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.

*****

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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The Primal Animal of Your Body

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The Primal Animal of Your Body:

You know what you are by how it feels to experience yourself.

As I work on a new incarnation [yes, she’s coming to life again as we speak] of Writing Raw: Writing from the Animal Body, I’ve been contemplating the animal body and these lines came to mind.

“You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”

Part of a longer, amazing poem, these lines by Mary Oliver remind us of what a break from conventional wisdom it is to even realize that we have a soft animal of our body and that we can simply let it love what it loves.

What I now am curious about, though, are the different animal qualities a human body can have.

How might you let the fierce animal of your body love what it loves?

or…
…the fiery animal of your body or…
…the luscious animal of your body or
…the primal animal of your body or
…the slinky animal, the protective animal, the well-fed animal, the hungry animal, the delighted animal, the joyful animal?

You have an amazing array of animal qualities to experience in your body.

Qualities of experience tell you so much about what you are because you only exist here and now, not as an idea but as a living breathing being.

You know what you are by how it feels to experience yourself.

 

Try this…

For a moment, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, sink down into your hips and thighs and belly and feel and sense the animal in you, the animal body that you really are.

Sense into how it feels to be your animal body.

Sense the feelings and then the qualities of these feelings.

They could be tight, hard, fluid, pouncing, expansive, hungry, languid, on-the-prowl.

Listen and feel, closely.

Feel your hind paws on the earth and notice how they link you back to ancestors not so far removed from the earth, ancestors who felt no distinction between who they were and the animal body they had. Ancestors who hadn’t yet perfected the art of forgetting they were real, alive hairy animals who had to scout and forage for food.

Your animal body is this close.

Enjoy the experience of getting even closer, so close you no longer feel you ever left her far behind.

writingrawfromtheanimalbody

 

If you’d like to get closer still, join me for

Writing Raw: Writing from the Animal Body

It’s not just for writers. It’s for women who long to be and feel alive, and are curious about writing deep into the space of their soft, primal, alive… animal body.

We begin on October 30th.

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To discover great faith in yourself is a profound turning point.

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Through you, life is constantly being born anew. You are an instrument of love. If you want a different world, you must give birth to it. You must come to know what is in your heart. You have a powerful knowing to give voice to and we need your voice – we need all voices to find their true Source – that source within. You do this by going within – by consciously turning and going within to listen deeply and bring forth what you come to know and hear.

Speaking what is true can be a challenge. Oftentimes, the space and time between what you truly long to say and what you end up saying can be very short – meaning, there is something inside of you that you long to say, yet the more ‘programmed’ voice will speak over it almost immediately.

But notice I wrote ‘almost’.

There IS a space between what you long to say and what you often do say and it is this space we adventure into in Writing Raw.

What you long for is longing for you.

What you long to say lies within you, in the deeper layers of your being, often as deep as your bones. To come into contact with this inner voice before it is silenced, you need to come into the inner territory with reverence, awareness, and a true desire to hear.

Your true voice is accessible. It really is.

“I feel so strongly that what you have created in writing raw has this potent link of turning us – leading us – inviting each of us into our own selves. not calling it anything but ourselves, words hinting here and there of naming, but to be ourselves and have faith in that is a great great great gift that is given in that circle.” ~ Barbara Heile

 

The Inner Realms

When the initial glimmer of Writing Raw first came to me, I knew it would be a way to rediscover within oneself the sacred, sensuous realm that most of us have come to believe does not exist within us. After three years and many women, this is exactly what Writing Raw is – a threshold into your sacred, sensuous nature; a threshold into feminine community; and many thresholds into your deep imagination and ways of bringing this forth into words.

We write together. In community. In circle. In reverence and love.

We learn to listen to ourselves and to each other, and eventually to the vast space of what has not yet come into form. For we are that which can bring formlessness into form.

I can tell you this realm exists within you. It is deep and glorious, and it longs to come into a direct relationship with your conscious self.

To discover great faith in yourself – in who you truly are – is a profound turning point. 

It isn’t complicated. It is truly simple in many ways. But it does take a desire to hear what is underneath the predictable and safe. No one can tell you what you will find within but you can be guided to find your way. I am one of those guides and it is what I love to do. 

Why Writing?

