Monthly Archives: August 2013

Talking about the things we don’t talk about

By Hollie B.

Republished with permission from Lunation

You may know dear heart, that I hold Sacred Space with my SisStar Rachel each month for the Canberra Red Tent Experience. What You may not know is that for the past few months I’ve been in a ‘rough patch’ in terms of how I feel about continuing this Red Tent Space.

And in keeping with the theme of Things We Don’t Talk About, I’m gonna share some things with You here. I will say though, that these are my thoughts, and don’t reflect Rachel at all. This is all about me!

When Rachel and I decided to come together to present Canberra Red Tent Experience this year we wanted to honour the terrific film by Isadora Leidenfrost – Red Tent Movie : Things We Don’t Talk About because this groundbreaking media has the potential to heal communities throughout the world. I’ve been following the making of the film and helping support it with financial donations over the past few years and I was so freaking ecstatic when it finally came out.

What strikes me most about this film, even after seeing it four times now, is the Power in hearing women speak their truth. The Red Tent provides a Space, not simply for Women to connect and talk – but IN MY INDIGO OPINION really GOOD Red Tent Experience also provides a Space where Women can be utterly authentic in their feeling – something that we all know is extremely lacking in our society.

(as a side note, yes I do feel that there is such a things as really crap Circle experience too but I’ll save that for another day. Needless to say, I’m incredibly passionate about providing GOOD Circle Experience and always have been)

So our Vision for the Red Tent Experience in Canberra was to create a Space of deep healing where Women could come to speak not only from an authentic place but also to specifically have a chance to reflect upon stories in their life that are usually not talked about. You know, the stuff that’s not polite dinner conversation : like the grief of losing a child, like how it feels to go through life after having been raped, like what being a mother really means to You as an individual, like how You felt when You chose to have an abortion – and how You feel now, like what makes You feel honoured… The deep stuff the stuff that is in our very essence that we’ve never been able to share.

Red Tent Circle with Hollie B. and Rachel Vines - Canberra | Women's Circles

Now this kind of sharing is apparently not for everyone. At least, some people think its not for them. Sharing yourself so fully is frightening. But I know without a doubt that it is the most empowering experience of all. To be utterly raw with yourself in a Space where you are not judged and ARE accepted for being You – is something that creates such healing and freedom.

I write this post as a Space to express that same essence for mySelf. You get my Truth here. I’m a Sagittarian Rooster Indigo Witch (not that I really think labels are necessary ha!) I’ve always spoken about the things others won’t – even as a little kid. I’ve been called tactless, raw, passionate and volatile. It all means the same thing to me – I’ve got the courage to say what I feel. If only more people did!

And that was the reason for this year’s Red Tent Experience. I wanted to provide a rad Space where Women could say what they feel. I’ve been bungin on about going deep with the feeling for long enough now, I suppose in a way this year’s Red Tent series was my final call to arms for Women – to see if they really can make good with their Truth. To see whether all this work I’ve been doing over the years is worth it – to find out whether all the readers and commenters and People who pertain to be Real – are really willing to Be Real.

In our Red Tent Experience there’s no tricks. There’s no special ceremony or clearings or anything fancy that needs to happen. We don’t have a formula for our Circle casting or a specially designed workbook to get through your issues. It’s just a safe Space created by caring People with a strong commitment to the Infinite, unbound Self. Rachel and I have a combined total of over 30 years experience in holding Women’s Space and we take the responsibility of providing the Red Tent extremely seriously – and personally. It can be heart breaking when only 2 people are booked into the Circle, but it is always a lesson in trusting the process. This year I’ve had to get even more clear than ever before about why I’m holding the Red Tent. I’ve had to ask the dreaded question “What’s in this for me?”

I say dreaded question because it is apparently not very appropriate to think about selfish pursuits when you are providing ‘spiritual service’. Like apparently it’s an ‘ego’ thing to think that you should either make money or gain personal healing through a service that is provided to the community. Well I’m here to tell a you darling heart that THAT is a complete load of crap. Because if you’re not getting something from it too, then you’re wasting your time. Life is about YOU. Not about them. We’re here to do our work, and if what you’re doing isn’t giving You what You need, find something that does. P.S. Money is something we all need.

