Love in a Time of Personal Power

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Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

 

“We have put the value of love — of life, self, and others, — in combative opposition to the value of personal empowerment. In actuality, these two values should be more like the Eastern concepts of Yang and Yin, which are not combative. Rather, they compliment each other as opposites while retaining their own identities, reaching toward a universal harmony. Love needs empowerment to have strength and substance, and empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.”
— Massimilla Harris and Bud Harris (Into the Heart of the Feminine)

 

I grew up during the second wave of Feminism. I remember those years of women fighting for equality. And, I remember how they were treated for wanting equality.

Looking back now, I see that the call was for equality but not really for love for all of life, for justice for all, for the leveling out of the playing field for all.

It’s clear the feminine (as she appears in all human beings and in all of life) has been missing when we see the ways in which the power structures and institutions of our western culture values some lives more than others. When we discriminate against some lives and not others, when we commodify lives, when we don’t provide safety and care for all lives, we are witnessing the lack of the feminine in our institutional, systemic, and individual behavior.

Over the past two decades, many of us have found ourselves on this deep reclamation of the feminine.

She called and many of us answered, not really knowing what that meant.

The feminine (yin) can only be known in relation to the masculine (yang), and the masculine only known in relation to the feminine. In Chinese Medicine, this relational dynamic is understood as an elemental way of seeing and knowing life. Everything is related and nothing truly stands on its own. So when I speak of the feminine, I speak from this perspective. I am not speaking of women and men, but rather the energies of yin and yang.

The feminine is dark as related to the light. The feminine is moist as related to dryness. The feminine is non-linear as related to linearity. These aren’t moral leanings. They describe life and all life entails, including death.

The feminine is the mystery. She doesn’t reveal herself in clearly defined ways. Instead, she reveals herself through symbol, intuition, dreams, and the deep imagination of the inner world. But, the feminine has been revealing herself back into the world of form and we’ve begun to see the world in new ways. We’ve come to see how the feminine appears in this world.

We have so far to go to truly hold all of life as sacred, worthy, and equal. I believe one of the reasons we have not done so is that we don’t know the feminine. We don’t clearly see her. And, because we don’t see her clearly in relation to the masculine, which has had a greater presence in our world, we don’t see that the nature of life itself is to live not for itself but for the whole.

This is how the feminine moves in all of us — not hierarchically, but relationally. The feminine cares for life — all of life. Not some life. And not just life that is commodifiable. She cares for all of life equally.

The feminine is Eros. And Eros is love. Eros nurtures the impulse to live. And the living of Eros moves in such a way to ensure the preservation of the human species.

But the feminine is not moving within all of us because we haven’t become conscious of how she is within us. And we become conscious of how she is within us when we come to see what is hidden within us when we find the courage to face that which we haven’t wanted to see. When we do this, our hearts can break open. Our compassion can flow. And, our love can pour forth.

We can come to remember our wholeness.

While we’ve been seeking empowerment and equality, this twin ‘value of love’ has not been championed in the same way.

“We are liberating our empowerment, yet at the same time, we are denying our inherent abilities to like, nourish, and take loving care of ourselves and to make the love of ourselves, others, and life the dominant value we try to live by.”
– Massimillia Harris & Bud Harris

We want to be equal to men. We want to be empowered. But to what end?

Ultimately, it must be for the love of all things, all beings, all of life. For this is the nature of the feminine. She does not discriminate. She does not exclude. She does not favor one child over another.

Empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.

What does empowerment do for us and the mess we find ourselves in if we aren’t caring for all beings if we aren’t using this power to liberate all of life from the effects of our out of balance, hyper-masculine western culture, exemplified by racism and white supremacy? The feminine does not hold any aspect of life supreme over any other, any expression of life over any other, any incarnation of life over any other.

Yes! Love truly “needs empowerment to have strength and substance.”

We must do what it takes to free the Love within ourselves, otherwise, we are still stuck in the old paradigm of ‘what’s in it for me’ where there is little true value offered to the whole of life through our work. And when we do free ourselves, we then have the strength and substance to bring Love to the forefront of our work in the world.

When we face all of the intense conditioning within us — everything that feels so hard to face and own — we often feel guilt and shame when we finally do. But here’s the thing. It is through feeling these very things that love frees up within us. When we truly stay with everything that comes to call on us, asking for us to face it, our hearts can open to the life that is here — to all of life, not just some of it.

This is how we do the deeper work we must do. We do what is ours to do. We face what is within us so that our hearts can do what our hearts know is true to do. This is how Love moves.

And for those of us who’ve said yes to Love and have been uncomfortable saying yes to power, myself included, it is time to bring these two together. Power-over, how we see power playing out in our world, is a zero-sum game. But power born of love is power-from-within, and this power is the expression of our deepest being into the world. It is our life force. It is Soul born from the deep Love that moves all things. It is generative. It is inviting. It is intelligent in the way of Life.

