Self-determined and Full of a Flourishing Sense of Self-worth

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“The roots of the word “wild” are thought to be found in welt, meaning forest or wildwood and willed. To be wild is to be wooded, to be willed. Self-willed, self-determined: not under the will or rule of another; unruly, uncontrollable.” – Kara Moses

 

Most of us, even those of us who’ve done ‘a lot of work’, are still somewhat far away from ourselves, still somehow tied to others, still living under their edicts that bind us to express ourselves in predictable and patterned ways. Even if those ‘others’ are long gone from our daily lives, their voices and faces are etched deeply inside of us. For the most part, we live out their judgments and injunctions unknowingly, carrying on many ancestral stories that no longer serve us or our ancestral lines.

We are raised into captivity, losing our wildness early on. In our lives, we move along lines of habit and routine, for the most part not realizing just how much we are still under the rule of the past.

I remember being a strong, passionate, and physical girl. I remember learning to reign myself in, to control myself, to un-unruly myself. Big, vibrant flowers have always been my favorite. Bright colors. A boisterous laugh. Early self-confidence eventually eroded into a predictable habit of cautious choices, always checking to see if my presence was too-much-enough for authority figures to frown, learning to be very careful. Learning to be controlled by myself. One frown became enough to reign me in. I didn’t always remember this. We forget over time. But we can remember. We can re-wild.

Over the past few decades, slowly but surely parts of my essential nature became known again. I began to feel more alive and in touch with that magical, mystical Soul Self within. Essential nature is what we are, essential as in fundamental, basic, important, and vital. These describe the simplicity of Self. It is what it is. You are what you are. There is great power in realizing this. Even though we learn to complicate it all, we never lose our essential nature and we can return to being self-determined.

I’ve come to see that self-determined is to follow our ‘bliss’ in Joseph Campbells’ definition – to express the ‘push out of our own existence.’ Our own existence is our wild, simple, essential nature. It is our life force. And it is the source of true expression. It is our bliss. It is love.

To be this SELF-determined is to be guided by the deep intelligence of Life that breathes us into being. THIS is true power, the power of creativity and creation to live as a Self-determined being. THIS is power-from-within. THIS is the power of love, to live as a powerful, loving, life-affirming presence on Earth.

THIS is a flourishing condition within, a flourishing Self-worth, aligned, rooted, and dynamically in vital expression.

When we reclaim and live Self-love, Self-respect, Self-trust, and Self-confidence, we are reclaiming these qualities of living that rise up out of our essential nature. Our Essence doesn’t lose these; rather, the part of us that learned to believe we were too much or not enough works very hard to keep up that story of being something else other than our fundamental vital self.

Recently, I remembered learning to fear my confidence and self-assertion specifically. Little girls who are confident – especially back in the 60’s – were taught to mute and quiet. Words like bossy and pushy were used. So of course, that energy went underground and turned into anger at not being able to be and express my essential Self. My Essence was never bossy and pushy. It is strong, determined, and powerful. Being told we are bossy and pushy are ways to get us to tame our power. Bossy and pushy, or muted and cautious, then become the way we use our power in the world when it is trapped and unable to be unruly and wild.

We can re-wild ourselves and we can find our essential Self-confidence and Self-trust. We can find, again, our essential Self-respect and ability to love the whole of ourselves, even the parts of us who continue to attempt to keep us contained. We come to know them when we come back into relationship with Self. And we do this by turning within and listening for what has always been here – that deep intelligence that breathes us into being and longs for us to remember our nature.

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PlumbTreePLUMB!
I recently began to sense a new metaphor to describe Self-determination and sovereignty. When you are rooted and aligned in a deep, rich sense of Self-worth, you are filled from within with dignity, strength, and a knowing that who and what you are at your core is worthy just as you are, regardless of your outer circumstances and others’ opinions of you and your life. This is what it means to be Plumb.

So how do you get ‘off plumb’? You come to distrust what is within you. You come to lose respect for who you truly are. You come to lose confidence in what you know, desire, and long to speak and express. You believe that you are under the power of another human being.

I’m offering a five-week course called PLUMB where we will turn our attention to our fundamental and vital nature while remembering and reclaiming all the ways we know respect, trust, and confidence for who we truly are. These things are within us and when we give our attention to them, bringing them into the light of awareness, they can flourish within us once again.

The early-bird price is good through Jan 1st, 2019. I sense this will be both a deep and pleasurable way into discovering and remembering our unruly selves and a palpable foundational feeling of Self-worth. I hope you’ll join us. And feel free to pass this along to women you sense might be interested.

Happy New Year!

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Within & Outside: Finding Peace in a Warring World

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Photo by Ullash Borah on Unsplash

 

Everything within is also outside. Everything outside is also within. In reality, everything is almost all space, so the lines of distinction we believe are so solid, like the line between our own body and the rest of the world, are not. Which means, everything we feel and sense and experience within is also outside. And again, everything we feel and sense and experience outside is within.

