I am so excited to share with you what I experienced this past week… It’s blowing my mind!!!
Last Saturday I wrote this: “My favorite opportunities are the ones that present us with a chance to take a break, get a good night’s rest, and help us feel rejuvenated and renewed… I need to find (or create) a ‘favorable set of circumstances’ to rest and to nourish my body, my mind and my soul. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t do anything else. I definitely could not see opportunities in hardships.”
God (or some forces of the universe) must have read my blog… haha… because… (well, keep reading)!
See, I really wanted to attend the Thistle Farms National Conference, in Nashville. I felt it would be something I’d do solely for myself – in the same way that I’m inviting you to do something for yourself by coming on the September sea cruise with me.
Thistle Farms is a social enterprise that provides support for women survivors of sex trafficking, addiction, abuse and prostitution. The conference was a way to connect a network of non-profits and social enterprises that do similar work and provide further education and resources for their development. Thistle Farms and the women survivors I met there a few years ago were instrumental in my healing, and in my growth toward deeper Love.
But, I had never done anything like that before! I’m usually speaking or singing at conferences and retreats; when I do, I also get to enjoy the program. But I had never actually bought a ticket to go to a conference as an attendee. Especially a conference that didn’t have a clear benefit to me – except that I love connecting with other women who call themselves “Wounded Healers.”
I don’t know why it seemed such a big deal… but it was.
I waited until the last minute to decide.
When I finally made a choice that this was something I really wanted to do for me, it was already Saturday evening and ticket sales were closed.
I frantically texted my friend Jennifer, a survivor who works for Thistle Farms: “I missed the registration deadline (horror emoji).”
Jen texted me a kiss and peace sign emoji and a link to buy my ticket. As I typed in the last digit of my credit card and clicked ‘submit,’ a sense of peace came over me.
I was in.
On my way to the conference the next day, I kept telling myself, “I don’t have to understand why we are put in certain situations. I don’t have to speculate if and why certain paths in our lives feel like a part of some bigger “God’s” plan. Sometimes all we have to do is put one foot in front of the other and let ourselves be guided.”.
The moment I entered the meeting hall at Vanderbilt University, where a few hundred women (and six men) were already seated at their tables, I felt ‘home.’
And this ‘home’ felt like Christmas morning, or my mother’s lap, or a Sunday dinner when everyone is home and gathered around a table.
I thought of a quote by Mother Teresa: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other,” and I looked around the room… “That’s what I’m feeling!” The place was soaked in a peace that comes with the sense of belonging and knowing that we are all connected.
The conference lasted three days and was intense with workshops, moving talks and educational sessions such as trauma informed care, fundraising and strategic planning.
The music was a treat provided by the friends of Thistle Farms: Amy Grant, Lori McKenna, Gretchen Peters and Suzy Bogguss. It was amazing!
I had put two organizations I volunteer with on my name tag: Nashville Peacemakers and Better Decisions, and I felt incredible gratitude for an opportunity to serve.
Well, perhaps I was a bit too grateful, because I was hit with a tidal wave of volunteering opportunities (haha):
Following the conference, I rushed straight to volunteer at my sons’ swim meet. (Is it still volunteering if it’s required for fee reduction?) The next day, I played piano for the 10-year-old cantors’ practice at our church. On Thursday, I hosted an intense group-coaching event for moms who have lost their children to gun violence (as part of my Nashville Peacemakers work). And yesterday, my two sons and I woke up at 5 a.m. to put up flags in our neighborhood – as a part of our service hours that benefit their school band.
I looked at my long list of work-related tasks and trusted that it could wait.
The miracle in all of this?
Instead of feeling exhausted, I felt energized. Instead of being overwhelmed and stressed, I felt peace and calm. Instead of looking at my (very important) budget spreadsheets sitting in my home office and hustling up work, I responded to four requests for gigs, and two press inquiries that came out of ‘nowhere’ 🙂
The opportunity to serve (which I took from a place of Love and abundance and not fear and lack) opened up a flow of graces and cleared paths for me.
Now, let me be clear – this doesn’t always happen this easily for me. It’s grit, discipline, persistence, and even more grit that I HAVE to invest in order for Grace to move all the pieces into the right place and produce results.
But when it does happen (like this past week), it just confirms my belief that it is in giving that we receive. And it is in our concern for others that we find peace, belonging and purpose.
This weekend I’ll do a bit of ‘nothing’ – to give my body some rest – even though I don’t feel tired at all … 🙂
I hope my story today inspires you to look for ways to nourish your spirit – and find them in service to others. Our cruise in Croatia offers an opportunity to both rest AND engage in unconditional giving back which will renew your body, mind and spirit. Plus, you will be giving our Croatian crew an opportunity to serve you… 😉