To Know Her We Must Value and Dignify Ourselves, Each Other, and Life Itself

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“Woman through her struggle to understand herself and to articulate the highest values of the feminine principle, could begin to make the moon shine so that it softens the sun-brightness of our present consciousness. In accepting her depression, her suffering, her loneliness, her longing to outgrow the inarticulateness and powerlessness of her past existence, she may accomplish something truly heroic and extraordinary for life, something which humanity in centuries to come will recognize and cherish. Each woman who gives birth to herself and responds to what life is asking her to accomplish, contributes to the survival of our species and the diminishment of human suffering.” Anne Baring

I created Unabashedly Female many years ago as a way to explore the question, ‘What is it to be Female?’ What exists here on this blog is a journey to answer this question.

My question was intentionally different than, ‘What is it to be feminine?’ I chose the world female consciously. In my experience and in my writings, I use the word ‘feminine’ to describe the ‘yin’ aspects of life. Just as there are feminine aspects, there are masculine aspects, too. Both are ways to describe aspects of life itself and all human beings have these aspects within them.

I chose Female because in my life, I was, from the outset, deeply conditioned to be afraid and distrustful of girlhood and womanhood, because American society does and our societal systems do; and, we are conditioned and taught to beleive what our cultural/societal teach through our parents, caregivers, and teachers. This is a longer conversation, but I’ll leave it be here because I want to dive into another direction.

I’ve gone through a very long journey to heal and reclaim healthy feminine and maculine qualities within me and to embody these in this female body into which I was born. One of the hardest things, and one of the slipperiest things, has been to consciously work with my unconscious bias toward this distrust and fear of the qualities of the feminine principle and of women so that I can embody them and offer them in the work I do as valuable, important, and necessary.

These qualities, such as vulnerability, tenderness, openenss, community, relationality, non-heirarchical value, connection to all of life, being, and so many more, are necessary to our survival. For example, we are disconnected from our Earth, our Mother, our home and our source of belonging, sustenance, life. It is our disconnection from the feminine – all human beings –  and our disconnection from our worth as human beings who identify as female and therefore embody the feminine primarily, that have caused us to do what we have done to our Earth, to each other, and to other living creatures. When we value these feminine/yin qualities, we value life equally and wholly.

So to begin to answer the question, What is it to be female?, one must live this question.

What I have found in my own life is that the unconscious bias toward the yang/masculine qualities and power is strong, very strong, within me. As the feminine became more prominent within  me, this unconscious bias started to rise up again.

Like the last stand we are seeing out in the world right now that continues to erase women, I began to erase myself and so much of what I had come to hold in reverence. I didn’t realize I was doing it. This is really slippery stuff.

I fell into a kind of deep loneliness, a kind of pain that I hadn’t yet experienced. I experienced a different kind of inarticulateness and powerlessness that I, now, remember from my past and youth. I walked in what felt like a desert of epic proportions, feeling as if I just could never quite find the words that had been flowing with such ease for so many years.

I see, now, that I had to feel the depth of this powerlessness in order to realize on a much deeper level that the mystery is what holds power and that it is within my powerlessness to this sacred mystery that I finally can embody the power that is Her.

I have been rescuing myself. I have been facing my own inner demons that devalue, dismiss, and erase Her.

I have come to see as true what I was shown many years ago. We will know Her when we see and value and trust Her in all women, in all who identify as women, in all of life, in our Great Mother Herself.

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Within & Outside: Finding Peace in a Warring World

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Photo by Ullash Borah on Unsplash

 

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

As within, so outside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s the point of all of this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You are your own Oasis

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Photo by Max Guillaud on Unsplash

Eyes that wanted to take
frightened me so

I hid the most beautiful parts of me
But that only grew my own thirst.

I am my own Oasis.

 

There are many reasons we hide the most beautiful parts of ourselves.
Many of us humans learn to be takers. Takers of all that is not ours. Believing that anything can be ours if we simply decide we want it, then doing whatever we must do to get it.

Big things.

Little things.

We take to fill holes inside.

And we hide in order to not be taken.

Not everyone does this. But so many do.

 

I hid my most beautiful parts. Parts that seemed to be wanted the most. Prized parts according to some. Parts that I thought must be most beautiful because they were what others hungered for.

