Yoga, Cleavage, Laughter & Namaste


Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him:  Now, calm down and concentrate... He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade :)
Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him: " Now, calm down and concentrate..." He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade 🙂

image attribution


Each day of December, I am being moved to post by Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:
Today is Day
29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?


So, this one’s hard for me. I’ve been sitting here thinking about how little I belly-laugh.

Sure, I watch Seinfeld reruns with Jeff, and we laugh until tears come…at the same old episodes. Like the one where Elaine dances like a freak.

Yes, in my family of origin, including sisters, offspring, their offspring, we completely lose it at holiday gatherings when someone farts. Especially my nephew, but I won’t out him here. Now, my eight year-old grandson is taking up the practice, having been gifted a whoopie cushion from said nephew. This Thanksgiving, when my two sisters and I, our four children, and our growing cluck of grandchildren (up to six now, with five being born in the last thirteen months) made sure we brought the Fart CD so we could regale ourselves, once again, with the pure joy that comes from potty humor.

But, all-in-all, I tend to be pretty serious. I tend to feel things deeply. I tend to write deep poetry and take long walks gazing at the beauty of life. I tend to dance and do yoga with a depth of concentration and intensity. So, when my big belly laugh happened this year, it wasn’t so much as a belly-acher or gut-buster, but it was more about the surprise that came when I could laugh really hard, along with others, at my own expense…in the middle of a hard work-out yoga flow class…taught by one of said sisters (the one that said, “Yes, I’ll take it” when asked if she wanted the ‘wicked-sense-of-humor’ gene just prior to conception. Of course, she is the older sister, so it was already taken by the time I was conceived).

Molly Fox, my sister, is quite the fabulous yoga/nia/pilates teacher. She is well-known on the East Coast for her fitness studio that she had in Manhattan for years in the eighties and early nineties.

It was in her Saturday morning class that my laugh moment of ’09 occurred. It’s not that it was that funny…it was funny to me…and to a class full of yogis. This is what happened.

I was in the front row, as I am wont to do in her classes. We were doing some kind of asana (don’t know the names at all) where  we were in a lunge with one knee on the ground. Molly was trying to get the class to lengthen the spine, rising and extending up from the center of the body, lifting the chest from below. She was explaining it, and then to help give people a better sense of what she was talking about, she came over to me, bent down beside me and said to the class, “Here. I’ll show you.” She quickly looked at me to ask if she could touch me, and when I acknowledged yes, she said, “This is my sister, so I can hold onto her breasts. Lift from here.” Of course, she didn’t grab my breasts. She gently held my rib cage and lifted me from deeper within my body. It was incredibly helpful to feel the difference between what I was doing and what she was suggesting.

I suddenly heard everyone break into laughter. I looked in the mirror. I realized I was wearing a pretty low-cut yoga top, and as she held me by the rib cage, being in front of the mirror with my breasts being raised up, much cleavage suddenly appeared front and center within the ‘very’ present awareness of everyone in the room. I didn’t know if they were laughing because of my being her sister, her comment, the sudden influx of cleavage, (couldn’t resist, Kelly) or all of the above, but I began to laugh, too. It all seemed pretty absurd and gloriously un-seriously yoga like. Molly’s classes are the best, ’cause she is so down-to-earth, so in love with her students, so good at what she does, and so damn funny.

Molly loves and respects the practice of yoga to the depth of her being AND she can have fun with it, which, to me, is the sign of a great teacher. Like Luka, the 6-year old son in the image caption at the top, a good teacher brings us back to reality, to the sanity of life that comes from not taking it all too seriously.

It’s here, in this not-too-serious place, that I can sometimes experience the deepest Namaste.

I think laugh will be my verb for 2010.

Maybe my noun will be cleavage, simply loving the cleavage that comes with womanhood. It may be about the cleaving away of what I think being a woman has to be from what I truly discover and experience it to be. Perhaps it might bring a softer, more loving embrace of my womanhood.

Maybe, just maybe, being with it all as it unfolds is the Namaste, the deepest bow, to what is.

What about you? I’d love to know, what makes you laugh? What is your verb for 2010? Your noun? Your ideas for bringing fun, laughter and ease to your world? Your best belly-laugh? Your ’09 cleavage story? Your real-life experience of Namaste?


Body and Place



As I’ve pondered this word (today’s blog challenge prompt is ‘The best place’), I’ve thought of many places I love:

walking in Tilden Park (I live across the street from this wild heaven)

on the dance floor on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in Sausalito with 149 other sweaty and passionate 5Rhythms’ dancers

sitting on the floor in a puppy pile with my three grandchildren, 2 great-nieces and 1 great-nephew on Thanksgiving

doing yoga in my sister’s (the one and only Molly Fox) incredibly physical, and joyously lyrical yoga class

listening intently to my clients on our coaching calls as they share the most intimate details of their ‘one wild and precious life‘ (prostrations to Mary Oliver)

sitting in meditation with the most amazing teachers Lynn Barron, Amma and Adyashanti

simply being with Jeff, the man I share my life with.

