Authentic Voice Project: B is for Belief

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 2


I was near tears already. Angry-sad tears at the current state of affairs in our country and world. So it wasn’t with the most gracious heart that I took in the message on the frame around the license plate of the SUV parked in front me:

“If you are living as if there is no God, you better hope you’re right!”

To this I thought:

If you claim there is God but are living with a Belief that dictates that Roe vs. Wade should be reversed or claims all Muslims are evil, LGBT rights should be denied, or that Black Lives don’t matter, you better hope you’re WRONG. Continue reading

A is for Anger

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 1

voice quest wordleAUTHENTIC VOICE

As we are beginning with A, I will take a moment to define Authentic Voice as I understand it.

I believe we all have an Authentic Voice. It is the one that comes to us from various sources:

  • intuitive insights
  • dreams
  • emotion-body reactions (such as butterflies in the stomach, the tight chest of anxiety or anger, the sore throat of suppressed tears, etc.)
  • expressive writing (“I didn’t know I was going to write that!” or “where did that come from?!”), and other artistic expressions
  • gut reactions and “Freudian slips”

It is the voice that many of us suppress in the name of “reason” or convention. It is a voice many of us don’t even know – on a conscious level – that we process. It is that voice that, as Carol Gilligan records in her book, In a Different Voice, caused a female student to stop short when she heard herself say, “If I were to speak for myself…” Deep down we do know we have this voice and the suppression of it causes pain. It triggers emotional reactions in us we may not completely understand. It is the wisdom of our body, of our unconscious, of the collective unconscious. And if we are to pursue our full potential as human beings we must access it because it holds the balance of the truth of who we are.

And now onto the first word of our project…


Society says: Anger is dangerous. Anger is violent. Anger should be suppressed. Anger is particularly unseemly for women. Anger is an unhealthy emotion. A “nice” person doesn’t get angry. Anger is not productive.

I say: Anger is a flag on the field, a check engine light, a high temperature indicating an infection. Anger is an emotion, which like all emotions, is a message. And like all emotions, we must heed it. Notice it. Acknowledge it. Listen to it. When and why did it get triggered? Where in the body is it manifesting? And how? Is it a pressure, a pain, a tingling?

Many times anger is the only emotion we can notice or it is the go-to one when the grief, hurt, pain, disappointment, rejection, sadness, frustration, loneliness, powerlessness, anxiety or fear is too uncomfortable. But then the guilt kicks in because we are not supposed to be angry. It’s not socially acceptable. Well, it hurts and pushes other people away. In fact, sometimes we use to push them away. Use it as our barrier… and then wonder why we are so lonely and sad.

BUT, anger can be useful if we take as an invitation to dig deeper into our unconscious to find our true, unexpressed feelings. All our feelings are legitimate. It is how we choose to use them that makes the difference. Anger expressed in rage, manipulation, violence, suppression, or physical or emotional attacks on others is merely a way of pushing our discomfort onto others, hoping it will relieve us. But by taking our anger and working with it – using it as an positive energy – we can use it to take action in our lives. As Sue Monk Kidd did, take your rage and turn it to outrage — use it as a call to action and a chance to usher in change.

Anger: Just a message.

Prompt: “I am angry about…”

Authentic Voice Project (revisited)

This is the first of series I started five years ago (to the day). A lot has changed for me personally and in the world since I wrote these posts, so I’m curious and excited to re-visit them.

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit


Manifestations of our thoughts. Creators of our internal messages. Words have and continue to shape history and people – not always positively and sometimes with devastating consequences. Words have an affect on us, more powerful than we can rationally understand. The words we have heard all our life, depending on the context in which they were originally and/or continue to be delivered, shape our emotional response to them.

If a word has a negative effect on you, it is time to change it. Change its personal meaning — change your (unconscious) emotional reaction. Make it have authentic meaning for you.

So, with the dawn of a new year I am announcing a new writing project: The Authentic Voice Project.

Every two weeks, I will write a post based on a word, starting with A and proceeding through the alphabet. The words will be “trigger” or “loaded” words (or phrases in some cases), either according to society, women, or to me personally. I will attempt to sum up the general or accepted “meaning” of the word and then re-work it to be more personal, more positive, more helpful, more meaningful and authentic — in my own voice.* (And if you have suggestions for any of these words, please leave a comment.)

