Same, Same


Image from I Dare You video by The Girl Effect
I Dare You

…equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men & women, & the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance & that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man & women who’s confronted with it. ~ Joss Whedon

Last night I wrote quite a bit, following a fair amount of time online supporting other Girl Effect bloggers by reading their posts, commenting when a comment wanted to be written, and re-tweeting the posts so others would know about the campaign that is a beautiful groundswell of action.

As I think back over everything I’ve read in the past few days, all of it written by people moved deeply by the Girl Effect videos, a few passages come to mind. So I return to these passages to re-read them, and soak them up again.

The Cultural Aspect

One of these passages is in a post by Marianne Elliot, her second Girl Effect post. In this post, Marianne turns to look at this question from a fellow blogger, Carol:

“How is the cultural aspect/conflict reconciled? In the sense that a particular culture (or maybe just that particular child’s family dynamics) may demand that the young girl marry and have children by a certain age. How does one seek to reconcile the desire to educate young girls with the demands that are placed upon her by external factors?”

To work with the question, Marianne draws upon her time spent in developing countries. She shares these insights:

In 2003, a survey of 1500 Afghans identified access to education and health as the second most important human rights, after the right to security.

But how did they feel about education for their daughters? Well, there were a wide range of different views expressed ranging from a father frustrated that there was no suitable school for his daughters to attend, to parents who couldn’t afford to educate all their children and chose to educate their sons first.

Three years after this survey was carried out I ended up working in Badghis province, as it happens. There I met many girls, and their parents, and heard an increasing call for appropriate, accessible education opportunities for girls.

Most parents I met were more than willing to have their daughter educated if: she didn’t have to travel long distances in unsafe territory to get to school; the cost of education was within the family means; and the teachers were well-trained.

As far as I understood it, it wasn’t that ‘not educating girls’ was a deeply held cultural value, it was that there were more social, economic and environmental barriers between a girl and her education than there were between a boy and his education. Remove or reduce those barriers and many parent would be thrilled to educate their daughters.

These words of Marianne’s reverberate through me.


Societal, cultural and environmental barriers.

Choice and desire.

For awhile, I sit with these words. I sit with the ideas of the Girl Effect, with Carol’s question, with the thought that parents might not want the Girl Effect. And I wonder about it all. How we humans see things so differently?


And then the mother in me, a parent of two grown daughters, a grandparent of three (and one on the way) wonders about these parents, what they must face, the decisions they have to hold, the things they must weigh.

I think of these parents who want to know their daughters will be safe if they attend school. I wonder what it is like to be them. I wonder the decisions I would make if I were a parent now in these developing countries. I wouldn’t have the same perspective, for I wouldn’t have been exposed to the same things, I wouldn’t have grown up with the same beliefs instilled in me. My hopes and dreams for my children might be the same, they might be different. I realize, I can’t know.

And it hits me how similar we all are, in so many ways. Sometimes, I see the differences more clearly. Much of our current day culture and media seems to highlight the differences between people, pointing out things in the way of comparisons, most of the time picking a good side and a bad side.

Same, Same

As I sit in the swirl, I don’t see that here. I see sameness. Same, same. Then it hits me, again, for the zillionth time (sometimes it takes quite a few) how utterly connected we all are, even when we seem to see things differently. And in this connection, I realize that at a deep, basic level, no human being wants to deny girls and women the same rights accorded to boys and men. I don’t feel that any parent consciously wants to deny their children rights, not at the most fundamental level. I just don’t see that. It doesn’t feel true to me.

What I do see is that these barriers that Marianne speaks of stem from cultural beliefs, patterns and systems that keep us all locked up in a hierarchical worldview where some are considered more valuable and deserving than others – many times being men over women, and boys over girls, where inequality rather than equality is the order of the day.

It is not only in developing countries where this inequality is rampant, but right here in our country. I remember Joss’ quote and find it so I can sit with it. When I first heard him say these words, I was taken by the passion in his voice.

So I sit with this wondering of what misogyny has done to our world, how out of balance we are, both internally and externally, and how much my soul feels the anguish of this imbalance. His words seem to speak directly to my experience of feeling as if something so rich, so lovely, so radiant is missing in our world.

