Love in a Time of Personal Power

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Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

 

“We have put the value of love — of life, self, and others, — in combative opposition to the value of personal empowerment. In actuality, these two values should be more like the Eastern concepts of Yang and Yin, which are not combative. Rather, they compliment each other as opposites while retaining their own identities, reaching toward a universal harmony. Love needs empowerment to have strength and substance, and empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.”
— Massimilla Harris and Bud Harris (Into the Heart of the Feminine)

 

I grew up during the second wave of Feminism. I remember those years of women fighting for equality. And, I remember how they were treated for wanting equality.

Looking back now, I see that the call was for equality but not really for love for all of life, for justice for all, for the leveling out of the playing field for all.

It’s clear the feminine (as she appears in all human beings and in all of life) has been missing when we see the ways in which the power structures and institutions of our western culture values some lives more than others. When we discriminate against some lives and not others, when we commodify lives, when we don’t provide safety and care for all lives, we are witnessing the lack of the feminine in our institutional, systemic, and individual behavior.

Over the past two decades, many of us have found ourselves on this deep reclamation of the feminine.

She called and many of us answered, not really knowing what that meant.

The feminine (yin) can only be known in relation to the masculine (yang), and the masculine only known in relation to the feminine. In Chinese Medicine, this relational dynamic is understood as an elemental way of seeing and knowing life. Everything is related and nothing truly stands on its own. So when I speak of the feminine, I speak from this perspective. I am not speaking of women and men, but rather the energies of yin and yang.

The feminine is dark as related to the light. The feminine is moist as related to dryness. The feminine is non-linear as related to linearity. These aren’t moral leanings. They describe life and all life entails, including death.

The feminine is the mystery. She doesn’t reveal herself in clearly defined ways. Instead, she reveals herself through symbol, intuition, dreams, and the deep imagination of the inner world. But, the feminine has been revealing herself back into the world of form and we’ve begun to see the world in new ways. We’ve come to see how the feminine appears in this world.

We have so far to go to truly hold all of life as sacred, worthy, and equal. I believe one of the reasons we have not done so is that we don’t know the feminine. We don’t clearly see her. And, because we don’t see her clearly in relation to the masculine, which has had a greater presence in our world, we don’t see that the nature of life itself is to live not for itself but for the whole.

This is how the feminine moves in all of us — not hierarchically, but relationally. The feminine cares for life — all of life. Not some life. And not just life that is commodifiable. She cares for all of life equally.

The feminine is Eros. And Eros is love. Eros nurtures the impulse to live. And the living of Eros moves in such a way to ensure the preservation of the human species.

But the feminine is not moving within all of us because we haven’t become conscious of how she is within us. And we become conscious of how she is within us when we come to see what is hidden within us when we find the courage to face that which we haven’t wanted to see. When we do this, our hearts can break open. Our compassion can flow. And, our love can pour forth.

We can come to remember our wholeness.

While we’ve been seeking empowerment and equality, this twin ‘value of love’ has not been championed in the same way.

“We are liberating our empowerment, yet at the same time, we are denying our inherent abilities to like, nourish, and take loving care of ourselves and to make the love of ourselves, others, and life the dominant value we try to live by.”
– Massimillia Harris & Bud Harris

We want to be equal to men. We want to be empowered. But to what end?

Ultimately, it must be for the love of all things, all beings, all of life. For this is the nature of the feminine. She does not discriminate. She does not exclude. She does not favor one child over another.

Empowerment needs love in order to have value, purpose, and meaning.

What does empowerment do for us and the mess we find ourselves in if we aren’t caring for all beings if we aren’t using this power to liberate all of life from the effects of our out of balance, hyper-masculine western culture, exemplified by racism and white supremacy? The feminine does not hold any aspect of life supreme over any other, any expression of life over any other, any incarnation of life over any other.

Yes! Love truly “needs empowerment to have strength and substance.”

We must do what it takes to free the Love within ourselves, otherwise, we are still stuck in the old paradigm of ‘what’s in it for me’ where there is little true value offered to the whole of life through our work. And when we do free ourselves, we then have the strength and substance to bring Love to the forefront of our work in the world.

When we face all of the intense conditioning within us — everything that feels so hard to face and own — we often feel guilt and shame when we finally do. But here’s the thing. It is through feeling these very things that love frees up within us. When we truly stay with everything that comes to call on us, asking for us to face it, our hearts can open to the life that is here — to all of life, not just some of it.

This is how we do the deeper work we must do. We do what is ours to do. We face what is within us so that our hearts can do what our hearts know is true to do. This is how Love moves.

