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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Wise Woman Wednesday – Lone Mørch

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Wise Woman Wednesday

Occasionally, I share windows into wise women I know. There is no criteria, per se; rather, every now and then I feel called to share something that seems relevant, beautiful, fun, and of course, wise. We women have the opportunity to amplify each other’s voices, to connect women to each other, to share our stories with each other, and it’s something we must do if women are to come into their wholeness and fullness. Plus, it’s just fun to honor and amplify women.

The wise woman: Lone Mørch

I’ve known Lone for about eight years now. We dance regularly together, and we’ve sat and chatted, many times, sipping chai and eating Indian food as we’ve discussed feminism, the sacred feminine and masculine, and how much we’ve learned on this inward journey to wholeness.

Seeing Red

Lone recently published her first book, a memoir titled Seeing Red. In Lone’s words,

“Seeing Red: A Women’s Quest for Truth, Power and the Sacred is an Intimate memoir about a woman’s search for personal power, a journey of climbing inner and outer mountains that takes her to the holy Mt. Kailas in Tibet, through a seven-year marriage, and into the arms of the fierce goddess Kali, where she discovers her powerful feminine self. As much a memoir about coming into one’s own as it is a love affair with the Himalayas, Seeing Red takes the reader on an unforgettable journey of creation and destruction.

This is the story of Denmark native Lone Mørch’s transformation–a story of love and passion, and also a story of self-betrayal. This is every woman’s story because it’s a dispassionate tale of one woman who knowingly gives up on herself, and who has to fight tooth and nail to reclaim herself. In the end, the efforts are worth it, but she has to strip herself bare, lose everything she’s held dear, and strip away everything she’s ever built in order to see the truth.”

 

I loved Seeing Red. It’s fascinating, funny, and moving. It’s Lone’s journey, yet at the same time, in a very universal way, it is every woman’s journey.

The Interview

Lone and I sat down to talk about Seeing Red, but also about how we find our way by being on the journey, not by waiting until we are ready for it. It’s the journey that seasons us with wisdom and healing.

There are many things Lone and I talked about that I feel are universal for us as we reclaim the deep beauty of the feminine. During our chat, Lone revealed, “The story that lived in my belly was the story of power.” Power in the belly…sound familiar?

Over time, what really compelled me to dive more deeply into Lone’s rich experience is what she discovered in her work photographing women through her company, Lolo’s Boudoir. As she worked with more and more women, she discovered she was doing exactly what she needed to do to see what she, herself, was up against in her desire to affirm her own beauty and sexuality. She was seeing and hearing the same beliefs and messages from each woman she photographed that she heard coming from within herself.

During the interview, Lone shared that she was always looking for beauty,for a space for women to be beautiful. As she was starting to step into a deeper sense of sovereignty, she wanted that for the women, too. As she did so, she discovered she could no longer play along with the “slightly superficial boudoir, be sexy” kind of exploration and experience for women.

“The accumulated stories of all these women and their difficulty in accepting their bodies and their difficultures around sensuality and sexuality were piling up. I was starting to be drained and frustrated.”

Lone could clearly see the underbelly of this society, “how it is image driven and how our bodies and our sexuality have been commodified. We become estranged-from-our-essential nature as women.” She didn’t feel in integrity anymore and began to ask herself, “Can I undo stereotypical images of sexy as I create more images?”

Some of Lone’s words of wisdom from her work photographing women:

“Most women end up being naked and feel the most powerful and the most free.”

“I had to allow myself to be more naked and real and put up the front that I’ve got it going on and perfect. It has taught me how to see. It has taught me that I have to fall in love with each person…”

“It healed my mistrust of women; taught me how no matter the age and stage we are at we end up dealing with the same questions.” 

And, as you’ll hear, Lone learned to trust more deeply in her own creative process. She used to be a planner and now she sees she functions really well in the intimate moment. This is so much of what reclaiming the feminine is…learning to trust our deep creative nature and the feminine nature of the creative process, that of the unknown, the fecund, the emergent.

Listen to our chat here. It’s 35 minutes, so you might also want to download it and listen to it on a walk out in the woods…urban or not.

You can buy Seeing Red here, and discover more about Lone’s work here on her ‘Divinely Furious’ blog.

:::

Lone Mørch, in her words:

I’m an award-winning author, photographer, speaker 
and creative facilitator, driven by a deep sense 
of curiosity, freedom and social justice.
 
