Bone Knowing : Wisdom is Real

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Set the Night on Fire

 

The bones know. There is such a thing as bone knowing.

Not too long ago, I went to listen to a man give a talk on awakening and living truth. He’s wise and vibrantly alive. He spoke of not knowing, about how there is so much we really don’t know if we just allow ourselves to be honest with ourselves.

I’ve come to realize that what I’d been holding onto as truth was really just a belief system to help me manage the unknown. Not knowing can generate so much fear. We unwittingly develop a worldview stuffed with beliefs to manage the fear. Yet, when we feel into the nature of the unknown, really feel into it, it’s not so frightening. It’s actually really pregnant with possibility, with aliveness, with the divine. It is spacious and vibrant, a pulsing sea of love without conditions.

It’s funny how we want to put conditions on it, even though we crave and thirst for unconditional love!

During this man’s talk, and then follow-up question and answer session, as he spoke of not knowing, others began to speak to the feeling that they realize they don’t know anything. That’s not quite right – what I heard, was the recognition of a similar understanding, yet what I also heard was a disowning of things we do know. My ears perked up, because in my experience, while I do know this pregnant sea of possibility and silence, I also know that there are things I know, really know, deep in my bones. I could feel myself squirming as the discussion of not knowing kept going – in particular, when I heard this one woman speaking of not knowing and how she didn’t know what to trust.

Something in me had to speak. I had to speak about the wisdom of the bones. Something pushed me to speak.

So, I did. I raised my hand and said, “Yes, yes, I understand about the not-knowing. If I am truthful with myself, there is so much I don’t know. I really don’t know what is going to happen in the next minute, or in the next, or the next. My rational mind thinks it can know, and I can see it’s my mind’s way of thinking into the unknown. I get this.”

“And, there are some things I DO know, some things I know so deeply in my bones, things I just can feel and when I speak of them I feel the knowing so deep that it feels like it’s in the marrow. It’s the feminine knowing, the wisdom of Sophia. It’s a kind of knowing that runs so deep below the surface of things it could be easy to miss, and is easy to miss if I am not in my body. This river of knowing winds its way through my body – through the cells, the flesh, the blood and the bones. My bones know. They know. I know this. I know this wisdom. It is real and alive.”

Then, I asked him, “Can you speak to that?” I was asking him to expand on this idea with his wisdom. He looked at me and said, “I don’t need to. You just did.”

I realized, my bones had spoken. I knew this. I didn’t need anyone to help me understand what I already knew. He knew I knew. He honored this. He didn’t need to say anything. So lovely.

In my spiritual life and the experiences I have searched out in a almost-rabid attempt to ‘wake-up’, I’ve spent many hours, sometimes days, even weeks, attempting to lose myself in the attempt to know the numinous. Looking back, I know none of it has been in vain. In fact, questioning the worth of it is a bit silly, because it is what I’ve done and where I’ve been.

One thing I’ve discovered, though, is that no matter how often or much I experience this transcendent quality of the divine, I still end up back here, alive in this body called Julie. It’s taken me some time to want to be here. It used to be that so much of what I felt in my body was painful. There were so many old fears, wounds, and raw experiences that I just didn’t want to feel or remember. But, something in my life was missing, too. The everyday, seemingly mundane, things were calling to me. Life was calling to me to come back home to here, to the body, to the senses.

There is this Oneness, this vast emptiness and fullness, the transcendent. And, within this Oneness there is this real, human life. There is the spirit and there is matter. Bones know. Wisdom is real.

A woman’s spirituality is really centered in this humanness, this expression of humanity that is at the heart of a woman’s experience. It is of the body, the earth, the bones, and flesh and blood. To know this realm of wisdom, we have to come down into the cells that make up the body; we have to come down into the cells and feel.

Yes, we may find things we don’t want to feel, things that caused us to go up into the head to begin with. Yes, it isn’t just wonderful and light and flowers, but even the things we don’t want to feel are part of this very real gift that is life.

