Aging and the Impulse to Love

by Julie on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

 

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“If we age honestly, we become love.”
~ Jeff Brown

I recently ended a relationship. A sort-of relationship. It was really more of an exploration. A romance of sorts. A getting to know each other. But it was short-lived – six months from bow to stern.

I’ve been single for over five years. A long time. And in that time I’ve grown older, although I don’t really feel older. I’m in good shape. I love to exercise. I’m physically strong and agile. Yet, I am growing older. I am aging. I am aging honestly, as honestly as I can.

After five years of singledom, I noticed how I’ve changed. I don’t hold back like I used to. I tell the truth, as much as I am aware of it. Aging Honestly

I liked him.
I told him so.
I wanted more.
I told him so.
I let my love fly.
I let my desire run.
I allowed my heart to break.
Open.

And then it ended. And in the heartbreak, I’ve lingered in my memories of us together. I can still feel the sparks. I can still feel the warmth of his chest against my bare skin. I can still feel us. My time with him changed who I know myself to be. A great gift. Deep intimacy will do that.

And I see that what I felt as ‘us’ is also what I am as ‘me’. Great and beautiful longing, running hot, fluidly, sensually – a sublime connection that turned to love. Yes, over this time I came to love him. And, I sense this is partly so because I am older. I long to love deeply. I long to touch tenderly. I long to be with another, to connect intimately, to know the experience of being fully alive in this body.

As I age, I am becoming very aware of the incredible gift it is to be a human being. And how fleeting our time is here. And I am becoming aware of how we spend so much of our time worried, disconnected, stressed out, striving, and so little time being tender with each other, truly exploring the senses, opening to the delight available to us that can come out of trust and kindness.

I came to love him because I am love wanting to love. I can feel love wanting to love through me. But up until now, I think I thought that the intense longing, this intensity was indicating my desire for a man in my life.

I see now that I yearn to love. Yes, men. But more than that. That this love that continues to push me is to embrace life, to offer myself to it.

It is a yearning. A deep and lovely yearning. 

I miss being with him. I haven’t yet met another. But when I tune into this love, I don’t think it cares. It wants to love everywhere and everything.

If we age honestly, we become love. is the first line of a longer quote, but I love this first line just a tad more that the whole. It is short and to the point. It feels so poignant and true and like a powerful punch to the gut.

And this is the rest of Jeff’s wisdom…

If we age honestly, we become love. As the body weakens, love surges through us, longing to be released, longing to be lived. With no time left to not love, we seek authentic embrace everywhere. Our deft avoidance maneuvers convert into directness. Our armored hearts melt into pools of eternal longing. This is why we should look forward to aging. Finally, after all the masks and disguises fall away, we are left with love alone. God waits for us on the bridge between our hearts.

***

Those moments of life that stay with you. The first blush of my bare chest against the heat of his. Standing, so close, lips connected yet silently still as we lingered in this moment we’d hungered for. The impulse to move and arch and join together pulsing between us, but in this one moment something beautiful and holy was taking place. A silent communion where the meeting of flesh was like two hands pressed against a glass that stood between. So close. Two hearts reaching out past the shoreline of skin’s border. Oceans mingling. A momentary peace rising along the edge before the wave rose and crested, then broke between us.

How I loved lingering there. And while it could not be forever, love seared this moment into somewhere even more essential than marrow. And I taste it still.

 

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What is the Feminine Narrative?

by Julie on February 17, 2017 · 0 comments

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photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

 

 

There is a tenderness to this world that is often seen as weak.

There is an inherent beauty to all things that is so often trampled upon, like the tender violet finding its way toward sunlight.

There is a necessary quality of care for human beings who are very vulnerable – the young, the old, and the ill – that is close to invisible in our cultural conversation.

There is a mysterious nature to life and death that we fear and so we, both men and women, project it onto those who embody this mystery – women.

The feminine has been normalized in a way that is not an accurate or dignified representation of the feminine nor of those human beings who embody her.

In our human conversation,

there is much judgment and labeling of what is good and valuable, and what is bad and worth little, rather than a discerning eye for the nature of things as they are.

While we might want to believe that humans aren’t capable of discerning without judging, I disagree. When we become more conscious of our direct experience, we begin to be able to put words to our experience in a way that creates a whole-encompassing narrative rather than categorizing into a hierarchy of worth and value.

Perhaps that is the key – that we find a way to help each other to become more conscious of our own direct experience. One way we can do this is to begin to put words to it.

Over the past few months, something has been noodling in my thoughts. I’ve noticed how, at least in the United States where I live, our cultural conversation has ‘normalized’ things that are not normal.  I’ve watched how the cultural narrative has shifted as different people have come into power. Angry – really rageful – rhetoric is now seen by many to be a ‘normal’ way of speaking to another. Statements are made as fact, even if they are not. These statements are repeated over and over until people begin to believe they are fact. And then a new narrative is born based on lies, deceit, and ignorance.

When people in power speak and behave in a certain way, we can begin to believe it is the new ‘normal’ or that it is ‘true’. And then, suddenly, we have a new narrative about what is ‘real’.

Consider the cultural narrative about women and the feminine.