I Dare You

I remember another Girl Effect video that caused my heart to break, and I go back to it to watch it again, one more time.

I watch the video again, looking at each girl with fresh eyes, really looking and listening.

I take in the words, “I dare you to look at me and see only a statistic, someone you’ll never meet, a tragedy, a commodity, a child bride.”

I hear the words, “I dare you to look at me as more than a poster for your cause, a promise you won’t keep.”

I breathe in the words, “I dare you to look at me without pity, fatigue, dismissal.”

I open my heart to the words, “I dare you to rethink what it means to look at a girl – not a burden, not an object, but the answer.”

Each face looks at me directly, while the words ask me to look, really look with eyes and a heart that want to see, not eyes and a mind that think they already know.

It’s as if the narrator really knows how unconscious human beings can be, how easy it is for our minds to scan images and take stock of them in a split second, coming away with quick assumptions that satisfy us so we can move on.

Can I really watch these images, with an open heart that is willing to feel whatever arises as these eyes stare back, not asking for pity, but asking instead to truly be seen as an intelligent being with capabilities not recognized, with the desire to be a part of the answer rather than simply an object, a commodity or a problem to be solved?

Can I ask myself, “How do I contribute to the current situation?” and can I sit with myself and be with the truth of the answer?

It Is A Structure, It Is Not Men.

I feel the pain inside me, the pain that comes from having been conditioned in a society that is misogynistic at its core and that also knows misandry as well. I feel this pain while at the same time knowing that this misogyny isn’t a natural tendency of the human condition.

Misogyny is at the heart of patriarchy, and patriarchy is a hierarchy where men are on top, women are next, children are below them, and the rest of life, including animals and the earth bring up the rear. It is a structure where the masculine is valued and honored over the feminine in both genders, as well as in our education, economic, political…in short all of our systems.

It is a structure, it is not men.


Hardened Hearts

My thoughts go back to another powerful Girl Effect piece by Matthew Stillman in which he writes:

Women are tough and can handle all sorts of adverse situations. But I have seen when a girl has had to harden herself to manage an intense new space. That often turns into a hardened woman who can play business in the big leagues with the best of them. How many girls have been sacrificed on the altar of progress? Women who have compromised their very feminine nature so they can get along. More often than not we end up losing what is best about girls and women just so they can operate in a hostile world with an economic system antithetical to human values. We need to have a place for feminine values – in women and in men as well.

Matthew brilliantly points out that the systems in place cause girls and women to have to harden themselves to survive.

I would say we have ALL (men and women, boys and girls) learned to harden ourselves in this intense, hostile world with systems that are ‘antithetical to human values’. Our softer sides, the soft animal belly that Mary Oliver wrote of, has been buried someplace so deep inside that we can watch the video above, hear the words spoken, take in the images and still not allow ourselves to feel just how much has been sucked out of our own souls by the imbalance and inequalities in the world, and within our own beings.

I wonder about fathers and how they feel deep in their hearts about their daughters and how the world dismisses girls. What does this do to a man?

I know in myself, there is a genuine deep desire to be of service to the world, to do something about what I see and hear in these Girl Effect videos, and in the oodles of pages of facts and resources. And, I know I must also go deeper into my own heart, deeper in to the places where I’ve hardened myself so I can feel what I see rather than simply thinking I know what I am seeing.

Yes, there are substantial things we need to do out there in this world that are necessary to the survival of the human race. The Girl Effect is about unleashing the vast potential of the feminine in girls, a potential that is at the heart of the sacred feminine within them. And, at the same time, can we sit for a moment and feel first? Can we feel into how what we are watching has affected the soul, the heart?

Can we be open to see and acknowledge what we’ve turned away from within ourselves in order to exist in a culture that engenders such hardened hearts? Can we feel the void of compassion, empathy, love, tenderness, and deep soulful caring so that we can begin to feel these things within ourselves? When we see them in ourselves, can we open to them in others?

Deep within each of us is a place that yearns for life to be free to honor itself, to express itself, to know itself fully.

‎Can we first fully feel, before we decide we know what is right to do? Can we then act from this place of broken-open heartedness, because in this place we are no longer me vs. you, we are same, same.

What if we have a revolution of tenderness? A tenderness so strong, so resourceful, so unwilling to turn away form the reality in front of us, a tenderness that breeds willingness, succor and sustenance for a world thirsty and hungry for such?


