A few years ago I went to my first Women’s Journey Meeting. I was in a place of searching for who I was and I had heard about this great meeting for women through an acquaintance. The meetings were held monthly only a mile from my home, so it seemed like I was meant to go. In that room I was witness to the transformation of many women. Some only passed through for a short time, others came often.

The biggest transformation was in me. In that room, in the safety of a circle of women I hardly knew, I explored and accepted parts of myself I had hidden away. I came to understand that I was not alone in my thoughts or feelings on many topics related to being a woman in today’s world. I learned that those things that had been haunting me, that I had been trying to ignore, were valid and were shared by others. I learned to question the unquestionable “rules” that had been placed on me; Rules written by a society that did not value women as much as it valued men. Rules that we as women had learned to defend at our own expense. I learned to value my own wisdom, my own opinions and feelings. I had a chance to tell “my story” and I heard the stories from women of all walks of life. Judgments were placed aside. Freedom of expression and differences of opinion were encouraged.

When the monthly meetings ended, an online meeting place took up the journey. The monthly chats and daily blogs have continued the opportunity for growth and wisdom sharing. Occasionally there are special events where live interaction with Ann and Women’s Journey are shared with the local community; which I never miss.

Dr. Ann Mody Lewis has been an inspiration to me in my journey to self. I am truly discovering how I have been held back by the unfair rules based on gender. My relationship with my husband is growing as we both see how our families, our church, our schools and our society have “kept us in line”. We are breaking free, although awkwardly, from the restraints that have been placed on us and our search for intimacy, acceptance, and love. Ann’s books have been instrumental, as have the daily blogs. It is like I needed to have someone give me permission to speak out loud. To question that which I cannot accept, just because I have been told I must. To begin to accept the world, not to mention myself, my husband, and all those I love and care for; as human, not as feminine or masculine as defined by gender roles. To accept that being a strong woman does not make me less of anything, it just makes me… me!

Vicki Rethemeyer