I am struck by these things:

how crazy fortunate I am to be living the life I am living


how integral being in my body is to the ability to ‘be’ in any place and ‘know’ how it feels to be there. My body is my doorway to place, because I experience place through my senses. I drink place in with my eyes. I touch place with my heart. I feel place through the cells of my body.


The ‘best place’ to ‘be’ in is in this body, this sensuous female body that feels deepy and loves completely.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t always been the best place to be. In fact, for many years I wanted nothing to do with this place. I stayed way up in my head, or at times, was nowhere to be found even in the vicinity my body.

Now, after much ‘work’ and lots of great body practices, I know differently. This female body is divine. Not just mine. All female bodies are divine.

I remember being at and Adyashanti retreat when he was speaking about the divine nature of all of life. As I listened, I had an epiphanic experience (fancy way of saying an ephiphany, because I love the word epâ‹…iâ‹…phanâ‹…ic). I suddenly knew, in the embodied way, that my female body, and all female bodies, are divine. We bring life into life in a myriad of forms. Our female bodies are gateways to this amazing thing we call life. If we are in our bodies, we feel deeply, we connect with the earth.

As this was satsang, when the time came for people to share experiences or ask questions, I raised my hand, was called upon, strode up to the mic, and said, loudly and clearly, “I just got that this body (pointing to mine) is divine”. I suddenly heard a chorus of female gasps arise around the room. I obviously wasn’t the only one who had missed this message growing up.

So in wondering about place, I now see, and taste and touch and hear and feel, that body needs to be in conscious relationship with place, any place, to know it.

As Mary Oliver writes,

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 11: The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook? A BODY!

Image credit: Place of Healing, by Mara on Flickr


Growing Whole in the Darkness



“All beauty contains darkness.” ~ Daniel Odier

Learning to see, and then act, outside of the current patriarchal structure has been a journey of ever widening circles, much like a spiral. It is the journey of living the feminine, a way of life that is very different than that which I was taught to know. It means trusting what is revealed in each moment of present awareness, and feeling for what is ripe with the promise of birth. I go in and out of living this way, but as the circles of understanding grow, I find myself opening to the darkness of the feminine to receive Her guidance.

When this guidance is revealed, the only thing that lies ahead is darkness, the darkness of the unknown. The only thing known is that one choice, the one thing that is the most obvious choice. My mind struggles with the darkness, wanting desperately to know what lies ahead, and yet I also know in my heart that this darkness, this unknown, is the mystery of life waiting to be revealed. The divine mystery is the new, is this darkness from which all emerges.

What I am learning to trust in is the strong pull of this knowing. You might call this intuition, but for me, as I live deeper into the cells of my own body, it is knowing.

I found, what I guess you could call the ‘best’ book of 2009, this way. I saw it on a friend’s desk and knew I must read it. The pull was unavoidable. A friend had given him the book, for reasons he couldn’t understand. He had no intention of reading it, but for some reason had not yet given it away.

I would call this book a gift. A gift given and gratefully, and voraciously, received. Not all of the book kept my rapt attention, but the parts that did carried me deeper into the darkness, deeper into the parts of myself that were thirsting for light. I was yearning for gnosis. Through a marriage of the wisdom of this book and my own willingness to allow a new kind of knowing to emerge from within, I began to deepen my trust in this darkness.

The book that has so many dog ears, cracks in the spine, lines underlined, recommendations to others, is Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness. The authors are Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson. In my knowing, this book can be a guide book for the journey into darkness that we all, and most especially women, must take. As Woodman states, “The evolutionary imperative within the collective unconscious is pushing us toward a new level of consciousness.” We must learn to stand alone, in our own wholeness, if we are going to survive. And, learning to stand alone means diving into the darkness, to come to know ourselves again in a whole new way.

As Odier shares, there is beauty in darkness. It is the rich soil from where all of life emerges.

Today’s post is Day 4 (best book) of Gwen Bells’ Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.


Libido, Hana & The Sensuality of Life



Today, I’m writing as part of a December blog challenge, The Best of 2009. In this challenge, I’ve been asked to write about a topic each day, a topic that focuses on the ‘best of’ for this year. We’re given a prompt for each day – to use or not – but today’s prompt, What was your best trip in 2009?, is way too juicy for me to pass by…juicy, because my best trip for this year was the two weeks I spent in Maui.

