Michele B: “I want to tell you just how much I have enjoyed the group, and the program (the facilitation and presentation were perfect), but mostly YOU and your bravery and honesty. Thank you!! I feel far more courageous and feel I can face some things I have previously avoided. I am taking more risks and in places I never knew I needed more courage.”
Kristia D: “I feel so much gratitude for the thoughtful gathering of minds Lisa brought together for the Courage for Activists workshop. It was a safe place to share our creative skills, our inner workings, our hopes for the future and our worries too. Lisa’s gentle but assured presence guided us through memories, reminding us of our courage to “be the change” and supported our spirits though poetry, words of wisdom, personal stories and song. I’m feeling lighter knowing that the heavy work of caring for an ailing planet is shared by so many caring souls.”
Excerpts from evaluations for “For the Love of Earth” – November 2017:
Q: How has this program helped you or changed you?
“Be more courageous to lean into my fears and voice my comments thoughtfully.”
“Don’t feel so alone about the cause.”
“This program has increased my confidence to carry on.”
“I will take more trouble to understand different, even repugnant views.”
“I became more aware of the importance of silence.”
“It helped me become aware of the groups that sustain me in my activism.”
“I will listen more, not interrupt, not try to fix.”
“The program showed me how talented and constructive my allies are. It has dropped a strong rope ladder into my ‘well of loneliness’.”
“This program made me sturdier. It strengthened my resolve to speak out more, and to do more. It made me more hopeful, recognizing how many beautiful allies are around me, and seeing such strength in others. It made me ready to “step in and step up” further, feeling the heartsore quality of others too, while respecting their strength and resilience. It gave me a quiet appreciation of the necessity of, and the capacity for, persistence. I will speak more personally about the why behind my position on local and global ecology, economies and wellbeing.”
Excerpts from e-mails from three participants:
Wendy M.: “Thank you, Lisa, for such a wonderful, enlightening morning. I was so impressed with your ability to facilitate in such a calm manner and articulate your own growth experience and inspire all of us there to speak from our own hearts and souls. I am looking forward to next Tuesday.” Wendy M.
Catherine K: “The program helped me begin to trust my potential for taking active disagreement in a detached way. I can tell that this will be easier if I follow the program’s wisdom and do something I have not done before: cultivate a community of congruence purely for my own sake rather than for advancing a project.
The program has readied me to probe more doggedly beneath aversive attitudes for the place where I feel the other’s humanity. In the past I might have done that mostly for the sake of feeling liked—being at least credited with an open mind. But being regarded as open-minded is not as important as actually sharing a perception of reality. I see the possibility now of letting the truth work its own charm. I know that if my opponent’s identity is challenged by the truths I embrace, I might have to live for a long time with the uncomfortable feeling that our contact created little but mutual disaffection. I may never get to say, “The truth will out!” However, I have already perceived a change in the way I react to distrust, and for that equanimity I credit the sense of kinship I feel with everyone in the program, especially those who have been in one of my small discussion groups.
When a voice speaks in the Earth’s defence, it needs to pull breath from a place that is strong and joyous, and therefore hard to forget. I can feel joyous when I picture the faces in that Society of Friends room, especially yours, Lisa! So I hope to prepare myself better to draw on celebrative feelings when about to speak about the Earth’s destiny. This program has motivated me to add weight to my emotional toolbox. If actors can cry on demand, why can’t I not cry in service of a cause?
As for the process, I share the feeling of many others that speaking exclusively “to the centre” was too confining. We might have chafed at it partly from unfamiliarity, as it does take practice, and in four sessions the amount of practice is a bit scanty to yield a strong sense of what it accomplishes. I believe I don’t yet know, for sure. I did like gaining practice in it, though, and I can see that it promises to cure a person of saying what she thinks others wish to hear.
I also took special pleasure in the details you disclosed, Lisa, about your own journey to find courage and renewal. As well, I’m sure it was the zest with which you quoted wisdom from Reinhold Niebuhr and others that made me want to hold on to their words.