Writing is the vehicle that we use to reawaken our conscious awareness of soul and deep imagination. It’s what we use to ‘realize into form’ our innate creativity. And it’s what we use to remember what is true about women – that we naturally and innately know how to weave ourselves into a sacred tapestry of communal expression.

Few of WRYvonnesecondquoteus enter into this kind of exploration without fears or anxiety. But what I know is that alongside this fear is a deep longing to reawaken, realize, and remember… This is the call of soul.

This is what matters now in these times. No healing or evolution will come without accessing the realm of soul.

 

I’d love to have you join us.

We begin Sept 5th.

You can find out more and register here.

 

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We Rise So That the Invisible Can Arise From Within Us

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Earth, isn’t this what you want: to arise within us, invisible?
Isn’t it your dream to be wholly invisible someday?–O Earth: invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your urgent command?
~ Rilke

I begin this post with a quick exercise for you…

Take a moment right now to think of something you’ve done in the past week where you didn’t know how you would do it. Let your mind float back to a time… There are many little moments when this happened. Pick just one. Think of the moment when you had the AHA! about how to do what you didn’t know how to do. This moment when the idea came to you. Be with that moment for a bit to relive the experience.

You might close your eyes and do this exercise right now.

Now that you’ve thought about that moment, what did you notice? How did the idea come to you? Perhaps it was more like a ‘knowing’ than an idea. Was there a feeling of AHA!?  Did you wrestle with not knowing before the idea came? Were you worried or anxious? And once you got the idea, where did it come from?

* * *

To do something when you don’t know how to do it is an act of creation. It requires trust.

To do something new and innovative is an act of creation. Trust needed here, too.

To live a human life is a continuous act of creation. It is a continuous act of self-creation, moment to moment, yet you are not conscious that you are doing it. You’re just living your life. But something deeper within you is conscious. It is guiding your unfolding.

To engage fully in this human life, consciously, takes an enormous amount of trust between you and this something deeper.

Really, to engage in any act of creation requires this trust between you and this something deeper.

We could call this deep creativity. To become conscious of this is to really get the sense that there IS this something deeper and you ARE already in a relationship with it – whether you are conscious of it or not.

You might not trust it yet, not fully, but trust me – it trusts you. This something deeper trusts you and knows you.

* * *

I write often about creativity and have for close to fifteen years. And, over those years I’ve been frustrated in doing so. You’d think I would move on to another topic. Right? But something in me is determined to change the narrative around creativity. Why? For a long time, I didn’t really fully know why. But now I do. Now it is very clear to me. It has taken what’s happening now in our world – great turmoil, the rise of hate and fundamentalism, and the undoing of the structures and systems for me to sit down to write this out…and along the way to understand it more fully.

There are a few different ways we think of creativity. Problem-solving. Innovation. Artistic talent. But, I actually like this definition from Dictionary.com:

…the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination…

How do we then transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, etc.? Or in other words, how do we get out of our own conditioned thinking and when we do what is it we are tapping into?

It is ‘this something deeper’.

And, here’s the thing. This something deeper IS the reason your creativity is unique. This something deeper is your deep Self. It is outside of conditioning. And it holds the potential of what is possible. It is out of this something deeper that the new can come.

So think back to the beginning, to the exercise I had you do. From where did that idea come?  It came from within you. Yes, YOU ARE this brilliant source of creativity. You ARE creative. You live it in many simple ways each day and sometimes in big, flashy insights and ideas.

So why is this important now? If you think about how humans are acting and reacting right now, consider how original our thoughts are. Consider the nature of fundamentalism. Consider linear, rational thought. How creative are we being when we are stuck in the same old, same old? Life is always changing. Life is always flowing. Rigidty in thought and action is a way to try to control that which cannot be controlled. What we must do is learn to move and flow with Life, to rise so that Earth can arise from within us.

What we need are people – many people, all people, everyone – beginning to trust in this something deeper within them – within us. We need people who are truly able to open up to this creative source within because this is where the new will emerge from – the new world, the new way, the new expression of how we choose to be in the world as human beings.

* * *

volcanoRISEsmallThis is why I am offering R I S E, now. This course takes you into direct relationship with this deep creativity. It ignites and supports trust in this something deeper. It offers tools and practices to deepen into this creative source.

It awakens you to your potential and capacity to effect real change in the world.

