The Question of Authority

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Authority: freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities;
Confidence derived from experience or practice; firm self-assurance

eyes_small.jpgLearning to trust yourself, your experience and your wisdom is the key to learning to claim your personal authority.

Let me share an example. I started writing a book over three years ago. After at least a year of writing, I ended up with a pretty hefty book proposal, with a complete chapter of 40-plus pages. One of my much esteemed colleagues introduced me to his agent, so I contacted her and asked her if she would read my proposal. She asked me all sorts of questions about my background and education. When she discovered that I didn’t have a PhD, or a “national following”, she said she wouldn’t read my proposal as I didn’t have what it took to be credible or sell books. At the time, I let her authority crush mine. Let me explain.

I did not yet understand that my own experience and the wisdom that comes from it is the only knowing that I can truly have. And, that sharing our wisdom to others, and being open to others wisdom, is a way we learn about who we are and what is real, outside of what our cultural conditioning tells us, especially for women. We learn by sharing stories and the deep seeds of wisdom that come from living consciously.

Don’t get me wrong…I am all for a good education. I loved my time at Stanford University, finding the intelligent discourse and amazing flow of ideas completely full of life. But, education can only take us so far.

But with this literary agent, I accepted the status quo she was offering to me. I was standing alongside her in this culture’s perspective that others with education and some kind of ‘sensational experience’ know more than those who don’t have these experiences. I believed the story that without a PhD or some kind of notoriety, that what I have to say is not enough of interest to others to sell books.

Now, I can understand this from the current way publishing works. It is about making money, and in this culture, at least right now, what makes money is sensationalism or a hefty academic pedigree. But, I let this experience kill my own compelling urge to write the book. I also let it squash my own inner authority that I absolutely know I have something to offer and to share, and have the right to share it.

I think realizing and exercising ones personal authority is a necessity in these times of turmoil. And, personal authority is not by definition in conflict with other forms of authority. We can claim our right to voice and act on what we know to be true from deep within, our own Truth, while at the same time allowing this response to not infringe on another’s rights.

Historically, women have not had the luxury of being born with authority. Over the past few thousand years, women have lived mostly in the confines of patriarchal cultures, which don’t teach or honor that we have the ability to know and own this personal inner authority.

What it comes down to is owning our own wisdom, nurturing this wisdom, looking within to understand our own truth so that we may step forward and voice this truth into the world.

We are conditioned out of our own inner authority. We are taught well that others make the rules and choices and our only way to voice them is by voting for those we believe will hold up the values and choices we stand behind.

We are also conditioned out of honoring our wisdom. In my work with women directly affected by 9/11, at the end of each class day, we would hold a wisdom circle where each woman had a chance to speak the seeds of wisdom she gleaned from the work of the day. The wisdom in those circles pierced one’s heart with clarity and love.

I am now writing again and loving it. How it will turn out I don’t yet know. I have stepped into a new perspective about what I have to say. All I know is that I must say it…how it appears, and who will read it, is not up to me. I do know that I have the wisdom and the authority to speak up and be heard.

What is your wisdom? What are you wanting to say? What if there were women out there just waiting to hear your wisdom? How might you share it? I look forward to learning from you…

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Transmuting Anger to Love

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Blue Tara ~ Goddess of Liberation

“Blue Tara, or Ekajati, is associated with the transmutation of anger. A Protector expressing ferocious, wrathful, female energy who destroys all learning obstacles producing good luck and swift spiritual awakening. She removes fear of enemies, spreading joy and good fortune.” (source: Seasonal Salon)

If I am going to be unabashedly female, I must be present to what is here. Anger is here…again. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with this anger. Anger wasn’t something I learned to feel or express, but it certainly is here.

Anger for the way women and children are treated. I sense rage underneath a pretty veneer of good and appropriate behavior, not only on my part, but in the world at large. I sense many women feel this rage at something we can’t quite name, or perhaps don’t know how to name. I am sure many men feel this, too. I know some of it is my own anger, while I know much of it is the collective rage, a rage carried over from centuries of oppression of the Feminine.

My mind can’t understand how this anger and rage can be expressed without hurting another. I don’t want to simply spew more negativity into the world…there is enough already. But, I know I must feel this anger. It is here. And, I feel compelled to do something about what is happening all over our planet. While I feel small compared to the problems, when I feel this anger arise, there is at least something moving, something stirring rather than the complacency that comes when I feel overwhelmed by the problems I see.

In my writing, I have been stymied by the anger that comes up. I am clear that I don’t want to blame or rant or rave. I want to move from the love I know lies deep within my heart. Yet, I don’t yet know the fullness of how love can show up, the ways in which it can move and stand in its fullness as the truth.

