Be Full of Your Self

by Julie on July 29, 2014 · 3 comments

youarethemiracle

 

One of the things I say often in the course of teaching, and often here on the blog, is that we are what we are. We cannot be anything else. We can pretend to be someone else, and we do that all the time through our words, choices, and actions. But, in reality, we can’t be anything other than who and what we are.

I mentioned this in the 5-week summer course I just finished teaching, Unleashing Creativity and Leadership for Women, through Stanford Continuing Studies, and it had a powerful effect on the women. Sometimes, okay often, we don’t realize just how much effort we put into attempting to be something we are not and could never be. That doesn’t mean we cannot become more healthy human beings, but it does mean that at the core of who we are is a soul with certain innate qualities and expressions.

We learn, early on, not to believe in the goodness of these innate soul qualities. We learn, early on, that we must conform ourselves to ideas of a ‘better self’, ideas that come from outside of us…which leads us to engage in a practice of continuing to look outside of ourselves for how we should be, who we should be, and what we should say and express in the world.

I remember some of the messages I received as a child. “Don’t be so full of yourself.” “Don’t look in the mirror – it’s vain.” “Don’t be so outspoken.” “Don’t talk about yourself so much.”

Don’t, don’t, don’t be YOU, see YOU, speak YOU.

I understand that parents want their children to be good people, and to be socially adept rather than blatant narcissists.

I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s, and if you remember these years at all you know what I’m talking about. I had two sisters and I know what we were taught. It wasn’t just in the family. It was especially strong in the schools, especially for girls. I don’t know how it was for boys during that time.

No wonder why it’s taken me so long to speak what I know, to love what I see in the mirror, and to honor the soul that lives and breathes through this female body as a soul of goodness.

Consider believing you can’t be full of yourself. If that’s the case, whom should you fill yourself with?

If you were told something remotely similar, whom and/or what did you learn to fill yourself with? If you think about the false self you portray, whom is it made up of?

If you are taught to second-guess the words that want to come out of your mouth or onto the paper, or the images that want to be painted or drawn, or the movements that your body wants to do on the dance floor, what comes out instead? And what is being kept hidden?

::

Take a moment to consider the messages you were told about who you should be, how you should act, and what you get to say, do, express. For that matter, take a few moments. Write them down. Let them roll around in your consciousness.

Then, peel them off of you. Unwrap them from around you. Some might be really sticky, almost velcro-like. If that’s the case, remove the other half of the velcro from your beautiful self and soul so that the whole enchilada floats away. As you peel them off, see them disappear into nothingness.

I do this as a deep, extensive exercise in my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, and what happens is always quite amazing. The results always confirm what I know – that we know who we are, that we know we are pretending, and that somewhere we long to remove everything that covers us up.

Be full of your Self!

Fill yourself with your innate soul qualities that are your essence. Let the goodness of who and what you are radiate out your eyes, spill onto the canvas, page, or job you do. Speak from your soul. Breathe into the world the essence of who you are.

You might find that you have a bunch of beliefs about allowing this to happen. That would make sense. We only uphold this illusional self if we believe, for varying reasons, that it’s not okay to do this. But, persist. Find the desire within you to be you, to speak what you know, to express what is in your soul.

It is true. When you love the whole human experience, you are the miracle. YOU are the miracle. Something miraculous happens when you love who and what you are, and you love the whole of your life and the whole of the world.

This is what it means to be full of your Self, to radiate the love that you are, deep, deep down in the center of you. It is to make peace with who you are and how things are. Then, only then, can love move through you as the unique expression of You.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.34.41 AM

 

His hands are well muscled, his fingers nimble and exquisitely sensitive to the clay in motion.

As I watch, I can feel my own fingers following the nuances of his touch, as if they, too, can sense the impulse that feeds that touch. The music settles into me, its rhythm opening me deeper into the experience of watching this man do what he does with such precision, and seemingly such love.

I wonder how many turns of the wheel his hands have guided. I see how they ripple with the clay. I feel his muscle memory in mine, and I remember moments when my hands touched with such love.

It wasn’t clay, it was flesh – a close kissing cousin to clay.

My hands touched and guided flesh in this same way. Flesh that loved to be touched, and flesh that I loved touching.

