Welcome to Gather the Women Global Matrix
Gather the Women Global Matrix™ (GTW) is a global sisterhood that connects women through circles. We create a safe place to share our true selves. Meeting in circle, we find our voices, claim our power, and celebrate our self-worth, leading to personal and planetary transformation.
Translations by GTW sisters around the world:
Somos una hermandad global que conecta a las mujeres a través de círculos. Creamos un lugar seguro en el que compartir nuestra verdadera esencia, nuestro verdadero “Yo Soy”. Al reunirnos en círculo, encontramos nuestras voces, reclamamos nuestro poder y celebramos nuestro propio valor, en pos de una transformación personal y planetaria.
Wir sind eine globale Schwesternschaft, die Frauen durch Kreise verbindet. Wir erschaffen einen sicheren Platz, um unser wahres Selbst zu teilen. Indem wir uns in Kreisen treffen finden wir unsere Stimme, behaupten unsere Macht, feiern unseren Selbstwert und führen wir persönliche und planetarische Transformation an.
De visie van Gather the Women.
Wij zijn een mondiale vrouwengroep dat vrouwen verbindt door middel van cirkels. We creëren een veilige plek waarin we kunnen delen wie we werkelijk zijn. In de ontmoeting in de cirkel ervaren we onze eigen stem, recht en kracht, en vieren we onze eigen-waarde hetgeen ons leidt naar persoonlijke en planetaire transformatie.
Tuli entabilo y’obwaseluganda ebuna ensi yonna nga egetta abakazi okuyita mu buboondo bw’enkulungo. Tutondawo ekifo ekitebenkevu okugabana ekitufu kyetuli mu buntu. Okukunganira mu kaboondo k’enkulungo, tuzuula amaloboozi gaffe, okwediza obuyinza bwaffe, era n’okujaguzza ekyo ekisanira era kyetuli, okututusa kukukyusibwa kw’embeera eyasekinoomu era n’ensi yonna.
אנו אחוות נשים עולמית המחברת בנות חווה דרך מעגלי נשים היוצרים מקום בטוח לשיתוף כנה ואמיתי.
הפגישה במעגל מאפשרת לנו למצוא את הקול האותנטי שלנו, את כוחות הנפש הייחודיים, ולחגוג את ערכנו העצמי לכדי טרנספורמציה אישית וכלל עולמית.
Be inspired to create your own circle!
By Barbara Belknap
“Suspended above the palace of Indra, the Buddhist god who symbolizes the natural forces that protect and nurture life, is an enormous net. A brilliant jewel is attached to each of the knots of the net. Each jewel contains and reflects the image of all the other jewels in the net, which sparkles in the magnificence of its totality.” – Buddhist teaching. Thoreau called Indra’s Net the “infinite extent of our relations”.
I believe I first heard of Indra’s Net from Jeanie DeRousseau. We were at the 2006 Gather the Women North American gathering at the University of Victoria in the lovely city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Jeanie had a huge image of a net with sparking jewels at each knot up on the screen behind her. Jeanie is an anthropologist with a scientist’s inquisitive mind, and a poet with a gift for finding just the right way to explain inexplicable things. Indra’s net was the perfect image for what Gather the Women was creating.
Today, in mid-July eight years later, I’m thinking of Linda Higdon, who lives in Wisconsin, and Mona Al-Faara who lives in Gaza. I met Linda at a 2008 Gather the Women gathering at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Cloud, Minnesota. We sat next to each other at one of the big round tables in the dining room. Linda is from Wisconsin and so is my mother, so we chatted about Wisconsin and how we came to be sitting next to each other in Minnesota. As I remember it, Linda was one of the speakers and talked about connecting American women to other women in war-torn countries via teleconference. Intrigued, I signed up.
Dr. Mona Al-Faara of Gaza was one of those women who stayed up into the middle of the night Middle East time to talk to American women spanning all five time zones in the United States. I was awed by all the women, but Mona struck me as one of the bravest human beings, man or woman, I’d ever heard speak. She described driving the length of Gaza delivering food to children at various nursery schools and primary schools. It would often be their only meal of the day. Gaza is so tiny, 6.8 miles wide and 32 miles long, that she would drive the length of it every day on her rounds.
Today, with the news full of terrible images from Gaza, I Googled Dr. Al Faara and found her at http://www.windowintopalestine.blogspot.com. The headline was “Urgent message from Dr. Mona Al-Farra in Gaza”. She cites her organization, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and the water purification systems they are installing in schools. I donated $50 to the umbrella organization.
Yes, it is political. Yes, it is controversial. However, I cannot forget her voice on the phone years ago when I asked her how she could keep going through all the infighting between armed groups and the constant danger of airstrikes from Israel. Her response was, “An activist never gives up.” I have had that sentence on the back of my cards ever since.
When I saw Linda Higdon last November in San Francisco at the Alchemy gathering, we hugged and I asked her how she was doing. She said something to the effect that she just didn’t know if anything she had done made a difference. So, I pulled one of my cards out of my purse and showed her the quotation on the back. Her eyes filled with tears. She hugged me and said, “Thank you.”
We are all connected as human beings. The women we meet in our gatherings touch us and we touch them. Each of us is a brilliant shining jewel in a net cast around the world.
Before I found Gather the Women Global Matrix, I knew a grand total of three Canadians. All three of them lived in Port Angeles, Washington, when we were stationed there with the Coast Guard in the mid-1980′s. Gail and Lyle were from Victoria directly across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles. Lea was from somewhere in Ontario, I think, and married to Jay, a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard.