Ahhhhhhhh… Just writing that begins to bring it all back. The sun, the fruit, the amazing water, Haleakalā, and Hana. Oh, and my Libido dance workshop. Yes, all of these delicious things were rolled up into two weeks in paradise. I personally don’t know how anyone lives there and gets a lick of work done.

The trip began when I read about a 5 Rhythms dance workshop on Libido to be held at Studio Maui over three days in July, one of which was my birthday. How could I resist? Maui, libido, dancing, all to celebrate my birthday. When I told my partner Jeff about it, he was in. You see, his birthday is five days after mine. We just happened to be born the same year, five days apart. We always try to find some great place to go and unwind for our birthdays. While Jeff doesn’t dance, he was more than game to find something to do on Maui for those three days that I would be dancing.

We landed a few days before my workshop was to begin, and started out by just lying on the beach in West Maui. The water was divine and I let myself just melt into it, and into the warmth of the sun. We did nothing. For two days. Swam. Slept. Ate. Drank in the sunshine. Then, we packed up and traveled to Haiku, a small town on the North side of the island.

Dancing libido was beyond description. 5 Rhythms has been my main practice for over seven years now, and I know it is what has kept me sane as I have dealt with life’s offerings: death, birth and all the experiences in between. The workshop invited us to open to, and dance, our libido, what Carl Jung refers to as, “…the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire.” While we usually think of the more narrow definition of libido as sexual desire, it is really so much more. Dancing this energy of desire and sensuality, creativity and expression, was a very powerful way to open to the sensuality of Maui. Little did I know at this point just how sensual a land Maui is.

Dancing the 5Rhythms is such a compassionate and loving way to exlpore realms of self that have been pushed into the shadow, realms that seem to powerful, dark and primal to allow out in everyday life. The dance is a way to let the body bestow its wisdom and ability to heal upon the psyche. Being in a room with so many other dancers exploring this primal and love-filled energy is a gift of major magnitude, for there aren’t many places in our culture where we can learn to be comfortable with this power that rises up from the core of our nature. I emphasize love-filled, for my experience during this workshop was of the magnitude of the power of this love. Love is at the heart of our life-force, the force the is the heart of all creation.

After the workshop was over, we made our way to Mama’s Fish House – very much a touristy restaurant, but an incredible dining experience, too. My birthday dinner there was most memorable, as my entire being was still aglow from my dance experience.

The next morning we made the trek to the top of Haleakalā. Being on top of the island, looking down into the crater is an experience I’ll never forget. The beauty and power of this place is something you can’t describe in words. I’ll just let the pictures speak for me…


We then made our way back down the mountain and over to the coast, where we picked up the “Road to Hana”…and yes, it is quite a drive! You can buy T-shirts that say, “I survived the road to Hana’. The lush green of the vegetation as we arrived in Hana took my breath away as it lured me into my most animal nature, awakening something very old. I knew I had come home…it was as if I knew I had been here before. The only other time I have felt this totally delectable feeling in my body was when I was in southern India, in Varkala. There is something about the tropical land (Hana is as close as you can get to old Hawaii from what I understand) that just soothes my body and soul and brings me into complete presence with the land.

Each day we were there, we would wake up before the sunrise, walk across the street to Hamoa Beach (yes, our cottage was across the street from one of the top 10 beaches in the world) and swim as the sun rose. Almost every day, we had the beach to ourselves.


Ever since I was young, I have loved fresh fruit. I could live on it. That’s the other thing I loved about this trip. Each day I feasted on the most luscious fresh fruit that we purchased at roadside stands. We were even served fresh bananas, right off the tree, in Haiku, by the woman we rented our apartment from.

The land in Hana just feels so welcoming. In writing today, I realized how certain cultures seem to know they are part of nature, unlike our culture here in the States, where I hear all the time people say they are going to ‘go spend some time in nature. When I was in southern India, I felt completely one with my surroundings, not just a visitor in nature. I felt this same way here in Hana. I could just breath in and drink up the divine force that is both the creator and creation itself. We don’t have to go to nature. We are nature.

Each morning in Hana, I would sit and feel the warm tropical breeze across all parts of my skin and experience the sensations of my sensual animal nature. The sun, the wind, the water, the fruit, and the earth all fed me in a way that felt as old as earth itself. I felt held by the Great Mother, the Big Womb of Life, and began to know another part of me that had been dormant for so many years, perhaps even lifetimes. It was very simple. And profoundly humbling. The earth still holds us, even though we haven’t been such loving, grateful children to Her. In Hana, they are so respectful of the land, the ‘Aina‘. They get that She holds us and they revere Her.

Upon my return from Maui, I realized I now know myself more deeply, more sensually, and more primal than before. It’s all right here within us, this libido that is our creativity, our sensuality, our primal life force. Oh how we try so hard to deny our nature- that we are nature, that we are animals with a big, over-active, self-reflective brain, and a divinely sensual, loving life-force. This is at the heart of wild creativity.