When I listen to how women are portrayed and discussed in our culture, I am not hearing or seeing my experience, which is very different. I am not hearing my narrative spoken. While my white experience is reflected, my experience of being a woman is not.

So I offer this to you…

Who will normalize the female experience if we do not as women? Who will normalize and make explicit one’s experience of the feminine aspects of life if those of us who are becoming conscious of them do not?

We have a creative opportunity at hand. We get to write our own narrative about ourselves – about women and the feminine. If we are willing to pay attention to the truth of our lives and the truth of ourselves, we can come to write a narrative of what it is to be female and what it is to embody the feminine. I am not saying we are all the same. Not at all. But, there are certain strands and threads that run through our experiences because these strands and threads run through the feminine herself.

[And by the way, I hope men do this, too. I sense the current cultural narrative of what it is to be a man is not based on many men’s experiences.]

The feminine is not only white.
The feminine is not only straight.
The feminine is not only Christian.
The feminine is not only thin.
The feminine is not only ‘beautiful’.
And, the feminine is not just female.

Who will define (and normalize) the feminine or the female experience if we do not? If we, ourselves, are not willing to be vocal about what this experience is?

Since the election,

I’ve been posting on Facebook in the early morning hours for exactly this purpose. In these hours when the night sky is black and my deepest thoughts are most lucid, I manage to find words that shed light on my personal experience as a woman without them becoming too linear and logical. In these early hours, I write from the deeper places in my body and soul, the places from which the feminine can be known, for the feminine is the internal world, she is the world of soul, she is the beautiful darkness and never-to-be-fully-known mysterious nature of life. She is much more than this, but these are ways to speak of her.

We can give voice to our experience. We can offer our narrative to each other and to the world. The feminine has been hidden and now she is becoming visible again, and one way she can is through feminine expression into the world of form.

We can write her into being and we will have a more accurate representation and narrative if all women do so.

If you were to offer a narrative of the feminine, what would you say and how would you share it? How would you give voice to your real and true experience?

We’re in this together and we need all of us, together, to normalize the feminine narrative. Isn’t that a wonderful realization?

 

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Watershed: A Moment of Awakening

by Julie on February 11, 2017 · 0 comments

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Watershed

This remembering and returning.
Wave upon wave.
A spiral that begins with wide arcs
Never seeming to make their way around
To anything recognizable.
Until one day they do
And I notice
The slightest sense that
I’ve been here before.
Rediscovering something I’d discovered before.
About who I used to be.
But now there’s less veil and more light.

Big mind unknotting.
Catching glimpses of who I am and
Who I thought I had to become.
At the same time,
Flashing back and forth
Beginning to understand
I can now let go.

A mind so very tired of
Believing I am separate
Vigilantly watching
Carefully holding on
While remembering what it was like
To be free
To love the sunshine
To feel unabashed joy
And to simply love what I loved.

Watershed moment
Who am I now?
Back and forth
Unknotting and releasing
A distinct sense of Self, emerging
That isn’t distinct at all
Then birdsong sings and joy floods in
And I realize there is but One
Who is both tired and joyful
Unwinding and free.

***

Yesterday was a full moon eclipse. I experienced something powerful – an unknotting of my awareness. It was quite amazing, really, to witness my thoughts and how I kept seeing through them. But it was without effort. All I did was stay present to what was occurring.

I was walking along when tears came and my mind and heart opened. There was a distinct sense of organic qualities that were just present, while layered upon this was a sense of a created self, born out of trauma and a reaction that turned into habits. A created self who monitors vigilantly, hovering above the self who just is, joyful and radiant, soft and curious, tender and vibrant. A created self, born out of a fractured relationship to life from that trauma, now believing it was separate and wary. As I walked, my awareness slipped back and forth between the two. The wary one was aware that it could possibly let go, that it just might be safe enough to return to the open spacious awareness it was before it became vigilant. And then it let go as much as it was ready to and I softened. And I realized that our consciousness identifies with some idea of self and then habits build up around that idea of self that help to maintain that idea of self. I could clearly see this.

I immediately wrote the above poem to capture the essence of what had happened because it was such a profound experience to be so conscious of it while it was occurring.

***

I share it with you because I know we are all on the same journey – the journey home. When we share our stories, we help each other come to see what is happening within our own experience.RISEstairsbadge

This is much of what my new course R I S E is about – allowing our wholeness (creativity) to be the source from which we choose to make choices in our lives. Our wholeness is here, but we’ve fractured into ideas of who we believe ourselves to be, oftentimes making it really hard to experience who we truly are. We can step back and root down into our wholeness. We can come to live from this place.

And when we do it with others, together, we lift each other up. We rise together.

This is going to be a beautiful, potent exploration. I know sometimes that can be frightening, but it is truly a chance to explore and discover yourself in a way you’ve perhaps longed to do.

R I S E begins on Tuesday, Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day – for this is ultimately about love and letting love be the guide for your life.

 

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Earth, isn’t this what you want: to arise within us, invisible?
Isn’t it your dream to be wholly invisible someday?–O Earth: invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your urgent command?
~ Rilke

I begin this post with a quick exercise for you…

Take a moment right now to think of something you’ve done in the past week where you didn’t know how you would do it. Let your mind float back to a time… There are many little moments when this happened. Pick just one. Think of the moment when you had the AHA! about how to do what you didn’t know how to do. This moment when the idea came to you. Be with that moment for a bit to relive the experience.

