Liberating Ourselves from the Pervasive Bind of Being Reasonable and Logical

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I remember their faces, a little stern and adult-like-condescending, as I tried to tell them of my willow tree and how much she loved me. Sitting under her was my delight, and I think her’s, too. But they couldn’t understand. Too far removed from childhood, everything now had to be reasonable and logical. The mystical and the sacred were now seemingly too far out of reach — seemingly.

And so, they would sternly correct me when I spoke of her love and the love I saw in everything around me, which included them but I didn’t know how to speak of that to them. I could only show them through my eyes the love I had for them. The girl that I was felt like a stranger in a world gone mad with reason, a world that had forgotten that play and love and divine curiosity were the magic we can know here on Earth.

I’ve struggled with this myself as an adult. The one so imaginal, light, joyful, and free; the one who loves the process much more than the finished piece; the one who revels in watching it all unfold, revels in the anticipation of touch when skin meets skin for the first time after letting desire blossom and fruit into ripeness — judged, criticized, and silenced by that voice inside, the adult voice that somewhere along the way became ‘my voice’. That voice thinks this is all fluff, weakness, and something no one will respect because it is not logical, practical, nor does it utilize the ‘brilliance of mind’.

I, like my parents, have a good mind. A strong mind. One that loves math and coding and understanding how things works. And that love is a pure love for these things. But that is not who I am. I am not logical. I am one who can utilize logic when it is helpful and let it go when logic is not the right tool for the job.

Here’s the thing — the thing that now saves me every time I sit down to work and create…

We are not logical creatures. We never have been. We are imaginal beings, sacred to the core, mystical beings appearing as real live people, here to awaken love, here to find delight and joy in living, here to not turn away from ourselves or each other when we forget what we are.

While the loss of connection to love can be too great to hold and feel in our hearts during our early years, the delighted one who dreamed up worlds where trees are loved for the magic they are, where everyone knows the truth about flowers — that they are just a mere breath away from Source — is still very much present and this delighted one now must be freed.

We free this one, this imaginal delightful one, together, in community, in circle, held in love, always in love. For it is only love that liberates. It is only love that transforms. It is only love that frees us from the inner captivity of our own making. We, who are not captive in the outer world, we who are free to move and speak, we who have the means and have the privilege to effect real change, can and must.

This world is not what we’ve come to believe it is. It is a realm of love in a multitude of forms.

Love is spread out before us in everything and we do not see it.

The way back to knowing this is by seeing with the heart, allowing the mind to be held in the heart so that it can rest and come to know itself as love, too.
For all is love.


I offer you this meditation to help guide your beautiful mind down into your heart to be held, your heart down into your pelvic bowl so that the mind and heart are held, and your pelvic bowl down into our great Mother Earth so that your whole being can be held by the Mother.

Come join me in Writing Raw or my new course Flourish. We will find this one who knows, who imagines, who hungers and thirsts for what she knows is real and whole and beautiful.

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Writing Directly Out of the Vast, Deep Mystery

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

from salt, by nayyirah waheed

 

 

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

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

But what happens along the way to cause the struggle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you relate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mother Tongue, Part 4: She Doesn’t Pay Lip Service

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This is part four of a five-part series on rediscovering, and speaking in, our mother tongue.

 

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

She sits looking Into the ancient pool of Wisdom that is Woman.

The way is dark Yet the light is bright.

Something calls to her. She knows she must Turn within To look, listen, and sense To remember.

She can sense a language With her whole body That only her soul can speak And only her heart can feel.

::

A Different Kind of Language

My friend shared this after reading the series so far,

“I think you are on to something here – the mother tongue isn’t a language with different words – it’s a different kind of language.” 

According to our culture, language is primarily speech. The word language itself comes from the Latinlingua, meaning “tongue.” Its original meaning is “that which is produced with the tongue.” ~ Mario Pei, What’s in a Word? But as Michael Frante sings to us in Speaking of Tongues, the tongue is for so much more than what we sometimes think:

“But a tongue is so much more than a vehicle for greed A tongue is for washing fur Or for licking wounds Or for welcoming newcomers into a room Or cleansing those fresh from the womb Without a tongue there would be no croons Swoons, Junes under the moon No bees pollinating no flowers in bloom No recitation of words at the foot of a tomb Or wills read aloud of the family heirlooms You probably couldn’t even blow up a balloon And that would be a shame Because to exhale’s the name of the game Exhale from the heart Not from the lungs Exhale from the heart Not from the tongue.”

His words bring us into the full richness of life. I sense he is speaking in his Mother Tongue.

The world is a rich, many-layered reality, that holds numinous wonders that could never be put into words. Never. No matter how hard we try, words cannot capture this essence of life. Between the words, Michael’s lyrics are filled with this fullness.

