This weekend, I was at the Falls Church, Virginia, home of my friend Mitch, who hosts all types of relationship-enhancing events that bring together folks from all over the world. I drove down to celebrate Thanksgiving with those I consider my tribe/family of choice. Someone asked how I became part of the community. I smiled as I shared that it was as a result of what I call ‘The Hansel and Gretel Breadcrumb Trail,’ by which I met someone who introduced me to someone else; kind of like the Herbal Essences shampoo commercial from the 1980s: “She told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.”
In 2004, I attended a workshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania. There I met Greg at a pivotal point in my life for so many reasons. He introduced me to a friend named Kim who lives in Houston. She flew eastward to teach a women’s retreat in New Jersey. One of the attendees Amy lived in Columbia, Maryland at the time. She and I bonded and she invited me to come to her neck of the woods to offer a workshop. As a result, the door was opened to a larger group of people. One of them was the man who opened his doors to far-flung friends to gather ’round the fireplace for his Friendsgiving event. What that entailed was a collective potluck meal, music, drumming, dancing, a whole lot of hugging and puppy pile style cuddling with a rainbow array of people. Think Woodstock without the mud and Burning Man sans desert dust, and absent mood enhancement via substances. Getting high on love was sufficient on that evening.
Earlier in the day, I facilitated a Cuddle Party workshop that focuses on communication, boundary setting and safe, nurturing, non-sexual touch for adults who are dressed in pj’s, sweats, or yoga clothes. Following was another workshop called Intimacy & Compassion: Tools for Creating a New Culture. The teacher was Indigo who is immersed in the New Culture movement. Their mission:
“To organize and conduct educational gatherings, meetings, workshops, classes and other similar events that help members of the public learn how to work peacefully for social change that creates a more just, humane, compassionate and ethical world, and how to live together in peace and harmony with diverse populations of people.
To organize and conduct educational gatherings, meetings, workshops, classes and other similar events that help people learn how to use communication tools that will facilitate greater cooperation and understanding between people with diverse backgrounds and needs, and that will help people learn how to live with others in intentional communities based on respect for the self and others.
To organize and conduct educational gatherings, meetings, workshops, classes and other similar events that help people learn about living lifestyles that are socially, spiritually and psychologically harmonious, and environmentally sustainable.”
True to the statement, the workshop Indigo offered was filled with interactive exercises that opened minds and hearts. My two favorites were a curiosity process and Allies. The first had us sitting with someone we wanted to get to know better. My friend Donna and I chose each other. She and I met a few years back via Mitch. Like me, she is a FREE Hugs sharer, cuddler, and teacher. We thought we knew each other well, but via this process of deep questioning, we came away with more of a sense of who we each are. Beyond surface musing, this professional interviewer learned new ways of inquiring.
The second exercise was reminiscent of this video out of Denmark called All That We Share. We stood in a circle and at our leisure, one person would move into the center and make a statement. Those who could relate to it would join that person. The proximity to the one in the middle was reflective of the degree of agreement. Even those who could not say they had the same experiences could be allies simply by witnessing. For some, the statements were pretty simple, like “When I got dressed, I wondered if this outfit made me look fat,” to deeper comments about relationships and life events. Mine was something that felt like a mini risk. As well adjusted as I seem (and many in this community see me as an uber-confident leader), many are the times I feel insecure and uncertain, fearing that I will never be enough or do enough. I was definitely not standing by myself in the circle when I uttered that statement.
I am never alone. We are all-one.
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