Walking through the 103 humidity of downtown Austin, it’s refreshing to walk into the dark and cool North Door for a Melody DanceFit class. The high energy immediately envelopes you and the community of predominately women invites you in for a ride of release and movement. By the end of class you’re invigorated, inspired and feel part of a bigger mission. The founder, Melody Afkami, encourages us throughout class and leaves us with an invitation, “If you ever happen to forget your resilience, your strength, and how amazing you are, come to class so I can remind you of your power. Whether you feel depressed, happy, or lonely, there is a community here for you. One that will celebrate the good and the bad with you." She fulfills that promise every time. Her commitment to community is found in and out of the studio and is always infused with fun, like the “Mi Gente” flashmob she led a few weeks ago. Plus she donates part of the proceeds to Dress for Success, a non-profit that empowers and promotes economic independence of disadvantage women.
Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate Texas and its people. Two women, McCall McPherson, PA-C and Dr. Ashley Maltz, who have dedicated their lives to medicine and their patients, created a FB group to connect rescuers to those in need. With McCall’s group, her husband, Ashley’s connections, the community and social media, they have saved over 1000 people*. Emily Strong, of i.em.strong, assists women healing from breast cancer through yoga and oils after her tribe helped her on her healing journey. She empowers women reminding them, “ All you need is already within you. Our core. Our essence. We can shift our energy and tap into trust and into our potential every day.”
This is the quintessence of women coming together in heart, service and community.
When women come together for a common purpose, they create a force for good that is unstoppable. I’ve been participating and witnessing this phenomenon for most of my life, but more powerfully in the last few years as we have built a tribe of like-minded women healers and some men. When I began to do the work for what would eventually become The Well Collective, I never really realized the full power of women in community. I felt it in my family, in clinic and in yoga and dance classes but I could never articulate what made it unique. Historically, women coming together during times of strife and struggle were what created the greatest progress and transformation. They created social clubs for reform of the education system, immigration abuses and housing issues starting in the mid-19th century.
The most vivid example of the modern sisterhood has transpired through coworking spaces. According to Women Who Cowork, “there is a core belief at the center of this movement, and that belief is that we are stronger, more creative, healthier and more balanced when we work in collaboration with one another.” The Hivery, StarShineAZ, Hera Hub, The Wing, and Shecosystem embody this belief in business and life. All of the female founders I have spoken have come to the same conclusion with community and collaboration at their core.
According to The Farm, coworking is “a community of like-minded individuals who work together in the same space to collaborate and grow.” Soma Vida is a coworking space for health and wellness professionals in Austin, Texas. When I decided to attend their Wellness Wednesday, I had no idea what a game changer it would be. First we met Dr. Lauryn Lax of Thrive Wellness and Recovery who was doing her thing at a stand-up desk, practicing what she preaches and invited us to be part of her female founders dinner. Laura Shook Guzman was just as welcoming. She is the owner of Soma Vida and pioneer of the coworking movement in Austin. When I told her about our idea for a female-centered space for those who want to heal the world, she immediately offered her assistance. In the entrepreneur world, sharing your ideas is met with guarding. Laura opened up and shared her mission so genuinely. We discussed how women work in unique ways, how they prosper in collaboration and that it comes innately when in the right setting.
“I believe that women entrepreneurs are the heart-beat of the work/life revolution. What I have seen personally and within the coworking movement is that, in coming together, we are finally starting to dispel the myth of the one "token female" at the top. We are breaking the glass ceiling with collective action, not by the outdated individualism commonly glorified in American culture. And through unity, we are discovering the truth: there isn't only "one room of our own" there are multiple rooms and shared spaces for other women at the top and we, the female founders, are going to be the leaders who raise one another up.” Laura Shook Guzman
This sentiment is echoed throughout the coworking movement and embodied in the shared work spaces that cater to women. StarshineAZ’s Susan Moody and Leeanne Gardner help women in the Arizona area turn their passion into a profitable business. “Let’s face facts,” says Moody, “women grow their businesses differently than men. While men thrive in a competitive environment, women prefer a cooperative atmosphere. While men like to work individually; women prefer to work collectively.” Grace Kraaijvanger has also witnessed this since opening The Hivery, “I have personally witnessed the instinctual quality in women to support and elevate each other, time and again, day after day. When we feel supported as unique individuals, accepted for who we are in the greater collective, we not only perform and work in a greater capacity, but we also elevate the work of those we are collaborating or surrounding ourselves with.”
Amen sister. Let’s continue to work with heart, follow our intuition, provide service and connect in a way that allows us to heal the world together.
*If you want to help McCall and Casey McPherson and their efforts a Generosity crowdfunding campaign has been started.