As we stay connected to our hearts, to our bodies, to the earth, to each other, to the children, and to all the furry and winged ones, we stay connected to life. It is here, sitting in the swirl of life that we realize we know what we know.

It is here, when we are connected deeply to life, that this knowing can be expressed through language.

Language is a way of communicating, and we have so many ways and layers with which to do this. Sometimes, our touch speaks volumes, our eyes pierce hearts, our radiance infuses wordless conversation.

When words come forth, so much else does, too. Our bodies ‘sing’ something into being, an accompaniment to the words, making them more full, more real, and more alive.

Mental chatter by itself can simply feel half-dead, only metallic; but words infused with life, with wonder, with the sacredness of this moment come alive. As we sink down into the raw stuff of life, we sink down into a soup concocted and infused with the rich flavor of everything.

One Woman

This being immersed in the raw stuff of life also opens us up to a collective wisdom that is here, always, waiting to be known and heard. Our matrilines – our female ancestors – weren’t so different than us. Just like us, like any human being, their souls needed to express, to speak, to touch and be touched. And, so many of them were silenced.

Just prior to beginning this series  I shared a poem (in fact, that poem was the impetus for this series) that came up out of an underground stream of forsaken voices. That poem was poured into me when I drank from this stream. The poem tells us that there’s a deep well of wisdom voices waiting for us to listen.

Like a river
deep underground
pushed down into the depths
where they can’t be known
in the light of day
these forsaken voices
like clear-pooled water
collect together
woven in rivulets
meander through time
waiting for something
waiting for someone
waiting…

Clear-pooled water, collected together, woven in rivulets, meandering through time, waiting…waiting. I can feel these voices, unheard, collected,  and ready now to speak. It’s not as if they need a mouthpiece. No, that is not it. It feels as if the silencing of women has created a fog of forgetting. It has disconnected us from each other, from the single thread that weaves all women together, since the beginning. In attempting to put words to this, I find it hard to capture the depth of feeling and image I see, so I tune into the Mother Tongue. The thread is here. It has always been here, this thread that weaves Woman together. It is here, in our remembering, our tuning to listen, our seeing with open hearts that are no longer willing to shut out our mothers, sisters, and daughters – the whole of our ancient lineage of women  –  that we bring this thread back to vibrant health.

Every woman.

All colors, races, nations, clans, classes, religions.

All of time.

One Woman.

Infinite Facets.

The wisdom of the ages is here, within, and we can reconnect with it. This sacred creativity weaves its way through Woman in this weaving of rivulets, a fluid depth of creative wisdom.

I am the river
my sisters and I pool together
our collective voices now ready
to irrigate our parched world
with deep blue love from
aquifers too-long guarded
underground.
It is time to speak of
moisture
cool waters of knowing
deep rivulets of wisdom
flesh plump with blood.

This is the Mother Tongue. She ‘washes fur’ and ‘cleanses those fresh from the womb’. She is the Mother and she speaks through all of us, and as we women come home to our native Mother Tongue, the very first language we knew, we will give voice to something that feeds, welcomes, nourishes, cleanses, pollinates, and ‘exhales from the heart’. We will offer to the world what it is truly hungry for.  This language is outside of the culture. She holds the culture in love, yet She doesn’t pay lip service to a world that has silenced this wisdom. She brings moisture to a parched world, fire to a world too complacent, air to oxygen-starved cells, and sustenance to a world hungry to live with touch rather than ‘stuff’.

::

In the final post of the series, part five, we’ll explore how to discover and speak in your Mother Tongue. Posts in the series are:

Mother Tongue Part 1: Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

Mother Tongue, Part 3: Calling You Home in a Language Long Forgotten

Mother Tongue, Part 4: She Doesn’t Pay Lip Service

Mother Tongue, Part 5: Eyes and Instincts, Knowing and Soul We will discover much together. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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 Lucy Burns, American suffragist and women’s rights advocate.

This is part 2 of a five-part series on rediscovering, and speaking in, our mother tongue.

 

In part 1, Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?, I wrote about how women often translate, or code-switch, from our native way of saying things into a language that the masculinized culture will hear and accept so that we will be ‘taken seriously’, or to be not too ‘threatening’, which ultimately means ‘be accepted’.

In this series, Mother Tongue, I am specifically speaking to women, specifically asking the question:

What wisdom and creativity are we losing because women’s ways of speaking, a feminized expression, is seen as inferior to masculinized expression?

I make this distinction between the difference of female and male because we are different. Yes, men and women both have masculine and feminine traits and energies. That is so. And, we can’t express our creativity without it coming directly through the body, a gendered body. This directly impacts our creativity, our leadership, and our wisdom. To deny this, is to once again attempt to deny the validity and value of feminized expression.

 

Why do we translate?

