She is no longer perfection who fell from her pedestal.





It’s Mother’s Day today here in the US. I woke up thinking of my Mom. She passed away just about eight years ago. Hard to believe I haven’t seen her for that many years.

As I thought about her, I thought of this picture above of the two of us together, in one of those picture booths they had back in the day. We were traveling across the country by car and these picture booths were available at many of the rest stops in the midwest. The rest stops situated on overpasses that graced the highways. My parents had just split up and mom was taking us to visit our grandparents in Michigan. She drove the four of us, my sisters and me, all the way across the country by herself in her 1964 1/2 Bronze-colored Mustang.

I got up and looked at the real picture and as I looked at it, what struck me, maybe for the first time ever, was her full humanity – the fact that she was just a human being. What struck me was her age – she was 36 years old here. So young to be facing motherhood on her own. She had her parents 2,500 miles away, but she had no siblings. And, she was facing great shame and judgment during a time when single motherhood was very uncommon.

She was just a woman, a young woman, hit hard by infidelity, separation, and divorce.

I could feel this ‘just a woman’ piece for the first time. You know how, as kids, we see our parents as gods? How they seem so much larger than life, as if they are super people with super powers? And in seeing them this way, their love when we get it is magnified like 1,000x? 10,000x? or even a 1,000,000x? And, so are their limitations, wrongdoings, and faults?

I don’t know if that is how you’ve carried your parents’ (especially Mom’s) limitations and wrongdoings, but for so many years I did. They hurt so much.

But seeing her here as this beautiful woman, trying to hold it together while in so much pain, and seeing me next to her, eyes full of love for her and getting my face as close as I could to her face, what has been left of any feelings of not enoughness-of-love fell away. I could see that everything hurt so much because I loved her so much. We do as kids. We love our parents so much because we are still in touch with that purity of love, that innocence of love – until we cannot bear to feel it in a world that’s forgotten it. That was how it worked for me. Perhaps, it was different for you. And, what I see is this underlying way children are, still holding up this huge image of Mom because the love within our hearts is huge and full and without resentment – until it no longer is huge and full and without resentment.

Oh, how I see her now in her humanness. Her frailty and amazing strength to do what she had to do. And, I see my love for her – my big-hearted, shiny-eyed love for her. I just wanted her to be happy and I couldn’t make that happen. I just wanted to be happy and I wanted her to see me happy, and she just couldn’t all the time because of course she was human and doing what we do to get through these lives we are living. Seeing her happy would have made me feel safer during those years.

It feels funny to be writing this at my age – like I should have this all together by now and I didn’t. And, I don’t.

To finally see her in her tenderness, with all of her flaws, trying so hard to keep it together when she probably wanted to just run away from it all, is the greatest gift I could unwrap on this Mother’s Day.

She is no longer perfection who fell from her pedestal. And, neither am I.



Embraced: A Grandmother’s Perspective


This post is for my friend, Tara Mohr’s Grandmother Power blogging campaign. 


I began my journey to grandmotherhood when I became a mother at 17, and had my second daughter at 21.

I became a grandmother at 45 when I witnessed my older daughter’s incredible strength and resilience through labor and birth, and what was (unbeknownst to us) to come. I was there, alongside my son-in-law, as my grandson emerged. I was there, alongside the three of them, as my grandson faced numerous surgeries in the first few weeks of life. He was at Children’s Hospital where there were many beautiful newborns in the ICU whose parents were equally as strong and resilient. Many of those babies died. All of the parents (and grandparents) I met within those walls grieved something so deep and profound.

During my first few days of Grandmotherhood, my relationship to life, and death, deepened. For months, my grandson was critical. Tubes and bandages covered most of his tiny body. The first time my daughter was able to hold him, more than three weeks after his birth, it took the nurses over one and a half hours to move him from the bed he was on into her lap, even though she sat just a foot from the bed.

It was new to me, this being so closely tethered to this baby, yet not his parent. I wasn’t his mother, yet was intricately intertwined. I would have given anything to change things, but I couldn’t. From my vantage point, I could see how much my grandson was suffering, how much my daughter and son-in-law were suffering.

