I dreamt The Flourishing Woman into being. Well kind of: I was actually awake at the time…and dancing!💃🏻
I had a dream
Nine years ago, I ran a workshop for women called Flourish! with two colleagues. It covered the body’s physical changes, how to support with nutrition and, both conventional and natural medicine. There was meditation and visualisation to uncover what next, vision boarding to capture it, and coaching to help take it forward…and lots of herb tea and yummy food😋
It was a simple format yet something about the magic which was created spoke to me – I wanted all women to have access to this. I purchased the domain name theflourishingwoman.co.uk.
A few years later I was at a nature based festival, Into the Wild.
There were various workshops throughout each day: a veritable menu of wild crafts, movement, and inspirational learning to choose from, along with wholesome food and live music.😍
I’d been looking forward to a 5 Rhythms event. The guy who was facilitating it had a name for himself.
He arrived late and stomped across the tent to the platform, seemingly oblivious to the crowd of expectant faces following his passage.
Head down he pulled out his laptop, connected leads to the sound system, swearing as he did so.
The awkward silence was finally broken by a tune. Gradually people started moving. A few minutes later, he turned the volume low, looked up and spoke.
He shared how he was having a sh*t day and the fury he felt about something that had happened.
In that moment he gave everyone in the tent permission to let out their own rage.
Thing was, I wasn’t feeling that. I’d already been to a workshop where I’d let out a lot of grief. My heart was open and I was keen to allow the softness from that experience more space.
As the pace of the music picked up, I shuffled my way to a corner of the tent, closed my eyes and moved with the music. I felt the reverberations through the floor as others jumped around. I heard yells and screams above the music. I kept my eyes closed and danced within my own body.
As I did so, this vision came to me.
A woman was standing on the parapet of a tower looking out at a barren landscape which stretched as far as the eye could see, punctuated only by a solitary, sleeping volcano. The sky was grey and a damp mist obscured the horizon. Dark, murky water surrounded the bottom of the tower, part of a tributary which flowed towards the bottom of the volcano.
She turned and looked down inside the tower. Women dressed in black moved about slowly, their shoulders stooped and their backs bent as they carried baskets covered in cloths up and down stairs to different levels.
Later that night, she felt a tremor and woke from sleep. She pulled on her robe, climbed again to the top of the tower, aided by moonlight, and looked out.
Sparks were emanating from the top of the volcano. The woman turned and walked back down the stairs, passing the bedroom door, and continuing down to the lower reaches.
At the bottom, she walked over to an opening in the floor. Further steps spiralled downwards into darkness. She picked a candle from a table which sat nearby and started down the stairs, her back pressed against the curve of the wall.
At the bottom she lit a wall sconce from her candle. As she did so, a stench hit her. She turned to look at the cellar and gasped.
The floor was covered in thick black sludge. The walls were blackened as if by layers of thick smoke.There was an archway beyond and she could see the outline of further rooms beyond. She heard the scratching and scurrying of vermin.
She ran back upstairs to the scullery, grabbed a bucket and some cloths and set the kettle to boil. Soon she was back downstairs, her sleeves rolled up and her skirt tucked in to her knickers. She started on the walls first.
She turned as she heard a noise: footsteps on the stairs. She looked up to see women coming down one-by-one with buckets in their hands. Some carried shovels and spades, others bottles of cleaning liquid. They nodded silently to her and started to scoop the sludge up in to the buckets. Others started cleaning the walls. Each time one went upstairs to empty their bucket, they came back with another new recruit to boot.
The woman took her own bucket upstairs. She lifted it up to a window on the wall and tipped it over the edge. When she did not hear the expectant plop, she looked down.
A boat was moored below next to the wall of the tower. On its main deck a large container was filling up with the sludge. The captain looked up, caught the woman’s eye, nodded.
The woman watched as the captain hoisted the sail and headed off down stream. It docked just below the volcano. Then more women appeared from the mist and shovelled the sludge in to horse-pulled wagons which waited by the banks. The wagons made their way up to the top of the volcano. They reversed the wagons and tipped the contents into the earth’s furnace. The sparks burnt brighter.
The woman at the tower turned and headed back to the cellar. It shone with bright white walls and earthenware tiles. Light spilled from one room to the next.
On a shelf she found a wrap of paper containing seeds.
She laid the seeds carefully in a basket and carried them outside, She scattered them on the land surrounding the tower, enjoying the feeling of the rising sun on her skin as she did so.
She looked up and noticed the mist had rolled back. In the distance, she saw other towers with women likewise throwing seeds on the ground.