If I reflect on my own experience over the many decades of my life, I can see where I’ve consciously chosen, many times, to choose my words carefully, to leave certain words out and to replace them with words that would be less challenging and provocative to those I knew would hear them. It’s startling, in looking back, to see how quickly I could size up a situation and then decide how best to ‘navigate’ that situation.

I’ve translated for many reasons. Sometimes, it was merely to figure out how to best communicate to the people I was conversing with. If I wanted them to understand, I could change the words, tone, and content in order to help achieve one-half of that understanding – the other half being their responsibility. I have known for a long time that I can’t make someone understand me, nor can I make anyone even really hear me. But, I can be proactive in helping to make the conversation be more productive for both of us.

Other times, I’ve translated because I feared that what I would say would be provocative, would cause me to feel scorned and/or shamed. Sometimes, though, when I’ve been just plain excited to share something, I haven’t been ‘careful’. Instead, I’ve just expressed myself without switching certain words and stories for other ones that would be more digestible – or at least what I thought would be more digestible.

As women, our tendency to translate begins pretty early in. We translate, or code-switch, much earlier than when we first enter a masculine-centric world of business, though. We begin when we enter the masculine-centric world of education. And even before that, many times it begins when we become aware of language within what can be a masculine-centric culture of the nuclear family.

 

One story

One particular story stands out for me, and it stands out because of the shame I felt when I did not translate.

I attended Stanford University as a non-traditional undergraduate, transferring from a community college as a junior at the age of 42. While I was there, I decided to write an undergraduate honor’s thesis. I had a hard time deciding on the topic. The question swirled around me for months, because I was contemplating a very unusual topic, something that seemed to me to be very unorthodox. I didn’t know if I could find the words to speak about, and write about, what I was seeing, so I was nervous to make this choice.

Finally, the words came in a true ‘AHA’ moment – Spirituality and the Internet. I felt so much excitement as I thought about designing and writing the thesis, yet I was also nervous about bringing my spiritual side into my studies. I feared being ridiculed for having this ‘crazy’ topic (yes, my inner judge was working overtime). Keep in mind this was in 2000. The web hadn’t yet been more widely used for very long at this point. Despite my fears, my advisors knew me well, and all four of them responded with nothing but encouragement. With this encouragement, my confidence grew a bit.

Near the end of the quarter, those of us who had honor theses were asked to share our topics at a celebration dinner where our advisors were also in attendance. I was nervous to speak because I anticipated the other professors might not receive such a ‘different’ topic as kindly. I’d been at Stanford for three years, and I’d found both my age and my way-of-being ‘non-traditional’. For a split second, before I stood up, I wondered how I should phrase what I was going to say. I wondered if I should use the words Spirituality and the Internet. I wondered if I should try to coat them with something less ‘woo-woo’. I feared how I would be received. As I rose to speak, I could feel this inner voice saying to me, just speak the truth because you know this is a really incredible thing you are doing. So I did. I spoke the truth. I said,

“My topic is on Spirituality and the Internet. I am creating a spiritual experience online, and then testing users to see how they experience the space.”

And whatever other words I decided to share quickly became lost in the bodily sensations of shame as I began to hear laughter and snickering, and saw odd looks on the older, educated, mostly-male faces. As I finished, one professor in particular said,

“What are you going to do? Play mood music and have virtual incense?”

 

Ashamed of my own creativity and wisdom

His words brought more snickering. And with that, I could feel my face turn bright red and I sat down. Believe me, I’d had to face some pretty awkward moments as a woman undergrad twice the ‘normal’ age. But this moment was hard. I felt so much shame for something that was actually a really brilliant, and forward-thinking idea, based on my work in the computer science human-computer interaction courses I’d taken. From that point on, while I finished the topic, I chose my words very carefully, and I carried a kind of shame about what I was doing.

I obviously didn’t have much confidence in myself, and at this point was still allowing others’ ideas of me influence me way too much. Perhaps this might not have bothered many others, but it shut me down. I realize I shut me down. I allowed others’ words to shut me down. Some might say they were only teasing, that their words showed their own discomfort, or that a few words shouldn’t sting so much. That isn’t the point. The point is what I did with my wonderful idea. In that moment, I felt the joy go out of it because I began to judge it even more harshly. Even as I created it, somewhere inside the good ‘translator’ reigned it in.

I’m sharing this long story because it gets to the heart of what I am writing about, and I am writing about it because I have experienced it so often in my many years on this planet. I’ve experienced shame and humiliation because how I see the world and how I speak about what I see is not considered to be sentimental, too deep, not practical enough, too spiritual.

Ultimately it was me, and is me, shaming me. AND…I survived. Feeling these feelings did not kill me. Others face far worse in this world. 

This fear of judgment can cause us to go silent; to keep our amazing creativity and ideas to ourselves. Whether it was ‘kind’ or not, it really didn’t have to impact me, nor silence me, if I was confident in my own language, my mother tongue as a woman.

 

This really was about my mother tongue.

