You know…the world is sometimes not a very friendly place.
and…when you’re needing some friendship more than just about anything…some kindness…it can be really hard to want to even go out of the house. Let alone into a bright & bustling space full of strangers.
It’s hard to show up where the strangers are. They could be kind human beings…or they could be human beings who add to the unfriendliness. It’s a risk to show up somewhere new, hoping that the people there are looking for the same thing you are, human connection.
For two years now…we’ve seen such beauty unfold that it can’t just be beginner’s luck. We set out to make Symposium a gathering like no other. One that felt small and intimate and kind and friendly and open and fun…that even if lots and lots of people showed up, you still felt like you were just at your best friend’s birthday party right in her back yard, surrounded by people you loved.
It kind of seemed like an impossible task, but we do impossible things around here all the time. And…somehow impossible things seem to work out more often than not, as long as the main ingredient is love.
So we ask people to show up just as they are. We ask them to trust us that this is gonna be really good.
And then they come….from all over the place. Sometimes a few will travel to Idaho together into this beautiful building full of strangers. Very often, they come all alone. .
We ask them to be courageous and just show up and see what happens. That is a big thing to ask.
We ask some to tell their most vulnerable stories…and we commit to listening when they do. Then we talk about what we learned from each other…and how our stories change each other. We talk about how one story can change a whole lifetime of perspective, bias and judgement. How one story can heal an old wound. How one story can set us on the path we’ve been waiting to know about.
We cheer each other on in the sharing and in the listening too. It’s not just really hard to tell your own story sometimes, it’s also hard to sit through other’s stories that have threads of our own vulnerabilities woven into them. It’s hard to just sit and feel all of that. But…we do it. We honor our own stories and we honor each other’s stories.
And we don’t ask anyone to do something that we are not willing to do ourselves. In fact…this year, my husband Marq and I shared our story for the first time together. The story of a really difficult marriage. A really beautiful marriage. A really miraculous marriage. We talked about things we’ve never talked about before…and we were held in a way that transcends the pain we have felt all of these years, holding it inside alone.
You see, we are not to crumble under the weight of our own heavy stories. Every time we tell them…another hand comes and helps take the load off.
We were brave. Just like the others who told their stories…we were brave in front of an audience brave enough to hear what we needed to share.
and our granddaughter wanted to be on stage too 🙂
So many stories were shared, and held and listened to that I’m pretty sure the world changed right then and there in ways that are too permanent to not change each of us.
See…the best stories make your heart ache a little…but when they are done…when it comes to the “end” of the story, or at least where the story stands now…we feel free. All of us.
I don’t know what happens…but when we get to tell our own stories or hear other’s stories…we feel relief. We know we can make it another day, another year…our whole life. And that these triumphs could not even be possible without the tough stuff that had to be overcome to make it to the other side of them.
We learn through hearing about the tough things that others have made it through, that we can make it through too. We learn that love can fix things.
Yes, love can fix things.
So between the stories…we can’t help it. We have to laugh and dance and celebrate a little. We celebrate collectively because really….every human triumph is another point for the team…team human. We are learning that we really are going to be okay. That life is beautiful. That we are awesome. That WE NEED EACH OTHER and that we already HAVE EACH OTHER. So…we have everything we need.
We make friends. We share the ways that we are the same. We share the ways that we are different. We witness each other’s lives. Not just on stage…it happens everywhere.
This is a bubble of beautiful humanity. The very best of humanity…our potential…the way we can feel when we treat each other this way…it happens at Symposium.
We move our souls and we move our bodies. So many different kinds of love are shared. SO many talents and gifts are shared. We teach each other how to move what has been stagnant. Whether it’s an old story, an old dream, an old idea, an old belief…or just our beautiful bodies. At Symposium…we move through it. We don’t stay stuck.
And we nourish. In all of the ways…the world famous Riverside Bacon seemed to be a popular way to nourish 🙂
It’s transcendent. And…it might seem too good to be true. The plan to do it did. We thought…what if? What if we could make a place where we forget for a while the things that make us feel stuck…and we actually remember what is true. What if we make a place where we tell the truth, and we behave as if it were true. The truth that we are all beloved…and we are all going to be okay.