This was my best trip of 2009.


Embodiment: Lighting the Temple From Within



How we fear the descent into the depths of our own bodies.

We’ve been well trained to fear our flesh. All the lies we have been told about our bodies, and most especially our female bodies, rise up to face us when we decidedly choose to descend into our totally human, yet utterly divine, bodies. But, the descent is the most necessary thing we must do to become completely alive. Awareness from the shoulders up is like living powered by a 15-watt light bulb. It makes life dim and makes it hard to really experience the fullness of the world we live in.

This past weekend, I decidedly dove deeper into my divine female body. I traveled to Oak Park, Illinois, for the fourth realm of the Institute for Sacred Activism’s (ISA) series of trainings. ISA was established by Andrew Harvey, the renowned scholar and author, and Jill Angelo. This realm was all about embodiment. We were treated to Heart Yoga, a new yoga practice developed by Andrew and Karuna Erickson.

This new work, presented by Karuna and Andrew, was profoundly transformational in how it opened the heart through the gentle yoga moves and beautiful poetry of the masters, such as Rumi, Mirabai and Hafez. As I moved slowly through these Heart Yoga postures, glimmerings of light began to make their presence known from deep within my heart. The experience had a very ephemeral quality to it, a quality that contrasted starkly with the seemingly solid nature of my body. I was aware of the gentleness of the moves and how this gentle nature invited the heart to open, rather than pushing anything to happen.

Sometimes things in life seem so static and solid. So fixed and unmovable. So unrelenting. I know I have concretized so much of life, especially the places I fear – like the body – like my body. And, I’ve done a lot of embodiment work – and I still know there are many nooks and crannies where I harbor feelings of shame and dislike towards this most amazing temple that houses my soul.

Which leads me to another thing about Oak Park. This beautiful Mid-western town just outside Chicago, is the home of many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural beauties, including his masterpiece, the Unity Temple.

Yesterday, the Monday morning after our long weekend filled with work with the body, I took a last walk through town, making sure to make it to Wright’s Unity Temple, as I hadn’t yet seen this famous iconic work. I am a huge fan of Wright, having studied his work at length in my year-long foray into the study of architecture.

When I came upon it, I was transfixed by the totality of concrete Wright used in the temple.

Wright's Unity Temple

So much concrete.


Such small windows.

In my life, when days feel difficult and I feel stuck and find myself thrashing around trying to make sense of the world and what’s happening in it, I tend to think of my body as this solid form, much like the concrete walls of Wright’s temple. Sometimes, I even feel like I have these tiny openings to the world, so small that only a little bit of my light shines out (and, conversely, only a little of the world’s light gets in.

In gazing at Wright’s Unity Temple, I wondered why he would have created such think, heavy walls, and I suddenly sensed this analogy between the human body, and its gross layers of tissue, bone, muscle and blood, and the more ephemeral quality of the subtle body within, made up of energy and life force, and the ephemeral quality of the heart. I don’t know what Wright was thinking, but the correlation between his design and my embodiment work of the weekend was profound.

The church as temple – the body as temple. Gross layers of seemingly heavy and solid matter that, from the outside, look like a fortress within which darkness prevails.

We humans tend to concretize our bodies, meaning we believe ourselves to be solid and simply bodies, when in reality, according to quantum physics, our bodies are really billions of cells, that contain mostly space.  When we concretize our bodies, we see them as objects. We can’t be in them, meaning we pretty much live with awareness down to about our necks. In a concretized body, there is no fluidity, no sense of the life force within and no connection to all that lies outside of it.

In the Heart Yoga, we were tenderly led through a series of poses and instructions to awaken all the cells of our body to the light that is within, to fill the cells with this heart light that is sourced from the sun.  The light is without, and the light can fill all that which lies within.

As I stood outside the church, imagining what the interior space was like to inhabit, I remembered having the same experience as I envisioned the light from the sun filling the cells of my body. Somehow, as I envisioned the light filling my body, I had begun to experience my body, not as a bunch of bones, muscles, and blood, but rather as a billion cells dancing with light and life force. Now, seeing the temple and imagining it filled with light from the sun, and light within, I wondered about the temple itself, not as defined by the concrete walls, but rather defined by the space within it, by the light and life that makes up the intereior of the temple.

Then, as if by divine magic, I walked past a sign indicating that the temple was open for tours. And, on this sign was a quote by Wright that seemed to align with what I had experienced:

“The reality of the building is the space within.”
“The reality of the building is the space within.”

Is this the reality of the body when we open to it as a temple of our divine nature? Is the reality of the body the space within? I suppose in everyday life, as we walk down the street passing each other, we only see the concrete walls of each other’s bodies, with small bits of light emanating from within, usually through the twinkle of an eye, or the flash of a smile. And, in our own experience, we only sense small amounts of light, if any at all, of our true nature.