It can be frightening to live our power when our true power has been suppressed. We’ve feared our power for suppressed power fears harming others. We know somewhere that if we unleash it, it can be harmful. Yet, by not addressing it, we harm, too. Our true strength and power are of life itself. When we come to trust life itself, we come to trust that which flows through us and that which flows through all — the Source of life itself.

We cannot have true empowerment without having the conscious understanding that we are given our lives as a gift, that all of life is of equal value, worth, and beauty, and that we are here to serve the continuation of life itself. When we are willing to see what is standing in the way of this knowing and willing to do the work to dismantle it, I sense we will be able to live for life itself and to live life as the gift that it is.

Again, the feminine is the mystery. When we sit in what we don’t yet know and are unwilling to face what we must feel in order to know it, we’ll suffer and cause suffering. Everything is conspiring for us to end this suffering and liberate ourselves and the whole.

Originally published at JulieDaley.com

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The Honor of Living Her

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I’m sharing something pretty personal here, but it feels important to write about this.

My entire journey of writing at Unabashedly Female has been to document and share my journey of awakening the feminine principle within myself. I didn’t really know what I was doing in the beginning — I just followed my instinct. But what I did know from the beginning was that I was to write about my own journey rather than blogging about things that would teach you, my readers, things. Now I truly know that this IS how we learn — by sharing with each other our own experiences. And we only learn it if we share the truth with each other.

Last summer, I reworked my website, JulieDaley.com. I decided that it was time to use my name rather than Unabashedly Female and that the revised site should in some way bridge the two different types of work I do — one around the awakening feminine, the other around creativity and leadership in organizations and in the world at large. At this time, I started to post less often here, as you probably noticed.

This decision had something deeper behind it that I didn’t fully see at the time. It is this deeper thing that I want to share here. But first…

My journey into the feminine began decades ago…or I imagine lifetimes ago, really. I know I was aware when I was young and then I took on the head trip that I saw going on around me. I disconnected from the joy and love that I knew was in my heart, from my own soul. It’s what we do.

But then my husband died suddenly. That sent me into great grief and a glimmer of a longing that had been showing itself in slight glimpses to me throughout my life began to grow stronger. I began to follow this longing to know something that I had no clear conscious remembrance of but knew somewhere deep in my bones.

I don’t really remember the moment when I realized it was the feminine. I suppose it doesn’t matter, really. I do remember, though, the moment my journey deepened into the journey of Eros, which IS the feminine principle according to Carl Jung.

But what I want to share here is how hard it has been to accept the feminine within me. To not judge or criticize the feminine within me. It has been so unconscious, and only recently have I come to see how deeply I have the conditioned inclination to distrust, to denigrate, to disown the aspects of the feminine that are truly beautiful and exactly what we need to embody in these times of challenge. When I saw this over this past few weeks, I began to feel so bad about doing this, but then realized, of course, that would just double up on the judgment. Instead, I have been actively sitting with the critical judge within. And it is SO critical of the feminine.

I find this amazing. That I have worked so hard to awaken to and embody the feminine. That I find these aspects within myself so incredibly beautiful. What has been hard to do is stand for what she is. There are great forces – in both men and women – who still do not value the feminine, and now I see how deeply this is ingrained.

Perhaps this is why it has been so hard for me, and perhaps for you, too – so that we can truly have compassion for all of us – both women and men – as we do what it takes to begin to stand firm in our love for her and for all of life.

I came to the realization that my trying to bridge two worlds was a way to NOT bring the fullness of the feminine that lies within me forth into my work. She is at the heart of my work. I was hedging, hesitating.  I see, now, that it is up to me to do my best to make it accessible and understandable to people who truly are hungry for this work, and people who hold these judgments as well.

What matters is that I bring forth what is within me because, as it is written in the Gospel of Thomas,

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” 

And not bringing this forth has begun to destroy me in ways that I had not seen, but now do.

I’m sharing it here because I know I am not alone. The deep feminine is showing herself in so many of us, if not all of us in some way. It is so easy to fall into the cultural, patriarchal trap of denigrating the feminine within ourselves.

I worked hard for decades doing deep spiritual work to awaken to her. It is crazy how strong the fear of living Her can be. The feminine is needed as she is, not as we wish her to be or as we wish we were to be. She is needed through us as she is and as we are.

It is an honor. I feel a newfound dignity within me, a newfound determination to live what is within me and what I worked so hard to awaken to.

Will you join me? Or perhaps I am joining you!

Either way, we emerge together, embodying and honoring, Her.

One more thing. I am mostly blogging now on my other site, JulieDaley.com and will now be writing more of what I wrote here. For now, I will leave this site here and perhaps occasionally post. I am not sure what to do with the postings here. They are a beautiful archive of many years of my life and my journey. If you have any ideas, let me know. If you receive these posts by email, you’ll be added to my new list since now the content will be similar.

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We are living, breathing creatures who long to voice our aliveness.