I am an advocate for women’s visibility, voice and value in the world. For more than a decade, as a photographer, I’ve witnessed thousands of women heal and transform their body-image and self- perception. I’ve learned that the sovereign path, living from inside out, is the only path to self-liberation. Together, I see us break the chain of invisibility and free our voices. As the patriarchy is falling apart around us, we have the glorious opportunity to re-imagine ourselves and our world in a more feminine, honest and harmonious way. This is the conversation I want to invite you into.
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Little Flares of Coiled Delight

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“Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film.” ~ Ansel Adams

The other day I had to pick up a new headset for my iPhone. I was down in Palo Alto, so I headed over to the Stanford Shopping Center. This is one of the most beautiful outdoor malls ever created…mainly for the flowers planted all around the center.

I hadn’t realized just how out-of-sorts I was feeling until I saw these Dahlias. As I stopped to really look at them, I realized just how much joy seeing the beauty in flowers brings me. They bring me home. I begin to breathe more deeply. I being to smile a soft smile. I feel joy, that soft easy joy that is such a field of contentment. This joy is the joy of an open aware heart that meets life without expectations.

Returning Home

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about the periodic need of women to go home, to return to the soul. Sometimes, we need to really get away to some place earthy and enchanted to remember the depth of what we are, and sometimes we can find a mini-retreat of sorts to reconnect to the soul.

As I continued to meander through the mall looking at flowers, I found this one. From the front, it is gorgeous in its openness. It’s not at all symmetrical. It has its own unique arrangement of petals. I loved that about it. Then, (and I don’t know what possesssed me to do this!) I looked behind it, at the back of it, and lo and behold! – there were these beautiful little curls that you see in the top image. I think she invited me in…

Seeing the coiled flares of delight she’s got going on behind her, sort of like under her skirts, caused me to wonder (I love the word wonder) what flares and curls and pink petals I’ve got stashed away, just waiting for a moment when the light shines upon them calling to them to come out of hiding. I know it’s something to do with bawdiness and laughter, delight and belly-shaking glee.

I know I’m shaking off the voices that have caused me to continue to believe that logic and reason reign supreme over delight and wonder, that having things figure out is much more important than settling down into the utter delight of not knowing a damn thing and being open to the delight of discovery, that clarity of argument will always win out over the powerful peace that comes when something is just what it is without the need to get anyone to understand. Ha…how totally devoid of delight, glee, and eros these voices were that I came to internalize!

How about you?

What coiled tendrils and flares are you keeping to yourself? What would others see if you were to give us access to those parts of you you’ve yet to unfurl, that you long to unfurl? Notice the uniqueness in this beauty. Where, and in what, does your uniqueness just wait to be invited out?

Where is that bawdiness in you, the place where delight, desire, and a good belly laugh are all that’s needed?

What mini-retreat might you have at your fingertips just waiting to take you home, back into the arms and lap of the goddess who delights in those little flares of soul?

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Awaken the Wild: a 7-Day Virtual Sensual Immersion from Molokai

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Molokai is a wild island.

Travel with me to Molokai. Virtually.

I recently traveled to this wild island where I dropped down into the land, and into a women’s retreat.

There, I was deeply held by the Aina.

Aina is the Hawaiian word for land. ‘Respect the Aina’ is a phrase I repeatedly heard when I stayed in Hana on the wet side of Maui last summer.

While I was in retreat on this magical land, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to not only share my experience with you, but also invite you into your own virtual retreat, a retreat that takes you deep into your body and your sensory sensual experience with the land. 

Now, you can take this 7-Day virtual retreat to reawaken the wildness in you and deepen your own connection with the land on which you live.

Are you interested in Living Pono?

‘Pono’ means respect or honor and another Hawaiian phrase is, ‘Live Pono’, meaning Respect your land/home. Live with honesty.

The land on which we live is always inviting us to remember her, to respect her, to witness and give thanks for how she holds us.

May we all learn to respect the land and live with honesty… and, I’m talking about living Pono with regard to your body, your own sacred land.

When you register for this complimentary eCourse, each day you’ll receive an email with a link to a private page where I share pieces of what I experienced on this sacred land and offer ideas and guidance for how you can bring the same awareness to your own connection with the land. These include:

  • Audio reflections of the island and how place has such a deep impact on us.
  • Practices to bring you deeper into the wild within you.
  • Insights on the wild nature life.
  • Questions for you to contemplate.
  • Other yet to be known island morsels…

This will be a completely individual opportunity for you to take your inward retreat. What I share is a beginning point for you to go inward into your own sacred land.

