Even with Social-Distancing and the many other changes brought about in our lives as the world grapples to arrest the spread of Covid-19, time marches on, unchallenged. It is already May, and I am only now getting to write about our very first online EWP Focus Group meeting held in April, via Zoom.
And how wonderful it was, to see so many of us perched up there on our screens, waving and oohing and aahing at one another.
It wasn’t as good as hugging and dining together as we usually do, but it was the next best thing, and for now and the foreseeable future, it will probably have to do.
So, finally, after sorting out who could hear - couldn’t see; could see - couldn’t hear; could be heard - couldn’t etc, etc, Tisiola got the ball rolling, by reminding us that the space we had created in our new venue, was still one where we wanted to cultivate a connection for enabling Transformative Learning to take place, and to also develop healthy collaborative relationships on which we could build.
In order to develop our connection, Tisiola quoted two key concepts we should employ, from “The Power of Collective Wisdom”:
1. Deep Listening (to each other). Collective wisdom begins with a commitment to recognise that we are more than just the sum of our external parts. Deep listening is a way to pay attention to both interior and exterior worlds in order for groups to make sounder judgments and act in accordance with deeper values. To read between the lines and listen with the wisdom of our heart.
2. Suspension of Certainty. A transcendent discovery is far more possible for individuals and groups when there is a willingness to risk, or admit, not knowing. A greater collective wisdom becomes possible because ideas are no longer the possession of one person or subgroup, but are shared by those who helped shape it together.
So after all greeting one another in Tongan, “Malo e lelei”, which translates to us thanking one another for being there, we were privileged to hear Michelle’s Story, Exploring the Deeper Meaning of her Health and Wellbeing, as she found her way in life, from a fairy-tale childhood, with solid friendships, wide open spaces and freedom to fill with wonderful memories, to teenage years and beyond, of never feeling skinny enough. Obsessive body-image -years where she relentlessly drove herself physically to achieve a body she thought would satisfy her, but never did. Always wanting people to like her, despite never liking herself.
But as we all know, life goes on, and it wasn’t until travelling overseas and working as a nanny in Greece, that Michelle realised she had a gift working with young children, so on returning to Australia, she also returned to studies, and in the year 2000 qualified as a Primary School teacher, a vocation she still enjoys immensely.
Meanwhile, she met the love of her life, married, had two beautiful children, got her weight down, experienced high highs, and very low lows, and it wasn’t “Until the shit hit the fan,” as she said, then meeting Tisiola and doing coaching with her, that her life took a radical change in direction, for the better.
At this time, Tisiola was just setting up her EWP movement, and Michelle, immersed herself in the Focus groups, and began digging deeper into why she was how she was.
She began looking at her positive side, and also, acknowledging and accepting, her Shadow Side. Gradually peeling back the layers of conditioning that contributed to her self-doubts and lack of self-love, she ever so slowly, began to accept herself, just the way she was, warts and all.
As she admitted, none of her lessons were easy to come by. They have been hard earned, and remain to this day, a process which she works on, through daily rituals of meditation, walking, listening to positive podcasts, enjoying gardening, nature walks which keep her living in the present, playing with her kids, her husband, and loving the beautiful person she is.
She recognises that the lessons she has learnt have helped her be far more compassionate, and empathetic, not only with others, but importantly, herself.
Her wonderful sense of adventure, mirrors her belief, that life is an adventure, and that we have everything we need, to live the life we desire, right here inside of us.
Michelle now considers her body a gift, which she embraces regardless of its girth, and she concluded her talk by reiterating that it is all a process, and that she has learnt well, that the magnetism she feels inside, about herself, is what radiates out to others.
Or, as she quoted Brene Brown saying on the subject of Self-Love; When you love yourself, you glow from the inside. You attract people who love, respect and appreciate your energy. Everything starts with how you feel about yourself.
Start feeling worthy, valuable and deserving of receiving the best life has to offer, and be magnetic.
Because the venue was on-line, Michelle did not share the depth nor breadth of the difficult struggles she has overcome to arrive at the place she is today, however, it was clear that she now embraces and loves the person she chooses to be. The self she is proud to share with us, as she embarks on her future life-adventures.
Again, before completing her talk, Michelle assured us, it is, however, a process, and personally I find that very enheartening to witness someone who has travelled so far, still committed to pursuing personal growth.
Because let’s face it, if Covid-19 is teaching us anything, it is that we:-
· Never know what’s around the corner
· We are all in this together
· Are all too often blind to what we really want
· Are Resilient and Creative beyond our dreams
· Are running out of time
Following on from Michelle’s talk, we discussed amongst ourselves how the pandemic has impacted the way we live and view our lives, and the overall consensus was that it has given us time, precious time, to evaluate what it is we really want and need in our lives to feed our health and well-being.
Let’s face it, after seismic shifts, things do not naturally fall back into place. Nor should they. They happen for a reason, and that reason is all too often a warning to change the status quo.
Some will resist, because it’s uncomfortable, too hard, fearful, challenging, and all manner of old-world reasons.
Many more, however, have seen the gaping disparities, short-sighted ‘gains’ for long-term losses, and inequalities we have allowed to exist in the old systems, and know they are no longer sustainable on many levels. Those people are now joining the many (as well as the planet), who have been screaming for change for years.
The Health and Well-Being of all of us, planet included, depends on each and every one of us.
What our small group discovered, people all over the world are discovering; what they really need, really want to improve their health and well-being. Who and What is really important to them in their lives.
And although there is great darkness in the world at present, there is also an emerging light illuminating a far healthier and wealthier way forward for all of us - should we choose to follow it.
I for one, want to follow that emerging light, beckoning us to go out beyond the present darkness into the light that promises to take us all into a far healthier, more fulfilling, sustainable future.