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In these times, our voices are needed.

Clear. Real. As they are. No embellishment. Just pure heart and soul spoke aloud. You don’t need to know what the words are or what they will be. What matters is trusting the connection between soul and voice. Opening the channel between soul and voice. Your soul is unique and so then is your voice. There is no perfection. There is real and honest and true. And this is what pours forth when you trust self, soul, and you find the willingness to be this channel.

There is no perfection. Don’t wait for perfection. There is none. To be human is to be flawed. If you wait for the perfect words, the perfect understanding, the perfect place, you’ll be waiting forever.

The real can only come from within.

That’s why we don’t speak what is real. We think it must be perfect and so we wait indefinitely. While all along there is an insistence trying to be heard. Insistent impulse. Insistent fire. Insistent truth trying to get free.

We also don’t speak what is real because there are so many voices out there telling us what is real and we’ve been well-trained to look outside of ourselves for people to guide us to the real. But the real can only come from within.

And we don’t speak what is real for fear of others’ discomfort and their subsequent judgment directed back at us because they are uncomfortable. But discomfort can bring change, necessary change. Discomfort is growth. And it is not up to us to control others’ experience. What we’re really trying to control is our own discomfort, our own growth.

Real does not equal perfection.

Real does not equal easily digestible words and feelings for others. And real does not equal easily digestible words and feelings for ourselves. Sometimes the act of bringing forth soul is a deeply uncomfortable experience because we become aware of places within us we’ve tried so hard to pretend do not exist. By being the channel we open ourselves to the real of much more than who and what we believe ourselves to be.

I don’t think life is meant to be easy. I feel life is meant to be the continual process of becoming real, of coming to know what it means to be alive. And there is no perfection in aliveness. We are not machines. We are not ideals. We are living, breathing creatures who long to feel and voice our aliveness.

The voice is so much more than simply speaking. It is the gateway to soul pouring forth into the world. Through a person’s voice, we can catch a glimpse of the sacred making itself known.

Words can be used many ways. Use them in service of love and justice, joy and community.

Use them in service to your own coming alive. What is alive in you is the same thing that is alive in me and in all beings. We won’t heal what we need to heal as a species without accessing the realms of soul.

It is through your aliveness that we all will be set free.

***

 

Writing Raw is now open for registration!

IMG_9002Writing Raw is just this: opening the channel and strengthening your trust in what insists on pouring forth.

You might never feel ready, but the insistence to pour forth is real.

Come join us. Every circle is steeped in deep love. We enter the realm of the soul. We enter realms you’ve sensed are there.

Each woman brings something that could never be brought through any other channel.

We enter the realm of the soul. Nothing will change from anything less.

Read more here: www.juliedaley.com/writing-raw

 

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Beautifully Intertwined: the Call to Return Home and the Call to Become.

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At this point in my life,

I realize I am not who I once was. Age-wise, body-wise, that’s pretty clear. But what has become really clear is realizing I am not who I continue to believe I am.

Or perhaps what is truer is that I am not who I continue to believe I once told myself I was.

Let me break it down.

Since 1995 when my husband died suddenly, and if I am truthful beginning way before that in a much more subtle way, I’ve been searching for something. Searching spiritually. Searching emotionally. Searching intellectually. Searching soulfully. A whole lot of searching following a deep, deep longing within me to get somewhere, to become someone, to know something. To arrive…

I’ve come a long way. I am not the same person I was when I began. The search has taken me places. Places of insights and understanding. Places of connection to others, to life, and to the earth that I could never have dreamed would happen ahead of time. I feel more grounded and aware than I have ever before. But I realized this morning that I’ve never truly stopped to acknowledge who I have become…or perhaps better said, the growth and expansion I have come to see reflected in my sense of who I truly am…when I am awake and aware to who I truly am.

This is the expansion and growth of the soul.

Up until this point,

I’ve known that the search many of us go on is a ‘going home’, a return to a wholeness that we’ve always ‘been’ but had to slice apart in our psyche in order to survive.  We sliced apart and then hid the pieces that didn’t seem to be acceptable to those who were responsible for keeping us safe.

But on this path of remembering these lost aspects of self, we are also expanding and becoming. Returning and expansion. Remembrance and becoming.

We long to remember and we come to grow.

Let’s break it down further…

There’s a part of us that doesn’t want to get what it says it wants to get. A part that stays in the search. A part that believes there is a big empty hole inside, a sense of not enoughness, a sense of something lacking or missing. And even though this part, this aspect of the psyche, believes it wants to reach what it is searching for because then it will feel whole and enough, whatever it realizes and attains is never enough BECAUSE this part grew out of the belief of lack, out of the belief of not enoughness and woundedness.

The core of its identity IS the belief of lack or unworthiness or not-enoughness or even deep self-loathing.

This part of the psyche grew out of a sense of something missing. But it also has an argument with what it believes to be true – that it is not enough. This part argues for lack and against lack. It believes and it argues all at the same time.