This is the doorway to healing. This is the door to the sacred. This is the doorway to the soul, to the wisdom of the bones. This is the doorway to joy, the joy of an embodied life. This is the doorway to living the numinous right here on earth, right here in these bones that know.

These bones are not separate from the numinous, luminous spirit. The sacred is bone. The sacred is blood. The sacred is flesh. The sacred is woman – all of her beautiful wild self, including the fire, including the fierce, including the, “Hell no, this is not okay and I won’t stand for it anymore.”

Trust the bones for very practical reasons. The bones will guide you as you maneuver through your day. They’ll guide you as you raise your children or birth your creations. They’ll help you navigate your relationship with your honey and make major life decisions. Yes, your rational mind has a purpose; and, when you bring it into right relationship with your bones, you’ll find it’s a powerful combination to guide you through life. It’s a good balance between your own masculine and feminine.

Trust this. Trust you. Trust the body. Trust your voice. Trust the bones as you speak your voice. In fact, let your bones speak. You’ll be amazed at what they know and share.

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This post was originally shared here as part of the Fall Tribe, ’12, for Roots of She.

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Creation and the Bedroom

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Today, Wild Writing took me here. The poem that ignited this piece was ‘Domestic’ by Deborah Landau. Catalyst phrases from the poem by Deborah Landau are in pink.

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I like the bedroom man.
Take me to the door.
Take me.

Something longs inside me. Or is it something calls to me from inside? A longing that is sensuous in its flavor.

When I follow, I land down somewhere in my sacral bowl, sacral for sacred because it is so. The landing is clear and simple, but the way to getting there is anything but.

Down in this bowl where darkness reigns, there is a sweet intoxication, lover and beloved wrapped around each other, not even close to the clump of matter I used to think existed in this place inside my body.

Dakrness as in creation, not as in the many ways we sometimes see this place in a woman’s body.
Creation. A bowl. Ingredients stirred. Something grows.

Banana blossom

* I’m thinking about the orchard, how each morning I’d take my basket and wind my way down to the first tree along the path. Bright yellow bumpy lemons. Not once did She drop one for me to gather. I shook her, yet there was no letting go. Next, avocado and mangos. After the wild winds, the avocados, bigger than my two fists together, would lie waiting for me, sometimes with rat gnashes all around one end. Bananas. Papayas. Nonis.

The citrus trees showed me something. I will never forget. Limes, lemons, grapefruits, and oranges of all sizes and shapes, colors and textures; except for the limes, it was hard to tell what was what. And even then, the limes weren’t always green.

One grapefruit in particular taught me how we can be so many colors and not one at all. Pink, green, orange, yellow, and red spread out around its weighty sphere. I relished how She paints the canvas of her creation. I cried at how she holds on until we are ready to be birthed, picked up, appreciated, held, then eaten and enjoyed. Such intricate and supremely intelligent beauty She creates.

* A few hours later, after my harvest in the orchard, just on the edge of town, I drive by the uber-uniformed rows of corn plants, so closely planted there is no room for the wild wind to shake them.

Exactly the same height.
Exactly the same width.
Exactly the same.
Places please.

A cold shiver runs through me as I witness the raping of Mother Nature.

There is no surprise, no collage of color, no bumpy skin, no gangley, gnarly diversity.

There is only same.

Uniformed acquiescence created by the man who knows nothing of the bedroom.

I weep. We are out of order but not broken.

::

 * My first shared words from my recent time on Molokai.

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Patriarchy vs Love: Time for Men to RISE

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I came across this post today and my heart broke open. I began to cry. I read them again, and I began to weep. I was taken aback by the intensity of feeling. I had no idea I would feel so seen, so understood, so hopeful upon hearing words such as these for the first time in my life from men I’d never met. The chains are breaking.

What I love about this post, is that it happened spontaneously, on the street, between two men who were strangers. And, as they spoke of what was happening, they expressed such grief and love, and wondered how they could change it. Then, they went on their way.