And for those of us who’ve said yes to Love and have been uncomfortable saying yes to power, myself included, it is time to bring these two together. Power-over, how we see power playing out in our world, is a zero-sum game. But power born of love is power-from-within, and this power is the expression of our deepest being into the world. It is our life force. It is Soul born from the deep Love that moves all things. It is generative. It is inviting. It is intelligent in the way of Life.

It can be frightening to live our power when our true power has been suppressed. We’ve feared our power for suppressed power fears harming others. We know somewhere that if we unleash it, it can be harmful. Yet, by not addressing it, we harm, too. Our true strength and power are of life itself. When we come to trust life itself, we come to trust that which flows through us and that which flows through all — the Source of life itself.

We cannot have true empowerment without having the conscious understanding that we are given our lives as a gift, that all of life is of equal value, worth, and beauty, and that we are here to serve the continuation of life itself. When we are willing to see what is standing in the way of this knowing and willing to do the work to dismantle it, I sense we will be able to live for life itself and to live life as the gift that it is.

Again, the feminine is the mystery. When we sit in what we don’t yet know and are unwilling to face what we must feel in order to know it, we’ll suffer and cause suffering. Everything is conspiring for us to end this suffering and liberate ourselves and the whole.

Originally published at JulieDaley.com

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She is no longer perfection who fell from her pedestal.

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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.

 

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A Love That Pulls Itself Toward Itself

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“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.”~ Rumi

 

Today, I felt this strange pull. It came out of the blue, out of a very generic moment, albeit one that followed quite a lovely moment of connection to life, to beauty, to family.

I felt the silence of it; I saw the silence of it.

I sensed the deep tug within.

There were no words. There were no reasons. There was no inner voice, no mind chatter. There was no against. There was no for.

There was only a deep sensation of pull toward a love of something beyond concept, but with deep feeling.

And, in feeling this pull, the only thing I could find in my mind to describe it were Rumi’s words – the feeling matched the resonance of his words.

Maybe, it is true; that life is a grand, ecstatic experience of beauty, and longing, and love; beyond words; beyond thought; simply, a love that pulls itself toward itself.

Maybe, this is all there is – a love that pulls itself toward itself.

Everything else is just us trying to understand a love that is beyond understanding.

::

In my TEDx talk, I speak about this love, this pull, in words from Pablo Neruda.

This love is what Spring does with cherry trees.

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Allowing My Argument With Love to Die

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~~~

Small, elderly, and frail-looking-but-not-acting, she darted past me on the ashram’s dirt walkway.

She almost knocked me over she was in such a hurry. As she bumped into me, I almost lost my balance. Immediately, she stopped and turned to me. Her big brown eyes were overflowing with love and a gentle request for forgiveness. Her eyes said everything. Mine answered in return. Yes. Of course. Forgiveness. Then, she handed me a card. A small card, like a business card. But this one was different. It had a message, a message from Amma. We were in Amma’s house after all – her house in Kerala, India.

As she watched me, intently with those big brown eyes, I took the card and read the words.

“Grace is always falling like rain. You just have to open to receive it.” ~ Amma

I read them again. And then I looked back up at her…but she was gone.

I stood there for what was probably a few minutes. In that moment, I needed grace. I was homesick and a bit overwhelmed with everything that India offers. I wanted to feel comfortable, and I was feeling anything but.

As I stood there taking in the dusk light and the many people scurrying across the ashram grounds, I could feel, even if just slightly, a sense of the grace Amma was speaking to. I could feel presence. It was faint, like a small window had been opened to a world that has always surrounded me even if I was unaware of it.

I kept that card with me throughout the rest of my time in India. I brought it home with me, back to the States. Somewhere along the way, I lost the card, but I’ve never forgotten the message.

~~~

A window into grace became a doorway into grace; and, eventually a world of grace.

Just the other day, I was speaking to two women about the spiritual ‘work’ each of us has done over the past many years. The three of us share similar patterns of feeling like we must work really, really hard to heal; that it is all up to us; and, that we never think to ask for help. I was telling them about some of the really powerful work I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been so grateful for the openings and awakenings I’ve been experiencing. And, it can be really deep, emotional work. It can feel hard, and yet I have this determination to get to the bottom of it all.

There’s this quest to go all the way in, all the way through. Trauma (the trauma of life) can cause us to disassociate, to leave, to go numb. I went numb a long time ago, and I stayed numb until a death woke me up, and then another death, and another death.

In my thawing, I’ve developed a fierce determination to not isolate, and to not continue to live in world that feels so separate. But, sometimes that fierce determination also comes from a  belief of having to do it all myself, and a belief that it will and must be hard.

One of the women looked at me and said, “You know. We can ask for grace.”

We can ask for grace.

