Context: Women, Power & Money Retreat, a three-day retreat for 12 professional women from major national corporations, educational institutions and privately held businesses from all over the country.
Challenge: The focus of the retreat was to provide the opportunity for women, representing diverse backgrounds and fields, to explore their strengths and ways to express their leadership and power through participation in a number of modalities. We endeavored to create a supportive community that would continue beyond the retreat.
Susan, an educator and writer, arrived with a sense of herself as vulnerable and disabled. Retired from a long and successful career, she developed a disease that threatened her joints and required multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy. This elegant, intelligent, tall woman who had strode confidently through her earlier life was hunched, halting in her step and timid in her engagement with the world.
Approach: Through various group and individual exercises, deep self-inquiry, dialog in circle, and exercises with the horses, Susan had the opportunity to have her story, her aspirations and her vulnerabilities witnessed by other competent, successful, honest women. Susan was initially unsure that she would be physically able to walk in the paddock with the horses, or to effectively ask them to work with her through the exercises.
She moved slowly and cautiously in the paddock, looking for physical support to stabilize her. As the group gathered in a circle in the paddock to talk through their experience, one of the horses named Kelty, who is not particularly relational, pushed her way through the circle to come straight to this tall woman who was sitting on a tree stump. Kelty came purposely to her, put her nose right at her shoulder and stayed with her through the circle, her head finally nestled in Susan’s lap. This is not a typical experience for this exercise. The woman was overwhelmed with emotion. For Susan, a deep validation occurred, simply in Kelty’s deliberate attention.