After our last post, It Just Popped Out, I’ve been basking, and reveling, in the sensuous. The sensuousness of Life. As I open to receive it, I see it is always here, whether or not I am aware of it. Yes, right now is a beautiful time of year. And, life is always serving up beauty, even if it isn’t the kind of beauty our minds desire.
As I was attempting to put into words what I could see out my window, I thought, “Why bother?! I’ll just video it.
So here is my first vlog. As you will see, I’m not on it. It’s too early in the morning. Besides, what I want to capture is what is out there in the early morning sunlight.
I hope you enjoy this. I’d love to hear what it inspires in you.
I’m currently updating this video. It will be online again soon.
I’ve become enamored with the idea of what can be created when we bring people, ideas and creations together, combining creative impulses, drawing upon each other’s spark. This is the second of two posts to explore this idea. Who knows, maybe there will be more!
A few posts ago, I wrote about Spring. Just as Spring is in the air, writing about Spring was, too. A very recent blogger acquaintance, Jeanie Miley, stopped by to read my post. Just prior to my post, she had visited Renae Cobb to read her post about Spring. Jeanie was inspired and whammo, “it just popped out” (the it being an amazing poem) into my comments section. Jeanie literally wrote a poem and left it in the comments. I was blown away by what I read and wanted to share it with you, so you could be, too.
Now, through Serendipity, Jeannie graced this blog with this fresh, in-the-moment poetry, brought about the spirit of collaboration, through one woman sparking another into her own creative genius.
Here is Jeanie’s poem. It is sensual and free, full of eros and light. At the time she wrote it, she didn’t leave a title.
And what if…
life itself is
making love to us,
seducing our hearts and minds
with the gentle
unfolding of buds
with the tender and
What if it is life itself
with tender showers?
a chance to
with our sweaters
and let the earth
itself bathe our
bare feet in wonder?
What if life itself is
wanting to be
enjoyed? What if
the coming of
and the fever we
call spring fever
burning in us
What if life itself
is a lover and simply
wants to teach us
the ways of love?
What if lovemaking is, after all,
our assignment on this
As Jeanie wrote in subsequent comments:
“Julie — your blog post inspired me — and it just popped out — but perhaps it popped out of a bud that has been sitting on a branch for a long, long winter! I just wrote it, in response to your blog! It was so freeing and fun! It’s so much fun to be a part of a co-creation. I should have said that it was Renae who sent me to your post — and it was both her post and yours that inspired me to write the piece. I love the process of collaboration — it’s such a wonderful feminine strength, isn’t it?
This process of collaboration, of one writing what comes and sharing it freely, of the next doing the same, then another reading these words and allowing whatever naturally arises to be shared so freely is the way that is being born.
None of it really, when it comes right down to us, belongs to us. It is all part of the Everything and the Nothing, the Oneness that lives and breathes through us all.
What joy comes when we share what comes through us, willingly, and then revel in watching the mystery of creativity unfold right before our eyes. And in my experience as a teacher/facilitator of creativity, “It just pops out” all the time – when we’re willing to be present to it, we are ready to birth it, then set it free to be enjoyed by others.
I’ve become enamored with the idea of what can be created when we bring people, ideas and creations together, combining creative impulses, drawing upon each other’s spark. This is the first of two posts to explore this idea. Who knows, maybe there will be more!
In the past few days, I’ve stumbled upon two brilliant creative pieces. I loved them so much, I thought I would bring them together.
The first is this incredibly vibrant painting by Holly Friesen titled, “Dancing in the Flames”. When I asked Holly for permission to use her creation, she readily accepted. When I told her I had selected this one, she shared that it is ‘in process’. I’ve followed Holly on Twitter (@Holly59) for a while and love dropping in every now and then to see what she is working on.
I find Dancing in the Flames a stunning piece. It is full of so much feral, wild moon energy. Her body is strong and vibrant. She is open to life. As I sat with this image and read the second piece, a poem by Lisa Citore titled, “If You Want to Change the World…Love a Woman.”, I could feel the energy of both rising up to meet each other.
This poem spoke to me in a deeply profound way. It brought tears of recognition of something sacred that is possible when we realize, men and women, the immense sacred mystery that is woman. What might shift if we all came to love a woman, deeply, in this way. To realize woman as the gateway to life, to know we have all come into the world by way of a woman can completely shift how we see ourselves as women, how we see each other, and how we might more deeply honor and respect the mystery of life and the mystery of woman.
I contacted Lisa to see if I could put her poem her on Unabashedly Female. She, too, agreed!