~~~

Two days later,

I was dancing as I do on Sundays. Toward the end of the two-hour moving meditation, I remembered her words. In that moment, I was so open, so vulnerable, so ready. And, in that moment, I asked.

I asked for grace.

Five days later,

Grace came. The details do not matter. What mattered enough to share with you is this:

When grace rained down upon me, I wept because for the first time in my life I truly knew what it felt like to have love pour itself into me, over me, and through me, without having to ‘earn it’; without having to feel unlovable, lovable, or something in between; without having to believe in some way that I was deserving, without having to feel I was broken in some way.

I have felt love fill me before. But this time, what was extraordinary was the quality of love. It was love that gives with a clear feeling of asking for nothing in return. There was a clear sense of the unconditioned nature of love.

There was no duality present – no conditional/unconditional duality.

There was no sense of exchange. There was only a pouring out of itself.

What I did have to do was open to receive love’s rain shower.

What I did have to do was allow myself to be loved – completely and utterly loved – to no longer push love away, to truly feel love and loved. Once I did, I could no longer argue with love.

Grace is love without any demand in return. It comes and pours itself over you. It graces you.

Grace washed over me and through me. Like waves, it came and poured itself into me. Waves and waves of love, each given completely. As it washed over me, I could feel, and finally see and know, how love moves.

Love gives of itself without asking for anything in return.

Love gives of itself.

And in receiving this grace, this love, something in me did die.

What died was my argument with love itself.

There was no argument left; there was only love.

 

 

 

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Shaking Off the Concrete: A Wildly Alive and Fiery Force

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This Big Old Wild and Lovely Tree

A few weeks ago, as I was walking down the main street of my neighborhood business district, I came upon a scene with men in suits, men in hard hats, and men with chain saws. They were watching and talking, gesticulating and sawing. This big old wild and lovely tree had grown too big for her ‘place’, her roots uprooting the concrete sidewalk that had been placed all around her when she was young and still manageable, not her full-grown, wild-self nature.

As I stopped to watch, I heard one of the men in suits talking about the tree say, “It just became too much for the street here, too much to contain. We had to cut it down. We’ll dig up the roots, cut them out, and pave over the hole. It will be much cleaner.”

She couldn’t and wouldn’t be contained in that too-small spot she was given, decorating the fancy-shopped street along with a few other chosen trees, spaced neatly and orderly along the way. She was trying to shake the concrete off, trying to grow into her full potential, following the seed’s instructions that were at the heart of her becoming.

Now, enough days have passed by that all signs of the tree are gone, except for the sidewalk squares that are obviously new concrete, sitting right up against the old. There won’t be any more ‘growing things’ in that spot. We must maintain a controlled-enoughness at all times.

 

Pave Paradise

Now, I’m sitting, waiting for my Darshan with Amma.  Amma is the Indian saint who’s travelled the earth hugging others with unconditional love. I’ve been graced with her hugs many, many times, and each time is different.

The temple is filled with Shakti. My body is filled with fire.

As I wait, I hear a voice inside, an insistent voice, a fiery voice that is clear about what she wants. Shake it off. Shake everything off that is not true. Strip me bare of everything that hides my nature, that hides who I really am, like concrete laid out in large archaic patches across Mother Earth, keeping her bound, her bosoms unable to rise and fall with those magnificent in-breaths and out-breaths she takes as she prepares meals for her children.

As I see this almost-furious voice laying claim to what is true, I see that I am this strong core with deep roots, a core that is unshakable and roots that hold me steadfast to the earth.

I’ve been paved over. I was wrapped with concrete, laced with rebar that holds the paving in place, maintains a strict form, and certainly doesn’t allow any big bosom breaths to shake up the status quo.

You know that old Joni Mitchell song that croons, “We paved paradise and put in a parking lot”? Yeah, that one. Sometimes, that’s what this body of mine feels like – like paradise, a flesh and blood paradise, a conscious, aware, breathing, desiring paradise that’s been paved, made into a parking lot full of concrete, straight lines, and all sorts of rules as to who owns it.

 

Feral Flesh

Enough rules about ingress, egress, and regress will cause
any wild woman to forget that she was ever feral flesh.

And not the kind of feral flesh that old ‘parking lot attendant’, the one who believes he knows the ‘lay of the land’ and the rules about who gets to use this used-to-be-paradise, would want you to believe. No, not at all.

