photo by Jen Lemen
Today’s you’re getting all 3Q’s of Interview goodness with story teller and Squam instructor, Jen Lee. Jen offers soulful, like-a-warm-bath retreats in a Brooklyn brownstone, with fabulous guests and wise co-teachers. Here’s this from Jen about the upcoming Integrate: A Voice and Story Retreat in NYC:
Sometimes we feel like a mass of contradictions, or a swirl of inner battles. We think that recovering our voice will mean we can finally speak up or speak out, or move our pen across a page. And these things are all true, but they’re not the whole story. Your voice–and your story–are also keys to unlock the parts of yourself you’ve labelled “no access”. There’s a way to stand in the middle with arms outstretched to either side, a way to close the chasm between: your body and mind, your intuition and reason, your courage and your fear. There’s a way to pull all your parts into a strong unison. Come. We’ll begin together.
As I write this, Jen has just one spot left for the Integrate retreat. Today we’re talking about the retreat, being brave, and the power of story. Here’s Jen Lee…
Q. What inspired you to create this particular retreat theme?
This is the conversation I’ve been living and breathing in recent times. My dear friend, Phyllis Mathis, has helped me so much with my own journey toward integration (I consider this terrain one of her specialties), and I thought this would be a powerful conversation to generate together and share.
Our fragmented parts and the pieces we have hiding in the shadows are highly relevant for people who are on a journey toward finding and developing their voices. Many people are limited in their writing or crippled in their storytelling from their fear of these parts of themselves leaking out of their pens or wriggling their way into their stories.
We are slowed in our creative work, and so often caught in cycles of struggle and striving when we aren’t tapped into all of our inner sources of power and energy. This retreat is designed to be a decisive first step in releasing those currents, greeting and welcoming all of our parts with love and courage, and caring for ourselves in a deep and profound way.
Q. What would you say to people whose Gremlins are telling them they aren’t cool enough, or deep enough, or storied enough to be at the retreat?
I’m sure I’m not cool enough, wise enough or storied enough to host the retreat, so come anyway–clearly you’ll be in good company.
It takes something to come–it takes trust that an ocean of love and acceptance are waiting for you inside the walls of a beautiful Brooklyn brownstone. It takes courage to trust that little part of you that REALLY WANTS to be there, and love to let her have this good thing. I know it’s hard. Love can be the most frightening thing of all. But you can find insights here that will be game-changers in your life, and you won’t be alone–ever–along the way.
Q. Storytelling is wide, powerful and healing. Can you distill it a little and tell us one or two things about why you think story telling is important?
Julia Cameron talks about our stories and personal histories as “the origin” of our creative work, and her description helps me imagine them as a geography to explore and chart. This geography is a source of wisdom about where we’ve come from, a discernment tool for finding our path in the present, and a rich, fertile ground in which our dreams for the future take root and grow. I believe, as Cameron writes, that a connection to these stories generates originality in our work. The findings of Dr. Brene Brown indicate that our story is the primary place for us to locate our worthiness, which is central to how we’re being in the world. Our story may be the most essential thing about us.
It certainly is one of the most powerful elements of human connection. Learning to share our stories and to receive the stories of others is central in forming the kind of nurturing and connected friendships and communities that we long for. To have your story is to have a key to yourself.
What is one story that is powerful in your life right now and what is it speaking to you? We’d love to hear a synopsis in the comments below. Thank you for being here.