So that’s kind of been my thinking over the past few months. Why am I traveling an hour each way, driving home in the middle of the night on country roads, coming to a Circle for 2 or 3 attendees? What’s in this for me? I’m not making any money. I’m tired and wiped out the next day from the late drive. And I’m connecting with awesome Women who I can see any time because they’re also my friends. You see dear reader, I was all in the head about this. I was trying to make up rational sense of the experience of freeing the Self. Bah!

Do You know what else? That whole 2 or 3 attendee thing only happened once! Often we would only have a couple of people booked in at the start of the week, but by the time the Thursday rolls around, there’s always a pile more bookings. It’s frustrating for organising, but it is the nature of our Canberra culture undoubtedly. Everyone has a busy story.

Red Tent Circle with Hollie B. and Rachel Vines - Canberra | Women's Circles

And then it happened. I gave it over. I let go of the experience and decided to let it be what it will be. I came to the Circle as an equal participant without thinking like a facilitator. I didn’t prepare anything. I didn’t put ‘any effort’ in and just brought myself. And there were way more than 3 attendees! And the words and the tears spilled out and the Women heard me and responded with their own deep Selves and my heart opened and I BECAME the Circle. And I realised that that’s what I’m getting from it.

This experience of the Red Tent is more than what words and rationale can make of it. It is a deep healing experience. It is a growth of empathy and compassion that I wasn’t even aware was missing – and each month it grows more. Being in the Red Tent allows me to question my concerns and puts things into perspective. Even when the theme doesn’t seem that it is related to what’s going on in my own life, I find the commonality that links me with other Women and it opens the gateway to the Space I need healing most in this moment. The Power of this is beyond Power. It is a fierce Primal energy that is Women coming together in their absolute Truth. And I need this like I need air and water and sun. I need to hear the stories of other Women. And I need to share mine.

My experience tells me that when individual Women experience this kind of healing, brought on by no one else’s doing but our own opening of Self, we have a greater Power in our own lives. The healed individual takes their healing out to the world, and is an active part of healing entire communities, simply for having been authentic with her feelings.

For some women it is terrifying. Some of these stories have been laying under the surface, softly – and sometimes not so softly – brewing and bubbling under the covers. The woman may feel like she never had had a safe space to tell her story. Sometimes she hasn’t wanted to talk about her feelings for fear of upsetting people she cares about. She’s never been able to express her feelings for the threat of being told to toughen up, or ‘its about time you moved on’ or whatever other well meaning advice others will give. You see, in a Red Tent Experience, we don’t give advice. We listen. We open. We cry with each other and our reality shifts. We learn things about the world we could never imagine.

Compassion and empathy grow.

Through hearing the stories of other women we heal. I have been witness to some absolutely tragic and horrific stories. I have sat with women as they shed the years of holding onto the fine details of stories too painful for anyone else to hear. I’ve felt the pain of a woman’s heart as I rub her back and her tears spill on the floor. Women who come to be witness in the Circle inevitably find a similarity in a story to something that might otherwise seem unrelated. But it is enough to trigger in her the release of her own pain. And the floodgates open. And healing occurs.

And do You know? We don’t always cry. Sometimes we laugh. I’ve laughed with women at the sheer absurdity and joy of life. I’ve heard filthy jokes in Circle. Women fart too! We heal with our laughter as much as our tears.

I am so eternally grateful for the Red Tent Experience and the Women who attend month after month, as well as the Women who float in and out, as well as the Women who still haven’t quite mustered up the courage to come along yet! I see now that the things that have always been a part of me continue to be a strong aspect of my contribution. I contribute with service to All Living Things by doing that which fills me, fuels me and reminds me why I’m alive. As one of the Women said to me after last month’s Circle, YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU. And she was right. The only thing I didn’t see until that moment is that it always has been working for me, perfectly.

Maia Nie Heya.