I watched my daughter and son-in-law try to be with the terror that was happening. I felt completely helpless. There was nothing I could ‘do’ to fix things. Nothing. I remember how hard it was to just witness and to be with.

And then I came to understand how powerful it is to just witness and be with…and to hold it all in love. I didn’t become saintly; I just stopped fighting what was so, and instead began to respond.

My grandson faced trauma after trauma, yet he finally came home. He is a gorgeous boy, now…all of twelve.


The day we buried my mother, my younger daughter was very pregnant with her first child. I stood there, aware of the shift in my matriline. My mother was gone and now I was the elder woman in my lineage. For a moment in time, I saw back through the matriline, back to my mother, her mother and her mother, and so on. I saw forward to my daughters, my grandson, and the baby not yet born that would come to be my granddaughter. I stood there aware of both life and death, birth and burial, very aware that there can be no life without death, and no death without life.

When my daughter gave birth to her daughter, on my mother’s birthday just eight weeks after mom’s death, I was there during labor and delivery. I was so blessed…so, so blessed, to be there to witness, once again, how life follows death, just as death follows life, and to witness the profound strength of my daughter and the profound power of birth and motherhood.

To witness birth and the sacred as it moves through this process is intense in the way it can wake us up out of our dream that life is mundane, even if just for a moment – a priceless window into the sacred.

Again, with my granddaughter’s birth, I was taken deeper into the sense of what being a grandmother holds. No longer was I the immediate parent; at least not in the same way. My place in the world shifted, and I now saw myself from a different perspective. I was the mother of a mother. And, with the birth of my granddaughter, just weeks after my mother died, I became the oldest woman in my living matriline. When this happened, I could feel it. I not only knew it as a fact, I could feel it in my bones.


I now have four beautiful grandchildren. I love them fiercely. It is a powerful love, one that doesn’t have the day-to-day responsibilities and disctractions that are so much a part of parenting.

I am now closer to my death than I am to my birth. Instead of seeing my life stretched out ahead of me with the endpoint so far off it doesn’t seem to exist, I am well aware of the fact that I have much less life (in years) to live than I have lived. As I see the timeline of my life in my mind’s eye, where I am along it has radically changed, and as I look out toward death, I see the continuation of life that came through me, but continues on after I am gone.

It’s a strange thing to see. And for me, from my vantage point, the grandmother power in me has to do with all of this…it has to do with my relationship to birth and death, and to the life in between. It has to do with my relationship to grief, to joy, to gratitude. It has to do with my relationship to flesh and blood. It has to do with my relationship to the sacred. And, it has to do with the beauty of humanity.

It is true that I am so much more than simply a mother and grandmother. Yet, the richness and beauty of who I am in my life, in all the areas of my life, come out of the lush, full, pregnant knowing that is at the heart and soul of womanhood.

The experience of birth, both with myself and with my daughters, and death (of my husband and mother) have been powerful, powerful teachers.  The ultimate lesson? That the beauty, power, and ultimately the mystery of life is sacred, and that everything that is given is a gift.

I know how profoundly important this awareness of life’s sacredness is to the continuation of humanity on this planet. The mystery of creation as it comes into being as a human being, can only  grow in a woman’s body.

When I take in the bone-chilling treatment of women and women’s bodies (this vessel of creation) across our planet, my heart breaks open, over and over and over. I see it as the same bone-chilling degradation and devastation being enacted to our beautiful planet earth.

There is a force in our world that seems to want to harm the very vessel that brought each of us into being. What is this force? And how do we come to face this force?

Why do we fear this mystery and power with so much determination that we are willing to destroy ourselves?

What will turn us to see the sacredness within it, opening our hearts to a different relationship with life?

The power of a woman’s body is the same power that is at the heart of the mystery of life. As women, can we come to see that the lies we have been told about our worth are just that – lies to try to quiet and shame and ultimately control something that cannot be controlled?

Can we come to peace with the power that lies within our bodies, knowing that to live this power will not be like the power that’s been used over us?

We women see the connections. We see the relationships. We come to know how intricately connected life is, how everything relies on everything else for health and well-being, and when we don’t – we find ourselves unhealthy and not so well. Women know this. This is grandmother power. It’s about the web of life…about the fact that everything we do to life we do to ourselves. And the web has been vastly damaged.

