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For a period of 7 years I co facilitated a group called Stepping Out. It is a series of workshops for women questioning their sexuality (same sex attraction). It is a program which was developed by some local women in Canberra who felt that it was needed, it was then taken on by the AIDS Action Council as something they would continue to support and make happen.

The program is peer run and facilitated by women who have done the Stepping Out course. I had done the course myself and was approached by one of the facilitators and asked if I could facilitate because the women who were facilitating were moving on. She asked me because I had experience running groups and had training and experience in my professional life.

I was quite honoured to be asked. When I first took on facilitating it was with another newbie. Together we facilitated for a couple of years and there was just the two of us. Sometimes we would organise a group which would end up being two women but we ran it anyway because there was not much around that could assist women at that time. After a few years, a few more women became facilitators.

When we first started there were few resources around. Technology was limited and many people not savvy with use of technology anyway. Finding any information was difficult and meeting other same sex attracted women was very hard. There were certainly no forms of social media which we have now. We gave out lists of movies and books as part of the course, because they were hard to find otherwise and you ‘needed to know’ where to look.

When I started facilitating the course it was very lesbian orientated and tended to exclude other queer women. I rewrote the course and worked hard at changing this. In the time I was co facilitating we had the youngest participant, who was 15, and in the last group which I co facilitated we had the first trans women participate.

I have estimated that in the time I facilitated the group, I would have shared experiences with about 80 women. I heard many stories, hopes, fears and dreams in relation to sexuality and just generally life. I always felt very honoured to hear their stories and share mine. As our community is small I have also witnessed these women growing and exploring and becoming more ‘full’ in the years after Stepping Out, this is a great privilege.

The other day I was cleaning my house up and found some old remnants of Stepping Out. This included a whole lot of ‘positive compliments’. This was the very last activity we did together in the workshops. Each person wrote their name on an envelope and put it in the middle of the group. Then everyone would write something positive (anonymously) for every person in the group, and put it in the corresponding envelope. Then everyone would take their envelope away and read the contents.

Finding these envelopes was timely. They were like positive affirmations. I think I shall stick them all into a book and keep them. They include comments from my co facilitators and the comments made in the very first group I facilitated.

•Thank you for a wonderful ‘training’ course. I look forward to many more Stepping Outs with you.

•Dear Megan, You’ve been fantastic to work with, thank you for joining the facilitation team. You’re very good at facilitating and I’d love to have the opportunity to learn more from you. I hope to catch up with you before I leave a few times.

•Open and understanding, friendly person.

•Sincere and friendly.

•Thanks for agreeing to take on this group. It’s been lovely working with you and I’m sure you’ll do an awesome job (just like you did here).

•You are very comfortable with yourself and open with your experiences, you are able to carry discussion and are easy to talk to, you will be a great facilitator of this group.

•Thanks for another great (if small) course. I think we’re getting the hang of the facilitating together. You’re a great listener and really patient. Definitely an asset for these courses 

•Thank you for making this such a great workshop! It was encouraging to hear about your experiences and you are very kind and open. Good luck.

•It would have taken some strength and courage to start anew like you did. You are so comfortable within yourself now it is amazing. I hope that one day I find that strength.

•It was great facilitating with you again. Thanks for holding the group together when my brain turned to mush.

•Thanks so much for your openness and honesty and for talking a lot (because you made me feel less self conscious about talking a lot) you seem really grounded in who you are and I really related to a lot of your experiences, which I appreciated a lot. Thanks so much for sharing your courage and comfortability in who you are.

•I felt like you were really open and were careful to give us an honest assessment of coming out and lesbian life. Thank you! That was awesome.

•Megan you are extremely open and I love hearing your stories.

•Megan, thanks for another great course! The courage and strength you’ve shown in your experiences amazes me. I look forward to another fun-filled Stepping out soon.

•You are really cool, I’m glad I came.

•Megan, I know we’ve been a shocker of a group – thanks for bearing with us, and sharing so much of your story. It really helps.

•You are approachable and knowledgeable and I really enjoyed having you as a facilitator.

•I thank that you’re a very thoughtful and intelligent person and a skilled facilitator. You did a great job and I enjoyed hearing about your experiences. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I learnt a lot.

•Your openness and acceptance of everyone helped me to relax.

•You are really friendly and open about your life – creative and funny. I think you provide a wonderful environment for people to explore themselves and possibly their own values and judgements too. Hope to bump into you again.

•Thanks for being a great facilitator. The course was great and I really appreciate how open and honest you were about your experiences. Thanks.

•Outspoken, confident, Nice teeth, and great stomach noises.

•First I want to thank you for the time and effort you put into this course. I was a bit nervous to come but from word go have felt comfortable and have learnt lots about myself, where I’m at with coming out and about the lesbian community. A sincere thank you. I hope to see you around.

•So generous and sincere, you have so much to give and the skills to help so many people. I love watching you do your stuff, and I am always impressed anew each time I have the privilege to work with you.

•I like your confidence and your recycling skills.

•Your nice and ran this course very well. Thanks.

•You are a fun person, you know the subject you are teaching very well and easy to talk to.

•As always, you help me grow. Your ability to read ppl, support them and open their eyes to themselves is a true gift – thank you for using it sensitively and wisely over the last few years to help me get this far. I’m eager to explore now.

•Thanks for being a wonderful facilitator. You have taught me so much and I’ve really appreciated your efforts with getting Stepping Out up and running. I feel so much more confident with myself and no doubt we’ll bump into each other in the close Canberra Community.

•Thanks for leading the course. It’s been a fantastic experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time talking with you and sharing our journeys. Your courage and sense of humour are forces to be reckoned with. I really look forward to spending more time getting to know you.

•You are a fab facilitator and how you let yourself be vulnerable re your coming out story really helped me to cope with my nerves. I hope we can stay friends into the future.

•Megan, you are so good at letting the group unfold and knowing when to steer it and when to let it go. And you have great insights into what people need.

•You’ve been awesome with the deliveries and the constant support and munchies.

•I learnt a lot from you Megan. Really glad to have the opportunity to facilitate with you and I’m grateful that you shared some of your insecurities with me, which helped me to accept mine.

•I liked your facilitating. You are knowledgeable and thank you for sharing your info, experience and time.

•You are the best facilitator ever! Did I get that right ‘lol’. Love your wisdom and attitude, it’s been very helpful.

•Thanks for creating such a positive and respectful place.

•You’re so good at what you do in this role. But more importantly you’re just good honest fun when the ball gets rolling. I think it is absolutely terrific that you take the time out to help us sistas out on this big old rollercoaster!!
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