You might close your eyes and do this exercise right now.

Now that you’ve thought about that moment, what did you notice? How did the idea come to you? Perhaps it was more like a ‘knowing’ than an idea. Was there a feeling of AHA!?  Did you wrestle with not knowing before the idea came? Were you worried or anxious? And once you got the idea, where did it come from?

* * *

To do something when you don’t know how to do it is an act of creation. It requires trust.

To do something new and innovative is an act of creation. Trust needed here, too.

To live a human life is a continuous act of creation. It is a continuous act of self-creation, moment to moment, yet you are not conscious that you are doing it. You’re just living your life. But something deeper within you is conscious. It is guiding your unfolding.

To engage fully in this human life, consciously, takes an enormous amount of trust between you and this something deeper.

Really, to engage in any act of creation requires this trust between you and this something deeper.

We could call this deep creativity. To become conscious of this is to really get the sense that there IS this something deeper and you ARE already in a relationship with it – whether you are conscious of it or not.

You might not trust it yet, not fully, but trust me – it trusts you. This something deeper trusts you and knows you.

* * *

I write often about creativity and have for close to fifteen years. And, over those years I’ve been frustrated in doing so. You’d think I would move on to another topic. Right? But something in me is determined to change the narrative around creativity. Why? For a long time, I didn’t really fully know why. But now I do. Now it is very clear to me. It has taken what’s happening now in our world – great turmoil, the rise of hate and fundamentalism, and the undoing of the structures and systems for me to sit down to write this out…and along the way to understand it more fully.

There are a few different ways we think of creativity. Problem-solving. Innovation. Artistic talent. But, I actually like this definition from Dictionary.com:

…the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination…

How do we then transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, etc.? Or in other words, how do we get out of our own conditioned thinking and when we do what is it we are tapping into?

It is ‘this something deeper’.

And, here’s the thing. This something deeper IS the reason your creativity is unique. This something deeper is your deep Self. It is outside of conditioning. And it holds the potential of what is possible. It is out of this something deeper that the new can come.

So think back to the beginning, to the exercise I had you do. From where did that idea come?  It came from within you. Yes, YOU ARE this brilliant source of creativity. You ARE creative. You live it in many simple ways each day and sometimes in big, flashy insights and ideas.

So why is this important now? If you think about how humans are acting and reacting right now, consider how original our thoughts are. Consider the nature of fundamentalism. Consider linear, rational thought. How creative are we being when we are stuck in the same old, same old? Life is always changing. Life is always flowing. Rigidty in thought and action is a way to try to control that which cannot be controlled. What we must do is learn to move and flow with Life, to rise so that Earth can arise from within us.

What we need are people – many people, all people, everyone – beginning to trust in this something deeper within them – within us. We need people who are truly able to open up to this creative source within because this is where the new will emerge from – the new world, the new way, the new expression of how we choose to be in the world as human beings.

* * *

volcanoRISEsmallThis is why I am offering R I S E, now. This course takes you into direct relationship with this deep creativity. It ignites and supports trust in this something deeper. It offers tools and practices to deepen into this creative source.

It awakens you to your potential and capacity to effect real change in the world.

I’ve extended the early bird price through Sunday, Feb 5th. Take a look. See if it’s right for you. And, if you know of someone you think is looking for this, ready for this, please pass it on. I truly want those who are ready to R I S E in this way to join me. We begin February 14th, because we are Love arising.

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Sparklers after Sunset by Jamie Street on Unsplash.com

 

The other afternoon, I had a lovely interaction with the express checker at Whole Foods. He’s a fun guy. I remember him and like to be in his line because he’s always kind and present no matter how busy he is.

Our conversation started out with me telling him, “I’m so glad I got you for a checker today. You’re always so friendly and pleasant. It’s nice to interact with you.”

His smile began to shine and his eyes grew bright. He has the nicest smile. And he replied, “Thank you. That’s nice of you to say. How’s your day been? Have you done anything fun or exciting?”

I had to think for a moment. “No. Not really fun and exciting. It’s been an okay kind of day.”

I then asked him about something he’d told me a few months back – that he had graduated recently and was looking for work in his new field. “How’s the job hunting going?”

He took a moment to pause, perhaps to consider how to answer the question. Then said, “I’m working on it. I’ve got some fear around moving forward.” or something along those lines.

I stood for a moment noticing how amazing it was to hear someone tell the truth. Just like that. With no great fanfare. No drama. Just the truth. His voice was clear as he was honestly sharing that he was feeling fear. And then he said, “I don’t know if that makes sense.”

So I told him what I do for a living. That I’m a coach. He chuckled in response. And then I told him that it makes total sense to me. I hear this all the time from those I work with. And, I know it deeply within myself. The feeling of fear when we step out into new territory. For some of us, the fear keeps us stuck – not moving. For others, we step out but with great bravado so no one will know we are afraid.

And, then he mentioned how the fear gets in the way of responding creatively. And, then, of course, my ears totally perked up and I smiled. After I told him I teach courses on this, he asked me if I had anything to share with him. And, of course, as you probably guessed, I did.

So, I did.