This post is part of  The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, created by Tara Mohr. Come check out other wonderful posts and even sign-up to post yourself!


Girls Are Not Little Women



This post is my wholehearted contribution to the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

In every advanced mammalian species that survives and thrives, a common anthropological characteristic is the fierce behavior of the adult female of the species when she senses a threat to her cubs. The lioness, the tigress and the mama bear are all examples. The fact that the adult human female is so relatively complacent before the collective threats to the young of our species bespeaks a lack of proactive intention for the human race to survive.

Yet how things have been has no inherent bearing on how things have to be, and I think we’re living at a time when Western womanhood is just a moment away from emerging into the light of our collective possibility.

~Marianne Williamson

While we humans are clearly intelligent beings, over time, our intelligence has separated from our wisdom, dividing our smart brains from the wisdom of our hearts and bodies. We’ve marched forward over hundreds of years as if we are separate from the rest of life, as if we hold some lofty privilege that other forms of life are not worthy of. We’ve also separated from each other, from a sense of connectedness that can help us survive in tough times.

It is characteristic of the female of many mammalian species to be protective of her cubs, to fight for the life of the species, to covet life above all else, and to do whatever it takes to keep life going.

Marianne Williamson calls to us to remember this nature of the female, and calls us forth to action, an action that stems from this natural desire to protect. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else do this better, until now.


Another woman, just barely into her womanhood, is also calling us forward. Her name is Anita and she lives in India. Listen to her story here. The video is short, but it is powerful. She blew me away with her directness and her beautiful audacity, the audacity to ask us, you and me, to do something to support the 600 million girls living in the developing world.

Anita refuses to be a victim of a system that would keep her from her dreams. And, she takes her power one step further. She in turn asks us, those who can do something about the 600 million girls who can’t do anything for themselves, to get off of our duffs and do something, because, in Anita’s words, “what’s happening isn’t working.”

Now it might be easy to respond to her plea by saying, “I don’t have any power.” or “It’s not up to me to fix something that is broken in your country.” or even, “You’re not my child. I have my own problems.” And of course, we have the choice to see things from those perspectives. Or, if Anita’s call has roused you at all, we can shift how we see things. We can look through a different lens.

Let’s call this other lens, The Girl Effect Lens.

The Girl Effect Lens:

The Girl Effect – n.
The unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.

The Girl Effect shows us that when we change the lives of girls for the better, we change the world for the better. Why is this? Because girls are different than boys, as women are different than men. Neither is better than the other, but the diversity we bring to the world has always been important, and at this critical time, is even more important. According to statistics, when girls are empowered, they are more likely to reinvest their resources back into their families.

  • Fact: When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003.)

Less than two cents of every international aid dollar spent in the developing world is earmarked for girls. And yet when a girl has resources, she will reinvest them in her community at a much higher rate than a boy would. If the goal is health, wealth, and stability for all, a girl is the best investment. (source, The Girl Effect)

Because many girls grow up to be mothers, investing in their education is more than simply providing them with the means to get a good job. It also keeps them safe during adolescent years when they are more prone to sexual assault and way-too-early marriage, while providing a firm foundation for them to stand on when they become mothers and begin to raise their own children.

  • Fact: Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers. (George T. Bicego and J. Ties Boerma, “Maternal Education and Child Survival: A Comparative Study of Survey Data from 17 Countries,” Social Science and Medicine 36 (9) [May 1993]: 1207–27.)

If the 600 million adolescent girls in the developing world today follow the path of school drop-out, early marriage and early childbirth, and vulnerability to sexual violence and HIV/AIDS, then cycles of poverty will only continue. (source, the Girl Effect)

whatshesfacingGirls know they’re facing discrimination and injustice. They have dreams and hopes for their lives just like boys. They see the inequities.

