We’ve just arrive back from our holiday at Kalikalos (www.kalikalos.com). Kalikalos was set up by a remarkable man called Jock Millenson (www.kalikalos.com/vision.shtml) 9 years ago. Jock had spent years living all over the world and had ended up at Findhorn (www.findhorn.org) where he loved living in community and hated the Scottish weather so he set off to find warmer climes, ending up in Kissos, a beautiful mountain village in mainland Greece which even in August is still temperate and lush.
I discovered Kalikalos after my divorce when I was looking for a holiday which would work for me and the children. My ideal holiday at the time would have been a simple Greek cottage in a village where I could wander down and buy bread before writing for the morning and swimming in the afternoon. The kids’ perfect holiday was to have lots of other children around and to have space to play and time at the beach. It seemed an impossible dream to meet both sets of needs in hone holiday. When I saw the advert in Cygnus Magazine (www.cygnus-books.co.uk) for a family holiday where single parents were welcome I phoned Dorota who within minutes had convinced me that this was the holiday for us.
Dorota didn’t have to sell me the holiday; we just connected on the phone and found immediately that we had similar interests and ideas about what we wanted. She talked about how much her children liked going there and how yes I could have time with them and time for myself, time reading, time swimming and time being with other like-minded people.
We’ve been for two years now and this year I was one of the facilitators. Each year we have met incredible and inspirational people who as also normal, accessible, flawed and funny. In short, we have extended our Soul Family. In my book Love Being Me (purchase the ebook) I write about Soul Family and Tribal Elders and how crucial they have been in my life and how grateful I am for them.
So what do I mean by Soul Family? Soul Family are the people you connect with on a soul level. You can be utterly yourself with them and know that they will accept you just the way that you are. My soul family has developed over the years; Ian in Denmark who I met 20 years ago on a Kibbutz, Teresa who I met 12 years ago on a Transactional Analysis training course, and Kasia who I met last year at Kalikalos, to name but a few. Soul Family need not be people you see every day and many of mine live in different parts of the country and the world. I might not see them very often but I know that when we speak or write or spend time together, I come away from time spent with them feeling loved and secure and valued. Soul Family allow you to be all of yourself. They are not jealous or competitive, they want you to fly, to expand and to walk your own path. Soul Family are generous in their listening and compassion and keep judgement and lecturing firmly in check. The point out your strengths and your abilities and encourage you to develop and use them. In short, Soul Family celebrates you being you.
In many of our relationships, we are monitoring how we present ourselves to the world in order to fit in and be accepted. We wear masks; “The good employee”, “The good parent”, “The good sibling” and these masks do in one way keep us safe. They allow us to fit in and to feel approved of. However, on another level these masks keep us hidden from each other and from ourselves. If I live a life entirely behind a mask, at some point I start to live as if the masks and real and I even forget who I really am.
Every year at Kalikalos people meet, some for the first time, some are returning as old friends, and every year Soul Family connections are built. People share their stories, their past, the dreams, hopes and desires. Emotions sometimes run high (and low), there is laughter, irritation, tears and joy. There are moments of serenity and moments of wordless awe at the beauty of the place and the people in it.
When we feel seen, really seen, for all that we are, there is an immense relief, a setting down of the masks safe in the knowledge that we are still loved and accepted. With some people, this happens instantly, with others, it takes time, and yet for everyone, it happens because we are human beings, not human doings and we want to be seen for who we are and not what we have, or what we achieve or what we collect.
Of the people I met in Kalikalos this year, I know very little about what they do for a living, where or how they live or what they own. But I do know more about how they feel, what they enjoyed, what they dream of and what their strengths are. I saw them as they are and they saw me as I am; sometimes ratty and overtired, sometimes playful, sometimes pensive…always being real…without pretence.
When I did my PhD research into why some children, particularly boys, got excluded from school one of the things that the children valued was a teacher who was ‘real’. When I asked them what ‘real’ meant to them, they said that it was a teacher who wasn’t a teacher, but a person, someone who was interested in them as a person and not a student. When they were they were able to meet human to human, without the student/teacher roles…relationships were built which allowed the young people to flourish.
We all have need of connection to other people and when the connection is based on who we really are, rather than who we think we should be, we relax into ourselves, we are more able to accept ourselves and in so doing, as more able to accept other people too. Not all of the people in our lives will be Soul Family, but everyone needs some Soul Family.
- Who is your Soul Family? Who are the people who celebrate you and who you feel good with?
- Are you seeing enough of them? How could you make time to see them more?
- Do you have any/enough Soul Family if not, how could you meet them?
You find Soul Family by doing what you love. Kalikalos isn’t for everyone, but it is exactly what works for my family and I. If medieval re-enactment is your thing, then that’s where you’ll find your Soul Family. If you love art, join art societies or drawing classes, if you love nature, join the Ramblers or set up a conservation group. The thing is, when you do what you really want to do, you can’t fail to meet people who you connect soul to soul, and frankly, one can never have too large a Soul Family! Enjoy finding them.