I wrote to the author, Dan Mahle, and asked if I could share the post here with you. He said, Yes.

This post was  originally published at Change From Within, by Jamie Utt, Dan’s friend. Here we go…

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Dan Mahle at the 1 Billion Rising event in Seattle, WA

This week’s post comes from a dear friend.

Dan Mahle is a program coordinator, facilitator, and community builder living in Seattle, WA. He received his B.A. in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in 2008. He has been involved in a variety of non-profit organizations since then, including several youth programs that he helped to launch. His personal mission is to support people in uniting across lines of difference to identify common values & goals, build culture & community resilience, and share powerful stories through creative expression. When he’s not working, he can be found running, hiking, writing music, and eating tasty bowls of cereal late at night.

 

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One Conversation: A Call to Men

I had an incredible conversation with a complete stranger today. He was an older guy who happened to stop by the 1 Billion Rising local event that took place in downtown Seattle. As I was walking toward the small crowd of mostly women who were holding signs and dancing, he stopped me with a loud, “Hey, what is this ‘1 Billion Rising’ thing?”

When I told him that it was a global movement to end violence against women, launched by Vagina Monologues playwright, Eve Ensler, his voice softened and his eyes darted away.

He started telling me about how violence had affected so many of the women in his life. He began tearing up as he shared that most of the women he loves have been victims of sexual assault and/or abuse. He recalled spending 15 years with his ex-wife who, despite endless medications, could not overcome the depression she felt ever since the day she was sexually assaulted. I could see the hurt and sadness in his face as he told me that he couldn’t find any way to help her. His mother, he said, had also been a survivor.

Suddenly staring firmly at me, he said, “Women shouldn’t be treated this way. They are the life-givers; we owe everything to them.” He was visibly shaken.

I looked back at him and asked, “So what can we, as men, do to begin to transform this culture of violence against women?”

We talked about how important it would be for more men to have honest conversations about patriarchy and its countless negative impacts on us and on the women in our lives. Both of us acknowledged, though, that these kinds of safe spaces for male emotional expression are few and far between.

I gave him a hug and he said, “I love you, man.” We had met just 5 minutes before, but the moment of solidarity and healing that we shared in that short space was profound.

It got me thinking: Why don’t we, as men, seek out more spaces for truthful sharing about our feelings and our experiences with patriarchy? Why don’t we talk about violence against women, about sexism, and about rape culture? The ‘1 Billion Rising’ movement is based on a single, chilling statistic: One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

That’s 1 billion women worldwide. How can we say that we love the women in our lives, even as we are perpetuating (consciously or unconsciously) a culture of violence against them?” Every day that we are silent, the cycle of violence continues.

The Cost of Patriarchy

This is where shame often comes in. I’ve known it by many names: frustration, defensiveness, anger, aggression, rage, a need for control, etc. But it all comes back to shame. It all comes back to some deep-seated feeling of unworthiness that keeps us from meeting our most fundamental human need: the need to feel loved.

While women in our society are taught that their worth depends on their physical beauty, men are taught that our worth depends upon our performance, our control, our accomplishments. At some point, like so many women, many of us realize that we will never be able to fulfil the expectations placed on us. But instead of questioning the patriarchal culture that has burdened us with these perverse and insatiable demands, we come to believe that who we are is not good enough.

In an effort to avoid feelings of vulnerability, we methodically replace emotional expression with emotional numbness. And so, in our disconnection from self and others, we unlearn what it means to truly love.

As bell hooks puts it in her book, The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, “The reality is that men are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, ‘Please do not tell us what you feel.’”

When we forget what it means to love, we often desperately search for cheap replacements: we work long hours at work in an attempt to receive praise and recognition; we watch porn or buy prostitutes in a distorted attempt to feel loved and sexually fulfilled; we buy an endless number of things in an attempt to fill the painful void of loneliness within. Until we, as men, face our fear of vulnerability and begin telling each other what we feel, nothing will change.