I’ve extended the early bird price through Sunday, Feb 5th. Take a look. See if it’s right for you. And, if you know of someone you think is looking for this, ready for this, please pass it on. I truly want those who are ready to R I S E in this way to join me. We begin February 14th, because we are Love arising.

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Developing a Foundation For a Creative Life

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Sparklers after Sunset by Jamie Street on Unsplash.com

 

The other afternoon, I had a lovely interaction with the express checker at Whole Foods. He’s a fun guy. I remember him and like to be in his line because he’s always kind and present no matter how busy he is.

Our conversation started out with me telling him, “I’m so glad I got you for a checker today. You’re always so friendly and pleasant. It’s nice to interact with you.”

His smile began to shine and his eyes grew bright. He has the nicest smile. And he replied, “Thank you. That’s nice of you to say. How’s your day been? Have you done anything fun or exciting?”

I had to think for a moment. “No. Not really fun and exciting. It’s been an okay kind of day.”

I then asked him about something he’d told me a few months back – that he had graduated recently and was looking for work in his new field. “How’s the job hunting going?”

He took a moment to pause, perhaps to consider how to answer the question. Then said, “I’m working on it. I’ve got some fear around moving forward.” or something along those lines.

I stood for a moment noticing how amazing it was to hear someone tell the truth. Just like that. With no great fanfare. No drama. Just the truth. His voice was clear as he was honestly sharing that he was feeling fear. And then he said, “I don’t know if that makes sense.”

So I told him what I do for a living. That I’m a coach. He chuckled in response. And then I told him that it makes total sense to me. I hear this all the time from those I work with. And, I know it deeply within myself. The feeling of fear when we step out into new territory. For some of us, the fear keeps us stuck – not moving. For others, we step out but with great bravado so no one will know we are afraid.

And, then he mentioned how the fear gets in the way of responding creatively. And, then, of course, my ears totally perked up and I smiled. After I told him I teach courses on this, he asked me if I had anything to share with him. And, of course, as you probably guessed, I did.

So, I did.

This is what I shared with him. I think it is good and helpful information. I wouldn’t call it advice per se because there is no way to tell him – or you – what you should do…but I can offer him/you a few ideas to develop a strong foundation for a creative life.

  1. Trust in your own knowing
    Trust that you have the resources within you that will guide you in any moment. Don’t look ahead and worry about what will come and how you will respond. When you have faith in your own capacity to know in the moment, you are much more likely to take the next step, and then the next, and then the next. With each step, your creative resource within knows how to respond.
  2. The Voice of Judgment
    The thing that gets in the way of trusting your own knowing is the Voice of Judgment (the VOJ). The VOJ tells you that you need it, that it is looking out for your best interests. And the more you step out, the louder it gets. But the thing is, you don’t need it. It will only keep you small. Afraid to risk. Overthinking. And swirling in dramatic emotions and fear.
  3. The Foundation for Creativity – Presence:
    Ultimately, the trust in your own creativity, your own knowing, is the foundation you want to cultivate. Once you relax the VOJ and trust in your own ability to know in the moment, everything opens up. You become aware of everything around you, aware of possibilities, aware of resources available to you in the moment. The thing is, you aren’t going it alone. You are fully supported by unknown forces and by the flow of life that surrounds you.
  4. YOU are Creative
    This is what it means to be creative. Creativity is much more than artistic talent. Creativity is the nature of this universe we live in. And it is our nature.
  5. You are not afraid
    You are feeling fear. There is a big difference. One slaps the identity of fear on you, that you are a fearful being. When we do this, we begin to believe that we are afraid. But, when we realize fear has nothing to do with our identity, that it is something we feel just like any other feeling, we shift into an entirely different relationship with it. It no longer is us. Instead, we can keep moving, feeling whatever comes. Same with judgment, which is the source of our fear of being creative and taking risks. When judgment no longer sticks, it just comes and goes.

All feelings come. All feelings go. But your creativity is YOU. Your capacity to meet whatever comes is YOU.

He thanked me. And then, I realized I’d just had that fun experience he’d asked me about earlier. In just a few short minutes, we’d talked about something that lit us both up. I could feel how excited I was to share what I know. And I could see the gratitude in his smile and eyes. He was genuinely interested in what I was sharing with him.

We said goodbye, and I headed out to my car.

