womenincolor

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

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

“I like you; your eyes are full of language.” ~ Anne Sexton

Eyes Full of Language

We speak many languages. All of us. Women and men. And, for some time now, I’ve been curious about the languages I know that I do not speak, languages that women do not speak because we’ve been silenced for centuries, and ultimately still silencing ourselves.

I am curious about languages of touch, of breath, and of taste. Languages of knowing and instinct. Languages that bring place, feel, and depth into rhythm, cadence, and (perhaps) words.

Words aren’t the only vehicle of language. The eyes speak volumes. Look into your own eyes. Really look, and you’ll find you never reach the end of their infinite offering.

When I first meet someone, I listen to the language of their eyes and the texture of their voice. I feel their presence course through me. I meet them on many levels. We all do this. We may think focus mostly on the words being spoken, but our whole system is soaking up others through the many-layered nuances we ‘speak’.

Our Mother Tongue is instinctual. Our paws meet the ground, our eyes take in the scene, and our hearts take a pulse of what is here. The Mother Tongue knows how to respond, all cells alive, heart open, blood coursing, and knowing flowing.

Everyone, women and men, are most powerful when we simply are what we are, and we are soulful animals, critters with paws… and skin that needs to know it is not alone.

 

Sometimes, we teeter then choose.

When we speak what we have to speak, telling the truth in whatever language suits it best, we settle into ourselves in a way that is just so. No hiding. No covering up. No trying or attempting. Solely a vessel of life.

When we try to be something we are not, we cover ourselves up, and we lose our power. Veiled, we are much less creative, alive, and impactful.

When we water down our words, they lose their vitality. When we translate in order to soften the impact or change the meaning so others won’t be challenged, what truly wants to be expressed dies.

What happens when we know something so profoundly alive and true within ourselves, and at the same time we know it is not valued, honored, trusted, or wanted in the culture. What happens as we stand between worlds, knowing what we know and teetering on the fence of whether or not to speak it aloud into this culture that seems to have no appetite for our words, this culture that seems to find any way it can to denigrate what it is the Mother Tongue must say?

When we know we have something profoundly alive inside and important to express into the world, it is our responsibility to our own Soul to do that. That is the most important relationship that we can honor. It might be that ultimately no one understands what we say. It might be that people judge and shame. It’s no fun when that happens, yet the feeling of trusting yourself, your Soul, and your own voice, and standing tall in the expression of that trust is much more full and ultimately nourishing than the pain of any negative feedback we could receive.

The Mother Tongue is where we women ‘know what we know’. It is outside of cultural conditioning. This is a very important place. It is here we are able to see and know what is true for ourselves, and to hear our own voice, the voice of the Soul. Here we know. Here we see. Here we come to feel the power of our own being, and our own creativity, sexuality and vitality.

 

We know we know.

Put your ear down close to your Soul and listen hard. ~ Anne Sexton

Sometimes, we just know. Many may try to convince us otherwise. But we know what we know. We might not know how we know it or where we know it, but we know we know.

I only began to remember my mother tongue when I listened to my Soul telling me I had to turn away from the culture. As I began to trust in my own creativity, I began to trust the words that were coming through me. The trust didn’t come easily. Every time I would allow this Mother Tongue to come out on the page, I would shiver a bit with fear about what others might say or think. I was afraid I would be thought of as weird, just like the professors had indicated with their shaming responses. But something inside me kept pushing me to listen and to write. Something was pulsing within, guiding me to remember.

I was listening to something other than what I had been taught was worthy of speaking. The listening was to me…and in all my years in school, I can’t say that I was ever truly taught to value my own deepest expression – my creativity.

There is something important in our fear that we will not be heard, that we will be misunderstood, even shamed. We know our wisdom and truth, and we know the beauty of it. To know it will be not valued, and perhaps mocked, is painful.

 

“I have a piece that I wrote about how the movie Pollyanna affected my life. I’ve only shown it to one friend because I feel that it would be misunderstood. To be a Pollyanna has such a derogatory meaning, yet I have a different take on it. That piece comes from my mother tongue. Big aha here.” ~ Kim Manley-Ort (shared in a comment on post 2)

Kim speaks about something many of us experience. We know what we know, and what we know is different than what the culture says is valuable. This is the disconnect. Somewhere we know that it will be misunderstood, and perhaps worse.  That is painful, especially when deep within we love the Self that knows this ‘different take’. We love it, so when others misunderstand, it hurts.

It just may be they will misunderstand. There are many who would like to keep us from remembering who we are. Sometimes, this fear might mean we are not meant to share it. Some things must be kept close to the heart, especially if they are still working on us, still revealing themselves to us. This is when being quiet is serving us and the Soul.