As within, so outside.

This is a helpful way to understand why how we see things outside of us impacts how we see things within us. And again, vice versa. How we see things within are how we see things outside of us.

What I am going to share might be triggering. If you begin to feel something and it doesn’t feel good, please consider passing on the rest.

I want to share a scenario about power and victimization and how we can be impacted by the force of being victimized. This is told from the perspective of a child, adolescent, or adult in relation to someone bigger, stronger, more powerful, and more aggressive. It’s told from my perspective.

When there is an imbalance of power – physically, mentally, systemically (cultural and/or familial)- and we receive the energy of aggression into our physical, emotional, and energetic bodies, the psyche responds by attempting to protect us in the moment as well as from future harm. The outer dynamic becomes imprinted within. Big, powerful aggressor out there, less powerful self in here. While the event itself comes and goes, what we make up about ourselves and others in relation to the event becomes not only the story we project onto ourselves, the aggressor, and the world and our place in it, which is how our psyches form meaning.

We are taught that victim consciousness is weak and are told, over and over, ‘not to be a victim’ or ‘don’t play the victim’ as if it is some sickness we have to eradicate. Rarely, though, do we say the same thing about being the victimizer. How often do you hear people say to you, ‘don’t be a victimizer’ or ‘don’t play the victimizer’? In a culture that celebrates ‘power over’ and strength, and fears being powerless, we are lopsided in our exploration of how this dynamic between these two poles is affecting us. It isn’t an either/or thing, but rather a both/and dynamic.

Back to the above scenario. What can happen when we are victimized is that our own inner-victimizer (we all have one) turns on oneself since through the power imbalance the imprint is one of being harmed. The inner-victimizer becomes the self-punisher out of self-preservation because this person cannot exercise the animal/human response to fight back. The fight turns to oneself. As a form of protection, we then develop a habit of harming self, punishing self, using our own power on ourselves to keep ourselves small, which means safe. The cycle is set so that even when we grow up and/or come into a more balanced power dynamic the unconscious habit is in place and we habitually continue to behave from the more powerless place – until we wake up.

All of this takes place mostly in the unconscious. We aren’t aware we are doing this until we are. We often don’t even see that we do it, but only see the effects in our lives.

The systems we live in give power to some over others, meaning we learn at a young age that we are either in the power group or not, be that male/female, white/Black, etc. Our psyches develop accordingly. And then when an event happens, these conditioned dynamics play out.

Here’s the thing. We must realize we all contain these poles – victimizer, and victim. When we are unconscious to this and to how they play out within us, we are unconscious to how they are playing out in the outer world. As within, so outside. If we have learned that we are part of a group in power and we learn to be comfortable with our inner-aggressor, we have a certain internal dynamic between our inner-victimizer and inner-victim, the former becomes more positive to our psyche and the latter more negative. We allow our victimizer to be in the world, sometimes in very subtle, and sometimes in not so subtle, ways. And we push the inner-victim to the shadow.

If we learned that we are part of a group that is not in power and we are not comfortable with our own aggression, we then have a different dynamic within where our inner-victim becomes dominant and our inner-victimizer is relegated to the shadow. In the outer world, we play this out by being accommodating, and sometimes even collapsing when we’re facing difficult challenges. The victimizer doesn’t have to be a person – it can be perceived to be ‘life’. Remember, we project our inner world onto the outer world. So in the scenario, what was a person victimizing the young person becomes projected onto the world as the world at large and all people who trigger this inner dynamic.

So what’s the point of all of this?

The other day, I came to see my own inner world very clearly. I saw how the events of my younger life caused my own inner-victimizer to go into the shadow where it was relegated to a reign of terror in my psyche, becoming a vicious attacker toward my own sense of safety, worth, and ability to stand strong in the face of perceived trials in life. I have been one of those people who collapse out of the fear of others’ judgment, shaming, humiliation, and condemnation. It’s not easy to say that here, but I believe it will be helpful to you and others. Here is why.

When I saw how my psyche was set up and really took it in and sat with the truth of it, I was finally able to acknowledge how vicious my inner-victimizer is toward me and how painful that is. How there is a deeply sad and hurt part of me that has had to tolerate these attacks for most of my life. And, I acknowledged that I have been living from a big victim pattern. I have fought this. I knew I had been victimized but I thought that if I acknowledged that I carried that pattern then I had to deny the experience of victimization. But this is where I’ve been wrong for so long. It’s one thing to have an experience. That is real. It happens. But if we don’t acknowledge how it affects the psyche’s development and how we then play that out, then we stay stuck in not only victim consciousness but also our own victimizer consciousness as well, however it navigates the inner/outer world, whoever it victimizes, within or outside.

Again, this is true for the victimizer. The same cycle plays out in some way.

When I was able to see them both and truly be honest with myself about it all, something big released and I felt a peace that was profound. A friend mentioned that it was the peace that comes from bringing the polarity to rest.