This topic, Spirituality and the Internet, came through me. It was my creation. It was coming through this soul, with this internal language, and this wisdom. It wasn’t that my words were unrecognizable. It was that they were foreign to these men in the format I was sharing them. But the nature of this thesis and work was very much coming out of my own mother tongue as a woman, a language that speaks of connection, of wholeness, of relationship, and of healing. It was coming out of my own experience with the divine and knowing that on some level the Internet is a source of light that can bring us together and can heal us as a species.

But these ideas are very feminine in nature. They are about healing and love, about a God that isn’t masculine, nor sits on high, but a God that is Oneness, that is both masculine and feminine in nature, a divinity that isn’t about religion at all, but about life. And these ideas are threatening to many.

My story is just ONE story. I know you must have many stories. How is your creativity and wisdom is being lost every day because you shy away from sharing what your soul must share?

 

Gender Bi-lingual 

Soraya Chemali, in her post, ’10 Ways Society Can Close the Confidence Gap’, shares ways we can begin to help close the confidence gap for women, one of which is to:

“Stop promoting the idea that masculinized expression is superior and that women have to emulate it to be successful. The expectation that women be gender bi-lingual, or code switch, is a function of being part of a muted group. The kind of confidence that many people advocate just means a woman has to work very hard to overcome sexist gender incongruities to succeed.

Women learned to be gender bi-lingual in order to be successful. If we are gender bi-lingual, we have learned to be because we, at some point, came to the realization that our native language was not the language to speak if we wanted to succeed in the world. We learned this, and then we learned to speak the male language. We learned how to translate, and then at some point we forgot our own mother tongue, at least on the surface of things.

It has been my experience, in teaching about creativity and leadership, that most men do not even realize that women translate. It would help if they did, and yet this is not about them giving us permission to not translate. It is about bringing forth our own language, our own mother tongue, in a way that honors and values it.

 

Valuing our expression – our Mother Tongue

Why would non-masculinized expression be any less valuable or honorable? Only because someone, somewhere decided it was so…and we’ve adopted that belief.

If we’ve been educated and conditioned in a masculine-centric world, then what is our mother tongue as women? What I’ve come to discover is that it lies outside of this masculine-centric conditioning – and because it does, it holds a source of wisdom, creativity, and power that could bring about a radical shift in our culture. 

Perhaps this is why the Dalai Lama said that Western women would save the world – because there is a deep, untapped well of creativity and wisdom waiting to be expressed through women.

In part three, we’ll explore what flows through women – this mother tongue. You can read part one, here.

I look forward to having you join me for the series as it unfolds. Other posts in the series are:

Mother Tongue Part 1: Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

Mother Tongue, Part 3: Calling You Home in a Language Long Forgotten

Mother Tongue, Part 4: She Doesn’t Pay Lip Service

Mother Tongue, Part 5: Eyes and Instincts, Knowing and Soul

We will discover much together. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Mother Tongue Part 1: Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?

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MotherTonguePart01

 

This is the first part of a five-part series on rediscovering, and speaking in, our mother tongue.

 

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

Our Mother Tongue:

In my last post, I shared a poem that came up out of an underground stream of forsaken voices. Since writing that poem, I’ve been wondering about women’s voices – how silent so many of us can be, how careful we are so often to consider closely what we say and how we say it, and how our world does not have access to the wisdom and creativity it could have if more women (myself included) spoke without fear, without self-judgment, and with a direct clear language that comes when we speak our mother tongue, what is native to us, without translation.

I don’t know exactly what this mother tongue is, but I’ve heard it flow through me in times when the creative impulse was clear and direct and I simply became the vessel through which it flows. This language is more instinctual. It is alive. It flows from the body, and utilizes rational thinking rather than being dictated by it.

 

Lost in Translation:

Over the past seven years, I’ve lectured at Stanford University in a course titled Creativity and Leadership. I teach with a fabulous male colleague, whom I adore working with. Around five years ago, I suggested we bring in the topic of gender balance (and gender differences) in the workplace and how this might interfere with creativity and leadership into our course, and my colleague was absolutely right there with me. Since then, during our week on Balance, we take a bit of time to break out into groups based on two genders, men and women. I speak with the women, and my colleague speaks with the men, and we inquire into how the work culture impacts our ability to be fully creative, fully ourselves.

In speaking with the women in this separate group, what I soon discovered is that many women ‘translate’ from our own language into a language the masculine corporate culture will understand and value. Keep in mind that most of the students in this course are working in very corporate settings in Silicon Valley. They are successful in their areas of expertise, and many work for good companies who are doing good work in the world. It’s not like they, necessarily, work for ‘bad’ companies that stifle women’s voices knowingly and purposefully.