Do the walls of our bodies, simply help us to know that another unique being lives within? What if we were to shift our perspective and see the body, not as the exterior characteristics available to the eye, but instead to the space within, to the vibrant creative life-force that infuses it with creativity, with love and with compassion?

Is the reality of our building, our human body, simply the materials we have been taught to believe it is, or are we really something more, that space within the body, and within the cells of our body?

Marion Woodman speaks of the goddess as the luminous, ephemeral nature of the light filling the earthly cells of the body.  In other words, the goddess is not something that we take on, another role we play, where we wear flowing gowns and flowers in our hair. It is the awakening in the cells of matter, the billions of cells in the body, to the light of the source from which all life comes. When we open ourselves to the light that is the love and compassion that emanates from our own radiant hearts, that light floods all parts of our bodies and is the experience of our divine, sacred nature merging with our immanent earthly body.

This is the transformation of consciousness that we must make if we are to awaken to the sacred nature of earth and all that lives here. When we know that all of life is the goddess, the sacredness that we yearn to know, then we’ll realize it is within us and is without in the entirety of the world around us.

On Wright’s Unity Temple, above the entrance door, the following is inscribed:

“For the worship of God.”

For the Worship of God

And, is this body, this profane human body that takes so much abuse and punishment, so much self-hatred, and so many centuries of criticism from culture, religion and society, really for the worship of God? Are we here, in these bodies, to experience life on earth in its entirety, with hearts that are open and embracing of the simplest moments?

If we look out the eyes of our own body, onto the world around us, what if we were to gaze with eyes that know the divine spark within? What if, as light-filled beings we could see that light in everything around us, realizing that our temple is not simply a place of worship, but also a place where we gaze onto life with eyes of love?

In the past, we have separated out a house of worship from the profane space around it. That has led to the belief that everything outside of the temple is profane. But not all peoples have believed this. Indigenous cultures have worshiped life itself, the sky, the earth, all living creatures, and the four elements that make up our world.

As I contemplate this understanding that came from my experience this weekend, I know what I have understood for some time now, but in a deeper way. The human body is built for the worship of God, not the God that sits on high and judges, but the God that is the light, is the heart, is the ephemeral love that resides in every atom that comprises life.

It is only by way of this divinely human body that we can experience the multitude of blessings that life brings. It is through this doorway to life that we taste, hear, touch, see, and smell life. It is through this body that we become fully aware of the sacred nature of all of life.


Embrace Your Wild Creativity


“Men and women both have a role to play in these times. Feminine wisdom holds many answers, and we have a responsibility to acknowledge its presence, and allow it to emerge as a force in the world. And women have a particular responsibility in this process. Women’s spiritual consciousness, which holds the secret of how spirit and matter come together to create new life, is needed for the mystical process that is taking place within the whole. In order to serve the needs of this new era, women must really live who they are without hesitation, and leave behind patterns of insecurity, dependency, and fear that have inhibited them from expressing what they know is real. Men can serve by developing their own feminine nature, and also by supporting and protecting women as they accept their responsibilities during these changing times.” ~Hilary Hart

Women’s Wild Creativity is: the source of Life, one’s creativity, flowing through a vibrantly alive, instinctive, and radiant female body.

I started Wildly Creative Women six years ago, after a life-changing, consciousness-shifting experience of my own wild creativity. During a mess painting episode, something broke open within me. It brought awareness and light into every cell of my body. In the tender, joy-infused moments of this experience, I saw clearly that women’s creativity is different than men’s. While the source is the same, the vehicle which we use to express it is wholly, and holy, different.

Women have the deep creativity that allows for Spirit to marry with matter, to bring life forth into life. Whether or not she gives birth to children, this capacity, this consciousness exists within each and every woman. It is only a matter of awakening it, and right now, in these times, we are blessed with Life’s deepest desire for us all to awaken.

Men, too, have a role in all of this. As Hart so eloquently states, men must embrace their own feminine nature within, and protect women so that they can step into their new place of autonomy and new-found sense of responsibility to the whole. What greater gift can we give to each other as men and women than to fully awaken to, and realize, the gifts Life has bestowed upon us. We each have a place of service to the whole in this new world that is unfolding before our eyes.

What we are now faced with is the very real necessity, and beautiful opportunity, to bow down in true honor and respect to each other as women and men. In order to come into balance in this way, we need to come into balance within our own beings…and we need to honor each other’s personal power as human beings, knowing that this personal power within each human being is the sacred life force that feeds and nourishes us all.