Right now, there is a powerful, growing movement of women who are rising up all around the world to demand an end to violence. This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love. It is an invitation to all people to transform the dominant culture from a culture of violence to a culture of love, starting from within our own hearts. We owe it to all women to stand beside them as they say “enough is enough!” We owe it to ourselves to finally invite love, in all of its fullness, back into our lives.

Learn more about 1 Billion Rising here.

::

“This movement is a struggle for equality, but it is also a call back to love.”

Blessings to you, Dan. I bow.

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A tsunami doesn’t just stop when the clock strikes midnight!

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Now what?

One Billion Rising is over. And, it has just begun.

I first joined One Billion Rising about a year ago. The day, Feb 14, 2013, seemed so far off. Yet, the vision pulled me in. One Billion women rising. I wondered how that would shift things. I wondered how that would change the feeling on the planet, in our cities, in our hearts.

Altar by Stacey Butcher

Last night, I co-led a beautiful event with Stacey Butcher, a teacher of 5Rhythms. Stacey created a gorgeous dance wave and she led us through it with love and grace. Kim Rosen, a well known spoken-word artist, and a personal friend of Eve Ensler’s, shared two spoken-word treasures that lit a fire in us before we moved into the dance. And, for the last song of the wave, Christine Hodil sang a beautiful song that we all joined in on at the end. Our hearts were opened, moved, fired-up, and lullabied. We were the one billion, and we danced for the one billion. And, there were so many men present, who danced alongside of us, who danced for the women they love, and for the women they don’t even know who continue to face abuse, violence, and harassment.

 

It is jarring to be in a beautiful event such as this, to open our hearts, to invite in the possibility for a world that is different, and then to step back into what seems to be the same old world.

What I do know, now, after witnessing so many women and men across the planet rising and dancing by way of live-streaming and the internet, is that this is no longer the same old world. While on the outside it may look that way, on the inside we are changed. We’ve cracked open the cage. We know something different now. We’ve experienced the fire and joy and creativity that comes when we dance, and come together, and rise.

One Billion Rising IS a new way of life. It’s a new way of being. It’s living unabashedly the fullness of our womanhood.

In practical terms? It’s about allowing out all the parts of ourselves we keep hidden for fear of being abused and harassed.

Our patriarchal conditioning keeps an essential aspect of us locked up in an internal prison…the aspect that is the most powerful and enlivening for our souls. This aspect is nourishing and healing. It is our instinctual, sexual self, that when expressed brings forth playfulness, joy, passion, creativity, and a good dose of fire. It is not easily controllable, meaning our own internal conditioning has to work really hard to control it. It gets exhausting.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you!?

We’ve internalized the oppressor, so we continue the oppression against ourselves, along with the fear of oppression from outside. Eve Ensler so wisely saw that we have to break the chains ourselves, we have to break out of the cage we keep ourselves in, and dancing is a beautiful way to free this instinctive erotic nature that is both organic to our souls and a sacred aspect of life.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate, that the erotic as it is understood in the current paradigm, is simply a small thin slice of what it truly is. When I shared my thoughts with one man I know and used the word erotic, his response? “That’s porn.” This is what we’ve been conditioned to think eros and the erotic are.

Yet, what the erotic is is a beautiful aspect of life, this aspect that is at the heart of our creative, sensual, sexual, joyful, and loving natures. And because it is at the heart of creativity and embodied love, it is also the channel that will bring about lasting change, and deep nourishment to a world that has been out of balance for far too long.

And, it is exactly what our world hungers for just as it is what we hunger for. How could it be otherwise?

Life is wholeness. When we pretend we aren’t whole, we aren’t really fully living. 

To dance is to unleash joy.

To dance is to step back into the flow, to move that which has been stuck. 

To dance is also to reawaken our natural relationship to the body, to music, to rhythm, and to the beat of the drum, the beat of our blood pressure, the beat of our hearts.