The argument the part has IS wise. It knows something. That’s why when I work with clients I NEVER make the resistance wrong. We stop. We come closer to it. We listen and learn so that it can be liberated.

This part isn’t logical and it is dysfunctional in the way it is attempting to function. In a very basic way, this part (many parts really) is the ego structure. Because it identifies with lack and unworthiness, it doesn’t want to receive and take in anything that contradicts its identity, otherwise, it’s argument will no longer be viable and if the argument is no longer viable then it will cease to be relevant, cease to exist. This relevance to itself is important. It’s what keeps us in the cycle of behaviors that do not serve us. It keeps us believing we are something we are not. It keeps us safe in the way it needs to feel safe.

But here is what I just realized. This part, while it keeps us searching, also keeps us from acknowledging our own expansion and becoming.

This is key!

When we acknowledge how much we have grown and that we have become a fuller and richer soul through our growth, we align our identity, and therefore our choices and actions, with who and what we are growing into. And as we grow into this becoming of the soul, we flow toward a richer and fuller experience of life in this human body.

And so even as the ego self continues believing in its own lack and argument with life, if we desire expansion and move toward that expansion by moving with life in a way that grows us, we become more human which grows the soul. They can, and do, happen simultaneously.

We are not who we continue to believe we once told ourselves we were.

Beautifully intertwined, this searching IS both the call to return home and the call to become; both, together.  

***

I have coaching spots open and I would love to have 30 minutes of your time to see if you and I would work well together as client and coach. If you’d like the same, please connect with me here at JulieDaley.com to schedule a session. Trust me, you’ll find value in our time together.

 

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Living the Feminine

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Much has been written about the return of the feminine.

But what does that mean? Practically speaking, how does this actually show up in our world today?

I used to think that somehow the feminine was missing, but what is true is that the feminine has been hidden. Because of the frightening ways women who seemed threatening to the dominant paradigm were treated over the last many hundred years, we learned to suppress those aspects of our nature that were labeled as dangerous and bad. We came to hide our knowledge of healing, our relationship to the earth, our tenderness and hearts – namely many of the ways women are naturally powerful. We learned to hide our internal knowing, our intuition, and instincts. We hid our deep love for the earth and nature, and our relationship to all of life.

 

We women hid that which scared those in power in the dominant paradigm. And men learned to hide things, too.

Now, she is rising. Appearing again. Making herself known. But how? How does she show herself?

She is becoming known in all of us who feel the call to go within, to listen to the inner voice and open to the inner life. She is becoming known again through the awakening of intuition and instinct, through the healing of trauma, and through the attention and love we are now learning to give to our bodies. And she is becoming knowable through the ways we are called to care for each other and for our planet, through the call for justice for all people, through the ways we now see we are a global village.

She is rising through those of us who are not afraid to live the qualities of the feminine and to voice and express her and how she moves. We see her when we are courageous enough to speak and create through her, offering her aspects into the world.

She wasn’t hidden in all peoples. Not completely. Many indigenous cultures and non-dominant peoples stayed closer to her for they kept touch with ceremony, relationship, and medicine. They kept touch with earth wisdom.

 

Last November after the election,

I realized that many of us fear to show what we know, and what we’ve remembered of the feminine within. We fear to embody her. But it is up to us ‘everyday people’ who know her and now realize that she is rising within us and asking us to live her presence into the world.

Yes, it can be frightening to show her to the world through us, through what we speak and write, and through how we are with the earth and nature, with other women. It’s in our cells to be afraid. There were too many burnings to not affect multiple generations down the line.

In response to the normalization of anger, hatred, racism, and misogyny after the election, I felt a deep desire and calling to speak what I know of the feminine through my own experience. So, I began to write and share the deeper nature of eros, the vibrant and sensuous aspects of love, that have become so much of my own lived experience as she has come to move through me more consciously. For she is eros – eros that is the force that thrusts through stem and leaf, body and soul.

We must live her.

We must find a way to no longer be afraid to speak her and be her and show her knowing and wisdom through us. Many of us do healing work and fear truly coming out and speaking the full truth of this work. But while it can be frightening to speak the full truth, it is also invigorating for she is joy and aliveness, sensuality and sensuousness and when we acknowledge these are natural aspects of who we are, we begin to live these qualities in the world.

To live her is to give back to the earth. To live her is to heal you back into wholeness and fullness. To live her is to bring more kindness, compassion into the world. So many of us are addicted to suffering, to war, to violence because we are disconnected from the heart of life. To live her is to offer to the world the medicine that can rebalance our existence as human beings here on our planet, a balance that is not just for human beings but for all of life.

In many ways, there is one woman, one mother. That is why women connecting is so important. It is in our weaving together that we come to know the feminine as whole again. If my body is the earth’s body and your body is the earth’s body, and so on, then in our coming together, we begin to experience the earth in a more full and whole way. At least this is what I sense. I don’t want to make statements of truth. What I offer is an understanding from my experience. And that can shift as we shift.