So I hope you enjoy both of these works of art. What a gift each of us has to bring to this world, whatever medium we choose to create in.
On her website, Magdalene Women, Lisa writes about how the poem came into being:
“When a fairly spiritual male friend of mine who had finally found and was deepening into committed relationship with his soul mate confided in me he was thinking of being single again, and in the next breath expressed his latest idea for raising consciousness worldwide, I wrote this poem.”
If you want to change the world… love a woman-really love her.
Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense.
Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen.
Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing-
every winged one, every furry and scaled one,
every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one,
every not yet born and dying one…
Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life.
If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough.
If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet,
you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her.
If you want to change the world… love a woman-one woman
beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason,
beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety
and all your superficial concepts of freedom.
We have given ourselves so many choices
we have forgotten that true liberation
comes from standing in the middle of the soul’s fire
and burning through our resistance to Love.
There is only one Goddess.
Look into Her eyes and see-really see
if she is the one to bring the axe to your head.
If not, walk away. Right now.
Don’t waste time “trying.”
Know that your decision has nothing to do with her
because ultimately it’s not with who,
but when we choose to surrender.
If you want to change the world… love a woman.
Love her for life-beyond your fear of death,
beyond your fear of being manipulated
by the Mother inside your head.
Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her.
Say you’re willing to LIVE with her,
plant trees with her and watch them grow.
Be her hero by telling her how beautiful she is in her vulnerable majesty,
by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess
through your adoration and devotion.
If you want to change the world… love a woman
in all her faces, through all her seasons
and she will heal you of your schizophrenia-
your double-mindedness and half-heartedness
which keeps your Spirit and body separate-
which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self
for something to make your life worth living.
There will always be another woman.
Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one
and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars,
trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire.
Man doesn’t need any more choices.
What man needs is Woman, the Way of the Feminine,
of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing,
of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots
strong enough to hold the Earth together
while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.
If you want to change the world… love a woman, just one woman .
Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel.
Love her through her fear of abandonment
which she has been holding for all of humanity.
No, the wound is not hers to heal alone.
No, she is not weak in her codependence.
If you want to change the world… love a woman
all the way through
until she believes you,
until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion,
her wildness have returned to her-
until she is a force of love more powerful
than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.
If you want to change the world,
lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs.
Lay down your inner war, your righteous anger
and love a woman…
beyond all of your striving for greatness,
beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment.
The holy grail stands before you
if you would only take her in your arms
and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy.
What if peace is a dream which can only be re-membered
through the heart of Woman?
What if a man’s love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine
is the key to opening Her heart?
If you want to change the world…love a woman
to the depths of your shadow,
to the highest reaches of your Being,
back to the Garden where you first met her,
to the gateway of the rainbow realm
where you walk through together as Light as One,
to the point of no return,
to the ends and the beginning of a new Earth.
It’s a beautiful sunny spring day. Life is budding.
I live in the hills of Berkeley, directly across the street from the hills of Tilden Park. Today, just days before the first day of Spring, the hills are richly green. The birds are singing. The trees are blossoming. One tree in particular grabs and holds my attention. It is a weeping cherry tree directly across from my living room window. She is budding, ripe with the fruit of life just bubbling under the skin of her delicate branches. Her branches are stark gray in contrast to the small, delicate blossoms just now opening to the warm spring sunshine.
I am amazed at the contrast between this small, soft pink flower petal and the sage, rooted, twisted and gnarled mother tree giving birth to it. When I look closely, the petals emerge right out of the tips of these weathered branches that have survived the winter cold, the driving rains and the months of dormancy. Life gives birth to life.
And so it is the same with us. In every moment, we are dying and being born, and in our times of transformation, we descend into the darkness, move through it, and if we stay with the intelligence of our own internal guidance, we emerge out into the light, budding with new life. The darkness is just as much a part of life as the light. We need to know one to know the other. Spring follows winter, summer turns to fall.
Life gives birth to life, and somewhere in the process something dies and transforms. It’s a circle that cannot be avoided, no matter how hard we might try. The past few years have been a patient teacher to me, providing me with the most gracious teachings on what it means to be fully alive to the circle of birth, death and transformation. And in these fecund teachings, I have become both painfully and joyously aware of what it means to be alive, not as a dry concept, but as rich experience. I have been humbled by the paradox I experience: the futility of trying to control anything at all, having the direct experience of life living exactly as life does, while at the same time knowing that I have the choice to follow that which compels me forward, a knowing at the deepest levels of my being that prods and pulls and pushes me into a place of complete undressing and exposure.