And sometimes, we must speak. Last night, I was listening to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ audio program, Mother Night (which by the way is a fabulous program). In it she speaks about how we heal from enculturation. Something she said really struck me – because I was thinking of this post. I’m going to paraphrase: Sometimes we feel like we are very strange, very different than others. We feel there is something so different that we don’t dare share whom we know ourselves to be with this world that can so quickly misunderstand and judge. Dr. Estés explains that when we see this it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share, but that what we have to share is what is missing from the culture. The very realization that we don’t see ourselves in the culture means that what we have to share is what will fill that hole.

When I heard this, it made so much sense. Of course. No wonder we look out there for something to match what we know and feel, but if we are the ones that are to bring it to the world, then we wouldn’t see it because we haven’t brought it in yet. Isn’t that fabulous?

 

Settling into Your Mother Tongue:

Listen to Soul

To settle into your mother tongue, begin by separating two things: listening and speaking. Separate the listening to what wants to be known from the act of speaking/expressing it, because sometimes what causes us to not hear is the fact we are already thinking about saying what we haven’t even yet heard – and we are afraid.

Just the act of listening to the voice inside is incredibly important. It takes courage to not turn away from what your Soul is saying. It takes a letting go of one’s own desire to control. It takes faith in the very nature of your being. To open, develop, and deepen this relationship is so important and so beautiful. The speaking and expressing might come later. It might not. But this relationship between you and your own Soul is so beautiful. To open your inner ears and eyes, and to open your heart, to your own Soul is life-changing.

To listen, we must get quiet. Very quiet. We must want to hear. We have to open the channel. Sometimes, I meditate with my journal, and actively ask to hear. The question is important. Whatever question is burning, whichever question is ripe, is the one to ask. We have to be willing to receive what we don’t yet know, and don’t even know we will want to hear.

Sit, open, ask, then be still, quiet, and listen. Be receptive. Soften. Breathe.

To listen, we must come down into the body where we hear, feel, and sense so much more than just our thoughts. It has been my experience, that the Soul doesn’t speak through the crazy monkey-mind. The body is the gateway to the Soul. If we avoid it, we may not hear the Mother Tongue. If we don’t trust in our whole being, we cannot hear what Soul is saying.

 

Speak Soul

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

 

Next, we speak. We can find a way to speak that which feels unspeakable. We can find a way to do this; first to ourselves; perhaps, next to our girlfriends, or sisters, or partner. Maybe we start by speaking aloud to ourselves. Just to hear your own voice speak in your mother tongue is healing. Eventually, as we begin to live this real, alive relationship with our own Soul, we find a way to speak.

Begin to…

1. Trust in yourself that you do have a mother tongue – a mother tongue that is your native tongue.

2. Know that no matter what, there is a place inside of you that holds what it is you long to speak.

3. Find a place, perhaps to yourself first in a journal, into a recorder, even in meditation, where you can ‘speak’ these words.

4. Begin to get a feel for what it feels like to speak in your own mother tongue. What is the experience of it? Does it speak in words, movement, grunts, silence, paint, images, symbols, touch, or sparkle in your eyes?

5. Listen to your body. Feel what it is saying. Listen to your longing.

6. Notice how much judgment you have toward your own mother tongue and the words inside of you. Is this the judgment you fear you will receive from others? Work with these parts of you that are judging you.

7. Find people to whom you can say what you long to say. Find people who will listen without judgment, people you trust, people who honor your expression.

8. Trust that those men and women whom you fear speaking your Mother Tongue to the most are actually hungering to hear it, to feel it, and to know it themselves. Trust that what you must speak is exactly what the world needs.

9. Check to see if it feels right, and if so, find a way to speak the words you know in a way that others can hear, without losing the heart and soul woven through them.

10. Know that sometimes we never get to the feeling that people will understand. And, we have to speak anyway. Sometimes, people won’t be open to hearing what you have to say. And you say it anyway.

 

Offer Yourself Dignity

Ultimately, is it you who must learn to listen to you, to listen with respect and dignity rather than denigration. We want others to listen to us and to understand us. The first step is to learn to honor your own Mother Tongue and what it wants to say. If we are afraid of it, others will be, too.

Can we honor it within ourselves, and honor it within other women, too?

Maybe we have to leave the boardroom and the cubicle, the florescent lights and the plastic ‘containers’, to rekindle our relationship with the big mother, Mother Earth. Maybe our Mother Tongue is spoken through her. Maybe she is always whispering in our ear, imploring us to sing our own song, asking us to speak from the belly.

Maybe then we can come back into the parched places of our culture, these boardrooms and cubicles, and perhaps even the bedroom, with the instincts and language we’ve rediscovered.

Maybe then our world will be filled with the language of the Mother, the instincts and senses, the fierce beauty of the heart – the Mother Tongue.