Each of us lives her uniquely. Each soul’s journey is unique. I don’t mean to make it sound easy. I know it hasn’t been for me. And I know I still have moments where I want to shy away from it. But I also know the truth of this in my heart: that I am here to do this. I am here to remember her and to come into balance, and to be one guide of many to support our species coming back into right relationship with life.

So here’s what I want to know…

Do you feel called to live her? To speak her? To express her? And does this frighten you? Do you feel alone in this? Do you fear what will happen if you live what you know now within yourself?Together

Join me for a free gathering with me and other women this Friday, May 26th, from 11:00 am to Noon PDT. We will drop in and listen and then speak what we hear. We’ll meet on Zoom, a wonderful conference system that allows for us all to be both seen and heard. Register here.

Together

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Join me for Together, a living, fluid, 3-month-long gathering of women. We will meet two times a month, together, by video conference where we will drop in together. We will create community and learn to speak of what we sense and know, and how we might speak this into the world. I will write and create practices and meditations based on what we sense in the field as we are together. (I’ve upgraded JulieDaley.com. You’ll be taken to this new site to read more about Together.

I am also working on a group coaching program for women whose work utilizes much of the feminine principles and who find it difficult to speak about what they do in a way that doesn’t water down the medicine in the work. Let me know if you would be interested in something like this by emailing me at julie (at) juliedaley . com 

We all contribute to the rise of the sacred feminine in our culture by coming to know our own sacredness and by living it into the world. To awaken and live the feminine is to do deep soul work for the feminine is soul. It is the deep and the dark. It is the moist cavern. It is the journey down in and under, and then back up into the light of the sun.

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The True Hunger

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We live in a culture that wants to super-size us. We’re supposed to constantly reach for more, whether that be more stuff, bigger goals, or a better self – even a better, more beautiful evolved spiritual self. There is a consistent and insistent voice telling us to keep reaching, that somewhere out there we will finally find that which will be the one thing that will make us extraordinary enough to satisfy the demand.

 

We do this until one day we feel the ridiculous exhaustion it causes within us. Ridiculous because nothing out there could ever satisfy the false hunger this attempts to fill. The false hunger will always want more and more and more to satisfy it but it can’t be satisfied because it is built upon a foundation of ‘not enough’. A foundation of scarcity.That is its core identity. And so it has no desire to really see through the endless journey of suffering to finally becoming enough. But we feel the exhaustion of trying. So we stop. But before long, like a trick birthday candle, this false hunger lights up again and we’re off on our way to the Land of More that lies somewhere out there beyond a horizon we cannot get to.

I know this cycle well. I’ve lived this cycle over and over and over. I had a very lovely woman for my counselor when I was at Stanford who finally asked me, upon the eve of graduation, “Julie, when will it be enough? When will you feel you have achieved enough?” Funny that she was working at Stanford. But not really. She had the prime seat to watch this play of continual striving for more play out. It wasn’t the desire to learn and grow she was commenting on. It was what she saw in me (and so many others): the endless search for something that would fill this false hunger.

I now know the feeling when the trick candle goes out. The feeling of ‘ oh, right, I’ve been in that cycle again. I am exhausted and I haven’t gotten anywhere, really. It’s harder to feel the trick candle light up again. It’s subtle. Terribly subtle.

Over the past months, a very simple truth has finally dawned on me. The true hunger has become clear. It’s not for anything really. It’s simpler. There’s a quiet voice inside of me that says, “I get to just be myself. I get to just be myself.” That’s it.

That’s it.

Some of that spiritual striving has actually helped me uncover myself enough to recognize the self I long ago thought could never be enough or could never be redeemed. She’s quite lovely in her simplicity. She’s beautifully ordinary in that there’s nothing special about her at all. And yet, at the same time, she’s got a really funky uniqueness that the false hunger thought was too weird, too strange. But when I hear those words inside, “I get to just be myself.”, I soften and the trick candle goes out and I can see and feel and hear what’s right here in front of me. And here, I can feel the profound beauty within that has always been here. The profound beauty that we are and that is visible when all of the clamors of the false hunger dies down.

It is from this place that I can truly RISE because it is what is – the truth of who and what I am. This place is within each of us. That’s the operative word – within. It will never be found out there. Never, ever. And it cannot be found by following the false hunger.

There is a true hunger. It is the hunger to remember, to uncover, oneself as one already is and then to simply live as this self. No one can tell you what is ‘the false’ and what is ‘the true’. Only you can feel it. But when you soften and stop and listen, you are close to knowing.

Who I really am is quite quirky and quite dignified, too. And really quite joyful and playful. We are like this on the inside. Quite beautifully quirky and that is good.

Who are you?

***

RISEBannerNEW03My potent and practical course, R I S E, is now open for registration. The early-bird price ends on Tuesday, April 18th.