Every inch of the earth, every acre of sky, every drop of the sea is sacred. And just as it is ‘out there’, so it is within you – sacredness in every cell of your being.

This experience will unfold as you go, awakening you to all of your senses and deepening your relationship with the earth.

Please join me and have this eCourse sent right to your virtual door!

::

“Julie is sensuality incarnate, wrapped in love.” ~Tanya Geisler

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Life is Erotic

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Yoshino Cherry Tree Blossoms

I want to do to you what Spring does with cherry trees. ~ Neruda

::

I’ve been contemplating Neruda for days now. Discovering this one simple quote, above, led me to this poem of his. And I melted. Oh, my, what this poem exudes.

::

I posted a few lines:

Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.

A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.

on Facebook and Twitter, and what came back was rapturous delight from women. Gasps. Oohs. Aahs.

I didn’t receive pithy statements about the beauty of the lines, but rather short exclamations of feeling.

Feeling. Something wakes up in us when we experience these words.

::

Life is erotic. Life re-creates itself, over and over. Life is an impulse, a continual impulse to come into existence. Life is birthing itself in every moment.

“What does God do all day long? God gives birth. From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth.” Meister Eckhart

::

Most of the lessons we’ve internalized about ‘what Spring does to cherry trees’ isn’t about life or God or ooh and ahh. Think of a nice big fat cherry pie. What we’ve been taught to believe is like taking that cherry pie and cutting the tiniest sliver out of it, then serving it up as the whole pie. The slice is so small, it can’t even stand on its own. And it doesn’t even taste like cherry pie anymore.

::

Pleasure, Eros, Sensuality, Sexuality. These themes are woven into Neruda’s works, but he speaks of life, of earth, of people, of longing, of creation, of love.

And in these lines, he wraps the oh-so-humble elements of this human earthly existence in robes of divinity:

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

We are sensual beings. We live in one big erotic field. Life is pulsing through our veins. Life throbs. Life longs.

In spring, we are in the outward, pulsating part of the cycle of life. Just as in the cherry tree, we feel this pulsing, this desire, this longing to create.

It’s actually really practical, too. When your creations and actions flow from this inner impulse, they come from the intelligence that is life. They are vibrantly alive and captivatingly juicy.

This impulse is a guide to truth and integrity. It is a guide to aliveness and to joy. It is a guide to feeling all of what life offers, even those feelings we’ve pushed away for so long. It is a guide to pleasure and the land of the unknown.

I could feel this in the women who responded with alive oohs and aahs. Our power lies in our bodies, in waking up to and living in the divinity that breathes fire into each and every female cell.

Do I dare live, love and create from this place? Do you? Do we?

Image by Cliff1066 under CC3.0

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Sacred Flesh and Bones

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The body is like an earth. It is a land unto itself. It is as vulnerable to overbuilding, being carved into parcels, cut off, overmined, and shorn of its power as any landscape. The wilder woman will not be easily swayed by redevelopment schemes. For her, the questions are not how to form but how to feel. The breast in all its shapes has the function of feeling and feeding. Does it feed? Does it feel? It is a good breast. ~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

I picked up my old and tattered copy of Women Who Run With The Wolves again, just the other night. This book carried me through a tough time in my life, a time when I was hurting from a break-up that took me by surprise. In my healing process, I decided I needed to learn how to stay by my own side, no matter what, no matter how shiny the object of my desire was over there. That need to hop the fence can be so seductive. Reading Estés’ classic, I took my own hand in mine and walked deeper into the wild forest of me. Her words spoke to my soul in a way no other author has…except, perhaps, Marian Woodman.

::

So I picked up Estés’ book again, let it fall open, and it opened to the quote above.

The body like earth. A land unto itself. Vulnerable. Overbuilt, overmined, cut off, carved into parcels. Shorn of its power. Wild women. Breasts. Feeling and feeding.

Ahhhhh. Back in the land of the wild.

::

My mind went back thirty years to motherhood, to the times when I nursed my two babies. Such wondrous moments those were. I loved being a mother to babies. I loved nursing. I can still remember the feeling of the milk letting down when my babies cried. The connection between cry and breast, hunger and milk. All on its own, my body responded to my little ones’ cries for nourishment. The wisdom of the body, especially the female body that can bring life into life, can hold it while it grows, and can then birth it into being, is a mystery. It is sacred.