Maybe that’s why he is so digitally articulate. Maybe his fingers dance along the ridge between clay and air, because he’s touched flesh, too, just as my fingers have danced along the edge between invitation and invasion.

He knows this clay, intimately. You can see this. I wonder how well he knows flesh. I wonder if a potter’s hands become so intuitive in their touch that they know flesh and bone and blood as elements to be turned and guided and nudged, just as lovingly, just as exquisitely.

Touch is prayer in motion, and as I watch the graceful mark his muse makes upon this world, causing the rim and curve and edge to emerge, I know grace moves through hands in extraordinary ways. Images of past clients flash in front of my inner eyes, those who knew beyond any doubt that life wanted to create through their hands. They knew this as well as they knew their own names. Their hands spoke to them, much as I sense his hands speak to the clay, telling them it was time for them to make their mark in this world.

My hands are speaking in much the same way. They want more than to just tap. They want to touch the flesh of life. They want to make things – real, physical, beautiful things.

Hands want to make. They want to mold and shape and knead. They want to know how it feels as the muse anoints them as vessels, carries them over to bliss, making love to them in service to creation.

I’ve sometimes been struck by the sight of my own hands, held out in front before my own eyes, suddenly and seemingly to be hands that could belong to anyone but me. Those moments when I was nobody, and no body, in particular, but simply life peering out of my eyes, I watched my own hands touch, fingers dancing along the ridges of whatever it was they were conversing with. In those moments, I’ve witnessed the inherent wisdom in the cells of hands and palms and fingertips. I’ve seen and felt and known how hands offer the direct expression of Soul into this material world. And, heart lines move out to and through hands and fingertips, offering love in a way the heart cannot.

Each piece meticulously loved. Each expression uniquely molded. Each creation mindfully shaped by something we can’t see nor hear nor touch, but something we feel echo through our cells.

After watching hands create, is there any doubt at all in the way love persistently and powerfully demands to be expressed?

::

The muse moved through these hands to tap, tap, tap, after watching the extraordinary video (below) of exquisite artistry. I couldn’t stop the flow of words and images that came in response to being moved so deeply by the beauty in this video.

In writing this piece, I am playing with a new kind of writing experience and process, one I will share with you soon as a creative writing course offering. I will be sharing it in my newsletter…

Please enjoy this incredibly beautiful video… And, please share with me in the comments how it moves you.

 

image above is by the videographers…

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Do we dare live our sacred humanity?

by Julie on July 13, 2014 · 3 comments

OliveTreeUnderStarlight

 

We are the sum of our ancestors
Our roots stretch back to blue-green algae
They stretch to the stars
They ultimately reach the void
This history is inscribed in our psyches
Silence and solitude enjoin us to remember
Our whole and great body.
~ Joan Halifax

Listen to the audio…

 

Our whole and great body. The sum of everything that has existed is within us, each of us and every one of us.

We cannot escape this earth. She is our home, our mother, our world. No matter how hard we try to escape, with thoughts of heaven, realms of light, any place other than here, this place is we are born, it is where we live out our lives, and it is where we will die. Our bodies are made up of her. The food we eat comes from her. Our lives are spent here on her. No matter how smart we think we are, how much we believe we can control her forces, or how much we attempt to destroy her, she remains our generous mother.

Roots that stretch deep down into the humus, the incredibly rich, humus, deep earth of the ages… all the way through the center of the earth to the stars, to the void of creation.

Perhaps the way to the stars is not by escaping earth in rocket ships of metal technology…perhaps the way to the stars is through this deep rich humus, the matter that is this human earthly existence. How different is our earth from the stars? Our flesh is made of stardust. Our bones are ancient sacred sites. Our blood is liquid light.

Perhaps it is only by becoming fully human that we find the place of wholeness, the place of everything, where starlight infuses flesh, and love for everything embraces our fears. If we become quiet enough, and maybe even alone enough, we finally settle into our bones, into the depth of gravity that allows us to understand that we are part of something so much greater than our fear of ourselves…and each other.

 

Do we dare open our arms and hearts wider when there is so much violence and greed?

Do we dare live joy when there is so much suffering?

Do we dare feel the depth of love that is available for all of life when so many of us generate hate?

Do we dare remember our flesh is made of stardust and our blood is liquid light?