This isn’t about quarterly earnings or market share or GNP. 

NO. This is about the continuation of life here on earth, and about helping to ensure that every being has the best quality of life they can.

That’s how important women’s voices are.

That’s how important it is that each and every woman comes to know how intricately connected she is to life and how much her singular life matters.

That’s how important it is that she finds and sings her song.

That’s how important it is for woman to get in touch with her deep, deep desire to remember something she knows way down within.


What is Grandmother Power?

Grandmother power is not only in women who are grandmothers physically. All women hold grandmother power. And, Grandmother power isn’t just in women, although some aspects are available to us through the female body. The heart of Grandmother power is part of life, and as such it is in all of life.

Grandmother power is the power of the broken-open heart. It is the power of feeling how deeply and intricately we are all connected to each other. And how when one part of this big beautiful web becomes sick, the whole becomes sick. It’s the power of being able to feel what is happening for the whole, to witness the pain of the world, and then to speak and act from this broken-open-heartedness.

Motherhood is so close to the child, but Grandmother power holds the larger family. It’s the whole family that is in your lineage, both individually and collectively.  With Grandmother power, we see ourselves as part of a the global family – not just humans, but all of life. There is a sense of sovereignty that comes from Grandmother power. There is a reason the Iroquois nation would not go to war unless the wise older women decided it to be so. Grandmothers hold a wider view.

From the grandmother’s seat, we know how powerful we are held within the matriline of all women. When a mother is pregnant with her daughter, the baby already holds the eggs that will become her children, should she decide to have them. There is strength and the power of the continuation of life in this line.

When we see life from the eyes of Grandmother, we know that the cycle of life, death and rebirth are an integral part of what Life is. There cannot be life without death. There cannot be death without life. We honor the wholeness and live the cycles.

Grandmother power isn’t something we do, it is what we are. It is our nature. It doesn’t move from a place of martyrdom, but rather from love. It moves from being deep in our female body. When we know Grandmother power, we do what we do with the great love that we are.

Grandmother power knows the sacredness of the flesh and bones, of  the soil and water, of the moon and sun. It’s a power that is rooted in the earth, not distant in some transcendent place. It holds the sanctity of life and honors it by way of choices made.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

These things I have listed as qualities of power are not seen by many in our world as powerful things. That’s how out of  balance we are. When we come to know power in these ways, our world will be a different place. The time for that is now.


I’d love to know what qualities you see that Grandmother power holds. I invite you to share them with us in the comments.



Wise Woman Wednesday – Randi Buckley as Midwife


Wise Woman Wednesday is a very organic thing. The first wise woman post was a spontaneous expression of respect for a woman whose work I love. It was a surprise – even she didn’t know it was coming. That was the beginning of Wise Woman Wednesday. When my heart desires to share a woman I love and respect, as well as something in particular she is offering that completely speaks to me, then a Wise Woman post is born.

Today’s Wise Woman is Randi Buckley. She did know I was going to write this post, but she didn’t know what I was going to share. She’ll discover it just as you do. So, none of this is planned or scripted, except for my request of her to send me information about her program, Maybe Baby, simply because I am not so great with details. I wanted to make sure I got those right.

Randi Buckley

Randi is loved by many. She calls herself a ‘storm tamer’ and her site offers this:

“Randi is equal parts Pema Chodron, Sofia Loren and Clint Eastwood, with a splash of George Carlin.”

I definitely see Sofia, Pema, and George. I can’t say that I’ve seen Clint, but I’d love to… Randi?

I first ‘met’ Randi on Twitter. She reached out to me and, with her wonderful sense of humor and soft, receptive heart, saw me in a way that surprised me. She has that ability…to see you deeply and lovingly. Last February, I drove down to visit her in person. She knew I’d been moving through the break-up of my relationship, and as we sat down to talk the very first thing she asked me, looking our from her deep soulful eyes, was, “How is your heart?” Yes, that is Randi – intuitive, kind, empathetic, and funny as hell. You know how you just know when you hit it off with someone, how the friendship just feels right? Yup. That’s my relationship with Randi.