At first while we were discussing this idea of how gender in the workplace gets in the way of creativity, this sense of being stifled wasn’t being articulated. It was through our discussion (in our gender-separated group) that this tendency to translate came to the surface. In the first instance when I became aware of this tendency, one woman was speaking and as she struggled to articulate her frustrations at work suddenly words popped out that spoke of being tired of translating what she really felt and knew into something that would be acceptable and not belittled or mocked. As she spoke the words, the frustration showed up loud and clear.

At first I was surprised at it being spoken aloud so clearly and distinctly. And then, I remembered how I had done the exact same thing when I was in banking and in information technology. I just hadn’t realized so clearly that I was doing it. I hadn’t become conscious of it…until that moment.

It’s like we do this thing that sometimes we don’t even really consciously know we are doing, because we are so used to doing it.

We’ve been catching our real words in hidden pockets of the throat, while finding and speaking ‘safer’ words into the world.

Some women know they are doing it. Some women have stopped doing it. Some women don’t know they are doing it. Some women don’t even know how to stop doing it. And as I discovered, most men are not aware that women do this. But when this one woman said what she said, so many other female heads nodded up and down in agreement while at the same time holding a look that expressed a sense of AHA – oh my gosh…that’s what I’ve been doing.

 

Code-Switching:

This idea of ‘translating’ in this way isn’t new. I first found the term code-switching reading this recent piece by Soraya Chemaly. The term has been used to describe how people of different cultures change how they speak depending on whom they are speaking to, and in what situation they are speaking.

From speaking with friends, people of color know all about code-switching. My friends, while perhaps not using this term, certainly know they’ve had to contend with this their whole lives. Perhaps my privilege has kept me from seeing this. Yes, that feels so true. And, yet, I wonder how many women are very conscious they are changing their language in this way. We’ll explore this more in part 2.

We all have the capacity, as humans, to move between two or more different languages. Code-switching is the practice of alternating between two or more languages or (varieties of a single language like English) in conversation. If we speak more than one language, we do this. And let’s face it – most of us, women and men, speak more than one language – even if they are all in our only language. I imagine men speak a different language when they are only with men. I know women speak a different language when they are only with women. And we all speak a different language if we are with children, or with groups of people who come from a different background. We’re all finding our way in communicating something as complex as life into something so confining – words.

I am not going to go into great detail about code-switching in this series. What I am more interested in is the ingrained idea that what we women have to say, when we say it in our more feminized expression is somehow less valuable, insightful, or practical. What I am more interested in is what is NOT being said because it is lost in translation. And, I am more interested in helping us to rediscover our lost mother tongue.

 

What we will be exploring:

In wanting to explore this idea of the language we women use to express ourselves, I’ve wondered how often we say what we most long to say. Where do we change our words, our inflection? How often does what wants to be said directly and clearly come out sideways and hesitant? If we could say the words we yearn to say, what would those be? And, how do we get to the source of our mother tongue and the courage to speak it?

The rest of the series at a glance:

Part #2
The propensity for many women to code-switch in this culture in order to be ‘taken seriously’, or to be not too ‘threatening’, which ultimately means to ‘be accepted’ – and, ultimately, wondering what wisdom and creativity are we losing when we code-switch.

Part #3
A more native-tongue we rarely hear women use because it lies underground (metaphorically speaking), under the cultural language we’ve been taught to listen to and trust.

Part #4
The groundswell of generations of women’s swallowed words that lies dormant just waiting to be heard, honored, and perhaps shared.

Part #5
And finally, considering your words. What are your words? What are the words that want to flow onto the page and into the conversation through you? What do you need to say, right now, here, in this moment, to feel fully spent – like a word orgasm – where nothing is left unsaid, nothing is left hidden away, nothing within you is shamed? How can we learn to allow ourselves to speak what seems to be so frightening to speak?

 

My reason for writing about this is my deepest desire for all people, and in this case women, to find their way to pure self-expression, to that creative fire within, to that wisdom voice, that voice of play and delight, and that loving, sensual, sexual voice that is instinctual.

We don’t have access to the depth of wisdom our human culture could bring into the world as long as all people are translating rather than expressing their unique wisdom and genius.

We cannot be truly creative, we cannot be authentic leaders, and we cannot speak from the depths of our heart if we put our focus and energy into ‘translating’ what we say and how we say it rather than being authentic and vulnerable in our expression.

That’s not to say we should not utilize our ability to be fluid with our language depending on context and relationship. But rather, if a certain way to speak is idealized and held up to be the only ‘right’ form of communicating, then we all lose out because of what is being lost in translation.

I look forward to having you join me for the series as it unfolds. Other posts in the series are:

Mother Tongue Part 1: Has Your Mother Tongue Been Lost in Translation?

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

Mother Tongue, Part 3: Calling You Home in a Language Long Forgotten

Mother Tongue, Part 4: She Doesn’t Pay Lip Service

Mother Tongue, Part 5: Eyes and Instincts, Knowing and Soul

We will discover much together. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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What if Eve was simply letting the soft animal of her body love what it loved?

