I am sitting under the pergola at the Mable Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. I have sat here once a year for 11 or is it 12 years? I am not good at dates but I am good at gratitude.
I am steeped in gratitude this week for the women gathered here, women wiling to declare, “My stories matter. My voice matters.” Women willing to ask the question, “What do I want?” moment by moment. Women willing to sit with uncertainty, to make friends with their inner critics, to leave children and jobs and prestigious identities for the sake of asking, “Who am I? What do I want? What’s next for me?”
It is not easy this asking, this questing, not easy at all. It is far easier to stay put, to believe the voice that says, “How dare you write that? What would your mother say!” or “That’s not what an academic/mother/spiritual person/surgeon/fill in the blank does” or “Your story doesn’t matter when people are starving to death.” It’s far easier to answer another email, visit your sick aunt, baby sit for your grand kids, wait another week, another year, another ten years.
(I am not suggesting visiting sick aunts isn’t a good thing but only that we often have to make hard choices to claim the time for our souls. There is a reason why Mary Oliver’s poem The Journey is so popular.)
I am grateful these women don’t believe these voices, at least not all the time. They are willing to seek the true permission of their unfettered hearts, to dance and weep, to open a book file that has remained closed for years, to dust off the watercolors, to unlock the family secrets, to let their stories stream through their fingers onto the page.
We walk the cobblestones that Georgie O’Keefe, Willa Cather, D.H. Lawrence, Carl Jung walked. We have each other’s backs. We humbly open to support. We get vulnerable. We cherish messy. And then we reject it, judge ourselves, go for distraction, and wake up to our mantra: begin again.
We eat gluten free blueberry muffins, sip tea, watch thunderclouds, drink the light, move hand across page.
I am bad at dates and good at gratitude. With gratitude, I send this truth to you from Taos: your story matters. You matter. Link your heart with ours. We send courage, chocolate and coyote calls. We send the freshness of beginning again.
We see you. You matter.
P.S. Big shout out to my dear friend Marianne for her yoga and teaching by my side this week. She is a wonder. Please check out her fantastic memoir Zen Under Fire.
And please consider joining Laurie Wagner and I in September for a mini-Taos in the Bay Area. We have four spots left.