R I S E

volcanoRISEsmallAll of this is so present for me as I prepare my new course R I S E. This man is not alone. I told him that. We are all facing unknown territory. It might be the current conditions in the world. It might be a new job search or a relationship breakup or an illness of someone we love. Whenever we realize we do not know what lies ahead and we wonder HOW we will navigate this unknown space, we have the choice to step into this vast unknown place of uncertainty or to retreat back to what seems like safe space.

The most important thing is that we find a trust in our capacity to be in this life, fully engaged and fully alive. This is what we came here for! To be alive. To live who we are. To be part of the human community.

Live Q&A Call

I’ll be hosting a live call to share more about R I S E and this amazing work that I’ve been teaching for fourteen years to so many different people and groups. I will share a bit of the work. Trust me, you’ll take away things you can use immediately. And, I’ll answer any questions you might have about R I S E

Dates:
Saturday, Feb 4th 9-10 am PST

Call Information:
712-775-7100
Participant Access Code: 1005863#

 

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Discovering Your True Capacity to RISE

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“You are what you pay attention to.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

A pretty profound statement, really.

This morning I was thinking about reflections, about where, what, and whom we look to for a reflection of who we are – or who we believe ourselves to be. What and where and whom we habitually look to reinforces our sense of identity and our idea of what we are capable of.

When I was a young girl growing up in my particular family, there were certain things that were more acceptable ‘to be’ than others – like sweet, polite, and agreeable; toned down and quiet rather than boisterous. It was acceptable for me to be small, to contain my natural power rather than challenge the power of the adults in any way. That was the parenting style of the time. A child was to be seen and not heard – especially girls.

For most of my adult life, without even realizing it, I continued to seek out reflections that showed me I was good, polite, toned down, etc. to make me feel at home, comfortable, like myself – the self I long ago constructed so that I would be always ‘acceptable’. And in order to find these reflections, I had to continue to believe I am and BE only these things.

But, the reality is that underneath it all, I am a lot more than these qualities.

In the creativity courses I teach,

I offer to my students the understanding that our true nature is made up of a myriad of essential qualities, meaning natural and organic qualities that we already are without having to learn them or acquire them.

In fact, we cannot acquire them for they are what we are. They are essential to who we are.

The main essential qualities – soul qualities of our essential nature, of Essence itself – are compassion, joy, intuition, strength, will, and power. These qualities reflect our essential nature. Let that sink in. These six qualities are qualities of the nature within you.

These qualities ARE you.

We lose touch with them is that we come to disidentify from them. I mainly disidentified with joy, strength, and will. As a polite girl, it was necessary to not be too willful. As a girl who learned that she got strokes from being nice and unassuming, my essential strength, will, and power went undergound, into the shadow. And, as a girl who learned to identify with others’ suffering, I pushed my natural joyous – boisterous, really – self away. Living as the girl I described above, compassion and intuition were acceptable qualities and so it wasn’t a problem for me to stay connected to these in order to maintain my constructed identity. In fact, I got really good at living these qualities. They became emphasized.

In reality, it isn’t that we disconnect completely from any of them, but what I’ve found is that we ‘pretend’ to ourselves that some of them are ‘more like’ the identity we created than the others.

Essential Qualities and Facing Life Challenges

Take a moment to sense which of these six qualities you were able to stay connected to and which ones you ‘disallowed’ due to the identity you created:

compassion
joy
intuition
strength
will
power

Now, think about the qualities you learned weren’t okay to show. These are the ones you have a hard time accessing. And then consider the challenges you face right now – and the things that have always been a challenge for you. Ask yourself if the reason these things seem challenging to you is because you cannot fully access these certain qualities. If so, notice if you are reluctant to pursue these challenges because you believe ‘you don’t have what it will take’ to meet them. That belief comes from the fact you don’t have full access to your essential qualities and somewhere you know it. You BELIEVE you don’t have what these challenges will take.

Every single human being is born with full and open access to everything we need in order to live our lives. We’ve just lost connection to some of them.

After my husband died, I faced a great many challenges and at the time I thought for sure I didn’t have what it would take to face them. But, as I stepped through each one, I became stronger, more resilient, more powerful than I had been prior. And the deeper and more fully I grieved, the more joy I began to feel again.

