Feminism – A Whole New Look

image source: memphis connect.com
image source: memphis connect.com

After receiving the National Civil Rights Museum’s “International Freedom Award,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said to the audience:

“I call myself a feminist,” … “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”

“Whether you believe this religion or that religion, we are all the same human beings,” …“We all come from the same mother. That creates the basis for compassion.”

via: MemphisFlyer.com and FeministLawProfessors


The Sweet Spots of Life


Last Saturday night, my dear friend Megan hosted her second annual Fig Gig. In Megan’s backyard is the most beautiful, gnarly, fecund fig tree. The figs are a deep purple color, and when you pick them right off the tree, biting into one is like biting into the most divine jam. They are visually glorious, all fleshy, soft, moist and red inside.

Megan also hired a Kora player; the Kora is an instrument from Africa with 12 strings. The woman who played was incredibly gifted and vibrantly funny. Her voice was beautiful and lyrical, and the sound of her music created the most luscious background to the evening.

At one point, Megan greeted her guests and invited us to take a moment to celebrate and give thanks to the Mother, the Earth and all that she provides for us. We celebrated the Fig tree as a symbol of this abundance and nourishment…and as a symbol of the feminine.

As we sat in this moment, my heart became so full. This moment was one of those sweet spots in life, a moment where my attention was given to the beauty available in every moment. In fact, it became so full, I felt as if my heart couldn’t hold any more – that it would burst if I allowed in one more drop of beauty.

This life is beautiful. In the moments, like the Fig Gig, when we are enjoying the party, life feels good. But, I have come to see that we can fully appreciate these moments when we also see the beauty in the not-so-great moments of turmoil, pain and grief. Opening my heart deeply to the painful moments of my life, and the painful times we are in, has also allowed me to feel the beauty more deeply of all the moments of life.

I have come to know that in these painful moments, and in the happy moments as well, that the heart can hold much more than our minds believe it can. When it feels like the heart is breaking, it’s not the heart breaking, but rather the chains that bind it…those places where we have closed ourselves off to feeling, for fear we won’t be able to handle it.

We are in interesting times. I realize now, even more clearly, that to taste the sweetness of life, we must open ourselves to the beauty that is available here, right now. We can no longer afford to close our eyes to the places that feel hard or painful, fearing them. There is beauty in them as well, for when we make ourselves available to the full range of feeling, we become vividly alive within our own hearts. We can feel deeply, the full range of emotions, and that in itself is beautiful. When we open to the dark places as well, we are available to respond to those dark places, both out there, and within ourselves.

When I worked with women who had lost their spouses and lovers in 9/11, in our dating/relationship class, we worked to open the heart, to allow the range of feelings in that one feels in deep grief. In allowing the bindings to loosen, so that grief can do it’s work, one can begin to taste again the fullness of life.

As I enjoyed the fullness of beauty of this very special evening, I realized my heart was so full, because I have allowed in the deeply painful moments in my life. In opening my heart to the places that scare me, the chains that bind it are breaking down. And in this fullness, I can begin to feel the fullness of my humanity and taste the sweetness of an open heart.

I’m curious about you. Do you allow the sweet moments of life in? Do you fully receive the bounty that life offers? Do you shy away from those painful emotions? How might your sweet spots of life taste?


Both/And | Yes/And


IMG_6728I’ve noticed a curious thing as I inquire more deeply into the awakening Feminine. There seem to be two (at least) threads of conversation around the Feminine: awakening feminine consciousness in both women and men, and finding balance within our own beings between our masculine and feminine aspects; and, women awakening to their own unconditioned, organic way of being, and the natural power that comes from this energy becoming conscious. Unabashedly Female is a place to converse about the latter, to discover together what is coming into consciousness solely through women.

Most of the time, I read about the former, feminine qualities that both women and men are finding again, such as receptivity, collaboration, relationship and a host of others. When this is the conversation, women and men are included together because these aspects are part of coming to wholeness in every being.

Many times when I speak (or write) of the latter, as in this blog, I ‘hear’ people being in the either/or mindset, a mindset that comes from the culture we are swimming win, one based on a patriarchal perspective. Ubiquitous in this perspective is the notion that things are either/or: that one is either for or against; that either something is true or it is not true; that if I speak of one thing, then I am negating its opposite. This either/or perspective shows up often when I write about women and re-discovering our own nature, that of the sacred feminine. It’s as if our conditioning as women tells us we can’t or shouldn’t look at ourselves with curiosity and wonder as different than men. Or, perhaps it is old conditioning about needing to support everyone else rather than seizing the opportunity to REALLY give ourselves time for reflection and meditation on our own nature. Or, maybe it is based on fear and is a way to avoid the looking within that is necessary.

When I write of women being loving and compassionate and wise, I am not negating that men can also these things. When I write of the ‘Mother’ being absent from our culture, I am not saying that the ‘Father’ has been truly available to men.

What I know to be true is that a compassionate, relational humanity is based on a both/and model. In the humanity model we are opening to, one that is becoming more balanced between the masculine and feminine, we will see from a perspective of both/and, where we agree that we are different beings because we are different genders. Through this perspective we celebrate all of life and the differences that flow through our experience because the spirit we are flows through different gendered bodies.

