In the past six months, I seem to have lost something. What it was, I was not able to describe, until I sat in contemplation over my “70th Birthday,” which was coming soon. Since my birthday falls on the 4th of July, and my Mother always told me that the celebration was just for me, I can’t seem to shake the almighty urge to create something huge, in recognition of living another year. Quite frankly, whatever I do to celebrate never reaches the same magnitude of impression that I got, as a youngster, marveling over the entire world's setting off fireworks, in celebration of little ol' me. I have always lived with the urge to do something great, so as to live up to the world’s expectations.
Since my last two years' travel to California, to care for my Mom (which I fondly call “the years of Mom”), I have not been myself. I've been tired, in grief, and exhausted, in a very deep place inside myself. I lost my motivation, my way, and wondered how I could go on, and what to do next. Since the territory was unfamiliar, I did not know how to proceed. Little physical ailments loomed up in response. I kept waiting, while searching for a remedy, a food, drink, a pill, a puff, or anything, to lift me up and out into the exuberant woman I had been. One day, while standing wearily in front of my vitamin drawer, pulling out my fix for the day, a little voice said, “You will not fix this by what you put in your mouth.” “Oh, really?” I thought. Well then, what? Of course, I kept trying the oral method, but to no avail. So, I prayed.
One night, while browsing through an “O” magazine, I read an article about a woman who had had a chronic pain in her hip/back. She relentlessly tried everything to alleviate it, short of surgery. Then, someone told her it was all in her head. She didn't like to hear that, but decided to give the prescribed protocol a spin, anyway. She purchased “Mind Body Prescription,” by Dr. John E. Sarno, and began journalling, and following the protocol. Within a few months, she was free of her pain. Whoa! I want that, I thought, and immediately purchased the book. This method would be my way of fixing the physical symptoms that accompanied my emotional pain. While this book and the stories in it helped me to see the connection, little did I know that there would be more benefits.
This was the beginning of my practicing energy medicine. Being a certified practitioner of The Work of Byron Katie, plus an Avatar Wizard graduate, with years of shamanic study, vision quests and meditation, I thought I knew the territory. But, here is the caveat: all these methods, including eating healthy and exercise, require a continual and steady PRACTICE. When you don’t use it, you lose it. People everywhere are teaching this, every day. We are learning a new way of being, and it does take practice, particularly as new life experiences arise for us (which will continually happen, if we are alive). OK, this meant me, too.
Getting back to my recent, stagnant state of being, I sat in contemplation of my impending birthday. Did I want a party? No. What did I want? What if I did not celebrate and then felt horribly lonely on the 4th? After all, it is my 70th... Something special should happen, right? I kept sitting and thinking about it. What did I want? What was the single thing I needed most? I continued to ask myself.
Finally, I realized that what I needed in my life now, more than anything, was inspiration. My inspiration was wiped out, gone. How could I get it back? I wondered. Remembering my shamanic days of play, I longed to gather with my girl friends and play games, do ceremonies, sit in council, dance together, make art together. That was it! I would gather twenty amazing women, for a gifting circle. As a gift to me, I would ask them what it was in me that inspired them. Simple. It would not cost them any money, any shopping or wrapping; all they had to do was share the truth of their inspiration.
All of us who have chosen to spend time together, or call another a friend, have a reason to do so. Our friends give us something, something we like, something that adds to our lives, adds to ourselves. Each friend is different, and we are often different with each one. It is an exchange. I knew that through their finding what inspires them in me, they would in turn find it in themselves, and thus, nourish us all.
So, I picked a date a couple days before the 4th, and invited twenty women, with a very specific set of instructions (a copy of the invitation follows this post). I decided that I did not want a potluck: in exchange for their honoring my request, they would eat a very simple meal that I would prepare for everyone. This was, in part, to alleviate all the mix-ups of varieties of food, and people's asking a million questions when they arrive, like, “Do you have a serving dish for this?,” “Can I warm this?,” “I need a big bowl,” etc. That drives me nuts!
On the day of the 2nd, I hired a housekeeper/kitchen assistant, and began making the food: chick pea-veggie curry, dhal, rice, and a huge green salad. My friend made a delicious carrot cake, another brought mango sorbet, and another, several bottles of kombucha. Each one brought her own bubbly.
Next, I moved the furniture, so we had plenty of room to circle up on the floor. I asked everyone to bring her favorite cushion to sit on (or a beach chair, if sitting on the floor was uncomfortable). I put candles and flowers everywhere. I had a friend in charge of greeting, at the front door. She gave everyone a nametag, as there were guests who did not know each other.