Each of us can ask ourselves, where do I give my power away, and what do I give it away for? Is it for love? Is it for safety and security? Is it to keep myself playing small in a world that doesn’t seem to be comfortable with my power? AND, we can ask ourselves, where do I take away another’s power? Where do I gladly help another play small, so that I can feel superior?

There is no shortage of love, unless we choose to see scarcity. Love, compassion, passion and creativity all flow from your life force, your inner resource that is your personal power.

In very real concrete terms, women’s power is continually taken away by a culture that does not value the true beauty of women; by a culture that does not value women’s bodies; by a culture that does not ensure that its children are well cared for because it continues to make the day-to-day realities of life so difficult for these childrens’ mothers.

Embracing your wild creativity means you begin to open to your personal power, to that vibrancy that is your life force, while marrying it with the instintive nature that your body gifts you with. Feel this force within you. Honor it, acknowledge it, and bring it out into this world that is thirsting for this sacred nature within you.




Dusk Light

There is no house, like the house of belonging. ~David Whyte

A week or so ago, I spent a couple of days at Esalen. On the Monday morning I was visiting, there was a dance session offered and I jumped right in. As I danced in these new surroundings, with other dancers I had not danced with before, I felt completely at ease in my body, with my dance, and with the others in the room. The word belonging came to mind, and I began to feel a deep sense of belonging there in the moment to this new place. As I danced, I could feel the peace that comes in knowing one belongs: to the group, the community, the world; to the earth and the land; to this life, and to something greater than oneself.

Belonging gives us a sense of peace. It allows for an opening to life, a trust, a reassurance that we can let go of our armor and be real with ourselves and each other. When we realize we belong, a letting go naturally occurs.

When we are born, we naturally belong to earth and to life. Eventually, though, we learn to believe the story that we have to earn our belonging. And, depending on our race, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors beyond our control, we learn what our earned belonging entitles us to, and the rights that go with it.

Dancing last week, I came to finally see through the illusion that we have to earn our belonging. As I looked out over the waves breaking against the rocks at Esalen, I realized the truth: we all belong to life, to this earth, to each other, to the world community. While nothing belongs to me, I belong to the world. I am a part of this big family called Life. Nothing belongs to me, yet I belong in the deepest, most freeing sense of the word.

When we realize we belong, and I mean realize deep down in the cells of our body that we BELONG, we finally we can take up space here. We can settle in to the fullness of our soul. We begin to relax and breath deeply. We are finally home. Belonging is a natural right and consequence of being a child of Mother Earth. We are Her children. She is the Mother. She provides for us. When we know Her this way, we begin to honor and love Her.

When we know we belong, we don’t have to keep proving it; we don’t have to deny others’ right to be here; and we don’t have to keep asserting our power. We can simply take our place, alongside each other, alongside all of Life.

Stop for a moment to see how you feel about belonging. What do you belong to? How comfortable are you in taking up space in this world, taking your rightful place, alongside all of Life. Where do you shrink back? Where do you feel you don’t belong? How might belonging be different for you as a woman in this world? What would be different if you realized you belong completely to this world, and this Life? Where is your house of belonging?


To Sweat IS to Glisten


“Horses Sweat, Men Perspire, Women Glisten” ~ Grandma

Yes, this is what my grandmother would say to me when I was young. You see, I was one of these kids who would go outside to play, and within 10 minutes my coat would be off and I would have a line of sweat all the way across my upper lip. I loved to play and I loved to play hard! There was no doing things half-way for this girl.  Of course, you can imagine what my grandmother thought of that. She was a product of her times. I am sure she was told that women ‘glisten’ by her mother (or come to think of it, maybe her father).

Most of us women learn at some point that it isn’t lady-like to sweat, regardless of what name we give it. But, there’s nothing like a GOOD SWEAT. I was engaged in a delightful email conversation with my good friend Ellie this morning, and we shared what a great sweat we had just enjoyed. She’s a runner and mentioned that she had a wonderful run this morning that was “delicious…fresh air, orange sky & lots of sweat — the stuff that makes me happy most mornings”. I responded to her about my extraordinarily sweaty dance yesterday morning where, once again, I played hard…or I should say danced hard. I ended the two-plus hours of straight dancing INCREDIBLY SWEATY, and I felt absolutely and utterly clean and light from the inside out for the rest of the day.

I dance the 5Rhythms (developed by Gabrielle Roth), and on Sunday mornings I dance with 149 other beautiful souls in a two-hour silent practice called Sweat Your Prayers…and we do. We sweat. I do seem to sweat more than most of the others… something I guess I am used to since childhood, but I notice I sweat a LOT MORE than the other women. This used to bother me, until I realized I was holding myself back from fully diving into my practice.

As I dive deeper into the practice, I realize I am dancing much more deeply grounded, deep down in my legs, pelvis and core. And when I do, I sweat unabashedly. Heat gets generated, toxins are released, and I feel clean and light.