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The Myth of the Siren

by Robin Corak

I have always been fascinated by sirens. Yet, traditional myths of the sirens as beautiful but sinister creatures luring sailors to their death never made sense to me. These myths, like other traditional myths, portrayed the men as strong, noble, seafaring individuals going off to fight yet another war whereas women who had any measure of power were portrayed as ugly, shrew-like, simple, and/or cruel. These women were to be both feared and dominated. The message of these myths seemed to be to be saying that as a woman, we should be beautiful and society -and men in particular- would be enthralled by our beauty. By the same token, beautiful women were not to be trusted. It always seemed to me to set up a losing proposition-our primary source of power (at least according to the myth) was also to be our downfall and prevent us from finding lasting love and trust in a relationship.

But as with any story, there is more than one perspective and many ways to read between the lines.

What if we were to view these myths through a lens that considers that  masculine energy is active and feminine energy more reflective? Then, perhaps, the role of the sirens was to lure the men away from their determination to act  (in this case in a realm of fighting and destruction) and to instead entice them to stop and reflect for a bit, to appreciate the beauty around them and to consider another way of being. Given that the ocean has always been associated with our subconscious and the realm of feelings, perhaps the powerful draw of the sirens was a longing by these men to experience greater introspection and  dive deeper into exploring their own emotions- something not always accepted or encouraged by society.

By reclaiming the stories and myths that either cast women in a negative light or limit our identities, we can begin to more fully embrace and understand our power as well as the unique gift we can bring to the world. This is true not just with traditional stories but with the stories that others in our lives – well meaning or not- have told us and even with the stories we have told ourselves. I have often found that in the midst of my greatest fears and/or the most limiting beliefs about my self, I find a hidden power, talent, or strength I didnt know I had.

When I was growing up, I was often told and felt that I was not athletic or good at sports in any way. Part of this was due to a medical condition I had that made me appear tiny and somehwat fragile.  For that reason, I shied away from anything that required physical power, endurance, or speed. I was viewed – and I viewed myself- as being the “nice” one. Soft spoken and quiet, you could often find me holed up in my room with my head in a book.

Fast forward several years to a time when my very active son wanted to take a Tae Kwon Do class and wanted me to take it with him. I was terrified because I still believed the myth that I was not and would not be good at anything requiring athletic skill. But I certainly couldn’t explain all of this to my 7 year old son in a way that he could understand and I wanted to be there for him and support him. So in a testament to the power of love, I took the class with him. Not surprisingly to me, I found that I did not in my current state possess the power or endurance to do some of the more challenging warm up activities nor did I have the desire to engage in sparring with another partner. What did surprise me was that the forms we were required to memorize (which are actually sparring moves in a sequence) were alot like dancing. I have always loved to dance and thus I found myself enjoying and excelling in this area. What I lacked in power, I made up for in control and fluidity. I began to realize that what I had often thought of as athletic skill was much broader than I had ever realized and that there was a place for gracefulness in this new definition. Of course, my joy was suspended somewhat when I set out to prepare for my first belt test which required breaking boards with my fist and my feet.

Again, those nagging little voices in my head reminded me of the myth regarding my lack of athletic prowess which I had too willingly accepted in my youth and which had grown in power upon facing this most recent challenge. Fortunately for me, I am tenacious (and I will admit it, a wee bit proud) and there is a rebelling voice inside me that was not going to let this challenge defeat me. (The fact that the 5 year old testing right before me made it look easy certainly didnt hurt my resolve!) I approached the board, took a deep breath, punched with all of my might… and failed. But that is not the end of this story. Because I tried again -2 more times- and succeeded. Not only did I succeed in breaking the boards and passing the test, I succeeded in rewriting a story that had limited my view of who I was.

