Shadow

Men, Advocacy, & Doing What's Right

It happens pretty frequently that I hear from a caring man, as my friend, “When that man said that to you, I wanted to do something to him!” 


“When that guy posted that on your Facebook feed, boy I really wanted to say something back to him!”


“When I see how he treated you at the end of that relationship, I really wanted to punch him.” 


And today I want to talk about that sentiment; to bring some food for thought to the surface for all of us. I’ve been working on trying to write something about this for weeks, and today, I’m just jumping in, perhaps slightly messier in approach than I intended to be. Because I still have more questions than answers. 


How do men hold one another accountable?

How do men advocate for women when they see another man out of integrity?


What is it that is both appealing and frustrating about the above questions, to me, personally? 


When I make a post about the dance between men and women, or masculine and feminine, sometimes it’s personal story, and sometimes it’s not directly personal, but if I’m writing about it, it’s because I’ve either lived it or observed it. Everything that I write about at this point is based on observation and contemplation - rather than just regurgitating book smarts. As a former school employee, I regurgitated book smarts for a living, and now I write from observation. 


So, in that way, because I’m living a life of observation and advocacy on the part of our human collective, it’s always a little bit personal. And, I know that it’s my responsibility to monitor my emotional response to anything that anyone says or does in response to my writing or how I live my life. I am, quite honestly, pretty used to being someone that stokes a fire, because of what I am willing to say and how honestly I live my life. I’m a little raw. A lot honest. And if you’re averse to this, there may be some defensiveness. I’ve actually learned not to directly provoke, and to be very careful to instead invite. And yet, people have various ways of reacting when the fire is stoked within them. Reactivity is real. 


The reactivity of men, when they feel poked or confronted, can honestly be very scary. The tendency to want to control or tamp down what makes a man uneasy can lead to behaviors of domination or outrage. I’m not saying it’s always true, but it can be, and I’m not going to elaborate on this further because I expect that we all know this to be true. These are the behaviors that we are all here on the Good Men Project to support in shifting. 


And this past year, personally, a man became incredibly dominating at what turned out to be the end of a deep love relationship. It was unexpected and I was losing not only a love relationship, but a good friend, and I feared the repression of a good man’s soul. He had become fearful of circumstances, and in response, he attempted to control every aspect of the situation. And it sounded very violent and scared the hell out of me. 


After that, good friends that knew about it, and sat with him in men’s circle, didn’t say anything to him about it. Everyone knew he was going through a hard time, but no one said, “Hey, I’m not okay with the way you yelled at her, at the way you dishonored what you’d previously told us was the love of your life.” No one, to my knowledge, called him out or held him accountable. And, he even served as staff on a men’s initiation weekend shortly after, appointed by some of the same men that knew that he’d done this. 


They didn’t have my back. It took me a few months to even know how to approach these friends with this question. “Hey, why didn’t you ever bring up what you knew had happened? What is the rule of thumb in the men’s group for holding brothers accountable to what you know has happened outside of the men’s circle?” 


This particular men’s circle is part of an international name. Apparently it is pretty common for men inside the circle to know that a brother is living in shadow - by which I mean, they are coming into the circle presenting as one thing, and they are living a life that is not in alignment with how they are presenting in circle. And it’s also common for men to know this about one another and not say anything. 


And I have a problem with this. 


If you see a brother, another man, out of integrity with a woman, whether this is a man you sit in circle with or not, do something. Don’t punch him. But do something. 


I don’t need men fighting over me. I do, actually, need to live in a world where men who see an injustice speak up for those that have been affected by the injustice. 


Please think now: Do I know a man who is out of integrity where a woman is concerned? Am I prompted to respond in a way that might be advocating, loving, or helpful, and when and why have I decided to stay quiet about this? 


I don’t need men to do my emotional work, nor do I need to displace responsibility. I’m not trying to displace any part of my personal process onto someone else. I am in deep contemplation about what would happen if men began to hold one another accountable more often. 


As a woman, I actually don’t get any comfort from a man telling me, “When I saw this, boy oh boy I wanted to do something about it.” I do, however, feel a restored faith in man/woman relating when I see someone actually take a step to start a new conversation or say, “Hey, brother, I’m concerned about how I just saw you treat her. Want support?” 


This week on my Facebook feed, a man was triggered by a post I’d written, and he told me directly to “F*ck off.” I told him he may not speak to me that way. Sometimes, I pause to see what happens. When a man makes such a comment, it is actually really powerful when another man comes in to explain to him why he may have gotten triggered and to start a dialogue. In those cases, it becomes a community conversation, and toward the goal of healing and understanding. 


When behaviors of domination and aggression live in the dark, in the shadow, they perpetuate. We know that these behaviors are due to fear, to shame, to attempts to control unpleasant emotions. However, we also don’t want to live in a world where this is the norm any longer. This requires each of us to name what we see living in the shadow. 


We all know too well that too many men have lost too damn much while existing in the shadow. And I’ll say that the women who love them have also lost. And I really believe that all of this is preventable. But not if we allow one another to hide behind unhealthy behaviors. 


I know how to manage as an independent woman. And sometimes, I don’t want to have to always be the one sticking up for myself or educating why it isn’t okay to treat me a certain way. Because I’m the one willing to say the things difficult to hear, I’m also the one that takes a lot of the projection. Brothers, I can’t even tell you how nice it is when you decide to step in and advocate for the point that I’m trying to make. In solidarity. In connection. 


I know that women have asked you to not speak for us for a long time. I’m not asking you to speak for me. I’m asking you to name, out loud, the injustices you see. Speak from your own observation, your own level of concern, and your own heart. 


Don’t say to me, “I really wanted to do something when I saw that.” Because then I think, “Well, why didn’t you?” 


If something doesn’t feel right - do something. I dream of a world where men are advocating for what’s right, for women, for the integrity of right relating. 


Thank you, every time you decide to advocate for what’s right.


Also on The Good Men Project, where I write weekly.

Are you running victim consciousness?

All of us have had something happen in our lives that we didn’t prefer to have happen. Perhaps that event was a one-time thing, or perhaps it was ongoing. Yesterday at an outdoor coffee shop, I watched a mother continually threaten to hit her son to control his behavior. That boy is certainly experiencing some ongoing trauma that is going to affect him throughout his life. This is what I’m talking about - the things that we didn’t ask for, and the things that by definition, we fell victim to.


Can you allow yourself to think of some of those things now, painful as they may be, either short term or ongoing?


Now here’s my next question: how do you identify with them now? How have they stuck with you? And how do you bring those situations forward as a basis for how you relate with the world now?


Looking at those one by one:


How do you identify with them now?

By “identify,” what I mean is how have these associations become part of your actual identity? Everyone does this, so you can’t breeze over this question. How have the things that have happened to you become a part of how you see yourself? Is this negative, positive, or neutral?


How have they stuck with you?

We could call the bad things that happen to us “traumas.” Traumas impact the brain both consciously and unconsciously, and they impact our ability to connect, our emotionality, our perceived sense of safety, and our future relationships.


How do you bring those situations forward as a basis for how you relate with the world now?

Not only is there a question of how you see yourself in association with those traumas, but how do you actually relate to the world differently because of them? Let’s take the little boy from the coffee shop. If his mother parents him this way daily, which I presume she does from what I saw for over an hour, then he will grow up with a mother wound and an inherent distrust of women. This will affect how he attempts to please women but feels he can not ever connect with them, probably for many years to come. This will play out in his relationships and in his sense of self worth.  


Sound familiar? I imagine that for many, it does.


We all bring our patterning forward, subconsciously, until we bring it into consciousness. It will likely be up to that little boy to work out what has happened to him, sadly.


All of the above being very understandable, the degree to which we identify with what has negatively impacted our lives is called Victim Consciousness.


I have recently been unpacking these words in my life. A series of events happened early this year, and I realized that I was behaving afterward in certain ways that were associated with very old trauma patterns - ones that had subconsciously become part of my identity because it had been with me for so long. As I was working with the beliefs and behaviors that had set in during childhood, I realized that the degree to which I identified with these traumas, and the degree to which I continued to behave under that subconscious programming, was the degree to which I identified as the victim. And then I began to unpack what effects this might have, and what to do about it.


Getting conscious:

If you have a story that you tell yourself in regard to gender, relationships, or safety, that impacts how you relate to others, I imagine that you might have some victim consciousness running. Again, it’s understandable. Recognizing you are doing this and asking yourself if this story that you are telling yourself is really your own belief, or one developed as a result of interactions with others, is a first step.


Get help:

The things that have happened “to” us, the actual times we were a victim, are often sad, traumatic, and difficult times. Some of these circumstances have to do with ongoing negative relationships, like the scenario I outlined above for the little boy. These imprints can take a long time to repattern - it can actually be the work of a lifetime - but it’s worth it in order to gain your autonomy. Hire a therapist or a coach to support you in doing this work. I recommend therapists for going back and unpacking the childhood programming, and a coach for when you are ready to watch these patterns and take action in present time to change your life. Both can happen at the same time.


Practice mindfulness:

Daily mindfulness practice allows you to watch your thought patterns, your judgements of yourself and others, your somatic responses, and your intentions. Begin breathing on purpose and inquiring about your inner world. Practice acceptance of what is, in this moment, even if you are in victim consciousness. Denying or judging what is will only prolong your suffering.


Practice forgiveness, responsibility, & autonomy:

As adults, we are now responsible for how we interact with our lives and others. If we are running a script in our minds associated with victim consciousness, then we are not free, and we are not practicing the necessary degree of responsibility to evolve as an adult. We are each responsible for how we interact with the world. Owning that personal autonomy and practicing forgiveness principles are healthy and necessary behaviors for moving forward.


You are not the things that have happened to you. Weeding out who you are, underneath, is again, the work of a lifetime. And it is worthy.



The perpetrator doesn't get to decide

The perpetrator doesn’t get to decide how long the victim should grieve. The process of grieving is inside each individual. Everyone will be affected differently.


The perpetrator doesn’t get to decide how quickly they should be forgiven, as if when they are finished thinking about their action everyone else should forgive them too. No. They do not dictate when they should be forgiven. They do not control another person’s forgiving process.


The perpetrator doesn’t get to decide the short term or long term actions or reactions to a victim’s healing process. This is where we see an increase of manipulative behaviors or outright threats when the victim begins to realize that they have inherent power to do something for themselves. The perpetrator’s power relies on stealing power from others, complacency, and silence.