We just finished up the first round and it gave me such joy to witness the subtle and loving ways this course works to remove the layers that hide our true selves from ourselves. The participants experienced many shifts in how they navigate the world and made concrete choices and progress towards real life goals. Yes, this course is both spiritual and practical, but then true spirituality is extremely practical in nature.

R I S E begins on April 25th for 9 weeks. If you’ve been following my work for some time, you know I offer a powerful and safe container within to do some beautiful life-changing transformational ‘work’. And I want to invite you to come join me. Check out the course. Let me know if you want to join and are finding challenges to doing so. If you feel called to be there, it is important for you to be there when we begin.

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Aging and the Impulse to Love

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“If we age honestly, we become love.”
~ Jeff Brown

I recently ended a relationship. A sort-of relationship. It was really more of an exploration. A romance of sorts. A getting to know each other. But it was short-lived – six months from bow to stern.

I’ve been single for over five years. A long time. And in that time I’ve grown older, although I don’t really feel older. I’m in good shape. I love to exercise. I’m physically strong and agile. Yet, I am growing older. I am aging. I am aging honestly, as honestly as I can.

After five years of singledom, I noticed how I’ve changed. I don’t hold back like I used to. I tell the truth, as much as I am aware of it. Aging Honestly

I liked him.
I told him so.
I wanted more.
I told him so.
I let my love fly.
I let my desire run.
I allowed my heart to break.
Open.

And then it ended. And in the heartbreak, I’ve lingered in my memories of us together. I can still feel the sparks. I can still feel the warmth of his chest against my bare skin. I can still feel us. My time with him changed who I know myself to be. A great gift. Deep intimacy will do that.

And I see that what I felt as ‘us’ is also what I am as ‘me’. Great and beautiful longing, running hot, fluidly, sensually – a sublime connection that turned to love. Yes, over this time I came to love him. And, I sense this is partly so because I am older. I long to love deeply. I long to touch tenderly. I long to be with another, to connect intimately, to know the experience of being fully alive in this body.

As I age, I am becoming very aware of the incredible gift it is to be a human being. And how fleeting our time is here. And I am becoming aware of how we spend so much of our time worried, disconnected, stressed out, striving, and so little time being tender with each other, truly exploring the senses, opening to the delight available to us that can come out of trust and kindness.

I came to love him because I am love wanting to love. I can feel love wanting to love through me. But up until now, I think I thought that the intense longing, this intensity was indicating my desire for a man in my life.

I see now that I yearn to love. Yes, men. But more than that. That this love that continues to push me is to embrace life, to offer myself to it.

It is a yearning. A deep and lovely yearning. 

I miss being with him. I haven’t yet met another. But when I tune into this love, I don’t think it cares. It wants to love everywhere and everything.

If we age honestly, we become love. is the first line of a longer quote, but I love this first line just a tad more that the whole. It is short and to the point. It feels so poignant and true and like a powerful punch to the gut.

And this is the rest of Jeff’s wisdom…

If we age honestly, we become love. As the body weakens, love surges through us, longing to be released, longing to be lived. With no time left to not love, we seek authentic embrace everywhere. Our deft avoidance maneuvers convert into directness. Our armored hearts melt into pools of eternal longing. This is why we should look forward to aging. Finally, after all the masks and disguises fall away, we are left with love alone. God waits for us on the bridge between our hearts.

***

Those moments of life that stay with you. The first blush of my bare chest against the heat of his. Standing, so close, lips connected yet silently still as we lingered in this moment we’d hungered for. The impulse to move and arch and join together pulsing between us, but in this one moment something beautiful and holy was taking place. A silent communion where the meeting of flesh was like two hands pressed against a glass that stood between. So close. Two hearts reaching out past the shoreline of skin’s border. Oceans mingling. A momentary peace rising along the edge before the wave rose and crested, then broke between us.

How I loved lingering there. And while it could not be forever, love seared this moment into somewhere even more essential than marrow. And I taste it still.

 

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Unsticking the Stuckness

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“Being stuck is good—it means that what needs to be written
is intense, maybe painful. Or it’s complicated
and requires careful consecutive thought.”
~ Alice Mattison

 

I just returned from co-leading a weekend writing (and more) retreat with Ronna Detrick at a place lovingly named Pine Manor, in Lake Elsinore, Ca. There were fifteen of us, total; fifteen women who gathered to deepen our capacity to write and trust our hearts.

I learned so much from guiding these beautiful women deeper into both their writing and their ability to trust their voices. This process to go deep into trust isn’t easy. It can be intense and painful. And it is beautiful.

I’ve found in my own writing journey that when I come upon, then enter into, a place of stuckness, I’ve invariably found a rich vein of gold just waiting to be freed and woven into something of yet unknown strength and beauty. When we touch into the edges of these stuck places, we begin to feel what the place holds. And, the whole reason there is stuckness there is because we haven’t wanted to feel what is in this place.