Which brings me to the blog-to-blog, post to post, conversation Jeanne Hewell-Chambers and I have been having, a conversation about voice, community and action.
Mother Teresa said some wise things about action:
“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
It seems as if it is easy to get caught up in the ego’s desire to do big things to save the world. I know this well. And what I’ve experienced is that the desire to do big things causes me to spin into inaction, because I can’t even begin to know how to save the world. Does the world even need saving? I can make up all sorts of things about what I need to do if I am to make a difference. Yet somewhere within, a small voice stirs and is guiding me forth, if only I can listen.
I have come to see, through being aware of Life and how it unfolds, that all I can do is express my love for life in small actions, one step at a time. Life knows and I am an instrument of that knowing.
We are no different than the rest of nature for we, too, are nature. Just like the flowering cherry tree, what wants to emerge through me is pushing to unfold through me. What wants to emerge through you is causing something else in you to die, so that new life can be born.
In the dying paradigm, the old way of doing things that is on its way out, there was a central belief that a ‘big’ (powerful) person has to do something big to have an effect. This one person was the leader, the one others looked up to, the one others expected to take care of things.
In the new paradigm that is unfolding, things are different. We are beginning to see the strength of communities. Strong, supportive, truth-telling communities can bring collaboration and creativity and innovation. We’re beginning to see the possibilities that are there when many ordinary people do small things with great love and focus. Networks of people coming together, learning from each other, sparking ideas and doing small things with great love is the backbone of this new model.
If it sounds like small things have no power, think again. Imagine the force it takes for new blossoms to spring forth through gray, dry branches. It’s life force. It’s the same life force that is within you. The same life force that breathes you. The same life force that causes you to feel, to think, to love and to act.
In the end, trust yourself. Trust the urge in you that wants to propel you into action. The bigger intelligence can, and will, take care of the rest.
Do all of what you do with the great love that you are.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” Margaret Mead
I’m not sure where this post is going to go, but I trust it will take us somewhere.
Two days ago, I wrote about Voice and the many things that can support a woman in owning and speaking her truth. Many of you responded so positively to that post. It was truly a joy to read your comments and to notice the sense of coming together that occurred.
For me, the great joy of writing the post was noticing how I am one of many in the stream of women’s voices that are yearning to be spoken and heard. There was a sense of how one builds upon another, how where one woman’s words end, another’s begin. I wrote my post, then Jeanne wrote her post based on mine, then I wrote another based on hers. Suddenly a new woman appeared in the stream. Renae left me a wonderful comment, noting how she found my blog:
“a few weeks ago – from someone else’s site – and right now I don’t even remember who. Brené’s work has played a part in me beginning to find my voice. The connections are simply stunning to me.”
Connections. One follows another, which follows another. This is the currency of the Internet.
I followed Renae’s link and discovered her blog and a new post, one in which she mentioned my post and the impact it had on her.
“So I press ever onward, sometimes feeling like I’m fighting the battle alone. And then I ran across this post: https://unabashedlyfemale.com/2010/03/02/theres-no-voice-like-yours/ I’ve been reading Julie’s blog for a few weeks. I’m adding her to my blog roll. She touches the deep places in my soul. She makes me feel that the community I want for my daughters, might, just might, be possible.
And so, we move into a new year, ever closer to the teen years, with at least a little hope that my daughters will live in a world without shame about who they are. That they can spend their energy fighting new battles instead of the same old ones. That they will grow into their own voices and not need to find them, because they will have been there all along.”
As I read her entire post, I was so moved by it. I was moved by her clear love for her daughters and her hope that her daughters could find a community where there was no longer shame for being a woman, and by her hope that her daughters will know their voices, not having to discover them later in life.
I was moved by the fact that connections were made from Jeanne, to me, to Jeanne, to me, to Renae… and obviously there was no beginning and no end, just connections, just life moving as it does. Yet, if we had all stayed silent, we would never have met, we would never have been buoyed up, strengthened by our connectedness, by our shared longing for truth and expression.
I sat and pondered this. There is desire for something here, desire for a better way for women and girls, a better way for men, for the planet, for life itself. Mothers longing for it to be different for their daughters…and sons, husbands, brothers, sisters, men, women and life.
Something is wanting to be born, to come into existence through our words, through the impetus each of us feels inside to speak, to express, to share, to love, to create, to be in communion with each other and with life.
We are building something here, a community that is fluid, where people come and go, where ideas build upon the last, and where things fall away as new comes in. The stream meanders, finding its way.
Today, I came across this video on Leadership. It’s a simple homegrown video that’s fun to watch. And someone put some great commentary to it, with an interesting take on leadership. Watch it (it’s short) and see what happens.