Seemed impossible…but worth trying. So we tried. And it happened.
And it has happened two years in a row. Maybe this time was even more miraculous than the last.
We bring together soul to soul when our world has gotten so disconnected and separate. We look each other in the eye and sit side by side. We root each other on.
We see each other. And then…guess what? We start to see ourselves. We think….if all of these people in this room are so radiant and awesome and brave and powerful…maybe just maybe I am too. And…that’s what happens. Everyone somehow learns the truth of who they are by seeing the truth of who everyone else is.
It’s hard to be a human being right now. It just is. There are things that are constantly telling us that we can’t possibly sit in the same room together, or love each other, or want what’s best for each other…because we are too different. But see, the thing is…that’s just a lie we get told.
If just sit and listen to each other, and we are all just really really honest…….we find out that we really aren’t that different at all.
We just want to be loved. We want the love that we have to give to be accepted.
We want to be able to feel safe to be who we are while we figure life out. We want to know that we are not doing it alone…that someone is cheering us on. That someone knows we are alive. That someone else is making it through hard things too.
So we also sing together. It just sort of happens.
And we have fun. SO MUCH FUN.
And we get to share our love in the best ways we know how…with all of the different talents and ways of love that we have each been given to share.
It. Is. Awesome.
And we learn how to learn from each other.
We learn that we have SO MUCH to learn from each other.
And we share even the BEST things we’ve learned. We know that competition is a myth and there’s enough goodness for everyone…and more than that even. So we share all of the goodness we’ve got. And the goodness only grows.
And we make discoveries…lots of them. Sometimes they are very private…sometimes we jump up and down with the thrill of knowing something new that we didn’t know before. But….goodness sakes do we ever learn at Symposium. We learn and learn and learn…soul to soul.
Because guess what? We are all just trying to figure things out. Every single one of us. No matter who. No matter how long they’ve been alive…we are all just every day trying to figure things out in the very best way we know how. One of the kindest and most loving things we can ever do is to share with each other what has worked and what hasn’t worked for us…to help each other to figure things out too.
So we are brave…and we gather.
And we want you to come and gather with us too.
We will be doing this every year for the rest of forever, we hope.
I’m Melody and I got to be the MC at Symposium. What an honor.
And on 7/7/17 I got to finally sit with my husband and begin the task of telling the story of how Brave Girls Club/Brave Living was born…born from going through so many years of hell…years we didn’t think we would ever make it through, years we didn’t even want to make it through sometimes.
I want to thank you for hearing us. For holding us. For being with us. We have so much more to share and will start sharing our whole story with the whole world soon. Because love can fix things and stories heal.
Stay tuned for our weekly releases of chapters of the story of our marriage through hell…called “The Forest Conversations”
Please come to Symposium next year. We price it as low as we can so that everyone can come…but just know that once you’re here…you’ll see that you’d sacrifice just about anything to get here.
We love you all….we really do.
the Brave Living team
Here’s some details about next year…if you act fast, you can get a REALLY GOOD ticket price…make sure you reserve a room at The Riverside Hotel too because those rooms go fast 🙂
The link to the 2018 Symposium site is: http://symposium.bravegirlsclub.com
Here’s the 2018 schedule:
August 15-18, 2018
Wednesday, August 15th
Daytime: Breakout Sessions & Art Rooms
Evening: Main Opening Session
Thursday, August 16th
Morning, Afternoon, & Evening Sessions
Friday, August 17th
Morning, Afternoon, & Evening Sessions
Closing Gala, 11:11 pm Wishes & Sparklers on Greenbelt
Saturday, August 18th
Bonus Day: Breakout Sessions & Art Rooms
Payment plans available on full price tickets. (All savings will be for early registrants; no last minute buddy passes or discounts will be offered.)
Speakers will be announced mid-Spring 2018. You’ll have to trust us… they will be amazing!!
WE LOVE YOU AND HOPE YOU CAN MAKE IT!