Pussy-Positive Promotion

I was in the bathroom stall on the second day of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts Experience in NYC the first weekend of this month. The air was buzzing with strong-woman vibes, with the massive personal trauma clearing work we’d just seen on stage, with all things pussy. Mama Gena is on a mission that every woman be able to not only say the word pussy, but to fully embrace all things pussy, pleasure, and power.



So I’m in the bathroom stall and I hear this cynical and disgusted “Ugh, shameless self promotion” comment come out of another woman that I couldn’t see for my place inside the stall. And a few things simultaneously happened.



First, shame. Honestly, at first mention of one woman shaming another woman for self promotion, I felt shame, because guess what - I had taken postcards for my January group on activating and cultivating women’s personal truth and I had put my cards inside of the bathrooms as well as on the tables and at the charging stations around the event. I admit - it felt a little weird to do this, but primarily because it was my first time doing this. It was an exercise in watching my own self doubt, as every time I placed a little stack of cards, hoping they’d be well received, I also worried that somehow I was out of line for doing so. So this “shameless self promotion” comment really just cut. But she wasn’t looking at my cards. She was looking at someone else’s. Back to that in a minute.



The second thing that happened was that I noticed that above shame response inside of me. Noted.



The third thing that happened was this, “Wow, we’re here in the epicenter of pussy celebration and this woman went RIGHT back to shaming another woman for promoting her work.” This shit is engrained. Not only does it take feats of courage to put your own self out there, you’re also going to have to have heaps more in order to deal with the judgement and criticism that come when you do. I know this because this is the year I just lived as a female entrepreneur.



I opened the stall door and what I saw were these gorgeous, printed, 8x8 square images of a pussy made of flower petals. The cards were offering a free meditation. They were spread out, boldly and evenly among the rose petals on the ledge of the bathroom above the sinks. Whomever had put them there was clearly calling us to see them. They were well done and deserved attention. And again, this woman’s response had been to scoff and say, “Shameless self promotion,” implying that she should indeed feel some shame for having promoted herself.



This was said from a woman, about another woman. Offering something of value. At an event that was entirely about bolstering women.



You know what I did with my cards? I kind of snuck them into the places where I thought maybe they’d be discovered. I wish I had been so bold as that other woman. I celebrate her radical and courageous self promotion.



This year was my first year as an entrepreneur. I went full time in March, and the conditions under which I went full time in March were actually quite interesting. Some of it was my decision to leave my career. And some of it involved massive amounts of my masculine wounding being triggered in order to be healed - circumstances I won’t go into here but will say that I certainly got tripped up. I had been shamed and some decisions that were made at the time that affected the timing of the conclusion of my career in education were beyond my control. I had to decide, again, in the perhaps the biggest way yet, with a trifecta of three different key men in my life at the time all presenting different challenges, to own my decision to honor my soul’s calling as a woman.



Because my soul calls me to tell the story of my life as a woman, of the inherent oppression that I lived from religious, patriarchal, sexist paradigms that are interwoven right into our culture such that the majority of women are still living them. (And so it would figure that as I set out to do this, I would be tested. This is how it works.)



This is why I started Embodied Breath - to honor the feminine rising. To honor our stories as women, and my story as a woman. The story of how I gave away my daughter at the age of eighteen and bought into a paradigm of inadequacy that had me striving and efforting and killing myself to succeed for decades. And you know what happened when I got tripped up in these old masculine woundings at the beginning of 2018, and when prominent men in my life warned me that I would fail, that they would not stand by me, and that they would not support my business? I panicked. The wounds were poked.



I began striving.

And efforting.

And worrying about my success. And fearing the failure that had been warned.



I looked for approval. I looked at sales as proof of approval. I let fear run the show for a good while.



So that was going on in 2018, behind the scenes. How did I do, pulling off a different impression?