I saw and took responsibility for the way my own mind has terrorized me my whole life. I learned I couldn’t let it out toward others. That I had to be nice and good, rolling over for those who’d learned to be aggressive and powerful. My inner aggression had to go somewhere and it was pointed at me -although it would come out in fits and starts.

The inner-aggressor/inner-victimizer polarity is simply our own personal essential power that has been taught to behave in a conditioned, habitual way – against others, away from others. It’s our fight or flight response playing out within and without in various scenarios. It’s playing out in the real world and in each of our lives in so many different, destructive ways. But, most of us are not holding them both, not seeing them both, not taking responsibility for both.

Healthy is when we can come to an inner peace between these poles, embracing them both, seeing that we have both within us. And if the feeling I felt and am feeling of both peace and true power from within is any indication, then when enough of us do this, we will know a great deal more peace in the world.

Think about it. Who we see as so powerful in the world, using their power over others in ways that are so harmful not only to others and the world is harmful to them as well; there is an inner-victim that is suffering inside of them. There’s a war going on like there is for those of us who tend toward the victim side.

The point of understanding this is to see that we all have this war going on inside of us between victimizing and being victimized and the pain of it is excruciating.

The war we see out there is the war going on inside. The war we finally allow ourselves to SEE AND FEEL inside is the war going on out there.

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Act On Your Caring OR Big Dog, Little Dog; When it Doesn’t Go So Well

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Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

This morning at my cafe – the one I go to each morning – in a split second, one big dog lunged for one small dog and suddenly there were two upset dogs and two traumatized humans. The little dog was okay after shaking for a bit. The big dog was hauled off to a car after being scolded by the woman who happened to be dog sitting and was caught unaware of how to handle the situation. Her combination of apology and tears showed she was not quite sure how to handle what was happening. And the little dog’s mom was shaking in such a way that it was clear she was in shock. Actually, I think both humans were in shock. In a world where some are experiencing such big trauma, such a thing might seem trivial. But as I sat with the little dog’s mom, someone I know from years of seeing each other every morning, holding her as she held her little dog, placing pressure on her legs, just enough to ground the shaking, I saw and felt so much vulnerability in everyone involved. This human thing isn’t easy. And I take it this dog thing isn’t either – especially for dogs trying to exist in the heart of an energetically intense city. And I saw and felt how deeply we need to acknowledge the traumatic nature of our society and world.

We need each other. We need touch. We need care. We need to feel. We need to know we will be cared for by others when things get hard and that we have the capacity to be the ones who will do the caring when the time comes to care.

We need to act on our caring.

I was inside facing the window that looked out upon the corner where and when the big dog lunged for the little dog. I saw the little dog’s mom’s face cry out with fear and my body and heart responded instinctively by getting up, going outside, helping her to sit down, wrapping my arms around her, and placing my hands on her lovingly. Yes, I knew her so she trusted me already. And I knew to go gently and slowly. I knew she needed to feel held and grounded. I’ve done enough somatic work to know and yet in the immediacy of the moment, my instincts were what guided me.

We’ve been cut off from our instincts but now we need to rekindle them. We need to trust in our body’s wisdom. Our bodies know how to be with each other, especially if we allow ourselves to feel our innate compassionate nature and move from this. Our hearts know.

We must act on our caring.

As I sat with the little dog’s mom, we checked for blood and a wound. There was no blood drawn. No wound we could see.

The big dog’s woman sitter came over to apologize. Her eyes were filled with tears – a mixture of fear, sadness, shock, surprise, and a bunch of ‘what the hell do I do now’, she offered an apology, her hand shaking as it reached out toward but not all the way to. Her hand reached out toward us, not quite sure of what to do, then slowly made its way over toward me. At which point I reached out with my left hand and took hold of it. She softened, clearly needing touch, too.

Everyone needed touch. Reassurance. Connection. Dogs and humans, both.

Her eyes searched for reassurance. She received some and yet I sensed she needed more. Perhaps we needed more bodies, more hands to reach out and touch. More people to come over and simply be together. We were surrounded by people, but most sat and watched, their eyes reaching out with a look of ‘What do I do here?’, ‘How do I be here?’

I don’t have answers other than to feel, to act upon the caring your heart signals when it signals. To listen in the moment for how you might be needed. And to trust what you hear. To gauge what is needed by what you see and hear and feel and sense.

We are all trying to exist in a world that feels as if it is going madder and madder each day. And yet, we are here with capacities perhaps much greater than we know because they haven’t been tested until now. Perhaps it isn’t going madder. Maybe we are being offered the opportunity to grow into the fullness of our humanity.

Will I continue to act upon my caring when I don’t know the little dog’s mom? When the stakes are higher? When blood IS drawn, so to speak? When it is humans lashing out at humans? I intend for this to be so. I was deeply moved by what I witnessed this morning. In how we try to be here as best we can. And I know we have more inside of us dying to be offered even though we don’t yet trust in ourselves to give it.