Do we dare settle all the way down into our flesh and bones, giving ourselves over to this one precious life?

Do we dare be here, all the way here, no longer trying to escape to somewhere else?

Do we dare plant ourselves, here, in this deep-of-the-ages dirt, paws, claws, and all?

Do we dare be fully human, infused with liquid light?

 

Do we dare be fully human, living our sacred humanity?

I say Yes.

It is our sacred humanity that will heal us back into wholeness, heal us back into earth’s family, heal us back into this web of life that stretches back to the ancestors, back to the stars, back to that from which everything is born.

It is by living our sacred humanity, here, right here, rooted in the earth, that we will remember what we truly are.

 

Image is ‘Starlight Under Olive Tree’, by MgPixel  under creative commons 2.0

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redplumsbynicksaltmarsh

Red Plums

Now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe
slurred in the darkness, while the plums

dripping on the lawn outside
our window, burst
with a sound like thick syrup
muffled and slow

Margaret Atwood, from “Late August”

::

 

I feel the impulse. It rises up inside me from deep in the dark. It rises up on its own, like breath.

This impulse is alive, like breath, like me.

This impulse is whole. Everything is contained within. Everything I need in order to express this impulse comes along with it.

This impulse is ripe. And, because it is ripe, the entirety of it is ready to be eaten, tasted, digested, and made new again through expression.

This impulse is wise. It knows what I don’t know. And when I admit I don’t know, it comes. In its own time.

This impulse is responsive. When I listen to, and feel, the deepest longing inside me, and actively create, and engage within, a space for epiphany and insight, it comes. It always comes. In its own time.

My willingness to trust and admit that I do not have the answer to a question I truly want to know serves like a clarion call to grace…to be graced.

Grace comes on its own, in its own time. That is what it means to ‘be graced’.

::

 

Something subtle happens when you finally realize there is no better version of yourself to become, when you realize that voice in your head isn’t telling you the truth. After so many years of trying to be more, you stop trying, pushing, and striving so hard. It is then that a presence begins to more clearly make itself known. This presence doesn’t fluctuate between ‘enough’ and ‘not enough’ like our personalities do. In the realization that there is nothing else you can be other than who you are, this fluctuation begins to soften and subside. And as it subsides, this presence becomes clearer and  more palpable.

This presence simply is. And, there is a pulse to its expression that moves through each of us, an impulse to move and express in a certain way.

I call this the creative impulse and we all have it within us.

We could also call it the love impulse. It is love and it wants to have its way with us.

Last week, in my current group of Becoming a Force of Nature, we explored module five and its corresponding practice, “Follow the Ripe Impulse.” Every time I teach this work, I practice again, alongside.

This practice of following the impulse is at the heart of leading from your personal creative resource, what some might call Essence, or Soul, or Spirit. I also call it Love.

The creative impulse always comes from within you. It is never outside of you. Ever. It can be like a nudge. Or an arrow shooting straight up through your core. Or a soft tap on your inner flesh, a sudden silent utterance from your heart, a sensuous swelling in your womb.

The beautiful thing about it is that once you begin to follow it, you soften for you realize there’s nothing to figure out, only an impulse to follow. The impulse will guide and everything you need to know is inside. When you trust this, you become the vessel, and you begin to follow.

The process to getting to the place where you feel and know this presence and impulse isn’t linear at all. It’s a deep dive into the unknown. You come upon rocky terrain, dark shadows, creatures who seemingly have bad intentions, but who ultimately are there as some of the wisest Sherpas you could be blessed to come to know.

And even when you know this presence and feel the impulse, it doesn’t mean the mind doesn’t flare up over and over again, trying to figure out. This happened to me this week. My mind went wacky. I could feel it flare up and, when it did, I lost sight of this impulse. Instead, I got caught in the crazy looping of trying to figure things out, of circular emotions, and almost a panicky feeling. Thank goodness it wasn’t too long before I caught myself, realizing that I felt so crappy because I was caught up in it. Sometimes when this happens, all I can do is laugh, because it is so funny how the mind makes up these entire worlds filled with only dire possibilities.

In the course, this week we are following the live-with, ‘Follow the Ripe Impulse’. A live-with is a guide to help you put what you’ve learned into the real world – it is contextual learning.