The perpetrator doesn’t get to have a say over their victim’s psychological process. They do not get to dictate where the trauma gets stuck or how long it takes to work it out. Often in relationships when this happens, mention of the trauma is uncomfortable to the perpetrator, and therefore the mention of it or symptoms thereafter is often met with more attempts to control or suppress.


The perpetrator doesn’t get to go on being the perpetrator. Each and every one of us has at times been perpetrator as well as victim. And each and every one of us has the responsibility to own our own behavior. We need to do the mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical processes. We need to attone. We need to understand that healing does not come through more demand or through a means of escape (religion included).


We live in a dominator culture, and thankfully the awareness of that is on the rise now, but we still have a long way to go. Men have historically been more violent, but it is the repression of authentic masculinity and femininity, and the emphasis on domination and control in the patriarchal system that has lead to this, and women are not exempt as we have learned to adopt dominator methods to attempt to gain control and power in this model.


This is so pervasive that unless one truly wills himself to change, and does the work to become aware of their patterns of domination, they will by default perpetuate. In my experience, it is uncomfortable to admit that you have been the perpetrator, but only while you are clinging to the dominator model as the only way.


bell hooks says in her book, The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, & Love, “No man who does not actively choose to work to change and challenge the patriarchy escapes its impact. The most passive, kind, quiet man can come to violence if the seeds of patriarchal thinking have been embedded in his psyche.” I will add: the most loving man, the father, the man who is aware of his shadow, the man who goes to the men’s groups, the man who is aware of his mother wound - even these men will come to violence. It will happen, because this is the dominator culture we are rewriting now. It is default. Let’s make this conscious.


It also is important to note that over-identification as a victim will not help to rewrite the cultural narrative. This is where we get “all men” and “all women” finger pointing. Each person is responsible for how they have behaved and how they have moved through it. Each person is responsible for unpacking both the trauma that came before an event of perpetration and the event itself.


This past week, I co-hosted an event where the men in the circle were asked to write held judgements of women down on little slips of paper, and women were asked to write down judgements of men on little slips of paper. Then we put all the slips of paper into one basket. As we read each one aloud, we asked every person in the standing circle to take a step forward if they had ever been the perpetrator of what was on the slip of paper, and nearly every single time, nearly all of the men and women all stepped forward. Both. All. Taking accountability and meeting together to find a new way.


We are here in a new time, where personal responsibility is allowed, where your healing is welcome. If your shame of your perpetration is clouding your behavior, change it. Own it. If not, you will, by default, continue domination regardless of any attempts to subdue, avoid, or deny.


If you are not happy with how you’ve behaved or the feedback people are giving you about how you’ve behaved, you can, and need to, take action. When you do, you break the dominator model in your own life. Thank you for doing that. It benefits the whole.


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My exs are among my best friends, and here's how we do it.

My exs are among my best friends. Most of them. But those that are, we are the legitimate, “I’ve got your back, call when you can’t tell other people this shit, no judgement here, I love your next partner because you love them, you know you can be honest with your heart in this space, gives the best hugs ever” kind of love.



I am talking about my exs. My lovers, some of which at one point we thought we were going to spend our lives together (because aren’t we always trying to fit into that old trend!) and one of which I birthed his daughter. These are people that, when the relationship ended, it was sometimes messy, and it always took time to come around. And then there was eventual healing. Because love is love. Because when a soul mate is recognized, the value of that person doesn’t change because your relationship does. Because it takes way more effort and a whole heap of unhealthy to hold that person at arm’s length in disdain than it does to just open up your heart.



My son’s father and I were middle school lunch table buddies. We were in relationship for fourteen years, and divorce wasn’t easy. And we are currently co-parenting this boy with more intention than we ever have. Now when we’re on the phone, I’m surprised to hear him open up and tell me about his parents or his job, but I like that he now will. I don’t know that we’ll ever make it to best friend status again, but there is love. We are rebuilding trust.



I don’t want to harbor resentment, because I don’t want to be a woman with resentment of men. I’ve been that. I don’t want to name the ways I’ve been disappointed by men and retell those stories and wallow. I don’t want to see any man fail because I couldn’t get from that person what I thought at one time I had wanted to get.



Within the last few months, as I was in a rough spot, these exs were among the friends that had my back, the ones that I could tell the whole truth to, the ones who help me become a better woman as I learn and make mistakes and grow. They are the ones I check my judgements with and the ones I ask to hold me accountable.



Two of them have recently asked me to hold council for them and their current partners. I have held every one of them in their own struggles since our relationships ended as significant others. I had a hard time finding the last words of that last sentence: since our love relationship ended…. No…. we still have a love relationship. Since our intimate relationship ended…. No… because we still have an intimate friendship. This is not to mean that I have been intimate with them, that we have remained or become lovers again. It actually means the intimacy of the heart. The deepest intimacy of friends. I am not polyamorous, have no interest in that, and neither are these men. No lines are crossed. It’s boundaried and beautiful, because we are clear with our words and intentions.



I go to them for help, love, and friendship, and they come to me. That’s my point here. The trust is sometimes beyond that of other friendships, perhaps because we have this past and we decided to honor one another anyway. In that choice, we have gained some of the best friends of our lives.



I have two exs that left without saying a proper goodbye to me or to my son. And actually, these were the last two partners I had. These were deep loves, these were men who would never have wanted to behave in the way that they ended up behaving, and while I hurt like hell afterward, I am not angry.



My son has been having a difficult time, because the second time this happened was just five months ago. When I told him that this man was not coming back, he said, “Mom, I am seriously never trusting another man that comes into this house again.” I’m sorry, son. It reminded him of the last man he loved, and to attempt to simultaneously explain to a nine year old boy why men we both loved and honored would treat him or I this way, while he sorts out the confusion of what his mother also must of had to do with it, is nearly impossible. Because I can explain it, but it’s incomprehensible. It’s poor behavior. This week, as I was finishing a personal shamanic shadow-work practice of about 5 weeks, and my ex from a year ago showed up at my ex husband’s workplace. They had met only once.



He asked my ex husband if he wanted to be friends. He joked and said that that would really piss me off. He asked my ex husband to apologize on his behalf to our son for never seeing him again.



This man had long hair and a very warrior-eque persona. I realized just last week that my son has been growing his hair long ever since this man left our lives. It affected a place deep within him that I didn’t know had been affected. And I had recently begun to realize it as we worked with his therapists and as his father and I try to figure out his increased lying and sadness.



When I got this information about his visit to Rowan’s father’s workplace, I sent him a text. I had just finished a shadow work practice that left me feeling much more clear headed about what I will and will not continue to allow to fester in my life; in our lives. I said, “No one here will be apologizing on your behalf. You are responsible for your own actions. You did not say goodbye to this boy who loved you, and it hurt him.”



He was upset and uncomfortable. He was quick to remind me why he left, that I had become dangerous in his eyes, that my writings, my truth telling, “hurt people.” He told me I was a snake, like the tattoo on my left arm, and that I “suck as a human.”



When he calls me hurtful, he’s talking about my choice to tell the truth. He’s referring to choices just like this, where I write openly about my life, and where I choose with my words how to advocate that we all do better. That we be better. I use my story to illustrate my point, and believe me, I’ve protected the truths of a handful of men plenty of times and I have still been deeply, emotionally, and financially threatened by scared men as they didn’t want my words out in the world about them, because they themselves are uncomfortable with their own behavior.



If you have to silence a woman, it is your own shame that is behind that. I’ll make it personal, actually. If you have to threaten to silence me, it is your own shame that is behind that, because I am clear that my intentions are not to harm. I texted him to tell him that the reason I scared him is because I represented the parts of himself he’d rather not look at. This is the shadow that we either embrace or run from.



There are quotes out there that say, “If you don’t want anyone to know about it, then you should have behaved better.” I do not write in order to hurt people. I write to claim my story, to advocate, to uphold. If I am inherently a threat, it is because someone is unwilling to own their own behavior and they carry shame. And, honestly, I am also sensitive to that. I have not really written about this man until now. I have kept my mouth shut. I have protected men that have mistreated me. And I don’t care to take revenge, but I also don’t care to be threatened by a behind-the-scenes narrative that I am a snake, or that I should be sued to be silenced, as threatened by three men in the last two years, when the cause behind these threats and insults is their own shame.



I am a woman with a heart, with a body, with a home and a son, and if you want into this life, then by damn, I get to speak on it when it becomes my story.



I think, to the dear few that fear my words, that if you truly look at my work and comb it, asking yourself if I have actually chosen to demonize or threaten you, if I have actually told intimate and threatening truths, you will find that the answer is no. You will actually find, if you have the eyes to see, that I advocate for men, that I love men, that I want everyone, you included, to come forward in vulnerability of what you have done in your flawed humanity. I am not entirely innocent. Of course not.



But we must be willing to risk connection when connection seems impossible, to trust again when we want to flee, because there in that space is liberation. If you can hurt someone else and then that person forgive you - that’s liberation. If you can say you are sorry and press forehead to forehead and each say, “I forgive you,” that’s liberation.



The reason my relationships with all these other men and exs are the deepest friendships of my life is because we both took accountability, over time, for our flawed humanity. It is evidence that two people, with a lot of history and hurt and baggage, can do the work of navigating the spaces between, of healing, and of enjoying a life of love.



When I was talking to a male friend and colleague a few months ago, telling him about a recent journey I’d taken to stay on my daughter’s father’s land, to reacquaint in that space, and of the deeper healing that took place there, he said, “Wow, so you are really genuinely friends with your exs?” I said, “Absolutely, some of them!” He said, “You should put that on your website or your resume. That’s some of the hardest and most genuine healing we can do. That’s the real deal.”



Authentic. That’s the word. To acknowledge, to admit mistakes, to come back to the table and not run, to refrain from blame and slander, to say, “I’m sorry” - that’s authentic living. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. And it’s required.



….



I have lived my life in deep reflection and I make offerings of the heart through my practices in Embodied Breath. If you are a man who longs for deeper connection, to face your shame in love, to practice vulnerability and accountability in a safe space, and to practice self forgiveness and self love, I have a twelve week men’s online offering beginning June 12. You can see my website home page for more details.

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Masculinity & Soul

I had the pleasure of going to hear Michael Meade speak a few nights ago when he visited Asheville, NC. Mr. Meade speaks on the topic of the human soul like no other, in my opinion, and if you haven’t listened to it, his weekly podcast called Living Myth is exceptional.