  • Girls find themselves at the intersection of age and gender discrimination. While girls do not often refer to their own rights, they express a sense of injustice in many areas of their lives. From expressing frustration at what their brothers get to do to anger about their parents’ lack of support to hopelessness at their experiences of sexual violence, they consistently appeal to a sense of fairness and the violation of that sense. As adolescent girls living in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, lamented, “Rights exist on paper, but in reality they aren’t put into practice.” (source, Girls Count | The Coalition for Adolescent Girls)

This blog is about rediscovering what it is to be female. I would venture to say many young girls know what it is, because they haven’t yet grown up to forget their instincts and their nature. They show it to us if we are willing to see, if we are willing to open our eyes to what is here. They live it directly, by taking care of their families once they are educated because their parents took care of them. Even when parents try to push them into a life that’s not based on their hopes and dreams, many of the girls come back – as did Anita – to take care of their parents. Anita now has her own business; she’s repaired her family’s house; and she pays their medical bills

This is what the world looks like through the Girl Effect Lens.

I would say this is the same natural response that is in all women. And (this is the key part) it is the same natural response that is needed right now in response to ‘the collective threats to the young of our species’.

These girls are showing us what is dormant in us. They are showing us what life looks like through the Girl Effect Lens.

Anita went so far as to go on a hunger strike for her dream. I can only imagine the obstacles she faced, and the strength and courage she found within. We each have that same resiliency within us.

For me, the problems we face as a global community can seem insurmountable, enough so that I feel like nothing I could do would make a difference. But looking through the Girl Effect Lens helps me here, too. Anita doesn’t have to fix everyone’s home or pay everyone’s medical bills. She is simply giving back to her family. She shared her story, a story that guides us to see things differently. And, she listened to that voice inside, that inner voice that told her to do whatever it took to follow her dream.

That’s all that is being asked of us. To trust the inner voice, to speak out about what is true, to give back, to be proactive members of the global community. The Girl Effect website asks us to Join the Conversation:

Your support, your voice and your action – that’s what it’s going to take to wake up the world and make a real difference. Make yourself part of the Girl Effect revolution. Given the chance 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries can unleash the world’s greatest untapped solution to poverty. This is the Girl Effect. If we can release girls living in poverty, they will do the rest.

Girls Are Not Little Women:

Girls are not little women. They deserve to have their girlhood and their adolescence. They deserve an education, and the choice to marry or not, and at an age of their choosing. They deserve to be free from the very real threat of sexual violence and all the psychological and health issues that come from that violence.

We are women, and we have experienced girlhood. We know how it felt to stand on the brink of adolescence, stand at the doorway to womanhood, and wonder what life would hold. Most of us reading this right now never faced the kinds of injustices and lack of choices that these girls face. Yet, we were girls in a cultural structure where women don’t experience the same equality as men, even if it looks like we do ‘on paper’. Remember what the girls in Brazil said, “Rights exist on paper, but in reality they aren’t put into practice.”

I invite you to go back to the time when you were twelve.

  • How did you sense the world and your place in it?
  • What dreams did you have?
  • Were you given the opportunity to bring those dreams into reality? If not, what got in the way?
  • How did you see girls and women treated?
  • What injustices did you see as a girl?
  • What part of yourself, if any, did you put away in order to fit into a society where age and gender discrimination are believed to be simply ‘the way things are’?
  • What privileges did you have, simply because of the family you were born into did you, and do you continue to, enjoy?

As a woman now in this age that is calling us forth, as both Anita and Marianne do, what have you been blessed with, over the course of your lifetime, that is needed right now to make a difference in these girls lives, a difference that we will all benefit from?

When you look through the Girl Effect Lens, how do you see yourself? What gifts do you possess? What can you do to make a difference so that those 600 million girls might say, “Wow. Thank you. What you are dong IS working.”?”


The Girl Effect website is an incredible resource to find out more about the situation we face in our global community with respect to these 600 million girls. Take some time to watch the videos, read the fact sheets and downloads to understand what’s happening. Pass the videos and links around on Facebook and Twitter.

This post is part of the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign. I invite you to read many other posts and add your own post as part of this important campaign.


divine robes of feminine flesh

婦女圖 - Woman
婦女圖 - Woman

Artist: m-louis/takato marui, under CC 2.0


Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms. – Gloria Steinem

This body, this female body, is divinity all dressed up in robes of feminine flesh.

Too often, way too often, this beautiful garment has been shamed and humiliated, objectified and used, scorned and belittled – the most hurtful damage done by the very one who wears it.