 

Posts in the series are:

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

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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

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

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

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womanreadingmothertonguepart4

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

 

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

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

The way is dark Yet the light is bright.

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

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

::

A Different Kind of Language

My friend shared this after reading the series so far,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Woman

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

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

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

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

Every woman.

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

All of time.

One Woman.

Infinite Facets.

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

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

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

::

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

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

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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

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

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

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ThreewomenLysekilSweden

This is the part 3 of a five-part series on rediscovering, and speaking in, our mother tongue.

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

Finding the Mother Tongue

Our mother tongue is a  native tongue we rarely hear women use because it lies underground, under the cultural language we’ve been taught to listen to and trust.

To find it, we must come home – to the soul, the body, and the earth. This is where we find our mother tongue – where we feel our instincts, where we play and know joy, where we sit with heart break, or hearts full of life; with friends, close to the earth, laughing, playing, finding the wildish places within. Even dressed in the cultural garb, we can still go ‘outside’ the norm, find some green grass, lie down, listen to the earth and to our own heartbeat, and begin to listen to the mother tongue – the language of soul.

In this series, I am not attempting to tell you what your mother tongue is. (You must find that for yourself, and in the next and last posts I’ll explore ways to do that.) Rather, I am simply sharing what I have noticed and discovered by listening to women speak, by paying attention to my own experience, and by listening deeply to the words that bubble up through dreams, meditations, deep writing, and asking questions.

This is all in service to discovering, and uncovering, the creativity and wisdom our world does not have access to because women translate in places and ways they may not realize, and because many places, and people (men and women both) in our world value a masculinized expression over the expression of the feminine voice and language.

This does not mean men do not translate or feel their voices stifled. Nor does it mean men don’t have a mother tongue. This is about uncovering the latent mother tongue in women because women have been silenced, and are still silenced in so many places around the world.

The wisdom and creativity of women is vital in the recovery of the feminine principal. We must step outside of the current masculinized models to discover what our souls long to live through these female bodies.

 

Reconnecting with Soul

There are times when we feel we must translate for our words and contribution to be understood, valued, and accepted. This can be critical to how we are received in the workplace when our livelihood depends upon it. It can also be seen to be critical for our personal relationships when we are trying hard to make a relationship work. I understand this. I have so much compassion for this. 

Some of us, myself included, have had the luxury to remove ourselves, in some ways, from the ever present stress of the way this culture keeps pulling us to be what it tells us we must be. Sometimes, we have to step away, out of the culture, in order to come to remember that we have a soul, and that if we want to live from soul, we must learn to follow its voice. Many of us are feeling called to do this in some way.

Even physically removed in many ways, though, I have still had a hard time listening more deeply to what this mother tongue is saying. I do know it comes out of my body, by way of my flesh and blood, hair and bones. I do know that when I listen inside myself, and listen in a way that really wants to hear, I begin to speak in this tongue – even if simply to myself. And…

Speaking to self in the mother tongue begins to replenish our own well of dignity.

We are wired to long for connection, to be heard and seen, to be understood. To be seen for who we truly are is food to the soul. It would make sense, then, that we would try to find the way to ensure these would happen – to be understood, to be valued, to be heard and seen.

But if we translate, and lose truth and self in the translation, we aren’t truly being heard or understood, because we aren’t truly being ourselves.

Our own conditioning keeps us from trusting the words that wait – on the tongue, in the throat, in the deep recesses of our heart, in the belly? Our fear keeps our true words silent even from ourselves.

 

Important questions to ask:

Am I lost in translation?

Is the vibrancy and truth of what I am trying to express lost by changing what I say and how I say it?

Does this matter to me?

It boils down to trust – a trust in the validity, the wisdom, and the value of our own soul’s expression.

 

Beginning to Write

I began to feel this deep need to write, not too long after leaving Stanford. And when I say write, I mean ‘really write’…from deep inside me, from a voice that had been so long forsaken – perhaps since early childhood, and maybe even before this lifetime.

At first, all that came out was the kind of writing that performs well in academia. I tended to always feel the need to substantiate what I was saying with ‘proof’ of some sort, whether it be a quote form someone else, or a valid article or book. I would feel it necessary to try to explain myself, to get the reader to ‘understand’ what I was saying. And, if my writing got a little too ‘carefree’, I would begin to feel as if it wasn’t weighty enough. Of course, I didn’t see these things then…but I do see them now, for sure.

Sometimes, it takes hindsight to see how far we’ve come, or how much we’ve begun to relax into our own knowingness.

Believe me – I am grateful that I can write well under those circumstances. Knowing how to write in that way has served me well; but, it’s not the whole picture. We are many things, we human beings, and for some of us that includes being students. But we are also much, much more.