I know I need you. I need to know I matter. But more importantly, I need to know I have something to give, something that in these moments makes a difference, in the everyday moments, when another needs something that only a human being can offer. I was fortunate to see that my instincts offered were graciously received and that in some small way the love I offered made a difference. This was the huge gift I was given. The love that came through me knew what was needed. I was the one, though, that had to act for it to do so.

Will we act upon our caring when we don’t know how to but know we must?

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A Leadership of Feminine Values

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“Our society fails to appreciate the woman who quietly responds to life with intense interest and with love for people, ideas, and things. Yet these characteristics are as deeply and truly creative as are the characteristics of those who seek to lead, to act, and to achieve. We have a bias against feminine values. Not only are we too busy to adequately nurture our children, but we are also unable to truly nourish our own creativity, our personhood, our ability to take a stand for life, and our capacities to live and love from the heart.” ~ M. Harris & B. Harris, Into the Heart of the Feminine

I’ve been delving deeply into a kind of leadership that I feel we must embrace if we are going to survive. I’ve written before about this new leadership — a leadership that nourishes and nurtures, a leadership that responds to others with genuine interest and sincerity, a leadership that knows that what each of us truly desires is to be known, loved, and made useful.

We must take a stand for life. We must. The present mythology of western society is one of money. We’re living in a money myth and in this myth, money holds greater value and importance than life itself. THIS IS CRAZY. How will we survive if we hold money to be more important than life — especially life that offers no monetary value, life that cannot contribute to the culture in the way the culture demands life to be ‘valuable’ where value equals feeding the coffers?

Consider children. They do not contribute to the big money machine and notice how they are treated by our institutions. Children vs. Money? Money wins.

Consider the elderly. The elderly vs. Money. Guess what wins?

Consider the Earth. Just a big round planet of resources, right? A big round planet worth a lot of money if these resources are extracted and sold. But how do we live continue to live healthy, connected, vibrant lives on a planet that is getting sicker and sicker because we do not value that she is our home? She’s not valued as our home, she’s valued as pieces and parts. Money wins again.

But what’s under money? Power. Domination. Control.

We are trying to control life. We think we can control life. We think we can control each other. Ultimately, this is going to backfire in a big way. Instead, we must live life, honor life, nurture life, and make a stand for life, and these come out of an honoring of feminine values that are values all can support and live.

We cannot survive by fighting each other. We will not survive if we don’t begin to come together, to connect, communicate, and collaborate with great compassion.

But most importantly, we must begin to access the greater intelligence within each of us if we are to come up with the creative insight and deeply generative compassion that will bring us together and move us forward toward a new way to be here on this Earth together. This creative intelligence is accessed internally through your creativity. This is deep creativity — creativity that is the source of this greater intelligence so clearly needed.

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Join me for FLOURISH, a women’s leadership course that supports a leadership of these feminine values — one that nurtures and encourages the flourishing of all of life. You will gain much awareness of who you are and what you’re here for. And you’ll come away with practices, exercises, and tools to offer to those you work with and support. We begin June 13th and scholarships are available.

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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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Choosing to Stay and Be Human

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Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

 

“Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation. Thanatos, from the Greek word for “death” is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. At the conclusion of C&D, Freud notes (in 1930–31) that human beings, following Thanatos, have invented the tools to completely exterminate themselves; in turn, Eros is expected to “make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with an equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?” ~ notes on Sigmund Freud’s theories by Professor Easton in UMN 221 notes

 

This is where we are at right now. We have a huge, powerful wave of aggression, violence, and an incredible drive toward death as a species happening on our planet. But, Eros is making ‘an effort to assert himself’…the impulse to live, the drive to life, the force of creativity, sexuality, and species preservation!

About six months ago, I went through a really hard time in my life. I had been doing some deep work and uncovered something that had always been present in my life, but up until now, I knew it as more of a general sense of not really wanting to be here — like a withholding of myself from life, from relationships, from truly entering into life unbridled, unmasked, and no longer afraid to speak and create as my heart wants to speak and create. But at this moment, for the first time in my life, really, the impulse to end my life appeared out of the blue. It was only an idea for a moment, but the power of the desire toward death was what was shocking. It was truly an incredibly strong energy. I am grateful that I have the ability to reach out to a few people in my life who could hear it and could hold me as I needed to be held. I never was going to do anything, but that impulse is what began to teach me about life and death and how we dance between these two powerful energies, Eros and Thanatos, all the time.

Before this moment, I had been totally engrossed working with ‘Eros’ and its importance to our world. I had started a podcast called, “Awakening Eros” and felt so compelled to talk about it, research it, share it, and to really understand what Eros is. And then, my feet grew cold. I held back. I wondered if anyone would understand. Heck, I didn’t even fully understand the intense drive within them.

But after this moment happened, I was now very aware of the power of Thanatos — the drive toward death. And over these past months since this moment, I’ve come to see how — in both little and big ways — these two drives fuel much of the unconscious ways we inhabit our lives. And how Thanatos suppresses our own impulse toward living a full, joyous existence. I was killing my own drive to explore and express everything I sensed inside around Eros and love and being human.