I now experience something different. I know that I, the one that sees all this, is not the one who scorns. The one that scorns is the only self I used to be aware of…the false self that mimics all she ingested and ingests, heard and hears, saw and sees.

The true self, the self that sees this all with such love and compassion knows I am dressed in the finest of flesh.

Yes, flesh. Flesh is divine. This feminine flesh is divine. It robes a home where Spirit and matter are brought together in a miraculous way. Creation has made this humble home for life to come into being by way of this womanly body.

I used to apologize for myself over and over. It was simply a habit borne of some belief that I couldn’t take up space in the world. Somewhere I learned that I didn’t belong to this world that seemed to be a man’s world. A world run by men, where men called the shots. Men belonged. Boys became men, but girls seemed to stay girls in this world. At least that’s what I learned by way of listening and watching as grown men and women would refer to men as men and women as girls, even women who were old and wise and beautiful.

I rarely apologize for myself any longer, but I am still too polite. It’s a hard habit to break. Politeness has its place, but politeness can also be another form of apologizing.

I see women apologizing for themselves over and over. I hear them say such harsh words about themselves. I want to just hold them and tell them what divine and sacred beings they are, just as I longed to be held, while having these loving words whispered into my ear.

When I feel the old familiar pangs of not belonging to this world, I find the nearest tree, flower, furry being or baby…something that reminds me of the immense variety of beauty there is in this world. Something that reminds me of the innocence that is at the heart of life. Something that reminds me that the world is owned by no one and that because it is owned by no one, we all belong to this place. Every living thing belongs to this place. We all reside in this “house of belonging.

When I remember this, I remember what I am. A sacred being. A woman. A creation created to bring sacred life into being in infinite ways.

This being female is delicious. I’ve migrated down from my head to my heart to my belly to my womb. I feel the earth here. I feel my weightedness, the weightedness that connects me to the earth, the feminine to the feminine. It’s as if I am ripe with love, and the juiciness of the fruit weighs me down in a grounding, sensual way.

There is a fierceness here in this womb. A fierce love that protects life at all costs. A fierceness that ensures the life entrusted to this womb will be fed, nurtured, warmed and loved.

I’ve witnessed this fierce love in my daughters as they birthed their babies. Birthing is fierce love in action. Fierceness on the part of life as it charts its own course of labor and delivery, a course the mother has no say in. Fierceness on the part of the mother as she opens herself to the most vulnerable, tender and terrifying unknown she might ever experience. Fierceness on the part of the  baby as it travels the short distance from womb to the world, but a distance that can take hours and days to navigate. It is all born from love, from the deep love of life wanting to birth itself anew in an infinite variety of forms and ways.

I’ve witnessed this fierceness in my daughters as they care for their babies in the day-to-day, doing whatever it takes to make sure their children feel safe, loved and cared for.

I’ve witnessed this fierce love in my mother, as she did whatever it took to raise her three daughters. I witnessed this fierce love in my mother as she fought to stay alive, to stay connected to those she loved even into the last hours before her death.

From this place, from this womb that is a microcosm of the big womb that is in constant creation, I know that the most important ‘job’ I am here to do is to protect and nurture life, all of life, all babies, all children, all men and women, all furry beings, and all the other myriad life forms. It is to live with this awareness, consciously infusing all that I create with this fierce love.

The awareness that I’ve found deep in my womb has brought me into the stark realization of all the ways I haven’t nurtured life, the ways I have added to the pain that earth, this home I belong to, is experiencing. This awareness has shown me that all my choices affect how the human race will continue to evolve, or not, and just how much power we humans have come to posess; power to love and power to destroy.

I don’t have some fancy big job. It’s insignificant and yet completely significant. Each of us has this capacity to bring forth this fierce love into being at this time. The ways in which we bring this fierce love for life into the world may seem small and insignificant, but when we all realize the capacity we have for fierce love, something can shift.

I am one of those older women now. I am not a girl, but a wise woman, a woman that knows she is more powerful than the culture would have me believe. I am a woman robed in feminine flesh. It is part of what it means to live and love in this ‘house of belonging’.

And, you?

Tell me about your finest garment. I’d love to know what it is to be robed in your divine flesh.

This post on self-awareness is part of Dian Reid’s blog challenge, as well as Bindu Wiles #215800 blog challenge.