THIS. This body, this feral flesh – feral as in completely and utterly in tune with the seed of her becoming – flesh as completely and utterly part of this existence we call life, matter infused with the love and vitality, inspiration and creativity, vibrancy and expectancy that anything completely alive knows – this feral flesh, this desiring paradise, still remembers, still feels, still knows it is good and whole and necessary.

The Soul can only know what it is to be fully alive in this life by way of this body. A paved over body cuts the tree down, uproots the roots – at least in our psyche. Our doing this causes great pain to the Soul. But when we turn back to Soul, when we show we are ready to let the Soul lead, the Soul returns, shaking concrete off of roots, untwisting rebar, unveiling her nature, the trunk and roots begin to emerge.

As Amma takes me into her arms and I feel her presence, I can tell she’s heard my Soul’s request. She hugs me with a force I’ve not felt before, her jackhammer of love hitting against those thick slabs of forgetfulness and severed connection. She’s tearing away the untruths just as this fiery voice requests.

These two wildly alive and fiery loving Divine Beings seem to have a direct line to each other. It is my job to get out of the way and let Nature do its work.

You don’t have to be in Amma’s presence for Nature to help shake off the concrete. Nature is ready and willing.

::

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Experience Becoming a Force of Nature!
I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over the summer, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014. Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.

This time, I’m offering the first module and call (June 4th) to EVERYONE, free of charge!

Sign-up here to receive the module so you can experience the course. I know you will learn a great deal just from Module One.

 

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The Force that compels us to Rise

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Rising for Justice

For many people around our planet, February 14th is becoming associated with One Billion Rising, a global campaign to demand an end to violence against women and girls. We rise as women, as men, as human beings who know another world is possible and who are willing to speak out to help bring about this new world.

onebillionrising2014This year, One Billion Rising was about rising for Justice.*** One Billion Rising is a tidal wave of change IF we understand it is not a fad to take part in and then move on to another, but rather a clear opportunity to verbalize and put into action our desire to end this violence.

For many of us in Western cultures, it’s Valentine’s Day, too. This past Friday night, Feb. 14th, 2014, I had the pleasure and joy of co-hosting a One Billion Rising women’s movement ritual with Stacey Butcher and Lakshmi Devi. Stacey, a 5Rhythms teacher, hosted a 5Rhythms wave; Lakshmi, a singer and songwriter, sang her songs, and invited us to sing as we moved into stillness at the end of the dance; and I shared writings and poetry, as well as recorded spoken-word poetry mixed with a beautiful instrumental song at the end of the dance wave.

Here I share with you what I shared on Friday evening. I hope it inspires you to listen for the deep wisdom inside of you, and feel for the force that will cause you to rise and stand for what you know in your heart to be true, and for a kinder, more tender world where all can live in dignity without fear of violence.

::

Love and Justice

Today we celebrate love. Today we rise for Justice. The two are inescapably linked.

When we love Life, Life itself that gives us this life, we cannot help but feel the call for justice in our bones – a justice that honors life itself.

Tonight we are sharing in a movement ritual. As I was preparing for tonight, I wondered what ritual is really about and I found this excerpt from an interview with Joseph Campbell.

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life.”

Tonight we are here together to move in ritual, as women who desire to rise in service to justice. And, through this ritual, we are here to be reminded of the wisdom of our own lives, the wisdom that is within us, a wisdom that has been within us all along.

We are here to remember the mythology that is at the heart of our lives as women in a world that is so much more than what we sometimes see it to be.

 

So, What is it to rise?

What does that even mean? Rising is a movement upwards. If we are rising, what are we rising up from? And what is behind the rising?

What is the force that compels us to rise? 

The invitation tonight is to dance these questions, to dance yourself open enough to hear a response from within you, a response from your wise self, your Soul.

This wise self is instinctive and instinctual. She is visceral, animal, and primordial. She is feral. She is wide-eyed and sensual.

Your Soul knows how to rise.

Rising is in your blood and bones. It is in your cells. It is in your belly, because love desires to move through you, to rise you up into the world, way beyond what your mind thinks you are capable of. And love desires to move us all to live in accordance with what love desires, not what we desire.

“Love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible. To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is ‘getting,’ and grow up into the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is a form of worship.” ~Thomas Merton

 

Many years ago,

I danced in Mill Valley, on a Tuesday night with Kathy Altman. Leading the class, she did something truly extraordinary…at least it was for me. I remember that night like it is this night. I remember it because I was led to dance a dance where I was so awake, so alive, deep in the cells of my body, that every move was imprinted in my cells.