Thanatos does not have to appear as taking one’s life to be present in our lives. It is present all the time. It is the drive toward death, just as Eros is the drive toward life. But there are many ways to kill our life drive without dying. We kill our joy. We kill our own impulse to create. We kill the power and desire for true sexual expression.

The Poet, David Whyte, speaks of the single malt essence of one’s not wanting to be here. In reading his words for the first time a few years ago, I was able to bring to light this deeper desire within me to run away. I have both stayed in and left situations when I wanted to leave. Leaving isn’t always running away. And sometimes it is.

As I’ve contemplated this dance between Eros and Thanatos, I’ve wondered if I (and any one of us) can truly make a full choice to stay, can truly choose this once, or if it has to be chosen over and over and over again. And I’m not just saying this in the large sense of life or death, but in the small moments where it feels like you will die if you stay and can only survive if you run, or when it feels like you will die if you run and can only survive if you stay. Moments in relationship with others, with yourself, with your work, with a creative project.

Whyte writes,

“Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here. Presence is only fully understood and realized through fully understanding our reluctance to show up. To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humor essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another.”

This impulse to live, the impulse toward life, the fear of entering into the mysterious realms of creativity, sexuality, vulnerability — being human, really — requires us to acknowledge the depth of our not wanting to be here, and perhaps the pain that life underneath it. That is what I needed to see and it is what brought me more present to my life and to a kind of humility and self-compassion I am only beginning to crack the surface of. The sense of humor is a glimmer I spot every now and then.

We often read that 80% of life is just showing up. You’d think that this would be so simple. Just show up and life handles the rest, so many say. But now I am thinking this isn’t so easy for many of us when we have this compulsion to run. And in the case of facing what’s here on our planet right now? What if 80% of this right now is showing up? I mean, though, REALLy showing up. Not running. Staying even when “part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here.”

I know for me that being here brings great grief when I long to feel so deeply connected to others, to touch and be touched, yet I fear the same as well. I long for it and I fear it. I long for a human world where we care about each other and each other’s welfare. A world where all people of every race, class, orientation, ability are seen as of equal value and worth, where all people have the chance to be happy, successful, loved, and known. A world where all creatures are seen as of equal value. A world in which the Earth is loved just as she loves us.

I would hedge a bet that very few of us, if any, truly know how to be here at this time on Earth. How does one be here in the face of what is happening? But this is where humility comes in. We’ve been an arrogant species for a long time. But to be here now, facing this, staying in this human relationship because we know it is where we can grow and evolve both individually and collectively — that is the invitation.

Staying because the love that we are asks this of us.

We stifle our fullest self-expression on so many fronts. We hide our hearts. We hide the bigness of spirit and the depth of the soul. We hide the true desires that fuel our sexuality and creativity. But most importantly we hide our tenderness and our fear that our not knowing how to be here makes us weak, that our reluctance to stay makes us somehow broken. Instead, I think they are what makes us human.
At a time when Eros is challenging Thanatos, and when love is trying to make a full emergence onto our planet, it is our humanity we must come to be present to. The seemingly incoherent mess that we see ourselves to be. Being human is messy. To be human is to be awake to one’s own vulnerability in the face of all of this and NOT KNOW what to do or how to do it. Being human requires us to feel, to ask for help, to realize our own powerlessness even as we engage with the creative strength and power that flows from within us. Being human is existing in contradiction and paradox.

Eros is inviting us to engage — to live — to create — to relate. To choose to stay and to live, together. It is up to us to become present enough to listen for the way, to listen to what life can teach us.

Come visit me at JulieDaley.com to discover more about how I might support and guide you as you travel this deep and sacred journey to awakening your erotic, creative nature.

 

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Liberating Ourselves from the Pervasive Bind of Being Reasonable and Logical

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I remember their faces, a little stern and adult-like-condescending, as I tried to tell them of my willow tree and how much she loved me. Sitting under her was my delight, and I think her’s, too. But they couldn’t understand. Too far removed from childhood, everything now had to be reasonable and logical. The mystical and the sacred were now seemingly too far out of reach — seemingly.

And so, they would sternly correct me when I spoke of her love and the love I saw in everything around me, which included them but I didn’t know how to speak of that to them. I could only show them through my eyes the love I had for them. The girl that I was felt like a stranger in a world gone mad with reason, a world that had forgotten that play and love and divine curiosity were the magic we can know here on Earth.

I’ve struggled with this myself as an adult. The one so imaginal, light, joyful, and free; the one who loves the process much more than the finished piece; the one who revels in watching it all unfold, revels in the anticipation of touch when skin meets skin for the first time after letting desire blossom and fruit into ripeness — judged, criticized, and silenced by that voice inside, the adult voice that somewhere along the way became ‘my voice’. That voice thinks this is all fluff, weakness, and something no one will respect because it is not logical, practical, nor does it utilize the ‘brilliance of mind’.

