Updated: 3 days ago
As some of you may know, the original name of ALTAR was, "The She Shed." It’s one that I reluctantly gave up after the term “she shed” got into the zeitgeist in a way that made it feel less sacred.
If you have come to our space, you’ve seen the poem on the wall by one of the original partners in this creation we now call ALTAR, Heidi Bailey. It came to her within days of our choosing the She Shed name:
It went a little like this... She shed the need to know She shed the need to understand She shed visions of what arriving would look like She shed memories of all the things she never became She shed the voices of self abandonment She shed the layers of could be and should be She took a breath She shed light
It holds so much of what this space and community are about: to shed is to let go, to slough off ideas and layers that no longer serve us… a shed is a shelter, a retreat, a workshop for our creative urges, whether physical, emotional or spiritual…
we can shed light on many things, including ourselves and each other, finding clarity in the form of a soft glow or a bright flame…
It also names quite precisely the very things I’ve needed to shed in the process of making this long-held dream of ALTAR a reality – the need to know, the need to understand, visions of what “arriving” would look like. Memories of all the things I never became, the voices of self-abandonment…
Most recently, I’ve been working on shedding the self-imposed pressure to figure out what ALTAR could be or should be. In the process, I am finding my breath and relaxing into the simple truth of what this co-creative community actually is: a place where we are all invited to shine our light.
Last year, founding member and talented coach, Hope Firsel, offered a women’s circle called, "Shed Your Sh*t to Shine Your Light." That’s really the whole point of growth and self-work as far as I’m concerned. It’s ultimately not about trying to fix or improve ourselves; it’s about unwinding patterns of conditioning and belief that inhibit us from beaming our unique essence out into the world, just as we are, because we are already enough.
As the oft-quoted lines from Rumi remind us, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Here are a song, a short film, and a poem that offer a few different perspectives on shedding what’s in the way of feeling and sharing our radiance. I hope they encourage you to shine.
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Song: “Stand Like An Oak” by Rising Appalachia
It’s easy to get so caught up in the effort of shedding, sloughing, analyzing — that we forget we can actually let it be easy. This song feels like a loving reminder to simply surrender whatever doesn’t serve us — set our fears and worries aside like old clothes and let the currents of self-love and community carry us.
Anything that makes you feel smaller Leave it by the angels of the water Push em up push em up Put away your cares Fold them, fold them Fold up your fears
This short documentary is about a badass young woman, Tuvshinjargal Bum-Erdene, who finds a way to “shine brighter” through the traditionally male sport of Sumo wrestling. As she steps into the ring, she casts off sexist standards and old self-images and claims her power. It celebrates the difficult, daunting part of reimagining ourselves… and the unexpected places it can lead us.
This poem encourages us to be patient and gentle with ourselves in the process of shrugging off old armor, because as we do, we emerge soft, open — and, often — raw and in need of healing. It can all feel too vulnerable and make us want to retreat back into ideas, people, and things that feel comfortable, protective, and familiar, though they may not be truly restorative. Em Claire’s words acknowledge how human that is — they feel like a supportive hug from someone who knows just how delicate and how strong you are.
Move slowly from these old skins. Your belly is raw, your back is tender- you are rudimentary now. Move softly from these old skins. Let the full bodyweight of all your innocence down. Be received. Be received by the broad earth of your worthiness. Cast off everything everyone else has known for you. Move gratefully from these old skins. And this time, if you toughen, decide for whom?
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