Grateful And Fulfilled – Heading Home!

I am on my way home, back in the Alaska Boardroom on the last leg of my trip.  I am thrilled to be meeting CrisMarie, Sooke and Bailey tonight and sleeping in my own bed again.  The month at The Haven has once again been rich and fulfilling.  This morning as we shared our last circle together, I had a chance to look around and reflect on my connections with each of my follow travelers, forgeting about the hard parts and the moments when I wished to be home. Instead, I felt touched and honored to have witnessed transformation.

I am soon leaving again, this time to celebrate my 50th birthday with a bike trip to Croatia. I realized today, in thinking about turning 50, that I have spent over half my life involved in programs and transformation at The Haven. I believe it was a May Come Alive that launched me on my journey many, many years ago. At that time I didn’t even think I would make it to 25, much less 50!  However, here I am turning 50, and though I will be officially celebrating in June, it seems right to have had a month at The Haven to test my aliveness, remembering what turned my life around back then and what still keeps inspiring me.

It’s really pretty simple.  People.  The power of two or more human beings opening and revealing themselves to each other—the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful moments of realness that happens over and over in the Haven session rooms. I did have a few moments in the past month when I wondered why I still keep coming. I questioned my ability to be like others had been for me: a mentor, a guide, personal and authentic. I caught myself putting up some walls and disengaging. And I called myself out, challenged myself to make a choice—to risk, to have some faith and trust the process. Much like the Grinch, my heart grew in size three or four times throughout a given day.

This time around I discovered the joy in developing a longer more intimate relationship with my co-leader. We have been doing enough together now that we have a way of working together that is smooth and connected. We can laugh, cry and clear things up. We know when the other is tightening and are willing to say something and hold each accountable to the task of staying present, curious and open.

I was touched when Carole pulled out a poem I had written after an earlier Phase and wanted to use it in our closing circle. I wrote those words to go with a closing song over a year ago and when we read it again, I was very glad she had kept it alive.

Sometimes writing is the easiest way for me to freely share my heart, writing a poem about touching a raw moment, and sometimes it’s writing a blog.

I am grateful for The Haven, for each of the many lives that have touched my own over the years, and for myself for sticking with it!

Testing My Aliveness

I am on my way to The Haven for Phase I. It is never easy for me to get ready for a month away. I intend to get things ready in advance and make sure I am not doing things at the very last minute.  However, I generally end up packing late the night before. I may have done better this time at making a list of things to get done and getting many of them checked off slightly ahead of deadline. But I was still washing and packing clothes well into the night.  At least this trip I left a day ahead to make sure I get arrive and get settle before jumping into to a very busy month of work.

I love The Phase program.  It is an awesome journey for all involved. Personally, I found The Phase program transformational when I took it many years ago. They say it takes twenty-one days to create new habits.  The Phase program is 26, which allows for habits to change and a bit of added time for discovering what some of those patterns might be.

There is a lot more to The Phase than just developing new habits.  There is a lot of the emphasis is on self-discovery and learning through interactive experiences in a group.  Some folks spend years in individual therapy, and though that, too, is focused on self-discovering; often I think the process is much slower because there isn’t the feedback and resonance that occurs in a group process.  In the Phase program there are anywhere from 15 to 40 folks all interested in some type of personal development.  People’s reasons for coming, along with their life experiences, are all vastly different which makes for a wonderful opportunity to broaden perspectives and to realize that reality is indeed relative.

Also, being together for 26 days means things are likely to get messy at some point. Putting that many people in a room day after day creates challenges, differences, boundary issues and any number of other opportunities for growth.  Of course that is part of the design.  Most of us can play nice for a few days and can often avoid our inner demons for brief periods.  But a month is a long time and at some point peoples’ surface-styles drop and deeper aspects of who we each are show up.

It happens for those who come to participate for the first time and for those of us leading the program. As leaders I think we often arrive with greater awareness of the process and hopefully the ease and grace in taking down outer defenses as well as being vulnerable and more personal with each other.  But still even as leaders there will be those moments that we could never have anticipated and will call us into the unknown.  That’s what makes it special.  The Phase isn’t a formula.  It’s alive, organic and deeply personal.

My friends at home wonder why I leave for a month at a time.  It isn’t easy.  I love my life in Montana: my partner, my dogs, my home and my friends.  But I also know each time I arrive on Gabriola for either The Phase or a Come Alive, I am stepping into a journey that will test my aliveness.  Some people travel all over the world searching for the next awesome high or adventure.  Me—I find that aliveness by being willing to be open, vulnerable and intimate with a group of people interested in self-discovery and self-responsibility in relationship to others.  For me it is the ultimate high. I have the opportunity to open my heart and broaden my world through listening and seeing the world through the eyes of others. It really is quite a unique and amazing adventure and a wonderful test of my own aliveness and willingness to live outside any self-imposed box.