A True Dignity

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“You cannot oppress a person, when there is a feeling that in them they are in touch with something that is sacred. You can’t oppress them at the soul level.” Jean Bolen

 

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We live in a society that oppresses everything feminine – feminine values, ways of being, expressions and more. The corollary, more often unspoken than spoken, is that this society, and every patriarchal society, oppresses women. While the severity of this oppression varies by race, society, culture, country, religion, at the core of patriarchy is the oppression of women.

We may want to deny this. After all, our fathers, brothers, and sons are men. And, patriarchy teaches us, as women, that it is our duty to make sure the men in our lives feel good about themselves, that it is our role to do that.

Why do women fight patriarchy? Because, they have the most to gain from its demise. Why do so many men turn a blind eye to it? Because they believe they have the most to lose.

protecting new life ssm

Why do we all avoid, on some level, engaging fully in seeing through this dream? Because it hurts to see the way we’ve been conditioned to treat each other, and to treat ourselves. Because we fear what might happen if this all changes. Because we must grow up, emotionally, to step into our power as sacred beings. And, a myriad of other reasons.

But, men aren’t patriarchy, just as women aren’t the images that patriarchy makes us out to be. Patriarchy is the structure woven into the institutions of this society.

We all, both men and women, to some varying degree, hold this structure up, whether we are aware of it or not. It is woven so deeply, none of us see the full extent of our compliance or complicity, unless we truly awaken out of the dream that is the world of patriarchy.

Men benefit the most from the privileges automatically bestowed at birth in a society that is based on patriarchy. But, even those that are privileged in patriarchy, are suffering, because this is not our natural, sacred way of living.

It is painful to be oppressed. It is painful to oppress. We are all losing in this dream. We know this, and we deny it.

And, we all, men and women, must be part of the solution. The solution is awakening. Awakening to this sacred nature within. A nature that knows the beauty and goodness in all beings.

Something is awakening. Something sacred, something vital, something that knows truth. We are awakening. We are waking up from this dream of patriarchy, from this dream of separation and control, from this dream of fear, domination and oppression.

As Jean Bolen so eloquently points out, when the soul wakes up to that which is sacred within, it can no longer be oppressed. While the body may be abused, the psyche verbally and emotionally assaulted, the soul, when aware and aware of its divine nature, can not be oppressed.

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And you, beautiful woman. The sacred feminine is alive and breathing right inside your body. As a woman, you have the ability to bring life into life, whether it is babies or any of the other myriad ways you can create new life. Your creativity, sensuality and sexuality are intricately woven together in a way that allows you to nurture and love all of life, without losing yourself. This same rich tapestry is also the source of a fiery life-affirming force, a Kali energy that surfaces as you express the fullness of what you are.

When you come to know the divine feminine you, a true dignity arises from within. You accept the humbleness of your own soul and the opportunity to serve all of life.

You have a part to play in this divine dance of life that is yours and only yours. Your sacred feminine creativity and open heart are needed in our world today.

It is time for us as women to remember our innate power, and to no longer trade it for the false securities of our cultural conditioning.

It is time for us to realize that what we are as women is wholly different than men- this difference serves the natural expression of the masculine rather than competing with it.

When we bring together our innate love for the sacred and our deepest desires to see love made manifest in the world, we become a powerful creative force in service to something greater than ourselves.

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The good news is that you are already this sacred being. You don’t have to do anything to learn it, to become it, to get the hang of it. The only thing standing between you and your knowing of your divine nature is the revealing of you to you.

Are you ready to reveal you to you, to look within to the beauty that is you?

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This breathtaking image is “Protecting New Life”, by Shiloh Sophia McCloud, an incredible artist with a divine brush.

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Grace, Like Rain

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“Grace is always falling like rain. We just have to be open to receive it.” ~Amma
Grace is Everywhere
Grace is Everywhere


Tenderness, Power and Grace

This is the third post in a series of three: Tenderness, Power and Grace.  All three posts are deeply intertwined. They’ve been born from the deepest, most raw feelings I experienced as I let the images of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani (and the intense feelings of hatred and violence towards women and girls that seem to be so evident in our global community) wash over me.

I sometimes paint with Chris Zydel. It’s process painting, where the process – what happens during the process of painting – is the focus rather than the finished painting itself. On a Thursday, just after learning about Sakineh, I painted this painting, titled Grace is Everywhere. That was three weeks ago. Since then, I have been writing about what I experienced through the process of painting that day: tenderness, power and grace.

