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INVITATION to Authentic Connection

Group discussion on couches

I have just returned from a weekend away. A weekend retreat for inspiration and connection. I’ve been offering these types of mini-retreats for four years, three trips of which have included an over-night stay at Fox Haven Farm, a local destination in Jefferson, MD. I started offering the retreats, much like the Yoga classes and the Women’s Circle and everything else I offer to the world, because I wanted a safe space to be… I wanted a community that intentionally gathers for authentic connection, encourages intentional self-care, and supports purposeful transformation. I wanted a place for authentic connection and community. So, I built it. Welcome to Life’sWork Yoga and Namaste Studios.

If you are interested in these things, too, then I invite you to join us for our next gathering.

I am always renewed and affirmed when I return from such events. Whether it’s a couple hours on a Saturday for Circle, a week-end retreat, or even just a cup of tea shared on the Big Red Couches, when I allow space and time to connect with others and myself, I am able to breathe more deeply, move more freely, labor more lovingly and live more vibrantly.

Last week I wrote about rituals and concluded that fear has no place in celebration. Today I want to remind us all that fear has no place in authentic connection. That is not to say that authenticity is easy or that connection is without risk. In fact, authentic connection is inherently risky. What I want to say is that authentic connection requires courage.

When I was younger, I obsessed with fitting in and finding out what I needed to do, and who I needed to be to be accepted and included. I was a master of adaptation and camouflage.I was super involved, but I was also exhausted and lonely.

I watched a movie this weekend, a teen-age romantic comedy entitled, The Perfect Date. Although my teen years are long ago (thank goodness), I could relate to the character’s desire to “be someone special” and acquire the things that were available to insiders in order to become an insider. Have you ever tried to “fake-it-til-you-make it”, make it and then wonder why you ever wanted it?

Part of this process is the natural evolution of identity development but it also has to do with misunderstanding our own innate amazingness. The character in the story learns his lesson BEFORE its too late (high school graduation!) and makes amends for his selfish behavior. However, it never really works like that, does it? In my experience, it’s never been that clean and clear, or that efficient! Becoming ourselves is a practice and it takes time, especially if we’ve been practicing being someone else. Being ourselves, or becoming ourselves more fully is a practice that requires space and time for introspection and connection to others. Becoming our true self is often very different than any other learning. Becoming our true self is a transformation. Transformation is a practice that requires intention, attention and action. It’s a process that becomes easier, clearer, and ironically more “natural” the more we practice.

Brene Brown is a researcher and one of my personal heroes. I value her work as a necessary and essential foundation to the work that I do. I am grateful that Brene shares her stories and her research so freely through her books, videos and social media posts. She is a source of encouragement and inspiration for me. Her lessons fill me up and challenge me to show up and do the work of being my best self. But let me tell you, Brene is a huge help, but if I didn’t have YOU, my local community to do the practice of intentional living with, I wouldn’t be as inspired to show up every day! You help me take the risk and activate the courage to be me! I am forever, deeply grateful.

Where do you find inspiration and challenge to be your best self? Where do you practice being authentically and courageously YOU?

Whatever is on your agenda today, I hope you can make the space to breathe, move and rest. Find your personal practice so you can show up as your best self!

May you breathe deeply, move freely, labor lovingly and live vibrantly.