As 2010 came to a close, I realized that over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become part of three brand new communities (without even changing my physical address). As I embarked on life coach training, certification in music and sound healing, and improvisation as a violinist in the local “open mic” scene, I was welcomed into three totally new worlds for me.
As I crisscrossed the Bay Area and the internet interacting with these distinct groups, it occurred to me that no single place brought together people with such wide-ranging interests. What fun it would be if someone could create a space and purpose for gathering that would allow the expression and sharing of all these creative souls! I realized that I could be that person!
I was inspired to create the Essential Self Extravaganza. The name refers to a central concept of Martha Beck's life coaching approach, which guides us to find and follow the voice of our essential self, versus the social self we so readily construct as an identity to show the world and "fit in" with the rules of our families, religions, cultures, professional group, or demographic.
I had had enough of the typical "holiday party", where the focus is on the display of our social selves. The typical conversations starting with the question, "So, what do you do?" or "Where are you from?" were familiar to me, yet no longer of interest. Instead of complaining or lamenting about these kinds of parties, I decided (in the empowerment I am growing into) to host my own gathering - the kind of party I would want to attend myself.
That set my imagination free, and, as is always the case when I open up to trust my own creativity, it flowed effortlessly. I immediately formed a picture in my mind of how the day would be presented, who I would invite, and what I would say in the invitation. I sent out personal invitations (no e-vite or Facebook event for this one). I hand-selected the people I wanted to include. I expressed myself from MY essential self.
And what unfolded on December 17, 2010, was perfect in the way that the universe is always divinely perfect and complete.
The gift of video is the ability to capture some of the magic that happened and share bits of it with you here. When you have some time, grab a cup of tea and enjoy these amazing offerings from the generosity of the spirit.
Soulful Songstress Aletha McGee offers an impromptu song during a break:
Artist and Vocalist Jovani McArdle creates a song for me, inspired by a hand-painted card I chose from her collection:
Poet Loc Tran performs his piece, "Enough":
Writer and Actress Sarah Lau performs a scene from her one-woman show, "Remedial Girl":
Cellist and Designer Chi Chen performs an original composition based on J.S. Bach's canonic cello suites:
Performance artist Deborah Eliezer creates the character Fifi, who offers a song and dance:
Randy Bales and I lead the room in a participatory version of The Beatles' "Across The Universe":
And the final free improvisation, involving everyone in the room...AMAZING! Take a listen:
It reminded me of the first principle of Open Space Technology: "Whoever comes are the right people." Once I sent out invitations, I released my need to know who was coming, or to interpret why certain people weren't. I released any guilt about not inviting certain people out of fear of offending them. I simply stood in my own love and desire to share what is deeply true for me with a group of other souls who I knew would have much to share in a free, open setting.
The only "structure" I put around the day was the written invitation. Three blocks of time of two hours each were designated for the three types of activities I envisioned sharing: life coaching, music healing, and performances by local open mic artists.
The rest I left open to the perfect unfolding when the right people gather in the right time for them. This reminded me of the third principle of Open Space Technology: "Whatever happens is the only thing that could have."
It required a trust, which I have been training and growing over the past year, that I did not have to tell people what to do, and that I did not have to know the answer all the time, and that there is absolute beauty in not needing to know.
I felt the profound magic of gathering in sound - the wordlessness of shared energy, the oneness of harmonious voices, the collective, improvisational creation of music in the present moment. I also saw the inspiration that happens when bridges are built, between people whose paths may not have intersected otherwise.
I have always felt that one of my purposes in life was to be a bridge - a translator of sorts between the various different worlds I have inhabited. The event reinforced that image for me.
I was able to relax and enjoy something I created. (This was nearly a first for me)
In observing myself prepare for the event and decorate the room, I learned about my own capacity to "overdo" and about the fine line between abundance and excess.
I practiced observing myself with gentleness, allowing myself to receive the information I was gathering without labeling it or criticizing myself in the process.
Afterwards, I honored myself with rest.
I was surprised and delighted by so many moments that unfolded without my knowing or needing to know. I was simply a witness, wide-eyed, curious, receptive. I released my need to control what was happening, when it was happening, and whether people were having the kind of enjoyment I thought they needed to have.
I wrote this post as a way to remember the perfect unfolding when we are allowed to be free and to share from what is essential within each of us. May you experience the trust and the unfolding of your own spirit in 2011!
To see more photos from the Essential Self Extravaganza: Visit the Facebook album
To see more videos from the Essential Self Extravaganza: Visit the YouTube playlist