Before speaking to a group or leading a workshop, I always set an intention for myself. It goes something like this: “I open myself to offering a moment of encouragement or inspiration to someone today.” This simple focus calms my nerves and reminds me I can’t control how, or if, my message lands. My job is to put in the effort, let it flow, and stay open to what unfolds.

A few weeks ago, I led an Intention Workshop at a women’s retreat. There were lots of nice moments during the workshop, yet there was a particularly special moment that unfolded after the workshop.

A woman I’ll call Stacey arrived just as we were finishing up. As the women in the group gathered their things and left for their next activity, Stacey lingered.

“How was the workshop?” she wistfully asked. “I really wanted to make it, but I had to drop off my kids at their friends’ houses, and we were running late.”

Boy, do I get that. One of the hardest things for us women to do is give ourselves permission to take time for ourselves, then call on favors to make it happen.

I pointed to the white board and gave her a quick summary of what we’d discussed. She nodded intently and continued to linger.

Hmm. Okay. I then walked her over to a table covered with Intention Cards and gave her another quick overview, this time of the activity we’d done. She nodded intently and, again, continued to linger.

Suddenly, I got it. Even though the workshop was over, she needed a workshop. Right now.

Opening to the moment, herpes treatment I invited her to pick three Intention Cards that were speaking to her today. She eventually narrowed it to one: KINDNESS.

Holding the card gingerly, she whispered, “I’ve been so short with my family lately…so hard on them. I think maybe if I were kinder to myself, I would be kinder to them.”

There it was. Her raw, tender, deeply felt need: self-kindness. Taking an index card, I carefully wrote a simple intention and handed it to her, for her consideration:

“I open myself to one moment of self-kindness today.”

She took it, held it over her heart, and started to cry. I gently asked her if the intention felt doable. She paused and tentatively said, “Yes, I think so.” I smiled and shared that, actually, she’s already fulfilled her intention, because she did herself the kindness of coming to the retreat. She smiled and breathed deeply. Then, she dabbed her eyes, pulled herself together, and left to join the boisterous conversation in the hallways.

As I returned to tidying up the room, I steeped in the moment, so grateful for our time together.

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