Somewhere inside of us, we know what the place holds. It’s why we’ve worked hard to ignore it, stuff it down, and pretend it doesn’t exist. And when we begin to feel it, just about everything within us tries to turn away from this entry into it. We judge what we find. We resist it. We look for something else more positive to focus on. After all, if we are writing, we want to write something beautiful and positive, something others will want to read. Yes?

This is where trust is especially important. It’s trust in the unknown, the dark, the wisdom of your own body and the mystery of existence. It’s trust in the greater intelligence of life – that everything being offered to us is for our own unfolding, our returning home. And trust in the process of writing – that when we truly write what is here, right now, the deep intelligence and beauty of life can come through, even through seemingly gnarly, uncomfortable places.

On the last morning of the retreat, I realized how clearly and closely the creative process is tied to the grief process. The creative process brings us into a deeper relationship with our true nature by opening us to the unknown. As does grief.

Grief brings us to this place, right here, right now. Grief fully engaged brings us present to life as it is. If we’ve entered into a forest of loss, it is grief that brings us home to what is true no matter how painful it is to embrace this new reality.

What lies in those places of stuckness? Grief not felt. Experiences never honored through the ritual of grief. Grief isn’t a one-time thing we save for big losses and then only superficially engage in. No. Grief is the gift we human beings have been given as a way to engage with the difficulties and vulnerabilities of this human life. Grief is how we navigate this life that is anything but easy and always-light-filled. Grief is the way we navigate the healing of the tear in the fabric of our own being that we experienced when young. Grief is what brings us out of the stories that keep us locked in the past and fearful of the future so that we can finally come home to now – to our true nature – to our infinite and vast creative potential.

Grief is what finally, as it brings us home, offers us a glimpse of the astounding beauty that is here in every moment if we are aware of the essential nature of this world and our place in it.

To access the depths of our creative voice, as well as transform the part of ourselves that does not trust our own voice, we must journey through the grief process to set free the experiences, feelings, and habitual patterns that are lodged in our bodies. Yes, these are places of stuckness, and…they are also beautiful and sacred places, like elements buried deep in the earth that have been pressed hard into jewels, like carbon into diamonds. When we enter into them, all the way in, when we hold them in a deep embrace and come into relationship with all they hold, the light held there is set free and can finally begin to shine through.
Alice Mattison’s entire quote is this:

“Being stuck is good—it means that what needs to be written
is intense, maybe painful. Or it’s complicated
and requires careful consecutive thought.
It’s often possible to get unstuck by
asking oneself simple, sensible questions
(like, “What do I already know about this story?”
or “about the next scene?”).
But maybe I’d write better books
if I let myself remain stuck longer.”

I agree there are many times where a simple, sensible question will unstick you. And, I know when we are willing to BE with the stuckness until it reveals what it knows, words you never expected can begin to flow.

***

orangeandgreenwritingrawOn October 18th, we begin the fall Writing Raw circle. Come join us as, together, we dive into these diamond places within, write from what we discover, and then read our writing aloud into the circle.

It is freeing to begin to trust this voice within you enough to write it and share it with others. It not only frees your writing, it frees your soul.

Read more and register here.

 

 

 

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Softer and More Real

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“The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.

I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love. “

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow

 

Twenty-one years ago, today:

How can I walk away from his body, knowing I will never see him again? I stroke his hair, golden with light. He looks so old, and yet he looks young again, too, young like when I met him. He’s always been so alive, so full of everything. He didn’t do anything half way. He was intensely loving and intensely alive. A million memories flash before my eyes. When we married, and I said, “’til death do us part”, I wondered when that might be, even if only for a split second. And now I know. Death has parted us and I now know it is time to go.

It is hard to take this last look and give this last kiss. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I touch his face, trying to capture the memory of him into the layers of my skin. His golden hair is the last piece of his body I touch before I turn to walk away.

 

April 17th, today:

Looking back, it’s been a long, long time since I said goodbye, yet through these years of journeying to find myself, to wake up, to come to some realization of who and what I am, I’m discovering that I’m also coming to know in a deeper way who my late husband Gary was, to have ‘a more perfect understanding’ of who we both were and are.

Yes, his death was painful. It was a tearing apart of two souls. And, it was also a tearing apart of places where we held each other up in this life, where he was my ground and I his.

It was also beautiful in that it opened me to a larger view of what it means to be a human being. No longer protected from pain, I found myself, as Joanna Macy describes in her interview with Krista Tippett, “dipped in beauty”. I remember lying on my bed, racked with grief, and realizing that I was experiencing a profound beauty. It was puzzling at first because those two things didn’t seem to fit together – painful grief and beauty. But there it was – the distinct experience of the beautiful.

Sometimes we have to know the deepest pain and grief of death in order to feel the most glorious joy and aliveness of life.