This dance was visceral. It was instinctive. My Soul danced this dance, and then we wrote this as a way to capture words about something beyond words.

 

Tonight I danced.

Tonight I danced and came alive.
Tonight I danced and cried and pulsed and throbbed.

She told us to make our presence known.
She asked us to step so strongly there was no question we had been there.

She reminded us to track ourselves,
to be so aware of where we had been and where we were going,
so much so that our path wrapped its way around and around us until we were tightly wound balls of Being.

My hands connected,
molasses-like energy stretching from mama earth to the tips of my fingers.
As I perched on my paws, I felt her kindred spirit suck me into her tendrils of love.

Tonight I danced and came alive.
I felt his pulse, absorbing it into my body.
I felt her love, letting it run down my arm and fill my heart.
I felt their joy, knowing it was mine, too.
I knew other as self.

Tonight I danced and came alive.

So, tonight…

Here, together, let us come alive.

Tonight, together, let us dance these questions.

Tonight, remember the wisdom within you, reveal your instincts, feel the desire in your body to dance into its wholeness. Our bodies are creatures, instinctual creatures with hearts, longings, and voices that must speak.

::

 

Later, at then end of the dance as we moved into stillness, Stacey played a song that was a compilation of my spoken words and a powerful instrumental piece by Max Richter, On the Nature of Daylight.

Whatever you’ve been through, whatever life has brought your way, whatever injustices, betrayals, or abuses you have experienced, you have survived.

You are here. Alive. Breathing. Dancing.

Whatever injustices, betrayals, or abuses you have perpetrated, you have survived.

You are here. Now. Alive. Whole.

Breathe this in, really take this knowing in. That you are here, alive, whole, and awake regardless of what happened in your past. Feel this aliveness in every cell of your body, a body that longs to know this aliveness, longs to live its fullness. Allow your heart to expand to the capacity that is its nature. Allow your arms to spread as wide and open as they long to be. Allow your belly to pulse and swell with the primordial creation that infuses your being with this precious life.

You are here, on this earth. You are alive on our beautiful planet. You are whole, a wholeness that is filled from the mother.

And, it is time to bring this aliveness to the world. To bring your wholeness to this world that is hungry for feeling, thirsty for truth, dying to be alive, wanting to be touched.

This is your gift to this world. Your aliveness. Your wholeness. Your breath. Your beauty. And to live this is to live what life is asking of you, what life is asking you to give. It is yours and yet it is not. It is given. It is given to you, through you, so that you can in turn give it forth.

It is this simple. Spend every breath completely, but not just for yourself. Spend it for Life, for others, for what is coming into being, for what is being born.

Be full. Be whole. Be love. Be truth.

 

There is already a mythology and an inherent wisdom within us that knows how to move mountains, and to birth something new.

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Dance yourself open. Listen Deeply. Track yourself. Come back and tell us what you discover.

Allow it to show you where Justice lies, where Hope lives, where Love beckons.Open to this Force within. Dance, listen, and allow it to move you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed and have been inspired by these words.

If so, I ask you to share in the comments below how they’ve inspired you to rise.
I ask you to share with other women and men you know who are ready for similar inspiration.

If you’d like to read about last year’s rising, you can download this complimentary eBook, ‘rise up & reclaim’.

 

*** from OneBillionRising.Org:
ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.  It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.

Leading Image: LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by mikebaird

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Courage, Sexuality, and the Chaotically Sacred

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pinkroseslainbytenderness
The heart is fluent in the language of courage.

I slept for ten hours last night, but during the night I awoke with tears more than once. Some deep and old energies are moving out of me, energies that settled into my muscles, flesh, and bones many, many years ago. I’ve cried more tears than I remember crying in a long time. And with each instance of tears, a kind of simple, yet palpable, release came. And with each release came a little less fogginess and a little more clarity.

These are deep old patterns of holding myself back for fear of being too much and hurting someone. They are patterns around trust, sexuality, intimacy, boundaries, secrets, and shame. These patterns come out of old stories of imagined responsibility, silent and shameful betrayal, and sudden loss that seemed to bring about a future of chaotic unsafety. (Yes, this is a word. I wrote it because it fit so well, then had to check its validity…not in my experience, but in the ‘supposed’ authority of cultural acceptance. Ha!)

It’s amazing what a child will do with her experiences…how she will explain them through her own agency, since to do otherwise would blow apart any sense of much-needed solidity in her environment.

We create stories of conditionality. We want something firm to stand on, even though it is that very conditionality that causes us so much suffering. In our families, we trade in conditional love.

