would you take a moment with me for an imagination exercise? (my favorite.)
close your eyes – go back in time to last summer. walk around your bedroom, look across your countertops, thumb through your journals, think over your to-do list, remember the joy and struggle and growing pains you felt. think about the way you perceived yourself, your body, your closet, your abilities and lack there of. how you perceived your significant other or the fact that there was not one to be had. listen to the old voices, feel the old feelings. feel the old fears, the old highs, the old hopes and the old dreams.
dig for the questions you were asking yourself and focus – now – on all the answers you’ve found in the past year. the answers you sought in desperation or in apathy and have been answered by the grace of your resilient soul, by human beings around you, the divinely inspired, or simply by the gift of time.
breathe deeply as you walk forward through the year — every season, until this very moment.
here you sit. deep breath, feel it from your lovely neck down to your sexy butt.
here you sit in newness – in Moreness – in a different sort of wholeness, with a different set of questions and answers you are seeking. here you sit, grateful for the answers and community you found and grateful for the unanswered questions and friends you let go of, realizing they were not what you truly wanted or needed.
growth is beautiful. progress is our gift. aging is a miracle.
and there is an art to noticing it.
as time moves forwards, propelling us into our future selves, the world around us moves at different paces: places we call home become far off as they move too slowly, slowly, slowly for us. friends move ahead as we realize i am not there yet. we choose and leave people, places, things, beliefs — we are souls in motion colliding with a universe in motion, attaching and detaching ourselves to what is beautiful and true and releasing what is no longer ours when the time comes.
it is beautiful. it is a gift. it is a miracle. it stretches us, comforts us, expands us.
the good women project has been a gift to me.
a beautiful miracle that stretched, comforted, and expanded (did you know?) tens of thousands of women across the world – including my small self as i moved from city to city, singleness to relationship to marriage, family to family, home to home in the past three years.
a year ago, however, my heart said no. halt. stop. red flags raised, warning bells rang, and confusion reigned for a few months as i struggled to understand the glorious community of women that had been created and my place in it. my place no longer felt safe, true, or authentic to me – and as someone who has ended many chapters in her life abruptly and deathly afraid to do harm to others from a religiously-oriented platform, i chose to end a chapter swiftly and flee to safety.
(also worth saying that i’ve learned to listen when my heart screams — it knows things before my mind does, and it protects me.)
my exit from the good women project was never explained, in part because i still do not consider myself to have exited nor has there been the decision to end it permanently. so many women in this community are my home, my friends, and a manifestation everything i have desired for my life. i am still so passionate about the space i set out to create, and i have never let go of that dream.
i want to pen this letter in raw honesty: my departure was exactly what i needed, and this year has proven to be a re-birth into true-er things. the sudden halt of the GWP, though, was unfair to each of you, left many feeling alone, and i want to offer a sincere apology to you. i buckled under the projected weight of ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ — a catchphrase i no longer agree with. i choose instead: “influence of any kind demands great humility.”
i am a facilitator, not a teacher. i create space for recovery, the sacred, and where women feel such safety that they can suspend their disbelief long enough to feel what their heart is demanding to be felt. for others to join them there.
the space created at good women project, i believe, was done so very successfully by the passion and partnership of hundreds of amazing women around the world. the Achilles’ heel of large numbers, however, is the expectation for the facilitator(s) to become the teacher(s).
i have said it a thousand times and i will say it until the cows come home (one day i’ll have ‘em): platforms and pedestals be damned.
to continue my honesty: i still do not have clarity on the future of the good women project. i am confident that it will return, but the time is not yet. perhaps soon, but not quite yet.
several of you know i grew up in a very conservative, fundamentalist home where words like happiness, passion, self, heart, and desire were not allowed to be used. that happiness is shallow, that the heart is deceitful, that desire is selfish and flesh-ly. (you can explore more of that here: learning how to desire.)
i and many other women within the GWP have shared the effect that these beliefs in their extreme had on us: depression, denial of pain, fear of sex (even in marriage), fear of being beautiful, anxiety, difficulty being honest in friendships, not knowing what career to pursue because we never thought of ourselves, gaining or losing drastic amounts of weight, not knowing or trusting in the importance of self care, remaining in dysfunctional or even abusive relationships, and so much more.
a large portion of the good women project has been dedicated to learning to know ourselves and to not fear who we are. this pursuit has always been in conjunction with my own pursuit of spiritual and self recovery. you were a gift to me. thank you.