As you will note from the invitation, I asked everyone to dress in whatever expressed her most authentic self, and to bring a small gift of something that had meaning to her (perhaps something she already owned, or had made). All of the attending sisters' names went into a little basket, and each would pick a name when she arrived, but they were not to tell anyone whose name she picked. Once she had her name, she could seek out the person and get to know her (without telling, of course).
I opened the circle, explaining to everyone that I had lost my way a bit, that I needed inspiration. I shared that when we find something wonderful in someone else, that it is also alive in us. By sharing with each other what we inspire in each other, we strengthen our tribe and build confidence. This was my purpose. I wanted the amazing women I know, to know each other. Of course, some of them already did, but some did not. A thriving community is built out of confident and inspired people. Even though I saw some of these women only once a year or so, I would greet each one, knowing she was my sister. So, I was confident that these women all held a valued thread of integrity. Besides, we all live on a relatively small island.
Although I can't explain the magnitude and richness of the sweet nectar that came out of this experience for us all, I can tell you that I am transformed. During the second round, after everyone explained what and why she was wearing, and we laughed and giggled at our uniqueness, I opened myself and heart to receive each sister’s gift of inspiration. It was not easy, at first, to receive. It was not even easy to ask. But, I knew that I must get my inspiration from those I live around; this is what a healthy tribe does. Each person has a significant role that only she can play, with her unique gifts. What were mine?
The beauty of this is that, when the words of inspiration were released and hit the air, the entire circle received them. By my asking, they gave. When we give, we receive. It's the way it works. Next, each woman had a chance to gift the person whose name she picked with the gift she had brought. What transpired from that exchange was nothing short of magical. The room was filled with open hearts, love, and abundant inspiration.
When I looked up “inspiration” in the dictionary, I found the definition of “divine influence.” Now, I understand why my healing could not take place through what I put in my mouth. It could only take place through what I put in my soul. I found that inspiration could carry me with strength, purpose and stamina. It is moving the spirit through me now, with renewed enthusiasm and creativity. I am seeing, now, that if we are inspired, we will most likely gain confidence, which means we will give our unique gifts, and, thus inspire a more confident tribe and stronger community. Mahalo to those who planted the seed of inspiration, this divine influence, in me. I am so very grateful.
A birthday is a perfect time for a re-set, and a good time to let your tribe nourish you with their divinity. Let it be so.
Come on to my house, my house come on,
I am going to give you everything!!!
Come celebrate my 70th Birthday!
July 3rd 5:00 PM @ Susan Teton’s home at:
My birthday is on the 4th of July, but we will be gathering on the 2nd to celebrate by joining together for a special “Circle of Inspiration”.
For my birthday I am opening myself to receive the acknowledgement of what I inspire in you. You may also have the opportunity to share how another inspires you. By holding space and acknowledging the inspiration in each other we give it back to ourselves. Let’s expand by being together and gifting each other with what we see and feel. Each of sees in our own unique way, and by sharing and honoring our uniqueness we expand it. This will be an honoring celebration for each other, not to mention some intimate fun.
Here is what I would like you to bring:
1. You, dressed in whatever expresses a part of yourself that makes you feel like your most authentic self, or a part of yourself that inspires you, or perhaps that you want to aspire toward. Of course, wear whatever you want, but if you can put thought into this aspect of yourself it would be fun as we gather to share what inspires us in each other.
2. Please bring a gift, something that is already yours, that has a special meaning to you that you would like to pass on to another sister (you will find out who that is when you get here). Of course, it must be something you can part with, but part with in a way that brings you joy to give to someone else. It may have special meaning or “medicine” that you will be able to pass on. It need not be expensive or big, just something with some meaning to you. Please just wrap it in a cloth that you can take home. We want to be light on the planet and our pocket books by keeping it simple.
3. No need to bring me birthday gifts.
4. I will be serving some food and a lovely green salad. If you are so inspired to bring food, call me first and we can plan. But, please do not feel that need. It will be my pleasure to serve you.
5. Our gathering: When you arrive, you will pull a sister’s name from a bowl. Please do not tell anyone whose name you have. Keep it a secret until it is your turn to share. Your job will be to notice her, to track her and find something in her that inspires you.
6. We should be done with the ceremony and playtime by about 8. Then we can hang out and drink champagne; wine, kombucha, tea or whatever turns you on. We can dance, laugh, share, swim and just enjoy being together.
7. Please RSVP by emailing: Susan@ChefTeton.com
Oh My God, I am so excited to be 70! Lordy Mercy!!
You? What do you need? How do you like to spend your Birthday? Make a comment below and we can all celebrate!