While sitting in the audience, listening to him talk about the need for us to be willing to acknowledge our emotions in order to access our soul, my curiosities wandered to how this impacts men and masculinity in the current cultural context.  


The language of soul is not especially mainstream, though Meade and others - I’d count myself among them - do our best to bring this concept and language to the forefront in our work. Carl Jung was of course the pioneer of this inquiry of soul.


What the soul is is not easily defined. James Hillman said, “soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept.” It is a mysteries realm that, to me, involves the depth of a human, the psychological history and what is both conscious and unconscious. The soul is what makes us ourselves, what beckons us forward, what allows us to deeply feel and interact with life.


The intellect alone can’t touch the soul. Living solely in the body can’t touch the soul. The soul is accessed only through the conscious interaction of mind, body, emotions and spirit, as I see it. When we don’t integrate all of these aspects into our lives, as many people do not, there can be what is called “soul loss.”

The soul wants us to reach our potential - not the kind of potential we reach when we get an MBA, but the kind of potential to be who we really are as an integrated person. What do you care about? What wakes you up at night? What is the deeper calling that you’ve always had but didn’t follow? What kind of love do you really want to experience? These questions point to what the soul is really wanting from us. Too many people simply ignore that inner voice and persist forward in intellectual or career pursuits, hoping for fulfillment but likely not authentically finding it. Ignoring that voice can have significant effects.


Symptoms of soul loss include feeling lost, feeling disconnected, isolating yourself from others, feeling as though you don’t have a purpose on earth or wanting a purpose but unable to define it, you have difficulty identifying what is positive, you have low self esteem, you picked up defensive behaviors after a traumatic event, you check out with mind-numbing behaviors, you feel unworthy and unappreciated, and daily life is task-driven and mundane.


Is anyone else reading that list and also making the connection to common conditions in modern men? If you didn’t get that on the first take, go back and reread that last paragraph and ask yourself if these are also common difficulties of modern men. In no way am I making a case that this is a problem unique only to men, but I am saying that there are almost certainly correlations between soul loss and the pressures, problems, and stigmas associated with modern masculinity and men.


Perhaps it is a bold claim, but it’s one I’m willing to make. As a woman, I have been studying men through the soul lens for a long time. I am a deep soul searcher, and in my close relationships with men, both professional and personal, there inevitably comes a time when there is a question of soul. A deeper opportunity, if you will, to step into the more vulnerable sphere of the soul and to claim hidden aspects of self. And time and time again, I have witnessed men denying this invitation, even if they so desperately want what their soul is showing them. A man can want to be a more connected leader, for example, but when the opportunity is before him will require him to lead with greater vulnerability, does he take it?


When I see a man deny the invitation to go vulnerably in the direction of his own soul, I see it as having abandoned himself, and I feel absolutely heartbroken. Every man that I have ever seen falter, in my judgement, it was due to a denial of his own soul. And when this happens, we can not feel him - the authentic him. He goes on upholding his ideas of how he must behave in order to maintain his authority, for example, and personal connection is often lost.


On the other hand, when I see a man accept this invitation, that is where I actually have increased hope for humanity and masculinity. It is that important. This is the space in which we can connect, problem solve together, lead with compassion, and understand one another authentically.

To come to know the soul is a process that requires a continual acknowledgement of one’s own vulnerability, and of the shadow, or the unconscious. Men’s groups like The ManKind Project incorporate shadow work into their initiatory experiences for men which bring glimpses into the wide world of the unconscious, and this is so important in order that modern men have the opportunity to acknowledge the masks they’ve been wearing and that they engage in ongoing personal inquiry of this inner realm.


Accessing the soul requires an acknowledgement that imperfections exist, that all the bravado in the world will not, in the end, save you. The Hero’s Journey itself is an invitation into the soul, into the inner realm through facing challenge and overcoming obstacles. If the obstacles are always on the outside and a man learns to succeed and function in the world by conquering them externally, his Warrior essence is essentially false as he has not met the obstacles within. He will defeat under any challenge that tests his soul strength.


Meeting those obstacles internally is essential for our authentic existence - each of us individually but also collectively. I wholeheartedly believe this, and I would encourage all of us, regardless of gender, to get a little closer to the nudging, authentic voice of our soul today. When we do, we have access to our own inner truth, and we can lay down a lot of the facade that most people carry.


As a woman, I do not want a false bravado or mask presented to me when I talk with a man. I want to see his soul, and I want to know that he knows himself in that space. So many men are afraid of their own soul as they focus their attention outward to pleasing others. It is my goal to offer, both personally and professionally, opportunities for accessing the soul as a point of strength.


Michael Meade is a storyteller and collects ancient myths from around the world and then tells them while he also plays a drum. He told a story from China on the stage, and he asked us when he was finished, “What was the part that was the most significant to you?” He said that the part of the story that impacted us the most was the most important part to our own soul and how we live in the world.


The line that stood out to me, without question, was, “I will not let you abandon your own self.”


Dear men, that is how I feel about you. I will not let you, whenever possible, abandon your soul. The world needs you, and your soul-infused masculinity, now. I believe in you, but more importantly than what you can accomplish or prove, I believe in your soul.  

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self judgement does us no good

Help, forgiveness, grace

For my birthday this year, I gave myself some gifts.

First, I asked for help.

Second, I let myself be fully seen by those that love me.

And third (I’m still working on this one), I decided to love myself anyway.

I would have said that I loved myself, but then a wave of deep “Who am I and how did I get here?” swept in. A coming undone, if you will. Stay tuned for the blog post.  

Have all the decisions I’ve made in the last year been wise? No. Have all the decisions at the time been made with best intention? Yes.


I have messed up before, for certain, as we all do, and grappled with the judgement of others. This time, the judgement was primarily my own. I’m not sure I messed up, but maybe I did along the way, and how do I sit with myself when I mess up?

Did I have integrity when I made the decision to leave my job?

Did I have integrity when I decided to speak up or not speak up about injustices?
Did I have integrity when I made the decision to risk my family’s home if my business wasn’t sustainable?

Did I have integrity when I allowed myself to say yes to a complicated love?


Yes.

I think so.

But I’m still wading through all that and back to self love.

I was talking with a close friend last week about this process (the asking for help part) and I said, “I had good intentions.” To which he jokingly replied, “Well you know what they say about the road to hell.”


I love a friend who will sit with you in your mess. And dear me, I’m blessed with many. While I work out my own relationship with my self-judgement, and self-acceptance, and the mess in between, I look around to see that I have tribe and that perhaps this is the very richness of life.

I am blessed to be witnessed and loved anyway. I am blessed to have women who spend my birthday witnessing me shedding layers of woman shame and claiming my soul. To have those friends that listen to every decision I’ve made and remove their judgement from their response, and to genuinely reflect back to me even the things I don’t want to hear. I am grateful to be seen.


I recently answered an exercise in B School about what people often thank me for. I realize, it’s all of that in the last paragraph - it’s my willingness to “go there,” to hold a space for the deepest of truths, to leave judgement at the door, to sit with someone in the mess, to support the authenticity and transformation. Now I just get to really practice on myself.


All of you is welcome here.

All of me is too.


Be gentle with yourself. If I can support you in and through your mess, it is my honor to do so. Set up a free consultation here.

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Get after your own Soul.

Adoption decades later

When I called my mother from ten hours away during my first semester of college and told her I was pregnant, she let out a sound so guttural, so raw, that I’m pretty sure my father probably thought someone had died. Telling your mother you’re pregnant when you’re supposed to be a kid going off to college, well, that’s shame inducing.



Going home from college pregnant after the first semester at age 18; that’s shame inducing. Going back to the small town, back to the place you wanted to get away from in the first place, back to the methodist-infused judgement, literally growing evidence of your lust in your belly.



Shame shuts down things like lust and sexuality. Shame shuts down most things and makes rule-followers, hustlers, vigilant watchers out of us.



There was an Indigo Girls song, “Fugitive,” that I listened to in my old boxy black Jeep Cherokee on repeat that fall while I was packing up from the college I was ashamed to be leaving, an innovative hippie school in Western North Carolina. The song started with the words “I’m harboring a fugitive, defector of a kind, and she lives in my soul, and drinks of my wine, and I’d give my last breath, just to keep us alive.”



I listened to the song again just now and cried my eyes out. Happens every time I play it.



I carried that little fugitive. Or I was the fugitive, or we were, I’m not sure. I put my head down, let the other adults duke it out, and I grew that girl. I knew she had to be here. I knew this mess was somehow the most sacred thing I’d ever experienced.



I cared for her like the doctors told me to, and I also discovered, somehow following my instincts, Ina May Gaskin and Caroline Myss and Christiane Northrup. On my 18th birthday, I went to a small diner in rural PA with my grandmother, visibly pregnant, and meanwhile Ina May Gaskin was on my nightstand. Actually I didn’t have a nightstand. I had a bookshelf behind the head of a twin sized bed that was put in the basement for me when I came back from college. A bed in the basement was also shame inducing. I’d revisit that in therapy to unpack more than once in the subsequent decades.



But I found god in that bed, with that baby in my belly. Rather, now, I think I found my own Soul and Mary Magdalene and Sophia. I touched the Sacred. I knew my child’s Soul. I felt her so deeply. I knew her personality. There is nothing she has ever done that has surprised me, because I knew her that deeply. But I actually only got to see her grow up in pictures and twice a year visits if I was lucky. She was adopted three days after her birth.



I knew my job was to get her through. I just knew it with the knowing that I now call Soulknowing - when you don’t know how you know other than you know it in your core. She was meant to be here. She chose to come through me. There was only one family I would have chosen out of three states worth of families looking to adop through that agency. I chose them a few months before her birth, so I knew where she would be going. I didn’t know what it would look like. I couldn’t predict. And yet, I knew she would be okay.



When you’re laying there in a solo twin bed at 18 and pregnant, and you find a different kind of God than the god you’d been given, the god that made you go to church and the god that shamed you for being a lustful woman in the first place, you find faith. Or I did anyway. But faith is a different story. It goes hand in hand with this story, but this story is about shame.



I found God (or Sophia or Mary Magdalene or my Soul - whatever She was) and I put all that faith into that divine little baby, and then when I had handed her over, what does a girl filled with so much shame do? She kicks her own ass.



