Musings: Cannabis + The Red Tent

What in the WORLD could these two things have in common?

Well, they are the themes of two events I attended last week. During my process through self-exploration and growth, I have wanted to challenge myself. Challenge my perceptions, beliefs, and perceived thoughts.

It has been a challenge all right! But worth it…

Cannabis as I now call it, no longer weed or marijuana, has always had a stigma with it in my mind, thoughts, and perceptions. I’ve never hidden this, but I’ve always somewhat accepted and supported friends who use this plant — recreationally or medicinally. However, I did and do have my opinions about it. As its prevalence grows, in Sacramento and nationally, groups such as CannaConvos have developed to explore, educate, and collect liked minded folks. They offer a monthly meet-up with specific cannabis topics in a panel forum style. It is extremely low-key and approachable for anyone and everyone.  June’s topic was “Stigma” and I wasn’t going to miss this one. I also invited Hollywood to join me, because going to events with others is always a little more enjoyable.

Here are a few important things I left with, let me repeat “I” very heavily:

  • See cannabis as a plant, not as a drug — helps change the way you think about it altogether, not necessarily a (bad) drug
  • The Green Closet – if everyone was honest about their usage, maybe then the stigma may have a chance to lessen
  • History of cannabis – it is highly influenced and linked to women in history, this was really interesting and I’d love to learn more
  • Topicals – you don’t get high, but they offer relief
  • Yoga benefits – cannabis may be a good option for those similar to me, who have a hard time relaxing and being present during your practice (working on this all around, Y’all)

Even though it’s legal in California, I still feel weird writing about it here on my blog. What if my employer reads this? Will they try to fire me? I can’t be fired for attending an event about cannabis, right? 😉 There was none on hand, you need special permits for that. But they did have a wine bar, which was an awesome offering for the group. I truly appreciate this group for educating me about cannabis. Sometimes, all it takes is a little attempt at educating yourself to remove some of your stigma about something, anything. I was honestly trying to look at myself and see where and how I developed these misconceptions about cannabis. As kids we are taught to “Say No to Drugs,” but the only drug they reference is cannabis really. They don’t address coke, meth, etc. So really, when we are taught about drugs, I feel like the emphasis was on cannabis. Of course, then you infuse the stereotypes of “cannabis users” and thus you have my perceptions of the “drug” and what it means and who uses it.

Nevermind that it can be considered a plant. Some use it spiritually, some use it medicinally. And some use it recreationally. More recently, I’ve noticed that I am more open to people using for medicinal reasons. I’ve never scoffed at that, especially when I read that terminal patients use it to alleviate pain and suffering. I think that was the initial segway for me being more open to the plant. It is very new for me to refer to it as a plant, not a drug. I am also training myself to call it cannabis, not weed or any of the other nicknames. They did discuss the various nicknames of cannabis and how they affect the perception of the plant. It’s all so interesting.

In all, I realized, I don’t have to enjoy the plant to release my stigma. But (barely) educating myself, I learned a lot. In that two hours where I absorbed the words, knowledge, and experiences of others I was growing. I was opening my mind and heart to different ideas, especially those that go against what mine were previously. I learned to try/attempt to release the judgment of those who use the plant recreationally. This should, hopefully, bleed into all other aspects of my life and I hope it does.

Did you ever read the Red Tent in college?

To be honest, I don’t know if I read it for leisure or for school, but I remember reading it, being moved, but it also is a harder book to read, versus my usual chic lit! In the quickest synopsis, doing it no justice, a red tent was used for women to enter when they were menstruating or during childbirth. Only women are allowed and they enter to support and nurture their fellow women within the tent. A friend of a friend was hosting her own Summer Solstice Red Tent event and I was on the fence about attending. Every fiber of me wanted to attend, but last week was super busy — something every day after work. But in the end, I made it work because this is something I think is sacred and cool of someone to put together for other women. All the hostess asked was we arrive on time and bring a snack to share if possible.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

If you’re interested in the movement, here is a great resource.

