Conscious Feminine

#MeToo, and I'm deciding to love men anyway.

I am a woman.

I can say #metoo.

And I love men. I am actively choosing to love men.

I am survivor.

I am ex-wife.

I am the hated daughter.

I know sexual harassment. I know sexual abuse.

I have been physically assaulted by male students.

I have been lied to and cheated on by some men that I have allowed into the space of my soul.

I have been the woman on the side.

I have been talked over, mistreated, and isolated by men.

I have been rejected and outcast.

I have experienced trauma at the hands of men that I've spent years, and lifetimes, unraveling.

And I am deciding to love men anyway.

Because:

I have also healed in the hands of good men.

I have seen my own reflection in those men that could hold a clear mirror, and I am a better woman for it.

I have grown from my forgiveness of men and the liberation is sweeter than any resentment.

I have held men as they've cried and healed together as we've made love.

I have brought wounded men back to life again.

I have seen the shattered and silenced inside of the male heart, a story so rarely given voice.

I have seen the depth of the potential between two beings in sacred union and I value the masculine's place in that. I crave it and call to us that we all might know it.

I have been raising young men my entire adult life, I have seen and heard them cry at the pressure of being male, and they are half of our human population.

I have sat with male-born teenagers who wanted to escape being a man and change their sex for what it meant to them to conform to common notions of masculinity.

I am the mother of a son.

#metoo

And I'm going to decide to actively love men. And I will decide it as many times as it takes.

I'm going to own what's mine, and ask that you do the same.

I am going to embrace both the masculine and the feminine inside of me.

I am going to watch where I point my fingers.

I have been hurt at the hands of men, and I can see in every instance that it was because of the wounds of men that they actively or unwittingly hurt me.

I choose compassion. I choose love. I actively choose not to feed or fuel more aggression or opposition.

I am deciding to believe in men. And I am deciding to believe in women.

No more opposition now.

♥️

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Freedom at last

We were told to look into one another’s eyes. Partner A studied partner B without speaking, knees to knees as we sat cross legged facing one another, and then, when the time came, she was to reflect to me what she saw in me.

And then she said, “I see in you freedom. You are free.” She said it with longing and that she desired it too.

I told her in the brief moment I had, “I was just recently an educator too, like you, and I left it to follow my heart. Now I work with (mostly) women on their own journeys. Thank you for your reflection.”

My dear sister, you have just given me a great compliment. You have seen something in me that is newly embodied, this freedom. And so it is with celebration that I now allow myself to claim it.

This freedom is the result of consistent commitment to growth. It is the result of deep soul work, again and again.

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It is eventually learning to ask for help, when I always thought I had to do it on my own and that others were simply not safe to rely on. It was a commitment to allowing my heart to open again, and maybe for the first time.

It is consciously letting go of safety, embracing risk, learning to trust and soar. It is laughter found in unexpected places.

It is sitting on the meditation cushion, day after day, learning how to breathe again after years of perfectionistic tightness. It is loving my belly that lost a child at 19 and struggled to digest food or feel at ease every moment after.

It is consciously deciding not to hold onto resentment, especially with the masculine. It is having finally trusted a man enough to let him break my heart wide open when he left abruptly, such that I finally understood that my wholeness does not come from another’s reflection. It is a determination to love instead of resent. It is the result of active forgiveness of self and other.

It is allowing myself to love and be loved in spite of the old wounded habit of self-protection.

It is the result of dedication, this freedom, because I have said yes to learning every lesson that this path brought me. This is the freedom of having not bypassed. This is the freedom of knowing myself so well that I am at home here, finally, in this skin.

This is resiliency. There is little left that I fear. This is the result of the alchemy of present moment awareness and the breath. All the nights, sister, in the walk of healing my own trauma, that I have spent in the throws of my own grief, tears pouring down my own cheeks as I felt it. I felt it and by allowing it to be felt, I learned that it could not rule me. I can gently allow all parts of me to coexist. When we stop fighting ourselves, sister, worlds open.

