In 1995 I’d recently moved from Santiago to Antofagasta, Chile, with a half-baked plan to work for RTZ Mining as a geologist’s assistant. But they wouldn’t take on women in this role, so I found myself on the edge of the Atacama Desert, “without a paddle”! Months before I’d had a serious dog bite, which had set off a bizarre chain of events with far-reaching consequences. Bottom line was there was no “going back” in many ways, not least because I didn’t have the money for an airfare back to Europe!
Since then I’ve always told myself that 1995 was the worst year of my life
And it is still the current forerunner, but 2021 has definitely pulled my spirit in a way I’ve not known before. By June this year I felt lost, in many ways, and seemingly unable to figure out my next steps. I’d lost self-belief, hope and optimism. Helping others had sapped my mojo – taking a lot of my time and energy. Plus, I was struggling with almost daily waves of sadness; amongst this was unprocessed grief – both for those who have gone but also for a life that has gone.
To compound all this, past “mistakes” were determined to come back to haunt me; in particular, memories of my hapless time in Chile would not leave me alone and at one stage I could only see my entire life as a series of wrong-turns and f**k-ups! But later in June I had some, seemingly random, fortunate encounters – particularly the people I met by chance and the conversations that took unexpected turns, to reveal “pearls of wisdom”.
These encounters were all with women – and all of them showed me exceptional generosity with their time and natural kindness. Not only did this impress upon me the importance of being generous in spirit, no matter how much we think we’ve lost, but to be more generous with myself! All these women saw me much more generously than I was able to see myself and to begin with I was blinking in disbelief at the confidence they showed in me. By the way, these were not inner-circle friends who had known me for years, which made their generosity seem even more remarkable to me.
But despite this, if you’d asked me even a few months ago if I would join or teach a women’s practice circle, I would have been hesitant and truthfully very nervous at the thought. I went to an all-girls school and my recollections are not all happy, supportive sisterhood. Instead, I remember uber-competitive and sometimes “catty” fellow students – we were swept along by an ethos to “be our best”, which we’d all internalised and were therefore all vying to be the best!
So What’s Changed?
As “fairy-tale” as this might sound, one of the women who gave me time sat in front of me on the zoom screen framed by angel wings. She spoke of listening to my soul whispers and, in the weeks that followed I felt like those angel wings had brushed past my shoulders and gently, ever so gently, turned me in a slightly different direction. But all the women I listened to have made a huge impression on me, restored my faith and truly inspired me to give more too. I feel so indebted to those who helped me that, even if it feels scary, I must encompass more ways to offer support and give back, in turn.
We all know that the world has changed and we have changed so we need to support each other as we explore and navigate new paths. We will need to take time for ourselves and our own development otherwise we will stay stuck, constricted, and fearful. Of course, moving on is scary too but this is where community helps – together we can be stronger.
Step forward Practice Circles; if my story speaks to you or resonates even in some tiny way then I’d be honoured to have you join my Practice Circle. As we go through the autumn and winter I’ll also be inviting some special guests – that’s all I’m saying!