preparing to launch the Radical Wise Wild Women Circle.
It was the first time that I was running this kind of group programme online.
The process was epic, full of ups and downs, twists and bends! Sometimes it felt as if I was pushing a rock uphill. I learnt many invaluable lessons. So, I want to share some insights with you, hoping that it may help you, especially if you wish to offer your gifts to the world.
I often felt profoundly exhausted and experienced waves of grief, fear and frustration.
When I was already enrolling on the programme, some women suddenly could not join it. Others did not show up for calls, and a few changed their minds without having the courtesy to communicate.
I know life happens, and these are chaotic times for most of us. And yet I found myself dancing more than ever with uncertainty and the unknown. In those moments, self-doubt and fear would knock at my door: ‘Will anyone be interested in this work? Will that demonstrate I am a failure or a fraud? What if I won’t manage after all this effort?’
From these circumstances, I also learnt that I will need to have more clear boundaries around my time in the future. I’ll ensure that only genuinely interested and committed people book the calls and apply for the programme. And I will ask people to respect my time and effort and be polite.
Moreover, I had to watch out for the trap of scarcity and feel that there would not be enough for me.
In relationship to all the above, I also had to trust the dance of letting go. I had to let go of the people who did not show up, counting this was not the right time for them and for me to be alongside them. It may happen in the future, it may not, and all is well.
I knew the most important thing I had to practice in my bones, muscles and soul was trust. Trust in myself, my creativity, heart, and the goodness of my work. Trust that the right women for this circle will be with us. Trust that it is already written in the stars, and I planted many good seeds. However, sometimes it’s easier to do that when things are flowing!
I am a small business owner and solopreneur. I am not famous. Suddenly I am out there, and so it is my work. It felt vulnerable. The online world is crowded and full of noise. The coaching and self-industry are saturated with a lot of ungrounded promises.
During the launch of the Radical Wise Wild Women programme, I also felt the challenge of becoming more visible. The challenge of embracing more growth and expansion. The risk of occupying more space or exposing myself to criticism (it is impossible to please everyone or be liked by everyone!) If you, like me, had a childhood where you had to shrink or lose your voice to be safe, taking your space can be incredibly challenging. It can trigger some memories of unsafety in your body and nervous system.
Some inner parts could be working really hard to protect and keep us safe!
We, as humans and mammals, are always looking and ‘scanning’ for safety, belonging, love and dignity.
And historically, for many women has not been safe to fully own their medicine.
I felt many times the temptation to contract. To hide.
To become smaller. To run away.
To give up and postpone it all.
Those are old habits and patterns.
They live in the muscle memory. It is easier to contract and be fearful when things are uncertain. Sometimes it is easier to back to familiar things when one is on the verge of something new. The unknown can be scary.
I was navigating many obstacles, and my boat was rocking. Still, I intuitively knew I was close to some kind of breakthrough.
I had to dance with my inner gremlins.
So I kept asking myself: how do I continue to show up for myself and my work with total trust, openness, curiosity, joy and surrender? Sometimes it is easier said than done! This was the next level of challenge: I had to embody that! And I had to train the muscle of self-love, courage, faith and validation. I wanted to practice expansion and trust even in front of challenges. And yet I knew this was another test.
Sometimes I danced in my garden and opened my body to feel that open stance and solidity in my muscles, legs and feet. Sometimes it felt like a declaration I was making to the Universe. I introduced myself and my work to the mountains: ‘Here I am. I offer my labour to the thriving of all life.’
I also knew I had to surrender my work and offerings to greater intelligence. I had to rest and be at peace, knowing I did all I could to show up for my work and my people.
A dear friend and Movement Medicine mentor once asked me:
‘How can you entirely and unapologetically be at your own back? What would it take to have all of you behind you?’
What a brilliant question! I have been thinking about it ever since.
I had to integrate and love many rejected parts, from shame to insecurities and self-doubt. To be entirely at my own back did not happen so quickly. Perhaps, also because of the trauma held in my body and nervous system. I will write more about that on another occasion and how PTSD affects work, concentration, self-esteem and the capacity to access more of one’s life energy etc.
A few things helped me.
I gave myself permission to feel the wobbliness and to shed tears. It was ok to be messy.
I often ranted and shared my fears and frustration with dear friends, peers and my biz coach.