While I no longer participate in Tae Kwon Do, I have kept those broken boards as a reminder of the power we give to stories and myths as well as the power and the responsibility we have to rewrite and reclaim them. In the case of the myth of the siren, I have not only started interpreting the story in different ways I have also sought to find the ways in which I am offering or can offer my own unique gift as a siren in my own world. Whether in my role as mother, sister, lover, friend, writer,  or leader of the non-profit which I oversee, I have the power to emit a compelling, calming, safe and loving energy which allows people to pause, explore, and re-center. In creative and sometimes humorous ways, I “lure” people into looking at things from a variety of angles and exploring alternative visions, paths, or options. I try to inject a sense of joy and playfulness, particularly during those times where people are experiencing great challenges, need a break, or have lost the ability to connect with their inner child and let him or her out to play. In my own subtle way, I try to compel others to explore, appreciate, and emrace the undeniable beauty that exists within. These are the uniquely individual ways that I attempt to offer the gift of the siren. Your role as a siren may be completely different which is a wonderful thing, as we each have a uniquely powerful way of sharing our gifts with the world.

I challenge you to find the siren within. More than that, I challenge you to reclaim, reinterpret, and rewrite not only those traditional myths about women which you may have been drawn to but also those stories that have been told about you – whether by others or by yourself- which may no longer serve you. I assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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Filed under Guest Blogger, myth of siren, story, women's stories

Help! I don’t know how to start a Red Tent or Host a Screening

by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD

If you have found yourself inspired by the Red Tent movement or have seen “Things We Don’t Talk About” and now you want to create a Red Tent in your community or host a screening of the film, but you have found yourself saying, “Help, I don’t know how to do this..” we are here to help!

I don’t know how to create a Red Tent?
You don’t need tons of red stuff, but it sets the tone and it makes it more fun.

For additional one-on-one advice on how to create a Red Tent we suggest you participate in the monthly “Red Tent Temple Movement Teleconferences” with Alisa Starkweather, the founder of the movement. To find out when the next call is visit: http://www.redtenttemplemovement.com

How to get started:

Consider your goals and needs – and use the film to support them in a practical way. Before any event, you should consider the following:

1) IDENTIFY OBJECTIVES

Identifying your objectives will lay the foundation for your event planning. Think about what you’d like to get out of the event, how it can benefit your group or organization, and what is realistic. Here are a few suggested objectives (these are not mutually exclusive!):

  • Raise awareness about the importance of the Red Tent in your community.
  • Raise awareness about taboo topics.
  • Create an environment that supports, nurtures, and celebrates women.
  • Raise awareness about the importance for women taking time for themselves.
  • Heighten visibility and spotlight the importance of your work by connecting it with the issues raised in the film.
  • Build bridges between different age groups, races, and religious or spiritual practices.
  • Educate women about opportunities that are available in your community.
  • Establish coalitions with other groups or organizations and inspire the development of new programs that address the needs of women in your community.
  • Fund raise for your group or organization. By joining forces with “Things We Don’t Talk About” we can work together to build the world we want to live in.

2) TARGET AUDIENCE

Because a Red Tent is a woman-only space, your audience will be women. While we suggest that you start by inviting your girlfriends and female family members, we also want to encourage you to consider opening the flaps of your tent a little wider.

photo(3)

Who else should I invite?
• Invite your community leaders
• Invite other local organizations or women’s groups
• Invite the press, perhaps your local newspaper reporter is a women, invite her!

It’s important to have Action Steps:
Offer the “inspired” women who want to attend your event an opportunity to get involved. For example, maybe they can bring some food or maybe they can help give out some postcards or send some emails.

red-bull-horn

Getting the Word Out

There are many ways to get the word out. We believe that people will feel compelled to attend an event if it feels relevant, important and timely, and if it speaks to them as an audience.

At any given time there will be many possible tie-ins to women’s lives and “hooks” for particular media outlets. Having a Red Tent in every community will help millions of women and girls. One of the film’s goals is to reach “beyond the choir” and we believe that you can do it too!

Take into account how best to reach your audiences. Not everyone uses e-mail, and not everyone hangs out at progressive coffee shops. A clear understanding of how to reach each audience segment will make you more effective, and the best strategy is likely to be a combination of the techniques listed below. And remember, the best publicity will do more much than attract people to your Red Tent or screening: it will bring the overall message that we need Red Tents in our communities to a much wider audience.

Finally, be sure to send us your event information (info@redtentmovie.com) so that we can publicize for you too! If you booked a screening with us , you submitted a license and we added all of your information to our upcoming screening page and all of our other social media PR.

