To touch hearts. To touch skin. To touch the moment with breath.
I love touch and I miss being touched. Just having left my relationship of seven years, I miss that day-to-day connection of the skin and heart: the morning kiss, the spontaneous sharing of a moment in the day, climbing into bed together at night, and the sudden swell of sweetness that arises from brushing my body against his in the wee hours as the night moved toward morning.
Touch is such a beautiful sense. In a most intimate way, through touch we can lose that sense of solidness and separateness that we so often think we experience inhabiting these human bodies. Through touch, we can begin to let go of the need ‘to other’ and realize we aren’t separate at all.
I recently wrote about longing for a deep and reverent kindness, a touch from my lover that transmits an aware, divine conscious seeing of self as self. Some of the most awake moments of my life have been in the midst of touching the body of another, whether it be lover, child, or friend.
I also recently attended a summit (of sorts) in Portland – The World Domination Summit (WDS) with Chris Guillebeau. I’m not a fan of the word domination, and I don’t know why the summit was titled this because my experience was far from what this might imply. My experience was one of connection, creativity, action, and joy. I was able to touch, physically touch, many of the people I’ve met and come to know online. When I arrived in Portland, I had no expectations for the weekend other than to see and hug my (up until then) virtual friends.
As the weekend unfolded, I became acutely aware of how important it is to be immersed in life, not virtual life but real life, and real life with friends and colleagues. It is so easy to forget this when I spend so many hours of my day on the phone with clients and on the computer writing and socializing through social media. I have never been fond of networking, but now I’m realizing an entirely different way to network, by way of touch – touching heart, and touching soul.
The first speaker of the weekend was Pam Slim, who spoke of roots, the power in greeting another with the Navajo greeting: Ya’at’eeh (everything in the universe is beautiful), and the understanding that a mother’s role is to prepare her children to be independent,
‘Giving them the feeling of no matter what happens, I have the capacity to get through it’.
Pam’s talk was beautiful, inspiring and heart opening. And, it was practical, in that she offered very real ways of rooting ourselves in life, in knowing our capacity to get through whatever comes. We touch another deeply when we know and acknowledge their beauty. In doing so, we also acknowledge our own beauty, and the beauty inherent in life as it unfolds.
For me, the most experiential presentation of the entire weekend was offered up by Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen, co-creators of Mondo Beyondo, a wildly successful e-course. Drawing upon foundational coaching expertise, Andrea and Jen brought the house down with their ability to connect through the heart. They had us work with a partner to re-experience a peak experience. As a CTI trained coach, I’ve done this exercise many times in the past; yet, this time, the experience was very different.
In the past, when it comes to peak experiences, I’ve always considered things I had done that were successful, moments when I felt on top of the world, or had reached a dream I had longed for…some of the languaging that can be used in setting this experience up.
This time, however, it was different, perhaps because my awareness was on simply being with the very real sensations of connection and touch. As I shared with my partner, the peak experience was actually three combined. They were very similar in feel and sensation, and all involved touch, stillness, warmth, water, sun, skin, love, connection and the body.
As I relived these experiences, and then shared them with my partner, what showed up was nothing about success and achievement, but was all about being completely and utterly immersed in the erotic field of life, where sensuality and sexuality are part of the beautiful dance of being conscious in a human body.
At the end of the exercise, our partner spoke some of the key phrases or words that we had said aloud back to us. Then, we were to pick one of those and write it somewhere on the body. My word?
Slithering doesn’t have to be about snakes, yet this is what I, and many others first think of when we hear this word. Seeing as how I have quite a fear of snakes, not nearly as bad as it used to be, but still near phobic proportions, I felt a tinge of ‘yuck’ when I considered writing this word on my body.
But, I also knew how clearly this word articulated something very important to me, because it is more about a way of being in life. There’s a sense of flow, of ease of movement, of softness and groundedness, and of feeling one with life, with the ground, with the sensuous nature of being alive…
out of the water and
up onto the
confidently and tenderly
A snake doesn’t move with stiffness or rigidity. It moves with the land, propelling its body in connection to the earth.
A snake is powerful and has all sorts of baggage attached to it, especially with regard to women and apples.
As I moved throughout my day, wearing this word on my skin reminded me of those moments when I felt so at home in my body, so fed by the earth, water and sun, so close to my lover. It reminded me of touch, and of slow, delicious movement.