Here’s the great news…

My late husband’s death pushed me into rediscovering these qualities, but we can choose to step into our challenges knowing we have exactly what we need to move through them.

We remember and reclaim access to these qualities by more consciously living the challenges we face in life. Challenges help us remember the depth and breadth of our capacities. Each challenge is the opportunity to discover our natural strength, power, will, intuition, joy, and compassion…and many of the other myriad unique qualities our soul possesses.

Think about that. Consider the challenges you are personally facing. What frightens you about these challenges? Now, for a moment, think about which qualities would support you to R I S E up to meet these challenges. Which of the six do you need but you don’t feel you have access to? Here’s the secret. It is by beginning to meet that challenge – committing to it and moving through the creative process within it – that the qualities are called forth.

It is by meeting these challenges with love and courage that you rediscover you are Love, you are intuitive, you are strong and powerful and joyous at your core.

These times are asking us to reclaim who we are. This is how we evolve – by becoming conscious of our essential nature and expressing this nature into the world.

As we begin to notice our natural, organic qualities, we connect to the fluidity of these qualities, which connects us to the experience of being alive rather than a still frame of a picture of who we decided we were some time ago.

By living our challenges, we begin to feel who we are rather than believing in any static idea of who we are.

Registration is now open for R I S E – my new course. 

R I S E is a 9-week course that will give you practical and potent tools to rediscover these qualities by taking immediate creative action in the world. The course is based on powerful Stanford University curriculum and it provides…

  • juliebyleniA foundation of tools, practices, and understandings from which to take clear action – the kind of action that often feels frightening and overwhelming without these tools and understandings.
  • Experiential and practical exercises to guide you to discover deeper and deeper layers of your true nature and how it desires to express itself in the world.
  • The realization that there is no ONE WAY to R I S E and that what R I S E even means is different to each of us.
  • An understanding that while these times feel challenging, it is the very nature of challenges to bring our best selves forward in order to bring forth a more creative, loving, joyful culture.
  • and so much more…

Find out more here. I’d love to have you take this journey with me!

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On Being Human

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“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world,
an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.”

~ Martha Nussbaum

I’ve been talking with a friend lately about being human. How do we do it? and do it well?

It seems like a funny thing to talk about, but when you start to see how often we bumble things up –  get things ‘wrong’, say the wrong things – being human can feel like walking through a quagmire.

We seem to be funny creatures – not just my friend and me (yes, WE are) – but all of us human beings. Sometimes, it just feels really hard to be here on Earth – vulnerable, soft-soul creatures walking around in fleshy human bodies.

Especially now. We’re living in amazingly turbulent times. The rate of change makes my head spin. And I feel great grief with the direction we are headed as a species.

So how do we cultivate an openness to this world that feels so beyond our control?

We have to develop a practical, embodied relationship with the unknown nature of Life and we do this by becoming aware of and skilled in the expression of our own internal creative Source. We do so by becoming aware of our unique creative process and how to take action by being in direct relationship with this Source.

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.” ~ M Nussbaum

When you are rooted in the firm foundation of your creative Source, you can trust in the uncertain and have this willingness to be exposed.

I like Nussbaum’s analogy of being like a plant – or a flower – “something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.”

This is what I’ve been writing about for years here at UnabashedlyFemale. This beauty. This fragility. This tender softness of our human souls. To be human is to be flesh and soul. It is vulnerable.

And yet, this vulnerability is so much stronger than we think, because the main qualities of our creativity – our sacred nature – are strength, will, joy, intuition, love, compassion, generosity, caring, and power. Consider these qualities. The more we will our vulnerable, soul-soft, felshy selves, the more these qualities come to the fore.

When we live in a dynamic relationship with our own creative Source, we become reacquainted with these qualities of Being that we have mostly lost touch with from living out of fear and self-protection. It is by entering into this direct relationship and living it in the world that we remember these qualities – that we remember who we are and what we are made of.

Trust is the very important piece here. We have to learn how to trust again. And what is it we must learn to trust? Ourselves. The uncertain and unknown. And our capacity to meet whatever comes. We must relearn how to trust our relationship with Life, and with that comes relearning how to trust our relationship with other human beings – and really humanity itself.

Nussbaum writes that “Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you.”

But, if we no longer trust other humans (and ultimately ourselves, meaning our relationship with the unknown) then our life “is not a human life any longer.”