Celebrating differences is celebrating the diversity of nature. It doesn’t mean continuing the sense of separation or the better than/less than  that has been a hallmark of our patriarchal culture. Instead, celebrating the organic truth of our nature allows us all to bring our full selves to the world, to honor the elegant unique simplicity of our design.

The idea of both/and is becoming more prevalent in many places, but I first encountered the power of it in an improvisation class I took a few years ago. We did an exercise called, “Yes, and” where you willingly accept the last improvisor’s choice of action and build upon it with your own. IN other words, you don’t block what they just brought to the experience, but rather build upon it. This experience was an amazing learning opportunity for me in two ways: 1) I got to see how conditioned I was to block, to take in another’s experience and want to change the direction, say ‘No’ to it, find some problem with it, or to see it as an opportunity to disagree with it and come up with something better. While most of this was pretty unconscious for me, the exercise brought it out. 2) By having to accept where the improvisation was going, which meant accept the other’s choice and position, and then finding a way to build upon it and move from it forced me to acknowledge the other person’s AND their experience and find a way to create and collaborate with inclusiveness. It was an experience of connection rather than separation, opening rather than closing off.

I see Both/And | Yes/And as two very similar world views we can hold in these times of deep chaos and churning. There is no limit to what we can create together as a world of human beings yearning for peace when we come together, when we honor where the other person is, when we act with reciprocity and empathy.

What if our design as woman and design as man is exactly perfect?

What if under our conditioning lies the intelligence of our being, an creative and cooperative design that fits together like a 7 billion piece jigsaw puzzle?

What if our solution can only come out of a clear seeing of all that exists right now and a new possibility that can come from everything that is here?

Our evolution as humans depends on the power of Both/And. It depends on the full flowering of the female gender and the male gender, blossoming out from the constricted conditioned attitudes we’ve been holding.


Sending Love on This Day of 9/11



Beginning in 2003, I had the honor and privilege of working with many women and men of Tuesday’s Children. These women and men were directly affected by 9/11, losing loved ones that day.

In my role as coach and teacher, we journeyed together through two different courses I taught: one on personal creativity and how to go back into life more vibrantly and authentically by tapping into ones creativity; and the other a dating and relationship course, From Alone to Alive, that utilized the same concept of personal creativity, while adding the concept of opening one’s heart fully to life and love again.

Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, I remember each one of these courageous human beings. Their courage, gentleness, resilience and willingness to be fully alive again never ceased to amaze me.

Over those years, they discovered a determination to share with, and give back to, the depths of their wisdom and heart.

What I learned from them is this ability to be fully alive to one’s own pain, heartache, and understanding, and to transmute these qualities into active service to others. Most of us shy away from the pain of our experience, believing it will be too much to bear. But, it is by directly opening to this experience, that we as human beings can transmute our own individual heartache into a powerful presence. It is in this presence that we can truly be of service to others, both individually and collectively.

With love, gratitude, and deep respect, I send each of you love from the depths of my heart.

photo by Julie Daley




Dusk Light

There is no house, like the house of belonging. ~David Whyte

A week or so ago, I spent a couple of days at Esalen. On the Monday morning I was visiting, there was a dance session offered and I jumped right in. As I danced in these new surroundings, with other dancers I had not danced with before, I felt completely at ease in my body, with my dance, and with the others in the room. The word belonging came to mind, and I began to feel a deep sense of belonging there in the moment to this new place. As I danced, I could feel the peace that comes in knowing one belongs: to the group, the community, the world; to the earth and the land; to this life, and to something greater than oneself.

Belonging gives us a sense of peace. It allows for an opening to life, a trust, a reassurance that we can let go of our armor and be real with ourselves and each other. When we realize we belong, a letting go naturally occurs.

When we are born, we naturally belong to earth and to life. Eventually, though, we learn to believe the story that we have to earn our belonging. And, depending on our race, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors beyond our control, we learn what our earned belonging entitles us to, and the rights that go with it.

Dancing last week, I came to finally see through the illusion that we have to earn our belonging. As I looked out over the waves breaking against the rocks at Esalen, I realized the truth: we all belong to life, to this earth, to each other, to the world community. While nothing belongs to me, I belong to the world. I am a part of this big family called Life. Nothing belongs to me, yet I belong in the deepest, most freeing sense of the word.

When we realize we belong, and I mean realize deep down in the cells of our body that we BELONG, we finally we can take up space here. We can settle in to the fullness of our soul. We begin to relax and breath deeply. We are finally home. Belonging is a natural right and consequence of being a child of Mother Earth. We are Her children. She is the Mother. She provides for us. When we know Her this way, we begin to honor and love Her.

When we know we belong, we don’t have to keep proving it; we don’t have to deny others’ right to be here; and we don’t have to keep asserting our power. We can simply take our place, alongside each other, alongside all of Life.

Stop for a moment to see how you feel about belonging. What do you belong to? How comfortable are you in taking up space in this world, taking your rightful place, alongside all of Life. Where do you shrink back? Where do you feel you don’t belong? How might belonging be different for you as a woman in this world? What would be different if you realized you belong completely to this world, and this Life? Where is your house of belonging?

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