For whatever reason (maybe no reason at all), I waited until this last post to include the painting process. In this last post, I’m going back to the beginning. I’m taking us back full circle.

I’ve written about this type of painting before. What I want to share, here, is what happened this particular time.

I had been filled with these intense emotions after reading and writing about Ashtiani. At that time, I wrote a post about the power we women have to create change…how the power of our coming together can change things. And, even though I know there’s power in circles and that we can effect change, I also felt powerless to do something myself, something to free this woman from the hands of tyrannical forces that hold such misogynistic views of women, and on a deeper level, powerless to change the way women are disrespected, oppressed and hated, the way children are of such seemingly insignificant worth in a society that seems to value greed, consumption and violence. Power and powerlessness.

The more I sat with these feelings, the more anger, frustration, and futility I felt at a world that seems to not be able to see, really see just how much unresolved distrust and fear there is simmering under the surface between the genders.


The Process…

And so, when I arrived to paint, the process took over as I selected colors for my palette…or, rather the colors picked me: blood red, black, yellow, purple, and gold.

As I began to paint, the feelings spread out onto the paper: grief, anger and rage, powerlessness and power, hope and futility. They flooded the page through the paint.

Big, wide brushstrokes of blood red: stoning, death, power over the powerless.

Bright brushstrokes of yellow: the brightness of hope.

Swaths of black, deep dark black, so heavy they flooded the bottom of the picture: mourning and grief that could only be expressed with a black that was void of all light.

As I painted, I stayed with the feelings that appeared.


Tenderness that is Grace

Then, something else showed up. I felt a tenderness come through, a tenderness that wanted to be expressed differently – through my fingers rather than the brush. Quivering tenderness.

I put the brush down and submerged my fingers in the paint. The black paint along with this beautiful gold paint, a gold that flowed directly from the tenderness quivering in my fingertips. Black for grief and mourning in the immediate presence of the gold of tenderness.

As I painted, I could feel the word grace come forth as the gold began to make itself known on the paper alongside the black. Grace in the middle of death and grief. Then my fingers chose red and gold – grace appearing with power and powerlessness. As my fingers scooped up the yellow of hope, grace came along, too.

Grace appeared with everything I was feeling. It had a distinct ‘feel’ and color to it, as did all the other feelings; but the thing that stood out so starkly to me, was the deep wisdom that arose about the absolute necessity of feeling everything with conscious awareness, without pushing away any difficult emotions or aspects of the experience. Grace was not there in place of the dark emotions, it was there with them, alongside them, intermingling with them.

Grace made itself known through the direct and conscious willingness to feel the entirety of everything, and the depth of it all; this willingness was cradled by the process of painting itself.


Visceral and Palpable

The grace was visceral and palpable, and made me keenly aware of the possibility of knowing such grace in the middle of the darkest of our experiences. Even when things seem most without hope, grace is always present, falling like rain. Grace’s presence is not a question – it is always here; rather, it’s our willingness to be vulnerable in the most raw and uncomfortable places, a vulnerability that opens us like a flower, so that we can receive grace’s shower.

This willingness to see things just as they are, to feel the immensity of feelings associated with all that is happening to our planet, to the human race, to all living creatures can open us to receive the tenderness and wisdom of transformation. This grace brings the sweetest tenderness, palpable in the body and heart, a tenderness that is much more powerful than the tyranny we see today, because it is kissed with the rain of grace.

This willingness to see things just as they are opens us to see ourselves with tenderness, to see the creativity and love that resides deep in the folds of our divine robes of feminine flesh, and to know we are sacred beings with a sacred creativity to be shared. This is the soft power that we are here to bring forth at this time on the planet.

Just as the painting process held this process of revealing, so can any process of expression provide a container with which to know something greater than ourselves. Whether it’s painting, dancing, writing or any of the myriad ways we can express what’s within, whatever we choose can be the container that helps us welcome out what is wanting to unfold. It is being with all that arises, feeling it deep in the body, and allowing its wisdom to teach us a new way.

It helps me to know that grace is with me when I open to seeing what is happening here on our earth, in these places that feel too painful to look. When I know that grace is here, too, even in these places of darkness, I know I am not alone. And, I know the power of transformation grace offers. What if this life force, that is held in these darkest places could transform into light? into the light of awareness and awakeness? In this time of global shift, it is exactly this awareness we must learn to bring to even the hardest things to be with.