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jody
A while ago, I wrote about sin in The Courage to Sin. That writing was long and laborious. I felt as though I was giving birth to a 100 pound yam.

It’s not the most comfortable topic for me. All of my writing boogie monsters come out when I even get close to having a thought to blog about it. There are a lot of people invested in maintaining the idea of ‘sin’ as a way to keep us on our best behavior. But boogie monsters or not, the shame is here and I know I have to write about it.

This is a picture of Jody – a beautiful big horse whose gift it is to help heal. Jody taught me something profoundly beautiful about the sacredness of our animal bodies.

I’m coming back again to a big piece of shame that’s been stuck in my body for way too long. This is shame that stems from projected sinfulness, meaning sinfulness that others believe is true about women and the world. It’s shame that has to do with sexuality and sensuality, with the power of women, and with women’s joy and passion.

This shame is dark and sticky. It feels as if it resides in my chest, covering over my heart, and even making its way down into my solar plexus and belly.

The shame keeps things pretty darn stuck. It causes me to think twice about using my voice, about writing what I feel called to write. It leads me to be really cautious and careful, to stay away from taking risks.

This shame borne out of projected sinfulness is a ploy used to keep women in check – to keep us small, silent, and dutiful.

It’s not like this is the first time I’ve met it face-to-face. But, this time is different. I realize that in the past, there were many ‘reasons’ to listen to it…but upon closer listening I’ve found all of those reasons aren’t reasonable. They are about as reasonable as the very idea that’s been passed around that women, like Eve, are sinful.

The more aware I become of the shame that is stuck in my body, the more clear I am that a) it is not mine, and b) I don’t want to carry it around any longer for those who decided long ago that I should.

 

I mean, why would I? Why would I go along with such a cockamamie story that tells me I should feel shame about who and what I am because I am a woman?

 

In the past, I’ve circled around the shame, mucking up in the shame, trying to figure out where it came from, what it meant, and what I had to do to get rid of it. That worked to a point, but now I see it’s more helpful to back up and look at the whole picture. This isn’t remorse or guilt or something I am feeling because I did something to hurt another. No, this is cultural, religious, systemic and toxic shame that comes from this fishbowl I live in.

Dr. Brené Brown writes that shame is “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”.

Well, in the story that holds Eve was bad, the same story that constantly tells us women we should feel shame for what we are, women are seen as unworthy of love and belonging.

 

The question is…to what world do we want to belong? Do we want to belong in a story that holds that women are sinful? Or would we rather belong in a story that holds that all of life is sacred and holy?

 

Mary Oliver wrote:

“You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

 

What if Eve was only letting the soft animal of her body love what it loved?
Click to Tweet

 

I’ve decided that’s how I want to live my life. Shame be damned. I am a soft animal and I know what I love.

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Women’s Love

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Magnolia Flame

Women loving women.

Women trusting women.

Women healing women.

Learning to trust and love women has been a long journey for me. I’ve fought it and I’ve longed for it. Along the way, I have been a lot of things…sometimes kind, sometimes not; sometimes forgiving and deeply caring, sometimes jealous, undermining and a whole host of things part of me would rather not acknowledge, but nonetheless are true.

Learning to really love means meeting ourselves in places we’ve hidden away. I am grateful for the friends who’ve been straight with me about my behavior, both light and dark.

Through all of these experiences, I have come to know this:

There is a unique love that women have for each other. Opening to and embodying this love will change your world, which in turn will heal our world.

When I speak of this love to the women in my life, they acknowledge this love. They know this love, yet it’s seldom spoken about in the culture. It’s a powerful force. When women come together in love, we recognize our power together. When women come together in love, life heals. When women come together in love, we are no longer so easily shamed and or see ourselves as powerless.

It is high time we come together in love. Life beckons us to this love, to heal that which keep us from knowing it.

Leap Day call

The other day, just last week, I hosted a leap day call. On the call, I spoke of how each of us is sacred…every cell, every atom is sacred. And, I spoke of really seeing each other, how doing this is so healing for us all.

When I, a woman, truly and deeply see you, another woman, this love pours forth; love for ourselves and our womanhood, and love for each other. This love then flows out to all of life.

I held the call on Wednesday afternoon. When it was done, I was elated. I felt like I had shared something that really wanted to move through me. I reflected on the comments of the women on the call. They shared both pain and joy, fear and inspiration.

Something healed right then and there on the call. I could feel a healing within myself from participating in the call, from sharing my wisdom. I could feel a healing within myself from taking in the wisdom of other women, and from taking in the collective field that formed because we came together with open hearts.

Then…

The next day, I felt grief rise up, a grief of both fearing and desiring to open my heart fully in relationship. When I was with my late husband, I wasn’t as aware and conscious. I opened my heart at the level I could, and he was deeply respectful and loving.

