our dreadie love fest in portland.

dreadie love fest
jess, sara, me & stephanie (the dread goddess) at akemi salon in portland

steph & jess
steph & jess...these women teach me so much

cousin mary
cousin mary on akemi's couch

steph studying sara's dreads
steph studying sara's dreads

stephanie & sara janssen
steph crocheting sara's beauties

janssen family
the janssen family on tour

me & the dread goddess
steph crocheting my hair

jess, me & dread kitty
jess & me snuggling on steph's couch with the dread kitty (at her home)

home of the dread goddess
the hauntingly romantic and gorgeous home of the dread goddess

jess & steph
jess & steph at a bakery/cafe

mississippi station
clockwise bottom left: jess, steph, cousin mary & megan at mississipi station
for lunch post dread appt.

and here is my result...
amy seeley & me
amy seeley & me at The Farm Cafe for dinner post dread appt.

We all surfaced from this weekend with hearts that shifted, expanding wider and deeper and softer. I was exhausted on the plane ride home. But a good exhausted. The kind when you're replaying over and over scenes from the last few days in your head and there is too much excitement to sleep. Even though my head was pounding, I had a smile on my face as I gazed out the window at the rainy clouds beneath the wing. The belly of my heart felt full of all of the soulfood that these women fed me and I was in something that felt like a soulfood coma. You know what I mean?

Perhaps it is a blessing that the dear ones in my life do not live near me. Blessing in a sense that when I do gather with them, my senses are heightened and I soak in every word droplet and story and heart spilling and I hold their hands and walk arm in arm and snuggle them close and don't take a single second for granted. Perhaps if I saw them every day, I wouldn't notice all the teeny tiny beautiful details as I do when we have these gatherings (or perhaps I would). I suppose I am going there in my head because most of the time I feel sad living away from my buds but if I shift my perspective to the blessings of those small but amazingly precious moments, then I'll feel more grateful than sad.

Over the course of a few days, so much of what happened during the dreadie love fest was not in the original plan but it ended up unfolding so beautifully. We were all in such an open and relaxed head space that whatever came our way just made sense, because we allowed the moment to teach us.

Jessamyn was the one that found us a place to stay. It would be at her cousin Mary's grandmother's home (who was on vacation). When I arrived, I met Cousin Mary (this is what I named her) at the airport for the first time and when I first laid eyes on her, she felt so familiar. She came over and hugged me good and I was immediately charmed. Within a few minutes, we were snuggling around granny's kitchen table, followed by a few hours of tears, talking through some hard things, trying to find our center...together...three women living different lives, with similar values and helping one another to stand in our integrity.

The same circle of love followed us into the salon the next morning. We walked in to find Stephanie (the dread goddess) lighting incense for us, with her wide gorgeous eyes, squealing "do you know how long I've been looking forward to this?? I hope you guys don't mind that you're stuck with me all day when the appointments are done!" I loved that she planned her day with us. Again...there were hugs and hearts spilled on her vintage couch and tears and wisdom shared.

Do you know that feeling of walking around with an expanded heart? A feeling of calm and openeness? But also a buzz of excitement and connection and like something bigger is happening here? Like...we were all brought together to learn something, to walk away from this weekend changed? This is how it felt. That buzz. Each of us felt it and acknowledged it.

Then in walks Sara Janssen...a dear blog friend, whom I've connected with via email and also am collaborating on something with. We were not sure if she was going to make it, as her family is on tour. She immediately felt like a kindred to each of us (while we ran our fingers through her delicious dreads within minutes of her arriving).

Then close to the end, in walks Megan, Cousin Mary's roommate from college...and we all hopped in our cars and gathered at Stephanie's house, which was surreal in and of itself. Such an ethereal haven of magic and mystery in every room. We then ventured out and walked through puddles and in the rain to lunch, where as you see in the second to last photo above, there was some much needed laughter and release.

Later that night we met with my dear yummy friend Amy Seeley...whose music has torn apart and put together our hearts. This new gathering of souls felt harmonious with what the hours prior had already cultivated. We first sat near a fire place to have some pretty drinks before dinner and immediately cut to the chase about where our hearts were.

Each one of these women are hardly into surface talk and perhaps that is why the gatherings felt so deep and intense but marvelous and soul shifting.

Definitely a Ya Ya essence and it is why I can wait. I can wait and weather the long periods of time I don't spend with my girlfriends because it truly only takes a few minutes to get right into the good stuff and reconnect and refuel and create memories that linger with me during those lonely moments away from them.

I am learning to trust the unfolding of these gatherings. Trust that when all is aligned there will be a balance of intensity and lightness, the Yin & Yang of personalities that as women in friendships, we all crave the balance of.

I think why I am reflecting and reveling so much in this is that this past year, I have really come to a place of not having expectations when gathering with women and friends. I know each of us as women (and men) crave deep and easy connections but sometimes, when we force these, it can be hard and hurtful or dissapointing. I felt aware of this revelation while at Squam this year; that when I let go of trying, connections happened more naturally and with ease. I observed this in my own life and also became aware by observing others going through it as well. Now I wonder if because I am letting go of expectations surrounding this, that I am attracting what I need within my life surrounding friendships.