Burning | The Story of Arkitekt
A letter from Trinity
Arkitekt was birthed in the soil of surrender. It grew out of the ground of isolation and loss, provision and presence, and the conviction that we all need spaces of refuge to fall apart.
The way I see it, it's just a matter of time before your ideas about yourself and your life come crashing down.
When it does, when life's events align like falling dominoes to bring you to your knees, you have two options:
1. Get up off your knees. Frantically reassemble your life. Keep doing the thing.
2. Choose to sit there. Let the falling apart happen. Breathe.
Historically, I've done a great job choosing Option 1.
But in 2009, my idea of my marriage fell apart, along with my ideas about everything else: God, self, community, motherhood, purpose.
I was 29 years old, with a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and 6 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child.
I was working 5 part-time jobs.
I thought it was a nose to the grindstone season, the kind where you take a deep breath in January and then come up for air in May. I did not plan to get hit with a wrecking ball in the middle of it.
In the wake of it, I felt lost and scared, with no idea how to get up off the floor.
So I quit all my jobs and for maybe the first time ever, I let myself feel what I was feeling.
I sat in the rubble and tried to breathe, and this miraculous thing happened. A few good women sat down with me, right in the middle of it.
One friend found me a therapist, made the appointment, and made sure I showed up. An older woman in my spiritual community offered me free weekly life coaching. Another woman invited me into a yearlong mentoring program. Another woman met with my partner and I for a year of inner healing work and counseling.
It was like being given a flashlight, a pickaxe and a hug.
I finally had a language for the Deconstruction I was experiencing, some tools, and the proof that I was not alone.
After a year of painstakingly picking through the pieces of what was my life, it became, it became clear that who I was becoming and how I was living were out of alignment. If my partner and I wanted to live a life that reflected who we were on the inside, everything on the outside had to change.
We moved out of our suburban Northern Virginia townhouse in June 2010 and lived like nomads for the next year and a half, creating home in as varied places as a double wide trailer, 450 square feet on the 2nd floor of an office building, housesitting for months at a time in a friend’s split-level, and our vanagon while on the road. We applied for jobs as far away as New Zealand, convinced a door would eventually open so we could start a new life in a new place.
But no door opened.
January 2011 rolled around and with it, the renewed conviction that we desperately need communal spaces to practice becoming more fully human and alive.
My mother, my mentor decided to invite twelve women to join us for a day of making vision boards, collage journaling, and picking defining WORDS over our year.
We gathered on a Saturday morning in early January from 9-4 pm, sharing the stories behind our WORDS. Woman after woman cried as stories behind the WORDS were shared and deep soul truths rose to the surface and found voice.
This holy, beautiful thing took shape right in front of us- this remembering, this ancient way of being.
We called it V-Day, for vulnerability, vision, and vagina; it was the precursor to Arkitekt.
We met two more times during 2011.
We spoke our truth and we were all changed through witnessing each other's honesty and courage.
I picked Harvest for my WORD of the year, believing for beauty out of ashes, a season of joy after so much difficulty.
But on November 6th, 2011, while my family was at church listening to a sermon on how to live a good story instead of a safe and successful story, our house caught on fire.
I was 39 weeks pregnant with my 4th child.
We lost many of our belongings- nursery up in flames, clothes stained by smoke and water, pantry gone, furniture ruined.
Buddy, our twelve year old red lab, died trying to suck in air from under the front door.
I went into labor a week and a half later, having an unplanned home birth on the bedroom floor of our temporary housing situation because we couldn't get to the hospital in time.
My partner helped deliver our baby with the same hands he'd used to bury our dog a few hours before. We named our son Phoenix.
We moved four more times within the next eight months (making a total of nine moves from June 2010 to July 2012), and ended up across the country in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the door we had been looking for finally opened, but we knew no one on the other side of it.
Not surprisingly, I hit a deep depression.
There I was in the rubble again, only this time I didn't have any sisters to help me and no community to hold me together.
I made myself get up at 5 in the morning three days a week and do hot yoga because I had this hunch that I needed to sweat out all the trauma toxins, and my partner and I joined a spiritual community even though all I wanted to do was hide in my bed.
I met a woman in that community named Carly Barron who introduced me to a few other women, and when January 2013 came around, six months after I moved to Fort Collins, I decided to invite those four women (since they were the only women I knew) to a Colorado V-Day.
It was what I knew to do: show up, even if it was the last thing I felt like doing.
It was the turning point. I spoke my truth, and seven other women did the same thing.
We laughed and ugly cried and held each other, and once again, I knew I was not alone.
V-Day continued every month through the rest of 2013.
In September 2014, Carly and I combined V-Day with a thing she'd created for empowering women called M.I.T., and we called our thing Arkitekt. We met for one year with twenty women, and at the end of that year, seven new gatherings started in our city, including our first gathering for a more diverse spiritual population, pioneered by Ki Shih.
I've gone through 3 major deconstructions in my life so far: my marriage, where I experienced the support of individuals who came alongside me in my grief but also the inadequacy of a larger community to hold the nuanced fracturing of trauma; my fire, where I experienced a community outpouring of love like I never even knew existed; and my mental health, where I experienced the vacuum of isolation.
All of this created the ground of being for Arkitekt.
Arkitekt exists because of women who were willing to sit in the rubble with me and help me remember who I was at my core, women who helped me uncover what remained after everything that could be shaken was shaken.
Arkitekt exists because of a community who showed up as LOVE when my family had nothing to give in return.
Arkitekt exists because I knew what it felt like to be at rock bottom and have no idea which way was up and if I'd ever remember what light looked like again.
Arkitekt is more than a self-help program or a woman’s empowerment circle. It is a way back home.
It is a declaration that when we press in to the painful places instead of trying to deny them or avoid them or hide from them, we find ourselves, we find LOVE, and we find each other.