I let go of the need to be perfect, the perfect mentor or coach and whenever I did it, I felt more grounded and solid.
During this process, I realised I had to let go of categorising things as either or. I included the hurt child, powerful warrior, skilful coach and vulnerable woman. In other words, I wanted to embrace all of myself and dance with all polarities, paradoxes and inner parts.
I am this and this and that. I can be powerful and messy.
It is not either or. I am not defined by either.
I built my work with sweat, love, and laughter and by going through many adversities. It is rooted in my passion for movement, dance, ceremony, human potential and transformation. Behind me and alongside me, there are good teachers, peers, mentors and friends. I could not have created my online programme without their love and support.
During the group programme launch, I reached out to peers and friends and asked for as much support as possible. With encouragement, warmth and kindness, many shared about the Radical Wise Wild Woman. I am genuinely grateful for that. This became a new level of reaching out for support. I sensed that as I was preparing to give to the best of my abilities to the women of my group, I was also giving myself permission to receive.
Meanwhile, in the last few weeks, I kept reminding myself of the many years of struggle, trials, adversities, training, learning and life experience. I remembered the victories, the celebrations, and the errors. I honoured the pain I felt in the past when I perceived that my work was not received more fully or that what I was offering was not landing.
I knew all of the struggles above were not in vain. As a friend told me the other day, all of that forged me. It was medicine.
And I am finally sitting more comfortably in my backbone.
While I was in this intense process of enrolling for the group programme, a few other things helped when I felt overwhelmed.
For example, one day, I was feeling drained and tired. I needed to relieve some stress in my system and relax my diaphragm, so I watched a comedy and had a good full-belly laugh! I knew I had to let go of the habit of pushing and allow myself to rest and be. The world would not fall apart.
Another evening, I went to the gym and worked with weights. I wanted to feel the stamina in my body and my muscles. As I grow older, it is essential to become stronger, so my body can be more solid when navigating a turbulent time.
One afternoon, I needed to disengage from the screen. I returned home from town and enjoyed the long walk and stunning sunset. It was soothing for the eyes to receive the beautiful light on the mountains that became purple and pink.
I also started to nourish my body with lots of warm soups and healing herbs. This was a good time to give some rest to my digestive system and have a gentle detox. I wanted to be more mindful about what I was eating and putting in my mouth!
I felt a lot of gratitude for the beautiful garden in my new home.
Often I sat by an ancient olive tree and leaned my back towards its trunk. I rested there and felt the support behind my back. This is one thing I repeatedly ask my clients:
‘Can you open up your back, even if for a 1% per cent more, so you can receive and feel in your muscles that support behind you? Can you feel the point of contact between the surface and your body? Can you allow your body to absorb it?’
I practised that over and over.
I also knew that I was in my head when I got anxious! That is not a good place to be. I kept writing, creating, and moving. I wanted to get out of my head and land in my body as much as possible. I also loved interviewing many remarkable women for the Midlife Soul Sisters Go Live Series. It has been an excellent opportunity to give back to the community and uplift other women, knowing that giving and receiving dance together.
The preparation and the whole process was an authentic spiritual practice and initiation. I would have never imagined so!
Eventually, I made it to the other side. Creating my group programme is one of the things I am the proudest of.
A small group of brave women is formed. They are change-makers and soul-seekers who want to write a more beautiful story about midlife.
There is something unique, specific, potent and magical about the group container and its intention and energy. Sometimes we need to travel alongside others. To lift each other up, witness each other and nurture connections.
I felt profoundly grateful, humbled, and honoured that these women decided to trust me.
We’ll gather with courage and fire in our bellies to love each piece of our flesh, wrinkles, white hair, cellulite, perfect imperfections and sagging skin. We’ll carry the torch of the Radical Wise Wild Woman and gather to nourish this force for good – for ourselves and all life.
We’ll plant and tend the seeds for personal and collective transformation, belonging and kinship with all life.
We’ll celebrate our quirkiness, unique creative spirit, all our parts and the alchemical and initiatory fire of midlife.
Thank you for being here and taking the time to read this letter today! I hope it brought you some inspiration. I am curious to hear where you are in the process of honouring yourself and your gifts! Feel free to hit reply and let me know how this lands for you!
And thank you to those of you who have been engaging with my content and appreciated my work; it truly means a lot to me.