But, there is more than just our friendship. There is my deep respect for Randi’s work. People rave about her coaching. Her writing is fierce and full. And her offers are attracting people from around the world. I don’t mean to imply Randi is something close to perfection. Not at all. What I do see is that Randi is giving to the world what she is here to give. When that happens, when we are giving what we are here to give, meaning what we create in the world is congruent with who we really are, our work begins to take on that quality that is so hard to define, yet so evident and visceral.

Randi speaks to this alignment and congruency when she describes how her offering, Maybe Baby, was born.

“I basically created it for myself, blending my own journey and coaching.  Then in feeling it out and doing some research I discovered it’s the biggest conversation not being had by women- and a desperately needed one.  It’s evolved quite a bit from my own ‘version’ but it started with the whispers in my own heart and the need to own my truth and walk my talk.

I did my research.  I put out a request on Twitter to interview women who were ambivalent about motherhood or weren’t entirely sure about their decision. With only two tweets, and within two hours, I received over 200 responses from women around the world who were eager to speak honestly and without judgement about where they were at with this very question.”

When Randi spoke to me about Maybe Baby and how deeply transformational it was for women, my heart was moved. Those whispers in our hearts bring our hearts together.


My experience becoming a mother was so different. For me, having children was never a question. I had my first daughter when I was 17. I never even had one thought of not having my baby. And once she was born, I never really worried about how to do it… it’s as though my wisdom just kicked in and my body and heart knew what to do. The same thing happened with my second daughter. I’m not saying it was all roses and sunshine. Motherhood is a deep journey in transformation. But, what I am saying is that I never had to face this question.

I do know many women who have wondered about having children…perhaps wondered is not the right word…I know many women who have struggled to find the ‘right answer’ to the question. There are so many voices out there in our culture that try to define and evaluate a woman’s worth by this one thing – whether or not we are mothers, and it is such crap. As a woman, it causes great pain in my heart when women I work with tell me they feel somehow less a woman because they don’t have children. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’ve read much of my work, you know how I feel about women and creativity. We are all mothers. All women are mothers to every child. And we give birth to so many creations, one of which is children.

Perhaps that is why I feel so happy to share Randi and her work with you. It is deep work and it is work that is helping to heal the wounds of degradation in women from a culture that continually attempts to characterize women by the roles we fill. We are not our roles or our relationships. When we find who and what we are at the center of our being, then we come to these relationships with our whole selves, and we create what comes from the heart.

Maybe Baby

If you are wondering about motherhood, or if you know someone who is, take a look at Maybe Baby. See if it resonates. There are two options…

Maybe Baby– group program – begins Oct 6th, but you can register through Oct. 8th

A six-week guided coaching journey, with exercises I’ve designed to crack open the truth and move women closer to peace with that truth- whatever it may be. We uncover, transform and learn from fear, find out who’s voices are influencing us, learn eloquent ways to say what you need to say to partners and others, etc.. You’ll have support and non-judgmental coaching, recordings of interviews and intimate conversations with experts about their professional take and personal Maybe Baby journey, includes online coaching/community, group coaching calls and coaching gym for laser- one on one sessions with me. It’s all online and there is new material each week.

Maybe Baby Self-Study – same material, but meant for the solo-journeying woman on her own and at her own pace. The self-study version is to be released October 12th.


Please note: these are NOT affiliate links. I receive no compensation if you purchase the programs through these links. As with any offerings, check to see if the work itself resonates with you. Ask questions you feel called to ask. Coaching (and a program such as this) works when the relationship between client and coach is right.


The True Mother Within



Mother – never our ideal, never that whom we hoped for…really hoped for.

I learned this as my mother was dying. I realized she would never be what I had always hoped she would be. No mother can, nor will. No human can fill that mother longing within us. We mothers try. We mothers fall short. We mothers beat ourselves up for this.

What mother can?

This past week, I was held in the lap of this mother that is the bountiful presence that births life. She is the tree whose arms wrapped around space like a vine wraps itself around the trellis. She is the sky whose stars shot through the night sky. She is the garden, whose birthing beds produced a magical harvest. She is the silkiest, saltiest water to ever embrace this woman’s body.