I wanted to share it here because I think it is such a helpful thing to realize that who you really are is leading you from within. When you begin to feel this and follow it, you become less and less concerned about what others think and more aligned with this impulse. It is very freeing. And it isn’t easy. I don’t know anyone who has had any easy time with this. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

 

Here’s a snippet from the course live-with, in case you want to play alongside of us!

Feel for the Ripe Impulse: desire, question, longing

Always, the live-with is relatively simple. If you do nothing else, simply feel for the ripe impulse.
You’ve let go of expectations and relaxed the judgment.
You’ve become awake and aware, and can hear and feel and sense the wisdom of your body.
Right here is the present moment. Here is the sea of infinite possibility.
Here is where the ‘New’ is breaking on the horizon, bubbling up from the sea of possibility, making itself known.
Before the ‘New’ breaks open, we have no idea what is coming.
But, we CAN feel for the ripe impulse that tells us where to place our attention, what to feel for, how to respond, and what to respond to.

 

And if you’re interested in finding out about the course, (Becoming a Force of Nature), or wish to sign-up to be notified when the course opens for registration again, you can do so here.

 

‘Red Plums’ by Nick Saltmarsh on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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The Red is Strong. Like Blood. Alive.

by Julie on June 24, 2014 · 2 comments

ForestbyMoyanBrenn
 

Listen to the audio version:

 

I walk into the forest of me. Before I am very far in, I begin to lose my bearings, those bearings that have held the powerful sense of self I’ve had in place for most of my life.

The forest floor is soft and thick with a build-up of old-life-dying. My feet are bare as is the rest of me. Here in the forest of me, everything is shed. There are no illusions about who I make myself to be. They all fall away as I proceed further in. Except the red nail polish on my toes seems to still be here. Maybe it’s the power of the chemicals that keeps it in place, or maybe it’s the power of the red to remind me of something more alive than the old-life-dying beneath my feet.

The red stands out starkly against the decaying matter. 

Old skin, old beliefs, old stories. Old and dead. Shedding, sloughing, falling down to become part of the old-life-dying.

But my feet feel vibrant and alive. The toes spread out so that each one can feel the earth, can sense and grip and connect. As if they remember being part of paws feeling the vibrations ricocheting through the decaying matter, the soil, and the bedrock. Losing bearings and old skin can also be a finding again. Maybe of something new. Maybe something old. Maybe something outside of time and space. A place where I can taste the earth in my own body so clearly that I know I am from this earth, of this earth, will go back to this earth, and never can ever leave this earth. She and I are tied together, and not just through toes.

I find a place to lie down amidst this old-life-dying. It feels awfully comfortable. Soft and thick, and my bare bones sink into it as if to say, “We, too, will go one day. Go back into you, dear earth, marrow meeting molten core.”

Even now, alive with marrow, these bones taste the earth and know home.

My bare soft flesh fills the space between the bones and the old-life-dying. Flesh feels so freshly alive, and somehow also dead when I don’t want to feel it. When I believe I am only the flesh, I fear the old-life-dying. The flesh of my life, the things I call mine, fill the space around me so I can’t feel the bones meet the earth.

 

The bones are the bedrock. They know things. They hold me up, give me alignment and integrity, and teach me about laws such as gravity, laws that are always true, unlike some of the laws that exist out there, outside the forest of me. The flesh is sweet, yet too much and I can’t feel, too little and I don’t know home.

I found the opening into the forest of me when I really turned to look. Half-looking never works. Half-seeing doesn’t either.

It grows dark, here, yet the red is strong. Like blood. Alive. I follow the red. A light begins to shine. Like the sun at the center of everything.

When I know I am the flesh AND the light that illuminates this flesh, then I am home. 

 

*** Forest: image by Moyan Brenn under Creative Commons 2.0

 

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This Big Old Wild and Lovely Tree

A few weeks ago, as I was walking down the main street of my neighborhood business district, I came upon a scene with men in suits, men in hard hats, and men with chain saws. They were watching and talking, gesticulating and sawing. This big old wild and lovely tree had grown too big for her ‘place’, her roots uprooting the concrete sidewalk that had been placed all around her when she was young and still manageable, not her full-grown, wild-self nature.