As I dove into this new world of writing, something that surprised me was the poetry that would seemingly pop out of thin air. I’d never written poetry, nor had I ever even remotely enjoyed reading it. In full disclosure, I hadn’t really become acquainted with Mary Oliver yet, nor had I read David Whyte. And, I hadn’t known Rumi for long. I did know Hafiz.

Maybe opening the poetry door, opened me to my mother tongue. I do know that Soul speaks in symbols.

 

Mother Tongue as Guide, or Cicerone…

A Cicerone is a guide who gives information about antiquities and places of interest… and this seems so fitting. In writing, I discovered that what was being written was my own guidebook.

A little way into my deeper writing journey, this poem popped out. It just came out, and after it did, I went into the bathroom and threw up. I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to be sick for my body to expel things that were making it a different kind of sick. Eventually, I came to see that this act of writing was liberating something from my body that had been stuck in there for a long, long time.

This poem, in particular, turned out to be a vivid guide for reconnecting with my soul.

ripe with love

You see me here, strong and soft, eager and afraid,
my heart racing with desire
to be seen and heard,
to be held and to hold.

I am here,
emerging
from this bondage placed on me long ago,
from this cage of sin, fault, and fear.

I found the key
to my release when
I saw myself
in the reflection of your rejection.

My open heart was
both weakness and threat, lover and enemy.
You saw me seeing you
and you shut the door on my escape.

But freedom is funny,
it was mine to find all along.
Redemption came
when I filled my emptiness, with the fullness of me.

The dive was deep, the way was dark.
On the surface I had only seen,
how I never quite matched up
with everything I was expected to be.

But as I dove deeper into the depths of my being,
A glorious Light began to emerge.
It came from a time long ago,
It called me home in a language I had long forgotten.

There, deep inside me, I found the seed
Planted long ago, at the beginning of time.
My deepest Self, my truest Truth
My inner being in perpetual Spring.

I am ripe with love,
Ripe with the nectar of passionate presence
I am here to hold you,
within the folds of my velvet petals.

Fall down, deep down, into the depths of my being.
For I blossom in time to break your fall
As you land with a thundering whisper,
“Catch me, please catch me.”

Open yourself to the center of me.
Drink deeply the love that has been waiting for you,
waiting with timeless patience,
knowing what has always been, will be again.

Let me lay side-by-side with you.
Let me feel again how perfect the fit is,
if we only allow ourselves to relax
into the shape we already are.

Remember the rightness of this fit.
Don’t fight what you know to be true.
I can love side by side again,
Knowing the love comes through me to you.

You see me here,
soft and strong, knowing and sure.
My heart is filled with the truest Truth and the brightest Light
See your Self reflected in my love.

~ Julie Daley

 

Neither Forgotten nor Forsaken

This poem was a forecast of what was to come in my journey. I couldn’t know that at the time, but the words had a profound impact on me. They were so deeply alive as they came through and my body responded to them so clearly and unequivocally.

My soul was telling me the way through would be deep and dark…

The dive was deep, the way was dark.
On the surface I had only seen,
how I never quite matched up
with everything I was expected to be.

My soul was telling me there was a language to remember…

But as I dove deeper into the depths of my being,
A glorious Light began to emerge.
It came from a time long ago,
It called me home in a language I had long forgotten.

 

The beautiful thing is, this long forgotten language had not forgotten, nor had it forsaken, me.

And, it has not forgotten, nor has it forsaken, you.

::

This is part 3 in a five-part series. You’ll find the other parts here:

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

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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

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

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

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

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mothertonguepart2lucyburns

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Why do we translate?

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

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

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

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

 

One story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ashamed of my own creativity and wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

 

This really was about my mother tongue.

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

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

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

 

Gender Bi-lingual 

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

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

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

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

 

Valuing our expression – our Mother Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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

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

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

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

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MotherTonguePart01

 

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

 

How many languages do we ‘speak’ as women?

What streams of wisdom do we have access to?

What is our true mother tongue?

::

Our Mother Tongue:

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

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

 

Lost in Translation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Code-Switching:

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

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

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

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

 

What we will be exploring:

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

The rest of the series at a glance:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Tongue, Part 2: Speaking Without Translating

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

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

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

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

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Forsaken Voices

by Julie on April 24, 2014 · 17 comments

danuberivernearlinz

 
Audio version is below.
 

Forsaken Voices

 

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

 

How rich is this water
generations of heartache
lineage of wisdom
matrilines of power.
I am the river,
now,
in this time
there is no other outlet
no other mouth
no other gateway
for these forsaken voices.

 

Generations of damming
centuries of cast-down eyes
ears grown cold
mouths sewn shut
and repeated lies told
the pressure pushes back against
walls too tired to hold.

 

When I am still, quiet, and alone
these forsaken voices
stir the marrow of my bones.