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And, what about Ashtiani? What about grace for her, for others who are in imminent danger, others who are oppressed and victimized? I do know that if we’re willing to see directly into these horrors happening right now, if we don’t turn away, we can act in some way that can help change things. If they can’t act, we must. They may have no power, but we do, and our power lies in circles of people coming together.

Perhaps, grace is telling us that things can be different, but it will take us coming our of our own complacency to help change things for Ashtiani and others. Perhaps, this is the message within that quivering tenderness, that our power is in coming together to help support us all, as a global village to change things through a revolution fo tenderness.

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And, you?

This is simply my experience with grace and the dark emotions.

I’d love to know how you’ve experienced these dark emotions, and their power and vast potential to transform.

How do you experience Grace? What wisdom does it bring?

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This is the last post in a series of three on tenderness, power and grace. All three posts are part of the Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.

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The Nature of Power

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In the 21st Century, power will not change the nature of women, women will change the nature of power. ~ Bella Abzug


Power is only a Word

Power is only a word, but it’s a word with a sordid past…and a very sordid present. It has a lot of baggage.

Power, as we know it today, dominates. Silences. Abuses.

Power is abused, too. At some point, power became power-over.

Somewhere, at some time, in the ‘rules’ of the human world, a rule was written about power, men and women. A rule was made that says, men have power over women. Somehow we, men and women, seem to believe in this story.

The recent, deeply disturbing, widely broadcast story of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani’s imminent death by stoning, once again, brought the tyrannical abuses of power-over into the bright light of our awareness.

A few days after the international outcry about both her death sentence and the method the Iranian government threatened to use, the archaic practice of stoning, I still couldn’t shake the visceral anger, sadness and powerlessness I felt. This was such blatant, abuse of power; power so egregious, that I shudder to contemplate just how often and how much this kind of sadistic power is used against those who are completely vulnerable to it.

In the swirl of these emotions, I felt a very real sensation of complete vulnerability as a woman. Here was this beautiful woman, waiting in an Iranian prison for a death sentence to be carried out in a most barbaric and painful way. And, here I was, sitting safely in my home, but acutely feeling an intense vulnerability, as if there was no separation between us.

Then it hit me, there is no separation between us. In a very real collective sense, what is done to any part of life, is done to us all. If we are aware of the deeper feelings that move through the human soul, we know this.

On this same level, we all feel the pain of abusive power, oppression and misogyny whether we are the abuser or victim.

As I sat with these feelings, I suddenly felt a tenderness open up that was deep. It was painful, vulnerable and raw. It filled every part of every thing.

I wrote about this tenderness, about a revolution of tenderness in the first post of this three-part series on Tenderness, Power and Grace.


Soft Power

I know many women who push their power away because the only power they’ve known has been used against them. I’m one of those women.

And yet, my power keeps pulling me to it. This is a different kind of power than power-over. It comes from deep in the bowels of my femaleness. It feels rooted to the earth. It feeds my soul. It nurtures my creativity. It is the source of my deep and abiding love for all of life.

There is an unwritten, unspoken, yet very palpable threat of violence against women if we do step fully into the power we know is contained within our beings.

I feel this threat of violence. Yet, this power must come to life, regardless. This is soft power, a tremendous tenderness toward all of life. It is a great compassionate love. It compels me to drop even more deeply into this place of fierce tenderness.

Of course we’re coming to the brink of extinction of so many forms of life, including our own – our way for so long has been to dominate, control and destroy the life principle, namely that of woman. She is the embodiment of the life principle.

What would life be like if power-over, once again, became simply power, the power to be able – to express, to create, to be, to act? I don’t know, but I do know it will have something to do with love. It will come from not rejecting anything, because what we reject and condemn in another, is the same as rejecting ourselves, and no peace can ever come from that.


The Power of Woman

This is the power of woman: to love everything, without exception. As the embodiment of the life principle, she holds it all, without division. This power can only come when she no longer believes she must be everything to everyone. It can only come when she comes home to herself, with love for all the beauty she is. When she sees the value of herself, she can know the fullest power that is available to her as woman.

How does woman do that when she faces the immensity of oppression, degradation and misogyny?

