Michele is the founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization, the Center for Earth-Based Healing, which offers free trauma-informed ecotherapy programs for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Roseland, Virginia
What brought you to EOA?
In the summer of 2013 I sat with many questions: How can I understand what it means to live an authentic life that is guided by my heart instead of our worn out, fear-based cultural story? Where was the creativity? Where was a sense of community? How could I take part in something bigger than myself and move beyond the feeling that I existed simply to work in order to pay my bills and earn that coveted 14 days of paid vacation each year when I finally got to play and enjoy the Earth? There had to be more to this thing called Life.
What really hooked me in the EOA program description were these two statements: “While many of us are conscious of the need to move beyond the habits and patterns of our collective trance and sense of separation, it is one thing to know this intellectually and another to realize it in the very fabric of our being" and “Life is self-organizing and knows what it’s doing.” A year before reading this, in 2012, I had experienced what some refer to as a ‘dark night of the soul’ or ‘spiritual emergency’. A year later, I had a profound awakening one evening as I stood in my living room when I had an instant realization that I wasn’t really ever in control of my life. From that point on, I knew there had to be a different way to meet life, but I had no idea what that looked like. This experience drove me to meditate on the questions I sat with in the woods and eventually to EOA.
What happened during or as a result of your EOA journey?
EOA cracked me open and I've never looked back. Four years after attending EOA, I barely recognize the woman I was when I first started the journey. Inwardly, I have been able to move into a much more expansive place where I am able to gratefully accept whatever my life places before me. EOA provided the container, support, and deep community connections that were necessary for me to learn how to embody all that my life offers. I now trust the inherent intelligence of the Universe without question, even when facing uncertain, painful, and challenging circumstances. In fact, I find myself feeling grateful for the really difficult experiences, because I now know that they are opportunities for me to continue falling more deeply into the most authentic expression of my gifts and myself.
I have become bold, much more patient, confident and courageous regarding how I move through the world. I say 'yes' to everything that feels 'right' and because of this, opportunities, synchronicities, wonderful surprises and amazing people have been brought into my life that I never could have imagined. My willingness to surrender to a 'new story' while sitting in the discomfort of the unknown allowed a mentor—an elder—to be brought into my life. She handed me her Vision and asked me to grow it, and as a result, I founded and am now executive director of a non-profit offering programs in service to healing. I experience my work now as something that goes far beyond clocking in and out to just pay the bills. EOA is a catalyst for transformation if one has the courage to deeply listen and 'be surrendered' by Life.
I’ve come to understand that I will probably never be able to fully comprehend the paradox of life…that in truth nothing matters, and at the same time everything matters. I delight in the thought that out of the 14 billion year unfolding of the cosmos, somehow by grace alone, I managed to come into this world during a time when we are being asked to re-think the way we’re doing this thing called Life. As more time passes, I appreciate the great privilege of participating in this adventure of 're-storying ourselves' more and more.
What would you say is specifically unique about EOA in terms of what it supports?
EOA doesn’t offer 'the answer' as a neatly packaged shiny new story to step into; it doesn’t even offer a clear path to follow. What EOA can offer is a safe and supportive community of fellow adventurers—including all of the other-than-human adventurers that share our planet with us—and gifted guides who have courageously chosen to step out of the familiar and into the unknown…the space between stories. We are pioneers of sorts, exploring what feels truthful and then asking ourselves from a place of loving curiosity, “How can I let this Truth guide me into what Life wants to have happen next?”
When I think of EOA, I think of Joseph Campbell saying, "are you ready to let go of the life that you have planned in order to discover the life that is waiting for you?" EOA is a doorway into that sacred exploration.
I had attended a few other programs on both coasts, but every time it was a beautifully intense experience where soon after the end of the program, the energy dissipated and I was right back to my isolated life again without a sense of community. EOA is completely unique because in my experience, years after first attending the program, I am still deeply connected to the village and what transpired.
Expressions: New Music*
Music introduction: I had turned away from my musical creativity for almost 15 years, and I believed music was a thing of the past. EOA created the supportive space that allowed me to receive an invitation to dance with my vulnerabilities and challenge the limiting stories I had been telling myself about my music, and it was directly because of EOA that I was inspired to reclaim my musical creativity. Now I can't imagine ever living without it in my life again, as it allows me to express the deep and complex feelings I embody that can not be put into words, but are ultimately experienced by all of us. To hear more of Michele's music, visit Michele's Creative Confessions.
Music and lyrics copyright Michele.