 

Deeper than the water
runs the grief untold
no one soul can tolerate
the pain of women who’ve come before
silenced
shamed
muzzled
maimed
and told to suffer it alone.
My mother, her mother, her mother, and her’s before
still woven like a river
gather underground
pool together in wisdom circles
where seeds of light collect
knowing spring
one day will come.

 

I lie in bed
signs of pleurisy all around
water pooling, collecting
in my lungs only to be known
when the grief takes hold
seeds deeply rooted in lungs
that reach back to
generations untold.

 

These forsaken voices
buried deep underground
can only breathe through
flesh and blood daughters
who now live in their lungs
breathing light into cells
waking oxygen
where none has been known.

 

I am the river
my sisters and I pool together
our collective voices now ready
to irrigate our parched world
with deep blue love from
aquifers too-long guarded
underground.

 

It is time to speak of
moisture
cool waters of knowing
deep rivulets of wisdom
flesh plump with blood.

 

There can never be wholeness when voices are silenced.
There can never be peace without dignity for all.

 
 


 

::
Image is ‘Donau-Seitenarm’  by Konstantinos DafaliasCreative Commons 2.0

{ 17 comments }

No Longer Spitting in the Face of God

by Julie on April 17, 2014 · 8 comments

 

woman with a basket of mandarins

What is woman?

She is woman.
She is not an imitation of man.
She is not made from man.
She is unique unto herself.
She isn’t perfect, yet she is sacred.
She is the vessel from which life is born.
She isn’t superior to man, nor is she inferior.
She is the female human being.

::

To denigrate women is to spit in the face of God. ~ Desmond Tutu

We live in a culture that has, for centuries, maybe millennium, denigrated the Feminine…and as walking embodiments of the Feminine, women and girls are living, breathing targets of this fear and hatred of the Feminine – also known as misogyny.

Allan G. Johnson writes in The Gender Knot:

“Misogyny plays a complex role in patriarchy. It fuels men’s sense of superiority, justifies male aggression against women, and works to keep women on the defensive and in their place. Misogyny is especially powerful in encouraging women to hate their own femaleness, an example of internalized oppression. The more women internalize misogynist images and attitudes, the harder it is to challenge male privilege or patriarchy as a system. In fact, women won’t tend to see patriarchy as even problematic since the essence of self-hatred is to focus on the self as the sole cause of misery, including the self-hatred.”  (italics mine)

 

Allan Johnson also writes,

…patriarchy is not simply another way of saying “men.” Patriarchy is a kind of society, and a society is more than a collection of people. It also involves as one of its key aspects the oppression of women.”

 

Patriarchy is NOT men. It’s a system. It’s a system we are born into. It’s a system we all hold up, and continue to breath life into, when we don’t question the assumptions we hold about men, women, and power, and about how we are in the world with each other.

It’s a system we give power to when we don’t question how we value ourselves as women, and how we value womanhood.

It’s a system we help to keep in place when we ‘hate our own femaleness’.

It’s a system that continues to control how we view ourselves when we don’t question these internalized misogynist images.

 

This isn’t about men vs. women.

Not at all. We often think when one attempts to have a conversation about this subject matter that we are blaming men, but if you read further into Johnson’s book (which I hope you will!), you will see that attempts to subvert these discussions are ways to keep this kind of system alive and well.

And if we focus on the self-hate, we are doing exactly what Johnson mentions – not seeing the mechanism of patriarchy at work.

 

This post IS about…

…the images we, women and men, carry around within ourselves of the Feminine, women, and the value of women.

This post IS about…

…the places within us that are outside of the realm of patriarchy.

 

We are all, men and women, given images when we are young of what a woman is and what a man is. In a world (for the most part – some indigenous cultures do not do this) that has denigrated the Feminine for centuries, it would make sense that our images of the Feminine would be less than helpful at best, and downright misogynist at worst; and our images of men would be championed (although as we’ve explored coming to terms with equality for women over the past decades, there’s been a lot of mud slinging both ways.)

Of course, as I’ve been writing this over the past few days, the writing has been working on me. What initially began as a more cerebral exploration and post, soon became very personal and emotional for me. As I sat with, something I try to do when I am writing a post, these images that I hold of myself, these misogynistic images I’ve ingested over my lifetime, I began to truly grasp the depth of this programming by a system that is misogynistic to its core.

Some of the images I see in my own psyche about myself are deeply misogynistic. Of course they are. I’ve been swimming in this system my entire life. I’ve been ingesting these images from the time I began to be conscious of what was around me. We wonder why it is so hard for women to love themselves. We don’t have to look far. We just have to be willing to look inside, into the depths of what we’ve come to believe, and feel, about our womanhood, and about our female bodies.