After a night of tears and release, I see the path of the unconditioned, the path of unconditional love. That is the realm of the heart. For the heart is fluent in the language of courage.

But to truly walk in courage, the way becomes much easier when we no longer place any conditions on others. Those conditions are obstacles that close the heart to its own courage. When we lift those conditions, something entirely within the realm of our human heart’s capability, suddenly courage is simply the courage to be what we are, and to express this being in the world. Suddenly the courage is no longer tied up with trying to get anyone else to do anything at all, or be something they are not – which are really impossibilities anyway.

This is the realm of the unconditioned…it is the realm of the deep heart. And when we drop these, the way opens before us. It is an unobstructed way, because it has always just been our conditional love that placed those obstacles there.

My sexuality, my vital life force, is a beautiful gift that is sacred, chaotically sacred.

I told myself many things about the chaotic beauty of my sexuality in order to somehow manage the chaotic world I lived in.

My sexuality is a force of nature, and it is a force FOR nature.

In these times when our controlling actions as human beings are coming back to bite us, perhaps what we must see is that life is chaotic and unpredictable and mysterious.

Gabrielle Roth said, “Where the feminine and masculine come together…that always creates chaos.” 

Feminine and Masculine coming together within, and outside of us, too, creates chaos. But that is life, real, alive, mysterious life, and to touch it is to touch the chaotically sacred.

We humans (at least most of us in the industrialized world) have spend hundreds of years trying to hold up a world with unbalanced hands where the mystery of the feminine has been sliced and diced into a few ‘acceptable’ ways of being. Our hands embrace the masculine, and shy away from the feminine.

But life is the chaotic mix of masculine and feminine, and in trying to live it any other way, we are trying to live in a world of conditioned love – which we all know isn’t really love at all.

To walk the path of courage is to walk the path of chaos, while grounded in the stillness of the unconditioned heart.

As I sat this morning sipping my tea and feeling just how much I desire to simply live the fullness of my soul in the world, with all of the soul’s chaotic yearnings and knowings, including the truly primal force that is my sexuality, I heard the loud, deep call of a Raven. My eyes were closed and I sat and listened to this call, a deep rumbling call, much deeper than a crow’s call. When I opened my eyes, I saw this wide-winged Raven circling around my apartment windows. I live on the third floor and have windows on two sides. This raven swirled and swooped around my windows, coming closer than I imagined was possible for such a large bird. On the last circle, she looked right in my window as she voiced a loud call.

And then she was gone, but her message stayed with me.

Raven knows the power of the chaotically sacred, and so do our hearts.

 

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Body Talk and Let’s Talk

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I’ve three fun things to share with you. But first, this:

~~~

I am in the middle of the launch for my new course, Becoming a Force of Nature. I’m excited about teaching it here online after teaching this material for so many years. And, I’m nervous. Why? Because I’m finally mixing this Stanford curriculum with my very personal experience and wisdom about the sacred feminine. I’ve wanted to share this, but I’ve been filled with a voice that asks me, “Who are you to teach this?”

The reason I’m finally offering this course is because I came to see that I have experienced what I’ve experienced, and that is what I teach from…not only in the Stanford work but also the accompanying material around womanhood, the feminine, and what is needed in our world today. And this is the heart of the course…coming to know Self by way of your own experience. It is time to come home to ourselves, to what WE know, not what another tells us is so. This has been the most difficult thing for me to do – to not look outside of myself for answer. I still do it – and my coach lovingly guides me back.

This morning a friend on Facebook shared a link to my course with words that showed how much she believes in me. She wrote, ‘She’s the real deal.’ I read these and I wept. She caught me off guard. It was out of the blue, not requested by me, but solely an action from her heart. And in a flash the voice that usually shouts fraud was silent.

Somewhere inside each of us is a small voice that so worries that she’s a fraud.

I remember being in my third week at Stanford, sitting in a room with a group of non-traditional students. Our advisor asked us to close our eyes and then to raise our hand if we answered the following question with yes: “Do you feel like a fraud?”  I raised my hand without a second thought. I mean, of course I was. I didn’t belong there. She then asked us to keep our hands where they were and open our eyes. I did, and lo and behold every single hand was raised. We all looked at each other and burst out laughing. Every single one of us felt like a fraud.

No one is immune from this.

So when my friend shared her confidence in me and my work this morning, her gesture soothed that small voice and filled my reservoir just a little bit more. I don’t know if it ever gets filled. I think that’s why it’s so important for us to champion each other, to delight in each other’s successes, to know that each of us has our own unique gift to share and that when each one is shared, the whole tapestry can finally be woven together.

When we stand in our own ordinariness, in the truth of our own experience, just as we are, as vulnerable as we can muster, the fraud voice has no place to stand.

A force of nature is unstoppable. Yes, we are forces of nature; yet, when we don’t trust our own knowing and wisdom, we stop ourselves.

And, when we don’t have a web of sisterhood to hold us, we can feel amazingly alone out there in the world doing the work we are here to do.

How about we find one woman each day and somehow, in some way, champion her? Tell her the truth about what we see in her. It has to be the truth, ’cause we know it when it’s not and it only then feeds the voice that believes it’s a fraud.

Thank you, Aime Miyamoto, for championing me. And, thank you to these two friends below, for including me in your latest creations.