As WDS drew to a close, the last speaker, Jonathan Fields, asked us all to take what we’d learned over the course of the summit and put it into action. Yes, this is important; and, for me that action is important because of touch – how we touch others’ lives, and how we allow ourselves to be touched by people who are not different from us at all.
In my 2001 thesis on Spirituality and the Internet, I concluded with the understanding that even though the Internet would become such fertile soil for connection that couldn’t be made in the physical realm because of the limitations of space and time, the connections we make in the virtual world must ultimately serve to deepen the gifts we are here to give in the real world.
We can be touched online in very real ways. Our hearts can be opened.
Our souls can be seen.
Our consciousness can become more aware. And, our physical bodies still need physical interactions with other beings.
I can get complacent about showing up in the real world, yet what I experienced that weekend in Portland by coming together in flesh and blood incited a joy in me that I only experience in the physical world. Looking directly into eyes, smelling personal scents, feeling skin to skin, hearing the sound of voices I’d never heard before, and even sharing VooDoo Doughnuts with Marjory Mejia, Tanya Geisler and Kate Northrup Moller are all experiences that come out of this erotic field in which we live.
Eros is so much more than the slim sense of eroticism our culture focuses on. Underneath the surface of speakers, break-out sessions and events, there was a field of connection and intimacy that underscored the WDS experience. Eros was sublimely present at WDS, and is in each moment of existence.
Serendipity was a big part of my experience at WDS.
On the evening of the first event, my friend Marjory and I were leaving the hotel to head over to WDS. As the elevator door opened, we were suddenly face-to-face with Jamie Ridler and her sister, Shannon Ridler. I’ve wanted to meet Jamie for some time now, and voila, there she was!
On the bus that would take us to the after-party, I met Veena Kumar, a kind Pediatrician from the east coast. We introduced ourselves and shared a little bit about what we do.
I told Veena the name of my site, Unabashedly Female. I asked her what the name brought to mind for her and she responded by pulling out a piece of paper. It was the post-it note from Andrea and Jen’s talk. They had put over 500 post-its with messages for each of us under our chairs. Under Veena chair was this note.
She said unabashedly female makes her think of the freedom to be yourself without fear.
This is exactly it: finding the true freedom that comes from being yourself fully, femaleness and all, without apology; enjoying the sensuality of a life lived in a human body, connecting with others without hiding your true nature; touching life fully in each moment.
“Those of us who have been given a knowing of the sacred within ourselves and within the world have a responsibility at this time. We may ask ourselves, “What can I do?” but the inner world primarily requires consciousness rather than action.” ~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Sometimes, I forget what a gift it is to be aware of the sacredness within oneself, and within the world at large.
It is a gift, and with this gift comes responsibility, because at this time what is necessary is remembrance. Remembrance of the sacredness in all of life. Remembrance of the sacredness of the earth. Remembrance of the Source.
As I wrote to a friend today:
There is something far greater than either of us, all of us, or everything that has ever been created, and it is here, right now, in every cell of existence. When I remember this, I trust once again. So, my task has been, and continues to be, remembrance. I know you know of what I speak.
I can get caught up in the beauty of the manifest world: the beautiful skies, the prolific spring flowers, the sweetness of my grandchildren’s faces. In all of these I enjoy the radiance of life, yet, the inner world is where I consciously connect with the sacredness that is at the heart of all the lives.
To allow it to be so profoundly simple, to approach life with this single focus of consciousness can be difficult for me, until I remember to remember the Source. Then, in the moments of remembering, all else falls away and all that remains is what is real and true.
“There are many fierce moments in any one life span: times of turmoil, upheaval, challenge, and change. These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”
I’m personally in one of these fierce times.
I’ve left a relationship with a really lovely man. A man I love. I’ve left my home with him and moved into a new city, a city I’ve longed to live in for quite a while now.
Many have told me I’m courageous. I’m suppose there is some of that. And, to be honest, I simply could no longer stand the pain of avoiding what I knew was true in my heart.
It’s painful to avoid what gnaws at you during the night.
It’s painful to keep lying to yourself about yourself.
It’s painful to continue a relationship with someone you love, deeply love, when you get clear that it is no longer where you want to be.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all of me wanted to leave. A part of me was happy because I love him and I felt safe and secure with him. But that was only a part of it.
I also felt hemmed in by my own unwillingness to be true to myself…the real self.
And, I felt pain in my heart. The heart always knows.