And, men do not escape the pain of this culture. Not at all. The Feminine is within them. And, their mothers, sisters, daughters, friends are women. When they hold these misogynistic images within their psyches, they must deaden the pain of knowing that the women they love deeply are walking, breathing, embodiments of this Feminine that is so feared and so hated.

 

Instead, if we are willing…

What we can is come to know the images of what it is to be female that lay outside the realm of patriarchal conditioning. These images come to us as we honestly, and wholly, ask the question, “What is it to be female?”

We can question what we’ve believed to be true. We can look directly at the images we hold of ourselves as women, of other women, and of the Feminine itself.

Inquire into the images of the Feminine that YOU are carrying around within you. Look inside. What images are YOU holding of woman? What images do you believe to be true about you and your femaleness?

This is what matters, because when we hold images, and we all do, they are the images we offer to others about ourselves. They are the images we give to others, mostly unconsciously, that tell others about who we believe ourselves to be, how much worth we believe we have, and how the people in our lives should treat us.

The images of self and gender we hold that speak to self-hatred are not natural. They are not native to us.

Images of self-hatred are not native to us. Images of self-hatred are not native to that place within us that has never been under the control of patriarchal thought and conditioning. 

We are love.  And, we can be fierce love. When we begin to hold images of ourselves as women worthy of dignity, respect, and love, we begin to view ourselves differently. I’m not talking band-aid images – I’m talking a real and true transformation of the images we hold about ourselves, other women, and the Feminine. When we find these places of dignity, respect, and love within ourselves, we begin to know something new, something real, something sacredly creative.

Anne Baring writes,

“The recovery of the feminine principle is the key to the transformation of our world culture from decay and disintegration and progressive regression into uniformity, banality and brutality, into something longed for and extraordinary.

Woman’s own awakening to the realisation of her value is part of the recovery of the feminine principle. It is as if a momentous birth is taking place in the collective psyche of woman. This birth may be experienced as something that is deeply perplexing and difficult as well as something exciting and challenging. As woman gives birth to herself, to her unique individuality, to the emerging awareness of her value as woman (not an imitation of man), the feminine principle will also emerge in the consciousness of humanity which for so long has suffered from its repression and rejection.

Woman, whose essential nature is to respond to suffering and need, is now responding to life’s own need and is experiencing herself as the vessel of transformation in which a new consciousness is being born.”

 

A woman is reborn as she gives birth “to her unique individuality, to the emerging awareness of her value as woman (not an imitation of man).

We are reborn when we ask the question (with a longing to listen so we truly hear the answer), What is it to be female? We are reborn in the space from which we listen. This isn’t woman as imitation of man, or woman born from man’s rib. This is, as Rilke wrote, “the female human being.”

 

 As Woman

When I come to know myself as Woman,
as sacredly female outside of patriarchal control,
I am held in the lap of Love,
I am back in the garden of Earth,
I breathe in the fragrance of Life,
I eat of the fruit of Wisdom,
I am no longer a stranger in the holy land,
the only land in which I am truly alive,
the land of my own body,
the realm of my own Soul.

::

image from Flickr Commons: Woman with a basket of mandarins, 1920-1930,
Photographer: Unidentified, Location: Queensland, Australia; No known copyright restrictions

 

 

{ 8 comments }

Living the Magic and Wonder of Her

by Julie on April 13, 2014 · 14 comments

 

rubis

 
 
 

It was midday on Sunday…

We’d just arrived at Rubi’s restaurant in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Three of us sat down at a table in the back room where the welcome sunlight was streaming through the upper windows. We were to be joined by three other women we’d just spent three days with at the Red Bird Inn, the site of our retreat, Opening to Her. We’d been dancing in the Feminine for these three days. We’d opened to Her, and felt Her there, always there.

I’d co-led this retreat with Amy, and it was the first time we’d worked together. I felt light. I felt full. I felt a great love surrounding us.

At a table next to us, two women were deep in a conversation that was marked with quiet voices and intense feelings. I felt drawn to one woman in particular. In fact, I kept looking over in her direction, then would call myself back knowing it didn’t feel right to keep looking at her. But something in me felt drawn. I was to find out later that the other women I was with felt the same thing.

 

The other three women from our retreat arrived at Rubi’s, and…

We settled in and began to talk. Our conversation was light, filled with interesting things. We were talking about what we were returning home to, and shared stories about synchronicities, connections, and family. We laughed together. There was a sweetness to how we were with each other after three beautiful days together.

I hadn’t noticed that the women next to us had left their table until one of the women, the one I’d been so drawn to, approached our table from the direction of the front room of Rubi’s. She and her friend had begun to leave the restaurant, but she returned to speak to us. She approached the table looking at us, then at me, and asked,

“Are you teachers or something?”