As I stopped to watch, I heard one of the men in suits talking about the tree say, “It just became too much for the street here, too much to contain. We had to cut it down. We’ll dig up the roots, cut them out, and pave over the hole. It will be much cleaner.”

She couldn’t and wouldn’t be contained in that too-small spot she was given, decorating the fancy-shopped street along with a few other chosen trees, spaced neatly and orderly along the way. She was trying to shake the concrete off, trying to grow into her full potential, following the seed’s instructions that were at the heart of her becoming.

Now, enough days have passed by that all signs of the tree are gone, except for the sidewalk squares that are obviously new concrete, sitting right up against the old. There won’t be any more ‘growing things’ in that spot. We must maintain a controlled-enoughness at all times.

 

Pave Paradise

Now, I’m sitting, waiting for my Darshan with Amma.  Amma is the Indian saint who’s travelled the earth hugging others with unconditional love. I’ve been graced with her hugs many, many times, and each time is different.

The temple is filled with Shakti. My body is filled with fire.

As I wait, I hear a voice inside, an insistent voice, a fiery voice that is clear about what she wants. Shake it off. Shake everything off that is not true. Strip me bare of everything that hides my nature, that hides who I really am, like concrete laid out in large archaic patches across Mother Earth, keeping her bound, her bosoms unable to rise and fall with those magnificent in-breaths and out-breaths she takes as she prepares meals for her children.

As I see this almost-furious voice laying claim to what is true, I see that I am this strong core with deep roots, a core that is unshakable and roots that hold me steadfast to the earth.

I’ve been paved over. I was wrapped with concrete, laced with rebar that holds the paving in place, maintains a strict form, and certainly doesn’t allow any big bosom breaths to shake up the status quo.

You know that old Joni Mitchell song that croons, “We paved paradise and put in a parking lot”? Yeah, that one. Sometimes, that’s what this body of mine feels like – like paradise, a flesh and blood paradise, a conscious, aware, breathing, desiring paradise that’s been paved, made into a parking lot full of concrete, straight lines, and all sorts of rules as to who owns it.

 

Feral Flesh

Enough rules about ingress, egress, and regress will cause
any wild woman to forget that she was ever feral flesh.

And not the kind of feral flesh that old ‘parking lot attendant’, the one who believes he knows the ‘lay of the land’ and the rules about who gets to use this used-to-be-paradise, would want you to believe. No, not at all.

THIS. This body, this feral flesh – feral as in completely and utterly in tune with the seed of her becoming – flesh as completely and utterly part of this existence we call life, matter infused with the love and vitality, inspiration and creativity, vibrancy and expectancy that anything completely alive knows – this feral flesh, this desiring paradise, still remembers, still feels, still knows it is good and whole and necessary.

The Soul can only know what it is to be fully alive in this life by way of this body. A paved over body cuts the tree down, uproots the roots – at least in our psyche. Our doing this causes great pain to the Soul. But when we turn back to Soul, when we show we are ready to let the Soul lead, the Soul returns, shaking concrete off of roots, untwisting rebar, unveiling her nature, the trunk and roots begin to emerge.

As Amma takes me into her arms and I feel her presence, I can tell she’s heard my Soul’s request. She hugs me with a force I’ve not felt before, her jackhammer of love hitting against those thick slabs of forgetfulness and severed connection. She’s tearing away the untruths just as this fiery voice requests.

These two wildly alive and fiery loving Divine Beings seem to have a direct line to each other. It is my job to get out of the way and let Nature do its work.

You don’t have to be in Amma’s presence for Nature to help shake off the concrete. Nature is ready and willing.

::

bafonbadge300px

Experience Becoming a Force of Nature!
I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over the summer, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014. Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.

This time, I’m offering the first module and call (June 4th) to EVERYONE, free of charge!

Sign-up here to receive the module so you can experience the course. I know you will learn a great deal just from Module One.

 

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Lotus,  (c) Liza Fox

Lotus, (c) Liza Fox

 

Pleasure

In my newsletter that I sent the other day, I wrote about pleasure. You can read about it here.

Pleasure is an interesting word in that there seems to be so much cultural judgment against the word, and against women experiencing pleasure. But pleasure is simply ‘a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment’.