I do know that love can cut like a knife of truth. I have seen it. When I stayed at Amma’s ashram in India, I witnessed Her love over and over. Even in moments of Darshan, when she was hugging someone with infinite tenderness of the Mother, she would occasionally express this knife of truth (what I might call anger or something like it) towards someone when it arose. But, here the expression was clean. It cut through the haze of ego like a knife, cleanly without a lingering trace of guilt or blame. Her love flowed through the entire experience. Witnessing its expression took my breath away. I had never seen the beauty in truth of expression like this before.

From my own experience, I know that pure love follows the true expression of anger. When anger is experience fully, without identifying with it, and without allowing one’s conditioning to feed off of it, it transforms into love.

I now know this transmutation of anger to love is what Blue Tara represents. For thousands of years, Blue Tara, and the other goddess forms, have represented this transmutation because anger blocks the way to expression of truth and love. There have been deities to express this because this is part of our path to awakening, to discovering the truth and wholeness of what it is to be female.

There is so much fear amongst women about being angry. No woman wants to be the angry bitch. Yet, we must feel the entirety of what is here, without identifying with it. We are not our feelings or thoughts, yet they move through us. When we block the negative ones, we block all of them. Our hearts are big enough to hold the entire universe…I know we can hold the feeling and expression of this anger, too. Perhaps then it will be like letting the air out of a balloon, slowly, little by little, rather than letting it get so full that it pops.

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Post Mother’s Day Thoughts

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j0185245.jpgHappy Mother’s Day. I am a day late in wishing this, and yet it feels right to wish it to all mothers for yet one more day.

Just one day is not enough to truly appreciate what mothers do and give.

Just one day is not enough to really stop and consider what your mother offered up to you.

Just one day is not enough to imagine what it would be like if we all looked inside to see what we expect of mothers and motherhood, what kind of ideals we hold mothers to, and how we might soften our expectations of our own mothers, ourselves as mothers, and all the mothers in the world who continually live under the stress of such expectations.

I had a wonderful day yesterday. I was able to see both my daughters, their husbands, and my grandson, as well as my mother and sisters.

I was particularly aware of the smiles on mothers’ faces and wondered what it would be like if we let mothers off-the-hook from expectations of having to be super human, and ultimately what it would be like if we let ourselves off-the-hook of the same expectations.

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Pangea Day

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On May 10th, 2008, the we have the opportunity to come together through film. It is Pangea Day. A first.

What is Pangea Day?

According to Pangea.org:

“Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future. In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it’s easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that — to help people see themselves in others — through the power of film.”

Sites in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro will be linked live. Programs will consist of film, speakers and uplifting music, and will be broadcast live through the many forms of technology available today: the Web, TV, Digital Movies and mobile phones.

Organizers will also facilitate activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations that are already doing community building work.

Check out Pangea Day at: http://www.pangeaday.org

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What is it to be Female?

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“Today, the reason we haven’t found our grail, the key to who we are as women, is because we look for it in worlds of false power, the very worlds that took it away from us in the first place. Neither men nor work can restore our lost scepter. Nothing in this world can take us home. Only the radar in our hearts can do that, and when it does, … ‘We will light up like lamps, and the world will never be the same again.’ “

–Marianne Williamson

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  

– Albert Einstein

“The key to who we are as women.” What is this key that Marianne Williamson speaks of? Who are we? What key might unlock this door? Answer this question? Awaken our own knowing?

 

These two quotes point to the same thing: that we can’t look to the current cultural paradigm to answer the questions we face in this moment. The conditioned world we swim in today is the world that took our knowing away from us. It is a illusory world devoid of a woman’s grail, that by which we know our own wholeness. What we see in this world is void of a deeply feminine reflection.

So if we can’t look to the outer conditioned world for our knowing, the only place we can look is within. Within our own being lies the key. When we enter into the inward gaze, we enter the unknown. If we truly want to know, we must be willing to step into not knowing. This means leaving behind all false powers and the answers they so readily give. We turn our faces to this inner gaze so that we might know something wholly new.

It is a heroine’s journey. It is a truly creative act. It is the place for disruption. And, it is ripe with the fragrance of grace for it is in our willingness to turn away from the conditioned world and toward that which is without false words of comfort and safety that we will discover the truth in the question that asks, “What is it to be female?”

 The only place we will find this truth of our being is within our hearts. That is the only place where the illusions we have been taught cannot exist. Trust your heart to bring you home.


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Women’s Voices. Women’s Vote.

