These have been very interesting days. In the world, in our country, in my community and with friends. Recent challenges have brought to light the importance of banding together as women in a show of voice for our rights. Perhaps we have sat too idly by, taking for granted the accomplishments of our female predecessors who paved the way for women’s rights in this country. Today, once again, we are made aware of the imperfection of systems to properly support us, and we are being asked to connect with ourselves more authentically, and to come together with each other to get things done on our own behalf.

Community is a word that is different today than what it was for our grandmother’s and great grandmother’s. Yes, we live in neighborhoods and towns and cities. We may worship at churches of our choice. Or we may opt out of connecting with each other directly to a certain extent, because we have established for ourselves a virtual community. We now have online “friends.” We “like” each other’s posts and pictures, and it does feel nice to be in some sort of community and to be “sharing.”

Yet, there is no substitute for developing and maintaining a rapport and connection with a group that can join together and find ways to share experiences and inspiration. To some extent, I am already doing this in my volunteer role as President of the Renaissance Women of Charleston. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary at our first luncheon of 2017 in the Principal Gallery of Charleston, our home. As I looked around the room, I saw many familiar faces, and also some new ones. This is a non-membership group of inspirational women who are joined together by their love of the Arts, with a core belief in giving back to our community. In the past year, we have had seven inspiring events, supporting seven local charities. Each luncheon showcases artists and makers alike, all the while developing and deepening friendships that began through this organization.

Through one of my RWC friendships, I was privileged to lead a “tribe” of women who gathered to re-charge themselves for a Women’s Wellness Weekend in Charleston, hosted by the visionary, Kimberly Powell of Woodhouse Spa. As I talked about connecting with ourselves through intuitive picture-making and envisioning, the group played along, joining me on a photo shoot, gleefully employing the techniques they had just learned.

The ladies were privy to several guided activities to toggle their spirits. There was yoga and meditation, inspirational speakers at private dinners, journaling, hypnotherapy, not to mention wine and fine cuisine! In the beginning, these ladies were not all connected as a tribe. Some came with friends, others by themselves and yet, through a few days of sharing activities, their hearts opened up and they began to form bonds with each other.

By day two of my sessions with them, when we created vision boards, there was a clear camaraderie amongst this formerly disparate group of women. From my experience, it takes some time to relax, “unpack our bags” if you will, and let down our shoulders. In order to receive the inspiration and guidance that is waiting for us, we must first be unguarded and open to noticing it. In order to connect with our highest creative potential, we need to surrender our logical, practical, “doing” minds.

But what fun awaits when we can dive into the creative process like children, fresh, in the moment and fully engaged! It was a blast to see the visual treasures that these lovely women assembled from pictures, words, shells, feathers and imagination. The group-share at the end is such an important closing activity and calls for a bit more time than we had, but how poignant it was!

I’ve shared some collages of my participants work @theklcreative on Instagram. There was so much beauty and creative spice! For some, this was truly a new thing- to make pictures, to get closer to the object of their interest, to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. The act of seeking, finding and connecting with beauty is as a metaphor for taking care of ourselves. It takes practice, but if you try it, you may like it, (“Or not,” as I repeated that weekend to take the pressure off).

The tide is changing. It’s high time that we as women, we who are the doers, caregivers, menders, makers, daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers, take better care of ourselves. It starts with you, making time for yoga, meditation, a walk, a massage, a weekend away with your girlfriends, what have you. Only when we can feel “taken care of,” can we be of optimal service to others. The best is yet to come. I feel it! As we own our individual power, we will join with other women to expand our empowerment outward.

Stay tuned for more mentoring and creative offerings from KL Creative! If anyone is interested in a custom creative workshop for their group, as a team-building experience, or for yourself, I am happy to lead you on a journey of self-discovery and creativity.