This past week, I was held in the lap of Molokai. This magical island is deeply rooted and grounded. Her energy is of the earth in a way there are no words to describe. She is wild and untamed and I came to know this place within myself – wild and untamed.

What if she is the creator, the One that gives birth to all that is?

What if she holds all the world’s children?

What if this mother is the mother you long for, the mother that can hold you in the ways you long to be held, can hear you in the ways you long to be heard, can touch you in the ways you long to be touched?

What if She is the only mother who can do so?

How would your life change if you came to know this?

How would your relationship with your human mother change?

How would your relationship change with yourself, and with the world, if you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are already held in the most bountiful lap, the most embraceable hug, the most adoring look possible?

This Mother’s Day, may you know Her embrace; may you know her bounty, may you know her adoration, may you know her love. May you come to know that your human mother cannot fill your deepest cravings to be mothered – but the Mother can and she is here, right now, holding you in her most bountiful lap. And it is through Her embrace that we remember the true mother within.

May we offer gratitude and love to our beautiful and bountiful Mother Earth…and to all the world’s mothers.



Pieces of Life


The first few days of November hold deeply meaningful things for me.

November 1st is the date I was due with my first child, Jackie.
She came eleven days later, on November 11, but for some reason I always remember the 1st, too, as if the day I was due to deliver also marked the crossing of a threshold.

Perhaps it was because for eight months this date stretched out in front of me as the day I would become a mother. I remember the feeling of this date being etched in my heart before I knew how my heart would break open to the unconditional love I felt when I first held each of my daughters.

The last day of October and first few days of November also mark a time when the veil between life here and life beyond is thin – then enough to feel and sense life on the other side. Life almost seems to have a magical quality to it during these hours and days.

In these days, I feel a strong desire to go inward, to begin the descent into the darker months of late autumn and winter. This desire to go inward sits awkwardly with the warm sunny days we have here in the Bay Area during this same time.

Yesterday, I spent a part of my day co-working with a few fellow coaches and writers. At the suggestion of Tara Mohr, we began to meet one day a month to work together, to enjoy community, and I’ve come to look forward to simply being with these lovely women.

As I sat in Rachel‘s kitchen, the sun shined so brightly into the room that I could have sworn it was late July. While the heat felt like summer, the warm cozy colors of her home deepened the urge I feel to settle indoors, making a warm cozy space in which to write.

Andrea and her son joined us as we took time out from work to eat. I felt so at peace simply being with friends, eating good food and talking about everyday things. I tend to be a loner, and I’ve been consciously trying to spend more time with others.

The way of women is to come together, and for some reason I learned habits that conditioned me to spend so much time alone. I am learning to come together with women. It hasn’t been easy. And, I long for it.

I’ve had the pleasure

of getting to know another woman, a woman I first met at the World Domination Summit in June. We met in an unexpected way. The doors of the hotel elevator opened and lo and behold, Jamie Ridler, who I had only known through social media, stood there right in front of my eyes. I witnessed her divine smile in real time.

Just a few weeks ago, Jamie invited me to be a guest on her podcast series. Let me tell you, speaking with Jamie was one of the most ease-filled times I’ve ever experienced. As you’ll notice on the podcast, our conversation was so fluid and effortless.

In this podcast, Jamie also shares some of her own wisdom. And then, further into the recording, Jamie and I speak of creativity and the Feminine, what it means to be creative as a woman.

I’m excited to share this talk with you. I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to hear what it sparks for you.


Flowering Darkness


Profound words for the Grandmother in each of us…

Surrounded by my shields, am I:

Surrounded by my children, am I:

I am the void.

I am the womb of remembrance.

I am the flowering darkness.

I am the flower, first flesh.

. . . In this darkness, I am

Turning, turning toward a birth:

My own – a newborn grandmother

Am I, suckling light . . .

I am spiraling, I am spinning,

I am singing this Grandmother’s Song.

I am remembering forever, here we


~”Song of the Self: The Grandmother”, by  Alma Luz Villanueva

image  by Flickmor, shared under cc2.0


Loved Me Fiercely

Photo Booth, 1964

Perfect? No.

