When Surrounding Yourself with Strong Female Energy Is Necessary to Your Existence

uterus art

There were five of us walking down the hallway that Tuesday morning after our writing support group meeting. The weekly meetings — the core meeting of a local writers’ group whose calendar is made up of critique groups, free writing sessions, open mics, and more — gave me a chance to connect with local writers, and to hang out with someone other than my husband, my toddler, and my cats. I had recently returned to the group after a one-year hiatus that had been necessitated by a shift in my work schedule. It was interesting to see how the group had shifted and grown in my absence.

“I’ve been telling my critique group about you ladies,” I said to three of the people with whom I was walking. “It’s so nice to see the group being infused with such strong feminine energy.”

Carl, one of the founding members of the group, rolled his eyes, because he knew I was halfway screwing with him.

The other half of me, however, was honestly thrilled that I’d somehow managed to surround myself with so many kick-ass women in the past couple of years. Before then, I’d felt so alone.

But lately, I’d had a surplus of fabulous women in my life. Just that past weekend, I’d been in Pennsylvania for a writing retreat put together by my prose critique group. I’d joined the group about a year and a half before, and our meetings instantly became the highlight of my week. Part of it was that it was a group made up of writers who were serious as hell about their work, and I needed that. But another huge part of it was that we were a group of strong, outspoken women, and that dynamic energized me. It wasn’t long before these women became more than just a bunch of people who happened to critique my work — they became my friends.

So it was inevitable that we’d end up in a cabin together for a long weekend, starting each day with yoga and meditation and journaling, leading classes on literary fiction and playwriting, having incredibly productive free write sessions and then kicking back with literary films and s’mores and Cards Against Humanity.

I’m so lucky, I’d think to myself each morning as I woke up before everyone else, turned on the coffee pot, had a banana, and rolled out my yoga mat.

I’m so lucky, I’d think to myself as I wrote out of my comfort zone, creating some of the first pieces I’d written since finishing my book and becoming bogged down by the question of Now what?

I’m so lucky, I’d think to myself when we stumbled upon an art walk in town, or when we baked brownies together, or when we got out into the fresh air and took a walk to the lake, allowing me to stretch and work my legs more than I was usually able to in my typical, sedentary day-to-day life.

That Tuesday after the retreat, and after that morning’s support group meeting, and after a day of work, I drove over to my local independent bookshop to attend an event for What Would Virginia Woolf Do? The book had grown out of a Facebook group for women over the age of 40, a group that had become a safe space for women to discuss everything from book recommendations to personal lubricants to bra shopping to online dating. I hadn’t known about the FB group before attending the event, but it was fantastic to hear about this online community, one that had exploded in size because of how good it can feel to connect with other women on topics that are oftentimes considered to be “inappropriate” or “personal” or “hush hush.” We need that.

Last night, I made it to my regular yoga studio for the first time in over two weeks. This was another safe space for me, one that played host to an intimate community of laid-back yogis, one in which I could stretch and sweat my way through the stresses of the day, or cry in child’s pose, or talk books or parenting or even kegels with some more of my favorite people. Though the past month had been chaotic and I hadn’t been practicing as much as I would’ve liked, the poses came easy that night. I felt flexible. I felt strong.

Afterward, I chatted briefly with people I love, and then drove off into the evening, more work ahead of me. My daughter’s bedtime routine ahead of me. An unending to-do list ahead of me.

I’m so lucky, I thought as I pulled onto the highway, that my life is so full.

(Photo by Hey Paul Studios, via Flickr)