THIS BIG MAGICAL THING CALLED LIFE

"Because everything that is supposed to happen will happen, is already happening, or has already happened." -- Maggie Nelson

Chelsey Duckworth & Christina Justiz Roush 

Chelsey Duckworth & Christina Justiz Roush 

We have spent the better part of 2016 working behind the scenes to bring life to an idea that caught both of us by our hearts and wouldn't let go: a communal workspace dedicated to supporting women. This shared space would offer Bellocq Tea, a childcare center, computers and chargers, a café, a backyard for hosting community events, and so much more. The design would be all pale woods and clean lines, velvet couches, and ceramic mugs. And, most importantly, it would be a dedicated space for women to work, connect, and inspire one and other.

We invested in market research (as many of you remember), wrote a business plan, designed a presentation deck, set up meetings with investors, and Chelsey began planning a move across the country to join Christina in LA. Then, something wonderful happened. Christina's husband, Chris, got offered the job of a lifetime up in Silicon Valley. This was a truly awesome thing. But, it also meant that our female-focused coworking space in Los Angeles was indefinitely put on pause. This broke our hearts. Over the summer, while Christina looked at homes in Palo Alto and San Francisco, Chelsey began thriving at work in New York and larger opportunities started coming her way. Things got hard and wonderful all at the same time.

What we are about to share was not an easy decision to make. There was most certainly tears on both sides of the country.There were long emails, fits and starts, bandaids presented, obligations weighed, more tears, and ultimately the clink of champagne glasses as we bravely decided to heed our own advice and listen to what the universe was asking us to do.

For the time being and the foreseeable future, we will be stepping away from Girl Gift Gather.

What this means is not exactly clear. We haven’t ironed out all the details (despite our best efforts over the last few weeks).  There is still heartbreak and confusion here. The truth is, this isn’t just about Christina moving or Chelsey’s work becoming a priority. This is about creativity and joy. It’s about inspiration and dedication. It’s about turning something you love, love, love into work, work, work. We are so very sure that one day it will all make sense. That we will look back and laugh at our silly mistakes and wonder at our big ideas. But, all we know now is that we need to let go.

Some Saturdays, this beautiful little newsletter is an incredibly inspirational and forward-focused space, other days, it’s all about the mess that is the heart. Today, we offer you the latter. Today, we are present and honest, and still in that most uncomfortable of places - the truth. We can’t wrap this ending up in a beautiful bow for all of you.

It is a hard job to try and make something work when the universe has other plans in mind. We imagine that most of you know exactly what we’re talking about; that you too have toiled over whether to fight harder or to let go of a project or a job or a relationship. Some of you may be in that very situation right now. It is not an easy spot to be in. And yet, this paradox is at the crux of so many things in our lives. Maybe this email will scare you. Maybe it will inspire you. Maybe it’s just nice to know that you’re not in this alone. Letting go is not always the answer. But for us, in this moment, it is. All we can say is trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust this big, magical thing called life. That it is working for you, not against you. And that you are being led, even though it might feel like you are walking in the dark. 

The most important thing we can do today is thank you. We are so incredibly grateful to each and every one of you for reading this newsletter every Saturday morning, for visiting our blog, for watching our episodes, and most importantly for sharing your wisdom, experiences, and support with us every step of the way. Doing this with you has changed our lives.
  

Please keep in touch! We would love to hear from you. We will both be around, working on exciting projects and continuing this life of creativity and learning. We will definitely keep you posted!

Have yourselves an extra beautiful weekend!

Love always & forever,


C+C  

Rising-Of-The-Pheonix

Today a beautiful post by Pamela Mahler

Image via Mystic Mama

Image via Mystic Mama

I  have sat down to write this article many times already and have come up fruitless However, the New Moon always provides me with great inspiration and clarity, so I feel it will all come together in this moment. Christina, one of the creators of Girl Gift Gather, is the one who opened up my awareness to this power and for that I am forever grateful.  She and I have been in each other's lives for many, many moons and from just outside the chaos she witnessed my descent into addiction and subsequently, my rising-of-the-Pheonix experience in recovery, which is what I will try to focus on here and now. I am very humbled to share a piece of my story with you & hope that through my honesty, someone's heart will find an openness where before there was only a closed door.