Here’s this guy dancing. Just dancing and enjoying himself. His joy is contagious. One brave soul steps up and joins up, no longer able to contain the desire to join in. Then another two join. Then more. Suddenly there is a group of people dancing together. Soon a tipping point is reached and people are flocking in from all directions.
The commentator suggests the movement gets started when the first follower arrives. That seems to be true in the case of the dancing guy. Or is it when there are four. Or eight? Or twelve? What if the group split up into two? Or did the movement really begin when the music started?
Coming back to this deeper desire that is being born through women. What is this?
There are many groups of women, men and children that are creating a new world; but, I sense there is a movement happening that is being born by women. It doesn’t matter where it started, but we are now feeling the movement gain momentum.
This humanity of woman, carried out in suffering and humiliation, will then, when in the commutations of her external situation she will have stripped off the conventions of being only feminine, come to light, and those men, who do not yet feel it approaching today, will be astonished and stunned by it. —– …some day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer signify merely an opposite of the masculine, but something in itself, something that makes one think, not of any complement and limit, but of life and existence: the female human being.
It’s this humanity of woman that is coming back into existence, but coming back into form after having been in exile for centuries.
It’s funny that this video of a joyful man dancing caught my attention. It’s not that men or women are so significantly different that we can’t see ourselves in the other.
Yet, there is something being born specifically by women, that only women can bring into being and it is something that can heal. It’s born of desire, a longing and yearning for life to be respected, loved and nurtured.
When I read Renae’s words about desire for something different for her daughters, I could feel this new vision trying to come into being.
I also can sense that it is time for our own inner masculine to become strong and active, for women to come into balance, knowing what we long for inside now must come into being through definitive action.
Marianne Williamson held a conference this past weekend titled Sister Giant. Prior to the conference, she created this video, that I find incredibly inspiring. While the event has passed, her message is loud and clear. We women have work to do.
Watching the dancing guy caused me to think about this movement, this movement of women rising up and saying, “Enough is Enough”. We can do it with joy. We can do it with passion. And we need solidarity, to come together, to find the one thing we all hold dear, the one thing we are willing to rise up for: the survival of the human species.
We are not alone in this. There is no starting point that can be pinpointed, nor does that matter. There are many leaders, many first followers, and many tipping points.
Something has been laboring to be born. The birth is imminent. The stream is gaining volume and speed. Where and how will we find the solidarity that allows us to hold our differences and yet stand strong, fierce and resilient?
By the way, I got to the end of this post, realized where it had taken me. I could see my own connections that I hadn’t seen before. I then knew the Mead quote was fitting.
We never know where the stream will take us. We just need to step into it, knowing how many others are already wet and long for the strength, commitment and determination that solidarity can bring.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Voice…as a metaphor, as an act, as a unique expression of oneself.
Every time I sit down to write, my voice sounds different as the words fly from my fingers. While I sense my voice is different, I imagine those of you reading my posts on any regular basis feel I have a ‘voice’ you recognize as different from any other…or maybe not. As I consider that, I wonder if it matters. What does really matter when it comes to speaking that which must be said?
Just yesterday, my dear friend Jeanne wrote, in her blog the barefoot heart, about voice and her experiences finding hers. I love Jeanne’s voice. It is unmistakeably hers.. Jeanne writes that she wonders what her ‘right sound’ is:
“do i forget funny and stick to serious, reflective tones? do i keep trying the funny, knowing that writing humor is different from doing humor? do i do both ’cause i am both?”
Jeanne’s words struck a chord within me. I am becoming more confident in my writing. Same as with Jeanne, much of that confidence I owe to the women I have met on Twitter that have embraced me and my Voice with such love and support. I notice that my voice can change from serious, spiritual, funny, loving, and sometimes powerful and intuitive. Sometimes I write sludge (feels and sounds a lot like internal processing on the page, something the roommate in the head likes to sell) …sometimes clarity and truth.
Writing is an interesting practice. And I know I don’t even know what will come out when I sit down to write. I can try to force things, but that never feels right.
Writing from my body helps. My body speaks truth, as do all bodies. If I remember to drop down into the body, truth flows.
And there’s still fear present when I write.
What’s the fear about?