This freedom is having come into relationship with my own body, to unlock the patterns of trauma, to learn safety, to know my own resourcefulness. Many, mostly women, sat across from me on my journey. They held the mirror, they believed in me so that I could believe in me.

This freedom is ceasing to allow men to light the path of my own discovery any longer, and I’m talking about sexually as well, sister. Take it back, that meekness we are taught, and know your own body, claim it, prioritize pleasure, know your boundaries, know your desires. This freedom is the reclamation of knowing what you want.

This freedom is a lifetime of giving my own self permission to step into the power of my own voice when we do not live in a world that grants women this permission. This freedom is me being willing to say my truth anyway, and suffer the losses, and celebrate the gains. This freedom is having earned my own voice.

This freedom is intentionally integrating the emotional and spiritual realms into my way of being after being raised and working in a field that valued intellect and book smarts. It is the conscious reintegration of the feminine into my once overly-masculine approach that had been the majority of my life. This is the freedom that comes with remembering, and then honoring, my own femininity.

This freedom is the result of not allowing life to destroy me. When I gave away my child, my beautiful nine pound child birthed of my body, because I thought I wasn’t yet worthy of her – I got my ass back up. My mother, bless her, modeled this. I survived that loss and I survived having overachieved every day thereafter until, finally, I could accept myself and didn’t need to prove myself any longer. The striving to overachieve in and of itself can kill you, sister. My adrenals are still healing now, the stress was so vast.

This freedom, woman, unfortunately takes work, but it is not granted by anyone other than each of us; ourselves. WE must be the ones to say we will claim it. And then you walk, one foot in front of the other, answering the call of your own soul.

This freedom is owning my choice to walk out of the job that provided the esteemed position in the hierarchy and the steady paycheck in order to sit across from you now and remind you that this freedom is yours too. I will live my life in service to our remembering, sister. It is owning that my work is actually to align with soul’s purpose, to foster opportunities for authenticity and reintegration with our true self. Sister, this is everything.

It is the choice and the ability to live, embodied and alive, free of conditions.

This freedom I feel now, I think it’s a taste of why I have been answering my soul’s call my entire life. It is the other side of suffering, and yes, I’ve reached it. I did not get there by following any prescription of success, although it is true that in doing that, I did take this winding road. But the true discovery was in listening to my own self, my own internal knowing, the whisper that we so often and for so long ignore. It is courageous to listen to that whisper. And, to be true, sister, when the time really comes, the whisper becomes a roar. Are you listening now?

When I show up in front of you now, I do not take this for granted, this freedom. I am still learning to recognize myself here, and I humbly tell you, it is the best place I have ever known.

But I didn’t bypass. I didn’t stay stuck. I actively chose love, forgiveness, trust, and hope when it didn’t seem to make sense to do so. Along the way, I fucked up, I hated myself, I felt like a victim, and I did not know what to do at so many points. I was alone at times and I didn’t always appreciate those around me. This path of authenticity is not an easy path, sister, but it is calling you.

What I’m saying, sister, is yes, you see freedom. Thank you for that reflection. I’m both proud to be wearing it now, and, I also want it for you. I believe in you. Take my example, or ask for my hand – whatever you need – I will support you in my heart all the way.

(May 18, 2018) 

A new kind of feminism.

I am interested in empowering women. Absolutely.

There are a lot of powerful women out there that have not yet actualized the potential of their own badassery. It’s true. And, this is necessary for our collective evolution on the planet.

AND… I am also interested in a new kind of feminism altogether. I believe that all interpretations of feminism thus far have served to further divide men and women; focusing on violence and fight. Yes, I said it. Even a “fight to be equal” is still a damn fight. It’s not going to work. It’s not even a feminine approach.

Women are RISING, but many men don’t know what to do with these powerful women in their lives. So, they shut them out. Or put them down. Or cower. (Top 3 I’ve found.)