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With today’s hot primaries in North Carolina and Illinois, Women’s Voices. Women’s Vote, a site concerning Women and Politics has received some media attention. Upon perusing their site, I discovered an interesting list of links to check out for more access to Women’s Voices. It seems perfectly appropriate for Unabashedly Female’s focus this month on Voices… Enjoy.

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Our Female Nature

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If we are to be unabashedly female, we must be aligned with our true female nature. But, what is this nature?

All conditioning conspires against our knowing, yet our desire to know, to really know this nature, runs deep.

We are drawn to healing, drawn to come to wholeness and to knowing what and who we are. We are compelled to lose the binding we believe is wrapped around our feet, and to dissolve the armor that holds our hearts. We are yearning to know the fullness of our feminine vibrancy, that elusive yearning that lies deep in the belly of our bodies.

Everything we are taught about being female is done to keep us from knowing the basic goodness of our innate female nature. All of life, when it is seen for what it really is, is goodness. We simply don’t see it for what it is.

So this is your chance. Open your heart to your own nature. Open your heart to all that conspires to have you know what and who you truly are. Open your heart.

There is more to come…much, much more.

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Awakening the Light Within

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“It’s so clear that you have to cherish everyone. I think that’s what I get from these older black women, that every soul is to be cherished, that every flower is to bloom.”
—Alice Walker

What is it to be female? One of the most amazing aspects of being a woman is our ability to love unconditionally. It is our nature. Within women, there is a substance that flows throughout one’s being. Spiritual leaders speak of this aspect of consciousness that is present in women because women intrinsically bring the divine into incarnation through their bodies. This that flows throughout the beingness of woman is always there. When we love, we love with this substance that brings consciousness to matter, that lights up matter with the radiance of the divine.

As Alice Walker says, to cherish everyone is the chance to bring reflection to the divinity within each person, and for that matter, every living thing. When we women love fully, from the depths of our heart and body, when we welcome in our own divinity and love from this place, we shine the light of awareness on the Oneness that is Life.

Loving unconditionally, though, is not the province of the ego. It is not about satisfying our desires and wants. Rather, it is trusting our nature as women and acknowledging the sacredness of our female body, so that we can fully embody this female nature and trust what it is here to do. This is the beauty that is inherent in women. This is the nature of females that is being called forth to full expression.

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The Silent Voice Within

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buddha.jpgHow do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

This month of May I am posting each and every day as part of National Blog Posting Month’s May theme…Voices.

Today, as I thought about what to post, I thought of how much I love silence and my hours of silent meditation and wondered about what voice speaks within silence. Then, much to my delight, I came across the quote above by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. That voice within speaks in silence and yet we hear it. There are many kinds of voices…and many ways to listen.

Listen with your entire body. Listen with every cell of your being. You will hear that voice within that tells you when to venture forth into the unknown. And, when you have faith in your own personal creative resource, you know you have everything to you need to be in the unknown.

Want to know more about your own personal creativity? Contact me and I will help you to know, and hear, that silent voice within.

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Maggie Kuhn

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In the back of my mind today, I was thinking about Voices and Speaking Up. In doing so, someone came to mind, a woman who has always piqued my curiosity…Maggie Kuhn. I heard about Maggie when I first saw a quote of hers on a bumper sticker here in Berkeley where I live. This bumper sticker is seen often in Berkeley. The quote is:

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes.”

Maggie KuhnI find this quote so powerful for it gives one permission to speak, even when your speech isn’t perfect. Maggie teaches us that we don’t have to be speakers, we don’t have to be polished and perfected, and we don’t have to limit what we say to those who we know will agree.

What I hear in Maggie’s quote is facing it all head on. Standing in front of the very people you fear and speaking anyway forms a powerful image in my mind of no-holds-barred expression. I was particularly taken by her saying that we should speak in front of those we fear most. And then I read this quote by Maggie:

“When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.”

In reading this, my expectations take a 180 degree turn. I pictured standing in front of those I feared and assumed they wouldn’t listen. But, what if the very person(s) we fear are those that might actually listen to what we have to say? What if we were to step right up to the microphone in front of those we fear and speak, and find out they actually listen to us? How would that change what we are willing to say? How might that change our view of the world and our place in it?

Maggie was an American activist, best known for founding the Gray Panthers movement in 1971 after being forced into retirement by the Presbyterian Church.

Think about what how powerful Maggie’s words are. Another wise woman, Sobonfu Some, stated that women are afraid to speak up and out because they fear they won’t be heard. How often I have heard this from clients. Well we certainly won’t be heard if we don’t speak at all. We all have something to say and to share. It doesn’t matter who we say it to, but we must speak it. Think of Maggie next time you have something to say and find yourself tongue-tied. Then, speak Up!

By the way, the Bumper Stickers are available at CafePress.

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