This is what I shared with him. I think it is good and helpful information. I wouldn’t call it advice per se because there is no way to tell him – or you – what you should do…but I can offer him/you a few ideas to develop a strong foundation for a creative life.

  1. Trust in your own knowing
    Trust that you have the resources within you that will guide you in any moment. Don’t look ahead and worry about what will come and how you will respond. When you have faith in your own capacity to know in the moment, you are much more likely to take the next step, and then the next, and then the next. With each step, your creative resource within knows how to respond.
  2. The Voice of Judgment
    The thing that gets in the way of trusting your own knowing is the Voice of Judgment (the VOJ). The VOJ tells you that you need it, that it is looking out for your best interests. And the more you step out, the louder it gets. But the thing is, you don’t need it. It will only keep you small. Afraid to risk. Overthinking. And swirling in dramatic emotions and fear.
  3. The Foundation for Creativity – Presence:
    Ultimately, the trust in your own creativity, your own knowing, is the foundation you want to cultivate. Once you relax the VOJ and trust in your own ability to know in the moment, everything opens up. You become aware of everything around you, aware of possibilities, aware of resources available to you in the moment. The thing is, you aren’t going it alone. You are fully supported by unknown forces and by the flow of life that surrounds you.
  4. YOU are Creative
    This is what it means to be creative. Creativity is much more than artistic talent. Creativity is the nature of this universe we live in. And it is our nature.
  5. You are not afraid
    You are feeling fear. There is a big difference. One slaps the identity of fear on you, that you are a fearful being. When we do this, we begin to believe that we are afraid. But, when we realize fear has nothing to do with our identity, that it is something we feel just like any other feeling, we shift into an entirely different relationship with it. It no longer is us. Instead, we can keep moving, feeling whatever comes. Same with judgment, which is the source of our fear of being creative and taking risks. When judgment no longer sticks, it just comes and goes.

All feelings come. All feelings go. But your creativity is YOU. Your capacity to meet whatever comes is YOU.

He thanked me. And then, I realized I’d just had that fun experience he’d asked me about earlier. In just a few short minutes, we’d talked about something that lit us both up. I could feel how excited I was to share what I know. And I could see the gratitude in his smile and eyes. He was genuinely interested in what I was sharing with him.

We said goodbye, and I headed out to my car.

R I S E

volcanoRISEsmallAll of this is so present for me as I prepare my new course R I S E. This man is not alone. I told him that. We are all facing unknown territory. It might be the current conditions in the world. It might be a new job search or a relationship breakup or an illness of someone we love. Whenever we realize we do not know what lies ahead and we wonder HOW we will navigate this unknown space, we have the choice to step into this vast unknown place of uncertainty or to retreat back to what seems like safe space.

The most important thing is that we find a trust in our capacity to be in this life, fully engaged and fully alive. This is what we came here for! To be alive. To live who we are. To be part of the human community.

Live Q&A Call

I’ll be hosting a live call to share more about R I S E and this amazing work that I’ve been teaching for fourteen years to so many different people and groups. I will share a bit of the work. Trust me, you’ll take away things you can use immediately. And, I’ll answer any questions you might have about R I S E

Dates:
Saturday, Feb 4th 9-10 am PST

Call Information:
712-775-7100
Participant Access Code: 1005863#

 

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Discovering Your True Capacity to RISE

by Julie on January 24, 2017

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“You are what you pay attention to.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

A pretty profound statement, really.

This morning I was thinking about reflections, about where, what, and whom we look to for a reflection of who we are – or who we believe ourselves to be. What and where and whom we habitually look to reinforces our sense of identity and our idea of what we are capable of.

When I was a young girl growing up in my particular family, there were certain things that were more acceptable ‘to be’ than others – like sweet, polite, and agreeable; toned down and quiet rather than boisterous. It was acceptable for me to be small, to contain my natural power rather than challenge the power of the adults in any way. That was the parenting style of the time. A child was to be seen and not heard – especially girls.

For most of my adult life, without even realizing it, I continued to seek out reflections that showed me I was good, polite, toned down, etc. to make me feel at home, comfortable, like myself – the self I long ago constructed so that I would be always ‘acceptable’. And in order to find these reflections, I had to continue to believe I am and BE only these things.

But, the reality is that underneath it all, I am a lot more than these qualities.

In the creativity courses I teach,

I offer to my students the understanding that our true nature is made up of a myriad of essential qualities, meaning natural and organic qualities that we already are without having to learn them or acquire them.

In fact, we cannot acquire them for they are what we are. They are essential to who we are.

The main essential qualities – soul qualities of our essential nature, of Essence itself – are compassion, joy, intuition, strength, will, and power. These qualities reflect our essential nature. Let that sink in. These six qualities are qualities of the nature within you.

These qualities ARE you.

We lose touch with them is that we come to disidentify from them. I mainly disidentified with joy, strength, and will. As a polite girl, it was necessary to not be too willful. As a girl who learned that she got strokes from being nice and unassuming, my essential strength, will, and power went undergound, into the shadow. And, as a girl who learned to identify with others’ suffering, I pushed my natural joyous – boisterous, really – self away. Living as the girl I described above, compassion and intuition were acceptable qualities and so it wasn’t a problem for me to stay connected to these in order to maintain my constructed identity. In fact, I got really good at living these qualities. They became emphasized.