And I learned to take, too, to fill holes. And, I’ve learned they are unfillable. Because nothing can be owned and no one’s stuff can fill another.

If you grow up in a world where there are few boundaries, you find a way to inhabit that world and still stay {relatively} {hanging by a thread sometimes} sane. Look at so much of this patriarchal culture — few to fewer boundaries.

When there are no to few boundaries, all sorts of taking and giving away goes on. We learn how to survive…well…until we can no longer survive that way.

At some point, we see that we’ve hidden ourselves. From others. But mostly from ourselves. Those luscious, soft and tender, vulnerable places long to be revealed again. Those hot and fiery places long to express. We are full and glorious creatures. There is a lot to us.

The thirst can become so hot and so big until we see that nothing can quench it. Nothing outside of ourselves can. But the places and parts were hidden and so we don’t know where to go to be quenched.

Until…

Until all else fails and we are left with ourselves. And our thirst is hot and big. And we come to see there is a great well inside of us, a well that is deep and lush and verdant. And, we see there is no need to thirst any longer if we’d only go within, bow down, and drink.

Go within.

Bow down.

Drink.

The well awaits.

You are your own Oasis.

 

(Writing Raw begins April 3rd)

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The Honor of Living Her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Writing Directly Out of the Vast, Deep Mystery

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

from salt, by nayyirah waheed

 

 

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

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

But what happens along the way to cause the struggle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you relate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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In these times, our voices are needed.

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

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

The real can only come from within.

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

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

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

Real does not equal perfection.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

 

Writing Raw is now open for registration!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Limned: A Braided Essay For World Storytelling Day

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FFOA

Today, March 20th, is World Storytelling Day.

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

 

For years now…

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

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

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

And so, of course, as Life would want…

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

Today on World Storytelling Day…

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

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

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

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

Today, we offer you Limned.

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

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

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

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

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

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What is the Feminine Narrative?

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photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

 

 

There is a tenderness to this world that is often seen as weak.

There is an inherent beauty to all things that is so often trampled upon, like the tender violet finding its way toward sunlight.

There is a necessary quality of care for human beings who are very vulnerable – the young, the old, and the ill – that is close to invisible in our cultural conversation.

There is a mysterious nature to life and death that we fear and so we, both men and women, project it onto those who embody this mystery – women.

The feminine has been normalized in a way that is not an accurate or dignified representation of the feminine nor of those human beings who embody her.

In our human conversation,

there is much judgment and labeling of what is good and valuable, and what is bad and worth little, rather than a discerning eye for the nature of things as they are.

While we might want to believe that humans aren’t capable of discerning without judging, I disagree. When we become more conscious of our direct experience, we begin to be able to put words to our experience in a way that creates a whole-encompassing narrative rather than categorizing into a hierarchy of worth and value.

Perhaps that is the key – that we find a way to help each other to become more conscious of our own direct experience. One way we can do this is to begin to put words to it.

Over the past few months, something has been noodling in my thoughts. I’ve noticed how, at least in the United States where I live, our cultural conversation has ‘normalized’ things that are not normal.  I’ve watched how the cultural narrative has shifted as different people have come into power. Angry – really rageful – rhetoric is now seen by many to be a ‘normal’ way of speaking to another. Statements are made as fact, even if they are not. These statements are repeated over and over until people begin to believe they are fact. And then a new narrative is born based on lies, deceit, and ignorance.

When people in power speak and behave in a certain way, we can begin to believe it is the new ‘normal’ or that it is ‘true’. And then, suddenly, we have a new narrative about what is ‘real’.

Consider the cultural narrative about women and the feminine.

When I listen to how women are portrayed and discussed in our culture, I am not hearing or seeing my experience, which is very different. I am not hearing my narrative spoken. While my white experience is reflected, my experience of being a woman is not.

So I offer this to you…

Who will normalize the female experience if we do not as women? Who will normalize and make explicit one’s experience of the feminine aspects of life if those of us who are becoming conscious of them do not?

We have a creative opportunity at hand. We get to write our own narrative about ourselves – about women and the feminine. If we are willing to pay attention to the truth of our lives and the truth of ourselves, we can come to write a narrative of what it is to be female and what it is to embody the feminine. I am not saying we are all the same. Not at all. But, there are certain strands and threads that run through our experiences because these strands and threads run through the feminine herself.