The prescription we’re all given, as women, is to make something of ourselves. I pause here because I don’t think I need to actually even say more about this to women who have read this far in this post. You know the pressures, teenage pregnancy or not. Women know the conflicts. We know the narratives. We know that the path of achievement can derail us from our Soul real damn quick and real deep if we’re not careful. And sadly, we don’t know to be careful. Because the inherent prescription looks and sounds like, “succeed at all costs, the answers are outside of yourself, go prove you are good enough.” And then we lose our Soul, or disconnect from it further, or don’t even know what we’ve lost, we just know it’s something big.



Gaining back one’s Soul is the work of a lifetime. Following one’s Truth is the work of a lifetime.



I’ve been walking back to myself, on a windy road, for nearly twenty years. Thankfully, I didn’t stop looking under the rocks on the path. I also worked like hell to prove myself and prove achievement and prove prove prove prove prove prove prove my worth.


Because nothing strips self love and self worth like shame. And nothing ever fills a hole when shame dug it in the first place. And we don’t ever prove a damn thing if what we really want is to love ourselves and feel worthy just to be alive.



You have to choose yourself. You have to choose your Soul. You have to get it back, and this is an active choice. Others will not understand this choice when you start to choose it. It looks like rule-breaking. The further you go, the more it looks like crazy, in my experience.



This choice will not make sense and will go against the grain and you will be misunderstood and you will have to confront all of the parts of yourself you never wanted to even admit were parts of yourself and you will have to claim claim claim claim claim your own Soul.



I want to say this again. YOU will have to choose you. Mom and Dad and husbands and bosses and friends turned not friends and lovers turned not lovers will never do for you what this active choice to choose yourself will do for you. It is not selfish, to know yourself. It is not unimportant.


It is so important. It is what leads you to be so damn fine with yourself that you have nothing but integrity. And when you make a mistake, finally you learn to recognize the sabotager of shame and you embrace it, you embrace you, you apologize, you get right with yourself, you decide what parts of yourself you’ll judge and what you’ll forgive and fix and you’ll do your best. The fight, the need to prove, the incessant running from shame - these things only lead to more fights, more combativeness between us and life.



I recently had another deep bout with shame. Thankfully, shame came to be a teacher, as emotions and conditions do. I know that many people worry that they will lose themselves to these unpleasant emotions. You will not lose yourself if you continue to choose yourself, and continue to ask for growth.



I sat with shame, this teacher, and I saw how it had always been there, under the surface, whispering in my ear that maybe I wasn’t actually good. Wasn’t actually okay, for all my trying and all my proving.



Shame is not You, You are not shame. You are not the things that society told you were wrong but you did anyway because of your Soulknowing. There is a SoulYou to claim. You are Yours to claim. And the world needs SoulYou, not another rule follower. The world needs you Whole.



I’m going to go ahead and be radical - that’s but one of the things I’ve come to after these first intense weeks of 2019. I’m going to operate through a radical love. I’m going to tell the stories that don’t get told. Talk about sexuality and the gritty work of Soulgaining. I’m going to take leaps and do things that don’t fit the mold.



Thank God. And Sophia. And Mary Magdalene. Thank Soul. I didn’t come here to be or please anyone else. Neither did you. We came to be whole. Get after your own Soul.

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Shame comes to remind us how we will engage

On the phone with my 89 year old grandmother this week, she said, “Still have your man?” I inhaled to brace myself and said, “No, actually, it’s been a really difficult month. I’ve been exploring what’s really going on by focusing on me and I’ve been working with two different therapists and coaches on growing through this.” Sometimes I wonder why I say these things to her, and she wonders why I call her less often. It’s because rest assured, our conversations will trigger my shame. I think I share honestly with her both to attempt to open these doors and also to see how much shame can still be triggered.



She said, “Ha, I thought you were a coach, now you have to hire a coach too?”



What’s the implicit message? That’s right. You don’t have it all together yet? Are you weak? And, of course, you are weak for being imperfect.



Of course she doesn’t consciously intend to cause harm through judgement, but it happens. This could be a post about my grandmother, but it isn’t. I started out with that story to bring it home that messages of perfection and shame of not having it all together yet are all around us.



And this post is about me, because, if I tell you a story about someone else’s mistakes, I’m not really looking at my own, and I’m avoiding my shame.



Shame is the lowest emotion. When emotional frequencies are measured, it is actually the lowest of all emotions as compared on the megahertz scale. That means it feels the worst.



And what would trigger the worst feelings but the most profound of our crap. Our wounds. Our deepest stuff.



This month, this first month of a brand new year, kicked my ass. It brought up all my stuff, honestly, in a way that showed what I really needed to learn at this time. I’m still learning (and always will be.) This could be a post about how on a soul journey, a soul mate relationship will do that, but it’s not that post either. This is the post from the inward examination of shame. And it’ll be incomplete. And imperfect. And I’m learning more and more to be in full acceptance of that.



I really try to get it right and good. I think we all do, inherently. I really try to be brave and tell stories and help people. I intend to live in my truth and put myself out there in vulnerability and be strong in order to withstand any sort of reaction. I forgot, as I do so that I can remember, apparently, what our friend Brené Brown tells us, that if we live courageously, we will fall. We will fail. And it’s at that point that we get to decide. Whether to blame and point, or whether to integrate our experiences and grow.



I certainly dabble with the blame and point. I have to watch it, be mindful not to act from it. Sorry not sorry if that’s not enlightened enough yet. (Ha. You see what I did there? A joke about hiding shame.)



I’m a natural integrator. Living the soul journey and being willing to “go there” is kinda my gig. I also just sometimes want to avoid getting my ass kicked. Because it hurts. And I want to inherently be good. Be enough. When I see the outward world reflecting to me that I didn’t get it right, I think, well F, then I must still not be good enough and getting it right.



It triggers self worth and it triggers shame.



I think we live in a pretty interesting time where this idea that we can actually come to a point where we don’t feel these things anymore or that we are above feeling them is pretty rampant. I think that in the past year, putting myself out there as a coach after having worked in education, I definitely was worried about getting it right. I didn’t always admit vulnerabilities, even though I am this truth telling person. Even though I started Embodied Breath specifically to look at the “not enough” patterns that we all face, I was still doing it! Of course I was. They are engrained.



The aim is not perfection. The aim is authentic and wholehearted living. The aim is essentially love.



I told my grandmother, after a deep breath, that yes, of course I would be willing to hire my own coach if that’s the same help I hope to provide. My clients need to be willing to hire me when they want to self-examine something, and I don’t pretend to be above that. I told her that it’s okay to need help and that it is not weakness. We’re not culturally used to asking for or needing help, but that sets us up for a lot of high and unmeetable expectations. I told her this on the other side of a significant river of shame I’ve been crossing. Not the full other side, but I’m on the banks again enough to see where I’ve just been.



I don’t know where exactly I went wrong. It’s not entirely my story to tell, and so I won’t tell it here, out of respect for others involved, and because it’s still active. But I behaved in what I believed was honesty and courage, and yet I still messed up, somehow. People are still pissed. My character is apparently in question for some people. In fact, I’m starting to hear about it through a grapevine - stories that are partly untrue and giving negative descriptions of my character being told about me. A friend of mine told me that she heard some gossip and could say; I know this person, and what you are saying is not true. Thank god for friends like that.



I thought that in telling my own story for a living, I would somehow avoid people telling false stories. I thought that in authenticity, I would be protected somehow from criticism. I thought that if I stood up for soul and love, that love would conquer all and that we wouldn’t get hurt. These weren’t conscious thoughts. These were assumptions made while I was doing the good work of hustling forward and showing up best I knew how. And then, I made choices that ended up hurting people. And gained me criticism. And there’s nothing I can say or do or be to change minds. I can’t please my way out of this. And meanwhile my own heart aches, and precious few are asking me about my own heart. (Thank you if you are. Dear me, from my heart, thank you.)



Another friend called me to say he was there for me no matter what. He said, “Sarah, maybe it’s just time for you to tell your own story. It’s what you do.”



That same day, I pulled the Truth Be Told card from my oracle deck and thought, Oh crap. I sat with this, wondering what it meant. And then I was preparing to sit in a circle of women. Women who had paid me to be my clients in a… get this… Personal Truth group. And I got the loud, incessant cue from above to tell the whole story. All of it. Even the parts that people could judge. And I wanted to run. And I sat sweating up until the moment I told it. But I told it. I asked only for it to be heard. That there was a truth in me that needed to be spoken and not kept silent. I said I would accept judgement. I would accept the consequences of reactions. Whatever they are. I braced myself for more shame or for people to even quit working with me. And when I told it, I heard, “Thank you for modeling what truth telling looks like. Thank you for living what you say you live.” I heard, “I would not imagine walking away from you or this right now.”



A few days later, I was collaborating with a male colleague and he knows the whole story. I also worked with him and his wife with some couples coaching. I again braced myself for rejection and more shame, and he said, “I don’t judge you.”



On this man’s computer I noticed a taped piece of paper that read “In the Arena!” Brené Brown and all of her shame research and all of the books with all my notes in the margins were in my hands this month. What did I forget? How did I get here? What is this terrible feeling I’m feeling? Where do we go from here with shame? Brené tells story from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” that my friend’s personal reminder was referencing - be in the arena. It is more important to be in the arena of life, engaging with it heart and soul, than to be avoidant on the periphery. And when you are in the arena, you will mess up. You will fall. You will fail.



I had the distinct opportunity, consciously, at least a hundred times since I started Embodied Breath to either walk forward into this arena or walk back out again. Walking forward, engaging with life, following my Soul, and to do it with as much integrity as possible, is the only option. I was recently reminded that sometimes I will fail. And thankfully, this has also lead to renewed realizations that there is relief in my imperfection.



There is a kind of resilient fighting that comes from determination to prove perfection and avoid shame. I know that fighter. She’s in me, and you all have heard her tell stories if you’ve been watching for any time at all. There is a more genuine form of authenticity that comes from your heart being cracked open, having to choose whether or not to keep loving yourself and other people in spite of imperfections, and humbly standing up to say that I’m sorry I hurt someone, and I’m sorry I abandoned aspects of myself. Standing in front of my mirror and my creations and humbly offering personal forgiveness inward has been profound. After all this hard work of getting to this point, leaving a career I’d achieved a lot in, creating Embodied Breath, what, I thought I wouldn’t stumble?