In reality, it isn’t that we disconnect completely from any of them, but what I’ve found is that we ‘pretend’ to ourselves that some of them are ‘more like’ the identity we created than the others.

Essential Qualities and Facing Life Challenges

Take a moment to sense which of these six qualities you were able to stay connected to and which ones you ‘disallowed’ due to the identity you created:

compassion
joy
intuition
strength
will
power

Now, think about the qualities you learned weren’t okay to show. These are the ones you have a hard time accessing. And then consider the challenges you face right now – and the things that have always been a challenge for you. Ask yourself if the reason these things seem challenging to you is because you cannot fully access these certain qualities. If so, notice if you are reluctant to pursue these challenges because you believe ‘you don’t have what it will take’ to meet them. That belief comes from the fact you don’t have full access to your essential qualities and somewhere you know it. You BELIEVE you don’t have what these challenges will take.

Every single human being is born with full and open access to everything we need in order to live our lives. We’ve just lost connection to some of them.

After my husband died, I faced a great many challenges and at the time I thought for sure I didn’t have what it would take to face them. But, as I stepped through each one, I became stronger, more resilient, more powerful than I had been prior. And the deeper and more fully I grieved, the more joy I began to feel again.

Here’s the great news…

My late husband’s death pushed me into rediscovering these qualities, but we can choose to step into our challenges knowing we have exactly what we need to move through them.

We remember and reclaim access to these qualities by more consciously living the challenges we face in life. Challenges help us remember the depth and breadth of our capacities. Each challenge is the opportunity to discover our natural strength, power, will, intuition, joy, and compassion…and many of the other myriad unique qualities our soul possesses.

Think about that. Consider the challenges you are personally facing. What frightens you about these challenges? Now, for a moment, think about which qualities would support you to R I S E up to meet these challenges. Which of the six do you need but you don’t feel you have access to? Here’s the secret. It is by beginning to meet that challenge – committing to it and moving through the creative process within it – that the qualities are called forth.

It is by meeting these challenges with love and courage that you rediscover you are Love, you are intuitive, you are strong and powerful and joyous at your core.

These times are asking us to reclaim who we are. This is how we evolve – by becoming conscious of our essential nature and expressing this nature into the world.

As we begin to notice our natural, organic qualities, we connect to the fluidity of these qualities, which connects us to the experience of being alive rather than a still frame of a picture of who we decided we were some time ago.

By living our challenges, we begin to feel who we are rather than believing in any static idea of who we are.

Registration is now open for R I S E – my new course. 

R I S E is a 9-week course that will give you practical and potent tools to rediscover these qualities by taking immediate creative action in the world. The course is based on powerful Stanford University curriculum and it provides…

  • juliebyleniA foundation of tools, practices, and understandings from which to take clear action – the kind of action that often feels frightening and overwhelming without these tools and understandings.
  • Experiential and practical exercises to guide you to discover deeper and deeper layers of your true nature and how it desires to express itself in the world.
  • The realization that there is no ONE WAY to R I S E and that what R I S E even means is different to each of us.
  • An understanding that while these times feel challenging, it is the very nature of challenges to bring our best selves forward in order to bring forth a more creative, loving, joyful culture.
  • and so much more…

Find out more here. I’d love to have you take this journey with me!

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On Being Human

by Julie on January 3, 2017

 

 

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“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world,
an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.”

~ Martha Nussbaum

I’ve been talking with a friend lately about being human. How do we do it? and do it well?

It seems like a funny thing to talk about, but when you start to see how often we bumble things up –  get things ‘wrong’, say the wrong things – being human can feel like walking through a quagmire.

We seem to be funny creatures – not just my friend and me (yes, WE are) – but all of us human beings. Sometimes, it just feels really hard to be here on Earth – vulnerable, soft-soul creatures walking around in fleshy human bodies.

Especially now. We’re living in amazingly turbulent times. The rate of change makes my head spin. And I feel great grief with the direction we are headed as a species.

So how do we cultivate an openness to this world that feels so beyond our control?

We have to develop a practical, embodied relationship with the unknown nature of Life and we do this by becoming aware of and skilled in the expression of our own internal creative Source. We do so by becoming aware of our unique creative process and how to take action by being in direct relationship with this Source.

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.” ~ M Nussbaum

When you are rooted in the firm foundation of your creative Source, you can trust in the uncertain and have this willingness to be exposed.

I like Nussbaum’s analogy of being like a plant – or a flower – “something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.”

This is what I’ve been writing about for years here at UnabashedlyFemale. This beauty. This fragility. This tender softness of our human souls. To be human is to be flesh and soul. It is vulnerable.

And yet, this vulnerability is so much stronger than we think, because the main qualities of our creativity – our sacred nature – are strength, will, joy, intuition, love, compassion, generosity, caring, and power. Consider these qualities. The more we will our vulnerable, soul-soft, felshy selves, the more these qualities come to the fore.

When we live in a dynamic relationship with our own creative Source, we become reacquainted with these qualities of Being that we have mostly lost touch with from living out of fear and self-protection. It is by entering into this direct relationship and living it in the world that we remember these qualities – that we remember who we are and what we are made of.

