I mentioned in my review of Rachel Cole’s Fort Collins Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop that as a host, my experience of the Retreatshop itself was not typical because I was focused on that duty. When you host, you have a different experience than the other attendees–you set up the space, hold the space, maintain the integrity of that container. You adjust the heat, keep out anyone not part of the group, give directions, hand out tissues if people cry, and try not to monopolize things by talking too much.
However, through facilitating that event, I learned a few things about myself.
I am funny. Not in a mean, critical, unnatural or forced way, but in a way that cheers people up, softens them and makes them feel at ease. For example, when I got up to introduce the space and Rachel, I started with directions to the bathroom. I hadn’t planned to say it, but what came out was something like this, “When you go out the main studio door, take a left. You’ll find yourself in the main common area and on the other side is a hallway. Follow that to the end and on the left is…nirvana.” As everyone laughed, I said “No, it’s just the bathroom.” I hadn’t planned that joke (although, if I ever host an event there again, I am totally using it), it was just what came out while I was talking. I am willing to be a fool for a laugh, a smile, to put someone at ease and soften the energy of a room.
I am generous. This makes people feel cared for and loved and comfortable. It is one of my most fundamental qualities, (even though I take it to an unhealthy extreme sometimes). A friend said of me recently, “A Jill that isn’t ‘giving’ isn’t Jill. ‘Giving’ seems like a natural part of who you are.”
I am enthusiastic. This was something Rachel pointed out at the event. One of my students last semester put it this way “when Jill gets to talking, she sometimes repeats herself, but I think it’s just because she’s excited.” If I care about something, I get a rush of energy and can be quite animated.
I’m curious. No matter what’s happening, I want to learn what I can from it. I want to understand, to know.
I am loved by some amazing women. Rachel said so, that it was a great group and she could tell they really loved me. I don’t often let that in, let myself notice, because I am so busy giving and loving and performing, but I noticed that day, and I’ve carried it with me ever since.
I am brave, even when I’m afraid. Even though it seemed so unlike me, the highly sensitive introvert, I asked Rachel to come, I emailed people to tell them they should come too, and I spent a lot of time with Rachel by myself and only got really nervous twice, and only right at the beginning. Most of the weekend, I was present and my heart was open, in public, with people. There was so much at stake–Rachel’s comfort and respect, the quality of the event, friendships, my sense of myself and my value–but I didn’t let that freeze me up, I didn’t run from it or try to numb out.
After so many years of self-hate, I am hungry for self-care and self-love. I am ready. So many years of denial and restriction, perfectionism, feeling unworthy, being bullied, and smashing myself to bits, I’m really ready to work with these patterns, these habits that no longer serve me (if they ever did).
I can’t pull off peacock shoes, but I can celebrate and love a woman who rocks them.