I, like my parents, have a good mind. A strong mind. One that loves math and coding and understanding how things works. And that love is a pure love for these things. But that is not who I am. I am not logical. I am one who can utilize logic when it is helpful and let it go when logic is not the right tool for the job.

Here’s the thing — the thing that now saves me every time I sit down to work and create…

We are not logical creatures. We never have been. We are imaginal beings, sacred to the core, mystical beings appearing as real live people, here to awaken love, here to find delight and joy in living, here to not turn away from ourselves or each other when we forget what we are.

While the loss of connection to love can be too great to hold and feel in our hearts during our early years, the delighted one who dreamed up worlds where trees are loved for the magic they are, where everyone knows the truth about flowers — that they are just a mere breath away from Source — is still very much present and this delighted one now must be freed.

We free this one, this imaginal delightful one, together, in community, in circle, held in love, always in love. For it is only love that liberates. It is only love that transforms. It is only love that frees us from the inner captivity of our own making. We, who are not captive in the outer world, we who are free to move and speak, we who have the means and have the privilege to effect real change, can and must.

This world is not what we’ve come to believe it is. It is a realm of love in a multitude of forms.

Love is spread out before us in everything and we do not see it.

The way back to knowing this is by seeing with the heart, allowing the mind to be held in the heart so that it can rest and come to know itself as love, too.
For all is love.


I offer you this meditation to help guide your beautiful mind down into your heart to be held, your heart down into your pelvic bowl so that the mind and heart are held, and your pelvic bowl down into our great Mother Earth so that your whole being can be held by the Mother.

Come join me in Writing Raw or my new course Flourish. We will find this one who knows, who imagines, who hungers and thirsts for what she knows is real and whole and beautiful.

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Writing Directly Out of the Vast, Deep Mystery

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when you are struggling
in your
writing (art).
it usually means
you
are hearing one thing.
but
writing (creating) another.
— honest | risk

from salt, by nayyirah waheed

 

 

We all receive what wants to be created through us in different ways. As a writer and creative, I get images and a sense of what wants to be written/created. I can feel it, but it’s rarely clear. But even then, there’s always enough to begin, enough to take that first step.

That’s really the most important piece. To take that first step. To begin.

But what happens along the way to cause the struggle?

I was talking to a friend today about writing. We were sharing with each other about our writing process and how hard it can be sometimes to put words to what we ‘hear’ or ‘sense’ wants to be written.

I usually get a sense of the writing that wants to come. Sometimes it comes in images, other times I ‘hear’ something. But to write and create, my mind has to communicate what I sense, see, and or hear. Something deeper than my rational mind, the unconscious, is showing me the writing in its own way, but my mind must take that and put it into words. My mind must communicate the creation into form.

Sometimes I’ve noticed that my mind has a hard time doing that because there’s too big a gap between what I sense and what my mind can translate into words. So my mind fills things in as best it can and what I end up with isn’t at all what I sensed or heard. I’ve lately found myself sitting here at my laptop, fingers poised to write, while my mind attempts to find the words. It’s such an interesting thing to witness in the moment because I am aware of a felt sense of frustration within me – seeing/hearing what I’m trying to write and then trying to find the words and phrases that capture it.

Sometimes, too, the writing just flows. There is no gap. The mind is open and free enough that there is no separation in me, the one who is writing. There is only writing.

And then other times, I notice that my Voice of Judgment (VOJ) jumps in almost immediately, judging and criticizing what comes even before the mind gets it down on paper. It’s like an immediate judgment of what comes. It’s crazy how fast the VOJ can grab a hold of the steering wheel and take you right off course.

But really what I want to do is communicate what I am hearing and sensing. That is all I really want to do. It’s easier for me through photography (the image above) and dance. I don’t edit. There’s no judgment. There’s only the expression. But writing has been harder for me to lose the VOJ, the editor that wants to edit before there are even words on the page.

Can you relate?

We want to get it right but so often we come up short. It’s the mind somehow thinking it has to ‘make it happen’, which is really way beyond its job description of simply communicating. It’s trying to play ‘Soul’ rather than letting Soul be Soul and being, doing what it was created to do.

I’ve found that writing regularly helps to shorten this gap. A regular writing practice helps the mind get used to the practice of writing what it receives.

And, what I’ve found always brings me back to writing more naturally and effortlessly is writing about what brings me joy, or what I love, or what I care deeply about. If I’m trying to write something because I think it is what others want to hear, I never do so with much ease. I struggle to get the words out and once I do the piece can feel stilted and tight. And after writing it, I do, too. Because I’ve left Soul by trying to make it happen.

