Posts Tagged ‘GLBTQ’

A New Chapter for Women Loving Women

December 2nd, 2011

Stephanie Roy

by Stephanie Roy

In October of 2011, LJ Wooden left a message on my voicemail asking me if I had any interest in co-leading WLW Retreats with her at Shalom Mountain.  It only took a moment before I heard a deep and resonant “Yes” in my heart.

I’ve always been something of a late bloomer and coming into my authentic sexuality was no exception. In many ways, I have the Shalom Process and the incredible Shalom community to thank for my own awakening as a woman who loves women.  I first came to Shalom in 1991, with almost 3 years of sobriety, to work on (what else?) unfinished business with my mother.  In the ensuing years and over the course of retreats too numerous to mention, the Shalom process held me as my soul attended to the broken places with my parents, my perpetrator, my ex-husband, my Creator and ultimately of course, with myself.  This amazing community gave me a perfectly imperfect place to re-play some of my oldest stories to entirely new conclusions. I came ‘of age’ at Shalom, discovering and exploring my boundaries, gifts, power, femininity, and sexuality with some incredibly amazing playmates and teachers.

As I gradually returned ‘home’ to myself, journeying out of my head and down through the chakras into my voice, my emotions, my power, and my sexuality, I found that my heart opened the most deeply to women.  And finally, all the questions I’d been pondering about my sexual orientation were fully answered in the spring of 2004 when I began my relationship with Beth, who is now my beloved wife. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this past October!

From the very beginning of my healing journey I’ve also been called to both study and pass along what I’ve learned. I was part of Shalom’s first “Wizard School” in 1996 (a seed which eventually blossomed into the Shalom Leadership Training Program), attended two rounds of Process Therapy training with Carol Jud, and was among the original four who participated in the first Internship Program in 1997.  Since then I’ve facilitated numerous Shalom & Unmothered Daughter Retreats, workshops on a variety of topics (including “The Work” of Byron Katie), and maintained a private Process Therapy practice. (Note: Bonnie Moore and I also have an Addiction & Recovery Retreat coming up August 9-12, 2012 .)

Stephanie Roy & LJ Wooden

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to co-leading the WLW events with LJ.  I have enormous respect for her as both a retreat leader and a fiercely committed journeyer.  We each bring a very different set of gifts to the table and together I think we’ll make a fun, exciting and powerful team!  Please support us with your open, loving hearts as we explore and develop this new chapter in the on-going story of Women Loving Women on Shalom Mountain.

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Stephanie Roy is a Process Therapist and Retreat Leader with 22 years of sobriety. She has a B.S. Degree in Human Services and extensive post-graduate training including two years of Process Therapy and two years of Retreat and Leadership Training at Shalom Mountain. She has facilitated workshops and retreats in the Northeast USA and Ireland and has maintained a private therapy practice since 1995.

The next WLW retreat led by Stephanie and LJ is January 5-8, 2012.  For more information or to register, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.

All Of You Is Welcome Here

November 4th, 2011

LJ Wooden

By LJ Wooden

‘All of you is welcome here.”

Those are some of the first words I say to a group gathered for a retreat.

I’ve been participating in and leading Shalom process work for the past 15 years.  Understanding that all of me was welcome was something I began to believe on my very first retreat.  I was living clean and sober for the first time since I was 14. I felt like a raw nerve without the numbing of drugs. I remember being scared – frozen in my fear of everything and everybody. The most important thing I learned on that first retreat was that I could just be me. I didn’t have to do anything for those folks to love me. I was terrified – they knew it, and I was welcome. I didn’t dance, and I was welcome. I was gay, and I was welcome. I barely spoke, and I was welcome. It was hard for me to take in, yet, that gift that all of me was welcome, landed deep enough in me for me to want more. I knew at that point that if I was going to stay clean and sober, I needed to learn to be me. I had found a place where this could happen. When I look back at that time, one would think of the big event as coming out as gay, but really, that was just the beginning- I have been coming out as me, LJ, ever since.

Through the years, Shalom has loved me well.  Shalom has called me to be more of me.  That unconditional love and acceptance has allowed me to live into who I am and to take risks out in the world. A big part of the process was to learn to know myself, to accept myself.  To do that, I had to let go of the protective armor that I had built up over the years.  Like many of us, I learned that it was not ok for me to be angry, to cry, to yell, to let people see my tears, to be messy.  So I created protective armor to shield that. In order to survive, I learned how to fit in. I tried to look and act as I “should”. That never really worked for me. I was unhappy, and as I began my journey to live consciously, loving and fully alive, I felt like a caged animal. I don’t live in a cage anymore.  I now get the joy of discovering who I am in any given moment, rather than living into the expectations of other people.  The last 15 years have been an unveiling as I’ve taken off those layers that were put on me by external influences.

Taking off those layers got messy at times.  When I began my work, I had lived in my armor so long, I often didn’t know what my feelings were, much less how to express them.  The process of learning how to express my feelings hasn’t always been pretty and nice.  I had to get to know the parts of me I had hidden away from myself and the world.  An astounding revelation to me was that I had access to all of the feelings inside of me. I could feel many things at the same time; I could be sad and happy, I could be angry and loving, etc.. While this was not easy, I could feel myself becoming more and more alive. During this process, the Shalom community became my teacher, loving and welcoming all of me. Today, I can celebrate and welcome messiness in myself and in others.

Through the years I’ve learned to trust my inner wisdom, and the complexities that make me, me.  A key moment in this journey was when I led my first workshop at Shalom Mountain.  I thought, “What kind of process would I like to participate in?”  At the time I was a ceramic artist and I wanted to lead a process with clay.  I remember how scared I was. I had learned very well to keep my cards close to my chest. This was a new level of risk for me. I feared that if I showed you who I was, you may not like me, you may laugh at me, and likely, I’d end up hurt. And, I was tired of feeling like a caged animal, so there was also the excitement of freedom that was calling me. Although terrified at the prospect of putting myself out there, I did it, I showed my hand, and lived to tell about it. Equally important was that I was loved and celebrated for being me – for letting my insides shine out.  Later, I developed a process that allowed women to immerse themselves in porcelain slip….messy, beautiful, wonderful, Sacred. I called it, “Welcome to the Jungle”. It became a favorite workshop at Shalom Mountain’s annual Women’s Festival.

Today, I invite people to get messy. Humans are messy. It’s ok if you want to be mad, sad, confused, whatever it is, let it be here.  If you want to cry, to express anger, do it.  Shalom Retreats are one of the best places I know where we can get messy and still be loved and accepted.  It’s a safe place to explore emotions that often help keep us from living fully.  Learning to feel and express those emotions is what allows us to break free of restraints that no longer serve us, and live the lives we’ve dreamed of living.

Living from the inside out is Beautiful and MESSY.  I invite you to get messy.  Know that wherever you are in the process of your life, All of you is welcome here.

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If you are ready to start living fully into your life, a Shalom retreat might be the way to jumpstart that process.  For more information or to register for a Shalom Retreat (offered every month) call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com. The next Shalom Retreat is November 10-13, 2011, led by LJ Wooden and Jon Terrell.

LJ Wooden is a process leader who is deeply committed to the Skills and Principles of Loving. She has trained extensively at Shalom Mountain Retreat and Study Center, the Body Electric School, and as a massage therapist. LJ’s passion is with the Sacred Sexual connection and the journey to God. LJ leads Shalom Retreats as well as Sacred Sexuality retreats for Men, Women & the Young Adult community. In addition LJ leads specialty retreats for Gender Outlaws and the GLBTQ community. LJ leads at Shalom Mountain Retreat Center as well as many other places in the US and Canada.