Trust is the very important piece here. We have to learn how to trust again. And what is it we must learn to trust? Ourselves. The uncertain and unknown. And our capacity to meet whatever comes. We must relearn how to trust our relationship with Life, and with that comes relearning how to trust our relationship with other human beings – and really humanity itself.

Nussbaum writes that “Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you.”

But, if we no longer trust other humans (and ultimately ourselves, meaning our relationship with the unknown) then our life “is not a human life any longer.”

Here’s the part where it gets dicey. There are people in this world, right now, who wish to do us harm. How do we stay human in a world where other humans want to destroy life? How do we be a human being in today’s world where so many humans are violently against each other, and against Life? My answer leads me right into the unknown because “I don’t know.” And, I do know we have to find our way back to our humanity or we will not survive.

[Edited to add: And I do know we must see the highest in every human being, meaning we must see the Source that is within them, even though we meet their actions with our own appropriate action.]

I can honestly say that trusting the unknown has been one of the greatest challenges of my own life. I’ve fought it. Yet, I am completely in love with the mystery, with the creative process. I think I am not alone in this dilemma. We love adventure but we also do not like to lose control. Yes, we are funny creatures.

I agree with Charlotte Du Cann who writes,

“I realise we are not in a political crisis; we are in a spiritual crisis, an existential crisis. We don’t know what it means to be human anymore. We have lost contact with the meaning of time, our presence here. “

If our fear of each other is causing us to lose our humanity, then you can bet this is a spiritual crisis, an existential crisis. Our being human is directly tied to our spirituality. To be human we must be in direct relationship with the Source that gives us life, the Source of our creativity. We must be in dialogue with the Source of this great mystery, which means trusting the mystery – out there in the world, inside within ourselves, and within every other living being.

It’s all really very practical. The unknown is a fact of life. It is when we deny the facts of life that we’ve lost touch with the real.

If we are going to be agents of love and change, then we have to trust that which IS love and that which is the source of change.

 

***

Just next week, I open registration for my new course R I S E. This course is the culmination of my teaching over the past decade plus. The core of the course is the curriculum I teach at Stanford, and the same curriculum I taught when I worked with families directly affected by 9/11 and people directly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. It is the work I teach in companies. Originally offered to MBA students at Stanford for 25 years, it is powerful work.

I’ve named it R I S E because it is time to rise up. It is time to bring all of our knowledge, experience, and purposeful intent to create a more humane world. The beauty of R I S E is that it offers a practical and potent container to support YOUR work in the world. It gives you the interactive experiences, tools, and practices to come to know your own creative source so you can meet any challenge you face as you R I S E in this new year. We truly are facing a time of challenge, but at the same time we are facing a time of possibility – pure possibility.

When we R I S E to meet our challenges, we discover who we really are, we discover the vision we hold inside, and we discover the deep capacities we’ve been gifted with. R I S E will give you an amazing foundation from which to meet any challenge and opportunity, and living our challenges is how we discover who we are and what we are capable of.

Registration opens the second week of January. Sign-up for my newsletter to be notified.

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A Walk Can Be a Question

by Julie on November 29, 2016

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Detail of wooden gate on Divisadero St.

 

Sometimes, when I feel the nudge, I take a walk here in the city over from my place to Divisadero Street and then walk down Divisadero toward Market Street. As I walk this section of Divisadero, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling in this part of the city. There’s a lot going on. I find inspiration everywhere: in the people, in the diversity in general, and in the architecture and design of things. Like the gate above, the color, the creativity, the craftsmanship.

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afternoon light

There’s a cafe I love. The people are friendly enough, but also have that hip edge. They combine the love of coffee and bread, baking the bread fresh there so the smells fill the space. The windows and high ceilings offer amazing light to work in. They play music is from a phonograph and records (and often the music of my teenage years). And the customers are hip in a design kind of way.

I walk, sometimes stop in the cafe, and generally just soak it all in. And, I find that when I return home, I am inspired to dive into and work on what has been sitting on my desk waiting for my return.

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Victorian detail

The inspiration fuels my creativity. Diversity in people and in all things does that. It feeds and nourishes us and our own essential expression.

When we’re working hard or perhaps even struggling with something that we don’t quite know how to move forward on, it can be helpful to remember that we aren’t separate from the world. Often, this idea is seen as a kind of esoteric, spiritual idea – you know, like the idea of Oneness in that we aren’t separate from each other. But, it is a practical understanding, too. When we venture into the world in a state of amazement and wonder, following the thread of the things that spark our interest in the things we intrinsically love, we stimulate our creativity. We become aware of ways things can bridge together. We become aware of ideas and insights that can be just the thing to spark what is waiting on our ‘desk’ for our return.

Our creativity is fed by what is present here, right now. Life responds to the questions we ask, even when the question we are asking is something as simple as a walk down Divisadero Street.

Yes, a walk can be a question if we are open and attentive, and listening deeply for the answers life is offering.

Life is a creative process, so any walk, activity can be such.

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Red light overhead

And, when you are deep in a current process, actively strategizing within the incubation phase of this process, activities you consciously engage in to stimulate responses, knowings, and cross-pollination become rich sources of inspiration for that wonderful AHA! moment you are working toward.