Due to the sweltering Sacramento heat, we wouldn’t actually be using a tent, which she alerted us via the private FB event page. We’d use a tarp AND I was completely okay with that. Especially since I was coming straight from Midtown and was a sweaty mess, of course. I did change my sweaty tank to a new one, but I was still pretty gnarly! There were nine women, seven of which I have never met before. Okay, that’s a fib, one I recognized from playing against her previously (soccer), but I didn’t know her at all. I’m so good at recognizing faces, yet awful at remembering names. It’s a skill, I promise 😉

This experience was amazing. It was more than I could have ever asked for or even wished for. Although I’m a fairly strong extrovert, I still have introvert tendencies. Which is why when I arrived super early, even after the gym + a Target run for snacks, I sat in my car and read my book until Hollywood got there. It was only then, did I get out and meet her to walk into this stranger’s home for an experience that would leave emotionally exhausted, but satisfied.

The thing is, no matter what I write here, nothing will be able to describe what actually happened that night. I can use every word I know and it still wouldn’t do the evening justice. Imagine meeting seven other women for the first time and sharing three of your biggest insecurities and deeply exploring them in this shared setting. That’s essentially what happened. I have never been this vulnerable with people I don’t know, let alone most people I do know. There was something about the red tarp covered with mandala style blankets that engulfed any fear and anxiety I could ever have and let me relax and be 100% open without fear of judgment, ridicule, or worthiness. Since the hostess has attended and hosted a handful of Red Tent events, plus she has a handbook, she had the evening loosely planned for us. We had all grabbed a plateful of snacks and headed down to her backyard for the evening.

The lovely tarp set-up was surrounded by candles that smelled delicious. It was here we spent the next couple of hours with each other, honoring the women who came before us and the ones that will come after us. We introduced ourselves and did a little icebreaker, which makes me laugh even as I type this. Then we got into the theme of the night: insecurities. Oh boy, when I heard the topic, I knew it was going to be good, but hard for me to talk about AND to just pick three! I don’t really want to go into it all because it was sacred, but it was oddly satisfying and thought-provoking to see the patterns of insecurities between a group of women who do not know each other and who are a good blend of ages, ethnicities, and careers. I took so much away from this event, but I also saw myself in each of these women as they spoke. Which is weird to admit, since I don’t know them at all. Maybe it is the light I was reflecting on them, where I saw some of my own insecurities and could empathize with them and how they feel. This group, again, was pretty diverse, yet I felt so comfortable around them.

From the minute my feet hit the tarp, I was comfortable in this space and with these women. So much, that I felt emotionally overwhelmed, which manifested in a lot of tears. This is seriously one of the few moments, recently, where I felt a calming aurora surround me and a space that felt safe to cry in. I couldn’t stop crying, it happened all night for me — while listening to each woman speak, when I was speaking, and even as we closed the evening. It was spiritual for me. It was emotional for me. It was everything I needed it to be for me. The best part was that I didn’t even know I needed it to be anything. I had no expectations going into it. I’m just glad that I went. I knew it was important for me to be there and I’d regret it if I hadn’t gone, but I didn’t think I’d walk away feeling emotionally beat up and satisfied at the same time.

It is my hope that if anyone else has the chance to experience one of these, you do. You may not have the same experience as I did, but I truly hope you do. It was amazing.

In my journey of healing and growth, I recognized I’d unconsciously unnerved myself and now realize I am in the process of learning to push myself further, to do more and learn more. I am the only one who has the power to do this and also hinder myself from doing this. It was never Juan or the relationship we had that hindered me. I made the unconscious choice to be stagnant and allowed him to try to dim my light. I compromised more than I should have, he never asked, but he didn’t need to. I chose to allow him too. NOW, I chose to accept my insecurities, embrace my flaws, and explore my vulnerability in the most honest and authentic ways possible. It is a continual journey that may ebb and flow, but I am now HERE, aware of what I need to do.

I am not afraid to share this with you. It wasn’t as if I didn’t love myself while I was in a relationship. I was confident. I loved who I was. I just didn’t realize I could love an even better version of myself. A healthier, more whole version that I wasn’t given the opportunity to explore within my relationship. And that’s okay. I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time in my life, just as I am right now.

When was the last time you challenged yourself or your perception of something you may not like?

Allow yourself to grow through what you go through.

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