ARE YOU PART OF A THRIVING SHECOSYSTEM?

I told you I was done playing it safe and small. I told you I was ready to create something. Well here it is: after months of visioning, researching, and dreaming, it’s time to let you in on my next BIG thing.

After hearing myself go on and on about ‘holding space’ and ‘creating safe space,’ I’ve decided to create a real, physical, bricks and mortar space that reflects the values I hold dear. I want to unite the ecosystem of working women so that we can all become more resilient and radiant.

I am going to start a coworking space designed from a feminine paradigm that values self-care, sisterhood, holistic wellbeing and showing up authentically in our working lives.

It will be an environment where working women thrive – personally and professionally.

The SheCoSystem, as I’ve named my evolving project, is modeled on my core belief that just like everything in our natural ecosystem, working women thrive on interconnectedness. The more we come together, collaborate, share, and learn from each other, the more resilient we become as individuals, businesses, and as a community of working women. SheCoSystem will facilitate this connectedness by providing a collaborative, engaging, accessible and supportive workspace for the mobile workforce. It will be a hub for our city’s existing women’s networks and a purpose-built home for women’s events.

So that’s the plan. But it doesn’t start with bricks and mortar; it starts with community. That’s why I’ve joined forces with Women in Biz Network to host weekly events:

 Coworking, Wellness & Mentorship Meetups

Emily Antflick coworking meetup

Join us every Tuesday morning from 10-12 in Studio 106 at Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street.

We have our own private, light filled room with fast wifi and strong coffee. Every week a group of women meet up to cowork and engage in self-care. After a quick check-in, we get down to business – each woman focussing on her own projects, occasionally turning to the group (or to our in-house professional mentor) with a question, an insight or a helpful resource to share. Then we take a purposeful break to dance, stretch, meditate, or learn together.

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Pay as you go: $8 WIBN Members/ $12 Non-members

Monthly pass: $30 WIBN members/$36 non-members

 

Join us to create a new coworking space and community hub for women in Toronto. This is your opportunity to be a part of a the conversation and help us shape the space to suit your needs and values.  Join us to become a founding member of a vital new community, investing not only in your own business but in the future of women’s work in Toronto.

You are a part of the SheCoSystem if:

  • You are a woman who wants a workplace where you can show up in an emotionally authentic way without feeling fear or shame
  • You value holistic self-care and recognize that your business will thrive only if you take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing
  • You want a purpose-designed home to host your workshop, meetup group, club, or event
  • You are a wellness practitioner looking for a space to offer your services
  • You are looking for a safe and all-embracing space where you can take risks and work in integrity
  • You believe that growth can arise from serendipitous connections
  • You are passionate about lifelong learning and personal development
  • You love to collaborate and share your success – and vulnerability – with like-minded others
  • You want to prove to the mainstream business world that the full expression of the feminine is a viable and sustainable way to work

Want to know more? Contact me and I’d be happy to tell you more about the vision – or just show up next Tuesday to help co-create the SheCoSystem to suit your needs.

Psst – Here’s a peek at our space and the wellness portion of last week’s Coworking & Wellness meetup!

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A Wakeup Call from Aphrodite

I drove down to the studio through the drizzle. It was the first really cold, creeping fall drizzle; the kind that gives me double chills. First from cold, second from fear of the long winter ahead.

My phone had been buzzing all day as one woman after another cancelled her attendance for that evening’s Dance Our Way Home session. I felt dejected as I imagined myself dancing in a nearly empty room. The studio would be cold. I wondered how I would hold space for a warm circle of sisterhood with only two or three participants in the room.

When I arrived, I tried to center myself by drawing a card from the studio’s Doreen Virtue Goddess Oracle deck.

Aphrodite. Looking divinely beautiful with her flowing red hair and emerald gown.1359001230_aphrodite

I read the affirmation at the bottom of the card, and immediately felt reassured that no matter how many people showed up, the session would be just what it needed to be. It said:

“Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care and appreciating your divinity.”

And just like that, the goddess in me and let out a big yawn, splashed some water on her face, and got down to business. I put on some warmup music and started dancing and setting up the space. The people I had originally expected may not have showed, but others did – one sweet surprise after another.

As the dance journey began, the music and the last of a deep fuchsia sunset coming through the stained glass window transported us to a place where we were free, free to breathe deeply, to sigh, to roar and leap and spin and do whatever our bodies needed to do to warm up that late September night.

We danced with our inner Wild Women until our faces glowed with sweat and joy. We each embodied Aphrodite in our own uniquely beautiful ways.

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As I packed away the candles, stones and colourful silk scarves at the end of the night, I was aware of a complete shift in my sense of purpose. The message on the Aphrodite card was undeniable.

Fall and winter are happening whether I like it or not, and the inner goddess does not hibernate. But she also doesn’t spend the cold months shivering, still and isolated. She keeps herself awake by gathering all the other goddesses around her to dance, create, and nurture themselves. And when they come together, even on doubly chilly days, they reflect each other’s radiance. That’s enough to keep us all warm.

Since that day, I’ve been all about hosting events to bring women together. From talking circles to a weekly coworking & wellness meetup, fall is full of opportunities to authentically connect with like-minded women and build a sisterhood that will sustain us through the winter. 

Join me and make sure your inner goddess stays awake!

How can I trust in the unknown?

