Strength, Courage, and Wisdom (Red Tent West Michigan after One Year)

March 22, 2016


Yes I know that is the title of an India Arie song, and as I began writing this it popped up in my playlist.  It is also very relevant to what I am writing about today.


Organizing, working, and running a women’s circle is no joke.  It also isn’t what I expected.


It’s so much more.


It’s like birthing and raising a child.  One that you planned for, and worked hard to conceive, but you find that nothing could have ever fully prepared you for.  You go through the pregnancy full of excitement, with a dash of expectation and you wonder if you are really ready for this.  You do research, and read other women’s blogs and follow their statuses hoping that you can do it half as well as they are.  You read books, which often times are conflicting and you question which direction is going to be best.  And if you are lucky you have well intentioned Mothers and Aunties who give you all kinds of advice. (Not so much in my case, but it happens).


Here’s the thing ladies.  There is no such thing as perfect, and everything in life has it’s learning curves. No matter how well intentioned, a lot of those blogs, websites, and statuses are created to sell it to you.  They don’t talk about the work, the research, sleepless nights, disappointments, or those moments when you are curled in the bottom of your shower balling your eyes out wishing you had chosen differently.  Because it consumes you, it changes you if you let it.  Following your passion is like this, but if you base your understanding on the endless pictures of women smiling together, holding one another, then you don’t know that they struggled too.


You see the point of building women’s community isn’t to sell a product or a service it’s to be real, and really vulnerable.  It’s about being willing to break your heart, or having your heart broken because you love that much.  Because you are so driven and consumed with the fire of women’s suffering in this world that you don’t know the meaning of backing down or giving up.  The thought of giving up is more painful than the constant rejection or the misunderstandings.  It’s more painful than feeling alone when you can’t find a mentor who has not only been there, but is also willing to be raw with you so that you know you’re ok, and that it sometimes goes like this.


Your women’s circle is going to grow, and change.  It will ebb and flow, and change focus.  Women will come and go.  Some will be invested fully from the beginning, and others will flit in and out.  And it’s all ok, it’s all good.  The point is that you are offering them that space, and that opportunity.  If you give up, if you quit, then you are no longer giving them the choice.  And if you are attached to the numbers, then you have lost focus.  Remember that one.  That one was a hard lesson.  Just like our expectations for our children, our expectations for our groups will break our hearts if we let it.  We must be willing to let go, and know that all things are perfect in their own time, in their way.  I thought I knew what a “successful” group looks like.  LOL!  What I knew was what a successful group LOOKS like.  Once again, I was being sold a product and I fell for it.  Unlike the children and babies in magazines, my children were messy.  Are messy..  They cry, throw temper tantrums, and are strong willed.


Like their Mother.




I had to break, had to surrender to get to the point of finding the ember of truth in the lesson.  Our group is amazing exactly as it is, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  You know why it ebbs and flows?  Because I understand that a woman’s needs and desires ebb and flow, and I make space for that.  We have women who come and go at their leisure, and that is awesome that they feel so loved and completely accepted that they can do that with no apologies.  How empowering is that!?  They know that here, they have no expectations put on them.  When they put too much on their shoulders, when everyone else in the world expects them to be an number of things, when they themselves do the coulda woulda shoulda, they know that they will not find that here.  And that realization was a game changer.


I came to this realization this morning, and I laughed.  I have achieved exactly what I set out to do.  Just like my children who call me out on my bullshit because I taught them to think for themselves, and to question me; this group has become the haven of unconditional love that I set out to create.  And then I cried.  Out of relief, out of the hilarity of the reality, and out of grief for the child inside of me who was feeling disappointed because she was so blinded by the glitter that she couldn’t see the gold.


The truth is, that I am awesome, our group is astounding, and the next year already holds so much beauty that it’s unfathomable.   I will continue to be a safe haven of unconditional love.  I will continue to be raw, and real, and vulnerable for all of you; because we all are real women, and we deserve to know that it’s ok to be disappointed, it’s ok to hurt, but most importantly it’s ok that you don’t match what you see in the media.  No matter where that media is coming from.  It’s good to have goals, to keep striving for growth.  Just always remember that you are perfect, exactly who you are, where you are.  I love you, and I will continue to dream in Red.




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