Warriors of Love’s Wisdom




Some time back, I became quite aware of where I looked for wisdom. Like the baby bird in its nest with beak wide open, clamoring for Mama Bird to feed it, I noticed myself constantly looking to others to feed me. I hungered for answers. I wanted answers to questions I wasn’t willing to live. I began to see I had to live them to grow the wisdom from within.

Sometimes, we’re thrown into the living of such. Like the fledgling bird that finds itself no longer in the safety of the nest, we too must discover how to get along in the world, and no amount of advice from others can begin to match what we learn when we navigate the new world on our own.

A few years ago, I taught what was loosely called a dating/relationship class to women who had lost their spouses in 9/11. In reality, what it turned out to be was a course on learning how to go ‘from alone to alive’ (how one woman named her experience after moving through it).

For 18 months, I commuted between California and New York to teach this course. It consisted of three day-long classes, each held two weeks apart. We structured it this way, so the women would have time in-between each class to practice what they learned, and even begin to dip their toes in the dating pool.

My colleague, Julie Saltonstall, and I designed the course based on my own experiences as a widow, her experience as a remarried woman with a blended family, on many of the coaching modalities we’d learned over the years, but most importantly on the realization that each woman had her own unique internal wisdom to bring to what she was facing as a widow, as a new single mother, and as a woman who wanted to love again. Because of the nature of the loss, there was no shortage of people offering advice on how best to raise the surviving children. Wisdom was key in supporting her moving back into life. Her body and her heart held this wisdom, so we gently encouraged each woman back into communion with this wisdom within.

The class was so much more than simply learning how to date; it was about learning how to be alive again, how to mother and nurture after deep grief, how to trust oneself, and how to allow oneself to know happiness, love and companionship again.

At the end of each class, we held a wisdom circle, using the indigenous tradition of a talking stick. In the circle, one can only speak when she holds the stick. As long she holds the stick, no one else can interrupt her or talk over her. When she holds the stick, if she isn’t talking there is only silence.

What happened in these circles was profound. Even though none of us knew what we would say in advance when we sat down to the circle, when the stick came our way we dropped down into our bodies and trusted what flowed forth from our hearts. And out of every beautiful mouth wisdom flowed. Remarkable wisdom. By the end of the circle, the air was so thick with truth and silence, tears ran down cheeks, eyes gazed knowingly, and smiles broke open. The wisdom was palpable in our bodies, in our circle and in the air.


The effect of the realization of internal wisdom spoken aloud in the presence of other women is life-changing. Being in relationship with women, holding each one as a wise being who knows something integral to the whole, something that is yearning to be spoken aloud completely shifted how I see women. I know our wisdom is needed, now, in this world.

I’ve learned deep things from being silenced. I grew up silenced for I learned silence from my mother. It was no fault of hers, as her mother was silenced. It’s a cycle. As Adrienne Rich wrote,

“The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.”

The woman I needed to help me know I am wise from within, couldn’t know this herself. The silencing has been here for millenia. How life would be different if we had been taught the wisdom circle from birth, and now we can help each other remember it.


In October of 2004, thirteen indigenous Grandmothers from all parts of the world gathered in the land of the people of the Iroquois Confederacy in Phoenicia, New York. The Grandmothers sat together for seven days, creating an alliance in service to the healing of Mother Earth and all Her inhabitants.

Carol Schaefer wrote a fantastic book, Grandmothers Counsel the World‘, collecting the wisdom of these Grandmothers, and includes many other wise women’s wisdom as well.

“We must be warriors with the power of love, the Grandmothers say. The great goal of the Grandmothers is to unite the hearts of the world. We all share the sun and the moon, the planet and the stars, they say. Our blood is altered when we come together as one people, allowing the Divine Feminine within and without to unite us and free us from fear.

The Grandmothers tell us that together as warriors we need to hold the spirit of the land, the spirit of the ancestors, and the spirit of the people who are resisting the yearning in their hearts, which is the Light. Breathe the light of Spirit in, they say. Move with the Divine Feminine.” ~Carol Schaefer


I’ve had this yearning in my heart for a long, long time, the yearning in my heart, which is the Light. There has been no logical reason for the yearning. It’s not about logic. I finally figured that out years back. In fact, trying to make sense of the yearning takes me out of my heart, out of the yearning. No, it’s about trust. Trusting that which is calling. Trusting that which moves through me, and you, and all of us. It is the Divine Feminine stirring within, returning now to bring us back into balance. Balance within and balance without.