But when I write something that brings me joy or pleasure, then the writing flows. The soul can be heard and felt. When this is true, Soul is so close. That’s also true about writing in my Writing Raw groups. I love diving into writing when I’m surrounded by that sisterhood. Just the energy alone of the circle is a big support. And in these circles, we write from deep within, from the texture and beauty of Soul. We write directly out of the deep and vast ocean of Mystery. But you don’t need to be in a circle. You can begin to deepen your own practice of entering into this deep and vast mysterious ocean that is the source of all that is created.

We are so deeply interconnected through something much greater than any one of us. When you write what brings you joy or deeply moves you,  and you faithfully express it as you hear it, you move those who feel a similar way or need to hear it, or something else related. There is a connection. There is a correlation. We do meet our audience through our words but not in the way we ‘think’ we are supposed to.

Something greater than any one of us connects us through the deep place of love within each of us. It is this that drives creative expression. It is this that we honor when we write what we hear. And our writing becomes so much easier through this honoring.

Thank you to nayyirah waheed for her poem, available in her profound book of poetry, salt.  And thank you to Tanya for reminding me of this poem.

 

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What would you do if you didn’t feel bad about yourself?

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“What would you do if you didn’t feel bad about yourself?”***

Let it sink in.

“What would you do if you didn’t feel bad about yourself?”

What do you feel when you ask yourself this question? 

It might take some time to get clear. Or maybe not. Maybe you instantly see and know something.

When I first started to ask myself, I felt incredibly free and happy and almost giddy. Like suddenly this big heavy blanket that had been covering me for so, so long was gone.

Here’s the thing. In this western culture, feeling bad about oneself is an epidemic. It’s in our ancestral lines. It’s in the collective soup. Most of us push it down to where we don’t have to hear the voice or feel the pain. But when you are in this line of work, you become very aware of the taste of this soup.

It’s here. So how will we be with it?

 

In a very simple way,

you have two competing voices – the voice of the Self – your essential nature, an inner knowing that often speaks in a quieter tone – and your personality or persona or ego. The ego isn’t bad or wrong. But it is a young voice that is centered in a kind of self-protection. It is immature. It favors either self-inflation or self-deflation. The true voice is neither. It is simply Self.

Every ego knows both inflation and deflation, but one is usually predominant. We have all seen people who tend toward self-inflation. And we’ve all seen people who tend toward self-deflation. Notice which you tend toward.

I tend toward self-deflation. Hence, when I ask myself this question and feel what it would feel like to simply be in the world without any deflation, “without feeling bad about myself”, this beautiful bright world of possibility opens up. That bright world is what is always here when we aren’t fixated in egoic ways. This is the bright world of Essence which is alive and often hangs out in a kind of soft joy when asked this question. 

When I see the collective pain body, I see a heavy blanket of self-judgment and self-hatred. In our Western culture, we carry so much baggage around suffering and a sense of unworthiness. It’s handed down, generation to generation. We grow up in households steeped in it, even if it is never talked about and not even in family members conscious awareness.When we begin to wake up to this, we begin to see how heavy the path of clearing this kind of toxicity can feel. We begin to see that it’s not who we are, yet the blanket finds its way back over us with such seeming ease.

 

So, what does it mean to wake up into the human experience?

When we come down into the body and are doing work to wake up as souls in the human experience, we come into direct relationship with this old human lineage of the traumatic personal sense of feeling bad about oneself.

We begin to experience being conscious in a sea of feelings about the self that do not feel good. The more we wake up, the more we know that these feelings originally were not ours. They were those of our parents and other family members, going back down the line of ancestors.

Becoming human is to become awake, as Essence, in our beautiful body, in our lives, in our relationships, just as we are. Becoming human is to bring the ego closer to hold it in love so it begins to trust that being here, on earth, is something to dive into rather than fear and flee.

And this is where we must find the courage to decide for ourselves how badly we want to be human. That’s right. How much do we want to have the full human experience?

When I feel bad about myself, I am reluctant to dive into life. When I feel bad about myself, I hang back, often isolate, and fear being seen or heard or known. When I feel bad about myself, I don’t say what I want to say, I don’t express what I’m longing to express. When I feel bad about myself, I don’t let others know that I am longing to be loved, to be touched, to be held…and I don’t let others know that I am feeling bad about myself.

To be human is to be in the middle of life, not hanging back. To be human is to honor the very important need to be loved and connected, to touch and be touched with kindness and tenderness, and respect. Often, we feel bad about our needs, the very ones that make us human. But, there is nothing wrong with you for wanting to be loved. Nothing wrong with wanting to be loved so deeply, without conditions, without fear of abandonment. Nothing wrong with wanting to be touched with kindness, tenderness, respect.

There is nothing wrong with you for being human.

When we honor our deepest hunger for connection, love, touch, and caring, we are more likely to realize that this voice that needs to feel bad is simply longing to be loved. Deeply. Completely. Tenderly. Without fear of being abandoned or rejected.

This is what it can be to be human. This is what we are waking up to. Being love in a human body. Able to ask for love. Able to give love. Able to receive love.