Loved me? Yes. Fiercely.

She became a single mother of three young girls in the early sixties,
a time when being so was judged harshly.

She did whatever it took to provide for us. Whatever it took.

with a wild side that was never really expressed,
she taught me about
hard work,
taking action,
oil painting,
ice skating and
remembering our ancestors.

She taught me about Spirit,
things you can’t see but know in your bones,
and a deep love for four-leggeds.

She taught me to champion for women,
animals and the earth.

She taught me to find a way to carry on when life brings painful times.

She taught me to see the unconditional love that shines through conditioning.


Joan left her body three years ago, today.

Perfect? No.

Loved me? Yes. Fiercely.


Hot From Our Sacred Lips


As we are right in the middle of a who-knows-how-many-part series on Silence, Privilege and Oppression, I thought I would post an interlude, if you will. I think it has so much to do with the entire series. See what you feel.

I found this video, today, and heaven, did the tears come down. Tears of joy, tears of grief, tears for the sheer beauty of this woman’s words and her ability to say them with such ferocity and love.

Her name is Mayda del Valle.

This was taped at the White House Poetry Jam in 2009.


“Grandmother, how did you pray? Did you store your memories of the creator in strands of hair tucked into scented soap boxes or placentas buried under avocado trees?

“Grandmother, what secrets do your bones hold?”

“Abuela, how did you pray before someone told you who your god should be?”

This is one of the most amazing spoken word poetry experiences I have ever encountered. I’ve watched it at least five times now, and each time I grow ever more amazed.

I feel so much grief over what has been done to the earth, to animals, to children, to women, and to men, in the name of domination and control.

I feel so much grief for what we’ve lost, and yet, so much hope for what is being born, right now.

May we come together, as one people, One Source, in service to Life itself.

May we speak up and out with the pure and beautiful truth, fully aflame, dancing hot from our sacred lips.




Sweet Honey, by K Kendall
Sweet Honey, by K Kendall

Thirty-seven years ago today, 11/11, I held her in my arms for the first time. She came into life, I became a mother.  It was a day that changed me forever.

Holding her in my arms for the first time, I knew a love I’d never even comprehended prior to that moment. A love completely unconditional. A love that would deepen over the years as she grew into womanhood, left home, married, became a mother, and handled life’s challenges and graces with such strength and courage.

Sitting here writing this post, I can’t begin to put into words the depth of this love for my daughters, I have two, and their children. It is completely unconditional. While in my day-to-day life I may do things in very conditional ways, not always showing up in the moment in a way that reflects this unconditional love, the limitless depth of the love in my heart is always here.

Four years ago, I was sitting in an ashram in India. Amma’s ashram. I was sitting in meditation while Amma gave darshan. Long lines of people would show up every day she was at home in her ashram, when she wasn’t touring the world giving hugs. Sitting in her love-filled temple, I was profoundly moved. My eyes came upon an Indian woman and her small child. They were sitting across from me, on the other side of the temple. She was holding him in her arms while he slept. She looked like the Madonna with child. A beautiful light surrounded them, a light not visible with my eyes, but wholly visible with my heart.

In that moment, this memory of the moments I became a mother, and the love that filled my heart for my babies, once again flooded my consciousness. This time, though, it wasn’t inside me, it surrounded me. It held me. It was me, and I was it. This love was so deep, so full, so rich that everything in my awareness was bathed in love.

Sitting here, writing this post, I feel it once again. This love. This universal motherhood consciousness that Amma speaks of. It is in us all. We are all bathed in it. Women and men, whether parents or not, are all universal mothers to all the world’s children.

Thirty-seven years ago, I was seventeen. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was meant to give birth to this child. I knew it in a place within me that was ancient and wise, a place that knows what I am here to do. As a young mother, I drew upon a strength and wisdom that flowed from this ancient place, a fountain of wisdom and love. I drew upon the sacred feminine consciousness within me, within my body, within my heart.

I certainly was far from a perfect mother. Far from it. Yet, something deeper flowed through my imperfect actions. Something unconditional infused my ways of loving conditionally.