~~~

My friend, Kristin Noelle, asked me to share something for her ‘My Body is my Guru‘ series. And, of course I said, Yes. You know how I am about the body. And when it came time to write it, my body wanted to have a big say in it. Of course.

I was writing about the body being the teacher. It had a few things to say. And that’s what the post is about…my body beginning to converse with me in a way it never has before.

From the post:

My body hungers for beauty and connection. It thirsts for the sun and wind. It feels exquisitely alive when it is touched, and is touching, with beautiful attention.

In listening to my body, I begin to understand in a deep way what it means to be a human being. The body is the human being. It is the creature. It’s the wild and furry feral cat that slides along her back just to feel the sunshine on her belly, or the fish that used to swim underwater for huge periods at a time, or even the snake on the dance floor that undulates along, moving in rhythmic motion.

You can read the entire post here.

And while you’re there, take a look at Kristin’s work on Trust. It’s beautiful. She is a trust coach, and writes, speaks, teaches, makes art, and listens deeply, all to help trust grow.

~~~

My friend and colleague, Dian Reid, has released her new eBook, Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive!  Over the summer, I took part in her series, and now she’s put all of the stories together in one place for you to download for free. There are many great stories here, and many of my online friends are included.

From my story:

These words are moving in cycles, weaving things in and out. This post isn’t linear. And neither am I, nor are you. We are human. We aren’t reasonable. Nor is life. We are sensual, sensing, feeling beings. Long before humans were reasoning, analytic thinking creatures, we responded to life, to rhythms, to change instinctively, intuitively and skillfully, weaving together everything that happens in our experience. We still have this skill.

To be authentic human beings, means this, too: to come back to our animal selves, to sniff the scent of what’s here, to notice when we feel off, to feel our longing, and to notice when we are in tune with, or out of tune with, nature. 

I love Dian and her work. I was able to meet her in person this summer when she came to San Francisco for a weekend getaway with her partner. The three of us shared a bottle of wine together at the ferry building, overlooking the bay. We talked and laughed. It was one of those times when everything just flows with ease.

Dian coaches women around owning their authentic voice and using it to create transformational shifts in both life and business. She is bold, real, and very generous.

~~~

Tomorrow, October 10th, I’ll be hosting an information call for my new course, Becoming a Force of Nature. I’ll be sharing a bit about why not only finding our creativity but also bringing it into the world is so important at this time on the planet.

Thursday, October 10th, Noon PDT
Dial-in Number: (712) 775-7100
Access Code: 1005863#

I’d love to have you join me. I think we’ll have fun. And if you can’t, the call recording will be posted on the course page here.

A quick reminder: the early-bird price of $599 is good until Sunday, October 13th at 9:00 pm pdt. The price then increases to $799. There is a installment plan option if you’d like as well.

Sign-ups are going well. We have a beautiful group of women gathering together for this 24-week journey. I know it is going to be rich and full and lovely.

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Dark Times? Stay steadfast to the wisdom of your heart. You are in beautiful company.

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When I was a teenager, I would sit on my bed and listen to the folk songs of my era. Late sixties, early seventies was a beautiful time when much of the music offered a new way of seeing things. There was an energy in the air of Love, of the possibility of living differently.

I remember the feeling in my heart. I remember feeling this deep connectedness to Life.

I remember the Beauty.

I remember hope, a hope that seemed to have a powerful life of its own.

Lately, I’ve been listening to this music again. The Beatles, Neil Young, James Taylor, Carol King, Crosby Stills and Nash, were some of my favorites. When I listen, I feel those same feelings of connectedness and hope. But along with those, I also feel a steadfastness that comes from age and wisdom. I now know, as experience, things I only dreamed of back then. I now know that it is possible to make this shift to peace, to compassion, to Love.

::

As a species, we are facing, and have been facing, choices that demand we find a new way of being, living, and creating in this world. The old way of domination and control have brought us to, not only other beings’ actual extinction, but the brink of our own.