This is where freedom really is…where there is no safety. I’m learning this. Not all of me believes it yet, but enough of me does to have brought me to this place.
The way does not reveal itself.
It doesn’t have to. It’s the way.
It doesn’t show up as a brightly lit, four-lane boulevard. Rather, it feels like the image above.
As I would lie awake at night, torn by this sense of needing to leave and a sweet love for the man lying next to me, I could feel the wild trees all around me, so thick I couldn’t see. It felt as if they were hiding the way, wrapping me in a darkness that felt frightening.
I was surrounded by the unknown, with just a small sliver of light and path ahead. Only a bit of the way was shown, and now, in hindsight, that bit was plenty. Always enough.
Somewhere in the midst of this wild forest of life is my wood line. The way is made from life itself, the wild forest giving over her bits of wood to be laid down end to end. A long curving line that snakes through the wildness of life.
Even the wild trees, the wild forest serves. I know without conflict, tension, friction, there can be no creativity. It’s in those sticky places where the desire for safety and the desire to be free rub up against each other. It is here where we can come to know the most humbling feeling of being the wild eye of infinite spirit living life through the limited reality of a human body.
As in the outer world, so in the inner world, so in the collective world.
This meandering path of Wood Line, forged by the death of cypress trees in a grove of eucalyptus, shows the way to a new life in a new world. The snake winds through me, too, beckoning me on to somewhere I can’t yet see, or that (as Marjory writes) “hasn’t been revealed to me yet.”
This week I was on a call with Meg Wheatley. We spoke of her idea of hopelessness as a necessary way for these times.
In sitting with this sense, hopelessness is an invitation to let go of the ways I hold on to my old life. If this new life is to be truly new, letting go of hope means really letting go of my need for safety and security, of the ways I’ve known these things in the past. It means being with the shittiest of feelings that I have tried to avoid. It means beginning to trust in nothing but the ground that gives rise to existence itself.
And it is so in our collective world. The cypress trees of the old way, where greed, separation, and a wanton disregard for the earth were once cornerstones of how to be in the world, are taking their last gasps. As they die, the ground will again be visible.
“These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”
When I asked 23 glorious humans if they’d like to write a love note of encouragement to your glorious self, they said: Yes please!
So here it is, my lovely. Just for you. A gathering of wise, gentle nudges to remind you of your magnificence, your sense of possibility, your beauty and your truth.
Your notes of encouragement, smartness and truth come from:
Alexandra Franzen. Amanda Oaks. Chris Guillebeau. Chris Zydel. Danielle LaPorte. Darrah Parker. Dyana Valentine. Goddess Leonie. Fabeku Fatunmise. Heidi Fischbach. Hiro Boga. Jamie Ridler. Jen Louden. Julie Daley. Karen Maezen Miller. Kylie Springman. Leo Babauta. Marianne Elliott. Mark Silver. Susannah Conway. Tammy Strobel. Tara Gentile. Tara Sophia Mohr.
The She-ro’s Journey
The second ebook was put together by Jennifer Louden, a woman I feel blessed to call friend. She is woman on a mission to ignite us all to savor and serve. Her ebook, The She-ro’s Journey, is a collection of offerings of which I am thrilled to be a part of. Here’s what Jen had to say:
Are you with us?
You will need food for the journey and companions. I asked 47 women to respond to the question:
How are you stepping into your she-ro’s journey these days?
Here is what they said – compiled in a gorgeous and inspiring and freeee love-fest e-book! Essays, photographs, videos, poems, art – amazing voices to inspire your journey.
Speaking of journeys, I am moving, tomorrow, to the City. It’s a big change for me. I may be away from the blog for a few days, but trust, when I return, I’ll fill you in with all that’s happening my in life.
May you see the beauty inherent in each moment as it unfolds before you.
The task for women is to consciously live their unique connection with the earth. The earth needs to stay connected with consciousness. Matter is so dense, and consciousness vibrates at a much finer frequency, and matter needs consciousness. You can look at it as women providing a way for the earth to be conscious. ~ Angela Fischer, shared by Hilary Hart in The Unknown She
I’ve spent a fair number of hours in these past weeks taking walks in the park across the street, a park filled with redwoods, creeks, a lake, all sorts of furry, scaly and winged creatures, and even a merry-go-round.
On my walks, I’ve been noticing how the earth is so alive, so available, so nourishing. As I walk, I feel the same aliveness is me, in the body, and I notice how deeply connected I am to her. I notice that as I am acutely aware of my own consciousness in the body, my awareness of her deepens. and vice versa.