As I’ve become more conscious, and now know the love that is inherent in a woman, I long to be partnered with someone I can open to in this way; someone whose touch is reverent; someone who wants to love the fullness and power of womanhood, not a muted form of it.

This grief was raw, not reasonable nor rational. It lasted through the evening and into the early morning hours. And then, as it moved through, I could see the innermost space of the heart is only for the divine. It is a place that is solely for the divine, a place that when I honor its sanctity, I feel more tenderness and love for myself. When I honor the inner sanctity of the heart, I open to myself with love, and in turn, open to another.

Knowing this sanctity, I have the full power and awareness to say, “No”, to any touch that is irreverent…including my own touch to myself.

I climbed out of bed and felt serenity and a kind of deep peace with everything as it was and is. I took a walk in the sun, a long walk. I was out longer than expected. As I headed toward home, knowing I would immediately hop on a two-hour call when I walked in the door, I checked my email by phone to check-in to anything I needed to respond to.

A Gift

There in my email was this gift: a comment left on the blog about the leap day call and what followed from listening to it.

“I listened to your wonderful Leap Day call last night, and I wanted to share the beautiful spontaneous loving experience I had. Just shortly before starting the call, I had put warm grapeseed oil, on my hair. I’ve been using pure grapeseed oil as a body moisturizer, after the shower. It’s quite lovely. As I was listening to the call, I was massaging the oil into my hair and scalp, which then turned into massaging my neck, and my face. It felt so wonderful, that before long, I retreived the bottle of grapeseed oil, and was massaging oil onto all of my body. It was such a beautiful experience. Sitting here, in the candlelight, listening to your beautiful voice, and feeling energetically connected to all women, and loving my own body, so tenderly and compassionately. What a beautiful gift.

Something has been shifting in me lately. For a long long time, I have felt that it is unsafe to be female…to be a woman. And so I have been hiding my femininity…my beauty. I had become hard, because it felt like the only way to survive. But lately, after much hard work and soul-searching, I have been feeling a softening happening, along with the wisdom that I now know how to keep myself safe. I have been allowing my femininity to re-surface, and it is such a glorious feeling.

The loving self massage was yet, another turning point, in me accepting myself, and my feminine nature. And a powerful message revealed itself to me. I have been craving physical touch lately. Not just any physical touch, but the wondrous touch of another who adores me, and sees my inherent beauty. It has been a long time, since I felt the tender touch of a lover’s hand on my skin, and I’m quite certain that I’ve never felt it, in the way that I deserve to. This need has been an ever-present companion, in my thoughts, and yet, it felt like there was still a wall between me and receiving this loving touch. There was. It was me. I was not treating myself, and my body, in a way that expressed love and tenderness…and yet, I wanted another to do just that. I was expecting someone else to do what I wasn’t willing to do….to love myself, love my body, love all of me, just as I am. To adore and nurture, treasure and cherish me.”

Synchronicity

I was struck by the synchronicity of our experiences. She was listening to the recording, which opened her to a powerful revelation about her own self worth and healing. She was learning to touch herself with love and reverence.

During that same evening, I was opening to the sanctity of my own heart, and of my connection to the divine, also desiring to be loved and touched again with reverence.

Women healing women healing women…all being healed by the flow of the divine creation that flows through women.

There is something powerfully healing in women that is needed in our world. It is this love. It is this creativity. It is this vulnerability and willingness to share with the world.

This is how we create.

When we offer ourselves and our creations to the world, trusting that each one is exactly what the wisdom of life is pulsing to share with the world, healing happens. Love happens. Connection happens. Relationship happens.

How powerful it is to align with this wise, sacred creative force.

So, I want to know.

What creation wants to be born through you?

What might it take to trust deeply enough in yourself and in the life moving through you to create it?

I know there are voices that tell you differently – both inside you and outside of you. I know this.

AND, the creation wants to be born anyway, does it not?

Can you feel it?

Can you give way to your creation and allow it to flow through you into a world that is so hungry for this sacred, wise love?

I know what flows through you has a direct effect on me, on the world, on life.

At the heart of it all, this power is creation itself.

Do whatever you need to do in your life to honor what wants to be born and give birth to it.

I am, right now, taking in a spoonful of this medicine. I have something very important that is dying to be born. I’ve allowed it to languish and I can no longer allow this.

I know the power of giving and receiving, and the power of knowing the sanctity of my own heart.

Never has there been a more important time than now to be what you are: a sacred creative being expressing through a woman’s body.

Never has there been a more important time than now to be Unabashedly Female. click to tweet this…

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If you’re inspired to listen to the call, I’ve decided to keep the registration open for a few more days so you can have access to the recording. You can sign-up here.

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divine robes of feminine flesh

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婦女圖 - Woman
婦女圖 - Woman

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

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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.