Here’s the part where it gets dicey. There are people in this world, right now, who wish to do us harm. How do we stay human in a world where other humans want to destroy life? How do we be a human being in today’s world where so many humans are violently against each other, and against Life? My answer leads me right into the unknown because “I don’t know.” And, I do know we have to find our way back to our humanity or we will not survive.

[Edited to add: And I do know we must see the highest in every human being, meaning we must see the Source that is within them, even though we meet their actions with our own appropriate action.]

I can honestly say that trusting the unknown has been one of the greatest challenges of my own life. I’ve fought it. Yet, I am completely in love with the mystery, with the creative process. I think I am not alone in this dilemma. We love adventure but we also do not like to lose control. Yes, we are funny creatures.

I agree with Charlotte Du Cann who writes,

“I realise we are not in a political crisis; we are in a spiritual crisis, an existential crisis. We don’t know what it means to be human anymore. We have lost contact with the meaning of time, our presence here. “

If our fear of each other is causing us to lose our humanity, then you can bet this is a spiritual crisis, an existential crisis. Our being human is directly tied to our spirituality. To be human we must be in direct relationship with the Source that gives us life, the Source of our creativity. We must be in dialogue with the Source of this great mystery, which means trusting the mystery – out there in the world, inside within ourselves, and within every other living being.

It’s all really very practical. The unknown is a fact of life. It is when we deny the facts of life that we’ve lost touch with the real.

If we are going to be agents of love and change, then we have to trust that which IS love and that which is the source of change.

 

***

Just next week, I open registration for my new course R I S E. This course is the culmination of my teaching over the past decade plus. The core of the course is the curriculum I teach at Stanford, and the same curriculum I taught when I worked with families directly affected by 9/11 and people directly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. It is the work I teach in companies. Originally offered to MBA students at Stanford for 25 years, it is powerful work.

I’ve named it R I S E because it is time to rise up. It is time to bring all of our knowledge, experience, and purposeful intent to create a more humane world. The beauty of R I S E is that it offers a practical and potent container to support YOUR work in the world. It gives you the interactive experiences, tools, and practices to come to know your own creative source so you can meet any challenge you face as you R I S E in this new year. We truly are facing a time of challenge, but at the same time we are facing a time of possibility – pure possibility.

When we R I S E to meet our challenges, we discover who we really are, we discover the vision we hold inside, and we discover the deep capacities we’ve been gifted with. R I S E will give you an amazing foundation from which to meet any challenge and opportunity, and living our challenges is how we discover who we are and what we are capable of.

Registration opens the second week of January. Sign-up for my newsletter to be notified.

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Life’s GPS: The Connection Between Creativity, Purpose, & Soul

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Lately, I repeatedly see an image in my mind’s eye. When it appears, it’s always the same. I’m standing in the middle of the scene and on one side of me is a pool of thoughts and idea(l)s made up of what other people think, what the culture says, and what my own Voice of Judgment tells me. On the other side of me, the right side, are the deep, dark mysterious waters of my soul.

In the image, I have a choice. I can choose from the dark waters of my own soul. Or, I can choose from ‘conventional’ wisdom (what is often not wise at all) and the roar of judgment from so many different places, including my own head. By judgment, I don’t mean conscious discernment. Rather, here judgment means the kind of thinking that is meant to keep the status quo in place, keep people in place, keep things from changing. This kind of judgment does not like the fact that life is constantly in flux. This kind of judgment wants to contain, control, shame, dominate, and keep small. Again, notice it is both out there and within.

But, you might be wondering why I include ‘conventional’ wisdom in this mix. To me, it is the unconsidered status quo, the stagnant conventional thinking, that keeps true creativity from being able to enter our world, either our own personal world, or the world at large. And, boy do we need some truly creative ideas and expressions at this point in the human journey.

Creativity upends the status quo. Creativity isn’t conventional. Creativity is brand new and comes when we’ve allowed the fertile ground to be turned under, left fallow, and then tilled for new life.

Creativity comes out of the deep and dark mysterious waters of the soul.

We can try to pin it down, trace it back, figure it out – but ultimately where it comes from is unknown and cannot be known. We can name it, but we cannot truly know it except as an experience because it is alive.

Creativity is alive. Purpose is alive. That which keeps us from being creative and purposeful is stuck and stagnant.

