Gutsy Friday Females: “Coming Into Your Own”

*published on Emme Nation

I need a disclaimer before I start on the path of parsing the benefits of  a program to increase women’s self awarness and power  called Coming Into Your Own, or in France, where I participated in the seminar, J’ai Rendez-Vous Avec Moi.  The disclaimer is this, programs with names like these, which seem to auger a touchy-feely , emotional high-jinx are usually something I rail against. And this is particularly strange to me, as in my life and work I think I am known as a very emotional, near to new-agey kind of partner, manager and friend. So what is it that makes me want to run in the other direction, when in fact this was exactly what I needed?

First I think there needs to be a better way to explain, market or as I said earlier, parse what these workshops, seminars, conferences are. Yes they are intensive and yes they do ask everyone to be present in a vital way. What does that mean? It means that you have to do every exercise even if you want to raise your hand and say TAXI and get the hell out of Dodge.  You can’t run away, you have to stay and attempt to be in the moment. and learn. And there seems to a lot of tears, and again I am normally a crier. Perhaps I am a contrarian, meaning I cry when no one else is and when all around are weeping, I am stoic. That said I did learn so much despite my misgivings.  

 CIYO (Coming Into Your Own) espouses that while women strive and struggle to succeed they (perhaps) developed only a part of who they are and made decisions, conscious or otherwise, to leave parts behind.

Here, this is from the CIYO website,
” In the midst of substantial achievement women often report feeling empty, burned out or invisible. Over the past 20 years we have helped women access their reservoir of presence, and a fuller expression of themselves in their work, family and relationships. Wholeness and balance in ourselves are crucial if we are to truly address the fragmentation in the world and the barrenness in so many workplaces.
The CIYO program engages the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of each one. We look at how each woman has navigated her personal and professional life, what her struggles and successes have been. We work together to identify current challenges, address barriers to forward movement, and cross thresholds… all in a supportive, confidential and nourishing environment. Our groups are kept small to ensure one-on-one conversation, rich dialogue, and the transforming power of the circle.”

Perhaps now you see what I mean. I couldn’t really access what was going to happen from this description and yet I trudged off to a farm in Burgundy where I actually felt as if I had been placed in witness protection. I was tossed into my shaky second language and driven by van to an unknown location. In truth if I paid more attention I could have told you we were just kilometers from the famed Chateau Chenin of Burgundy wine fame. Alas we were in at an Ayurvedic farm retreat where no wine was served, but the setting hinted at the wonders of the vineyards and four days on veggies and herbal tea was as welcome as the extraordinary participants and the various workshops, walks and lawn lounges.

I was particularly gob smacked by a workshop on the four archetypes of personality. In short each of us possesses elements of all four archetypes, but tend much more toward one or a skewed combination. The four are, the Magician, the Lover, the Warrior and the King or the Sovereign. This theory is based largely on Carl Jung’s interpretations of personalities. It was formalized recently, incredibly so for this women centered program by Brett McKay for a program on developing men’s personalities more fully.

We had been asked in advance to bring things that might represent your family.  There is an in-depth entrance interview weeks before heading off, and I just learned, an exit interview, which is scheduled a few months after the workshop. In the advance talk one is asked about family, goals and desires and told to bring  representations of your life.

We were a full dozen in the group in France and some brought objects and others created representations from things they discovered on walks around the vast property. I brought a set of passport masks with me, one for each member of my family, which came from northern Africa where I work  (link to and or the post I did for EmmeNation) I then augmented this with a variety of goodies from my suitcase and some found objects.

We all created mandalas of our lives.  My life, sometimes seems chaotic and too diverse, however, I found when viewed objectively viewing as I assumed the overview of the Magician, I was able to perceive saw rich, blessed and perfectly me the chaos was. And in fact it seemed as if no disorder prevailed. In the blink of an eye, like switching a lens from near ground to far ground and I vowed to allow myself to see my life more often with this new Magician perspective. I wanted to banish my too castigating Warrior and my squishy Lover self. I needed to occupy more archetypes and to develop them.

We learned that these different types exist within all of us, but like muscles we rarely use, they become atrophied and the more active muscles, or personality skills then prevail. The personality type exercises and definitions are often employed in the standard Myers-Briggs test administered by many human resource divisions in corporations and an understanding of where we stand is am important tool in maximizing the effectiveness of our lives from work to home.  

In order to see if this type of workshop would be right for you, in my case, great for you, please go the CIYO Website

At the site they ask you to consider some questions:

* Are you considering new directions in you professional or personal life?
* Are you wanting to engage leadership challenges from a stronger 
ground of     personal authority?
*  Are you needing time for reflection, regeneration and support from a mature community of colleagues?

In fact this is all of us at different times in our lives. I returned, reentered my life with a really renewed desire to be grateful and proactive, a powerful stance.


The next retreat in the tri-state area is October 5-8, but there are many others all over the world, Turkey, Morocco, France, California, Arizona. Pick your location and immerse yourself.


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