We are back home in Juneau, Alaska. It snowed earlier today, but now a cold hard rain is beating against the window. The warmth and sunshine of Florida are just fond memories, but my thoughts have lingered on our 2015 Gather the Women circle at the Dayspring Conference Center near Tampa, Florida. My gratitude goes to all those who laid out the plans for our time together. I know from experience that it takes many meetings, phone calls, and emails to pull it all together before that that first bell rings and everyone is seated in the circle.
As the days have passed since we were at Dayspring, my subconscious has been at work on a GTW blog about the gathering. I kept returning to how many young women were there. What difference does it make to a woman if she is part of a circle early in her life? I did not sit in a Circle using Circle Principles until I was in my early 50’s, but that first one hooked me for life.
We also had so many beautiful raven-haired women at the gathering. That made sense given the demographics of Florida with its proximity to Cuba, Central and South America. On the first day, I talked to a woman in her early twenties whose family came from Venezuela to Florida. She wasn’t sure what was going to happen over the next few days, and she looked a little uncomfortable at first. Sitting across the circle from her, I could see her relax as the days went on. When a woman picked up the talking piece, she often leaned forward and focused on what the woman had to say. There were two friends who came from Austria. They read about the gathering online and, on an impulse, decided they had to be there. How will it change how they see themselves in the world? What did they talk about on their long flight home? Katharina Sebert from Munich, Germany, and Patricia Queritet from Antwerp, Belgium, brought laughter, mysticism, a deep female sensuality, and open-heartedness with them that affected me so deeply. Their Womb Healing ceremony held in a shelter on the pier is something I will never forget.
(There are wonderful photos of the gathering on the Gather the Women Regional Coordinators Facebook page.)
Before I could write this blog, I needed to ask Jeanie DeRousseau how it came to be that there was so much diversity at this Florida gathering. She, in turn, asked her long-time friend, Ann Smith, who volunteered to host the 2015 Gather the Woman annual gathering.
Here is Ann’s thoughtful response: “This is a good question and one that is important in bringing diversity to GTW. GTW of Southwest Florida had been mostly white older women. It was from relationships I had with two Latin American women that made a difference in having a diversity of women on the planning circle. I met Silvia Casabianca many years ago when we had an International Women’s Day event at Happehatchee, an eco-spiritual center where I was one of the co-founders. She is from Columbia, where this is a big celebration. She was a medical doctor in her country and is now a healer. Southwest Florida has strong energy lines that attract many healers. She is the founder and director of Eyes Wide Open, a holistic healing center. Silvia was too busy to be on the planning circle and asked CiCi and Brittany to attend our planning meetings. Brittany really didn’t want to and now is a leader. Her niece, who lives in Columbia and Panama, came because Silvia insisted, and she is now committed to bring this to these countries. Silvia was dedicated in helping this event and created and printed the bookmark for free. My long time relationship with Lulu Carter from Brazil began when she attended a GTW event that she said transformed her life, and that inspired her to create the House of Gaia where we held our planning meetings. Lulu came to the meetings when she was in town and gave us the space for free. From her circle of leaders we got Jill and her daughter Casi. Jill works with girls at the House of Gaia. Karen Coratelli-Smith heard about the GTW Annual Meeting and asked to meet with me about offering healing. Evelyn Rodriques and Elena Roubicek came with her, loved the idea, and fully participated in the planning as well as being leaders in the event. If any one of these young women had come alone to a planning meeting they most likely would not have returned, but they had one another. Jeanie (DeRousseau) was a wonderful mentor to CiCi and Brittany. Karen is a wonderful mentor to Evelyn, Elena and Marilyn Gutierrez. The safe, meaningful and fun design, loving women giving support, support, support, and the Divine Feminine created the healing and empowerment. It helps when young women and racial ethnic women are an integral part of the planning. Thank you for asking the question. Namaste!!! Ann”
Next year, the women will gather in Petaluma, California. I’ll see you there.