Something Different for Earth Day
What is this deep connection women have with the earth?
Colette: This is the most important thing we can do for Gaia today…simply engage with her.
Marjory: The Earth comes even more alive when we truly see and feel Her.
She comes alive, and we come more alive. There is a deep relatedness between women and the earth.
I’m feeling something different for earth day could truly bring us all more vibrantly alive.
Coming to know the earth in this manner, woman to earth to woman, can help us all to awaken.
Rainer Marie Rilke wrote:
“Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit and who, arrogant and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves.”
Pulled down beneath the surface.
In our depths.
In our bodies.
Open and receptive to life.
Surrendered to life entering.
Creating and birthing new life.
As of the earth,
so as of women.
The old Irish saying, “May the road rise up to meet you” is a wonderful experience when you can really feel the earth meeting your foot.
When I consciously walk on the earth (in the happiest moments, I am barefoot), it’s as if the earth is meeting each footstep, meeting the foot, coming into relationship with each step. The earth is not just a lump of dirt…it is alive. It meets us, especially if we meet her, giving her our love with each step. I’m not sure the Irish meant that, but then perhaps they did.
One practice I give my coaching clients is that of ‘Lotioning’. I want to share it here, because it is such a lovely way to awaken the cells of the body with awareness and love.
Find a nice lotion, one you really love the fragrance and feel of.
For a generous amount of time, at least 10 minutes, give yourself complete time and space to silently apply lotion to each part of your body, in this particular way. You can begin with any part of the body, but for example we’ll begin with the thigh.
Apply the lotion with your hand to your thigh, with awareness in your hand as it touches the thigh. Be aware that you are the lotioner, applying lotion to the leg.
Switch, and allow your awareness to be in your thigh, so you are the one being lotioned, aware there is a hand applying lotion to you. Feel the experience of being lotioned.
Switch back and forth, from lotioner to lotionee. Feel each sensation of applying lotion, and each sensation of being lotioned.
Repeat with your entire body, area by area.
As you lotion, notice if there are areas of the body where it is more difficult to be aware. Be kind to yourself as you enter these areas. Lotion lightly, yet continue to invite awareness into the cells there. If emotions arise, feel them, and let them move through you.
Take this awareness outside
You can take this same awareness outside to the earth.
Find a soft place to walk barefoot.
As you walk, become aware of your feet, each foot as you step on it. Feel the ground underneath each foot.
As you become more aware of the earth beneath your foot, be curious about any awareness you experience in the earth beneath your foot. Allow yourself to be surprised.
While to many, these practices may not seem as important or practical as what we’ve been taught to do on Earth Day, and everyday, anything that brings women into closer communion with the earth may be some of the most important ways we pay reverence and respect to this beautiful home that provides for us day in and day out.
I’ve discovered a direct correlation between how awake I am in my own body and how aware I am of the earth’s aliveness. The more aware I am of how little respect and love I’ve had for this body, the more aware I am of how unconscious I have been of the earth and all she provides.
May the earth rise up to meet you and may you come to know her as vibrantly alive and awake, and may we all come to know, in the cells of all matter, how sacred life is.
Yesterday, as I do most days, I walked in the woods across the street from our house. But before I set out, I took a moment to capture some of the sights in our own yard. This one picture speaks to me in so many ways.
The heaviness of fruit is, many times, how I feel. My hips, my thighs, my belly all weighted down, pulling me close to the Earth’s embrace.
Just as these gorgeous fruity globes display, I, too, am imperfect. Blemishes here, spots there, a not-quite-symmetric fleshy shape enrobes me.
And while I can feel heavy and weighted, if I am willing to be vulnerable, I notice I am bathed in a light that is tender and fragrant. If I open to the nourishment available to me in any moment, I can feel it enter my skin and bring sustenance to the cells that crave its touch.
All around me I am reminded of how the Earth provides. And, all around me I am reminded of how I take from her, almost always without any conscious gratitude of what she offers up without hesitation.
The Earth is alive. I hear her in the breeze. I feel her in the redwood trees outside my house. I taste her in every meal I eat. I know her as I know my own body – sometimes acutely aware, sometimes completely unconscious.
I hope to come to know her body through mine, to give back to her in some way for all she continually offers up to me, to my children and their children, and to all the world’s children.