Hold yourself in love. Fully and deeply. Every part of yourself. No exceptions. Especially with the part of you that feels bad. Without turning away. And if you do turn away while you learn how to do this, turning back again to yourself. With love. Always with love. It might feel hard at first. Parts of you might not trust you. They are protecting themselves from more pain. Reassure them. Stay with them no matter what. Be the abiding love you’ve longed for. Decide to stay with yourself and then stay. And, watch how your own love heals the sense of separation within you. This is the way of love. It’s the way I work as a coach. But more like a guide. A guide that guides you back to yourself. With love. In love. Through love. Always love.

“What would you do if you didn’t feel bad about yourself?”

***

togetheroceanwavesTogether begins next week. It’s an opportunity to dive into life. We will meet every other week, face-to-face by video to be with each other. To be real. To be human, together, in all our humanity. This is an opportunity to be with this question in a deeper way, to show up in a group of women with the possibility to say and do and express what you would if you didn’t feel bad about yourself – as well as to be together when these feelings are present.

How else will we find our way to being human if we cannot do so Together???

You can read more and register here. This link will take you to JulieDaley.com, my new website.

 

*** I became very aware of the power of this question after watching Matt Kahn’s video. You might appreciate what he shares.

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Limned: A Braided Essay For World Storytelling Day

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FFOA

Today, March 20th, is World Storytelling Day.

And, I have a story to share with you. Many stories really, but first this one…

 

For years now…

I’ve been moving in spaces of the feminine, whether that be in energies of the feminine principle, the elements of the Earth, or spaces solely filled with women. My experiences in these have unveiled and reshaped who I know myself to be not just as a human being, but as a woman and who I am with women. This was my hope when I founded Unabashedly Female – to come to know the feminine as She moves through me, as She is in other women, as She is in men, and as She moves through the worlds.

For me, both storytelling and writing have been a part of this process. Two deeply creative acts. Through writing my stories and sharing them here, I’ve discovered deeper layers of the feminine. In writing the stories, I began to see things about myself, my life, and my relationship to the world, from a deeper, wider arc. By sharing them, I began to hear from you that these stories guided you to see things about the feminine, about yourself, and about who you are becoming. Sharing our stories does this. And writing from down in where we excavate the deeper truths does this.

All too often the Voice of Judgment (VOJ), another deep and powerful way of seeing the Inner Critic especially with regard to creativity, vehemently hates us sharing these deeper stories of truth that lay waiting inside of us for breath and life and ears to listen. These are the stories that truly unveil, the stories that cast light where there was shadow.

And so, of course, as Life would want…

I managed to find a way to begin to write these stories AND share them. Though in the beginning, it had to be with a very small group of women who are writers and with whom I felt comfortable enough to go there…to write these stories. Writing with these women – Ronna Detrick, Amy Palko, and- for over two years has been the fertile ground of my becoming, and fertile for each of them as well.

Today on World Storytelling Day…

Our group, which we have named Fierce For One Another, is sharing one of our many braided essays – Limned. We have many braided essays; enough to fill a beautiful woven book of feminine voice and experience. We did this through a process of discovery.

Yes, we are fierce for one another. Through writing together, for the most part weekly over the past two plus years, we have found a place where no matter what we write and read to each other over our weekly calls, we hold the line of fierceness for the words, the stories, and the woman we have been and are becoming.

About a year into our time together, we began to braid our words together. Braiding is a very feminine attribute as is this process of writing together. Weaving together into relationship, through story, finding the lines that meet, walk together, then meander to another. Words that call resonate, phrases that catch the breath and must be penned again, essential fragrances of womanhood that demand to be known again in the light of the heart, in this realm of flesh and blood, in this day and time.

In this process, each of us would begin a piece and then we came together to read them. Then, we would each pass our words onto another woman who would carry on from our last word to share her story that, while indeed her own, was born out of the first. We then came back to read, and then we passed them on again. And so on, until the piece returned to the first woman, who sometimes would finish with her words, and would sometimes feel that the piece already stood on its own.

Today, we offer you Limned.

It is a braided story that in some ways is also about story and tales. But these aren’t fairy tales. These are rich, embodied, stories of our lives, sometimes sharing memories and sometimes coming directly out of our felt experience of that moment.

I hope you enjoy Limned. And if you do not know Ronna, Amy, or Tanya, I hope this leads you to their work for they are powerfully creative women whose businesses are about empowering the women to live as we are.

A p.s. : we sometimes swear … a fair bit.

After listening, I’d love to know what you feel and think of this long braided story. It’s just over 36 minutes so you might listen as you walk in the woods, or urban woods if you live in the city like me. Or curl up on your sofa and with hot tea in hand, sink in.

However you listen, I hope you feel the power of four women coming together to write what is true in that moment, to share their stories together, to become so in love with each other that we hold each other’s words, stories, and lives as sacred and worthy of ears who will listen without judgment and with love. I wish this for you. Not necessarily the writing, but the closeness with women, this space of love, this acceptance of whom you are and the stories you have to tell.

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