– George Gershwin
|Our featured Regional Coordinator this summer is Michelle Landry, Regional Coordinator from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.Michelle, who are you in the world?
I am a young sixty something who loves life, circles, labyrinths, and all manner of created things. I am an activist at heart; and in my passion and exuberance for justice and making things right, I have known what it is to burn out and that, more than once, has left me vulnerable to those kinds of excesses. I strive for balance but sometimes get carried away in my enthusiasm! I have been known as courageous and am, and have stuck my neck out, especially in breaking the silence/blowing the whistle around my experience of clergy abuse. I have always wanted to love deeply and to be fully human, fully alive. I love life and seek to embrace it fully even as I sometimes still doubt myself and hold myself back at times. I am a bit shy and sometimes lack confidence.
I am married to my partner, Anne. We have been together since 2001. I am primary caregiver for my Mom who will be 88 this summer. She lives in a seniors’ residence and is doing reasonably well. She depends on me for support, as I am the only family in town. Five other siblings are spread out across the country. It is a real blessing to share this time with my mom. She moved to Ottawa 2 years ago to be with me, and I love witnessing her wonderful sense of humour, intelligence and appreciation of life even as she copes with mild cognitive impairment (which I think, at times, I suffer, too!)
I was a nun in a recent past life and knew I needed to flap my wings and fly in order to be more of who I am. I have no regrets. I retired from my work at the national office of Prison Chaplaincy for the Correctional Service of Canada at the same time my Mom moved here. I loved the mix of administrative as well as front-line work with the Chaplains and those who were exploring chaplaincy as a possible vocation.
I am really enjoying my involvement as a Regional Coordinator for GTW. I love our monthly Circle calls, now on Skype, and am involved in planning our October GTW Canada gathering.
I love being in Circle and experiencing the energy of open-hearted sharing and being able to look into each other’s faces as we explore making meaning and sharing our lives in a way that blesses all. I am part of a wonderful circle of soul sisters who live in five different cities. Four of us met at the GTW gathering in August 2012 here in Canada. I feel and am so blessed. I am a seeker, and my soul sisters came along at the right time! My life has been opening up energetically and spiritually through their presence and gift in my life. I am deeply moved and grateful for their love and light and soulfulness and the way we are able to be together. My life has been forever changed. AND one of these days when the soul energies align, I will launch my own beautiful Circle of women right here in Ottawa. I love travelling, learning, growing and recently returned from the Chopra Centre where my sister and I attended the 10-day Perfect Health program followed by a few days in Sedona on our way home!
My friend, Evelyn, was trolling the web trying to find a spiritually-themed gathering for women when she found the GTW Global Matrix event in Peterborough, ON in August 2012. We both couldn’t believe our good fortune to find such a gathering virtually in our back yard. We were quick to sign up! Both of us were thrilled with the experience and so enjoyed meeting everyone. I personally was very inspired at the gathering and moved deeply by the depth and soulfulness of the women I met. May GTW thrive and grow and be the blessing to all women that it was and IS to me. I look forward to meeting many of you, my sisters, at Lake Tahoe in September!
From Deborah Zaher, RC, Liverpool, United Kingdom
From Marta Martinez Arellano, RC, Navarra, Spain
This is going to be a different summer. Until 2012 my parents had a garden, a private paradise for the young and elders, open to family and friends. We used to gather there since I was a child. When I was a small girl, my parents invited their friends to share that space. And they came with their children. The garden became a lavish vibrant micro-cosmos where each family found a place and we shared pool, garden and meals up to 80 persons a day. We were organised by families, and also by age. Back in the summer of 2005 we celebrated a party with all those families, and we were over 400 adding up my parent’s friends, their children and grandchildren. The garden became to me a protected environment to learn gratitude, sharing and family virtues and bonds.
My parents have taught us that what you have is always bigger if you share it; that it will be returned to you 100 times if you share it from the heart. My mum has always been the “coordinator in chief” of big love groups, not just in that garden but in my family, as she became the support of my grandmother and her family.
I belong to a culture where the Mother is the Home Centre. She is the guardian, the goddess and the captain of a shorter or larger community bound by love ties. She is, as in most traditional cultures I know, restrained by social conventions. She can be Goddess at home, discreet in social environments. Though this has started to change, I do live in a small village (“small village, big hell”, says the proverb) and I have been brought up in this philosophy.
My mum is big, warm and inviting, but she will become shy and insecure in social environments, as she has been educated to feel her place is at home. She was brought up to build and carry out a family, regardless of her own aspirations. She was warned against social gossip, against self-initiative out of home limits, against self-desire and self-freedom, attentive to male verdict and guidance out of the boundaries of her Home. She was brought-up firmly anchored in a particular culture and social paradigm, scared to break it.
Now I feel that I must share that family shelter, that love-sense and feelings, that open-hearted inheritance I have received, in order to have it returned 100 times in the form of women’s self-recognition and shared confidence.
My “blood community” is big, lavish and abundant, and I thank my Parents for that, I am ready to share it with the bigger, vaster and broader Oneness Community in the Globe. Life, God, the Universe (say it as you wish) has been Generous with me, and I am ready to return it in Gratitude.
From Ann Smith, RC, Florida
Summer in Southwest Florida means hot humid days with rain storms that swoop down almost daily, bringing thunder and lightening and a wealth of water. We enjoy the dramatic effects, safely taking shelter, and we appreciate the cooling down of the temperature. We keep watch for hurricanes forming and stand prepared if they come our way. We pray that they don’t.
Summertime vegetation grows quickly, and because we are in the rainy season all is green with an abundance of life, including mosquitoes. It is a time of an abundance of places to see and visit without the winter crowds. We rejoice in having the place to ourselves with no lines, no reservations needed, many good summer sales and prices, and very little traffic.
Gather The Women hosts a Women’s Sacred Circle the third Friday of the month. We meet at Happehatchee, an eco-spirituality center that is five acres of beautiful and serene nature. www.happehatchee.org is home to Gather The Women along with many other organizations. I serve on the Happe Board as program coordinator, co-creating events for people of all ages. We are a new organization that is dedicated to operating as a circle. We are part of the great experiment that is happening around the world that shifts the consciousness and transforms actions from our destructive ways to that of sustainability, peace and justice for all.
Last month, the Women’s Circle celebrated the Summer Solstice. It was an enchanted evening with the full moon illuminating our way and the great horned owl and many other creatures speaking to and with us as we sat in circle. We listened to one another and knew deeply in our hearts that we are one and are blessed to live in this beautiful area. We felt deeply connected to nature, Spirit, ourselves, one another and to all of you. Namaste!!!
Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world. – Ada Louise Huxtable