By turning to look at another woman, to look deeply in another woman’s heart, to see within her what she can’t see in herself. By turning to the earth, to look deeply in the earth’s heart.

By opening our hearts to earth, to feel the incredible suffering this beautiful, living, pulsing beauty is enduring, and at the same time seeing her strength, her capacity to heal, her desire to continue to provide a home for all of life.

Woman is tied to the earth more deeply than man. When we open to her power to heal and regenerate, we can know our own capacity to heal and regenerate.

Anne Baring speaks of women:

There is a danger that in seeking power and equality with men in order for her voice and her creative gifts to be recognised, woman may unconsciously reject the very foundation which gives, through her millennial experience as custodian of life, something of supreme importance to say.

Can we…

There is no question that women are changing the nature of power. We see it occurring everywhere. As we do…

Can we encourage each other to come forth into our power?

Can we hold each other in supreme love and compassion as we travel this sacred path together?

Can we stand firm in the knowledge that we are worthy of the sacred nature we know is at the core of our womanhood?

Can we love those parts of ourselves that feel so difficult to love?

Can we know, in our experience, that we are all mothers to all the world’s children?

Can we love others with the fierce tenderness that might melt the deepest darkest hate into the most brilliant light of love?


And, you?

I’d love to know your feelings and thoughts about power and women; about what is emerging through us; about your story with power.


This is the second post in a series of three on tenderness, power and grace. All three posts are part of the Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.

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A Revolution of Tenderness

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It is in your self-interest to find a way to be very tender. ~ Jenny Holzer

The power of tenderness.

The tender skin of one touching the tender skin of another, causing an exquisite encounter, not possible in any other way.

The tender eyes that want nothing from the world, except to welcome and embrace all that generously spills into view.

The tender heart that loves simply for love’s sake, rather than for what one might get out of loving.

Some tender places of the heart can only be known in relationship, when one is willing to lay down arms, open the heart and wait, exposed.

I know the power of tenderness.

We all know the power of tenderness.

Revolution begins with changes in the individual. ~ Jenny Holzer

We already know, well, revolutions of domination, where ‘power over’ has all but brought the human race to death’s door.

We know the power of tenderness in intimate moments.

What if we were to realize that it is in our own self-interest to engage in a revolution of tenderness?

What if we were to realize that the power of tenderness is so much greater than the power of tyranny?

I, too, wonder how this might happen, how we shift from tyranny to tenderness.

Those that engage in domination and destruction stand in a perspective that sees tenderness as weakness, not strength.

But, I also know the only way to begin a revolution within is with a tender ‘yes’, a surrendered ‘yes’.

It begins with trusting that ultimately, the power of tenderness rather than the power of domination will be what saves us.


Which is the more powerful act?

Somewhere within each of us is a place that dominates and condemns – others and ourselves. This place is the most tender of places, because, it fears tenderness, yet longs to be showered with it. This place learned to dominate early. It learned to condemn and judge at an early age. When tenderness was what this place was longing for, instead it received judgment. Somewhere this place believes judgment and condemnation are the best way to be strong in an unsafe world; yet, if you check-in closely, what’s really going on is a longing to be touched with tender hands, to be seen, really seen, with tender eyes, and to be held and embraced by the most tender places of the heart. Hence, it is in your own self-interest to be tender.

We may fear being tender and loving will be seen as weak by those that continue to shower our beautiful world with hate, violence, oppression and greed. And as long as we see it as being weak, they will. When we know the strength of tenderness as a gift to ourselves, and when we see the powerful effects of the offering of tenderness to another, the perspective that ‘tenderness is weakness’ can begin to shift.

Try it. Feel the effects it has on you and others. Compare these to the moments when you judge and condemn others. Then, ask yourself, truly look to see, which is the more powerful act? Which way of being requires true vulnerability and fierce loyalty to love?

We’ve all judged and been judged. We’ve all condemned and been condemned We’ve all dominated and been dominated.We all know these experiences. What if we were to caress another’s ragged coat of life with the tender touch of one who knows these things intimately? This is the real revolution of tenderness that is poised to unfold.

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This is the first post in a series of three on tenderness, power and grace. All three posts are part of the Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.

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From Alone to Alive

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Loss can be an opening, a portal to profound transformation.

