We began by staring into each other's eyes for a whole minute. Silently. We were strangers, and this was awkward, to say the least. We giggled, fidgeted, shifted nervously in our seats, and glanced around the room. Eventually, we got down to business and tried to focus on staring at each other. When the interminable minute was up, we revealed what we had seen in each other during that time. I saw an amazing beauty; she saw kindness and warmth. We were one pair of women in a roomful, and we were beginning the end of an overwhelming weekend in Atlanta.
I still haven't really processed it all. I mean, it's taken me a week to get myself together and write about it! I was blessed enough to attend the 2nd Black Women's Life Balance & Wellness Conference in Atlanta, GA, held July 13-15. As the conference's website states, the planners of the conference "acknowledge that endeavoring to achieve career, family-life, and personal life balance is an ongoing challenge!" So, a group of talented, intelligent, beautiful black women converged on the Atlanta University Center's Robert W. Woodruff Library to encourage, inspire, and support one another. It was awesome! There's really too much to talk about; I'm probably going to cover aspects of it over several posts. However, I'll begin with the end.
Our closing session on Sunday was conducted by Pauline Mckenzie-Day and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a mother/daughter doula team. Instead of helping to birth babies, however, they used this session to nurture the new selves that were birthed over the weekend. After discussing the gazing session, Pauline and Alexis asked us pairs to share with each other the visions that we have for ourselves, our hopes and fears. We followed that sharing by crafting haikus of affirmation for our partners, based on what we'd learned from them. My partner wrote such an insightful piece for me:
The intent is yours
You know what needs to be known
Content in intent
Yeah, it's definitely taped onto my bathroom mirror. I read it every day, and it sticks with me because it's true: I do know what needs to be known as I come closer and closer to discovering my passions and putting them into action. Meanwhile, I strive to be content--and no longer anxious or disappointed!--with the process.
Finally, we closed by forming a large circle and, one after another, expressing sounds that would create the ideal situation for a baby to be born into. As the sounds cascaded with each added voice, I smiled to hear, "Yes!" and "Welcome" and "Thank you," along with singing, humming, and sighing. It was the perfect way to welcome our new selves into the world, and I look forward to implementing some of the ideas those wonderful women shared. Step 1: make an important phone call that might transform my ideas into the tangible. More on that later. ;-)