Maria Alfieri is my ‘gal Friday’ in the end instead of my planned Wednesday wonder woman, as time has completely run away with me this week for a number of reasons!
When you look up the definition of the name Maria,you find it is a name of debated meaning. Some believe it to mean ‘sea of sorrow’, some say ‘wished for child’, while others ‘rebellion’. One of the alternate definitions which comes up is ‘mistress or lady of the sea’, and this couldn’t be more fitting for me today, for reasons which will become apparent later. Personally, when I think of what Maria Alfieri means to me, the word that immediately springs to mind is ‘light’.
For someone who has experienced so much utter darkness, she projects out in her words, pictures and presence a genuine, warm, luminous light.
When she sent out the call for contributors to her book The Silent Scream, she lit up beacon. A blazing fire guiding healing hearts in to the safety of the shoreline. In her openness and willingness to be vulnerable, she has lit up the way for others to do the same, and free themselves from the stories trapped inside them. She began her own healing journey by writing and sharing an outline of her repressed childhood trauma- first with her husband, then family and friends. She has since put herself out there to inspire others toward the liberation she felt in her vulnerability. In an article for Counsellors Cafe Magazine she describes it as below:
“I decided to send my excerpt to my family and friends, knowing that if I wanted to find out who I really was, behind the masks and the shame, I had to expose the truth. To everyone.
I felt incredibly vulnerable. Fearful. But most of all, I felt liberated. And in my vulnerability, I found others were willing to do the same. People came forward to speak to me about their own silent screams and quite quickly I found myself amidst a community of courageous people exposing their wounds, not just for their own healing, but for that of others. And so, The Silent Scream was born. A book I am collating- an anthology of sorts- of people writing in various forms about their silent screams, their pain and struggles in the hope to empower readers and make them feel less isolated in their experiences.”
It was her story which drew me in to share my own experiences in The Silent Scream, and I have since experienced similar feelings of fear and vulnerability around that, but ultimately liberation. So much liberation, and I too am now passionate about helping others find and experience this freedom for themselves.
The Silent Scream is absolutely Maria’s hearts work. So much has gone into bringing this project to fruition, so much care to tend to and fan the flames of hope for others. Her passion for the work and the message she wants to deliver burn bright. However it has not been an easy road, especially for an already busy mum of four young children! A conversation we had regarding the pressure, effort and energy that has gone into her getting this concept off the ground got me to thinking about how easy it is to forget that when we view someone as strong, brave, together and driven- they may also be experiencing struggles, self doubt and mental burnout. It’s a good reminder to ‘check in on your strong friend’.
Which brings me back to the ‘mistress of the sea’ definition I mentioned earlier. I attended a creative writing workshop earlier today, themed around lighthouses. One of the exercises was to think of the perspective of a lighthouse keeper, and to write something inspired from there. I thought about a lighthouse keeper, in a very literal sense, and how everyone is focused on the light and those it is guiding, potentially at the expense of noticing and appreciating the lighthouse keeper tending to it. Then I thought of Maria, and the metaphorical flame she was ‘keeping’ alive through her work, and how we often accidentally overlook the mental health and well-being of those we see as strong, surviving and thriving, focusing in on their mission and message. Whether it be failing to pick up on cues for offering support, or simply neglecting to show appropriate gratitude.
I think the Lighthouse keeper is a fitting metaphor for the role Maria is playing through projecting and sharing her ‘light’ with the world, for sure. In this way she is indeed a ‘mistress of the sea of sorrow’ for many. She pulled herself out. she refused to let it drown her. She has climbed the treacherous, ragged cliff face and the made it to the top of tower-now she beams bright as a trailblazer for those lost among the mist and the storm.
I wrote a poem during the short seven minute workshop exercise on the lighthouse keeper today. Yes, I highlight the time spent on this endeavor in order to manage your expectations! 🙂 I’m going to include it here today, and credit it as inspired largely by Maria Alfieri and The Silent Scream experience. Something I never would have dreamed of doing before I was called up for The Silent Scream by Maria’s vulnerability and willingness to share It is called The Keepers:
The keepers raise the lamp up high,
reflective, blinding, bright,
They lift the beacon for us all,
With all their strength and might.
Who tends the keeper, all alone
concealed within his tower?
There to guide us safely home,
in bleak and dangerous hours
Polish, trim, wait and watch,
unfailing every day,
but when it’s time to journey on
who lights the keepers way?
For more on Maria and the upcoming release of The Silent Scream, visit the link to her page below:
And finally to the lady herself- Maria, I do hope you like this and the messaging resonates!
You deserve such success with this project, I can’t wait until everyone else can share in it!