Obviously, my personal take on a word or phrase will not speak to everyone. But my hope is that it will get you thinking about your own definitions of words you may not even realize have an unconscious affect on you. Please feel free to comment with you own reactions and re-definitions (or possibly guest blog here or in response on your own blog)- every person’s experience is different and equally important, and may resonate with someone else on a level I may not have reached.

Please join me on this quest for Authentic Voice!

* This idea is loosely based on Kathleen Norris’ book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith.

Authentic Voice Project: Y is for Yes!

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit


Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of arts, music, knowledge, and wisdom.

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 26 (Full Moon)

Y is for Yes!

This is the last post of the year-long Authentic Voice Project. I didn’t always stay on schedule but I did make it through the whole alphabet (excluding that confounded x and z). I was considering making this post Y is for Yahweh or Yoni (talk about different ends of the spectrum!), but as this is this project’s finale I thought I’d go out on a highly positive note. YES!

This was actually inspired by this post on Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Facebook page where she shares a poem called “How To Silence a Woman, Retrieving Her Voice.” As Voice has been the whole point of this project it seemed appropriate to share my own “Retrieving Her Voice” poem.

Yes! I Shall Speak

Yes, I shall speak my truth although you tell me it’s not true

Yes, I shall cry even though it forces you to touch your own frozen tears

Yes, I shall yell when my chest hurts from holding on too tight

Yes, I shall breathe into my belly and find my own creation there

Yes, I shall tell you how I feel even when it doesn’t fit the shape you have molded for me

Yes, I shall decide what I need even if sometimes it is not best for those I love

Yes, I shall allow my body to speak to me not just to yours

Yes, I shall move with rhythms of the earth not your man-made march

Yes, I shall find resonance with my own inner pulse

Yes, I shall love with my presence as well as my body

Yes, I shall be fierce when I, or others, are wronged

Yes, I shall sing when I am sad, full of joy, and searching for peace

Yes, I shall not be silent just to ease your dis-ease

Yes, I shall release the wisdom caught in the web of your lies, told to centuries of my mothers

Yes, I shall shout the words lodged in my throat

Yes, I shall speak

Yes, and you shall hear


Prompt: “Yes! I shall…”

image and caption:


Authentic Voice Project: W is for Wisdom

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 24 (New Moon)

W is Wisdom

How appropriate this word would fall on a holy day: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which also the auspicious 12/12/12. It is also the last new moon – and so also the darkest night – of this year.

I am not Catholic and wouldn’t have known about this feast day if it hadn’t been in a posting on Facebook relating it’s significance to 12/12/12. And I wouldn’t have thought too much beyond that if it hadn’t been for some other happenings this week.

While in a recent conversation with a client the importance of the Catholic saints suddenly took on new meaning for me. They are like the mythical gods and goddesses who represented different facets of human behavior and psychology. Praying to them is like a conversation with Self (or Jung’s “God Within.”) And then a friend IM’d me to wish me a happy Lady of Guadalupe day not knowing I was about to write this post. She told me was in Mexico on this day ten years ago and watched them celebrate The Virgin, whom they consider a goddess.

In my studies I have also come to realize that the Catholics’ adoration of Mary – and her associated feminine aspects – allows for a spiritual (mystery) dimension to their faith that feminine-void dogmas may not foster. Wisdom is traditionally considered feminine. Think Sophia, which means wisdom. Snakes, bees, owls, the moon… all symbols of wisdom and associated with various goddesses.

All these thoughts come on the heels of a women’s circle I attended over the weekend called ‘Gathering the Grandmothers,’ which was a celebration of the wise “elders” in our community. As part of the session the oldest woman in the group was asked to share one piece of wisdom she had learned (fyi: it is to LAUGH!). This gave me an idea for a project  which I will introduce that in a moment.

So let me break down why this day for me is a day symbolizing Wisdom, specifically the feminine wisdom we ALL hold in our bodies and that which can be heard when we LISTEN to ourselves, whether through writing, meditation, or prayer to the (inner)saint/goddess of our choice.