This female intelligence, this wisdom, strength and knowing, runs through all women. We know what is right for our souls. We know what is right for our bodies. We know what is right for our children. When we are in touch with this wisdom, we know.

I knew this was right for me, for my soul and the soul of my daughter from some deep place within me. No one else could make this choice but me. It was the right choice for me, and that says nothing about what is right for any other woman.

So much that has been done through the structure and paradigm of patriarchy has clouded and obscured our female intelligence, our feminine ways of knowing. We’ve been cut off from the sacred feminine. We’ve been led to believe She is not here, that we can’t trust our own knowing and wisdom. She has been kept down in the dark. Yet, don’t let that fool you for a moment. This female intelligence has always been here. She is now rising into the light, up into consciousness.

She is living and breathing inside you right now. Somewhere you know this, even if you can’t quite yet trust Her.

Open to Her. Receive Her. Remember Her in your cells. Let Her bring forth your tears of grief for having lost touch with Her. Let Her bring forth this universal wisdom within you, so that you may shower your own heart and body with Her love. For Her love is your love, Her wisdom is your wisdom, Her ferocity is your ferocity.

Happy Birthday, beautiful daughter, wise woman.

And, you?

I’d love to hear about your female intelligence. What you know. What you see. What you feel. We all learn by knowing what another woman knows of her own experience.

image by K. Kendall, licensed under CC2.0


Lineage of Women



“How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names.”~Alice Walker



A lineage of women.

I once participated in a dance workshop for women only. It was a beautiful experience. I normally dance each week with both women and men in the 5Rhythms. At this one workshop for women only, we were asked at the beginning of the weekend to introduce ourselves as the daughter of the mother that gave us life, and as the granddaughter of the mother that gave our mother life. We were also asked to introduce ourselves in relation to who we’d given life to.

I’m Julie,
daughter of Joan,
granddaughter of Pauline,
great-granddaughter of Clarissa,
mother of Jacqueline and Jennifer,
grandmother of Lucas, Aveline, Jamison, and Dante.

A Lineage of Women

This experience of introducing ourselves by way of our mother and her mother was incredibly female affirming. I sat and soaked the names in, along with the feelings that arose in each woman as she spoke the names of her matriline (a mother line – one’s purely female ancestry). While seemingly simple, something profound was honored, and awakened, as we acknowledged the line of women we came from, and the line of children we had borne.


A lineage of women:
daughter of Joan,
daughter of Pauline,
daughter of Clarissa,
daughter of Charlotte…


Recently, I traveled to the Chicago area with my two sisters for a family wedding. We decided to make a pilgrimage to our great-grandmother’s house in Park Ridge, a small town just near the airport.

With some help from my mother’s cousin, my sisters and I found the family home on South Crescent. This was the house my great-grandmother and great-grandfather had built in 1908. My grandmother grew up in this house. My grandmother was married to my grandfather in this house. My mother was born in this house. My mother’s cousins were born in this house, too.

Before my mother’s death two years ago, she spoke often of her childhood in Park Ridge. She spoke often of her grandmother with fondness, and with a bit of awe. It was a curious feeling to enter the house. It had recently been sold to new owners who were remodeling it before their third child came into the world. This was in June, the baby was due in July, so I imagine she has arrived by now. The owner was there and graciously gave us a tour of the entire place, basement to attic. As I walked through the rooms, it was as if I had been transported back eighty to one hundred years. So much had happened there in the lives of my matriline.


Strong Women, Strong Lineage

“…to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names.”

My great-grandmother was a healer, a well-known Christian Science healer in that area. She was strong, vibrant, independent. She had to be. Her husband contracted TB and became very ill. She had to put him in a sanitorium, where eventually he died. She had to take care of her family, an extended family that included her siblings.

My grandmother and mother were also strong women. They had to be. They found their strength deep inside, brought it out into their actions when it became necessary to do so, for the sake of their children, and the sake of their family. This strength is in all women. Strength and wisdom.

