“When we care, we feel the bite of both success and failure deep in our bones.” Sam M. Intrator & Megan Scribner
This past weekend was a wild one. My birthday was on Friday and I must say it was an absolutely glorious day. The weather was perfectly stunning and everything fell into place with little surprises along the way.
Saturday was the “dress rehearsal” for my newly created workshop/day retreat. As you may know, I have been so excited I could hardly stand it and have been creating with wild abandon and praying for the women who would participate, as well as myself. Little did I know how participatory I would be.
No matter how many times I do facilitation, I always seem to forget how impacted I will personally be. I mean, I KNOW I will be impacted and still, some little part of me puts it out of my mind. I think it's a safety valve of my own internal making since the impact of which I speak often comes in the form of shadow work - those little things that hide in the shadows – both the sides of us we wish would come to the surface more often and also those pesky ones we would like to keep their opinions to themselves. This time, the painful shadows reared their ugly heads telling me: "I am not good enough – never good enough," etc. etc.
It has taken me almost 48 hours to come to the conclusion that the “dress rehearsal” was a huge success. It went just as it should with areas of perfection, wonder and grace coupled with clunky spots that are rough around the edges and need fine-tuning. When things were clicking, I could totally feel it, and when the timing was off or the participants seemed less engaged, I was aware of that too. The evaluations were quite reflective of my own experience, so I have to wonder why I felt so naked and exposed when everything wasn’t absolutely “perfect.” I went in saying to myself, “It will not be helpful if they don’t offer good feedback.” I wanted honest and realistic input. I want to grow. I want to improve. That’s why I offered a “rehearsal” in the first place….AND that’s where the beginning quote hit me hard with realization when I read it last night.
It was NOT just a rehearsal to me. The women were real and their experience mattered to me as much as I hope it mattered to them. I CARE about what I do and in large part what I DO is who I AM. Not in the “I am defined by my work” kind of way, but in the way that says, “my work is my PASSION and my passion is ME.” So, I feel both perceived success and failure deeply.
It all rolls around in there together and gets a little messy, so yesterday I let myself feel what I needed to feel. I couldn’t muster up the words to say what I knew others wanted to hear (i.e. "It was great!!") I did a lot of writing to process and as I was sorting through my supplies, images began to stand out to me to create my own collage. The end result speaks to me of intertwined shadow and light, the balance of caring for myself while caring for others, the nakedness of putting myself out there and a few dozen other things ☺. (I would have posted it here, but my scanner decided to go on strike.)
Over time, I soaked up the places of the workshop that need refinement. I slept. I read. I pouted. And today, I woke up and re-read the evaluations which expressed, in addition to the places for improvement, many thank yous and comments like this:
The experience was
“enjoyable and special to be with friends and explore who I am in a creative way.”
“I had SO much fun with me today ☺ ☺ ☺”
“What a gift to the world of yourself!”
And so I smile and consider the process that has run its course in the last 48 hours: exhaustion and excitement, pouting and playfulness, rejoicing and refinement, creativity and criticism. I have paid attention to my own emotions, and realize I am probably right where I need to be. I was an active participant in my own workshop. ☺
It was definitely a learning experience filled with beautiful moments, smiling faces, soaring hearts and places of imperfection. Oh, and IT WAS GREAT!!