A reflection by Lynn Hill, former member Circle of Wisdom, South Africa. (finalizing the FWOC Storytelling Month June 2022)
Written stories are a channel through which our voices may reach and impact others in our physical absence. We’ve experienced this during our Story-telling month where FWOC sisters shared their stories from far and wide: Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Cyprus, South Africa, Zimbabwe…
As I read each story and watched the South African Chapter Video, I was reminded of the following: that no matter how diverse our backgrounds and stories are, there is a golden thread that weaves its way throughout the sharing. This thread is our HUMANITY and contained within this is our authenticity, vulnerability and the sacred feminine. As most stories have suggested, we can only share our Voice once we have found our voice.
Some stories have also suggested that our own healing becomes the foundation for others’ wellbeing. In the following paragraphs I will expand on the common themes which constituted the golden thread between each story and the video. How beautiful it was to witness through these individual stories, the collective heart at FWOC which is to make this world a better place because we have lived in it.
Every single adventure to which the writers have alluded was embarked upon as a result of having heeded to their Soul’s calling; their Social Conscience; their own healing or because they experienced a growing disconnect between who they were expected to be and who they truly are. In her story Susan. E Isaac mentions: “Sometimes we need to be hollowed out, burned out and be willing to bleed from the Soul”. Sometimes the prompting to pursue is harsh, sometimes it’s the hurt that deepens life’s meaning. Healing can inform Purpose as in the case of Helena Georgiou who has triumphed over abuse and childhood molestation. Our adventures can also be activated through a relevant responsiveness to what we know will be sustainably life-changing to other Women as in the case of Gladys Mutsopotsi Shumbambiri. Sometimes the prompting can be a whisper, ministering to the soul that you were born for better. And sometimes it’s the recognition that as women we have common insecurities, fears and vulnerabilities, consequently when we are healed and empowered itbears relevance to others because we are all equal stakeholders in harnessing the sacred feminine. This is demonstrated in the case of Cecil Dorlas who uses creative expression (Burlesque & Dance) as a form of restoration and empowerment. Whatever form the prompting to pursue takes, each writer and the video teach us that it requires self-belief, courage, passion, honesty, self-awareness, soul awareness, tenacity and grit to move beyond our comfort zones or historical self-sabotage. I’d not be writing this piece if Sis Tebello Mokhema had not courageously taken up the offer to start a FWOC South African Chapter as scary as it felt. Transformation and expansion never happen in comfort. It takes “a bleeding”, a breaking, a re-building, fearing, healing, breaking free and breaking through to build our dreams and be true to ourselves and inspire others in the process of doing so.Every story and the video demonstrate that without following through on our intentions, we will not be able to achieve meaningful results or significant success. Sophia Hlonipa Sikhosana’s Story is one in which the reader can tangibly FEEL her palpable success. It’s powerful and demonstrates the increased rate of manifestation because she has consciously combined single-minded intentionality with her PURPOSE and her PASSION. In Sophia’s words: “I feel unstoppable because knowing my purpose keeps me in my lane and intentional in all that I do”. Whether it’s the completion of Books, as in the case of Sophia and Dr. Stephanie Mitrano, hosting the first global FWOC Conference in South Africa as in the case of Tebello Mokhema or creating transformative pieces of glass jewelry as Susan Isaacs has done; “turning wounds into wisdom” as Helena Geogiou has done or using “not fitting in, to stand out” as Martha Douwma has done or finding ways to have our passion and purpose bridge the gap between what we love to do and what no longer is in alignment with who we are as in the case of Eldina Sonnenholzner. It has been sharing of self and skills to meet others’ financial empowerment needs as Gladys Mutsopotsi Shumbambiri who “never doubted her Vision” or as in the case of Cecil Dorlas who pushed her Burlesque & Dance Project without support, trusting her gut only because she “had nothing to lose”. It has taken follow through on the promises each of these individuals made to themselves. This is personal integrity: staying true to the promises we make to ourselves.
Every writer and the South African video acknowledged the integral role support and mentorship played in achieving their respective goals. Each one was brave enough to ask for help. I say “brave” because we come from a social scripting that equates self-sufficiency and independence with inner strength. The FWOC sisterhood has successfully changed this narrative. To reach out and admit “I cannot do this on my own” is to acknowledge another’s skill, it also demonstrates the power embedded in vulnerability.
How I could so identify as a Writer with Dr Stephanie Mitrano’s dilemma while completing her Book? This is not only a dilemma which writers face; this is a dilemma which we experience as mentees within the context of role modeling. The dilemma is to have the capacity to strike the balance between our authentic voice and being and assimilating constructive opinion, valuable, external feedback and others’ admirable attributes into our being. And yet the answer lies in the collective narrative witnessed in most of these stories: that as much as we humbly accept others’ lessons and feedback, we can never dilute our authentic voice in order to “fit in”. Neither should we dilute our truth for purposes of acceptance and agreement. Our truth sets us free and only that which is organically aligned to our truth is acceptable and can be effortlessly assimilated into our being and our work. Standing in our truth and sustaining our truth is not always easy, it entails venturing into inconvenient territory and having inconvenient conversations with self and others.
It was really the collective common challenges which each writer faced that weaved a thicker golden thread around me and their stories, emphasizing that we share the same fears and vulnerabilities despite being continents apart. Self-doubt and the fear of inadequacy are something that we all have faced and continue to face. As we transform, and evolve personally and professionally, we find ways and strategies to increase our levels of self-confidence. As we succeed at one thing for which we initially had doubts or fears, we gain greater self-belief and inspiration to tackle the next project. I saw myself in every story’s “challenges experienced”. This is what stories do; they become a voice or a mirror for others, particularly for the ones who are unable to articulate their stories for a host of reasons.
In closing, each story teller has re-iterated that their mission is to be a Light, a symbol of hope, an example for others to break through their barriers, leave their comfort zones and heal their hurt. I am reminded of one of my favorite Marianne Wiliamson quotations: “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same, as we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others”. Our stories are our presence that knows no geographical or cultural boundaries. Our stories liberate ourselves and inspire liberation in others. You have so much to share and give and while some of us may feel our cups are relatively empty, Dr. Lumka Manelli reminds us “to never forget the value inside of the cup”. To know that our stories have inspired others and touched others’ hearts and souls is to know that our stories continue to live through others. This is LEGACY!
All my Love & Light