I have experienced all of these my entire life, and it’s been absolute trial by fire these last two months as I’ve stepped full time into Embodied Breath – which symbolizes a woman thinking and speaking and creating on her own. That’s hard for some to take. I get it now. You get it. If you’re a woman, you’ve lived it. If you’re a man willing to be honest with yourself, you can admit that at some point you have gotten nervous as a woman in your life grew stronger.

Here’s the thing:

I want to allow space for men to also rise into their most divine selves. In our power-over culture, most women become immediately nervous when I say this. It is not a bad thing to want our men to be in their innate power – we just don’t have a culture that has encouraged appropriate power in the masculine! There is another way! We also want men in their own sovereignty, women, trust me. THAT’s when you get the divine love, consideration, protection, and trust that you’re craving in a counterpart to match that growing Goddess that you are!!

We want men to not be threatened by the true power of the feminine – which is a fucking force! A FORCE we’ve all been waiting for! I use the word “force” on purpose here – it is not a power-over force, but a force of nature. In her own right, the feminine is powerful in a different way.

Feminism serves no purpose if it is another rendition of power-over. If we seek to trump, master, manipulate, be better than, then guess what: that’s not true feminism because it perpetuates divisiveness.

We don’t even really want “equality” because we are not happy with the dominant masculine culture that we have! I don’t want to be equal to a man that has to climb a hierarchical structure just to prove his worth. Women, WE ARE DOING THIS. Stopping this is crux. We do NOT want equality!! We want the feminine to be honored and to have Her place.

A true feminism calls each person to rise into their own best selves, through love and receptivity, connection and exchange. A true feminism isn’t male/female, because both of these masculine/feminine forces exist in each of us. The repression of the feminine has hurt women, clearly, but it has also hurt men.

It is the feminine we’re actually all craving.

I hope that this serves you. Please reach out to me if you’d like to have conversations or work with me as a client:

As a woman, let’s talk about your own empowerment or your DISempowerment and what you’d like to do about it.
AND, as a man, if you’d like to better understand what I’m talking about and potentially explore how your own biases keep you protected and at odds with the feminine, reach out.

And, forgive me if my binary language has been too exclusive. It serves to illustrate, not to box in. This is, of course, a fluid and flexible topic.

Much love,
s


(April 9, 2018)

Go get it. Differently now.

For so many years of my life, I went after what I wanted. And, I got it. Can you relate?

When my son was one, and I was working in a therapeutic boarding school (with many problems), I thought, “I can see this whole big picture! I’m going back to school for school admin. One day, I will run this show.”

So I got a second Master’s degree while he slept.

When he was three, I thought, “I want to work at Asheville’s best charter school, so that I can witness education working differently, make a contribution, and so that my son can go there.” And by the time he was in kindergarten, I was the administrator of the upper grades.

That same year, as I was separating from my husband, I had a significant adrenal crash. Here I was, supposed to be a powerhouse, and I was actually really sick from trying to be a powerhouse. I didn’t really ask for help, though, at all. I kept going being a powerhouse.

For many years in my life, I went after what I wanted. I manifested with might.

Around the same time, I started to significantly wake up to my own femininity – what had been lost, what had been sacrificed to this world of “succeeding.” I worked in education, where every answer is supposed to come from a book, where what you know is measured by the letters behind your name. And, if you don’t have certain letters, then you haven’t earned your right to talk about certain things.

I woke up to much. Too much for this post. I remembered intuition, for starters. I remembered the dance of being a female in relation to a male, thanks to one divine being who woke me up. And then I realized, that to go after, to force manifest, to endlessly give away my energy and life force was actually draining (I was already sick) and was not innately feminine. I realized that how we operate in this whole culture is not innately feminine. It’s not the foundation we were built on, even though we are all born of women. We’ve lost our balance.

It is a dance – the feminine and masculine, the receptivity with the action. Each of us, if we intend to, can learn it every day. People in relationships can learn this dance, too.

I still went on to craft and lead one more school, and what a beautiful transition that was into what I am now doing. “Leadership” in our culture means the one in charge. I am interested in dancing with different definitions of leadership. Ones that look a little bit more like “organizer” or “space holder.”