My friend Ellie says, “Isn’t sweating the BEST? It’s so under-appreciated. One of the main reasons I love running is the sweat factor…major cleansing from the inside out!. Funny, I use to sweat a lot during Bikram, but it wasn’t as satisfying a sweat.”

I concur! In my almost two-years of doing Bikram, I loved the sweating, but it wasn’t as satisfying. I wonder if that’s because when I dance, I am generating all the heat from within my body, dancing from deep within my core. The room certainly isn’t heated, although with 149 other people dancing in close proximity, there’s a lot of heat being generated.

So are you wondering yet, why I’m writing about SWEAT on Unabashedly Female? In corresponding with Ellie, I realized how much women are taught, at least in my day, that sweating wasn’t ‘lady-like’. I can STILL hear my grandmother (and mother’s) words.

But, I know how healthy and satisfying a GOOD SWEAT can be; AND, I wasn’t being me, wasn’t really dancing MY dance when I was holding back because of any old leftover worries about being TOO SWEATY. When I dance deeply, I invite others to do the same. When I sweat, I am IN MY BODY, loving the experience.

To sweat IS to glisten!

Being unabashedly sweaty is running/dancing/yogaing/etc. with full-on engagement. It’s about loving life and learning to love ourselves enough to embrace the gift of a GOOD SWEATY GLISTEN.


Letting Go and Letting In



Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my Mother’s death.  It’s so hard to believe it’s been one year. I remember I couldn’t write for a while after she died. It was as if things needed to settle inside me. No, settle isn’t quite right. Things needed to move around, push their way out, burrow deep inside, get all mixed around, catywampus-sideways…everything just had to be left alone to be inside me. One thing I have become all-too-familiar with is the need for grief to be welcomed and befriended. It is an intelligent process, grief. I have experienced that when you open to it, don’t rush it, don’t fight it, even befriend it by giving in to it and entering the darkness of it with trust, it will move you, it will shake you, it will bring you somewhere out the other side of the darkness, somewhere new that you never expected.

Mom’s death was a lesson in letting go on so many levels. Letting go of my longing for her to be cured of her cancer, letting go of her being open to talking about her death, letting go of being able to say good-bye in the way I wanted to, letting go of wanting to be by her side at the moment she passed, letting go of all the things I thought I still needed from her as my mother. One big-time letting go.

And now it’s one year later. I find I am still letting go. I am letting go of our culture’s taboo on discussing death and sharing grief. I am letting go of the expectations that we are only supposed to grieve for a set period of time and then if we don’t move on we’re ‘not normal’. I’m letting go of the culture’s obsession with the objectification of a woman’s body, as if it existed solely for sexual gratification. And, I am letting go of the societal voices that ‘honor’ mothers on the surface, and treat mothers with disdain and women with second-class status.

As I wrote in a post last year, as my mother died, I felt a deep painful tearing in my body, right at the core. It felt as though my connection with my mother (the most primal connection I had) was being severed as she prepared to die. The pain seared in my core, down deep at the base of my body. It was as if I could feel her leaving by way of the pain in my own body.

Then, after she died, I sat with her body for a long time. I felt awe in the presence of her body, the body that nourished me and delivered me into this world. I felt gratitude for all she did in her life to provide for me, to keep me safe, to usher me into adulthood. I felt compassion for her foibles and humanness, a humanness that I had once expected to be perfection. Yet, there in the moments following her death, I was captivated by the ephemeral nature of this imperfect humanness for I knew, with her life force no longer there, her body was already beginning its way to non-existence.

Over this past year, I have come to know a strong connection between my mother and my own body. This connection lies at the heart of being human. We are fed by our mother, both inside her and once we are born. Her body is the vessel that holds us as we grow from being a few cells to a baby big enough to make our way into the world. She sustains us. During this time in the womb, she is all that we know.

This connection is primal. It is a connection to more than just mother. It’s a connection to the Universal Mother and to the Earth. This Earth is the vessel that sustains us as we move throughout our life. She provides for us. She nourishes us. While life can be harsh, without the Earth, we would not be.

We lose our connection because we are conditioned to believe we must let go of mother to be strong, independent individuals in our western culture. We also learn to blame mother for most everything that wasn’t right in our childhood. Mothers take the brunt of blame. Mothers are taken for granted. Mothers learn to internalize this blame.

It’s not about believing that mothers can do no wrong. Rather, despite the ways in which you don’t see eye-to-eye with mom, and regardless of whatever story you tell about your mother, can you find and feel your heart’s deepest gratitude to your mother for carrying you and birthing you? Because, that Mother, the mother that nourished and sustained you, is the same Mother that sustains all of life. The substance that fuels a mother’s capacity to nourish a baby into existence is the same substance that fuels all of existence.

