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Lotus Sojourns was born out of a desire to be connected to self, other cultures and a community of like-minded women scattered around the world.

 
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Our Story

Lotus Sojourns bloomed from our founder’s own journey….

I first encountered the lotus symbol in a significant way while traveling in Thailand. This was during a particularly difficult period in my life, when I’d made a painful decision to leave a difficult relationship and then threw myself at a new career path to try to recover and redefine myself.  I went to Thailand seeking healing and personal growth; I was searching for a new path. During this time I learned the lotus represents awakening, enlightenment and rebirth and I became very connected with this imagery. I took it to be a symbolic representation of my own transition.

 
Founder, Christine traveling in Oman

Founder, Christine traveling in Oman

 
 

Many years later I came across the lotus flower again...this time in Egypt. I was walking through an area where a lotus was growing, and my guide explained to me the significance of the lotus flower in her culture; how it grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty, and how this symbolizes the journey from darkness to the light of knowledge or wisdom.

The idea of moving from dark to light, to wisdom, a period of growth moving towards enlightenment and rebirth has always stuck with me. As I began to conceptualize what a transformational journey would look like, it immediately came to me as a symbol of this process.

When I first heard the word “sojourn” I loved how it sounded.  I think of a sojourn as a temporary stay reached by a journey, a brief but powerful immersion in another culture. To me this word conjures a more fanciful, quixotic, or romantic notion of travel...it says “this experience is open to all possibilities.”

 
 

Our Global Sisterhood

When searching for the perfect way to describe this connected community of women I was drawn to the Sanskrit word “kula.”  I love the depth of meaning layered in this word. It can mean so many things, but at its essence, it is community of like-minded, or more importantly, like-hearted people who come together in support of a common purpose; people who have chosen each other in the spirit of love and community as their family.  The first time I heard this word it was spoken by a dear friend of mine, who is a beautiful soul and gifted writer with a profound way with words. My breath caught in my chest, and I spent the next day reflecting on what it means in our world to have a kula, and how strongly I felt the need to create this space for women.

As a part of this Global Sisterhood, you belong belong to our community of women who value one-another as global citizens. We are women who will join together in this like-hearted space of connection and understanding. As we connect with each other, we will be intentional in coming from a place of cultural empathy and look upon each other with acceptance and appreciation; we will honor each path in our own journeys.

 
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About the founder, christine

 
Christine Winebrenner Irick, Founder of Lotus Sojourns

Christine Winebrenner Irick, Founder of Lotus Sojourns

 

I find it so interesting when I reflect on my childhood and see all the seemingly obvious things directing me on my path, which were for so long, overlooked.   When I was young I remember I wanted to grow up to be a teacher, or movie star -- not to be famous, but because I saw it as a way to earn a lot of money and give myself a loud voice and a highly visible platform that  I could use to create change; I could have a larger positive impact on people. I have always cared deeply for people and had a desire to make the world an accepting and abundant place for everyone.

My cultural empathy stems from growing up in a rural small town with a a predominantly caucasian community on an Indian reservation where I felt disconnected and not part of the community.  As someone who’s family members were of tribal decent, I was put into this uncomfortable place where I felt like I belonged and didn’t belong to either group. I was curious about this part of my heritage, but felt excluded from exploring it, and at the same time felt a pressure to denounce that part of myself.  This unique situation created place for me to notice how people of different races and ethnicities interacted and how uncomfortable I felt as I straddled this divide. This cultivated a need within me to understand why some people would refer to or categorize certain people as “other.”    

My experience fostered a deep-rooted need to explore and connect with indigenous cultures, and become a member of a diverse global community; this led me to create Lotus Sojourns.

My small town was also a tourism destination.  I would see all of the people traveling seasonally to my hometown and would notice they were not really invested in the community.  They took advantage of the beauty and resources without really connecting to or valuing our community. I see this as the very early roots of my passion for responsible and sustainable tourism as well as community based tourism.

 
Hometown, Polson, MT

Hometown, Polson, MT

 

When I began to travel and connect with people and experience moments in which these people would vulnerable tell their personal stories and share their culture it was eye-opening and shifted away the “otherness.”  I was profoundly moved by these face-to-face, empathetic connections. I found when I opened myself up to the experience and shared pieces of someone else’s life, these people became very real. Through these experiences I began to see myself as a very small, but intricately connected part of the global community.  I connected to something deep within myself and knew we are all the same.

We may live in various places with varied experiences, but we are all just human beings, we are simply humans...being.