For me, the fear is not so much if others don’t like my style or writing abilities. The fear is about the repercussions I might face if I write what is deepest in my heart, some of which is:
the beauty and sacredness of the female gender and the sacredness of our sexuality and female bodies
the possibility for women to discover that they are the sacred feminine, and for men to discover they are the sacred masculine
the devaluation of women and girls and the violence perpetrated on the female gender
the constant bombardment of demoralizng images, messages, interactions that women and girls face in their day-to-day lives, meant to keep us dis-empowered and depressed
the pain that men feel as the dominant gender where the effects of patriarchy still hold sway
the absolute importance and necessity of healing our mother wounds, and the wounding of the Big Mother, our divine planet
AND the vision I see of the way things could be if we realize, before its too late, that we are all really divine in human clothing.
Fear for women is not an enemy to be conquered but a warning track that says: Go no further. It is the demarcation line that points to the bounds of possibility and permissible female behavior. If you’re a woman and you don’t use fear to limit yourself, there is an implicit threat of violence.”
I came across another post yesterday by Brené Brown titled, ” I’m Pretty. Pissed.”
In her post, Brené writes about two friends and how they were attacked after writing opinion pieces in public forums. She offers up 8 points of advice to women who are speaking out, in hopes we can avoid the kind of attack her two friends encountered. Make sure to read her full post to reap the benefits of her great advice.
“In my own decade-long research on authenticity and shame, I found that speaking out is a major shame trigger for women.
I can see Brené’s words clearly in my own conditioning and know these powerful forms of conditioned control have played a part in my journey to becoming a writer that can and will speak that which has to be spoken.
The main reason I’ve posted this today, is to speak to what I think is an important community of collaboration and support for the feminine voice to be heard: social media networks – Twitter, Facebook and whatever else you might find that helps you connect to other women that are heading the call to stand up and speak out in these times when it is critical for women’s voices to be heard.
Creating community to speak and listen, is imperative. To have a vehicle for women’s stories to be spoken and heard is critical. Women speaking out is what is being called for right now. Women supporting other women is what is being asked of us right now.
As Jeanne wrote yesterday,
“see, usually i’m a little too tentative, too scared of smackdown to post anything i feel like isn’t going to be well received. but since being on twitter, i’ve met women who make me feel comfortable enough, safe enough to mash “send” because i know they’ll be patient and accepting…”
When I read Jeanne’s words, I felt this connection, this witnessing of story, of voice, of truth by one woman to another. This is where we find power. I saw myself in Jeanne, saw my own struggle to stand up, to speak out, and to know, while doing so, that I am part of a family of women.
One small point here that is of utmost importance: Not all women are supportive of this. Many men are. Brené comments on this, too, saying: “Don’t blame men. Men are as likely to be offended by cruelty as women, and women are as likely to perpetrate it as men.” I have found so many deeply honoring and supportive men on Twitter and Facebook, men who write to me expressing joy and respect for the words I write. And, I’ve had women deride me for the same words.
This point is important, AND there is something that needs to happen by women coming together, to tell their stories aloud, to witness and honor, to hold each other in reverence and awe, to see the sacred face of the divine in each other’s femaleness, wisdom and pain.
You see, I could have picked any one of my village of women – Jeanne just happened to write something yesterday that sparked something in me. I was so taken by her words, by what was happening inside her, and I value being witness to the stories she writes about her heart, her life and her wisdom, just as I value these very things that are born from all women. This is one of the most creative aspects of having a village. We are connected. We witness. Our hearts can break open by empathizing with the other as she unfolds her sacredness onto the page.
So, here are some ideas to hold as you speak up and out.
Just start. Write. To yourself, to others, on a blog, in a journal, by letter, anywhere you can write, just write. Let the fire in you find its way out onto the page.
Write and speak from the body. It doesn’t lie. write/speak from your instincts. your intuition.. (check out the book, Writing From the Body, if you want to know more about this.)
Trust that your voice will emerge if you just write the words that want to be written. Know that your voice will change, will flow, will find its own way. Your genius will emerge. It wants to be heard.
Know that not everyone will agree, and not everyone will find your words meaningful.
Find your village of women to support you. Search the social media halls for women who have a penchant for topics your voice likes. Reach out to them. Read their words, and if they truly resonate with you, comment, friend and follow them.
Know that you don’t always have to agree with your village in order to support their work. What if we women stood by each other, in solidarity, simply because we know and understand how hard this process is and how important it is each woman be heard. We’ve all been conditioned to the hilt. What if we stopped judging each other’s conditiong, and held each other as the powerful woman we know she is?
Hold the paradox of being in community and learning the ‘way of surrender is about remaining vulnerable and finding the power of no-protection” (Miriam Greenspan). At some point, we all must find the place of balance between the two, somewhere on the continuum that works for you.
I share from my own experience. I’d love to know what has helped you.
As I open to this paradox, of knowing I have my village of women, and knowing the power of no-protection, I find truth finding its way.