I know it can be hard to stay with what you know in your heart when all around you are images, feelings, words, and rhetoric that attempt to manipulate and intimidate you to disbelieve what you know.

Do not listen to those voices that try to condemn you for your open and compassionate heart.

Do not listen to those voices that keep trying to push the illusion that might makes right, that toughness will always win out over compassion, reconciliation, and tenderness. 

Don’t listen to those voices, AND don’t close your heart to them. Those voices are inside you, too. They are inside all of us.

“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart.
The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
~ Carlos Santana

Compassion, reconciliation, tenderness, and resiliency are qualities of the heart and they can be fierce in their commitment to love.

::

Stay with your heart. Hold beauty there, the beauty that constantly graces us in each moment. Even in these difficult times there is beauty. And, beauty is not what we’ve been taught to believe it is. Beauty is all around us, in every moment, and you know it when you encounter it by its fiercely tender powerful effect on your being.

The forces against awakening to our oneness with all of life, both inside of us and outside of us, are still functioning from a belief of separation, one that manifests in forms of tribalism that many will tell you is how human beings are. Period.

But this is the opportunity at hand: to realize, both inside and out, that what we truly are is not this behavior that’s been lived out by humans over thousands of years. What we truly are is love, is compassion, is the One that breaths all of life.

The future for our children and their children is bleak if we do not make this leap of consciousness.

People will say over and over and over (I hear it all the time) that what we see in the world right now is proof of what we are. But do not believe it. Much of what we see in the world right now are the EFFECTS of believing what we’ve believed. We see now are the forms that our thoughts and beliefs and fears have created. AND, if you look and feel, really look and feel, the bright green new shoots of something new, very new, are here. They are the sprouts of a new way coming into being. Perhaps these sprouts have sprouted from the seeds that we sown back during those years of the music that guides us to something different.

::

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ~John Lennon

When you doubt yourself, remember you are ‘not the only one’. You are in beautiful company. By staying steadfast to the wisdom of your heart, you invite others to join you. They will feel your steadfastness.

Until recently, I would let the words of others cause me to question my wisdom, what I know in my heart and soul. No more. There is no time for that.

Look at the new. Feel it in your body, in your heart, in your soul. The new is what is coming into being. Allow these shoots to spring forth in your heart. Allow them to perfume your words, your acts, your prayers, your song. Allow them to guide your action in the world. As long as you follow the truth in your heart, you do not have to know where you, or we, are headed. You cannot know. But your heart can guide you.

May you know that you are always graced with beauty even in what seem to be such dark times. Hold beauty in your heart. It is a form of prayer for your more loving, fiercely loving, nature to pour forth.

::

ps This post was fueled by darjeeling tea and serenaded by sixties music. If you sit still and listen, you just might feel that transmission.

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In My Skin

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I’ve come here to live in my skin. Not to hide away from life, but to shimmy right up to this ever-so-thin layer of dermis so I can truly touch and be touched.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To relate to life, caressed by breeze, by sun, by dew.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. It’s the only thing that separates what I sometimes believe is me from what I sometimes believe is not me. It’s a tender line, isn’t it? This thin skin – a membrane so thin it defies rationality.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. A soft wrapping around the tender-most flesh, it gifts me with what many only speak of in hushed tones – one of the most joyous experiences of life – that of being touched, deeply, reverently consciously.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To know the true intimacy of life is to know the sublime interaction that happens here. It is so simple, yet so profoundly mysterious. We can describe these bodies in scientific, physiological terms. We can say, “Oh yes, I know how it works.” But when we touch another with our whole being, our whole awareness, at the point of connection there are no words to describe it. Nothing we can say can capture this moment of exquisite intimacy.

I’ve come here to live in my skin. To be alive, fully and vulnerably, is to offer this skin to the world. To do so is to allow yourself to be touched by what greets you.

I’ve come here to live in my skin, yet along the way I learned so well how not to live in my skin. Each of us has moments when what we experienced was too much, too painful, or too frightening to feel the immensity of the sensations of those experiences.

Over these past many years, I’ve been taking this long journey back into the body. Along with many things, one thing I’ve discovered is that sometimes what I long to say can only be said through my body. Sometimes, there is no way to say with words what the body longs to say. It must be said with touch, with movement, with song or dance.

Maybe that’s our journey, to come back into the skin. We are here in bodies.  We are alive in these bodies, in this skin that was created to know the sublimity of touch and sensation and life.

Why are we alive if not to fully live in this skin?

 

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