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On a Mission!

I want to tell you a little anecdote...Last month I had the pleasure of hosting my brother's family who were visiting from North Carolina. We were having dinner with my youngest son and my two beautiful nieces, Ruby, 12 and Olive, 14, when I mentioned some event we held at Shamama. Olive sheepishly turned to me and asked, "Aunt Michele, I don't understand what you do for a living. What exactly is this Shamama-thing?" I knew she'd ask eventually. You see, I get asked this question a lot because there are few places like this "Shamama-thing" in the country. We aren't an art, dance, or music studio, we don't teach formal writing classes, we aren't a wellness center or spiritual center. We don't really have a box to fit neatly into, so I always have my elevator speech at the ready; it's usually a more conversational version of our formal mission statement ("Shamama is a group of leaders in the creative and healing arts dedicated to helping you tap into your creativity, unleash your power, find your purpose, and express your voice through special events, workshops, retreats, coaching, and consulting."), but this time I said the following:

"When we are born, we are naturally curious and courageous and creative, right? We are willing to take risks and be authentic ourselves and have no fear of embarrassment or failure. We will draw whatever we feel like drawing, and dance with abandon in whatever way feels right, and say whatever comes into our mind because it's honest to us, and sing whenever the spirit moves us. Do you remember that? (All three kids nodded with understanding.) But as we grow older, some of us are told that we don't have talent in some area that brings us joy, or that it isn't our place to partake in a certain activity, or that we shouldn't pursue something that we feel passionate about because it isn't practical, or that the world around is meant to be tamed and not just explored, or that we have to have some sort of goal and outcome with everything we do. We slowly turn off our spigots of creativity because we have a of fear being "weird", or that we're wasting our time, or that we don't matter. Shamama is here to help people find their authentic selves and remember who they truly are through creative play like journey writing and mandala-making, nature-based activities like walks in the forest and spinning fiber, and somatic experiences like breathwork and drumming. And I work one-on-one with clients to coach them into becoming creative vessels and finding their authentic voice. I do advise them on practical writing skills because I am a writer, editor, and writing instructor, but the most important thing I do is to hold space for their creative play."

From left to right: my mother, Merrie; niece, Olive; sis-a-law, Jessica; and niece, Ruby. (2018)

Being that the girls are in that adolescent phase of extreme self-consciousness and a strong desire to fit in--and because they are super-smarties--they totally got it. They understood exactly what I was talking about when I spoke of the loss of child-like confidence and playfulness. Ruby said, "I hope there's something like that for me in North Carolina when I grow up." I hope so, too, Ruby; I wish this for everyone in the world. In the meantime, I, and my lovely and passionate colleagues, will continue to advance the beautiful mission of Shamama so that we can all feel that free and joyful again.

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