As I heal myself, as I watch my clients step back into their feminine, as I watch couples attune to this simultaneously new and ancient knowing, I trust that this is what we need in order to heal ourselves, and to heal the world.

We can’t heal the world with force, damn it.  It’s taken me a long-ass time to learn that, and I intend for the rest of the journey to be very different.

(April 3, 2018)

Expression over Repression: A weekend with Jen Pastiloff & Lidia Yuknavitch

Two weeks ago, I sat across from a friend at lunch and said, “All signs point to – get your ass to Portland.” You see, I had the coveted workshop ticket, purchased last summer the morning they went on sale, and I had the Airbnb reservation (a property of a friend’s friend, my only connection to Portland, and conveniently located one block from the workshop – evidence of the magic already in progress), but didn’t yet have the plane ticket. He agreed and was even willing to support it by buying the plane ticket: You need to go to Portland. Yes, now. Now of all times.

I had left my day job four weeks prior. My love relationship had fallen away unexpectedly a week later. I had left my job to be fully IN my business – embodying all it stands for. But I was in TRANSITION, to say the least. Was it “smart” to fly to Portland? Was it “reasonable?”

Although this post is more about what happened IN Portland, I will interject here a reminder, that there will be moments in your life where you have a hunch that you need to do something, and you can either say a big YES and buy that expensive plane ticket or you can say a weaker “meh” and pass it up, only to realize later (or never) that that may have been your gig. Portland taught me, among other things, to say YES.

Lidia Yuknavitch wrote a memoir called The Chronology of Water, which was monumental in my life two summers ago and remains a favorite. It is her story, written, and yet I saw myself in it in big ways. She also lost a daughter in her early years, and she writes “from the body” the story of how that shaped everything thereafter. Her organization is called Corporeal Writing and this workshop; Writing and the Body. The workshop is offered at least once annually and is co-designed and led by yoga teacher/writer/activist/human Jen Pastiloff, who, years ago made an impression on me with her “ENOUGH” messages to women. She also has a blog where she showcases other women’s voices. Here is my own story on the Manifest Station from late last year.

So, wow, these women are amazing humans.

Yes. I needed to be there. Yes. I needed a swift ass kick into fully embodying this transition in my life. Yes. I needed to witness a room full of women dancing, doing yoga (while singing), owning their fears, owning their regrets, and TELLING THEIR STORIES. Yes. I needed to witness the strength of Jen & Lidia holding space. Yes. I needed to trust new friends. Yes. I needed to say YES.

I said yes. The whole trip, I said yes.

I practiced surrender, practiced not making plans. I practiced setting intentions and saying yes when all the different doors opened. I said yes to owning exactly what was going on for me. I said yes to raising my hand, when Lidia asked if there was anything that needed to be spoken in order that we feel complete, and I shared a story I’d written about this last love relationship, the one that had been so sacred yet had also been, in hindsight, repressed. The relationship had not been public for reasons I tried to support, and therefore, the secrecy had also seemingly afforded him permission, in the end, to disrespect me, the relationship, and the feminine (inside me, inside himself, inside all of life itself), by abandoning it. And of course, that also meant that I was abandoning and repressing myself and the feminine as well. That story was living inside of me, hidden and confused and so mixed up with all the emotions of repression. Women know this feeling – there are things we have agreed not to speak, and I believe, collectively. So with a shaking voice, I read it, and a room full of women witnessed it. And in that moment, I understood in my bones the power of creating safe space to share stories, something I have been trying to incorporate as a part of Embodied Breath. I trusted before that it is needed, this permission, and now, I have experienced it.

Here I am. Being vulnerable AF.

But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.  Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.  Yes.  Yes. Yes. YES.  At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”  And then I burst into tears.  Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.  How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.  My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.  My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.  And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)  This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.  I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.  Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.  YES.  (March 29, 2018)

But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.

Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.

Yes.

Yes. Yes. YES.

At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”

And then I burst into tears.

Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.

How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.

My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.

My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.

And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)

This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.

I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.

Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.

YES.

(March 29, 2018)

Rebalance the Masculine/Feminine to Heal... an intro.

