By Kristin Ashley, MA, C-IAYT, 500-RYT, SENG Board of Directors .
As we round the corner into the second half of the year, we welcome one of my favorite events as a SENG member and director—the annual conference. This year we’re celebrating “Authentic Voices: Community and Belonging,” and the program title struck a particular bell in me. Our conference always serves as a significant full-circle moment in my life, as it typically falls on my birthday weekend in late July and reminds me of my journey into the gifted community at SENG. It is a journey of belonging. Belonging not only to a community, but to oneself. This belonging is truly a gift, not a sacrifice; a gift of a unique and particular liberty we must each recognize and claim for ourselves. We recognize this gift by seeking solace in the cathedral-like chambers of our hearts, and we claim it by remembering the song of our own voice. Not only the voice we hear when we speak our thoughts and ideas as contributions to the world around us, but the voice of wisdom that sings only when the temple of our mind slows to a stillness quiet enough to receive it. There is a full-bodied presence, a resonance, in this voice that carries across landscapes, in daylight or nightfall, persisting even in silence. This voice is strong on its own, but its power is amplified when it joins in chorus with another. It is apropos then that we should meet together as a community of minds and voices near the city that has historically represented the epicenter of liberty for this country, is the home of the Liberty Bell, and perhaps serves as a call for us to answer. A call from this voice of wisdom within to discern a path of independence from the obstacles we perceive to impede the clarity of our relationships to ourselves and the capacity to create with greater ease all we can express, expand, and experience with our full individual, and collective, being.
As David Whyte so aptly put in his book and eponymous poem The House of Belonging:
‘…This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.
This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.
There is no house
like the house of belonging.’
In this month’s Director’s Corner, I invite you to enter the house of belonging with me. I hope you join me in rediscovering the liberty that belongs to you, and perhaps joining SENG and I in a city I came to love during my own deeply personal journey towards independence and authentic happiness fifteen years ago. It was a time I not only was introduced to SENG, but I was re-introduced to myself. Walking the city streets as a young graduate student with my dog Sam adopted from a nearby shelter, we found solace together in this new and strange place as I learned the lay of the land in the neighborhoods around us, returning again and again to the chambers of my heart and reclaiming the voice of wisdom within me. As I listened to my footsteps on the stones of the streets, passing the landmarks of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell each evening, the rhythmic sound drew me in and the voice of wisdom began to speak. My time in the city gave me the gift of “re-membering” my gifted self, reclaiming my unique liberty and its significance to me, and redirecting me to a place within the gifted community of SENG by choosing to attend my first conference later that year.
Having presented in the last two SENG conferences and joining the Board of Directors this year, I can attest that this journey is worth it. David Whyte says it best: “There is no house / like the house of belonging.”
My call to you is this: may you remember that your liberty belongs to you. May your authentic voice ring loud, clear, and true reminding you of the gifts and wisdom within you. May you belong first to yourself. Only then invite others to join you, and let us dwell together in the house of belonging we call community.
Kristin Ashley is a gifted adult passionate about helping people heal, recover, and create happiness as they cross the thresholds of life’s challenges and joys. A holistic health clinician, registered yoga therapist (C-IAYT), and registered yoga teacher (200-RYT) with a background in clinical psychology, English, yoga, and holistic health, Kristin is crossing a new threshold of her own as she prepares to launch The Holi Land, her holistic health clinic where she will offer clinical yoga therapy and holistic health coaching both in-person and online. Kristin lives near New Orleans, Louisiana with her cat, Mina.