Wisdom in the Matriline

I feel there is wisdom in the matriline. I learned something about myself that day. I soaked up wisdom… a knowing of myself in a different way, a different light. While I had heard much about these women from my mother, and knew my grandmother fairly well, when I walked through the rooms of this house and felt into all that had happened there, I knew myself in a new way.

It’s been a few weeks since I returned from this trip, and all the while this wisdom has been working on me, and through me.

I now more clearly see these women, not just as my ancestors, but as people who lived lives that were sometimes good, many times hard and painful, but always indescribably beautiful. I feel the lineage of women within me. I can now see the room where my mother was born, the rooms my grandmother played in, the rooms my great-grandmother grieved, celebrated and grew old in.

What a gift it is to feel this lineage within me. In some way, yet unknown, I will pass the knowing and wisdom down to my daughters. I can feel it. It is already happening in ways unseen.

As I write this, I become keenly aware that this wisdom had always been here. Perhaps, it’s just been activated by visiting Nanny Ruh’s house. We all have access to women’s wisdom.

The wisdom of women isn’t clearly articulated, laid out analytically, in a straightforward manner. Rather, it circles, curves and winds its way around. It appears in the moment, if we’re paying attention. It shows up in symbols and in unexpected connections. Like the moon as it shines on water at night, womens’ wisdom illuminates that which is unseen.

I have come to see we can open to this wisdom of our matriline, whether we can go back to a physical place or not…the wisdom is here if we drop deep into our bodies and open to the moonlight.

In ways unseen

Jen Louden writes: “…every writer has to learn to live – and even thrive– in the gap. Creating actually happens in the gap.”

We enter into unknown territory as we write something new. This is where creation happens. In the unknown. Something completely unexpected, and absolutely delightful, appeared in the gap today as I wrote this post. I didn’t know where the writing would take me. I had considered writing about this pilgrimage since I returned home to Berkeley, but as I mentioned, I could feel the wisdom working on me, so I waited.

As I sat down to write, the painting above (and below) popped into my head. It’s a painting I have hanging in my bedroom, of the moon shining on the water. It’s really lovely…this picture of it here doesn’t do it justice.


I found this painting in my mother’s house after she died. She had collected many things throughout her years, things that were passed down through the family, as well as things she picked up in her travels to the second-hand stores and flea markets. As we went through her collection of paintings, we kept the ones that were obviously family heirlooms. We gave most of the others to the Goodwill. This one painting, of the moon on the water, I grabbed as an afterthought. I had so many of mom’s things already, but as I turned away from the items we were leaving, something told me to turn back and take this one home. I liked it enough, but I kept it because it called to me. I hung it in my bedroom, because it called to me.

I took the painting off the wall to get a snapshot of it as I wrote today’s post. The first one didn’t turn out, so I began to clean any dust off of it to try to capture a better one. As I did, I noticed the initials in the bottom corner:

C.R. ’99

My great-grandmother’s name was Clarissa Ruh, but we had always called her Nanny Ruh, which is what my mother called her. I just recently remembered her first name on our trip back to the wedding in June. Nanny Ruh was a painter. We have a few of her paintings spread throughout the family, but none of them have her signature. My great-cousin, Nanny’s other granddaughter, told me when we were with her at this family wedding that Nanny didn’t sign her pictures because she didn’t want to seem presumptuous – she simply wanted to paint. I don’t really know the whole story, but none of the paintings we have have her signature on them…except this one.

Just now, in writing this post, I discovered that this painting was also done by Nanny Ruh. I could hardly believe my eyes. Something unknown and unseen found its way into the light of the moon. This is an unimaginable gift. I don’t believe my mother knew that Nanny Ruh painted this picture, because she told us many times to take great care of the paintings she knew were painted by Nanny. This painting was stuck in a place with so many things that were simply flea market finds. Somehow, I came to know something that had been lost back in the matriline. Now, my daughters have another gift from their matriline, one among many.


And, you?

I’d love for you to share your mothers’ names with us, to introduce yourself by way of your mother, and your mother’s mother, by leaving a comment below. I think there is something powerful in speaking these names into the world.


What of your matriline?

What do you know?

What has yet to be discovered?

What wisdom is there, perhaps in the unseen, waiting for you to ask into it, to know yourself as your mothers’ names?

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