Now, twenty-one years later, as I sit more fully in my humanity, I see what a powerful teacher death can be. To live many years with this significant loss is an opportunity to not deny death but to carry it with me as I live. When I turned 47, the age Gary was when he died, I felt grateful to be alive. When my daughters married, again I felt so fortunate to be there to witness those important rites. And, when each of my grandchildren came into this world, I relished the moments much more than I might have if Gary had been there with us, too. Because death is a part of life.

There’s a bittersweetness to life when you carry death with you. By ‘carry’ I don’t mean to hang onto because I’m not willing to see reality. Rather, I mean living with the knowing that I am alive and he is not, and that his death helps me to remember that totality of this existence.

Gary’s death woke me up to that deep longing inside to want to know who and what I am. His death brought me more into life. I don’t know how my life might have unfolded if he had lived, but I do know that I would not have seen the deep, deep beauty that is inherent in the heart breaking open. His death also brought me to come to appreciate him more. The deeper I come into myself, the more I realize how deep he was and how much of him I never got to know. And, through his death and the profound grief I encountered, I’ve been able to be with the parts of my life, and in the world today, that have been, and are, truly heartbreaking since that day I said good-bye.

I share this with you as a celebration of the whole of life, as a remembrance to hold the whole of life with great love. I feel death can make us softer and more real.

 

 

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Longing & Resistance: How to Stay True to Your Soul’s Call

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I see this soft undulating beauty, this riot of pink and yellow and orange, and I wonder…

Soft. Vulnerable. Open. This flower doesn’t hide her softness, doesn’t mitigate her sensuality, doesn’t contain her wildness. She doesn’t know to make others more ‘comfortable’ by mitigating her power. Life just flows through her, through her stem. She doesn’t resist blooming – she just blooms. Flowers don’t resist their call. They simply bloom.

***

This same life force flows through you and through me. Yet, we block this natural blueprint. How do we do it? By resisting what is.

In very simple terms,

there are two forces at work within each of us when it comes to comes to creating anything we long to create – heck when it comes to doing anything we long to d – with the emphasis on the longing.

One force is the force that longs to create.
It’s the longing within you, the creative impulse, the impulse of life to live something through you.

The other force is the force of resistance to creating (to living, really).
We give it many names like Inner Critic or the Voice of Judgment or even the Ego. It is the internalized voice of our parents, of teachers, and other adults who were in charge of teaching us about love and the world-at-large when we were young. But, mainly, it is simply resistance to ‘what is’. It is resistance to change, to risk, to being seen, to not being seen, and so on.

Sometimes it is helpful to go into the content of resistance; for example, what it is saying and how it feels in your body. Awareness is helpful when we acknowledge it without trying to fix it, change it, or even resist it (we do that, don’t we? we resist the resistance. if that isn’t a bit crazy making?). Ultimately, resistance wants to be seen, heard, and accepted so it can be set free, and we do this through love by holding the resistance in our awareness and feeling the feelings until they move all the way through into freedom. This is a lot of the work I do with my coaching clients. We learn how to be in a loving relationship with resistance in a way that allows it to be set free.

But, sometimes all that is needed is to acknowledge the resistance without resisting it. After this, we then put our awareness back on what it is we are creating by taking a single step forward, then another, then another. This is how we stay in flow – how we stay true to the soul’s call.

I’ve found through my years of coaching, and in my own experience, that you can use this process for anything you are facing that has an element of resistance to it. The simplicity is really helpful. When the resistance gets big and we get ‘velcro’ed’ to it (meaning so stuck to it that it’s all we see and know), then it can help to go into the content. But, often being aware of it, accepting it, and giving it space to be, without letting it get its hands on the wheel, can be enough to keep you in flow, moving to your soul’s call.

Where there is resistance, there is gold! The more resistance, the greater are the jewels our inner protector is guarding.

***

writingrawpin02I often see both longing and resistance in the women who write me to ask if my writing program, Writing Raw, is right for them. They want to join the circle, but often they have fears that it isn’t the right fit.

What do I tell them? I remind them that something had them write me, that there must be a desire or longing or wonder about doing the program – that something is calling to them. I suggest they feel into whether or not Writing Raw feels like it is a doorway into where that longing wishes to go. We CAN sense things such as this if we turn our attention to them.

The idea of joining a Writing Raw circle often brings up great resistance for a number of reasons. We resist going within, afraid of what we might discover. We resist really hearing our inner voice, reluctant to truly give that suppressed inner voice a chance to speak knowing it truly wants to speak. And, we often resist a deeper conversation about the erotic or about the sacred as they tend to be taboo subjects for many of us.

We can have resistance to certain ideas and words because they trigger things in us, even though at the same time we really LONG to go there. We can be so curious to explore our internal world, to find out what the experience of Eros truly is, and to come to know this raw energy within oneself. Yet, we resist it. 

But remember, where there is resistance, there is gold! Give the resistance acceptance and space, AND honor and follow your longing – whatever it is your soul is calling you to.

If it is Writing Raw, you can register here. We begin March 29th.

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