It’s been such a full week with the completion of May Is For Metta 2014 and some other events I was facilitating that I did not have a chance to announce the release of the latest Heal My Voice collaborative book, Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace. Most of you who have been following the blog for a bit probably have heard me talk about Heal My Voice and some of my posts this past year have been connect to this project, known as Voices Of Peace. I had the privilege and honor to co-facilitate this year-long writing project as well as write a story and the afterword for the book. This is the second project I have participated in; the first was Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women. As you can see from the titles, each book project has a theme. The project consists of a group of 18 – 25 women coming together for 9 months – 1 year to explore the theme in their writing and their lives.
The mission of Heal My Voice is to “empower and support women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership in their lives and in the world.”. For the past two years, this project has been at the heart of my journey of transformation and healing. Through writing, finding my voice and stepping forward in leadership, I have had so many incredible opportunities and experiences. My first published story, “Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman” was released in 2013. Also, over the last year, I have had the opportunity to bring the Heal My Voice model to Chrysalis House, a residential addictions treatment program for women and their children in Crownsville, MD. This grass-roots pilot project has been a joy to be a part of and has once again brought me full circle back to bringing holistic tools and resources to the addiction and mental health recovery community.
When I began my first HMV project, I had stepped away from that path, feeling uncertain of how to bring my gifts to addictions and recovery programs. I had no idea where I would end up when I began, but writing my two Heal My Voice stories has helped me to make peace with my life experiences, to learn and grow as a facilitator and to reconnect with my passion to serve those who are struggling with addictions and mental health challenges. Over the last year, I had the opportunity to become certified as a Recovery Coach through CCAR (Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery) and to complete my application to become a Certified PEER Recovery Specialist in Maryland. The timing of all this was just amazing – I completed my application on May 29th and Harmonic Voices was released on May 30th.
I also found myself immersed in this work that I have been feeling called to do all this week. On Tuesday, I lead the Heal My Voice writing circle at Chrysalis House. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the Maryland Association of Chemical Dependency Nurses at Johns Hopkins. Our topic was “Holistic Resources For Addiction Treatment & Recovery”. Then, on the weekend, I returned to the Unity Women’s Recovery Retreat where I have had the honor to speak and do holistic healing sessions for the last 5 years. On Saturday, I spoke on “Accessing Your Essential Self”, a topic that emerged through my writing and explorations over this past year. I feel like things are coming full circle and I am excited to see what emerges next.
Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace was a challenging project to bring to completion. I share a bit about this in the afterword from the book. Here is an excerpt that speaks to the nature of the project and our experiences:
“Participating in a Heal My Voice project is a 9-month process, which is akin to birthing a child. We invite our stories to come into being by listening and receiving ideas. Then, we carry them inside of us and work with all that is arising through our group sharing and explorations in writing. Finally, our story is born – it is written and published. It is then that we begin to move out and share our voices with the world.
Each project is different, having a specific theme or focus and in who shows up to participate in the circle. It took some time for Voices Of Peace to get going, longer than we imaged when the project began. Who wouldn’t want to focus on peace? Well, although it sounds like a simple thing, we noticed it was slow going in actually having people sign up for this project, more so than other Heal My Voice projects. It required a strong commitment of the facilitators to hold the space for “Peace” to emerge. We kept the gateway of the circle open longer than usual and slowly but surely more women joined the project.
One of the things we noticed early on in our group sharing was that most of us were not experiencing a whole lot of peace. In fact, there was a lot of chaos going on in many of the women’s lives. I witnessed something that I so often come across in my own journey and in my work with others. When we invite in a positive energy or vibration such as peace or love, we begin to stir up everything inside of us that is not that energy or vibration. This is something that happens a lot when we are working with intention or affirmations. We are essentially creating an alchemical container for transformation to occur and this is really what a Heal My Voice circle is – an alchemical container for transformation and healing.”
So for those of us who were brave enough to enter the Voices Of Peace project, we were faced with coming into conscious awareness of all that we were holding inside of ourselves that was an obstacle to peace. Much of this stemmed from our personal experiences, both current and past, as well as unresolved feelings and beliefs we took on about life and the world itself. I am not sure if we were aware of how much was coming up right away but over time our discomfort was evident.” (Click Here to read the full afterword or buy the Harmonic Voices book on Amazon.)
For me, entering into this container for the second time, opened the doorway to pain and trauma I had been carrying for far too long. Even with all of my personal work and my work as a holistic health practitioner, shaman and guide for others, I had not been willing to accept the depths of my pain. I thought I had, but it was in journeying into my deepest wounds that I found those parts of myself that were still feeling isolated, abandoned and unworthy. They needed not only for me to accept the depths of their pain, but to embrace them and bring them out into the light – to stop hiding in shame. Participating in this Heal My Voice circle, offered me a space to share my heart and soul, and to bring all of me into the light. The journey will always continue but I am so happy to share my story, “I’m Okay, Really!“ and the words of all of the 18 amazing women featured in Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace.
In my story, I shared a quote from Healing The Shadow, a book written by my teacher and mentor, Shaman Ross Bishop. I’ll leave you with those words:
“Healing means making yourself vulnerable by exposing the core of your being and admitting how you really feel about yourself. The decision to heal requires the willingness to accept that you may be as flawed as you fear (we never are). It also requires an almost ruthless commitment to find and live in the truth, irrespective of the cost.” – Ross Bishop, Healing The Shadow
If you’d like to order the book, paperback copies are now available on Amazon.com and Kindle edition will be available next week. All proceeds go to support Heal My Voice projects including the Chrysalis House Pilot Projet for women in addiction recovery.