One Billion Rising is “unleashing a feminist tsunami, an energetic rearrangement of our universal chemistry. the biggest volunteer action maybe ever of women across the planet, a seismic collective remembering of who we are, a calling back of our authenticity, a world dance shaking up our original energy and wisdom.” ~ Eve Ensler

 

So what do I now know that I didn’t know before yesterday, V-Day 2013?

I know that we can come together as women to reawaken our wisdom and nature.

I know that we are hungering to rekindle the fire of our erotic nature.

I know that many men all around us want us to do this. They know they cannot. And they know that it is in all of our best interests to do so.

I know that many women fear this aspect, along with many men. And, I know we have the courage to dance through this fear for the sake of life itself.

I know that dance is sacred, that our bodies are sacred, and that it is up to us to embody this truth.

I know that women have something important to do in this new era that men cannot do and it is time we do it.

I know we’ve stepped through a threshold and we cannot turn back.

I know that women across this planet can come together to rise in service to each other, and to all of life.

I know this. We’ve witnessed it. I felt it last night. I feel it today. I feel it right now.

Margaret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

If a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world, just imagine what a feminist tsunami of a billion women and men dancing can do. Imagine it. Feel it in your bones. Pray it. Dance it. Paint it. Sing it.

A tsunami doesn’t just stop when the clock strikes midnight!

Take your sisters and brothers by hand and step across the threshold into this new land. And, keep dancing. We must be committed to dancing. We are in this together. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know! 

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I’m putting together the pieces I read last night, along with a little something else, into a complimentary ebook for my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to receive it, be sure to sign up for my newsletter in the top right corner of the page. When it is ready, I’ll send it your way.

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Here’s the One Billion Rising video from San Francisco. It’s hard to see me, but I’m there. I love seeing myself dancing. I’m so serious here, so passionate. It’s a lovely thing when you FINALLY accept your intensity is a beautiful thing.

 

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Dance to Break the Chain

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On Sat Jan 26, I participated in a flash mob for One Billion Rising. If you don’t yet know what this is, take a peek here. Short version – it’s Eve Ensler’s vision to have one billion women strike, dance, and rise to end global violence against women. One in three women on this earth will be sexually abused or beaten in her lifetime. One in three. Think about the women in your life. Out of every three, one will have to endure this violence. And, you might even be that one in three. I am.

At this time, 190 out of the world’s 193 countries plan to participate.

You probably all know what a flash mob is. This was not really a flash, but still a mob…about three hundred of us. We gathered downtown, across the street from the Ferry building, and right near San Francisco’s financial district. We were there to perform the dance that Debby Allen choreographed for One Billion Rising to the song, Break the Chain.

Many women and men volunteered their time to help teach, to organize, to set-up, and to ultimately help to put on this day, as well as the other four performances to be held in the next month or so around the San Francisco bay area.

On V-Day, always held on Feb 14, VDay, we will gather again, this time at the Civic Center in San Francisco to do the same dance, and in the evening in Fairfax to dance a 5Rhythms wave – all to strike, dance and rise, in support of ending global violence against women.

On this day, though, I was deeply moved by what I experienced dancing to rise up, in solidarity, to this violence, and to the complacency so many of us seem to have to the kind of culture that breeds it. I’m a dancer. I love the dance. I’ve been dancing for over ten years, now, and lately many of my friends from the coaching world have begun dancing, too. Friends I have known for these ten years danced alongside me.

On this day, the dance was holy – holy moments of dancing with 300 other women and men; holy moments literally dancing to Break the Chain, as well as metaphorically to break the chain; holy moments dancing with my whole body and whole heart for everyone who cannot dance, everyone who is not free.