So like I was saying, I'm an addict in recovery. I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that addiction is more serious than ever. The number of drug-related deaths that take place each year has been steadily rising for over a decade. These numbers don't even include the suicides that take place because addicts finds death more appealing than continued compulsiveness, or the "died suddenly" OD-omissions in eulogies written by families, too ashamed to bring light to their loved ones' fatal habits. The truth is we need to wake up as a society and see that addicts are our friends; they are our neighbors, our cousins, our baristas, our teachers, lawyers, uber drivers, even our partners - addicts are everywhere. The problem lies in the fact that when people think of drug addicts they think of the ones trapped in active addiction; liars, thieves, drains on government programs, deadbeat dads, and so on. No one thinks of drug addicts as kind, introspective, altruistic, passionate individuals who seek to do good for the benefit of all, but I am here to tell you the latter is the absolute deepest truth I've come to know. 

I crawled into recovery on December 27, 2013; 15 years after my first drink.  I was 27 years old and my near-lifeless body had been carried out of a music venue the night before by a dear friend who I now consider a guardian angel.  I know the exact moment my partying went from recreational indulgence to gripping necessity, but I'd rather not dive into the specifics.  What I will say is that when I woke up that day I knew something had changed inside of me. I was given the gift of desperation and I was ready to face the truth. I knew I needed help, so I reached out to a family member who at the time was 25 years sober. He nudged me onto the path of life I still trudge today, one where I am surrounded by love and support, guided by soulful inspiration and honored to be of service to the world as best I can.

Early recovery meant turning my life upside down, shaking it until all my pockets (and closets) were empty of lies, secrets, and skeletons. I had to make peace with what lay before me during that process and own up to the kind of person I had been presenting to the world through my actions. It took a lot of work to forgive myself and mend the relationships with others that I'd frayed. I cannot tell you how many times I burst into tears on buses, subways, and long walks simply because I hadn't felt an unfiltered feeling in a decade and a half. It meant getting back up in life, planting my feet firmly in the ground and being sturdy enough to stretch my hand out to pull up the next girl who had fallen.

My life today has little resemblance to the one I left behind. Before I found recovery I prided myself on being Queen Party Girl.  Getting backstage at a concert was my only aspiration in life; I had no goals or ambitions and certainly wasn't looking for ways to improve my community or humanity as a whole. Floating through life aimlessly, I spiraled out until I was circling the drain. 

Through spiritual practice and a supportive community comprised of the firemost sober women,    I've learned how to make sense of my emotions and experiences which gives me the power to navigate life in a purposeful way.  My feelings were too intense for me to handle early in my youth which is how I ended up soothing myself with alcohol in the first place. "That which pulls us off the path is that which brings us back to it" - thus is my story with addiction.  What initially was an analgesic for my pain ended up digging a far greater wound than my initial emotional scrapes.  When I woke up that fateful morning & had the choice of continuing to numb myself or look my truth in the eye, I was finally able to choose the truth. I'm grateful for every minute of my journey, because it all brought me to here-and-now, a place where I feel a sense of precious belonging.

 In recovery I've found my calling; I'm a second semester student at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences on my way to becoming a massage therapist.  This discovery was made slowly and gently through intimate meditation work with a mentor I cherish dearly. I've learned to express myself in ways I only dreamed of when I was still drinking and drugging, like the year I spent doing stand-up comedy in clubs & volunteer improv with special needs children.  Most recently, I connected with Miracle Messages, a non-profit that uses the power of social media to connect people experiencing homelessness with long lost loved ones. 40% of the connections made through this process result in those people moving from the streets into the homes of their families and friends, a statistic that brings me to tears every time I say it out loud. I'll be volunteering my time helping them set up their chapter here in New York.  It's a project that moves me deeply and it is an honor to be able to serve those who have lost their way and voice. Today I live a life I can be proud of with passion, a clean heart, and a still soul. 

The truth is, I am one of many. I have met thousands of people like me and know there are hundreds of thousands of us across the globe. I won't ever deny that addicts will steal your wallet and lie to your face - but I want it to be known that addicts in recovery make the world a better place.  There's a specific flavor of compassion, humility, and empathy that comes from living through the wringer that is addiction.  We've seen the ugliness of humanity within our own selves which makes it nearly impossible to judge others. When I see a person struggling today, my instinct is to find a way to help. We all are subject to the tale of the two wolves and being that I found a way to change my spiritual diet, I feel it my responsibility to help those who are still on their way.

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Pamela Mahler is a massage-therapist-in-training residing in Brooklyn, New York. She practices mindfulness meditation, aromatherapy and yoga regularly to remain a clear vessel for her clients. She is passionate about helping the homeless, people facing addiction,and their loved ones; if you feel moved to reach out to her regarding any of the above (or for any reason at all) please send an e-mail topamelamahler@theswede.me