The Grandmothers say we must remember our nature, our wisdom. They say that “women carry the ancient knowledge of the Divine Feminine deep within the very cells of their being”.

Our wisdom is unique to us, unique to each woman, just as unique as she is. This is another thing we must trust. That we are inherently wise, that our bodies hold this wisdom.


Learning to once again trust the body and trust one’s wisdom when we’ve been out of touch with them takes a community of women, where each woman is held by the rest. A community where she is nurtured, loved and supported simply as she is, without having to strive to be something she cannot be, a striving for perfection that keeps her from knowing what is already enough within her.

In reading the Grandmothers, I now look back on those women in New York and realize what was happening. We were holding each other in our hearts, and in this holding, our resistance was melting away. In community we began to move together with the Divine Feminine, both individually and collectively.


“Remember, the Grandmothers say, we women have been gifted – we are all-knowing, the creators and makers of life, the seed carriers for the children of the Earth. We must walk strong and walk in our innate knowledge and power…women must wake up this great force they possess and bring the world back to peace and harmony…”


Now we can find our community, trust the yearning in our hearts, and awaken to our deep love for all of life. We can awaken to our creativity, the sacred creativity that we’ve been gifted with.

The one thing that shakes me to my bones is looking into the eyes of my three grandchildren, knowing we’ve made an awful mess of things and wondering what kind of world they will have to live in. What will they face?

We are all mothers and grandmothers to all the world’s children. There isn’t time to worry about whether or not we qualify for the job. All women were made for this. As Joan of Arc said,

“I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”

If you get very quiet and listen to your body, it will lead you. Our bodies know the way.

So gather your community. Trust the yearning in your heart. Move with the Divine Feminine. Wake up this great force within. Hold each other in your hearts. Share the talking stick. Walk and talk your wisdom, loudly and clearly. I am honored to be waking up with you.


You can purchase this book at


Asleep in Beauty’s Lair

belle endormie, by colodio
belle endormie, by colodio

“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” ~Arundhati Roy


I was introduced to this amazing woman when I read her first and only novel, The God of Small Things, in 1997.  In this book, Roy writes about the many varied faces of love…and there are many. Her words are beautiful. They are real. They are alive.

When I first read this quote, so many things jumped out at me. I had to read it over and over, letting what she was really imparting, that transmission between the words, fill me with its wisdom.

What I love about her words is the raw truth she shares. In a world that is filled with so many ways to turn away from reality, including the one I’ve flirted with for so long, that of being a spiritual seeker, she calls me back to reality. Reality in all its rapturous beauty, vulgar disparity, unspeakable violence. Reality where I am utterly insignificant – simply one of billions of people existing on this planet right now, and just one of a gazillion forms of life on mother earth.

In most places, we’re encouraged to see our specialness, to pump ourselves up with our own importance, breeding a kind of hierarchical sense to one’s existence. To never forget my own insignificance reduces that sense of importance and specialness. Somewhere in this insignificance is true humility…

What comes to me from this quote is her pure love for this life. And her inviting us to open our eyes, our hearts to the fullness of human experience. Opening to life fully, all of it. To embrace the paradox of joy in the saddest places, opening to beauty in the most raw, painful moments of life.


My seeking began at a young age. I grew up in a family without religious dogma. We did go to church, occasionally. At the same time, Mom and Dad had their own belief systems about God. How could you not, growing up in this western culture? The wonderful thing they did pass on was a thirst to know, a longing to know the real God. I remember the longing in my heart, as a young girl, filling me with ache. A longing that kept at me, and kept at me, and kept at me….

Throughout my early adult years, I was busy raising a family, working, building our own home, doing things people do in everyday life. Normal, mundane things. Sometimes the longing would peek through in these simple moments of the day. My heart would ache, tears would well up, a sense of emptiness would make itself known. Immediately, my mind would jump in, wondering what was missing. Thoughts would jump in, convincing me that there was something I had to find ‘out there’, something I would have to do one day, something somewhere that would satisfy this longing. My mind always looked to the future as the storehouse of what my heart was longing for. My heart simply felt emptiness, some deep sadness, aching, hungering, longing…


When my late husband died suddenly, at 4 in the morning, my heart was torn open. His heart gave out, mine tore open. It was a place of no mind. Just sheer raw pain. Enough pain to put me in shock. I wandered in this desert for a long time. I wished I could be more there, more present, more mother, more together; but, I wasn’t.


