Claire: The Red Tent

The other night, Newman’s daughter invited me to go with her to a Red Tent event. The Red Tent is traditionally a gathering space for women during their time of menstruation; Red Tent gatherings more generally are structured to allow women to come together, share stories, and affirm each other in a sacred, positive space.

Newman’s daughter is currently in a transition; she is seeking healing and personal growth, and as we try to support her in her journey, we too find ourselves transitioning and growing. It is an interesting space, sometimes fraught with fear and often full of possibility. It is a liminal space, one that lies on the edges of things: past and future, danger and development. We must be attentive and present, loving and open. We must be willing to share ourselves and bring our gifts to the journey, but we also must put our own needs and desires aside when necessary.

At the Red Tent gathering, K and I sat with about 20 other women, all strangers to me, for about 3 hours. The room had been decorated to set the stage for us: a giant red umbrella swathed with red weavings, ribbons, and beautiful gauzy linings wrapped around twinkling white lights. Women sipped tea while stretching out on red floor pillows and snuggled into red blankets. A guest moved from one woman to another, painting intricate henna designs on our hands. We talked, opening up about our lives, our sadnesses, and our dreams for ourselves. We spoke of our mothers, our children, our sisters, our lovers. We listened. We acknowledged what we heard. It felt sacred and significant.

Afterwards, I thought about that gathering and how simple the formula was to create it. Create a space; set a positive and encouraging tone; invite women to participate. How can I do this more often, I wondered?

And then, of course, I made the connection.

This blog has been exactly that kind of space for me this year. On the (intentional and visionary) whim of a friend, a site was created, a place where I was welcomed, encouraged, and accepted. It was scary and exciting at the same time, and I was anxious to step up to to challenge and respond well. I stepped into this blog without knowing what it would mean to me.  It has become a sacred space for me to gather with women, share stories, open myself up, and to explore and push myself. It has been a place of affirmation, connection, reflection, and creation. In essence, it has been a personal Red Tent. I wish that every woman could find ways to create this space for herself, and it is not something I want to let go of.

In the new year, I will continue to blog here occasionally as a way to keep myself connected, motivated, honest, and in a positive place. Since I thrive with structure, I plan to post once a week, and over the course of every monthly cycle, to touch on my goals and progress. I’ve become less inclined as I get older to make big picture “resolutions” as they’re so easily broken. Forming an alliance with the Kristens, however, and working on the small picture, day by day, has helped me achieve things this year that I didn’t know I was capable of.

I, for one, would like to keep that going.

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5 Responses to Claire: The Red Tent

  1. Kristen R. says:

    What a great way to wrap up the year and set the tone for this New Year. I’m so glad you joined me in this endeavor. I completely agree this has been a place for reflection, creation and affirmation. It’s pushed me in just ways I hoped it would — mind, body and soul. Cheers to you!

  2. khpixler says:

    What a beautiful way to end the year! You are always so creative in your responses. I am so glad we were able to really build our relationship this year. I am so proud to have you as a friend. I am glad I will still be able to keep up with you and get to read your amazing work throughout this coming year.

  3. wwwmama says:

    I’m glad we’re good friends now too! It’s been a great thing for me, this shared blog.

  4. puresusan says:

    I’m so glad you started blogging. I’m hosting the first Red Tent event in my city in March. Talk about terrifying & amazing at the same time!!! Look forward to hearing alot more from you. Happy new year!!

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