2016 changed me.
In 2016, L2L decided to have a Framily Reunion for the sisters that were missing Michfest. It changed me. I had never produced a music festival. I didn’t know anything about the logistics involved in putting together a performance for people. I didn’t know anything about food permits, health department, electrical requirements, clearing spaces, getting approval, or creating a space.
I didn’t understand all that it would entail and all that it would mean.
I didn’t know that a festival is more than just a festival.
I didn’t know that a women’s music festival that lasted for 40 years was more than just a week long party.
I didn’t know that it was more than just hanging out in the woods.
It was hanging out in the fucking woods with women that had created a magical, radical safe space in the woods for women to BE.
I didn’t know that it was a way of life.
I didn’t know that the women’s culture that was built alongside and inside Michfest was something that you can only experience if you are in it and live it.
I didn’t know that there were certain expectations to produce a women’s festival.
I didn’t know how hard it was to put together an inclusive community for women of all challenges including disabled and deaf women, women of color and white women, radical feminists and freaks.
I didn’t know that the shoulders that I jumped on were carrying a huge responsibility to the community to uphold certain standards.
I didn’t realize that intention and impact can be very different.
I didn’t realize how hard creating a music festival and herding cats can be on a relationship.
2017 broke me
In 2017, we made the decision to expand to a 3 day weekend festival instead of a one day event.
It broke me.
I didn’t know the logistics involved in creating a space in the woods for women to live in would require such work and dedication for so long.
We created trails by cutting down trees.
If you cut down trees, you have to handle the wood.
We chipped wood.
We created more trails. We chipped more wood.
We found and cleared the stage area.
We found and cleared the kitchens.
We developed the water source.
We ran electrical lines.
We built showers in the woods.
We built friendships. I broke friendships with my unmanaged stress and worry.
We brought together women that believed and put their sweat and muscle behind our vision. We built a festival space.
It broke me.
It broke me physically. I was sore and bruised and exhausted and it took me almost a year to recover.
It broke my relationship. Too many harsh words, too little tools to work through the stress and the anger and frustration of too much work and too little time created a pattern of hurt in myself and others.
It broke my bank. It broke my spirit.
I took a year to study me and recover and heal.
I read. I prayed. I went to therapy. I journalled. I asked questions of elders.
I learned that a women’s community is much more than a party in the woods. I learned about the expectations and radical honesty and radical listening.
I didn’t become perfect. I didn’t become always calm and always without stress and always without frustration.
I learned new tools. I learned to listen and breathe and sit with something before I responded. I did this all imperfectly in my most human way possible.
I developed and grew as a woman and as a friend and as a leader.
2018 opened my eyes
We entered 2018 with hurt feelings from 2017.
How do I show that there is change until someone trusts to give it a chance?
It took courage and trust to believe that it’s okay to give it and us another chance.
Will the feelings be the same? Will the reactions be the same?
Not only were my eyes opened but others’ eyes were opened to what can happen if you take off the armor, trust that the words of change are a reflection of the action of change.
Taking a chance is scary. Taking a chance and trusting is hard.
Taking a chance means vulnerability.
Vulnerability is not comfortable.
Opening my eyes and others’ eyes was hard but it happened.
With each time that someone took a chance, opened their eyes and their hearts, it was risky and scary and
It was beautiful. The impact was more aligned with the intention.
The safe space was safer.
The joy was more joyful.
There was still frustration but it was handled better.
There was still stress but it was managed better.
My eyes were open; 2017 peeled off a layer and my eyes were opened to how it could be better. How I could be better: more loving, more kind, more calm, less stressed.
My eyes were opened to the possibilities of living a more joyful and loving life.
My eyes were opened to the value of each of us as we gather and the strength and love we need to continue to hold this space.
It is a huge responsibility and a huge work.
My eyes were opened to yes if yes is possible.
My eyes were opened to speak your truth clearly.
My eyes were opened to no is an acceptable response if there is clear communication without anger.
I chose to believe that people are doing their best.
I realized so many, many things about human nature, women’s community, and myself.
My life and my personal growth are thoroughly entwined with my work in the community with L2L and MFR.
The energy and the output of the community that I create is a huge reflection of my inner workings.
If there is a conflict in the work crews, I find the conflict in myself.
If there are hurt feelings reflected in our MFR work, I can find the hurt or conflict in myself.
MFR makes all of the flaws and imperfections of me glaringly obvious.
It makes it so I can stay stuck or I can work on myself.
It’s easy to hide flaws when you are not public.
It’s easy to find your flaws and areas that needs some work when you do everything publicly and on a grand scale.
I chose to open my eyes and see me in all of my hurt and glory.
I chose to see with open eyes myself.
I chose to acknowledge my part in plans gone askew so maybe the plans can go off smashingly next time.
I chose to see and feel and be human and be a work in progress regardless of the approval or the outcome. I chose to let myself be an open book. I chose to let myself be a reflection of the not so public problems that can arise in a women’s community.
I chose to let myself be an ongoing project so I can improve and grow and be a better human.
And while I am not a perfect person with a perfect demonstration of love, patience, community, and trust; I am an imperfect person that continues to put myself out there and find the juicy in all aspects of this life journey so my pain and mistakes and triumphs can inspire and motivate others to continue growing too.
And it’s almost 2019.
MFR is coming back stronger, sweeter, and more savory than ever.
We have learned. We will continue to learn.
We will continue to be radically honest as our foremothers have taught us to be.
We will continue to listen radically with open hearts so we can still be here.
Our inner struggles will continue to be public so others can learn and grow.
2019 and I’m back, juicier than ever.