If we stay in that frequency of the emotional state of shame and it survives, it will take us down. Guaranteed. We will not walk back into the arena of life for as long as we let it rule us. We can work hard and get promotions and seemingly be successful from this place, but we will not be living authentically. Wholeheartedly. I am not here to school you from a pedestal. That’s kinda the whole point. I’m here to remind us all. I’m here to walk with you. Haha, it’s more like I’m pulling at your shirt hem from my knees right now than having any pretence of pedestal.



Brené  Brown found in her research that in order for shame to survive, it needs secrecy, silence, and judgement. In my walk this month, especially this week, I discovered these antidotes. I broke my silence, my secrecy, and my own personal self judgement and the judgement of others. Friends and helpers were gracious enough to help me break it. And the shame feels much less intense.



The absolute antidote to shame is empathy. It’s what we need to be kind enough to extend to one another, even when we’re hurting. When I’m hurting and accepted my colleague Gina’s offer when she said, “Spirit is telling me to offer you this coaching,” it was amazing. Gina is helping me to hold space for all parts of myself. It is some of the most powerful personal work I’ve ever done. I can hold myself empathetically in this space and it resonates outward.



When we are willing to look at all of ourselves, we grow the most. Not that it’s some race or something, but it also feels the best. Self-forgiveness and self-love feel good. Relaxing the pressure on myself allows me to be a better space holder for others, more loving toward all, more empathetic. I am a better mother, a clearer coach, and better steward of Embodied Breath as a result of having gotten in that arena of life, gotten my ass kicked (again), and learning to be vulnerable and present with myself and others in still-closer ways. I am more authentic than ever. I am more myself than ever.



If I have behaved in a way that perpetuated a notion of perfectionism in the coaching industry, I am sorry. I do the work that I do because I want you to have a space to own your whole truth, your vulnerability, to feel your shame if you need to, to move through whatever arises, and to see yourself as beautiful and whole. My work is an arena itself! It is what I am inviting.



If I have hurt you, I am sorry.



I pray that we may all stay in the arena with ourselves and with one another, so that we may experience the wholehearted, connected, ever-conscious possibilities on the other side. I will go through, with you. Beside you.

Photos by www.NicoleMcConville.com

Photos by www.NicoleMcConville.com



We Rise Together

Dear men,



On the day of the Women’s March, I am writing to you.



Because I trust that women who leave home today to march know why they are doing it. But it’s on my heart to talk to you. There are many questions in the air. My intention is to speak into this space in between us.



Admittedly, I am writing this as a woman who is currently tired. A woman who loves you and can’t see right now truly how to help you. I am writing this as a woman who has tried, in every way I know, to be what men have needed. A woman who now realizes, it is not my job.



I am resilient, I am feminine, I am independent, and I love men. I have walked for years as a conscious woman reclaiming my femininity, and I am well aware that to fight and be in opposition of men in this movement of the feminine rising is not the way to do it. I am a woman who loves and believes in men.



I have shown this to you. But as I’ve studied how I have been received, my efforts to lift men up, in fact my efforts to specifically stand as an ally to men at this time, have been met repeatedly with gratitude that I would speak solidarity, and yet when it comes down to it, you often want me to work for free, or you give a last minute power-over maneuver and say you don’t actually need to hire me, or you question what it is I truly know. Or you walk away. Most of you.



I realize now that this is in large part my own doing. Because in a system that has given men default power, I have continuously, in many varying forms, with many different disguises, given my power away. And I have asked you for yours. We have been fighting for power in an old power game.



We are all losing so long as this is the game.



Whether or not you know it or women know it, the women’s movement is a feminine rising movement. That is what we desire at the core. All of us - even you. This is not a women’s march. This is a feminine march. But we haven’t caught up in the collective consciousness to realize this, so we call it a women’s march. But “feminine” and “woman” are two different things.



Two thousand years ago, at the advent of Patriarchy, the feminine was decided to be a threat. Mary Magdalene herself held the magic of the feminine consciousness, held Christ consciousness, held a power so deep and inherent, held something in her very being that threatened the power of the church and how the church wanted to portray the Christ. The reason that the Christ was the Christ was not because of a man and his masculine father god, but because the masculine Christ was activated by the power of the feminine Sophia. One must have the other. This, understandably, is incredibly fucking threatening to a Patriarchal agenda. But Christ himself knew the necessity of the Sophia consciousness and invited it.



There is more power in the feminine than any masculine intelligence can ever understand with the cognitive mind. Because they are different, and complimentary, powers. And so, throughout history men attempted to control it, denying the feminine, which looks most obviously on the outside like repressing women. But the effect is that the feminine has been repressed in every human, including within men, and therefore a massive rebalancing is required. That is, I believe, what we are seeing now - the cry for this. It begins inside each human.



No one being is whole and complete until their healthy masculine and feminine have been integrated internally, into true Sovereignty. I will call this masculinity and femininity “sacred,” because we certainly have unhealthy examples at play as well.



Mostly, men and women are at odds with one another because of these unhealthy aspects in each of us. Most women are most often in an unhealthy masculine energy and most men are more affiliated with an unhealthy feminine aspect. We’ve taken what is glorious about both feminine and masculine and have sabotaged it. Both are grasping for power from these places. Of course this is oversimplified. See if you can stay with me.



We have a term now, “toxic masculinity” that points to “masculinity” as a problem, but true masculinity is never a problem. If each of us humans were to be fully integrated, we would not have gender wars, which I would say we certainly have, because we would not have to worry about anyone else taking our power. We would know that our sovereign union between the Christ and the Sophia within us, the masculine and the feminine, is divine and complete.



This sounds foreign because it is uncommon to discuss it, but it is not untrue. You will see more of this language.



In our society now we have the #metoo movement and women’s marches and we have a white male suicide rate that is the highest on record and I’m standing here as a woman waving the white flag and yet, I’m seeing we all still have a lot of fear ruling our daily actions. I’m feeling this in my own life and I want to be done with it.



A few years ago, I was working as a school principal, and my father visited our town while coming through on a business trip and took my son and I out for dinner. He had helped me to buy my house after my divorce, so of course, I thought, he was welcome to take over my son’s bed while in town. So while my son was asleep in mine, after we had enjoyed dinner, my father and I sat talking at my kitchen table. The conversation went south when he took it in the direction of religion, where we disagree. He’s a methodist. We’ve gone rounds about this before, though there was no yelling, and he knows I do not inherently agree with his views. And when we stood up to go to sleep, I found myself with my back nearly up against the front door while the familiar look of hatred took over his face, while his voice raised and he came at me, threatening me that I would burn in hell for eternity. Threatening me in the dark while no one else was looking.



His grandchild’s mother. His first born. A school principal. A caring woman who spent her days working for the benefit of children. But refusing, as I did forever, to subdue to his exact beliefs, he felt the need to threaten me to my core. Not only was I worthless, surely God would deem me the same, and I would burn for eternity. When I would not give over my power to him, our lifelong (forever-long) karma, he went for a drastic way to attempt to get it from me.



I’ve been told this, my prescribed fate in hell, by him in similar moments of threatening solitude my entire life. Especially since I became a sensual teenager. Then I got pregnant at eighteen, and I realize looking back that I gave most all my power away at that point because he largely determined what would happen, how the child’s father would not be involved, and that I could not possibly be successful on my own. I believed it. I birthed my child naturally and took care of her and my bodies, but the external choices did not feel like my own.



These things are engrained. I’ve been unpacking them, whether consciously or not, my whole life. I have lived a woman in the Patriarchy, and I’ve come to encourage a new way that is less hurtful for us all. I see that this is not a matter of who has power over the other.



I want you to see: my father is a decent man. He would place his three daughters at the center of his life, under God the Father, if pressed to order his priorities. And yet, he does not understand that at the route of his attempts to repeatedly overpower me is his own deep despisal of the feminine.



Many men, I would say most all, both crave and despise the feminine on some level. You’ve been hurt by the feminine, this force, and so you want to overpower it, either violently or by asking women inadvertently for their power. You do this repeatedly.



You have been hurt by women who themselves have repressed their own divinity, and have therefore been hurtful, operating out of a weak or unhealthy masculine or feminine energy. So while you crave the Divine Mother, your cravings are unmet by women in the flesh. Your mother your first inherent disappointment - often either too smothering or too unloving. You become monsters toward women under the surface and have no cognitive idea why. So much so that you will do anything to conquer the feminine, and then you transfer that to women.  You both love and fear women. You want us and you don’t want to have to. You are conflicted. You want to control the entirety of a situation of which you are only half the equation.



We feel it. We have felt it for two thousand years.



We fear it. As I write this I feel fear. Because to expose a man is to threaten a man, and bad things happen when men feel threatened.



Reclaim the feminine in yourself, my loves. You must. The internal balance is the unity that brings you your most authentic power. And do men’s work. But the trouble I see with men’s work is that most are ignoring the role of the feminine altogether. A lot of men’s work is not actually correcting the problem of power-over. THAT is the internal struggle. That is the beast, the addiction, the tyrant, the killer. The addiction to power is what we’re playing with, here.



And when women march, or women say “me too,” those are attempts to get power back. And ultimately, it’s ineffective because we don’t understand the internal nature of this that I am describing here. And ultimately, it threatens men and we’re in an incessant loop.



If I am a woman who is fighting men for my power, or trying in any way to please men for my power, then I am not sovereign. I have been living this as a woman. I see that now. I have been giving aspects of myself away in service to men and hoping for some return, whether it be honor or love or respect or an equal opportunity. I have been hoping that somehow I would find a way to show up with men that eases the power-over game. But this is not an effective recipe and I am left feeling unmet. My service is incomplete if it is not done from a place of sovereign love.



We all want sovereign love and union, but we are playing a power game. We are calling it empowerment and romantic love and #metoo and even now the men’s movements. We won’t find it there.



I consciously walked myself in the direction of reclaiming my lost feminine starting about seven or eight years ago. My son was a toddler and I realized the ways I’d lost myself after my daughter’s adoption a decade earlier. I realized I was largely operating from an unhealthy aspect of masculine energy, always driving myself and others forward.



At that time, I was one of those bitches who dominated men, blamed men for my state, my then-husband included. One of the women with daddy issues who begged men to prove to me all I needed to see from the masculine. I have shamed men. I have been the perpetrator of oppressive energy over men. I have been associated with a masculine, driving force that attempted to gain power-over. Sometimes I still am.