1) ELECTRONIC/VIRAL OUTREACH

This is one of the most effective ways to reach people, but attention spans are short, and it works best when it is accompanied by other sorts of outreach and publicity. In all electronic outreach, be sure to include a link to www.redtentmovie.com so people can view the trailer, or
better yet, embed the “Things We Don’t Talk About” trailer on your website.

  •  Newsletter or e-mail announcement: You can use the downloadable flyer templates or the template e-mails we provide at www.redtentmovie.com/host.html as the basis to create an email announcement to spread the word about your event. We recommend you send out these emails at least twice: two weeks before, and then a reminder a few days before your event.
  • Blogs: Reach out to any bloggers that you know and to bloggers who are popular with your target audience. Even a brief mention with a link to the event is helpful. Be sure to send them information to link to or embed the “Things We Don’t Talk About” trailer from                 www.redtentmovie.com onto their site for increased impact.
  •  Social networks have become hugely important in reaching certain audiences, and can be especially useful when there’s a Facebook group connected to a specific local community such as a Red Tent, university, local women’s organization, etc. We suggest setting up an “event” and inviting members of your community to forward and distribute the event information to friends. (Be sure to enable the features that allow people to forward your event information to their friends.) You can also just send a message with the event information to your friends and to groups that might be interested, including links to the Things We Don’t Talk About” website and to our pages on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/redtentfilm and Twitter http://twitter.com/redtentmovie

Be sure to tag us:

facebook@ Red Tent Movie “Things We Don’t Talk About”

twitter#redtentmovie

movie-postcard

2) POSTERS & FLYERS

Putting up posters and flyers around your community, in the right coffee shops, and on community bulletin boards can be incredibly effective. We offer a number of free downloadable template flyers and mini-posters (at www.redtentmovie.com/host.html) that you can easily customize to include your event details and then print on your own printer.

Here are a number of ideas:

  • Pass out the “Things We Don’t Talk About” postcards or flyers. These postcards will help women carry the message about the screening or Red Tent event and will provide all of the information they need to let their friends know
  • Leave a stack of flyers at appropriate local businesses and ask if you can place a mini-poster in their window. Try video stores, coffee shops, restaurants, community centers, barbershops/salons, churches, synagogues, schools, campuses, and anywhere else that your audience likes to hang-out. You can also try placing an ad on local bus systems, on school shuttles, and similar places. (Some ambitious organizers have even gotten sponsorship from the local bus system in the form of free ad space!)
  • Distribute flyers at events with similar themes. Be sure to send (or e-mail) flyers to cosponsoring organizations to distribute at their events.
  • Go to local organizations that do work that relate to women and ask if you can leave flyers at the entrance or if they’ll post the mini-poster.

3) LOCAL MEDIA

As mentioned earlier, we have designed this toolkit to be comprehensive in order to empower you to do the best event possible. We realize that some sections will not be applicable to everyone and this section on local media is a great example – depending on your objectives and your audience, you may or may not decide to pursue media coverage. That’s fine, as it’s all about how best to reach and impact your audience. But read on for some guidance for how simple media outreach can be!

If you or one of your co-sponsoring organizations has a communications department that can take the reigns on contacting press, get them involved right away. But we understand that many small groups or community organizations may have limited capacity, so we’ve put together some basic tips that can be useful to those who are new to working with local media.

Before you make complicated plans about how to promote your event, spend some time thinking about who is most likely to understand and appreciate your event, and what media your target audience listens to, reads and logs on to. By targeting your core audience, you might decide that it makes more sense to focus on, say, an alternative weekly paper that already covers innovative community initiatives vs. the headline-driven daily paper that tends to focus on crime and
celebrites.

Below are some basic tips for your media outreach:

  • Use the template press release available at www.redtentmovie.com/host.html as a guide to create your own.
  • Ten days before the event, issue the release to a wide range of mainstream, alternative, community and specialized media. Make sure to send it to reporters covering women’s issues, the arts/entertainment, and metro sections.

If press wants photos or a press kit about the film itself, you can always direct them to www.redtentmovie.com

Get your event on calendar listings in your city’s weekly publication(s) and on the web. Make calls to local television and radio programs. Let them know about your event. Pay particular attention to local radio shows and shows that focus on women’s issues, as they frequently need guests and may be very happy to promote a local event!

