The degree to which we own our darkness

This is what I know:
The very first thing there is to do.
The very first thing.

When devastation happens – it is time to grieve, and rage, and mourn. In community. In sisterhood.

(Not ignore, not go numb, no matter how painful.)
And that is not easy.
What we feel, we can heal.
And none of us can heal until we feel.

If we overstep the feeling, we will perpetually replay the ancestral chains of pain that led to our current devastation. We can no longer afford not to feel. Disconnection from our bodies, our humanity has led to this loss of life, loss of connection.

When our sisters are hurt, we open our arms. We hold space. We join our tears with theirs.

We don’t solve the problem until every drop of feeling that wants to be felt, is felt.

A month ago, the SWA began to host a four-week series for the purpose of feeling the full range of our emotions in the safety of sisterhood. To honor the depth and breadth of our emotions, plug into our sacred sensual power, learn from activists, and locate the highest and best next steps of our individual activism.

We knew it was our duty to stand in solidarity with our Black sisters. Our communities are in deep grief. We committed to using our platform, tools, and resources to promote embodied movement, make space for emotional processing, and elevate Black voices.

We created a sacred and intentional container, gathered in sisterhood and connection, and began to heal our hearts.

Today I want to express my deep gratitude to all of you who showed up.

I want to thank the over 5,000 women who RSVP’d to join in community, and grieve and rage, together. From Kenya, to Denmark, to Australia, to England, to all 50 states, thank you for choosing to feel. And to sister like you did.

Thank you to Ayodele Moore, who opened our sessions with prayer, as she has done for the past 15 years. Thank you to her daughter, Omodara Hewlin, who led the swamp with incredible heart, body, passion, beauty, and soul.

Thank you for the way you committed to…
Showing up for yourselves.
Showing up for each other.
Showing up for the collective pain and grief of systemic racism through embodied movement.

This level of sisterhood is deeper and more accountable. We learned how to connect to ourselves and with each other in a way that is perhaps beyond what we’ve experienced before.

In the beginning of the month, we might not have known how to handle the flood and flow of emotions we were feeling. And we might not have had much experience with staying in true emotional connection on the daily.

Together, we learned that every single emotion we have is true and right and relevant.

We began to experience the truth that what we feel, we can heal. We chose to turn our feelings ON, rather than turn them OFF.

When we continually disconnect from our emotions in order to get through the day, we end up stuffing our feelings inside and the outcome can often be that we feel depressed. Or enraged. Or numb. Or hopeless. Or so very alone.

If we don’t know how to embody our pain, it stays stuck, which creates all kinds of physical and emotional consequences.

We find our way back to home plate by connecting with ourselves, not disconnecting. When a woman is connected to her emotional truth, no matter what, she gains insight into what helps her feel alive and most like herself. Once she locates herself, her action steps become clear. She is able to activate her truth and move forward with purpose and alignment.

The truth is, the feminine was designed to feel deeply.

Being shut down from our grief / rage / despair deprives us of living our emotional and creative power. Swamping gives us that power back, by enabling us to express and release our emotions in a healing way.

This June, we danced, we screamed, we banged on pillows, and rolled around on the floor. In short, we let our emotions move through us however they wanted to.

We gathered in sisterhood to share the full embodied expression of our collective grief and our collective rage, to transform it all into poetry, into art, into aligned, embodied action that will lift all of us higher.

The degree in which you own your darkness is the degree in which you own your light.

We hosted four weeks of incredible experts and activists who spoke at our Sisterhood Swamp Series. I want to pause to acknowledge each of them and their invaluable contributions.

Thank you to the inspirational Milagros Phillips who joined us for week one. She has been working with diverse groups including corporate leaders and members of Congress, and has spent the past 20 years facilitating race literacy programs that inform, transform, and lead to inspired action. These programs are presented at educational institutions, corporations, and through public seminars. Milagros you are magic. Learn more about her offerings HERE.

We were so grateful to have welcomed Shavon Norris as our guest speaker during week two. She is an artist, educator, and facilitator offering diverse communities learning on the topics of mindfulness, creativity, movement, inclusivity, wellness, and healing-centered, trauma informed practices. Shavon has served as the Race and Equity Advisor for the SWA for several years running – working in tandem with a team of moderators to help safeport our virtual spaces. You can find her on Linkedin HERE.

We were thrilled to welcome Tonya O. Parris as our guest speaker and activist for week three. Tonya is a certified executive coach, speaker, facilitator, philanthropist, and software engineer. She is the president and founder of The Parris Foundation: S.T.E.M.ulating Minds, a non-profit organization that equips underserved youth with the tools to pursue the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in an academic and professional capacity. Tonya is also the CEO of the Parris Group, Inc. – a training, consulting, and coaching firm that supports social and emotional learning through seminars, workshops, and retreats. To donate to her foundation, head HERE. Find her online on Instagram under the handles: @parris_group & @parrisfund

For our fourth and final week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Sarah Jones, who is a Tony® Award-winning performer and writer, known for her multi-character, one-person shows. Renowned as “a one-woman global village,” she has given multiple main-stage TED Talks garnering millions of views, and performed for President and First Lady Obama at the White House. We laughed, cried, and heard about her experiences as a Black artist – giving voice to narratives that need to be shared on a global stage. Find her online HERE and on Instagram under the handle: @yesimsarahjones

For two consecutive weeks, we had the blessing of having Carla Duren perform and rock our worlds! She is a Broadway star, singer, and songwriter. Her incredible album, Black Folk Rock Star is on Itunes and Spotify.

Behind the scenes of this gorgeous Sisterhood Swamp Series was our Energy Support Team, who held profound energetic space for our virtual container. Thank you to…

Ayodele Moore
Kmur Hardeman
Lisa Callan
Adunni Faison
Orisha Suares
Fran Buchanan
Kate Lewis

These women have been holding space with the SWA for many years, silently, and with powerful intention. They keep our sacred spaces safe, clean, and clear for all the women who attend, to do the work they are meant to do.

Thank you all. Thank you for choosing to step forward in sisterhood.

Together, we made use of this time of grief and rage.
We let it remake us.
We found our way together.

With so much love and gratitude,

Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.

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