And I’ve done so much self-work, often in self-reflection of relationships with men gone wrong, and so I’ve asked myself what kind of woman I’d have to be to be what men needed me to be. Go ahead and judge that, but I ensure you that this walk was a conscious one all along. I understand masculine and feminine. I work in this arena because it calls me from a place deeper inside of me than any other aspect of my life. I study this because I know it in my bones, to my core. I watch how the energies of the collective are the same energies in me, and vise versa. We are given many opportunities to see this if we are willing to look.



All the while, I have been giving myself to men in one way or another for twenty years. I have been trying to “get it right.” I have tried to please and heal the father. I have worked primarily in school populations of male adolescents. I have attempted to bolster masculinity in places where male mentors themselves didn’t know to do it. I have stood in the energy of the Priestess willing to hold space for men to heal. I have been the woman that men have yearned for and then turned on, projecting their deep confusion and hatred onto me. I have helped to build their empires only to be dismissed. And I have been the place they called Home and then left again, without care, when love gave way to fear. When the uncontrollable became too much to bear.



And I know what you men do in the dark. I know how you crave Her. I know how you yearn to simultaneously conquer and succumb to Her. With your hand around my throat and the deep yearning in your thrust. I know you. I know what it is that you yearn for. You almost find it in those moments. The only barrier is you, my love. Yourself. She is there for you. You must also surrender.



I have been the Magdelena inviting you forward. I have been the Priestess willing to help heal your wounded Soul. You see yourself here in this space of me. And it is a vulnerable place. And then I am the woman left to do what women do when the fear of men betrays us.



I am the mother, the daughter, the sister. I am the woman you despise, the woman you love, the woman you hope to raise to be different (but how will you, if this goes unaddressed?). I am every woman.



Her.



When you are in your fear, when I am in my fear, we want to prove our worth through one another, to gain our power through one another. This is not a winning game. It’s not just you. We both have to look at this and keep coming to this table. I want to own my part more than I have ever wanted to own my part. I have no proving left in me. I can not pretend to know the way all on my own.



I could be spinning this. Maybe I am. And maybe I’m observant and you’ve given me many opportunities. It’s both. But I tell you these things differently now. Rather than diagnosing, I am calling you. And I will not sacrifice myself to meet you there. We, women, need you to meet us. We will need you at times to lead us where we can’t see. We will need your trust.



I am a woman and see it through this lens, and I am also wise. I have been abused and hurt by men, and decided consciously to show up in front of you anyway. I hope I have gained your trust this way. I am not the victim and I want to be your sovereign sister, lover, mother. And I need you to live in this space with me of checking and assessing your own drive to maintain power. We need a new way.



When you are in your fear, you do not want me to hold the mirror as the woman. You do not want my sovereignty if you do not know your own. You find my help a threat, even though you crave it, because you see it as loss of power. I have seen this with many potential coaching clients, students, partners, bosses. You want to prove all the ways that you are good enough and this prevents your own growth. Sooner or later in relationship, you will realize that you’ve fallen into vulnerability, and you will assert your power over. It will not be pretty how you take your power back when you recognize you’ve given it away.  You will not lose your power to a woman, even when I am not actually threatening it. Your power maneuvers are consistent, insidious. The perpetuation of an old paradigm that we need to be done with.



Repeatedly, you depend on my resiliency as a woman, but you hate me for it.



You want my softness, until it requires yours.



You want to lose yourself in me, but you want to determine which direction we head into abandon.



Nayyirah Waheed wrote “All of the women. In me. Are tired.” I feel this, in my woman body, I feel this. I will stand with women in this march because I know what women know just by being born a woman, because the feminine is in my bones. I know the reality of being wanted and silently despised, of constantly giving with failed return. Of life being a power game and knowing what it feels like to be losing. Knowing that we all lose so long as this is about anyone having any other part of any of our power.



I want a different game. The time is now. We are noticing the breakdown of an old paradigm. Now we create together, anew. We create what is currently unimaginable, because it is beyond our constructs. We create by honoring personal sovereignty and the space for vulnerability. We create by honoring all of the fear generated as a result of this old system, and we look one another in the eye as we move forward together.



I do not want to be a woman in charge. I don't even want equal rights. I do not want to try to match power. That is all old, power-over paradigm.



I know a handful of men right now who are putting their hearts on the line and doing their personal work to look at how they assert power-over. One sat before me this week and delivered me a reflection that I can’t remember verbatim because it was a divine transmission out of the mouth of a man, and I cried, to be seen and offered respectful reflection to my core.



I know a man who is heartbroken and standing in his mission now, vulnerable and not giving up inside this space of incredible risk.



I know another man who honorably said to me, “When you are in your rawness, I am inspired to keep going, to keep choosing this.”



I know another who has recently been humbled by loss of a woman taking back her power and sat before me and this woman and said, “I was the Patriarchy. I tried every way to assert power over and I was willing to go to any length to ensure it.”



Create with me. Break down with me. Get vulnerable with me. Look at our collective fears with me.



There is a We that is emerging that I want to believe in. To my temporarily shattered core, I want to believe in Us.



Together, we let old paradigm crumble at our feet. So many of us are aware of this crumble right now, experiencing it first hand. I am saying, beloveds, that I believe it feels this way because we are being called to be new, to create anew, to imagine the New. To live it. Courageously and from our Hearts.



I have edited this for more time than I ever spend on any piece. All of the old and the new are still colliding within me. My recent loss is here, and I see that it is the catalyst for this wide open, vulnerable gain. I pray that we all see our own shattering as invitation, the invitation we’ve been asking for, actually. If we wanted a New, why did we not think we would have to experience a death of the Old?



We are the creators. We are the movement. It is not the movement you will see today on the news, as the collective takes some time to catch up to what is really happening. We are the catalysts. We are the ones we have been waiting for. The divine in me sees the divine in you. The masculine in me sees the masculine in you. The feminine in me sees the feminine in you. I want your sacred sovereignty. I want my own. I want it for our sons and daughters. We are the movement. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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Not hiding. Nope.

When you’re an early entrepreneur following your soul, and life takes you down….

You process it. Because it’s what we do. We go through.

I go through with you, I go through with me.

The grief at the core of me.

It’s important we allow ourselves to feel our grief.

When I lost my daughter at birth at the age of nineteen, I grieved alone. And in fact, grieving was not talked about. Succeeding was emphasized.



Get up. Do what needs to be done. Make something of yourself.



And this was the formula that I used for over thirteen years, until I consciously realized what I was doing - I was in a perpetual state of striving for proof of “being enough.” A state of inadequacy.



Nothing could fill it, as inadequacy at the core goes, although I kept trying to succeed. I kept trying to get it right in order to prove my enough-ness.



And this core wound that most of us carry, it dies hard. Actually it doesn't die, it transmutes when we face it. And this takes some conscious action indeed. Awareness is just the beginning. Undoing the traumas and the wounding and the automatic patterning is an effort in consciousness. But one worth making, as one takes back their life from the myth of inadequacy.



Last year, as soon as I stepped out to go full time with Embodied Breath, my deep love relationship ended. I had loved this man. I didn’t understand some of the circumstances, and he left in a hurry after I’d experienced the deepest love relationship I’d ever known. I could see some of the karma, some of the Soul reasons why it was happening, but here’s what I realize now - I didn’t grieve.



I did not let myself grieve, because I had just opened a business. So what did I do? I hid my grief, from others especially, and I kept on going. I kept on “doing it.” I kept on toward success and making it happen. I was putting myself “out there!” I was building something! And so I was striving to get things done, and to financially survive, actually, and so I took a “show no weakness” approach. I got to the fall and I realized what I had been doing, because I was tired, and I didn’t feel any different than I had in my career. I was hustling and not fully honoring my own Soul and Soul’s journey, which says, ultimately, that I should live out loud.



So I started a business originally for women, about reclaiming the feminine, and there I was… doing the striving thing. Which is an unhealthy masculine trait, inherently.



It’s the one most women are in.  (Whoa, defenses, it’s true.) I know because I live it and because I deeply observe. When we grow up in a society where our femininity is repressed, systematically, we learn to “act like men.” To get it done. To keep going.



Our entire society is currently built on these premises.



I love the path of the Soul. I love the mystery and the learning and bearing witness to the unfolding. I believe we are here on a Soul path, or I know I am, and that each “thing” that happens is my own Soul mapping it’s way. Sometimes this happens consciously, and most times it’s a damn mystery.



So another man comes into my life. Takes me by storm. Unreal scenario. Cosmic awakening. Difficult to embrace but we do it. We say Yes. We know it’s a Soul Union. We love one another deeply. And then, BOOM. I find myself within one week going from happy assumptions of a future together to an ending so similar to the last relationship that I’m not even as shocked. And I’m the common denominator here, so my Soul is clearly trying to give me some lessons.



What I’m sharing with you is vulnerable, and undone, because we are in it. This man is not connecting with me, sweet man, but we are in it, each in our own ways. Because we each triggered the Core Wound in one another, so far as I can tell.



When we trigger the Core Wound, it’s actually an opportunity. It hurts like hell right now, but I see where our Souls are, and I’m praying for each of our Souls’ evolution.



And so here I am, at the very beginning of 2019, where I did not think I was going to be repeating anything from that rollercoaster of a 2018, and then, BOOM, I am.



I am. Soul love, My King. Relationship identified TO US by the cosmos, one realized and recognized by our Souls before we ever felt anything emotionally. We said the bravest Yes we’ve ever said, and we said it again and again such that when it came to this point (because surely it would if the relationship is THE one - when two souls come together to learn together and grow past the Core Wound) - when it came to this point, and we broke, I never saw him pulling away.



And then he’s gone. Death.



And I’m sitting in my Core Wound of loss, of fearing loss of love, and especially loss of love when I voice my own truth. And something is pulling at me, when I’m telling myself to get up and be resilient and learn the lesson and just bear it, damn it, another harsh fucking lesson. Something is saying… just grieve.



Grieve as you grieve. Fall apart. Feel.



Writhe. Wretch. Die for a minute. Or a week. Or as long as it takes.



Don’t hide, don’t go away, don’t hide the grief, and don’t strive. Don’t force something that is not.



You see, loves, for eighteen years, I’ve been fearing this moment, in every action, in every decision. Loss. Loss of love, loss of love for my own inadequacy, loss of love beyond my control.



I feared it and again, I’ve received it. (See how that works?) I had all the self protections meant to ensure against this, but in the end, those were the very things that helped cause it. Our self protections are what keep us separate.