Ten years later, in 2004, I was retired and yearning for something meaningful to do. A friend used the phrase, “community building”, and that was the beginning of a new direction for me. Come summer, I was at Marsh House on Whidbey Island with Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin of PeerSpirit learning about Circle Practice. Anne Fitzgerald was there and mentioned “Gather the Women” and I was hooked.
My first GTW event was in downtown Los Angeles and that was where I met Kathe Schaaf and Clare Peterson from Vancouver Island. The conversation at that time was about having six conferences on six continents, a Big Vision that ran up against financial and logistical issues. My memory is of me sitting there with a little thought bubble over my head, “How can these women put on an international conference in Brazil or Australia with no money?” But in 2006, I was in Victoria, B.C. for the second Gather the Women International Women’s Conference. Hundreds of women came and it was thrilling to see the dream for a North American Gather the Women Conference come to fruition.
In 2008, I went back to Vancouver Island for a seminar on “Building Capacity for a Changing Future”, and I (the only American there) was with Clare. I also went to “The Art of Hosting” on Vancouver Island with all Canadians. My sense was that, being from Juneau, my American-ness was tempered with my sharing of the same waterway.
(Several times as I wrote this, I thought about checking on Facebook to see if I had the dates right, but the Facebook River has gone too many miles to row against that current.)
As one of the organizers of the Seattle GTW gathering, the memory of watching the Canadian women start to say something and be interrupted while in circle is still painfully fresh in my mind. We needed to ring the bell to pry open the space for them, and then extend ourselves to continue our attentiveness until they were complete. The Gather The Women gathering in Peterborough, Canada, was a catalyst for our organization’s growth, and the beginning of a invigorated Canadian GTW.
I am an uber-extrovert and it is a constant challenge for me to just stop talking and listen. This is a generalization, but after several years now of gathering with Canadian women, I have found that I need to slow down and “listen with intention”, as Circle Principles dictate. The humor is often subtle. The conversation in circle is thoughtful. The singing and movement is joyful, especially when Diane Jung is involved. My life is so much richer for knowing these women.
There is a tension and dynamism between our two countries that can increase exponentially the closer the border is, but when we gather in circle, we are women first and foremost. Ideally, the stereotypes disappear while our strengths complement each other.
By Barbara Belknap
Note: In my past blogs, I have felt that I needed to write about circles, women’s circles, circling circles – you get the idea. As a result, I have spent way too much time thinking about the blog as opposed to actually writing it. On June 26, I was in Heather Plett’s “Openhearted Writing Circle” and today I thought, “What would Heather say?” I know it would be: Write what is in your heart. From now on, I’m going to write what moves me to write. I hope you will comment when moved to do so!
Virtues, Strengths, and Values
My husband Doug and I had an interesting conversation this morning that brought up a whole host of moral questions for me. We have been married almost 45 years and share the same core values, but that doesn’t mean we have morphed into mirrors of each other.
Yesterday morning, Doug met with John, Larry and Bob for breakfast at Donna’s Cafe. All four are retired from the Coast Guard so they have that in common. Larry and Bob are both marine pilots for the cruise ships that ply these waters every summer.
John lives in Washington now and is here visiting his kids and grandkids, but he and his first wife Cyndy lived here in the 1970s when we did, and our families became friends. John always made me uncomfortable when he belittled Cyndy’s Native American heritage. They had four children who all have Cyndy’s raven black hair and stunning cheekbones, and those kids grew up in that atmosphere until their parents divorced.
Cyndy’s divorce from John was one divorce I celebrated wholeheartedly, and I rejoiced when Cyndy remarried a man who adores and values her. They live in Kentucky now where Roy’s roots are, and where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in Alaska. When we visited them a few years ago, Cyndy joked to me that a customer at the Sam’s Club where she works called her “that white Chinese lady”. The day after I got back to Juneau, I mailed her a Walela CD to listen to on her long commute. Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Coolidge and Laura Satterfield now serenade my beautiful Ojibwa friend in the cocoon of her car. There was a catch in her voice when she called to thank me. Cyndy shared that her sister is now the first female Chief of her tribe in Minnesota. For the hundredth time, I asked her why on earth she didn’t move “back to the rez” as she called it. I knew full well the answer. Roy’s roots had won so Kentucky was home.
Circling back to this morning’s conversation at Donna’s Cafe, Doug told me that John started talking about Cyndy in racist terms just as he had in front of us over thirty years ago. What John does not know is that Larry is half Native American from a northeastern tribe. Doug and Bob knew that, but neither said anything. Larry said nothing.
Why not? I believe I would have said something. Why would I speak up when three men did not?
Nuking my coffee to warm it up a tad, I went into my office and started looking through the file folders of our Juneau Gather the Women events. Buried way in the back, I found the June 2004 file on “Signature Virtues and Strengths”. Clearing my desk, I set up my iPad with the keyboard for some serious (and faster) typing. I went online to Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness website*, and I took the test again almost ten years ago to the day when I took in 2004. I was looking for Moral Outrage, but that isn’t on the Virtues/Strengths list.
Instead, Humor and Playfulness was my number one strength in 2004. Number 2 was Forgiveness and Mercy. Today, on July 3, 2014, my number one strength is Forgiveness and Mercy. My number 2 strength ten years later is Honesty and Authenticity. Humor and Playfulness come in at Number 6. After all these years, I still have the same core strengths. They have just rearranged themselves.
What is the moral of the story? We can only be responsible for ourselves, but we are all a piece of the whole and our collective virtues and strengths matter a great deal in this world.
*http://www.authentichappiness.org. or Google Martin Seligman