We all looked at each other, and then I responded,

“Yes”.

She then shared with us that she could tell there was something ‘special’ about us, about how we were with each other – (connected and strong) – and that she was drawn to speaking with us because her friend was going through a very hard time and she felt we might be able to offer her friend something that she couldn’t.

Her words implied that she wanted her friend to feel held.

She then asked if she could bring her friend over for us to simply hug and be with. We answered, “Yes”, and then Amy and I stood up to greet them, together.

Amy hugged the friend, and I hugged the woman we’d spoken with. We exchanged names. Then I hugged the woman, and Amy hugged the woman we’d spoken with. As I hugged her, the woman having a difficult time told me her young-adult son had passed away just five weeks before. She said the words with a lot of presence and was clearly still in a great amount of pain. I was struck by her strength. I was struck by the strength of her friend, too.

The woman who’d initially come up to us to ask to connect with her friend hadn’t asked us for help, but rather had seen that there was something in us that could hold and be with her friend’s grief. She said she had been able to do that to a point, but she said she didn’t know what else to do and felt that her friend would benefit from being held by other women who were living something she couldn’t quite put into words.

At this point, the other four women at our table rose up, and one-by-one each hugged the other two women. They were slow, full-body hugs, not sideways hugs we many times offer in our world. The rest of the women at our table didn’t yet know what this woman was experiencing, but it didn’t matter. They didn’t ask. They simply put their loving arms around each woman and held her.

 

This moment was one of the most beautiful and amazing experiences of my life. There was longing and trust. There was connection and love. There was a lived and palpable presence of Love, of Her. It was a loving, nurturing, fully-accepting presence. It filled the room.

We then all said good-byes. The two women left the café, and we sat back down together. We all looked around our circle, a bit speechless at what had just happened. This loving, nurturing, fully-accepting presence lingered, fruitfully and spaciously.

 

One of the women at our table said she felt like she had just witnessed a miracle.

Another woman expressed something similar about our weekend together – that it was filled with magic and wonder.

The feminine is mystery. She is magic. She brings a sense of wonder.

At the end of our retreat, I offered the invitation to live Her, to live this expression of a presence that is life-affirming, real, and true, a presence that comes from being fully awake and alive in our female bodies. When we live this, we know it, and we know it and feel it in others. Even if others are not aware of it in terms of these words, they are still aware of it. We are all longing for it in our world. We hunger for Her. And She is here, holding us all.

The six of us didn’t have anything ‘special’. We were simply aware, in that moment, of this deep presence of Her. We had spent three days together remembering something we’d already known before…Her. And because of this remembering, we were embodying Her. We were living and breathing the dignity of Her.

One of the women at our table shared this as she reflected upon the experience:

 “…That we can be who we yearn for in the world. I cried at the memory of the experience, the privilege of being a part of it.”

She, the Feminine, wove us together, and then we left to go our own way. But now we know we are no longer going separate ways, but rather…

We move in the world woven together, always together, always connected.

 

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I am excited to introduce you to my good friend,

Megan McFeely, and…

to Premiere! a segment of her soon-to-be film, As She Is.

JesMegBehindScences


As She Is is a film about one woman’s journey (Megan’s) to discover what the Feminine is. It is her journey. And, it is our journey as women, our journey as human beings. 
Megan is a filmmaker who is making (what I consider to be) this very important film.

Megan and I have been friends for years. We dance together, and we travelled through India together. We’ve shared some interesting, challenging, and hilarious!, times on this journey to know and live the Feminine.


In Megan’s words,

“WHAT AM I DOING?

I am on a  journey towards the center of my being.  I travel inward to see if I can find myself as I am…not as others or the culture wants me to be.  In doing so I reconnect to the sacred, the inner or the feminine part of myself.

AleMeganRoad2It is the longing for wholeness or the deep question that draws me inward…and holds open a sacred space inside where something can be born.  This journey toward the unknown started with a question because I did not really know. What is the feminine?

It is my willingness to be with the most uncomfortable of places…the emptiness, the silence, devastation, grief and the longing that continuously forges this relationship, teaching me to act from a connected place with greater awareness and responsibility.

I feel this  journey is my responsibility so that I can participate in the future…and become a guardian of life on this planet.

This is a film project about a journey toward wholeness. I continue to learn how to live this connection to myself…a never ending process of becoming.”


I feel strongly that this film is of utmost importance.

To give you a sense of the beauty that is woven throughout this film, Megan has shared this interview with us. This is the premiere showing of a portion of her interview with Aleutian Elder, Illarion Merculieff, about the feminine way of teaching:

The Intelligence of Our Natural Way of  Being, from As She Is{A premiere!}

 

“The most important lessons in my life – from age 5 to age 13 – I got from experience, my own experience.”
~ Illarion Merculieff

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how often I speak to this – of trusting your own experience, unmediated – this rich unfolding of the greater intelligence that moves through you.

