by Ashley Green, Director of the Recovery Café Network
I stepped outside to sink my bare feet into the cold, rain-soaked grass. While not in the habit of doing so, I was eager to give it a try after the invitation had been extended just moments before during Recovery Café Network’s Spring Training. The predictably unpredictable Pacific Northwest April weather alternated between misty rain and rays of sun. In my muddy grounded stance and moment of reflection, I began to imagine how my decision-making would be impacted when strengthened by what I felt standing there: a foundation of clarity and heart.
Last Thursday and Friday the Recovery Café Network community gathered virtually for our third biennial Spring Training. Spring Training is a time set aside for all of us in the Network to go deeper into our Core Commitments and Guiding Principles, and to examine how we might support and strengthen those values we hold at the heart of our work.
This year, Cofounder Killian Noe opened our space with a reflection titled “Living with Hope in the Darkness of Our Time.” Speaker and facilitator Rebekah Demirel’s training, “The Wisdom to Know the Difference,” guided us in reflecting on decision-making processes through a trauma-informed lens and encouraged us to consider our personal history and psycho-neuro patterns. Through self-reflection and community learning spaces we aimed to uncover and discover new pathways and tools to help us solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflicts, and take care of ourselves in both our professional and personal lives.
While Rebekah’s pathways and tools were in many ways practices we all can learn—breathing exercises, grounding in the Earth, self-inquiry—what she so often pointed to was the wisdom within each one of us. Wisdom that is already there. Rebekah quoted Gabor Mate to emphasize that trauma is often what disconnects us from wisdom within: “The essence of trauma is disconnection from ourselves . . . that very separation from the body and emotions.”
This already-there wisdom within each of us acknowledges and honors our ability to make decisions based on our own experiences, knowledge, and understanding of the world around us. Rebekah’s training, and her very presence, encouraged us to draw on our inner resources to navigate life’s challenges and make choices that align with our values. We may also use this wisdom to connect with others on a deeper level, recognizing and honoring their unique perspectives and experiences.
I was encouraged by this open invitation to continuously access the wisdom within ourselves. To hear that we are invited each day and in each moment to breathe, to change our mind, to be confident, to show up, to do our best—and to do better if and when more is revealed.
An Invitation, Open to All
Throughout the training I embraced this standing invitation with excitement. Yet when the training concluded, and I again stepped outside to sink my toes into my backyard’s soggy soil, and as the rain hit my face, I couldn’t help recalling all the moments I regretfully declined to accept that very invitation. When I said “yes” when I really meant “no.” When I said “no” when I knew “yes” would have brought me great joy. When I have lacked confidence in my own experience. When I have forgotten my breath as anxiety gripped me. While I was sad to have felt my disconnection so deeply, I was grateful to be invited back.
While there was some sadness in remembering those times of disconnection, I do find that reconnecting to a foundation of clarity based on my heart’s knowing is so empowering and does impact my decisions. I think I am more comfortable with the uncomfortable. I accept that the pressure to have the “right answer” is unnecessary and that there isn’t just one right answer anyway. I know I can change my mind, that my decisions evolve as my heart’s knowing does.
Recovery Cafés offer this invitation to all of us, an invitation to reconnect to the wisdom within. Each Café nurtures the extraordinary space for joy to warm the heart, for recovery to be celebrated, for sadness to be shared, for wellness to thrive, for curiosity to be explored, for connection to grow, and for healing to take root. It’s a healing that reconnects to our own wisdom, partly through loosening the suffocating grip of trauma which disconnects us from ourselves.
It is difficult for me to express the amount of gratitude I have for all of the vulnerable and courageous leaders in each community across our Network. Our showing up together, each of us offering and honoring the wisdom within us, is nothing short of miraculous.
Ashley Green serves as Director of the Recovery Café Network (RCN). She first joined the team in 2018. Her personal experience of losing loved ones to addiction informs her commitment and connection to the mission and work of the RCN.