As I wrote about pleasure (in a different vein), I also realized how so often when I am creating I am in a state of pleasure – especially when I am dancing – and how often I am in a state of the opposite of pleasure – contraction, pressing hard, tightness – especially when writing the book I’ve been working on.

When I dance, it isn’t for anyone else. There is no finished product. There is simply the experience of dancing for no particular outcome at all – yet the outcome that comes by and of itself is always one of pleasure – a very simple joy.

Joy is one of the qualities of creativity!

 

Reframing Perfection

I know enough about creativity to know that there is always some sort of creative tension at the very heart of the process. The tension comes from the process itself, because we don’t know and we realize we don’t know and this is uncomfortable. In the process, we have to let go of how things are, and we have to let go of the way we think things are supposed to turn out, so the seed of expression can germinate and grow into what the seed is intended to be.

When I am creating ‘something’, I more often experience this contraction. Suddenly, I want to have a say in how it turns out.

But, everything comes from a seed, even if it is only (what seems like) a simple seed – a simple idea. At the heart of the seed IS the creation. Our job as creators is to give way to this seed, to allow it to germinate and grow without too much interference.

The way I usually interfere is through my incessant need for a quasi-perfection, an ‘almost-perfection’ that never gets where I want it to get.

Consider all the ways you try to make yourself be something you are not; consider how much effort this takes; and, consider that no matter how much of this effort you keep applying, you never get to the state of perceived perfection you’ve created in your mind. It always stays a quasi-perfection of what you think you are trying to achieve. But, if in reality, perfection is simply something being as it is, all of this work toward perfection only takes you (me, us) away from perfection because there is no allowing, there is no surrender, there is no letting go so what is there can be known.

Perfection is simply the seed growing into what it is meant to be.

Perfection in creativity is the process of midwifing this seed into being.

 

This reminds me of the Lotus flower, pictured above. The Lotus flower grows out of what seems to be such ordinary looking leaves and roots and water, yet the Lotus itself is luminescent and other-worldly. This is the real you. You are the Lotus flower, and so are your creations.

Knowing this, how does that change your own creative process? How does this change how you see yourself in relationship to the creations that are trying to come through you?  How does this change how you see you?

 

Perfection and pleasure, together!

How much more pleasure-filled might your creative experiences be if you were to create from this different mindset of perfection?

Perfection already is. When we know this, the creative process, whatever it is we are creating, is a process of allowing and unveiling. It is a process of co-creation with you and the life that is expressing through you. In this process, both you and the creation are changed. (And, yes, it is you and you.) All you. All life.

In my course, Becoming a Force on Nature, one of the last modules in the twelve is ‘Be Ordinary‘. It is exactly this sense of perfection, that when you are simply you, ordinary, the extraordinary can finally shine through.

Again, the Lotus is an expression of what happens when we are ordinary. When you are ordinary, there is no striving, pressing, or stressing to be something you are not, and it is ONLY in this state of ordinariness that your truly extraordinary perfection (that you cannot make happen!) can shine through.

It doesn’t come through because of anything you have done, it comes through by simply allowing yourself to grow out of the muck and mud of everything in your life that is seemingly contradictory to either your perfection or your pleasure. Yet is is not…

It is the muck and mud of life that is the seed bed
for your beauty and creative capacity.

 

Oh, and in the course we also cover Sexuality and Voice, and how closely creativity, sexuality and voice are related. We dive directly into Pleasure.

 

Experience the Course for Free!

If you are interested in finding out, I’m offering my course, Becoming a Force of Nature, over these summer months, running from June 2nd through September 3rd, 2014.

You can find out more about the course, here, including the recording of the information call I held. 

Our first call is on June 4th, with the first module being released on the 2nd, to give you time to go over the material.

The first module and call (June 4th) are open to EVERYONE!

I’d love for you to sign-up here to receive the module so you can take a look at the material.

It is powerful material and it will give you many insights into how:

  1. creativity is not just about art
  2. YOU ARE creative
  3. the more you trust in your nature as a creative being and as a woman, the more it (and you!) will flow.

and so much more.

 

We all want autonomy and sovereignty – and so do our creations.

 

 The Lotus photo is by Liza Fox (c), an accomplished photographer and my niece!

 

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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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