I searched for a way to live with this ragged, jagged heart, ’cause it wasn’t going away. If I tried to talk myself out of this place, my heart would have no part of it. It knew. It knows. The heart knows the wisdom of grief, the intelligence of the process of moving through it all, the joy that is waiting on the other side, the broken-open heartedness that is waiting if one is willing to keep inviting it in.

I realized the profound beauty in this process of grief and in this place of broken-open heartedness. Others I shared this beauty with couldn’t understand my use of that word. Beauty in grief? Beauty in death? Beauty in such profound pain? Yet, the profound aliveness I finally felt after 38 years of closed-heartedness was breathtakingly beautiful, because of just that…the profound aliveness that poured out of my broken-open heart.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not romanticizing death. I’m not minimizing the pain my children went through, my husband’s mother went through, our family went through, or I went through. Minimizing pain does not bring beauty. Feeling pain does. Indulging in pain, does not bring beauty. Experiencing pain does.

It would have been so easy to die while I was alive. A part of me wanted to. Simply to numb it and get on with life. Many people encouraged that. But something, and it certainly wasn’t my mind, wouldn’t let me…my heart knew the pain was my doorway in, the doorway in to that which I had been longing for.


Nothing in life is a straight linear line. Instead, it seems to move in spirals, in every increasing circles of wisdom and understanding. As the longing grew, I became a seeker. A seeker of that which would satisfy this longing. A seeker of that which would end the pain. A seeker of that which would fill the hole. I was pursuing this ‘beauty to its lair’.

All along I thought “I” was seeking, that I had the power to find this source of beauty. All along I thought my seeking was going to bring home the bounty of beauty, as if I could really find this beauty in its lair and capture it for my own pleasure.

The seeking was trying to ‘do’ the longing in the only way my very humanness could. The seeking was necessary, but it was never in charge. The seeker can’t find the lair. But the pursuit brings forth beauty. It’s the nature of the paradox of our existence. Both divine and human. Both heart and mind. Both being and doing. The paradox of seeking is that in the seeking we find that which could never be captured, and we find that seeking is really keeping us from that which we seek.


All along what I was seeking was right here within me, surrounding me, hidden in the one place I never thought to look. What I was longing for has been here all the time.

Sometimes it takes going on a hunt for it, pursuing it to land’s end, to know it has been right here all along. Here in the midst of the turmoil. This is the goddess. This is discovering light in all our broken places.

Beauty’s lair is all around us, yet we’ll only catch glimpses until we open to the grace that is always here, the grace that invites us to open our hearts to our own insignificance.

We are swimming in our own insignificance. Just look out your eyes at the wonder life is. We are a tiny insignificant part of this life, yet the paradox is when we realize our insignificance we realize that our being here is immensely significant.


The only thing that causes us to lose this dream Roy speaks of is the belief we are separate. The illusion of separation is what allows us to turn away, to get used to the unspeakable happenings of our time, to believe we are more significant than another being, or even the earth itself.

The only dream worth having is the dream that is no dream. It is the awakening to what is right in front of us, behind us, all around us…the infinite that has no edges, top, bottom…the infinite that is missing nothing, that holds everything.

In this great infinite that is reality, what I am is insignificant, and completely significant. What I have to offer cannot be offered by any other. And in the totality of it all, I am but a drop in the ocean.

My humanness, that insignificance, is the great gift, because there I find humility and awe. To embrace it all, even those things I desperately want to turn away from, is to be in right relationship with life. Joy can be found in those sad places. Suffering can be our doorway in, in to a place of lightness of being, and broken-open-heartedness.


As Roy says, “Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.”

This is the world of the goddess, the world we awaken to when we come out of our slumber enough to realize that all along we’ve been sleeping in beauty’s lair.


And, you?

I’d love to know what you’ve discovered in beauty’s lair.

image by Colodio, licensed under CC 2.0

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