As the days and weeks passed, women tending their gardens became a familiar sight.
Then one day the woman looked out from her tower. The landscape was now a tapestry of flowers and plants.
With that, I became aware that the music had quietened. I opened my eyes, looked in those of others and said a silent thank you.🙏🏼
I walked back out in to the bright sunlight, aware that something magical had just occurred.
The Flourishing Woman revealed herself that day.
Fast forward a couple more years during which I ran coaching circles for women in my woodland cabin. They’d tend to what really mattered: uncover their own dreams, set soulful goals and action plans, with self care highlighted throughout.
I had just become a mum and was participating in an online program in a bid to start writing and move my work online. One of the recommendations was having the .com domain name. I checked and theflourishingwoman.com wasn’t available. Others advised that it was difficult to obtain. But something kept whispering to me. I registered with a domain name provider to let me know if it became available. I told myself, ‘if this is meant to be’ and left it at that. A year later, just as my daughter was starting pre-school, it did.
Now the time has come to birth this online love child.
It exists to provide you with practical inspiration for your everyday. To help you uncover what you really want for yourself, and let go of the ‘shoulds’. To inspire you to love yourself first, safe in the knowledge that you’ll show up more fully for others whose lives you touch. To remind you that it’s okay to be good enough.💖
Arlene’s own story
Hi, I am a life coach and I help you create, and tend to, meaningful life in a way that is simple, balanced and treats lightly on Mother Earth.🌏
It’s been a journey getting to know my own authentic desires. I was someone who was good at doing what I thought I SHOULD be doing, but found it hard to know what I REALLY wanted.
I got a place on a law degree at university realising in the first week that it wasn’t what I wanted. I swapped to history. I was passionate about the arts and after graduating started work for an Arts Council organisation supporting small poetry publishers. Before I knew it I had become a finance & admin manager – good at supporting others expressing their art.
I moved to London and, with sponsorship from a large corporate, trained and qualified as an accountant. I moved to the not-for-profit sector thinking I would find more ease there and by the age of 30 I was head of financial management of a large international development charity.
I was clearly good at my job, and yet something wasn’t right. I took time out, travelled, married, spent time rebuilding a house, lived in the mountains of southern Spain, and got (back!) in touch with nature.
I came back to the UK and enrolled on a foundation course for natural medicine. I went on to train as a homeopath, setting up my own private practice and then a complementary health centre. I developed talks and workshops for women – teaching them how to manage their own and their family’s health, and self care.
I always wanted to help people know themselves as their own healers, to help them change habits and prevent recurring dis-ease. I trained as a coach to help me be more overt with clients in this way.
I ran the two alongside for a while and then took the leap. It was time to focus on coaching. And so I did: coaching women who want to flourish.
This journey highlighted my skills and honed them: seeing the bigger picture, speaking with people to understand their long term strategies, pulling plans together, breaking things down into small achievable actions, a knowledge of nature’s helpers, listening for the as yet unsaid, holding a safe and sacred space.
My own personal life is of course, where my REAL learning and experience has occurred…
I was 43 years old and near the point of giving up on my journey to become a mum. It felt like we’d tried everything to create our family. We were on the register as prospective adopters and it still wasn’t happening. No match as yet.
My husband and I were having difficult conversations: I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep trying. I was done waiting, with my life on hold. I decided to put my attention on my work.
I booked a CPD workshop that Marianne WIlliamson was giving in London. In case you’re unfamiliar, she is an author, spiritual teacher and activist, who has since also run for nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate.
While coaching someone on their work, she talked about how pushing for results is a masculine way of being.
The feminine, surrendered place in us is passive. It doesn’t DO anything.
Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love
She said that surrender didn’t mean giving up. It did mean letting go of attachment to the outcome. It meant handing it over a higher power: god, source, the universal unquantifiable energy that has this planet go round and connects all of us, call it what you will.
Could it really be that simple?? Suddenly the thought of giving up the struggle, the years of uber-clean living, supplement plans and hair analysis, personal development, getting our house in order, the lack of advance holiday bookings in case our child showed up, seemed very attractive.
That’s what I did. I said to myself, ‘I’m done trying. If this is meant to be, show me the way.’
I went ahead and started up new coaching groups at work. Started booking holidays.
A few weeks later our social worker contacted us to say there was a little girl they thought would be a good match for us….
So there you have it. My reason for all that I do.💖
Thank you for checking out The Flourishing Woman. I hope you find something which resonates for you.
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I share what flourishing looks like in my own life along with tools, inspiration and encouragement to help you flourish too.💖