The day before the Women’s March in Los Angeles I received an email from a friend warning me to be prepared because it could get ugly.
She cautioned there might be people protesting the march and she gave me a list of strategies to avoid getting swept up in the violence, including staying out of the center of any frenzy, and writing my name and an emergency contact phone number in black marker on my arm in case I got caught in a police raid (so someone would know that it was me and who to call on my behalf).
She shared about how her sister had recently been with a group, praying, holding hands, in a peaceful protest and was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet. There have been others who showed up to march or protest peacefully who have been run over by tanks, taken to prison, shot and killed.
My husband’s uncle Don (a white Christian minister of a black church in Chicago) marched and went to jail with Martin Luther King and received multiple death threats because of his public stance on civil rights.
With this dark cloud hovering overhead, my friends and I gathered on the eve of the Women’s March in a ceremony that included prayer, meditation, and soul-to-soul sharing.
We all expressed how devastated we were about the election…and how scared, nervous, and unsure we felt about the march the next morning. We questioned if putting our lives at risk was worth it? None of us felt particularly strong. In fact, we all felt like deflated balloons after the swearing in of a president we didn’t vote for. We felt powerless, like we were on the losing team, and all the work we’d done and all the progress that had been made was all for naught…
We all felt it was important to show up anyway. And come hell or high water nothing would stop us from marching.
The beauty of gathering with women is that we can express our pain, angst, and drama without having any clue what the solution might be. It’s in the simple act of sharing, caring, and listening that the healing alchemy takes place…and that night it did.
By the time we arrived on the metro in downtown Santa Monica, we were buoyant, our hearts were patched up, our tanks were full, and we were, ready to take on the day, come what may.
We were among thousands of mostly women, and some brave men and children, all packed in like anorexic sardines into the train compartments.
Even though we were packed to the gills, the metro was automatically programmed to stop at all of its normal 25 stops along the route to downtown. Every time we’d stop we’d see a bustling mob of hopeful people waiting to get on…upon seeing how crammed in we were, despite their disappointment, they’d take a breath, and resign themselves to wait for the next train, or the next, or the next.
This was, what you’d call, a quality problem, because it was estimated that up to 100,000 people would show up to the march in downtown LA, but in fact, over 750,000 people did. Yep…this was a (high) quality problem.
Luckily we were a jovial bunch that made light of the fact that we were all up in each other’s business. I joked and said,
“We’re getting our daily hug quotient today. This is like girl scout camp for adults! At least we’re all good sports about this.”
I spoke too soon.
At the next stop an irate bearded man barged his way into our compartment-right next to me…like a punk rocker in a slam pit, and started yelling:
“MAKE ROOM YOU SELFISH IDIOTS, THERE’S ENOUGH ROOM,
DON’T BE SO SELFISH!”
In seconds flat our happy Girl Scout camp became helter skelter fraught with screaming, yelling, and pushing. The louder people shouted at the bearded man, the more adrenalized he became, and this lit match was quickly becoming an out of control forest fire.
On a dime, I realized there was no fighting fire with fire…this ugly scene would only continue to escalate…so I did the only thing in my power I could think of to do in that moment…
I ommmmmed …loudly.
Because my friends and I were so on the same wave length from our ceremony the night before they instantly jumped on my Om bandwagon and together our Ommmmmmmmmmmm escalated…inciting the rest of our compartment to join in…and we suddenly became a single voice of the loudest Ommmmm I’d ever heard.
I’ve ommmmed a lot in my day, but I’ve never ommmmmed like that…with such intensity…at such a volume…with such a purpose: to snuff out the fear with love.
After about ten rounds of Ommming, as if we all shared one mind, we gently lowered our volume and noticed that the man had stopped ranting.
Here’s a video I took after we resumed our buoyant disposition:
Absolute silence settled in upon our compartment…you could feel a cautious optimism … that we’d successfully snuffed out the rage with our Om, but we didn’t know for sure the fire was all the way out until we got off the train in downtown LA. We all took a deep sigh of relief because thanks to our collective ommmm, that particular disaster had been averted.
We were all in shock that the om did the trick. We didn’t know that it would…but it did. Such a simple act…no words required. Wow.
