W e sat in a circle, on top of the world, reconnecting with each other and ourselves after a two-year hiatus since the conclusion of our empowerment workshop.

Racheli had reminded us about the workshop we’d done with the ropes, and I’d remembered the frustration I’d experienced that day. Now we were curiously waiting to hear how that workshop had affected Racheli.

“It didn’t even occur to me to get frustrated,” Racheli said. “Dahlia set the pace for us. When she sped up, I had to stay with her or drop the rope. If she slowed down, I had to pull the reins to slow down or I’d drop the rope. It simply never occurred to me that she could also match my speed.

“Dahlia is so full of self-confidence, so sure of herself, that I just naturally followed her lead. But when we spoke afterward, I realized for the first time that I can also set the pace.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, then continued. “After that day, I started paying attention to myself. I was a follower, molding myself to whatever form made me less conspicuous. But I realized that I’m allowed to exist, too. I matter. And I decided that I don’t always have to be a follower. I started to offer my opinion, take the initiative. The main teacher actually welcomed my input! Slowly I started to believe in myself.” She gave a small, shy smile. “And when another teacher retired, they asked me to be the primary teacher.”

As one, the group burst out in applause. Racheli blushed, then she shook her head and clapped along with us.

“I’m so proud of you!” Dahlia said.

I looked thoughtfully at Dahlia. She’d said the same thing to Ilana about her becoming a horseback riding instructor. It’s an interesting choice of words. Implied superiority.

“I guess it’s my turn,” Dahlia said. “The main thing I learned from our group was how mood can affect us. And that people do things to make themselves feel safe.”

People. Not Dahlia, people. I remembered how Dahlia always pushed to clarify points so that she fully grasped a subject. She liked, as I did, to connect the dots — but other people’s dots, not her own.

When everyone had shared, we reflected on how others’ growth can impact our own, and what we could take from today.

On the trail ride back to Retorno, we chatted, we reminisced, we laughed. We said goodbye with hugs and promises of another reunion in a year’s time, and everyone dispersed. Except Dahlia. She asked if I have a minute.

For Dahlia, I had a minute.

“Do you really remember that day? The workshop with the ropes?” she asked.

“Of course.” I had just taken that trip down memory lane.

“Racheli realized she didn’t always have to mold herself to the other person, that she could also be present.” Dahlia looked off into the distance, her eyes landing on the mountain we’d just descended. “Two years ago, Racheli was able to share that with the group. And you see, now she’s in a better place. Did you take a good look at her? She’s like a different person. She’s still reserved but there’s something different about her, like a veil lifted off her or something.”

“Is this about Racheli, or does this have something to do with you?” I asked. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 560)