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I’ll Meet You There

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A Woman - Bangkok
A Woman - Bangkok

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Born of her mother, giving birth to her daughter who would, in turn, become the carrier and custodian of life, she could feel connected to an immemorial past of mothers, and an immemorial future of daughters, each a transmitter of the life process, each surrendering to an experience more mysterious and powerful and demanding than any other, requiring as it were, her submission to an instinctual process which, ineluctably, as the vehicle of life, she served. ~Anne Baring

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I know all human beings are creative. I teach this. Every time I teach, over the period of ten weeks, my students go from believing they are anywhere from not creative, to mildly creative, to somewhat creative – to knowing and trusting in their personal, internal creative process. Period.

All human beings are creative. Yet, I find the ‘creativity = artistic’ beliefs in this culture, on the whole, to be frustratingly entrenched.

When you think of creativity, does it have to do with painting? writing? art in some way?

Do you believe you are creative? If not, when did you lose touch with your creativity. If you do, how did you hang on to it? Or when did you reclaim it?

Just wondering. ‘Cause I have something really important I want women to realize within themselves.

“surrendering to an experience more mysterious and powerful and demanding than any other…”

Women are powerfully creative. We are born with the capacity to bring life into being. To birth life into life. Requiring our “submission to an instinctual process” that we cannot, the least bit, control.

I submit that women’s creativity is mysterious and powerful enough that anything and everything has been done to get us to forget the power of this process that is intrinsic to our gender.

And, I’m not just talking about birthing babies. I’m talking about an internal power we hold, as women, that could rock this world if we really got how powerful we are. And, if we could come together, as a gender, to honor, revere and support each other, fully, to wake up to this power within, the world would never be the same.

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Today, Marianne Williamson wrote an open letter to Sarah Palin. I was deeply moved by the grace and eloquence that Marianne showed in both her willingness to bridge the gap between her and Sarah, but also in her ability to articulate her way through what could be rough waters. In my opinion, Marianne was able to offer an invitation to enter into conversation with Sarah, a conversation between two women of faith.

What I loved about this most, though, is the example Marianne set of how to begin to come together as women, in a way that can begin to engage our powerful creative abilities, together as a community of women, especially when we might hold such polar opposite political views.

Each of us women is “…a transmitter of the life process…” whether or not we birth babies. Each of us is the microcosm of the glorious macrocosm that is the Big Womb of Life.

It’s time we find a way to come together to honor, revere and reflect this mysterious and glorious creativity we all embody. Somehow, someway we can realize we’ve all been conditioned to the hilt; we’ve all found some way to survive in this culture that does what it does to suppress women because it is terrified of this natural, most mysterious female power.

We can find solidarity, even when we hold such differing views. I know we can. I sincerely hope Sarah is willing to meet Marianne in this conversation. I sincerely hope they both can hold this space. I ardently hope I can find the grace and eloquence that Marianne showed today, so that I, too, can somehow begin to help bridge whatever chasms lie between all the women of the world, the carriers and custodians of life, regardless of our conditioning or our political points of view.

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Whatever it takes to ensure there is a future worth living for all the world’s children is worth it. Whatever it takes to reclaim this power as women, we must do it. I don’t know how we will do it, but I know this deep mystery that is our female creativity does know.

It is time for our awakening to our instincts, letting go of our judgments, and setting free our deep river of love for each other as women.

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Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

~ rumi

image by Ronn ashore : creative commons license 2.0


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Put Down That Project

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Best of 2009 Blog Challenge: Day 21: Project. What did you start this year that you’re proud of?

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This year, I began again to write the book I stopped writing five years ago. I stopped writing it when I realized I still had to live much of what the book was to be about. I put it down. It was not time.

Since then, many things have transpired. Life has been full of many twists and turns. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. After a two-year journey with cancer, she passed away last year. My two daughters have given birth to two new grandchildren. And, as I look back, I now can see I have lived into the book. The book is so ready to be born.

This is my project. And, the funny thing is, part of the book has to do with realizing that we must, as women, put down ‘the project’ – that project that keeps us on the never-ending treadmill of trying to be better, more beautiful, sexier, younger, thinner, more perfect, more successful, more fill-in-the-blank if we are to discover who and what we really are underneath all the beliefs that we aren’t enough. I call it ‘the project’. So, when I read Gwen’s prompt, I chuckled at the irony, at least for me.

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“Woman is the radiance of God; she is not your beloved. She is the Creator —you could say that she is not created.” ~Rumi

When we put down that project of not being enough, something that has always been within begins to move and stir and reawaken.

I am excited to birth this book, and to begin to teach the course that is directly intertwined with it. It has to do with women’s creativity, with the life-giving mystery that is within you, and within every woman, and how you and I and all women can awaken, and step into, this natural power, a power that is serves all of life.

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