Such that I helped to trigger these events because of my own fear. (I am a Soul seer, so some of it I see, and again, some will be revealed. Other aspects, I’ll never know. And while it reveals, my job here is to not go to my head, to the story, to the rationale and the “well THAT was the lesson there,” and “Onward in resiliency!”



No. It’s not about that this time. And I’m writing this to model what it is that I am talking about all of us doing - I’m being raw on purpose, I hope that is clear.



I’ve been fearing this loss for eternity.



I know who this man is. It literally felt like parts of myself were in him, like I knew him, Soulknew, like we were made of the same stuff. He felt it too. We knew who we were to one another. So the BOOM, the BOOM is a divine BOOM. And the divine in my Soul is saying, grieve it. Grieve it and know what you know, love him, believe in each of you, but cry hard for as long as your body wants to.



And I’m not covering it up this time. I’m not making myself stand up and get it done. And guess what, this IS the process. This IS the feminine. This IS honoring what is. This IS what I’m offering in Embodied Breath - not the perfection, not the striving. I always say, “We go through.”



This man’s “Yes” turned into his “We don’t go through.”



We signed up for this. Our Core Wound karma, we believe, began with one another. We’ve come for this opportunity. We came for this. And we are in it.


My love, we are. We are going through. We are in the Core. I pray we each honor it for what it is. I love you.



I grieve that you can’t hear me.

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You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.

There is a myth of inadequacy at play until we heal it.

Until we realize that we’ve given over a piece of our soul to it, or plenty more than one.



In fact, it’s the lesson we’ve been forever learning, right?

With mantras of “I am enough” even tattooed on some bodies I know.



My love, you, by your very nature, are divine.

There was never anything lacking in you, there was never such a thing as inadequacy.



When you believe this way, “I am never enough,” your life is robbed of any richness, because you’ll always be trying to prove, more and more, that you are enough.



You spend your life attempting to prove something that doesn’t need to be proven.

Because you already are.



You are more important than your accomplishments or your bank account or what approval someones gives.

When this whole game was set up, you were made, as we all were, to feel like you could never beat it.



The way to beat it is to beat the game at the game.

To blow up the myth.

To look it in the eyeballs with that look reserved for things you’ll no longer tolerate and tell it that it was never real, this thing you’ve been believing forever.

It robbed you. A belief.

Get it back.



Because, my love, how could you be lacking?

When you are everything?

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Conscious Women's Rage

What does it look like when women take back their power in conscious ways?

We have rage pulsing in us. We have been overpowered. For damn sure. And we have repressed our own rage.

Dangerously, we may end up seeing our male partners as the perpetrator. And to some extent, if they are not consciously awakening to the fact that they have been the perpetrator, they still are and will be. But this is shifting. Give it room to shift.

We’ve watched generations of women depend on men while slandering them. Screaming “I don’t need a man!” meanwhile lonely. Speaking ill of the very men that fathered their children.

I’ve done all of the above in my life.

Sister, we need to stop these patterns. But we don’t surrender to remnants of the Patriarchy at the same time. No. We do take our power back, consciously.

We take it back while loving our men. While teaching our men. While holding high standards of our men and believing that they will reach it. (And men, you need to recognize your own role and meet her here rather than assuming that I am saying this is all her work to do. If you assume that, you’ll be left behind.)

We walk a line of tolerance and ferocity, woman. We own our rage and we love with a fierce and unapologetic heart. We admit what we don’t know and we simultaneously stand in our knowing. We learn our masculinity beside our femininity, appreciating that neither have been actualized in any of us, so there is no one to blame and there is now our own investigation to pursue.

We practice our power. We know ourselves as women. We find ways to cultivate our power from within, among sisters, and among our brothers too. We find ways to lovingly take our power back. We find ways to alchemize the old rage.

We play with power with our men. We play with what it looks like to explore penetration of power in both directions. We know what it is like to hold space and have it held for us. We do not manipulate or abandon, self or other. We love and we dance the dance of masculine and feminine, between and within us.

We work the rage out of our bodies in embodied practice, in dance, in safe vocal, somatic, and emotional release. We proactively create the safe spaces we need. We learn to unburden our body’s trauma patterns and we learn to take back the seat of our power - our physical, feminine selves. We move our bodies and we move our emotions that have been repressed for so long. We teach our men how to bare witness to this. Where to touch or not touch and where to hold the space or move aside.

We rage consciously, and we meet our own rage. We teach the world to meet women’s rage without creating further wounding. We investigate our own shadow, our own repression, so that we can unleash, heal, and transmute it.

There are also men who know how to hold this. In fact, we need to radically heal among our brothers in safe space so they can see and honor the feminine wounding. We all need this release. We heal as a collective, as these burdens have been all of ours. It does no good for us to rage against men now, because these men are our brothers, our sons, our lovers.

It does no good to teach our daughters, another generation, our passive rage. Reclaim yourself righteously, and all her to witness your strength. Teach her fierce love, for self and other.

We take back our power because power is Sovereignty. It’s what no one could actually ever take from you, so it is yours to reclaim, and you don’t need to fight anyone to get it. It is yours. It is right there, beside your hurt, your rage, your anger, woman. Look within. Consciously bring back what you yearn for.


I am nothing if not Truthy.

As it was happening that I was developing a group opportunity for women, on Cultivating & Activating PERSONAL TRUTH for January 2019, I was carrying a Truth that I didn’t know how to share.

 

I didn’t even know if it was fully mine to share. I didn’t know what would happen if I were to share it, when to share it, what to do with it. So in all that confusion, I started to question the Truth itself.

 

Read: I questioned myself. Because Personal Truth is Self.

 

This Truth was handed to me by the Universe, by Source, by my Soul. I shit you not. It was the biggest Truth I had ever been handed. It was a recognition of a bigger Truth rather than something that I thought up. In other words - it just was.  It blew me away. And it came in one of the most outstanding packages of unfortunate circumstances that you could imagine. This Truth changes lives.

 

Because I was so taken aback by this Truth, and because of its magnitude, I was unsure what to do. You can not deny a Truth like this. Actually, I will say this: I, personally, will not deny a Truth like this. One that involves my Soul. I will not. That is a vow I hold unto myself. And yet, others would not approve. This Truth is certain to evoke judgement.

 

Others would not approve. There I was in an old pattern of seeking that approval. I was familiar with this pattern, but sometimes it catches me off guard.  I worried and focused on the impossible task of navigating this Truth in the world of others. I spent months navigating how to bring this Soul Truth into the world, attempting to do so consciously.

 

And then I woke up. Again.

To the pattern. Oh. I saw what I was doing. It went like this:

  1. Know a Personal Truth

  2. Truth is uncomfortable (I seem to have a soul contract to be a big noisy being in this world and #2 is not uncommon for me - see below.)

  3. Look for a way to make the Truth comfortable for everyone else and feel a shit ton o’ shame and the pain of hiding for even having this Truth in the meanwhile.

 

But step 3 does NOT work. That’s where I was off. That’s where we commonly go wrong - the approval seeking. We know a thing so deeply inside of ourselves and then we look outside of ourselves to approve of our knowing. This is an old, patriarchal trap. And here I was in it - again.

I was looking for approval and hence seeking to prove:

I am a good person.

I am in integrity.

I am a loving person.

I hold myself accountable.

I do not ever intend to hurt others.

(These are some of my Truths. But you see, here, I was trying to prove my Truth. Ick.) There is a difference, a mighty difference, between inherently knowing your Truth and trying to prove your Truth to others.

 

What I was handed was a righteous, unbelievable Truth. Honestly. One day, when it is told, some of you will believe it and some of you will not.

 

I heard myself say at one point, “I understand that what I am asking you to believe is unbelievable.”

 

Another friend who both loves me and holds me accountable said to me, “Even some seers won’t be able to see this Truth.”

 

How do you get approval for a Truth like that?

 

This Truth, THIS Truth - in its gift and in all its challenge and in all its splendor - it taught me something huge. APPROVAL SEEKING FOR YOUR OWN TRUTH DOES NOT F*ING WORK. It’s like I needed the most impossible set of circumstances, sure to evoke judgement from one angle or another, to remind me, hopefully once and for all, that the approval for my Truth comes from me. In fact, it doesn’t even need approval, because it just IS. What our Personal Truth needs, is to be honored. And here I was, organizing a women’s group around Personal Truth. You see how life delivers the finest of lessons, albeit in complex packages?

 

Change Step 3, Sarah. You inherently know this.

3. Let your Truth be your own. Let your Truth be your Power. Let owning your Truth be your Journey. Let everyone else have their Truth (becomes everyone’s Truth is capital T). We all get to have our Truth. Your Truth is your Heart and your Soul and your Authenticity. It is You.

 

My friend Seppi was talking to me about the question of “What’s your kryptonite?” I’d have to say - the judgement of others.

 

When other people don’t like me, I have performed various tragedies of self neglect in the name of gaining approval. I have attempted to mitigate people not liking me by approval seeking. Over and over and over again.

 

I stand out. I just do, and I struggled with this for a long time. I tried hard to play by the rules but it didn’t work for me. I tried over and over again to get it right according to some truth (little t) outside myself.

 

This summer, I was at a Soul Fire retreat. It was night four and it was supposed to be a ceremony where we “married” our Soul. Well, I’d just baptized myself as Sarah Poet naked in a river and danced my ass off in a field in order to reclaim my wild feminine Soul to the degree that needed to be reclaimed on that day and I was tired. I was beat. I had just earned my Soul barefoot on the ground in the summer heat, moving body and limbs as I expelled the trauma and judgement trapped therein. And so everyone was getting showered and dressed for this ceremony - in beautiful gowns and glitter, and my Soul was like, “Eh, fuck no.” And I wore jeans and my black bikini top and put my dirty hair up under a sun hat. It was the truest thing in that moment to not wear what everyone else was wearing. And I did the back and forth of “Is this okay?” and of course it was. It just didn’t fit in. Because that’s me. Apparently I came to wear jeans to my ceremonies and fuck some shit up around here. But dear me, my heart, it gets more and more fierce the more I honor my Truth. My Truth is pure. It was always pure.

 

And that realization is my strength. My power. Approval seeking sucks the life out of you. I’ve done it. I’ve done it for so long, over and over, and I’ve felt the judgement of standing in my Truth, and I’ve felt the inner conflict when I denied it. Denying my Truth is actually my kryptonite. And damn it, here’s what I know.