Fuck. I am so sorry for trying to pull off any kind of different impression. How wickedly engrained this is, this pressure to have it all together. I mean, I did a great deal of truth telling and being vulnerable, and I didn’t really recognize how much I was “in it” until I wasn’t. Maybe even until I went to Mama Gena’s weekend and both remembered my original Why, and then sat with how this “shameless self promotion” comment affected me for weeks.



I wondered why it did and I worked on this post for weeks, only to restart it three different times.



Do you know what it’s like to be a woman and to say, “I’m going to leave my career, the three college degrees I worked damn hard to get, and go out on a limb without a savings and hope and pray I can pay my mortgage for my son and I, and maybe even do better than that”??? That sounds fucking crazy! And that’s what I did?! I give myself mad props for that. That’s badass. And I’m not failing.



It was also scary as fuck, especially with the tidal wave of challenge at the start. The process required so much. Too much to really go into here. It required me to show up. To hire coaches, healers, shamans. To get clear on my own shit so it didn’t cloud my view. To trust my intuition more than ever. To follow the queues. To learn about business. To trust some people on this path and leave others behind. To honor my Soul. To tell the truth even when it’s hard. To trust that I am not inherently wrong. To admit when I was wrong. To trust that I had something of value to offer the world. Again and again and again.



Because I do.



But then, once I had the work of soul that I believed in, I had to sell it. I developed programs from the core of my soul and experience and then I had to, well, offer them. I had to promote them.



Didn’t I?



How else would someone offer what they have created if not to actively try to engage buyers with those products?

We live in a society where certainly we are all familiar with how much advertising, marketing, and selling goes on all around us. And most matter of factly, I wonder if that woman who judged self promotion of another woman’s valuable and beautiful product also stepped out into Times Square and evaluated as shameful all of the flashy commercialism that we have all become accustomed to. Because I doubt it.



So to be a woman is to be at first oppressed, as a default, in many cases. To be a woman who recognizes her own oppression and does something about it is a feat of strength. To be a woman who earns a few Master’s degrees and climbs to the top of a career ladder is apparently proving equality in a game that can’t be won. And to be a woman who creates a work of soul and then promotes it is… not shameful. Though some would still be quick to judge it as such.



It is not shameful. And I won’t stand for it. I will not feel poorly for advocating for the value of my products. I will not lower my product value, give it away, partner with you for free, develop your product for you to make money instead of my own, or strive to prove myself anymore.



I have been asked to do all of the above, repeatedly, by both women and men.


I have shamed my own self for times when my promotion was judged as shameful or when I realized later that I could have done it better.



I am a businesswoman with no business training. This is a real and stunning challenge, I guarantee you, but I am still the woman with two Master’s degrees and one in leadership and I will succeed. I am still the woman who climbed out of trauma and healed my body. I am the woman who created a work of my own Soul, and yes, oh yes, I will succeed. And yes, I will promote. And the difference is I will get better, I will not ask for approval, I will not strive endlessly and tirelessly to gain approval or sales, and I will not feel shame for my endeavors - any of them, even when I could stand to improve. I will always be improving. This is not shameful.



I will promote other women. Shamelessly. I will recognize that the female entrepreneurs that I see are some of the bravest and mightiest people that I know, and I will shout out what they are doing and find ways that we can lift one another up. I know that to be a woman is to sometimes be an island, and to be a female entrepreneur can be just that - lonely. Every woman making badass things happen in this world need not do it on her own. We need a lady tribe. And men, we need your support, and without critique. I have gotten that gift over and over again this year, too, and to those men, I am deeply grateful.



So, I am starting a #pussypositivepromotion hashtag. Every weekday through the month of January, I will be promoting another woman warrior and entrepreneur on my FB page. I invite you to join in, to spread the word, to support women-owned businesses, to look at how you purposefully or inadvertently shame women regardless of your gender, and to shift this paradigm with me - with us - the pussy positive entrepreneurs who are here to stay. To slay.

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