one of the greatest lessons i’ve learned in my pursuit of recovery is that there is much good and much health in many places we are unaccustomed to visiting:
other cultures, other spiritual practices (HELLO. meditation = prayer = meditation = i’ve been meditating my whole life and was terrified of it?), yoga teachers, self help books, secular therapists, strangers on the street, fictional novels, science, and even occasionally in woo-woo new age-y insights.
fear enters when we believe we are not in control of our own decisions, beliefs, and body. fear is natural when your subconscious does not trust that you can change your mind, walk away, or choose differently at any moment. in my experience, most of us have lived lives where we felt utterly out of control for many years at a time.
which brings me to the most recent powerful experience i have walked through in my pursuit of spiritual and self recovery that i am really excited to share…
…pretty much like little kid level excited: the desire map.
the book is half theory and half workbook, and it is a series of questions and insights that help you dig through the english language to discover what feelings you desire over others, and then to integrate them into your daily life.
different people use it for different things, but my metamorphosis took place in the process of searching for what i desired, searching to know myself, searching for i wanted to feel. digging through what i was most grateful for, and what really wasn’t working. it’s always the search.
when i first began, it felt dangerous. but feelings can’t guide us. but feelings change. but emotions are not to be trusted. but we want bad things. but self = selfish.* it triggered every fear i was raised to possess.
i thought making my desires + feelings a priority for a month would take me to a dangerous place, but it turns out that it brought me home.
i’m getting naked here by doing this, but i will share mine: i desire to be rooted. (in community, in self, in my marriage, in my home.) i desire to be wild. (my free self, my true self, my innocent-self-awed-by-nature self, my push-the-envelope and be magically sensual and sexy). i desire to be electric. (a person who moves, changes, pursues, reflects light). i desire ease. (grace first. trust that i will be led home. trust that i have already arrived. ease i feel when i eat well, exercise, love others. ease when i let go of anxiety + practice gratitude). i desire to be generative. (creative, a gardener, a grow-er, a nurturer, someone who expands).
not one of my desires led me astray, and after answering a hundred questions in the desire map workbook that no one had ever asked me about myself, i am more light. more free. more lauren. joyful, healthy, secure.
for now, my space has transitioned to leading women through the desire map through book clubs, workshops, and hopefully soon, one-on-one coaching.
the last honesty-bullet: i have been worried to share in THIS space what i have been pursuing in my personal space (my own blog, my website, twitter, my daily life) because of the waves of misunderstanding, disappointment, and accusations that i received during the two years of facilitating the GWP.
it is difficult to share – but here we all are, in our piles of “i know this, i don’t know that, and maybe we’ll never know this.” here we are in our experiments, our unanswered questions, and some fairy dust, rocketship answers we’ve just received in the depths of our soul.
to end, because this is forever already — GWP will return one day, and everything will remain online, so it can continue to be shared by you. when the time is right and the clarity for next steps appears, you will be the first to know.
i wish all of you the absolute BEST BEST BEST until i see you in this particular space again, and if you’d like to join me on my personal journey, feel free to add yourself to my little email list here (you can choose what you wanna get updates on, or just the GWP) or if you’re in LA, attend my desire map workshop next month. maybe i’ll do a virtual workshop soon or host an in-person workshop in some other big yummy cities in 2015. <3
thank you for reading the letters of my heart. stay true, stay raw, and stay the course of becoming More.
– lauren xo
ps. a few relief thoughts:
definition of selfish: a lack of consideration for others.
NOT: a consideration for yourself.
if you are a christian who adheres to traditional christian theology, the only place you have to fear is the place that promises you the salvation of your eternal soul through a person/practice other than jesus christ.
weight off your shoulders, women. be free.
< < < only in case you are extra interested. :) I've written about The Desire Map a bit on my blog if you want to go dig around. The first post I wrote was Learning How To Desire, and I also wrote on discovering that my emotional vocabulary was stunted. Here are some soul awakenings that came from the process and my most recent blog post announcing that I am hosting one of the first workshops ever in partnership with Danielle LaPorte. : )
a note on spiritual recovery:
recovery is an area of great depth and width. some of us are familiar with “post traumatic spiritual disorder,” which is a variation of traditional Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), developed by enduring emotional or physical abuse that was justified by spiritual or religious reasons by the inflictor, church, family, organization, etc. abuse is a polarizing word because it evokes such extreme visuals, and spiritual recovery to many simply means the intentional journey of pursuing new, healthy spiritual practices and purifying our beliefs from cultural/religious standards that have done us harm or caused us pain. spiritual recovery carries a different meaning for many people, and also is (in my opinion) a very important part of everyone’s life, despite their religious upbringing. if spiritual abuse is a new term for you and you suspect you may have endured it, do some googling and learn a bit more about it. find a community. there are several amazing groups out there.