Here’s who to contact:

  • Local TV news: assignment editors
  • Public affairs or magazine programs: producer
  • Talk radio or local/community radio: producers or host

A couple of days prior to your event contact the people to whom you sent press materials and encourage them to attend the event.
4) CO-SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS

We strongly encourage including other organizations in your plans, as it helps you broaden your reach and establish new, potentially long-term partnerships. Allied organizations can get involved in a range of ways depending on their capacity. This can include getting the word out through listservs or websites and contributing time or resources. There are many groups that would make good co-sponsors, including women’s organizations and Women’s Centers at universities.

The key in approaching co-sponsors is to help them understand how your event fits into their priorities as an organization, and how they will ultimately benefit from being associated with your plans. Be sure to allow enough lead-time – building new relationships often takes time.

Good luck!

Isadora_pr

I hope that you found article helpful in planning your next Red Tent or upcoming screening of “Things We Don’t Talk About.” If you have any questions please contact us at info@redtentmovie.com

Portions of this guide were adapted from the Made in L.A. Event Planning Toolkit, created by the filmmakers of Made in L.A. (www.MadeinLA.com) and based on materials developed by Active Voice (www.activevoice.net) with funding from P.O.V.

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Filed under "things we don't talk about", ALisa Starkweather, From the filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, red tent film, red tent movie, red tent temple, Red Tent Temple Movment

The Red Tent Movie premiere’s in Colorado

by Jayleigh Lewis

Women gathered to create Red Tent spaces in two locations in Colorado on July 20th and 21st 2013, hosting screenings of the Red Tent movie Things We Don’t Talk About as well as Q&A sessions with Isadora, the filmmaker.

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

The Red Tent community in Boulder transformed a yoga studio into sacred space for the Colorado Premiere. In this progressive college town in the foothills of the Rockies, they transformed the space using floor red coverings and Christmas lights and the women and the men shared great conversation and stories after the movie. Elena and Aditi, co-hosts of Boulder’s monthly Red Tent (which for a time was one of the only permanent Red Tents in the country, a dedicated space rather than one created and dismantled at every gathering), each spoke from personal experience about spaces that honor the feminine.

Elena spoke about what it was like to bring Red Tent space to a local women’s domestic abuse shelter. The women there mostly spoke Spanish; Elena’s words to them were translated by the woman in charge of the shelter. The women shared with Elena that having the Red Tent brought to them, through words spoken in their own language, helped them to feel safe.

Aditi had just returned from a trip to India, where she had participated in a festival honoring the menstruating goddess. This annual festival, called Ambubachi Mela, takes place in a temple in Assam and includes a period of three days where the goddess known as Kamakhya is believed to be menstruating. The temple is closed during this time to honor her. Aditi’s sharing at the screening opened the minds and imaginations of those present to the concept of the divinity of menstruation.

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

The next day, the history-rich plains town of Fort Collins was the site of the next movie screening. There is not yet a Red Tent community in this town, but the event was hosted in a New Age-style church by Leslie and Tracee, locals who work to empower women and girls. Leslie hosts a radio show (which three years ago featured an interview with Isadora) called Holy Hormones Honey! She is an author and researcher focusing on how hormonal changes during women’s menstrual cycles affect their well-being on all levels. Tracee is also an author as well as a community leader who works to revolutionize the way we think about raising girls, emphasizing the importance of helping them to know and experience their own power.

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

Fort Collins, CO Premiere

Isadora’s traveling red fabric wall hangings adorned the space where, after the screening, Leslie celebrated her 60th birthday with delicious cupcakes. The Q and A session featured long, depth-filled conversations. One woman found the courage to speak of the fear she had experienced at the beginning of the gathering upon walking into a room full of other women. She went on to share that as she sat in the space and listened to women speak, she began to overcome her fear and to imagine what might be possible if she had sisterhood in her life.

Each event was a precious pause in time and space during which participants experienced real-life women’s community as well as witnessing it onscreen.

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