I did NOT walk out of the hierarchical job structure of the Patriarchy and create my own empire in service to raising consciousness on this planet in order to find myself once again in that shit-eating Patriarchal pattern of approval seeking from powers outside of myself. We’ll do it to ourselves if we allow it.

I did NOT walk out of a job just last year where one day my male boss shamed me, in a leadership position, in front of my peers as if I was a little girl and in a way he would never have spoken to a man, demanding subordination, in order to go unseen now. Fuck no. FUCK no.

I did NOT give away a baby to adoption as a young woman who believed I wasn’t enough to raise her child and spend the subsequent fifteen years realizing the myth of inadequacy in my bones so that I could stay silent when things get uncomfortable now. In fact, quite the opposite.

I did NOT walk the path of my Soul to get here and then deny my Truth because it’s difficult to walk it. No. I walk it.

 

Shoo. You feeling me?

 

I will have any conversation, I will face anything, I will consider, I will love. I will live my TRUTH.

 

But I will not go quietly, silently denying my own Truth. The time for that is over. That is why I am here. I now allow my Truth to be mine. I stand tall. I take in the energy of fearing my kryptonite, fearing a loss of approval, and I turn that energy inward. My Truth fills my Heart. In fact, my Truth comes from my Heart.  This Truth makes me who I am. It allows me to take ALL of the energy that I leak when I’m in approval seeking, and that then becomes the energetic embers of my inner fire.

 

Approval seeking is dead to me. You may or may not approve, and loves, I do not care.

 

That’s not an insult. In fact, if you can see it, it’s empowering AF.  I support you in whatever your Truth is as well. You WANT me to be fully in my Truth, fully supporting yours. We each need this for and from one another. Because our Truth is heartfelt.

 

Because when I am in my Truth, I love you more.

Because when I am in my Truth, I honor yours.

Because in order for me to know and honor my Truth, I have to know my Heart.

And I will not deny my Heart.

 

Let us be unwavering.

 

Let us be stoking our own fire, so that we can stoke the fire of the world.

 

Your truth is not about anyone else. If you are directing even a portion of your energy toward approval seeking, or hell, giving or denying approval, take it back.

 

This is your life force.

 

Your Truth is your life force.

 

If you are denying your Truth, you are staying smaller than you are meant to be. You know I’m right. I know I’m right because I did it. I did it when I wanted to leave that job and was scared to. I did it when I wrote the letter addressing the problem and was dismissed from the job and felt deep shame for all the disapproval. I did it when I let my baby go. I did it when I knew how to yell but not how to speak from the heart. I did it when I stayed married, hell, when I got married.

 

I denied my Truth a million times, because that is what we’re taught to do as women.

And I have also regained it, now no less than a million times.

It has been the walk of my lifetime, honoring my Truth. I am here to support you doing the same.

We learn to hear it, then we figure out how we want to honor it. It is all your choice. Just do not deny it.

I am here. Embers are burning. 20 women. We begin this sacred circle January 4.

Schedule a free consult here. Sign up here.

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To see your own shadow, an invitation.

Years ago as a new school administrator, I was tasked in my job description with supporting school improvement by coaching teachers on the annual goals that they had crafted. In this progressive model, we shaped the traditional “teacher evaluation” into a growth tool. The feedback loop was supportive and the teachers and I reflected and made next-step, achievable goals together. I was also tasked with supporting teams of teachers in developing action steps toward school-wide improvement goals.

One teacher in particular wanted to appear grandiose, be the best, but they didn’t actually want to participate in the growth based systems that we all operated under - that were the norm. They wanted to do things their way. They were inherently spiteful, I’ll say, and their resistance to the process and to me, personally, caused stagnation in the advancement of the school improvement goals, as well as the attitude of the teaching team that surrounded them.

The school had a model for change, and as a new administrator, I couldn’t understand why in the world this wasn’t working for one when it was working for the rest. Why had this one painted me so negatively and the majority had nothing but love? This one spent their time actually resisting goals and attempting to prove superiority, and sometimes very passively. It was horrible.

It wasn’t the first time there was this aversion to me, because their aversion was to me, not to the process. It took me years, all the years of my life, to be okay with how I will repel some people. Because I will naturally repel some people. I was still learning then.

For the last six months of this year, I kept pulling this one card from the Isis Oracle Deck more than any other card. And I knew that it was showing up for a reason but my goodness, I was almost wishing it wasn’t, because I really could not “figure out” what the true message was being offered me. The card is “Power Over Seven Scorpions: Power to Conjure the Lower Vibrational Forces.”

It’s not a particularly pleasant looking card, nor does it have a particularly pleasant wording. I mean, I bet readers feel it, this, “Ooooo, wait, ‘conjure?’ Yikes. And ‘Lower Vibrational Forces’ doesn’t sound so appealing.” I seriously had to look up the word conjure because I am NOT interested in dark magic.

So this week I pulled it again, and I again read the little book that comes with the deck, and I again set it up in plain site for me to contemplate why it keeps coming up, and I’m getting closer and closer.

Here’s what I’ve got so far. Lean in. This is a lifetime of watching myself and this little card coming up to tell me to own this. Directly.

You will not know me and not know yourself.

By nature of me being me, you will see you. I am a mirror. And I will reflect back, naturally, as in “conjuring,” what is both pleasant and difficult to look at.

By nature of being me, I bring about what is existing as dark or “lower vibrational forces” or what I will also call Shadow, and I bring it up to be healed. We go through the shadow to get to the light.

I am not into conjuring darkness as any sort of witch, which is why I resisted this card. But I own and honor the message now. It is a large part of my gift to offer this planet. (I am a believer that we need to actually own the gifts we’re sent with…)

I will see the dark, the subconscious patterns, the unseen. I will see what is kept in shadow, and in my vicinity, you will see yours as well. Or we will see it together. Some people don’t like to see their shadow. And those people probably won’t like me, as they project their discomfort with their shadow onto me.

And I get, too, that this could be misconstrued as egotistical. It’s not, but go ahead and think that if you need to. ;) (That was a little shadow joke.) I do my own shadow work - goodness me, read my blog if you question that. I have my own trusted friends, coaches, teachers to offer me conscious feedback. And when you all criticize or judge me, I run that through my process as well to check it out. I do.

I just don’t let the shadow go unseen - by nature of who I am. Even before I recognized this as a gift, it would happen that some people say, “I can tell you EVERYTHING” and other people want nothing to do with me. I was born on the Day of the Soul Searcher, and I read this in some astrological book on a table in Barnes and Noble at the age of fifteen and I felt this sweet relief of understanding myself - because even then, I knew that I would go places others didn’t always want to go and in fact it is impossible for me not to go there. I GO to the depths. In my previous education career, and especially in the South where I live, I would get into some trouble (directly or indirectly) for naming what did not want to be dealt with! I just could NOT not name the elephant in the room! It is impossible for me to not see and not name.

I name it nicely. Gently. But how in the world can we move forward unless we name everything in the room?

For some that’s a relief, and for some, do NOT name the elephant. It’s fucking risky. It is fucking risky to talk about the things we prefer not to see. I get it. Our entire lives, we have built up identities, or as organizations, we have built up identities…. Or as governments… and to name the metaphorical elephant causes disruption.

I am not here to cause unnecessary disruption. I am here to invite us to look into the shadow.

A few months ago, I was at a local co-working center and we were playing an “authentic game” and (just like me to do this) I raised my hand for the first hot seat, which meant that this circle of people was going to fire authentic questions at me, some of which may be difficult to answer, and I could choose to answer directly or pass, but I couldn’t tell a story about any answer. I agreed. A man I didn’t know, very early in the game, asked me a personal question about habits of my sexual relationship to myself and I passed.

My friend Gina said after the game, “I had a story in my head that said there was nothing that Sarah wouldn’t share, and it surprised me that you passed.” I shared that the reason that I passed was not because I was uncomfortable with the truth, but because I didn’t appreciate the trickster intent. In other words, what Gina knows about me is that I will investigate the shadow and I will discuss what I find there - my own, the collective, or my clients’ with them in session.

I will share with purpose and the intent to grow. Always. There is a lot of psychology out there about sharing for the wrong reasons or “oversharing.”

I share to bring the shadow into the light. For damn sure. But I won’t be irresponsible or flippant with it. The shadow is also sacred territory.

When I sit with you, this is what we do.

When you read me, this is what you read.

When you become my client, this is what you’re signing up for. Lots of big ol’ loving space for truth to be held.

It is not always pleasant, but we have to go through the shadow to get to the light.

The shadow, again, is what we prefer not to look at within ourselves. This mirrors the collective - by which I mean - our culture.

What do we gain by looking at what is difficult to look at in ourselves?

Our soul.

Everything.

We gain everything.

What you do with my mirror nature is up to you. Truly.

If you want to avoid your shadow, I’m not the woman to follow or to hire.

You can even be pissed at me for what arises when I do, but I will name the elephant.

I will call you to both investigate, to own, and to move through.

I will do so with love in my heart and holding the intention that collectively, we become stronger.


To know me is to see things about you that you potentially preferred not to see.

Some people are confused, because they feel challenged by what they call “me,” but what they are challenged by is the confrontation of the shadow, the mirror, I naturally hold.

For someone who wants to stay in a comfort zone, blaming other people for their condition, I will be uncomfortable. Back then, as a young administrator, I did not recognize this in a way that I knew what to do with. I couldn’t figure out how, even though I was following the coaching protocol and doing things with loving intention, I was still getting this reaction. Well, it was because I made that person uncomfortable. Because they loved their comfort zone and I was the one tasked to be up in it, which is a place I am actually comfortable being and so it felt natural for me.

We can operate in the comfort zone, but I don’t prefer it. And neither do most of you.

Gain your Soul.

Know that your resistance is your potential. Know that your blame is a distraction. Know that what you are dissatisfied with in your life has everything to do with what you have avoided looking at - not with any other person or condition.

Our relationship to our shadow matters. It makes the difference between a life of avoidance, suffering, and blame, and a life of truly knowing oneself and truly loving what you discover.

In my work, we go there. Safely, but we go there. I look forward to hearing where you want to go, and helping you through the parts you’d rather not traverse, but you know you’ll be more whole if you do.

I love you, and your Divine Soul. I see you and your potential. I will love you through it all and we will celebrate when you’re through. When you’ve gained another piece of your Soul.

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