Elizabeth is founder of Smart Yards Co-op, working on transforming the landscaping community in Silicon Valley into a culture of cooperatives, while creating stunning, ecological, and regenerative outdoor living spaces that connect people with California flora and fauna in their own yards.
San Jose, CA
What was most striking to you about the EOA journey?
Authenticity. Authenticity of the people. There are all kinds of labels, and I see lots of people in lots of groups who are privileged folks. I was one of the participants with a very unique story of survival. Coming from a country where I was displaced from my land. Coming to the US as an immigrant and experiencing a feeling of not belonging. Having disdain for how we get treated here in US. How we’re not allowed to call this place our own. I’m not fearful. I push my way into things where you normally don’t find people like me. I’m not afraid to say “I want to join your board” when there are only white men on it.
But what I felt there was a sense of compassion for everyone, as human beings. And there was a sense of compassion for inclusiveness. And most people there were very authentic in their way of being, regardless of their personal background. That provided the space for me to be me - to be human and connect with everyone’s uniqueness.
What happened for you on the EOA immersion?
First of all, I felt very comfortable with the people who were participating. I felt I could be myself, I could relax. I felt safe. And the environment was beautiful - that also contributed to my comfort level. Many things unfolded over the weekend that contributed to the support: the way we were nurtured with the food, the camaraderie and the friendships that developed, and the feeling like I have known these people for a long time. Everyone was so beautiful. So to me, it was not an accident. I feel these organizations attract people who at the end of the day just want to make a difference in the world. They want to tap into their own power and beauty to make a difference in the world.
I’m still moved by my EOA experience. There was something that I was tapping into that I didn’t realize was still there, things that I had not dealt with. There were various ways we were guided to listen throughout the weekend - like the dream work. I had these dreams that I normally don’t have or don’t pay attention to. I live in a quiet place, but something about the environment there and the guiding that was provided, allowed me to go to bed, relax and be able to remember my dreams. Then going out to nature and really being there. With the guides giving us suggestions and bringing back our own experiences. Then being able to share freely our experience with others. All of this helped me to really connect to myself in a way that was so surprising, so beautiful.
But mainly the thing that was very transformative for me was being able to tap into something about grieving; grieving my father, through the process of dreaming and sharing in community. I went deep in. When I returned home it continued, and I allowed the grief to come forth and write. It was a profound experience. And I’m grateful for that. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t go with any expectation because I was surprised by what I was able to get out of it.
Does the EOA experience continue to inform your day to day life?
For me I realized there was a lot of work that I needed to do at a personal level to heal past wounds, to get deep and connect with myself. To be more present with people. For me, it was tapping into “Oh, yeah, I want to continue.” This is the beginning of the transformation of the new me; transforming my personal being to feel connected with other people, with life in general, and being 100% present. So, I wondered what was out there that is a structure, that is guided, that would allow me to tap into my own power? Empowered in a way so I don’t live with traumas of the past - to be in the moment and create a different future. A future that is bright and is joyous and is beautiful for me, so I can make a difference. So I started that process at EOA. It was like the tip of the iceberg that helped me see I can really develop my wholeness. I don’t want to be the victim and the survivor anymore. I need to let that go. Grieve the past and let it go. EOA helped me catalyze that work and I feel honored to have begun.