[And by the way, I hope men do this, too. I sense the current cultural narrative of what it is to be a man is not based on many men’s experiences.]

The feminine is not only white.
The feminine is not only straight.
The feminine is not only Christian.
The feminine is not only thin.
The feminine is not only ‘beautiful’.
And, the feminine is not just female.

Who will define (and normalize) the feminine or the female experience if we do not? If we, ourselves, are not willing to be vocal about what this experience is?

Since the election,

I’ve been posting on Facebook in the early morning hours for exactly this purpose. In these hours when the night sky is black and my deepest thoughts are most lucid, I manage to find words that shed light on my personal experience as a woman without them becoming too linear and logical. In these early hours, I write from the deeper places in my body and soul, the places from which the feminine can be known, for the feminine is the internal world, she is the world of soul, she is the beautiful darkness and never-to-be-fully-known mysterious nature of life. She is much more than this, but these are ways to speak of her.

We can give voice to our experience. We can offer our narrative to each other and to the world. The feminine has been hidden and now she is becoming visible again, and one way she can is through feminine expression into the world of form.

We can write her into being and we will have a more accurate representation and narrative if all women do so.

If you were to offer a narrative of the feminine, what would you say and how would you share it? How would you give voice to your real and true experience?

We’re in this together and we need all of us, together, to normalize the feminine narrative. Isn’t that a wonderful realization?

 

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Watershed: A Moment of Awakening

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Watershed

This remembering and returning.
Wave upon wave.
A spiral that begins with wide arcs
Never seeming to make their way around
To anything recognizable.
Until one day they do
And I notice
The slightest sense that
I’ve been here before.
Rediscovering something I’d discovered before.
About who I used to be.
But now there’s less veil and more light.

Big mind unknotting.
Catching glimpses of who I am and
Who I thought I had to become.
At the same time,
Flashing back and forth
Beginning to understand
I can now let go.

A mind so very tired of
Believing I am separate
Vigilantly watching
Carefully holding on
While remembering what it was like
To be free
To love the sunshine
To feel unabashed joy
And to simply love what I loved.

Watershed moment
Who am I now?
Back and forth
Unknotting and releasing
A distinct sense of Self, emerging
That isn’t distinct at all
Then birdsong sings and joy floods in
And I realize there is but One
Who is both tired and joyful
Unwinding and free.

***

Yesterday was a full moon eclipse. I experienced something powerful – an unknotting of my awareness. It was quite amazing, really, to witness my thoughts and how I kept seeing through them. But it was without effort. All I did was stay present to what was occurring.

I was walking along when tears came and my mind and heart opened. There was a distinct sense of organic qualities that were just present, while layered upon this was a sense of a created self, born out of trauma and a reaction that turned into habits. A created self who monitors vigilantly, hovering above the self who just is, joyful and radiant, soft and curious, tender and vibrant. A created self, born out of a fractured relationship to life from that trauma, now believing it was separate and wary. As I walked, my awareness slipped back and forth between the two. The wary one was aware that it could possibly let go, that it just might be safe enough to return to the open spacious awareness it was before it became vigilant. And then it let go as much as it was ready to and I softened. And I realized that our consciousness identifies with some idea of self and then habits build up around that idea of self that help to maintain that idea of self. I could clearly see this.

I immediately wrote the above poem to capture the essence of what had happened because it was such a profound experience to be so conscious of it while it was occurring.

***

I share it with you because I know we are all on the same journey – the journey home. When we share our stories, we help each other come to see what is happening within our own experience.RISEstairsbadge

This is much of what my new course R I S E is about – allowing our wholeness (creativity) to be the source from which we choose to make choices in our lives. Our wholeness is here, but we’ve fractured into ideas of who we believe ourselves to be, oftentimes making it really hard to experience who we truly are. We can step back and root down into our wholeness. We can come to live from this place.

And when we do it with others, together, we lift each other up. We rise together.

This is going to be a beautiful, potent exploration. I know sometimes that can be frightening, but it is truly a chance to explore and discover yourself in a way you’ve perhaps longed to do.

R I S E begins on Tuesday, Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day – for this is ultimately about love and letting love be the guide for your life.

 

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