When I take a walk down Divisadero Street, paying attention to all that appears before me as I go, I come into direct relationship with the answers life is offering to my question. I am stimulated by life, by the things that inspire me.

A practice for you.

If you’re working within a creative process right now – and I am sure you are as just about everything we do is in some way a creative act – make time to explore. Take a walk down a street or path, or to a place that inspires you, that calls to you. It might be in nature, but it can just as well be in a part of town that stimulates you. On your walk, pay attention to everything. Look for a particular color, or a particular shape, or a particular anything that gets you to really look at your surroundings in a way that is brand new. Then, watch what happens.

Fair warning:
This can cause you to be happy, feel alive and grateful, and unleash your creative joy into the world!

 

 

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A New Love

by Julie on November 11, 2016 · 5 comments

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“The biggest problem today isn’t just that hate is speaking so loudly; it’s that love is speaking too softly.” ~ Marianne Williamson

 

Late in the afternoon on election day,

I was beginning to feel antsy working at my computer. So I went for a walk to the park where I could sit against my favorite tree for a bit. I needed to ground myself and breathe. I played some upbeat tunes as I walked, feeling pretty happy and somewhat confident that the outcome of the election would match my vote.

I sat with my tree and then I walked some more. It was a warm and balmy 68 degrees. Walking in my flip flops and a tee shirt at 6:00 pm, I wondered how the returns were looking. I returned home and checked online. Suddenly, I began to get nervous, barely believing what I was seeing.

As the evening progressed, my nerves turned to anxiety and I hovered on the edge of that old familiar feeling of trauma that has a sense of panic to it. My PTSD was kicking in with the thought of a Trump presidency. The fear of all of that hate being normalized and expressed in a presidency caused a feeling of shock to begin to set in. But at this point, a funny thing happened. I began to feel a clear energy rising up into me, a solid, steady beam of power rising up through me, like a rod, moving up into me from the ground below, and continuing up into my heart.

It’s not that feeling power was new to me, but the particular form and feeling of this power was.

As the evening wore on and it became clear Trump would win, the power never wavered. Even though the traces of trauma hovered on the periphery of my awareness, the power continued to move up out of the ground, through me, and into my heart.

I didn’t feel afraid of what was coming. I felt strong and ready.

 

Here’s the amazing thing.

On Wednesday morning, and throughout the day as it progressed, a few women told me they felt a similar power. And, I read numerous accounts online by women who shared some form of this same experience – the awareness of an energy that felt new and clear.

Two days later, I continue to feel it. It has a steadfastness to it and a kind of clarity of purpose. It is the power to look directly at what we are facing, to finally look ‘the beast’ square in the eyes, and to take clear direct action in response.

This energy is love.

“Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three, and English only one.  This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have thirty words for snow, because it is a life-and death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately.  If we had a vocabulary of thirty words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart.  An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love.  Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it come to feeling.”
– Robert Johnson, Fisher King, p. 6

This is a fierce love that is being felt in more than me, a fierce love that is being felt in the collective. I feel it coming from the ground below, from the Earth, from the ground of my being. It’s like a rod of light within.

We only have one name for love while there are 96 names in Sanskrit and 80 in ancient Persian. When we speak of love in our culture, I think we often speak of a softer, tamer love. This is not that.

We exist in a culture that is based on ideas and words, not on awareness of energies within us, or how the body feels, or even the possibility that things exist that we cannot see or even explain in words. Because we have no words for all the kinds of love, we don’t even consider that there might be many kinds of love that exist and that are the very things we need to do the work we must do.

What if,

like the Eskimo culture, we are not only close to dying of loneliness but also close to giving up on our capacity to evolve as a culture and as a species because we have no name for this love that won’t allow us to turn away from the horrors we’ve unleashed as a species? no name for this love that makes it clear it is imperative we connect to each other, no longer allowing ourselves to separate into us vs. them like we have learned to do?

If you knew it was love calling you to rise up in response to the hate and bigotry being unleashed by all of us in some form, by people from all over the world, how would you respond differently with what is occurring?

If you knew this love was coming deep out of the core of your own being, deep out of the core of the Earth, would you trust it, would you allow it to move you to rise up in response?

What I notice is that when I am in tune with it I feel an imperative to connect with you, an imperative to offer what is coming through me, an imperative to act.

Years ago, I was in a year-long study program on Sacred Activism with Andrew Harvey. At the time, I felt called to engage in this form of activism – one that marries love and spirituality with being an activist in the world, but I couldn’t tap into my own fire. I was cut off from it. While I could intellectually see the need for this work, and even emotionally feel the need, I could not tap into the energy of fierceness he was calling for.

Now, I can.

This is fire. This is the fire from the center of the Earth. This is her love. It is her fierce determination to care for all of her children in a way we don’t even consider she might – through US!

Consider a mother bear with her cubs – how she will take down anything and anyone who is messing with her babies. That is love. The Earth feels the same for all of her children.

Let yourself feel the depth of this threat we now face.

It’s not the threat of Trump and what he has unleashed. It’s not the threat of the status quo we’ve been hanging onto for decades through the politicians who’ve been running this country and others. It’s the threat of no longer caring for each other, no longer seeing each other’s humanity, no longer being willing to stand up for our sisters and brothers who have been marginalized and brutalized for centuries. It’s the threat of being so separate from our environment that we can’t even feel the pain that the Earth is enduring. It’s the threat of being so consumed with our desire to possess that we have forgotten that nothing is ours, everything is a gift, and what brings us the most joy is to give back.