I reflected on the Singing Revolution in Estonia, in 1988, where spontaneous mass singing demonstrations led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The people of Estonia literally joined hands and hearts and, with a unified voice, sang their way out of the bonds of the Soviet Union.
Then Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi came to mind, because they taught that “non-violence” is not merely the absence of violence, but a force unto itself-a soul force- stronger than hate and fear-a force that if engaged in, will have the final word.
I felt elated because for the first time in my life, I truly felt the power of “non-violence” (and the true meaning of #LoveTrumpsHate), not just the intellectual understanding of it…and I suddenly became incredibly grateful for that bearded man.
Luckily for us, that was the only troubling incident during the entire Women’s March. In fact, the march itself was incredibly peaceful and good spirited. My sister said it best,
“Being at the Women’s March was like being on the winning team at a sporting event.”
Even though we had “lost the election”, at the march we all felt like we had won because we all had an opportunity to have our voices heard, and to be shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people gathered (and millions world-wide) to realize how powerful we can be when we join our voices (literally and symbolically) to ensure peace, freedom, and liberty trumps hatred, fear, and violence.
Dorothy said it best when she realized the great, terrifying, and powerful Oz (once he came out from behind the curtain), was just a little man-with little hands-and a big God-complex. She realized in the end that all she needed to do to get back to her place of power was to tap her heels three times and say,
“There’s no place like Ommmmm!”
Dr. Oz update
I think you’ll really LOVE the #Shocking Premonitions stories shared on the show (one of them from Kathleen O’Keefe Kanovos from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams & Premonitions.
Check here for your local info about channel and air times: http://www.doctoroz.com/
I’ll report back with a clip or two once it airs…
Have you embraced your INNER SHERO yet?
My dear friend, Wendy Capland, and I are planning an incredible 5th annual Shero Intensive for women who are dreaming about a bolder future for themselves and are ready to start.
Our Shero programs are always magical…and this past summer at our Shero Intensive something particularly extraordinary happened for our women. It might have been because of the special Shero women who attended. It might have been the location and the beautiful New England weather. It was certainly all these things but we think it was definitely because of a unique process we designed and piloted that evoked a deeper level of connection, breakthrough, and transformation than we have ever experienced before in a Shero program.
We were so inspired and delighted by the group’s experience, we are bursting at the seams and chomping at the bit (at the same time) to do it again this year and we want you to come!
What is a Shero?
A Shero is the voice within us that urges us to expand, be bold, dream wildly, and expand into our greatest unfolding potential, regardless of our circumstances. Stepping into and living as a Shero is an extraordinary journey and activates our higher purpose and unleashes our potential, impacting our families, communities, professional lives, and rippling out into the world.
Why would you come?
It’s the one time a year to learn from, get sparked by, and get loved all over by executive leadership development expert, Wendy Capland and moi….in person. Priceless!
It’s the one time a year when you can truly let your barriers down, put aside your resistances, and dive deeeeeeeply as you leave no stone unturned as you firmly set the foundation for your path towards the Shero within you just waiting to burst forth.
Before your life gets too busy, take a moment to mark your calendar and REGISTER yourself.
When: June 1-2, 2017. Program begins June 1 at 6:00PM and kicks off with dinner and our evening program through June 2 concluding at 4:00 PM. Includes dinner, breakfast lunch and snacks.
Where: The Warren Center, Ashland, MA.
Investment: Regularly $1995 however we are offering an early Registration Special: If paid in full by January 31st, includes FREE admission to The Women’s Leadership Retreat (value $529) also held at The Warren Center, June 1, 9:00-4:00 PM.
Here’s the link for more information (and to register to hold your space): http://www.visionquestconsulting.com/shero-summer-intensive-2017/
We sincerely hope you can join us in this magical (real-life fairy tale) experience! We’ve lowered the “barriers to entry” as much as we could (without getting arrested!)-the time commitment is only a day and a half, and the price is scandalously low! Space is limited because we want to ensure an intimate group, so if this calls to you, reserve your space.
We CAN’T WAIT to see you there!
Here’s to your most extraordinary Shero dreams all coming true!