Sometimes we just need a bit of framework and someone to share first.

Ravneet Vohra & Juliana Park

Ravneet Vohra & Juliana Park

 

An Oakland Workshop created by

Ravneet Vohra and Juliana Park

to spread the word and vision of both

Wear Your Voice Magazine

and Juliana’s upcoming book

“The Abundance Loop,

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a Hay House Writers Workshop non-fiction contest Winner, took place last Thursday.

The workshop took place at

Runway (Now Urban Stitch)

the Downtown Oakland Boutique owned by Alanna Rayford. Among the designs of local Oakland Designers, food catered by Diema Chef Dee EllingbergWine provided by Urban Legend & Cerruti Cellars and chocolates generously donated by Ghirardelli, there was a crowd of people chomping, drinking and talking.

Food by Diema Chef Dee Ellingberg

Food by Diema Chef Dee Ellingberg\Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

Julianna explained the pattern of thinking that she has termed the “Scarcity Loop” and the type of impact that this line of thinking had on her life. She went into the “Abundance Loop” and how this change from Scarcity to Abundance came about.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

Ravneet discussed her journey and decisions that led her to find the path she wanted to be on, though it was not the one people expected of her or even supported her taking. On this journey she not only experienced outside opposition, but internal, in much the same way as Julianna describes in her “Scarcity Loop.” In following what was truly her own, in her own way, Ravneet had to discover her own voice along the way. It was the ways in which she was silenced by others and by herself, that stuck with her and led to the starting of Wear Your Voice Magazine as a platform for other women to share their stories, to speak their truths and to have dialogues that are not being had as publically, as often or in as varied words as they are truly experienced.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

We live in a reality in which hating on ourselves for our mistakes is more common than confidence and hiding the evidence of our struggles is not only encouraged, but almost essential to be a part of “normal society.” Not everyone can afford therapy and even those that can, may not find a whole lot of people in the profession that look like them, that can relate to what they have been through, or that can present the space to speak freely in a way that empowers rather than shames.

Photo Credit Shaya Stark (www.shayastark.com)

Photo Credit Shaya Stark (www.shayastark.com)

The terms “Abundance” and “Scarcity” don’t hold the same stigma as psychological terms sometimes do. “Loop” doesn’t sound clinical or pathologized the way “negative self talk” or “shame spiral” can. These words provided a common point of reference devoid of heavy connotations and the setting was public, taking the topic out of the hidden, white-noise filled hallways that therapy is often relegated to.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

People like Ravneet and Julianna are creating spaces that challenge norms. As Ravneet said, when she shared her stories, other people had stories and in the sharing there was a healing.

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Cheryl Pitts – Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

The number of people who were willing to share such vulnerable pieces of themselves with strangers is testament to the value of this duo’s bravery and leadership. They shared their stories about leaving marriages, careers, countries, and imprinted patterns of thinking behind and about the places they were stuck now. The space was one in which participants could throw aside the normalized process of only sharing things when they are better, a retrospective on how shitty things were. Urban Stitch was filled with voices resisting the idea that we need to be a society that does not show our struggle.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

A statement made by Alanna Rayford, Owner of Urban Stitch, really stuck me. “What if anxiety could be motivation?” she asked.

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Alanna Rayford – Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

Anxiety is a huge part of my moment-to-moment life and it is where I need to start because that bitch is trying to take over. The New Yorker in me is still not able to use the language I hear out here sometimes, so when I could see my anxiety as a bitch- not the powerful doing her thing kind that society mislabels as such, but a hater that is sabotaging me- I was able to tell her, “Shut the fuck up bitch. Your shit doesn’t scare me. I own you. And you know what I’m going to do with that anxiety you are throwing at me? Use it. Cuz I’m crafty.”

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Russel Thompson – Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

My language sounded a bit different. But I was able to get quiet with myself for a moment and have a few seconds of clarity, enough to decide to do something that scares me.

Outside Urban Stitch, I text: can we talk about why I was upset? Previously, I would have already gotten mad. Blamed them for not knowing. Accused them of only wanting me for sex. Now, I tentatively own that these are my preconceptions, that these are worries I bring into the situation.

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De Angela Cooks – Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

I talk about the Abundance Loop. About anxiety. I ask what makes them anxious. I want to feel like a human, know they experience these things too. (I note that I previously would have baited them. Said something to hide my shame in.)

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Garard- Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

I say: Sometimes when I am physical with someone I start feeling unsafe. I feel unable to say anything in the moment. The process from feeling uncomfortable to panicked and crying happens so quickly and I get stuck. I don’t say triggered.  I don’t give reasons why. I am worried that I’m being judged: wounded, tainted, fucked, whore. But I keep talking because the talking is making me calmer, more connected, heard.

I say: If you don’t know, you can ask me. I am better at answering than I am making the space to start talking about what I feel on my own, in the moment.

We are hugging. For a moment, I panic. I think all of this could go away. Then I say to myself: So? If they want to put in false efforts or put forth efforts they can’t maintain, that is on them.

I say: I am trying to get to know you, rather than seeing if you can bend into to who you think I want.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

 I am sitting on the floor of an apartment in Oakland. I have tears on my cheeks and I am making a joke. I feel calm and abundant. I feel dressed in my own voice.

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Photo by Shaya Stark (shayastark.com)

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