I didn’t know how much it would help to have real support in my life. Now that the Badass Mamas closing retreat is in my rearview mirror, that’s the sentence that sums up the circle's nine months. I didn’t know how much it would help to become part of Badass Mamas.
I didn’t know how Badass I would become when I walked into the opening retreat last September. I knew I craved real support from others. I yearned for a leader like Jenni to help guide me through being a parent and a mama. I wanted to meet new people who were also seeking to be better versions of themselves so they could be better parents to their children. I wanted to have friends who understood me as a parent and as a person. I had goals that I thought I would never reach and I wanted to know why it was so hard to achieve them.
I brought so much aching want to the opening Badass Mamas retreat last September.
When I walked into our closing retreat in June, I was just filled up from what I gained within this circle of women this year. It amazes me that I got what I came for! How often does an event or life experience meet our lofty expectations? Aren’t we told that we should stop expecting so much out of life so we aren’t disappointed? God, I hate that saying, that idea, that thought: expect nothing.
Jenni had asked our hopes and expectations of the Badass Mamas circle before the opening retreat. At the closing retreat, we sat together in the warm evening air and she reminded us of the answers we’d emailed her.
I read part of my email aloud. I’d wanted to find support inside the circle, after being so often let down outside of it that I’d stopped trying.
Oh my God, that’s exactly what the group gave me. Two times a month, I sat in this circle and found the kind of support I craved. Each meeting had a theme relevant to our lives as women and mothers. After Jenni provided insight on the topic, we talked about the ideas and feelings it raised in us. We just talked to each other, but we talked in a new way: we didn’t offer advice. We listened without trying to make a person feel better or giving them three to-do’s that would magically make everything better. Instead we held them in a space that accepted that life is hard and we hurt and it’s OK to feel completely shitty about the way life is specifically hard for us.
Ah, I hurt. Ah, we hear you. We revealed ourselves and no one judged us or fixed us or told us we were stupid and silly to feel that way and if we just ate better or exercised more and changed the way we thought about a topic our problem would be solved. Maybe our problem would never be solved. Maybe we could hold the hurt we carried with some extra love and find comfort for ourselves and each other to say, ‘Ah, it’s hard to be human. Me too, me too.’
Yes, sometimes Jenni would have an idea of how to think about our hurts in new ways that helped frame them and ease them. Sometimes there were actions to take. But mostly two times a month we spent a few hours looking deeply at our lives and feeling our way through together. It felt like magic, but really it was Jenni talking on a mantle of leadership and using her vast knowledge to help us create a circle of support for each other.
When I walked into our closing retreat, I marveled that I now have 7 friends who really get me that I didn’t have last September. That’s no small thing when I think about how long it takes to build mutual, deep friendships that really hold and support us with laughter, love and a place where we can really grieve the hard shit. But here I am less than a year later with 7 new friendships that contain these qualities.
We didn’t fall into this. It took work: attention and intention. At the closing retreat, many of us admitted that we didn’t always want to come to group. It seemed like one more to-do on our busy life lists: go to Badass Mamas. Why not stay home and watch TV or read a book or catch up on all those chores? In January, I thought to myself, ugh, this group, what was I thinking? My life is not changing, this is a waste of time. But damn, every time I went to group when I would have rather stayed home, by the end of the evening I was so glad I came.
These regular evening meet-ups and the cumulation of all the information and support we gathered actually created an arc for me that led to some real change-making in my life. By May, I achieved a goal I had struggled with for years. I’ve been freelancing for 15 years and I’ve been trying to make myself apply for part time jobs for at least the last 4. With the encouragement of the group and help of one of the Badass Mamas who sat with me for hours one Saturday morning, I wrote a resume and a cover letter and I applied for a job.
Mind you, I didn’t even get called for an interview. But I hadn’t applied for anything during the 4 years I’d been trying to force myself to do it. I hadn’t even finished my resume. But in May, I did. And that process of writing a resume allowed me to really see myself. While lining up 15 years of freelancing and volunteering, I recognized myself not only as someone who looked good on paper, but as a malleable human who had grown into a solid rock of awesomeness. “How cool am I?” I thought as I entered all the edits that my resume readers suggested, noticing all of the details I had forgotten about myself. All that stuff I left off of that resume is important, too: I’m a Badass Mama to two daughters and a wife and a daughter and a sister and a friend. Boom.
Finishing the resume meant I’d achieved a particular languishing goal, but it also meant that I was doing what I’d hoped for in September and despaired of by January: changing my life. Partly by taking action, and partly by accepting things as they are. I held that feeling I felt when I finished that resume in my heart like a beacon of bright orange sunset sun: the life you have created is enough, you are enough.
Having real support and a group of Badass women around me has made all the difference. So I worried about what would happen after we said goodbye. But during our closing retreat, every one of us said we couldn’t let this group end. The Badass Mamas circle will live on. Not one of us wants to lose the feeling of having real support from a circle of other Badass Mamas around us. Which makes me think of a t-shirt one of the members wore at our first retreat. “Strong as a Mother,” it said. I now own that same shirt and every time I wear it I feel strong, as strong as a Badass Mama, really. And I thank the universe and Jenni for that feeling that has grown inside me and continues to grow. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
The Badass Mamas circle is a facilitated, developmental, intimate nine-month group of 8 Seattle-area mothers coming together for growth and connection. It's an opportunity to step into your most capacious, reflective self. So that you can be the mama you want to be. So that you can be the YOU you’re called to be. The next circle starts September 16, 2017.