We all lose in our lives. We all experience loss. When we bring a depth of awareness to the experience of the loss, and the hole the loss leaves, the portal can open wide, embracing us like a mother embraces her child.

Like you, I’ve experienced profound loss in my life. More than once.

Loss, Love and Life

I’ve also worked closely, and intimately, with women who lost their husbands in 9/11. Many of the remarkable moments I experienced with these women came as I facilitated a course on dating and new relationship.

Over the course of 18 months, in numerous groups around the New York City area, we explored the deep desire to love again after profound loss and grief.

Portals opened wide for these women. They had already done some powerful grief work before coming to this particular course that I had developed. Using my own experiences of grief, exploration of self, and beginning to date anew from the death of my late-husband in the design, the course laid out a journey of opening the heart to the deep emotions that had been buried.

After all, if we are to open our hearts to love again, whatever is in our hearts, whatever has been buried in an effort to not feel, will come tumbling out. When we have a safe, nurturing community in which to feel and express these things, transformation can happen – the transformation of our grief into powerful presence, and transformation of who we thought we were into who we come to know ourselves to truly be.

And, when we realize we are still alive, that it’s okay to live again, to really live with joy and passion, we begin to honor the life being offered to us in each moment.

Feeling Grief and Love Together

Loss, love and life are intertwined. In grieving the death of my late-husband, I found transformation happened when I felt both the grief and the love together. Grieving with the love I felt for him, the love I knew he felt for me, and the love I could feel this portal was holding me in, was deep and rich and powerful.

Grief is an entirely intelligent process, if we are willing to open to its embrace. Grief brings us right up against all the things we shield ourselves from feeling.

And, there is deep love in grief. I experienced it as an invitation to come to truly know the limitations of being a human being, living a human life. I came to realize the deep peace in surrendering to life on life’s terms, not on mine. I came to see that life isn’t conspiring against me; rather, life is unfolding to its own rhythm, not ‘mine’.

In the shattering of the illusion of control, what arises is a willingness to dance to this rhythm wherever it takes you. In this rhythm, there is divine love.

Beautiful Strength

In the course with the women who had lost their husbands in 9/11, a beautiful strength began to make itself known from within them. Through our time together, a natural delight in the idea of embracing life again began to emerge. The women organically began to follow their own heart’s desires to love. In some, the desire was to date, in others it wasn’t. What did appear, though, was a desire to truly live again, knowing that it is okay to be the survivor. One can move forward from something as profoundly devastating as 9/11, as the survivor, and learn to truly have gratitude for the experience of being alive.

This gratitude comes from embracing the totality of experience; not just the ‘good’ things life offers, but embracing the gift of life itself.

One thing loss has taught me is that each day I am here is truly a divine gift. Each year the life odometer turns over, and in that turning I can honestly say I am grateful to be getting older. Getting older means I am still here, alive, living in this mystery. and receiving the wisdom that comes from living into these rich years.

Toward the end of the eighteen months that this course was offered, one woman renamed our course, “From alone to alive”.

Back in May, the lovely Nicola Warwick invited me to be a part of a beautiful project. She was putting together an ebook offering titled, “Loss Love Life”. This was to be a compilation of writings about the power of loss, transition and change with contributions from Thursday’s Child, Patti Digh, Margaret Fuller, Danielle LaPorte, Michael Nobbs, Carolyn Rubenstein, Andrea Schroeder, Kate Swoboda, Julie Jordan Scott, Dyana Valentine, Eydie Watts Nicola Warwick, and me.

I was honored to submit my offering to this work. This ebook is now available for download. It is truly a remarkable collection of open-hearted writing about these three powerful things, Loss, Love and Life. If you feel called, visit Nicola’s site and download this work. I think you’ll find reading what is shared here to be transformative in itself.

And, you?

I’d love to know what you’ve experienced with loss and the powerful tumult that follows. If you feel willing, share here, with us, any insights, experiences, or understandings you’ve had.

Image: courtesy of Tapperboy on Flickr; Creative Commons 2.0

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Seed

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SEED

deep in the darkness of the womb of my body

lies the seed from which all was born.

i feel this seed.

it’s always there.

unchanging,

yet always giving birth to new life.

light in dark.

life from death.

eternity in this moment.

everything in nothing.

when i lose grounding,

when i forget,

when the chaos is more than i feel i can handle,

i simply come back to this seed, and

from here

i am born anew.