What conscious grieving of my mother’s death has taught me is the profound, yet basic connection between awe and gratitude for my mother and the gift of life she gave me. It has strengthened my connection to my own body and to the Earth, and to all of life. And, it has brought me to the wisdom that comes from knowing this same substance is within me as a woman.

This substance allows for a beautiful and mysterious connection between women. We don’t have to be mothers to know this connection. It just is. This substance connects us with the Earth, with nature, and with the sacredness of life itself.

I don’t know what sharing this with you will bring, I only know that now knowing this has awakened reverence and awe for my mother, my daughters, my sisters, my nieces, and all women; my grandchildren and all children; my father, my partner Jeff, my sons-in-law, my nephews, and all men; and all of life. That’s been the gift for me that lies in knowing the fullness of my mother’s humanness, as well as the sacred nature of her female creativity.


Chaos, Creativity & Leadership


Chaos is ushering us into a whole new level of creative thinking that comes from deep within our intuitive, instinctive resources. ~Gabrielle Roth

This is wild creativity, a creativity that comes from deep within our bodies and hearts. In her article on the dancing path, Gabrielle Roth so beautifully expresses what is at the core of wild creativity. It is a creative ‘thinking’ that doesn’t come from thought. Rather, it comes from deep within the resources that are always available to us when we are open to our deeper nature. Wild, intuitive and instinctive, this creativity is chaotic and feral. It must be undomesticated, set loose from the dogma and ideology that keeps us tied to the old outdated, outworn system of the last few thousand years.

No longer can we simply engage with creativity as artistic talent or an intellectual premise that we begrudgingly entertain so that we’ll continue to build a better mousetrap so we can keep the shareholders happy.

In facilitating creativity courses over many years, my work has been with groups and individuals that range from top corporate 50 clients to families affected directly by 9/11, from students at Stanford University to individuals from all walks of life. All of my clients and students were looking to find some way to navigate times of great ambiguity and change.

Within their business structures, corporate clients were facing new initiatives that required radically new ways of approach, because the systems they had created no longer worked with what they were being required to do. They were being called to rely on something else, something that allowed them to navigate new waters that they were completely unfamiliar with.

Family members who had lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were thrown into a new life they neither asked for nor wanted. Yet, they had to move forward, most of them new single mothers with children devastated by what had happened.

The Stanford students were of two kinds. One group was non-traditional undergraduates, who had transferred from other schools and were of a non-traditional age. Their situation required that they find their bearings in an intensely academic setting where the vast majority of students had followed the traditional trajectory that students of elite schools must do. These non-traditional students had to merge with the population, while coming to understand that the gifts they brought were of benefit to all they would meet. It wasn’t about losing themselves or their history; it was about claiming their originality and uniqueness, which is the essence of ones personal creativity.

The other group of students have been part of the Creativity and Leadership course I teach every fall at Stanford Continuing Education. These students come from all different cultures and countries. They work by day and learn at night. And, they are fully engaged in learning how to tap into this creative resource within, knowing that right now, in these times, what is needed is a new way to engage in business.

And, the individuals I have worked with all came to me because something was calling them to step out into a new direction, a direction that did not logically follow from where they had been.
All of these people were seeking something that could guide them in these times of change, times of what we might call chaos. And, more and more people are finding these times chaotic.

Things are shifting on a grand level. No longer do the old ways of doing things work. If we try to use the old ways in these new times, it’s like trying to dance with your feet shackled to the floor.

In these times of change, it can be helpful to remember or discover what it is we trust in. Now this isn’t trust as in a belief we hold or a dogma we learned, this is a trust that is with us always, one that we know from experience. When we are moving in the flux and flow of life, what we trust in must come from within us, or else, when we try to move, whatever we are trusting in outside of ourselves, will not be where we now find ourselves.

This that we trust from within is the very thing that has helped us navigate times of change, times that we have experienced throughout our entire lives, for we have always been in change. What is this? It is our personal internal creativity. This is the nature we humans are, the process we naturally move with when our minds don’t know how to manage the change.

This creative process is so natural and ordinary that most of the time we don’t even realize we are utilizing it. It can be a knowing that comes out of the blue. It can be an intuitive hit that registers in our gut. It can be as simple as pure instinct. The important thing to realize is that it is our nature, for when you realize this, you realize you are creative by birth, it is your birthright and it is always available to you.

As the current societal paradigm continues to dissolve, it is becoming more and more important that we each awaken to this creative nature within. We are being invited to fully awaken to and get comfortable with this creative nature.

I’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment…


If you are interested in reading more, a new ebook is forthcoming on the topic of wild creativity. Contact me if you are interested in receiving it when it becomes available.
juliedaley (at)

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