My friend, Amrit Rai, and her husband Larry came to the city to watch the dance. They are both part of my dance community. I spoke with Amrit after the dance, and she shared her experience of watching. She spoke of the depth of feeling that she witnessed as we danced. Her words pointed to something very similar to what I felt dancing, yet she wasn’t dancing. I asked her to share them here:

 

“When Larry and I first arrived I felt immediately uplifted as the collective field that was forming was one of inclusion and joy. The thought of witnessing a herstoric, dancing event in the financial district environment had me curious. On getting there we were immediately whisked onto the stairs by a couple of women in the crowd. We had the perfect view overlooking the center area where the dancers were starting to gather.

The most moving thing to me was seeing so many familiar faces from the dance community and to see a united moving body– moving together on behalf of women’s rights and freedom.

The dancers and group energy field was infused with heart — I couldn’t help from clapping and singing in solidarity.

I noticed that the dancers were the most moved of everyone in the crowd. Tears, expressions of awe and reverence were visible in their faces and palpable.

My sense of it was that it is important to be a direct participant in such a movement– that the actual embodiment itself makes a deeper commitment to what it is we are standing for, or rather dancing for – being a participant is at the core of the change.

I am happy that the collective WE is bringing light to such basic issues using such potent healing modalities, LOVE and UNITY– so much more energetically potent than protesting, and the embodiment piece is brilliant– wisdom in action!

Resonance informed transformation. Infectious and unifying! I loved it!

I left there with true hope in my belly for a loving and humane world. One in which life is celebrated and every being feels a deep sense of belonging.

 

When we act from our deepest desires, and from our own internal knowing, a powerful force is unleashed.
When our action is grounded in something we truly love, as it is here in the dance for me and for so many of the people in the dance community I am so lucky to be a part of, joy is also released, joy married with a desire to serve healing and life.

Our denial can be great; I know mine is. For me, denial is a many-layered thing. Denial creates a fog that makes it easy to continue functioning in the day-to-day, all the while underneath it we know we are not listening to our hearts, and we are not taking responsibility for the wellbeing of life. When we get into the body and feel, we can no longer deny what is true. The body moves toward life, toward love. The body moves toward healing.

On Feb 14th, VDay, we all can rise. Just think of the shift on our planet when One Billion women (and the men who will take the step forward to dance alongside of us, knowing that violence against women is not just a women’s problem) dance for liberation, dance for the end of the status quo, dance for freedom from violence for everyone, the entire planet will feel it. Think of the joy we will release through our feet, feet that connect with the earth. The earth needs to know joy, too.

Amrit is right: To embody this movement of rising, this movement of solidarity between women and men, this movement of love is an incredible experience. To feel it in your cells, to engage the body in dance, in music and joy, is to bring one’s whole self to stand for change.

What I noticed was that I wasn’t fighting against, but rather I was dancing for a new dawn, a new day. Dancing with my dancing friends, with such beautiful music and moves, for freedom from violence amidst the tall buildings of San Francisco’s financial district was surreal. It was as if two worlds were colliding for me. Dance is something that I do where most of the rest of the world doesn’t see it. To bring so much love and passion out into the street taught me something. It taught me that dance must no longer stay separate form the rest of my life. What I experience on the dance floor is holy. And what I experience dancing out in Justin Herman Plaza was holy. Dance is holy joy.

In the evening of Feb 14th, on V-day, Stacey Butcher and I will be hosting a 5Rhythms wave in Fairfax, a small town in Marin. Kim Rosen, a poet, will also join us sharing some of her spoken word poetry. It will be a joyous rising up, a striking for justice and love. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please join us. You can sign-up here.

Silence is no longer an option.

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Break the Chain Lyrics

Lyrics by Tena Clark
Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz

I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray
I’m not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door
Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise

I can see a world where we all live
Safe and free from all oppression
No more rape or incest, or abuse
Women are not a possession

You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me
I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful
I feel my heart for the first time racing
I feel alive, I feel so amazing

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

In the middle of this madness, we will stand I know there is a better world
Take your sisters & your brothers by the hand
Reach out to every woman & girl
This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
It’s time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Dance Break Inst.

Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4

Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4

This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Strike | Dance | Rise

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