In this image, I can see so clearly how important trust is – the trust of both what lies within me and my ability to hear it and act from it, as well as the knowing that every other human being also is creative and also has a deep well of creativity within them.

I see how often my attempts to understand my purpose, my reason for being alive, have insidiously come from looking to others, or my own Voice of Judgment, for information, validation, or ideas on what this purpose might be. Looking out there isn’t the same as true mirroring from those who know you and really listen to you. Effective mirroring can be a source. But, ultimately, even mirroring must be checked against the knowing that comes from an alive and trusting relationship with one’s soul.

And, I see it is a choice. It is always a choice. Sometimes, I go unconscious in the choosing process, and choose out of fear of humiliation, abandonment, rejection…. like everyone else.  We are meant to be in relationship and community. Our minds can get squirrelly when we think we won’t be.

This image began appearing after beginning to engage in direct dialogue with my soul, which isn’t the easiest of tasks. But, I did hear her clearly, after asking the question, “How do I begin to follow your lead in my life?” Her response? “Don’t make anything more important than me!” (exclamation point mine!!!)

This image shows me clearly that in each moment it is a choice to not make anything more important than where my soul is guiding me.

***

What I’ve come to begin to see, (and I write ‘begin’ because, again, we are speaking of the mystery) is that to open to our true purpose we must honestly, in the most way, begin with the question of “Who am I?” and “What am I?”. This is the journey of turning within to ask, to look, to listen, to feel and sense…and then to learn to receive.

When we learn to trust in our nature, both as a creative being and as a woman, something shifts. There is less need to look out there for validation and approval. There is more joy from the acceptance of yourself and who and what you are. And, there is less fog and confusion about things in general, fog and confusion being a way to avoid life and acting on your own behalf.

Your nature is both universal and unique. The soul has unique qualities, and in my experience and in the work I teach, it is these soul qualities that begin to give us a sense of what we truly are. These qualities are NOT static things. Often, when we think of personal values, they are static things. Rather, these qualities are qualities we find when we investigate our own experience(s) to notice the feeling states inherent in them.

Like creativity, experiences are alive, not simply concepts.

To know purpose, we continue to come back to what is uniquely alive within us. What is the feeling quality of an experience when you are doing what you love? We aren’t focusing on the outward expression or the objects of life, but on the feeling state of the experience.

I wanted to share this image here on my  blog because the tendency to turn to someone else, or someone elses, to see ourselves is so strong. We learned to do it when we were really young because more often than not those adults in our lives who might have really mirrored our own light back to us couldn’t see it because they, too, hadn’t been seen.

But as adults, we can begin to do what it takes to look within, to remember that there is this vast inner world of soul.

This inner world will guide us. It is always here. It never left – we just turned away.

You might find you have your own image. Soul speaks in images and symbols. Open to what your soul shares with you.

Now, when I see this image in my mind’s eye, in my image I turn to soul and open to receive.

Just this act is everything.

***

I’ve just opened registration for my course, Becoming a Force of Nature.

bafonbadge300pxThis round of the course will begin on June 9th and run for 12 weeks. In Becoming a Force of Nature, I teach and offer experiential ways to make this turn back to the inner world, and then to begin, or deepen, what can be a long journey to trust and faith in oneself. This will be the last time I offer the course in this format. I may offer it again, but it will change – because my work is changing. I do know that if I offer it again, it won’t be in this format.

In fact, I’ll be teaching it a bit differently than I did the first two rounds. On our weekly calls, I’ll introduce the material and then facilitate the exercises on the call, so you have your first taste of each week’s material together with your classmates. Then, after the call, we’ll spend the remaining part of the week ‘living with’ the material. You can read more about this on the registration pate. There is so much great material in these 12 weeks; SO much that you can take the course with me the other women in our group, and then – at your own pace – go through the 200+ pages of PDFs that contain so much exquisite detail and interactivity.

The depth of the dive you can take is quite astounding. And, doing it a few times is exactly the way to deepen your journey. The PDFs contain everything I will teach on the calls, but they take things deeper in a way that you can utilize to your advantage. Taking it live with me the first time will activate the material in a certain way. After that, using the in-depth writings will allow you to deepen the experiences you had in our time together.

I hope you’ll take a look and consider joining me. You’ll find a new video on the registration page that I created to give a little more background to the material and its capacities to effect change in your life.