(c) Julie M Daley

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Love of Woman

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“…this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.” ~David Whyte

I want to write about love.

Between women.

Love between women that was never part of the world I grew up in.

Love between women that defies the (il)logic of patriarchy.

Love that is outside the acceptable norm of patriarchal society.

This love between me and woman has been a long time coming.

To love woman in this way goes against unspoken rules.

It pushes up against learned fears.

And it compels me to belly-up to the place of trust, where the tenderness of past hurts reveals its pink flesh.

This love is far beyond simply promising not to put other women down.

This love is far beyond knowing that supporting another woman does not diminish me.

This love is more simple than all of these thinking things.

This love comes from the place deep within my body that is the radiance of the living, breathing essence of the sacred, divine feminine.

To love woman is to know the purity of the place made ready for new life, whether or not this place ever produces new life.

It has taken me a long time to learn to love woman – in myself, in others, and in its most essential form, the sacred, divine feminine.

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This post is in response to The Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.

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No More Silence

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Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

(CNN) — A veteran Iranian human rights activist has warned that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities.

“Only an international campaign designed to pressure the regime in Tehran can save her life, according to Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty.

“Legally it’s all over,” Ahadi said Sunday. “It’s a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute.”

“That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help.”” read more at CNN

It is time to no longer be silent. We now have the Internet and hundreds of thousands of circles of women. It doesn’t matter if your circle is only two women, it’s a circle. And, in a circle there is power. Power to speak. Power to love. Power to make a difference. Power that can be used to make a change in how things have been.

It is time for the way things have been to be over. It is time to stop the oppression of women. We can, and we will, find the solidarity necessary to chart a new course for this new world community.

We are all related. We are interrelated. What happens to Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani happens to us. She is our neighbor. She is our sister. She is me. She is you.

Please do whatever you can to raise a ruckus so loud that no one will be able to say we were silent in the face of this barbaric treatment of this woman, and countless other women in the world.

Her children have pleaded with the world to help save her from this barbaric death.

Fellow blogger, Jessica Gottlieb, wrote an informative post here.

What you can do:

Tweet it.

@UN When will you intercede on behalf of #Ashtiani? http://bit.ly/bCeWGe”

Participate in TweetChat at: http://bit.ly/c5VBhA

Blog it.

Share it on Facebook.

Tell your family about her.

Tell your neighbors about her.

Tell the world about her.

Where you can write:

Below are email addresses that are starting points for public pressure that can make a big difference. You can compose your own email or use a suggested email format, like the ones below.

1. Email to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights: npillay@ohchr.org, with cc: to urgent-action@ohchr.org

Possible format:

Subject: Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights,

Body: In Iran a woman stands before execution by stoning, and the threat is imminent, according to her attorney. Her name is Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani. Her crime is to have committed adultery, according to the public charges against her. She has already been in jail since 2005 and been lashed 99 times. Under that extreme duress, she ‘confessed’ to this ‘crime’.

To execute people by stoning is a repulsive and appalling crime against humanity. I plead with you, Navi Pillay, to appeal to the Iranian Government, and condemn this barbaric death sentence.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter,

Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Sample letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross:

Send to: Florian Westphal (fwestphal@icrc.org) and Dorothea Krimitsas (dkrimitsas@icrc.org)

Suggested format:

Dear Ms. Westphal and Ms. Krimitsas,

I am writing to you with an urgent request that you intervene with the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who are preparing to execute by stoning Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani. Stoning is a barbaric form of torture and execution that should be outlawed worldwide. Multilateral organizations have thus far refused to step in. Your mandate encourages your organization to undertake the work of visiting prisoners in situations of internal violence, where the Geneva Conventions do not apply. I ask you to step in and demand a halt to these barbaric proceedings.

Sincerely,
[your name]

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Dig

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“When you go out next, take a look at the dirt at the side of the road. Blonde dirt, ochre red dirt, black dirt, brown dirt, yellow dirt, clay white dirt, green dirt. Then, look inside your house. Most everything in it came from the dirt first. Our Mother is everywhere: metal, plastic, paper, glass. Don’t tell me you have no ideas. Dig.”

~Tending the Creative Fire manuscript, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

IMG_0173

Last Thursday, I painted with Chris Zydel, (@wildheartqueen for you twitteraties).

Chris leads Process painting. Beautifully.

The Process began with picking my paint colors and brushes.

