To better explain the experience, I must first introduce you to Elyse. I know her by way of mutual friends; our paths have crossed a handful of times, but ever since I started listening to her new podcast project, I knew she would be someone I would really enjoy. She has the kind of personality that draws people in – warm, confident, intentional, wise, assertive. She has a crazy story herself, one that could lead you towards darkness and despondence, but she exudes light. And consequently has the easiest, and best laugh I’ve ever heard. She’s a trained therapist, so you expect some of that, but to experience her is different. An extensive education doesn’t compare to someones’ natural strengths. Like I said, I knew I liked her before I attended her retreat last weekend, but what she is building – creating a space for people to feel vulnerable and seen and to be moved out of their own way – is remarkable.
It was essentially two days, with a group of five other women, while Elyse led us through her curriculum of, as she puts it, “looking at a practical evaluation of your history, and the current repercussions of your experiences and core beliefs.” We wrote a letter to our younger selves, broke down a timeline of our own lives, shared stories with each other that near broke us – stories of loss and abuse and silence and shame – each woman had something to share from such different perspectives and circumstance. I left feeling like I had untangled a few things that were leaving callouses on my heart. I left feeling motivated about how to practically move towards what I need – both professionally and personally. One of the exercises had a line that stuck with me: “you are already the woman you want to be.” I needed a push out of my head, out of some old stories and self doubt to believe that. Go for it! Do it! Have the conversation. Engage in the conflict instead of always keeping peace. Start the business.
On the heels of the terrible loss of Anthony Bourdain, I feel responsible to point you towards soul food just as much as I do literal food. This past weekend was that for me. In my experience, pulling things out of your head, into the light and looking at them with another perspective, goes a long way towards putting them back under your control rather than the other way around. The internet sells us things all day long; promising things to fix our insecurities. There is quieter messaging about seeking connection; reaching out a hand when you can’t dig yourself out. So I’ll say this for whomever may need to hear it – invest in the friendships, invite people over, ask for what you need, seek knowledge, spend the money on a therapist, do the thing, ditch the life sucking boyfriend, take the risk, get down and play.
It’s actually pretty difficult to put it all to words honestly, it was so personal and needed. I’m still riding my high of bringing some power back to me, and I want to give some of that to you. You are enough. You are capable. You are smart and beautiful and worthy.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”