The choice and use of music was inspired, and your technique for bringing Maya Angelou into the room demonstrated that you grasp exceptionally well how much a poet’s voice can contribute to the impact of her thoughts.
I rate this workshop as 9/9. It’s been the best in my long experience of meetings and workshops. The relaxed control of a warm, alert facilitator (who must be a planner extraordinare) is a wonder to behold, so the trip as been as desirable as the destination.”
Sylvia H: Lisa was deft, flexible, “highly present,” to indicate her groundedness, attentiveness, quick and heartfelt responsiveness, and combination of humble authenticity and skillful preparedness, and delightful.
I was surprised and delighted by the forthrightness and intimate nature of examples drawn from Lisa’s own lived experience—offered as entry planks, rather than as final words of facilitator privilege, and also offered without any “clienting” edge or tone to them. Lisa is a facilitator who has clearly done, and is continuing to do, her own inner work. It shows! It helps! (i.e. to create a sturdy container, to enable other disclosures, to serve as a healthy model of how to contribute, to invite me into a more reflective and also incisive space.) It surprised, in its efficiency of offerings, and it delighted, because of their depth!
I would rate this program a 9/9, thanks to the program design, content and Lisa’s facilitation, the particular mix of participants there, my respect for Parker J. Palmer’s work and for the founders and other facilitators of Earth Literacies, the feeling of this setting, and the timeliness of this offering, given my newcomer status in this city and my keenness to strengthen Earth work.
A letter from a participant at “Earth Advocacy from the Heart”
Terry K.: “Hello Lisa and Mardi, I cannot tell you how appreciative and energized I have been since returning home from the retreat. I have been to and have facilitated many retreats myself and I am quite surprised at the impact this is having on me. It’s not that the concepts were new but the work that you invited me into has had a profound impact that is deepening each day since. I will try to share a few of the things that I am noticing at this point.
I am amazed at my own sense of peace in difficult discussions … I am less defensive, more attentive and asking better questions. I have been struggling with a great deal of change in my own spiritual life and have found myself deeply questioning a great deal. I’m OK with questions but something in me once again has landed, not in a place of no questions, but in a place of peace in my spirit that has been missing for sometime. I have not found the words to articulate this mystery and it was certainly not an expected outcome of this retreat.
There were a few other unexpected gifts. One was the space that allowed me to reflect upon the legacy of my mom. The timing was so perfect. She herself had an affinity for the ‘Friends’ as she called them and I had forgotten the meetings that we had attended occasionally as a child and the many times she forced us to spend time in quiet before a sunset on our way home from wherever. Her presence and impact during this time was so incredibly sweet I could taste it. She also was a lover of Earth and the power of that will continue to instruct my life. The circle and poetry and questions provided me some space on this healing journey.
The space provided on retreat made room for a flooding of ideas. It felt like there was a movement that my heart followed without me knowing it until now. I entered into some deep spots and came out energized and clear minded. That has not been the case lately.
I felt so empowered and convinced that despite the forces that threaten to squash my passions I feel incredibly strong in the way forward. I do not have any answers about how it will play out but I am excited to pursue the few things that I am passionate about these days.
I was reminded this week that when I allow myself to dream and give myself permission to try things I connect with amazing people and cool stuff happens. I have listened to the voice of those who do not understand too much in the past years and this part of my soul has been fighting to come out of hiding. So I am realizing even now that perhaps the biggest gift of this retreat was not an direct answer to my question but a much bigger realization that the person I am has been suppressed and needs to speak out. I am pretty excited about the future and am wholeheartedly going to go for it. The outcome is less important than the journey.
Finally somehow I just feel lighter, more present to my kids and husband, less afraid to face some difficult situations, and more in touch with the person who has always loved living life to the fullest.
I feel like I could go on and on about the gift of these couple of days but I have already rambled quite a bit. Thank you both for your wonderful leadership, vulnerability, strength and grace. I am blessed and look forward to continuing this journey with courage.”