 

***

I’m in two new podcasts on the subjects of Creativity and Becoming a Force of Nature – one with Amiel Handelsman, the other with Charlie Gilkey. Take a listen. I know there are some wonderful gems in each of these podcasts. Both Charlie and Amiel are great interviewers and I even learned much more about what it is I do.

 

***

Image above by The Wandering AngelCreative Commons 2.0. No changes made.

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Rich With Sacred Becoming

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Rich With Sacred Becoming

 

“To discover who she is, a woman must descend into her own depths. She must leave the safe role of remaining a faithful daughter of the collectives around her and descend to her individual feeling values. It will be her task to experience her pain…the pain of her own unique feeling values calling to her, pressing to emerge. To discover who she is, a woman must trust the places of darkness where she can meet her own deepest nature and give it voice…weaving the threads of her life into a fabric to be named and given…sharing it with the women around her as she comes to a true and certain sense of herself.”  ~ Judith Duerk,

Strung together like lights that lead us down into this darkness, these words speak to me. From these strands and strings of word-lights, I feel the pressing – the ‘pressing to emerge’.

 

Rich With Sacred Becoming

Like watery, primordial pools
where the emergent reveals itself,
slowly,
chaotically,
at first without any known pattern or meaning,
I,
too,
shimmer with the barely known.

Like chthonic, fecund soil,
rich with sacred becoming,
I,
too,
reek of sacred humus,
ripe with nutrients of rebirth.

Like stardust still cooling from the star’s demise,
I,
too,
glow with decay.

Turning my attention inward,
to the pool,
the soil,
the ashes,
the temple teeming with life,
I open to it,
feel it,
receive it,
allow it to fill me,
feed me,
nourish me.

Little in the collective
honors my soul’s humus.

Everything I learned as a faithful daughter
chides my appetite to turn inward.

Yet,
my appetite for the truth
is stronger than
my need for austere approval,
if I turn to the appetite,
the hunger,
the longing.

The revelation comes on its own,
at its own pace,
without aid,
if I honor the insistent
invitation of breath
to deliver my soul,
down,
into my cells.

The birth comes,
on its own,
the child’s pulse
closely tied to the
heartbeat of earth,
if I inhale with expectancy
to be filled with
that same stardust,
the black water,
the dark humus of sacred becoming.

::::

I invite you to journey with me into these sacred pools, this fecund soil, this still-too-hot-to-touch stardust.

In Writing Raw, we cross the threshold into this dark humus of becoming and write what we find ‘into a fabric to be named and given…sharing it with the women around her as she comes to a true and certain sense of herself.’

This is the beauty, and gift, of Writing Raw. It is a circle where you can share, with women around you, the opportunity to come to a more ‘true and certain sense of’ yourself.

I hope you will join me, if it feels right. It can feel right and feel frightening. It can feel right and we can feel shy and unsure. All of these can be true.

Find out more about Writing Raw, here. And, be sure to email me if you have questions that feel important to ask in order to honor this ‘pressing to emerge’.

::

Thank you to Judith Duerk for her ability to express something so important in words, so many years ago, so far ahead of the times.

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Dark Water Elegance

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Dark Water Elegance

This moment of return
to wakefulness.

This moment when the
first edges of this world form
out of the watery nature of night.

My feet hover just above the water,
toes touching this ocean of dark.

I dress myself in garments of dark water elegance,
gathered from ocean floor,
bejeweled with iridescence.

I emerge onto this edge,
a shoreline running between
night and day,
sleep and wake.

I wear this into day,
this dark water elegance
a lifeline back to remind me of
what is true when I meet the hard edges
of this other world where
softness and the unseen
are where we wipe off our hard metal boots.

This dark water elegance is
more resilient than I imagined
now that I no longer leave it in a heap
on the floor by my nightstand.

(c) Julie M Daley, 2014

~

I an writing poetry again, stimulated by my Writing Raw course, currently in session. It’s a powerful writing circle, and I’d love to have you be a part of the next circle beginning early January, 2015.

If you’d like to know more, you can read about it here, and then sign-up for my newsletter to be notified when registration opens in December. Writing Raw registration makes for a great holiday gift, too!

~

image: Punta del Diablo on Flickr by Vince Alongi under Creative Commons 2.0

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