it begins in circles: on listening.

The revolution began long before the marches, the posters, the walk-outs.

It began quietly. In unassuming voices, with cups of tea and sleeping children in the back bedroom. 

It began in circles. Circles of friends, of women, of men, strangers-no-more meeting one another's gaze with curiosity, trepidation, excitement. 

And in Circles, the revolution continues to gain momentum. Build strength. Dig deep roots.

Last night, women gathered in my home. We settled in, savoring the heat from cups of tea, practicing the art of conscious communication and presence. Giving one another the gift of our full, attentive listening, curiosity, support. To hear a woman's story, celebrate her triumph, and be with her in her struggles.

Not to tell her that she should be different. That she should be stronger. That she should change.

But to welcome her, in her fullness. Her unfolding. Her pain. Her laughter. Her tears. Her questioning. To welcome the things she's kept to herself, day in and day out.

We heard stories of women who struggle to express their needs. Who consistently set themselves aside to serve the needs of others, and in doing so neglect their own tender hearts. Who so deeply desire to be seen, heard, witnessed in their experience - experience that often goes on behind closed doors, in journals, in the quiet moments when she isn't worried that she is taking up too much space.

The revolution is empowered when we listen to one another. Really, truly listen.

You see, in deeply listening we find the threads of human commonality: we all experience a full array of emotion, even though we imagine that we are alone in our pain. And in everyday conversation we curate -- highly curate -- what we are willing to share with one another.

Because it's terrifyingly vulnerable to share your struggle and have someone else tell you... You should be stronger. You know better than to be afraid, the Universe has your back! Oh, I read this book recently, I think it will help you...

The subtle undertones: "What you're feeling right now is not ok, and I want you to change it. Here, let me help you."

We don't mean to be malicious. We don't mean to invalidate. We would never, ever directly tell our dear ones that we don't want some part of them.

But it's goddamn uncomfortable to be with someone in her struggle - really be with her. 

When my dear friend is in tears, my heart desperately wants her to feel better. But the biggest gift I can give her? Is to show her that I am still willing to be with her in her sadness. That I still love her in her mess. That I will sit with her in the darkness, without trying to change her.

That every part of her is welcome in my heart.

The revolution starts small. In conversations where we listen to one another, deeply.

Where we give another the gift of being heard, seen, and witnessed.

The revolution needs each one of us to commit.

Today's simple practice: When someone shares an experience, a sentiment, or an expression of emotion with you today, ask them: "What's that like for you?" Set aside your own related stories, advice, or desire to soothe, and do your best to learn about that person's experience with your full curiosity. Offer them your attention.  

One conversation. One connection at a time. We can support the shift.