We were walking along a trail in Rouge Park in early May. The park was buzzing with spring’s eagerness to emerge – ferns unfurling their fibonacci curves, trilliums driving home some Ontario pride, little green fingers stretching up through the soil. I spotted a tree growing sideways up the edge of a ravine, and I couldn’t help leaving the path to run along its trunk, balancing in the tangle of horizontal branches.

I was a month out of a relationship and a career, and I was as fragile as the spring buds. But something else was starting to emerge. Something that expanded my chest and sharpened my inner vision. I climbed down from the tree and said to my friends:

TypicThere is so much WILDNESS in me that’s busting to get out…

I didn’t really know what I meant at the time, but that word would not go away.  Wildness. 

It was more than climbing trees and foraging for fiddleheads (but that was part of it). When the word wildness popped into my head and wouldn’t leave, I decided to work with what it represented. As I read and thought and talked and wrote and meditated and danced with the idea of wildness, I began to realize that wildness is the ability to courageously express my authentic, soulful self.

I also realized that too many of us women are out of touch with our wild selves. Occasionally we get a taste of our wildness or feel a longing to rediscover our inner Wild Woman. More often we drown out the cries and cravings of our wildness with air conditioning, makeup, mind numbing routines, cycle controlling hormones, processed food, codependency, distraction…we slouch politely through our lives behind the socially constructed barriers that keep us from hearing the longing of the wild soul.

I decided to play with an idea: what if I created a retreat where the intention is to try to hear our wild voices again?

In order to do that, I had to really step back as a facilitator and make space for each participant’s’ unique Wild Woman to emerge. I set out to design a retreat based on a feminine paradigm that values co-creation, creative collaboration, and an open hearted trust in the mysterious unknown.

With a background in formal education, I am used to working with specific learning objectives and detailed lesson plans, so learning to let go was a challenge. But a knowledge that is deeper than my degrees kept reminding me that the greatest lessons arise from the white spaces.  

Rediscovering my wild soul

required me to surrender control,

to move beyond predictability. 

My mission was to create a container that would encourage people to open up and contribute creatively, take the lead, and expand their personal boundaries. My responsibility was to hold space that was stimulating enough to spark new ideas, yet safe enough to allow women to take risks. I also wanted to bring participants to the edge of discomfort, allowing each woman to question whether her comfort zone serves her or whether it blocks her wild soul from expressing itself. Finally, I had to be open and vulnerable in order to allow these women to reveal their own vulnerability.

The most creative things in the world

happen in the spaces between the

heads and hearts of women who just get it

I sensed that these wise women would find their way to my retreat. And they did.

SaraElisabethPhotography-WildnessWeekend-4704When the ten Wild Women who took part in the retreat first arrived on Friday evening, we  first took time to drop into our breath and our bodies, giving ourselves permission to leave behind the highway and the busy week of work and urban living.

We then started with an exercise around setting intentions, because intention is what separates sacred retreat time from our mindless everyday flow. It was a provocative activity, where rather than simply meditating on her own intention, each person was asked to look at a list of words that another woman generated through a free-writing exercise, and then create an intention for someone else – without even knowing whose words she was reading – and read it aloud to the circle.

The intention that each woman received was surprisingly resonant: testimony to the common emotional ground shared by everyone in this sisterhood. This opening exercise reinforced the appropriateness of my own intention:

How can I trust in the unknown?

As the co-created retreat unfolded over the next two days, I asked myself this question countless times, both to comfort and to inspire me.

I called on it each morning at breakfast, when we set an unconference style agenda for the day.

I leaned heavily on it on Saturday, when I stepped back to allow the participants to lead their own programs – some planned, and others completely spontaneous.

I repeated this question all the way to the closing circle, where I chose not to tie everything up in a neat, pre-packaged closing, but to open the circle again to whatever each woman felt she needed to share or facilitate in order to bring sacred retreat space to a close.

SaraElisabethPhotography-WildnessWeekend-4745

It feels strange to reflect and evaluate my facilitation of this program. The metrics of success are less clear, because my role was so amorphous.

Do I measure it by the elated exhaustion I felt on Monday after holding space for nine others all weekend?

By the honest and gracious feedback that is trickling in from the participants?

By the fact that I was vulnerable enough to facilitate a tie dying activity in the midst of a full on ugly-tears breakdown (as promised: I’ll cry or your money back)?

By the sheer feat of turning a vague idea into a concrete experience in 3 months?

I still have a lot to process, but on the whole I think I did OK.

Ahem, we did OK!

So in the spirit of co-creation, I’d love to know what you kinds of events you would like to take part in in the coming months. 

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Wildness: A Dance Our Way Home journey

DOWH Session (1)

Last week I completed my training to facilitate Dance Our Way Home – an award winning holistic dance practise created by the magnificent Erica Ross. As part of the certification process, I’ll be offering a series of PWYC sessions this sumer beginning with this first session on July 9 at Temple 23 in Liberty Village.

I am so excited to share this practise with my sisters (and eventually brothers too…) and am beyond grateful for everyone’s love and support as I walk this new path.

P.S. If you are unable to attend my Wildness Weekend: A Co-Created Retreat for Heart-Centred Female Innovators in August, this will give you a little taste of what it feels like to connect with your inner wild woman!

xo

Emily Rose