But even if we never feed our children from our breasts, or never have children, they are still wonderful parts with which to feel. Yes, our lovers can enjoy them; but we get to feel life through our breasts, sensations that let us know we are sensual creatures, that we love what we love.

When we are no longer focused on being the object of desire, but rather the subject, we can enjoy our bodies as the wild woman, the woman that knows her instincts, feelings and body from the inside out.

Desire, pleasure, feeling, aliveness. The body brings us into direct experience with life, back to our senses.

::

Estés writes:

There is no ‘supposed to be’ in bodies. The question is not size of shape or years of age, or even having two of everything, for some do not. But the wild issue is, does this body feel, does it have right connection to pleasure, to heart, to soul, to the wild? Does it have happiness, joy? Can it in its own way move, dance, jiggle, sway, thrust? Nothing else matters.

These words go right to my soul.

When we see the body as an object to be manipulated and controlled, we are cut off from our wildness, from our instincts and intuition, from our power as women.

When we know our bodies as sacred flesh and bones, blood and heart, we open to how we can experience life through this body. Each cell can awaken to its divinity when we are willing to begin the descent, from our heads where we’ve been taught to live, back into the body, the only place where aliveness dwells.

It is through right connection to our own pleasure, through honoring the sacred within us, through embracing our design as women, that we find right connection to the wild and step into our power. Yes, others can enjoy our bodies, and their enjoyment will be so much greater, when we first are the subject of our own desire, when we hold ourselves as sacred, for we are the sacred feminine in physical form.

::

And, you?

Does your body have happiness? Does it know joy?

How do you experience right connection to pleasure, heart, soul and the wild?

I’d love to know what your experiences have been.

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Libido, Hana & The Sensuality of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was my best trip of 2009.

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Truth, the Body & the Sacred Feminine

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Truth is an interesting word. It has all sorts of baggage with it. My truth, their truth, his truth, her truth, THE TRUTH. We have been taught from a young age that there is a truth, but that it lies outside of ourselves. But in the most simple way, the Truth is just what it is. As Eckhart Tolle says in his book, A New Earth, “The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look elsewhere, you will be deceived every time.”

We are accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for the Truth. The truth of how to be, who to be, how to act, what to do, etc. etc. I have heard from many, many women the question (or one in a similar vein), how can I bring my whole self, my sensuality, my loving side and my intelligence and wisdom to everything I do? To my home, my relationships, and (the place that causes the most distress) to work.

The Truth is that you are already the Truth. The Truth of your Being is what you are. This Truth is alive within your female body. Bringing all of you to all that you do is a matter of realizing what you are and seeing the ways in which your Voice of Judgment (VOJ or ego as some call it) keeps you from expressing the Truth of the wholeness of what you are.

“What is your truth? Ask your heart, your back, your bones, and your dreams. Listen to that truth with your whole body. Understand that this truth will destroy no one and that you’re too old to be sent to your room.” John Lee from Writing from the Body

As John Lee writes, listen to the Truth of what you are with your WHOLE BODY. Learning to be in the body, to feel the aliveness that moves within it frees up this Truth and its expression. Feeling all parts of the body helps to awaken this Truth within, helps to awaken a true authenticity that is You. Then, all actions flow from within.

The stretch for women is to feel the body without judgment. We have learned, in one way or another, to judge ourselves by the way we look. But allow the body to be what it is…a sensing device for the Truth of what you are.

So, as John Lee writes, ask your whole Being, “What is my Truth?” And when you ask, Listen. Then, live it, speak it, express it. Be it. This is creativity. This is the source of true leadership. This is how we will once again discover the Truth of the Feminine.

I have found a practice to be the best way to invite investigation of my Truth through my Body. My practice is dance, specifically Five Rhythms by Gabrielle Roth. The dance has taught me well how to love my body and how to be in it without feelings of self-loathing or denial of the depth of the sacredness of my Being. The dance has re-introduced me to the Sacred Feminine that is within me and within all of Life. The dance has taught me to trust myself, to trust Life and to trust womanhood and the humanity of woman.

What practice do you have to bring your Being back into wholeness?

The Sacred Feminine World, image by JoanLovesPaper on Flickr

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