As you can see and sense, this film is bringing together wisdom much needed for our times from many different sources.

 

What you can do to help bring this film into being:

Over the years, many women have asked me where they might come to know the Feminine. They’ve wondered if there are role models, or archetypes, or images that might help guide them to understand what it is that is unfolding within them, and unfolding in our world.

To me, this is one of the reasons As She Is is important to support. We are longing for something, hungering to know something, yet what this is is not necessarily visible yet in our world. We can know it from experience, yet so much of what we’ve been taught and acculturated to believe clouds our eyes and covers our ears when it comes to knowing.

We want to know, yet where do we go to learn? Yes, from our own experience. Absolutely. And, we also are being guided from many different places, from many wise voices. As She Is gathers and weaves these wisdom voices into one film for us all.

We hunger to know, and for me this is one of the most important reasons to help fund this project. We can help ourselves find this way home.

If we value coming to know wisdom that will help guide us to a better world, we have a way to help make that happen.

If As She Is resonates with you, and you feel this matters to you, please donate – and please share. As of today, March 27th, she’s raised just over $11,000.00 of her $44,000.00 goal. 

It’s going to take some creative, generous gumption on our part to reach the goal in the next ten days. One thing I’ve learned is that how we make things happen now is different than it was in the past. No longer is it up to a few people to create change in the world. Now it’s up to networks of committed women and men, you and me and the people we are connected to, and the people they are connected to.

There are 10 days left  in Megan’s Indiegogo campaign.

$1, $5, $10, $20 – or more – whatever you can give - each and every dollar brings this As She Is closer to completion.

We can be part of helping to bring forth a world where the feminine is valued alongside the masculine, a world where the feminine is valued and lived. We really MUST be the change we wish to see in the world.


Donate and share this Indiegogo link!

Indiegogo Campaign and Film trailer - Watch the film trailer, donate, and help spread the word by sharing. 

As She Is Website: www.as-she-is.org

As She Is Facebook page - Join the conversation on Facebook.

And you can share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or by email to your friends and family.

Thank you, friends, for supporting Megan and As She Is.

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The idea behind Wise Woman Wednesday is this:

We live in a culture that is not designed for women to succeed with ease. Yet women, when we awaken to the feminine within us, and begin to live the feminine as She moves through us, embody something vital that must be lived in the world. In order to bring forth our wisdom and nature into the world, we must support and amplify each other’s voices and hearts, because our culture isn’t yet set up to really do this. We’ve been graced with the Internet as a way to bring forth our voices into the world. And it is my joy to share women on Wise Woman Wednesdays whose wisdom and voices I wish to amplify with great love.

Today, on Wise Woman Wednesday, we’re…

tanyageisler

Tanya is a wonderful friend and a colleague who does just that – she champions women. She is wise. She is generous.

Tanya steadfastly stands for women to step into their life’s work – whatever that work might be.

I first met Tanya in person at the World Domination Summit, the first year it was held in Portland, Oregon. Meeting Tanya in the flesh was something I’ll never forget. Her warmth and enthusiasm are contagious. And her ability to listen on so many levels is evident the moment you enter into a conversation with her. She listens with every cell of her body. That is an important skill for a coach.

We’ve come to share many experiences, one of which was speaking at the Isfeld TEDx Women event in Courtenay, British Columbia. Tanya spoke about the Imposter Complex, something she’s taken to a whole new level in how she helps women identify and move through it. I remember how we both woke up early that morning before we were to speak. We were staying in the same condo, and so we came out into the kitchen together to have coffee, and talk quietly so as not to awaken others sleeping. We ended up sitting on the kitchen floor laughing like crazy about something.

Tanya, and our rolling-on-the-floor laughter, were the medicine I needed to calm my pre-speech nerves.

A few days ago, I surprised Tanya by telling her I was to feature her here today. We recorded this audio because it seemed like the very best way to share and amplify Tanya’s voice in the world.

 

If you are looking for a coach to work with, I have personally experienced Tanya’s coaching. She is a superb coach. She coaches many coaches.

And, Tanya’s program Step Into Your Starring Role is currently open for registration. I am not an affiliate. I don’t receive any monies for sharing her work. I receive the joy of knowing you now know of Tanya. We offer similar programs for women. We both want women’s voices to be heard in the world. And I know that Tanya might be just the right woman for you to work with. When you choose a coach, or a coaching program, the most important thing is finding resonance with your coach.

Make Wednesday a Wise Woman day, and amplify a woman, or many women, you know. Let’s support each other and amplify women’s voices into this world, a world thirsty for women’s deep wisdom.

 

 

 

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