I'm just going to say it.

In this culture, women are wounded and confused because they (we, y'all) are acting like men.

What?! We are not "acting like men!"

Here's what I mean:

In this culture, what is rewarded? Glorified?

Hard work, getting things done, achievement, earning more, more education, knowing more, persistence. To name a few. Would you agree?

Where does that leave room for valuing emotionality, perception, intuition, nurturance, relationships, instincts, love?

Regardless of the attention grabbing way I began this post, I think that we can agree that we're lacking, collectively, in appreciating and actualizing the qualities in that second list.

March 2018

March 2018

 

We need the first list, right? So there's nothing inherently wrong with it, but, what is in that trait list is inherently masculine. The second list is inherently feminine. Where am I coming from with this? A lot of resources outside the traditional box, archetypal analysis, and, you know what? My own life.

A few years ago, as a woman and a mother, I was suppressing my own inherent feminine. In fact, I'm not sure, as a woman in this culture, I'd ever really even met her. Even when becoming a mother, while I tapped into these traits of nurturance and breastfed my child, for example, I still conducted life in a very fast-paced way. Very structured, very controlled, very task oriented. This looked like, for me, working ceaselessly, valuing only the knowledge found in books, looking to be in charge (I was a school administrator), being edgy in conversation, and inflexibility. It also looked like, when I was married, bossing my husband around.

Sound familiar?

In a culture that is built in valuing male traits, it is no wonder that we are a bit confused as women. I actually woke up to remember, a few years ago now, that women actually had this thing called intuition. And then, I set out to rediscover it for myself. What I found was far more deep and wide, but it'll take more than one blog post to tell you about all that.

That walk back to myself (because that's what it was) involved a rediscovery of what is inherently feminine and what is incredibly undervalued in this culture. My former boss, a woman, one day dismissed my input, saying that I took intuitive leaps. Well, that's right. I do. And now, I'm proud of it. There. Is. No. Other. Way.

(And, by the way, I proved to be correct in that very "leap," time would tell, and it was in regard to a child's wellbeing. We KNOW beyond the cognitive capacities that our culture traditionally values! Women, I know you feel me here.)

Women do, generally speaking, possess some valuable traits that are generally undervalued in our culture. Because, well, our culture was built on masculine, patriarchal values. I am not here (directly) to "smash the patriarchy," as that is a little radical for my tastes, but I do want to get this information out to hardworking, tired, professional, confused women. Because, a few years ago, that was me. This problem is real - it is, it has turned out, the answer, the code, to every mystery of every relationship with others and with myself. Seriously. We must work to rebalance the masculine and feminine archetypal energies (habits) within and between us. It is everything.

I was working so damn hard for so many years that in fact, I caused an adrenal collapse that I'm still working to rebalance four years later.

Women, how many of you have an energy depletion issue, or a hormonal mystery, or an endocrine imbalance. Our perpetual DRIVE, when it is not actually our nature, is at least partly to blame, I guarantee you.

I am also not here to discredit men or these valuable masculine traits. We need healthy men too. Actually, this is about an acknowledgement of the feminine in all people, regardless of gender identity. Men must heal the feminine in themselves too. We are walking around a wounded collective of people.

We must, must, admit the inherent flaws in the design of continual repression of the feminine, for everyone.

My coaching model is inherently feminine in that it values that second list, and nurtures it. We slow down, we attune, we use emotions as guidance, THEN we identify goals and purpose. Most coaching models would identify goals first, because, again, we are enculturated to do so.

You don't have to be "girly" to be feminine, by the way - I am not!

Does this conversation confuse or trigger you? Contact me! Let's have it! Does it engage you and make you think, "Oh, I never thought of it that way!" Great! Let's continue the conversation about how you may have been unknowingly repressing your inner feminine.

We need to remember our innate, valuable feminine capacities so that we can be our best selves and stop wondering why we are so damn tired. This is also the route cause of the crisis of not enough.

More on that to come.

In the meanwhile, much love and nurturance,

s