For me, this process was about digging. The painting I did didn’t come from the top of me. My head. It came from someplace deep down in the darkness, someplace where the paint flows like honey, like blood, like dirt…I guess that would be mud.

As Chris said right from the beginning, it’s not about the painting, it’s about the process, about what’s happening within you as you choose colors, choose brushes, face the white paper, become the conduit for seed to sprout from the dirt, and for the mystery to come to life as creation.

At the very root of it all, it’s a big mystery. I didn’t know what would come out on the paper. I don’t know what it is or even what it means. It just came out. It’s as simple as that.

I noticed, as I painted without a plan and without a story, that it was fun. I had fun simply watching it all happen. I felt playful as the color changed the paper from white to painted. It was spontaneous. Joyous. Innocent.

It was a lot like the painting I did as a child at pre-school, where long tables were made from saw horses and wood, long tables that held clean white butcher paper.

Back then, I just LOVED to see the paint flow onto the paper. That’s the part I remember most. The colors. The mixing. The colors mixing and turning the paper from white to painted to creation.

Sometimes, what is flowing wants my mind to join in, so the creation can have meaning, can be shared with words, can have a different kind of impact. Sometimes, there’s no invitation to the mind to join in. I like those times. They’re empty. Nothing here but dirt and digging.

I could try to make something up about what it means, but why?

Dirt is where it all comes from.

I just dig.

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The more truth, the more love.

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Your ability to feel love is directly proportional to your ability to tell the truth. The more truth, the more love. ~ John Gray

Telling the truth opens us up to something greater than us. It brings us into congruency with the truth of who we are. It brings us into alignment with the way things really are, right now, right here. This is where love is. Right now. Right here. Love, the stuff of God.

Telling the truth opens us up to the edge of that vast void, the huge unknown called the new.

The New. The Now. It’s all the same. It’s the edge of unfolding.

When we tell the truth, we open ourselves to the unknown. Rather than staying in our conditioned responses, which simply lead to more conditioned responses either by us or those we are responding to, the truth leads us right into the unknown.

This is one of the reasons we shy away from telling it. And, it’s why the truth is where we are most powerful as human beings. When we are in truth, we are in our authority, we are in our power. We are aligned with the creative force of the universe. This is where we are most in service to that which calls us to speak, be, and live truth.

We also shy away from telling it because feeling this amount of love can be frightening. Can we love ourselves this much to tell the truth completely? To speak the truth within takes great courage, and that is why the root of the word courage is cour, the French word for “heart.” It also takes love. And, it gives love. Truth telling takes heart and it gives love.

Yesterday’s post, Truth and Validation, generated some pretty awesome comments. As I read through them to begin to respond, I realized a conversation is occurring right here around this topic of truth and validation, of men and women, masculine and feminine, and what happens when we are validated, either back then, or now.

I began to write responses to each of you, but considering the elegance and intelligence in each comment, that seemed almost an impossibility. Instead, I felt a new post might be more fitting.

As you’ve noticed over the years my blog has been here, I write about living the question of what it is to be female. Sometimes, I write about how this culture devalues the feminine, while honoring the masculine. And, when I write ‘this culture’, I’m including myself. I, too, was conditioned to do this, and even today, I continue to find ways in which I still, unconsciously do so.

This devaluing of the feminine causes all of us – children, women, men, animals, the earth, all of life – suffering. We are being called to honor both the masculine and feminine, within ourselves and out there in the world. Coming into balance is the key…the sacred marriage.

AND, (this is definitely a time for both/and, rather than either/or) many women experience invalidation, simply because they were girls…and are women. From the time they are young, others in their life teach them life will be different for them because they are girls, rather than boys.

These two things are different. One is something we all experience that causes us all pain. The other is something women experience. Women are the embodiment of the feminine. In a culture that devalues the feminine, it makes sense that women would be devalued, too.

Stating this doesn’t mean men don’t experience their own suffering.

From the comments:

Strand Girl writes:

“I have consistently struggled with believing that I have the same authority as the men in my world seem to have…even when I know in my gut that something feels healthy for me or my kids, I “hiccup” and let those thoughts of self-doubt creep in.”

