I arrive at Omega for a JUNO Retreat Residency. While I have the courage to apply, there was a part of me that didn’t believe I deserve it. Once on campus, I am greeted by Lys and am thrilled to also see Sarah, Michelle, and Jill. They welcome me home and my sense of not belonging begins to dissipate. By the end of dinner with Lys, I begin to remember why I’m here. When Lys asks me about my future, with calm and certainty, I explain that I no longer pretend to know. Instead, I tell her about the journey I’ve been on this year and how I’m focused on integration and process. I’m allowing myself to be fully immersed in my graduate studies. I tear up explaining to her how much it means to me to come home to Omega–a place I once came when I didn’t feel like going to my family’s home was an option. Omega–a community that held me when I needed to be still. Omega–a place where I found a springboard made up of women who I would look to for inspiration in the years to come. This place means so much to me, and each visit, I am amazed by the magical encounters and wisdom it cultivates. I came searching for some time to focus on myself. Instead, I have found so much more.
A highlight of the residency is the connection to the residents who came before me. There is a journal that a resident named Brenda left behind for women to leave their reflections before leaving the retreat: “To help weave together our stories and experiences in a tapestry of hope, reciprocity, resilience, rest, gratitude.” Reading their reflections at the start of my weekend feels like I’m painting a beautiful foundation for what’s about to come. I see Nina’s note, and I imagine her sitting on the JUNO cottage porch, just a few days before I arrive. I feel so honored. The beautiful cottage is almost as empowering as the words these women left behind. Part of the JUNO experience is leaving behind questions for the next resident. I feel like I know the woman who stayed before me–her questions, so deeply personal and compelling, help shape the rest of my time at Omega. They make me feel wise just reading them. My curiosity and hunger for truth is endless, how will I pick only 3 to leave behind?
Although I had spent a season volunteering at Omega prior to the Women’s Leadership Intensive in 2013, my experience returning to campus always reminds me of our week together. At the lake, I think about our water ceremony, and I feel connected to each of you, as I remember our collective blessings to the Earth. At the Pavilion, I remember tracing our bodies onto maps, sharing our visions. I remember our laughter. As I’m dancing before lunch with the Journey Dance teacher, I am not surprised at all when she asks if I know Tara, who she dances with regularly in Rhode Island. Goddesses attract. I feel your energy in the room! I remember dancing together and feeling a sense of protection and belonging that I had never experienced, while simultaneously feeling the power of my independence and power. Because I am so inspired by the way each of you “Do Power Differently,” I want to focus my masters thesis on women’s leadership and our relationship to power. I’m thrilled to spend the next year focusing on our stories of overcoming adversity and stepping into power. Stay tuned….
Lastly, I let go of memories, experiences, and attachments to people that no longer serve me. I invite myself to stretch as I dance and release. I identify areas and skills I wish to develop. I celebrate the young girls I see on campus, I eat lunch with them, watch them play at the beach, and dance with them. As I marvel at their authenticity, fearlessness, and playfulness, I honor the little girl in me who sometimes still yearns to be seen and to feel loved. I discover I am not afraid of my power, my sexuality, my desires. I am learning to love ALL of me. I am learning to give myself permission to be selfish.
Thank You for continuing to remind me that I deserve and am worthy of the JUNO namesake: prosperity; a whole, integral, empowered woman, whose influence was called on in politics, money, management, business, marriage, and motherhood.
May we continue to ask Juno to help us lead with a fair and protective spirit, and to make creative, bold, and wise decisions. May we use Juno’s benevolent authority to empower and protect others. May we examine our leadership nature and where we may want to grow and change. May we ask difficult questions, and be gentle and kind to ourselves and others as we find the answers. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.