The deepest threat is our unwillingness to see things as they are, to look squarely in the eye of what we are facing, to not turn away in denial.

This love is the rising feminine in all of us. She has been rising, but I sense she is now burgeoning from within each of us in the face of what we are now seeing in our world. She knows how to move into those places where her love has been forgotten. She knows how to nourish and succor that which has been starved of her presence.

For quite a while now,

we’ve danced with this idea of the sacred feminine. As women, many of us have done years of work to come to know her and embody her. Many of us, during this time, have mainly seen her as something for us individually, something for us to have and take from.

But she is not this. She is not for us to take. She is for us to live. She is fierce in her need to replenish the places where she was made not welcome. People have been forgotten, not cared for, not loved. This is our job to do and she is reminding us that she is the source of this love.

We are here, at this moment, together, not just half of us, but all of us for it takes all of us to create this situation where love can finally be unleashed in its full, profound glory. I can feel this love rising, unchained and free.

It is time for love to be speaking louder than hate and she is ready to speak through me, through you, through us.

Turn to the Earth, bow down to her, and ask to be filled with her love. Let her help you grieve.  Let her hold you while you grieve. Ask to be filled with her love. Ask to be shown and filled with her knowing. Ask to know and be filled with her wisdom. Ask to be blessed, then be the love that she is.

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writingonbamboo

photo by Bennett Dungan at Unsplash.com

 

I want to share something with you about creativity and its source.

It really has to do with creativity, about the place from which our creativity flows, and about how we long to communicate with each other what is inside of us and how difficult of a task that really is. And on some level, it is about the (truly) unconditional love and understanding that holds us as we attempt this communication. Even when we feel we haven’t been understood, on some level something is always understanding. Even when we feel as if we haven’t been loved, something is always loving us.

When I first offered Writing Raw, I wrote something out to read on the very first call, hoping to answer this question for myself first:

What is Writing Raw?

And then on one of our calls this week, I was asked this question. And, so, I read what I wrote a few years back…

Writing Raw is writing from the edge of experience. Writing from the Soul. Writing that is formed in its own way and form that does not (have to) fit any currently acceptable writing format (e.g. essay, poetry, paragraph sentence, word. Writing that comes out of something else, first, before the words form.

Writing Raw has no particular outcome or result is intended. Instead, it is simple to deepen your capacity to listen, to feel, to hear, to open to and receive what is emerging from within your own body and soul so that it can be shared into this world.

Writing directly from these sources: sensation, internal images, visions, feelings, and the sense using guided visualization and  sense-guided exercises, and (not included on our calls) music and movement.

Writing Raw is learning to trust in what you sense is here, trusting that it will tell you what it is, trusting in the unseen and what you know and sense.

 

As I read the words aloud, my awareness moved down into this place from where words arise, a place deep within. And, out of this question and my sincere response, something opened up in me – a place that I’ve felt before, but never so clearly and powerfully. And my writing in this same session reflected this place…

 

My voice reverberates throughout my body,
Liquid words rising up out of
This dark pool of Being,
The ground of all that is.

As I hear my words, I feel
A velvet sense of love here, a radically kind presence,
Simple in its being, always
Holding me in radical kindness.

Bathed in Understanding, no matter
What I write or say, I am understood.
This radical kindness holds everything close, in love.
Nothing I do can push this presence away.
There is no away. There is no away.

And so,
I rest,
Here in this kindness,
A speechless wind on my lips.

And then in the next writing,

Held in this Absolute Understanding,
I am free. I am gradual ecstasy.
Nothing holds me but love,
A radical kindness that never leaves.

Nowhere to be found and everywhere, too,
I am
Held in nothingness.
Loved in everything.

Kindness finds its way into my cells,
Always fluid, in flux, changing
With the breath. Up and down.
Rise and fall, heart echoing against these nowhere-to-be-found walls.

This dance between worlds appears in words
And the spaces in between, each word
A wholeness in itself, each word
A world coming into being, that dies away as soon as it comes.

There is no solidity, and yet
We communicate.
Me to you and you to me,
Passing words back and forth

In the hope of landing in a place of
Understanding for just a moment,
In the hope of standing,
Together on some small patch of ground.

I share this with you because it has been so hard to articulate what Writing Raw is and offers. I see it is the nature of what we are doing – learning to write from a place that is before words, learning to trust in what is unseen yet felt and intuited.

orangeandgreenwritingrawI know the other women on the call felt this place of radical kindness and understanding. I could feel that we found this understanding between all of us, for just a moment, together standing on this small patch of ground, for a moment, just a moment, until it changed with the next breath. But what doesn’t leave, doesn’t change, is the radical kindness and deeper Understanding that is love at its core, as well as the sense of connection and community that flowers when we share from this place with one another.

This is where we write from. This is Writing Raw.

We have finished our first week, yet you can still join. All of our calls are recorded, so you can catch up by listening and writing to these recordings, and by entering into our Facebook group and introducing yourself.

Find out more and register here.

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