Dian remembers the day, and its events, that caused her to believe she would amount to nothing in her life:

“I can pinpoint the exact moment I began to believe I would amount to nothing in my life…the moment my grandfather told me it was so, and simply because I was not—am NOT—a man. Today, I am grateful for that fact, but it’s been a long and windy road, full of hiccups (yes, thank you for naming that part of the process!) and questioning.”

While many women don’t specifically see occurrences of being invalidated simply for our gender, many do.

What I have found to be so important as we move into deeper acceptances of our own worth, authority, and self-love is that we honor every woman’s experiences and insights. We give room for each truth to be so. A big ol’ fat Yes/And always helps, just like in improv.

The reason I created Unabashedly Female is just this: that many of us were taught being female is the last thing on earth one should want to be.

As Jeanne wrote:

“when i first met you and discovered your juicy blog, i was somewhat taken aback by the word “female.” “feminine” – i’m okay with that. comfortable. like it. but “female”? i put my arm out to create a little space between me and that word. see, somewhere alone the way, i came to believe that being female is undesirable, something to be embarrassed about, something to (constantly) apologize for. and to precede the word “female” with the word “unabashedly”????

when i think of all the things i did and said in an effort to be “just one of the guys”, i sag. when i think of the time i covered up every picture of every female in that teen magazine with the article about the popular male singing group – taped construction paper over the females – a teen magazine, i tell you. when i think of all the persisting back problems i caused by trying for so long to kiss my elbow because someone assured me that when i did, i would become a male.”

Things are changing:

As Rebecca wrote,

“Here’s the positive: we are coming together now to restore the balance…and when this happens, our world will be strikingly different. Exciting times! I am so thankful for each one of you who bravely steps forward in creating this change by reclaiming your own truth.”

and Karen wrote,

“BUT I feel a change a’comin’”.

things are changing, and it is an exciting time. We are beginning to see a shift in how we validate each other as women, and how the culture is beginning to validate us as well.

AND, it is of the utmost importance we don’t step over anything because we feel we don’t have the right to say it, or it feels like we’re complaining, or it feels like we’re being a victim. Shoving those things down only causes them to fester, harden, and get really crusty.

Once, after my late-husband died, a grief counselor told me that grief is like dirty dishes. Grief sits in the sink waiting to be washed. The longer it sits, the more crusty it gets. Those dishes don’t just walk away.

Grief around being invalidated for simply being a girl can feel devastating…so much so that we push down the feelings way into the body where they wait for the day to be felt. It’s like any other grief. The process is one of allowing its fullness to be felt, and in so doing, it passes on its way.

There is something profound that happens when we see clearly through an old fallacy. For me, the awakening of the sacred feminine within came after I was willing to be with the feelings of bad, sinful and dirty I felt simply because I was a girl.

As Renae wrote:

“I hope that means I can, I am, stepping more and more into my own authority, listening to my own heart, believing in the good at the core of me.”

As Ronna wrote:

“I ached as I read it – aware of my own loss; the many years (from childhood into my 40s, frankly) in which I could not and did not even know how to validate my own truth.

The road back, the journey into validation (and celebration) of my own truth has been arduous – but so worth it! To be able to stand in myself, on my own, strong, confident, assured, and in this know-that-I-know-that-I-know space brings me such rest, comfort, and relief.”

When we are willing to see everything as it is, our innate wisdom becomes available.

As Heather wrote,

“Suddenly it occurred to me that I had enough wisdom, after 13 years in management, to be able to trust the way that worked for ME, not just HR management.”

Heather let go of what she had been told to do, and simply allowed herself to act from her own wisdom. The results of her actions told her clearly just how much she knows within herself.

Sharing our stories with each other is so important. Having honest truth-telling conversations helps us all to re-cognize what it means to be female in our own experience, rather than through the filter of what we were told.

As Alana so wrote:

“The conversations that happen here are so FULL and feel transformative – like we all walk away thinking and feeling more deeply into ourselves. The women who come here, share here, are powerful forces of change, of truth, of love and compassion.”

Women are powerful forces of change, the kind of change our world is dying for.

The path to transformation is through our experiences, not in spite of them. Telling the truth about the ways we’ve been invalidated is not whining or playing the victim. Feeling into and moving through these experiences transform them into wisdom.

The more truth, the more love.

As I hope you can see, I so value the wisdom you write here on this blog in response to the words I share. You help me to deepen my understanding of what it is to be female. You help me to see the places I have blinders on. You help me to know I am not alone in this inner journey to wholeness.



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