  • ‘W is for Wisdom’ was previously scheduled for this day’s post
  • The wise moon is temporarily hiding her face, a symbol of a time to look inward; a time of renewal before re-birth/re-creation
  • The Virgin (original meaning: “a women unto herself,” i.e. a woman who knows her own heart/wisdom) is celebrated today as a people’s goddess whose act of creation bought hope to the world
  • 12/12/12 in numerology is a very important date which means creation – which for me is our ultimate act of wisdom – and completion. (Further explanation of this below.*)
  • I began my menstrual cycle today and pricked my finger: blood is traditionally a symbol of woman’s wisdom.

So, on this day of wisdom, I announce the start of a new project for the new year: WISE WOMEN SPEAK

When we listen and really hear the wise words of our elders we strengthen their voices and their Selves as well as ourselves – and ultimately our society. When we listen to each other we also begin to see each other. We raise our voices to raise the selves of all women.

Every two weeks, according to the phases of the moon I will post words of learned wisdom from elder women. I will be accepting submissions from Wonderfully Wise Crones (you can submit them here). I thank you in advance for your participation in this project (and I thank T.K. for the inspiration).

P.S. As soon as I pressed Publish on this post I clicked on Facebook and there was this post at the top of my Timeline:

“She represents the creating, subversive power within and the creative subversions of post-colonial peoples. She is the invitation to speak, to narrate, to tell, to talk back.”

And it was referring to none other by Our Lady of Guadalupe! Wow.



*Significance of 12/12/12: Firstly, you can plainly see that the number 12 is prominent within these dates. 12 is a number of universal import and you see its repeating patterns in your culture; 12 hours of the day, 12 months of the year, 12 in a dozen, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles, and 12 days of Christmas, for example.

These relationships are not a coincidence, nor are they about convenience.
Within the 12 you find the number 3; the sacred trinity, third chakra, and number of creation. It is universal that when you put two things, ideas, or what have you, together, a third is naturally created.

In these December dates, you have three threes. This equals 9. Thus the creational value is tripled and the result is the completion of a cycle, which is a meaning inherent in the number 9. From this we can plainly see the vibrations at play of creation and completion, in the cycle of development. (From

Authentic Voice Project: V is for Voice

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 23 (Full Moon) is for Voice

Having a voice is embracing all questions and possibilities, accepting them all as part of the whole truth. It is feeling everything – pain and pleasure. Voice is emotion, sensation manifested, expressed, shared. It is the exchange of energy. Inside and out. It is an internal resonance of emotions humming within our cells. It is the resonance of the human experience against others’ experience. It is sound expressing the resonance of experience and knowing.

On Loss of Voice – What we must Reclaim

As Mary Field Belenky discusses in Women’s Ways of Knowing, different people have different levels of knowledge depending on their culture, background and education which make up their sense of self. How they express (or don’t) this knowledge is their voice (or silence). Loss of voice is the loss of belief in or knowledge of feelings – emotional and sensory. It is, due to the external condemnation of opinion and experience, a distrust, a lack of confidence in, or even knowledge of, one’s own knowledge, disabling one to express what the body knows to be true.

Singing or other internally vibrational activities touch this truth by activating the body-conscious. What one has have lost becomes too hard to face. The body remembers everything. Loss of voice is the disconnect from these memories and feelings. We cannot express them because the thick, dark wall of religious condemnation and patriarchal “rules” against the body and its intuitive wisdom, connection to the earth, other creatures and other (higher, deeper?) realms of knowledge prevents us from seeing what we have lost. We know it but we don’t know that we know it.

The patriarchal and hierarchical systems on which our culture is built muted the connection to body, emotions – to voice. Science cut us off from our spirit and made us machines, religion cut us off from our body and silenced us. It silenced the resonance of personal – natural – knowledge and experience by making them unacceptable, even evil, pushing them into a dark place of self-rejection and self-hatred. Religion gave divinity to an external being and authority to Other (causing distrust of Other as it institutes a hierarchical power over, us vs. them dynamic).

While we cannot express our deepest knowledge and feelings we also learn not to express any feelings, belittling our emotions as foolish, meaningless signs of weakness, something to suppress or overcome. Or we mold every emotion into the one form we feel comfortable with and stand behind it, using it as a shield to protect us from connection to self and others. We do not stand up for ourselves or understand when we are being led away from our own needs and desires. When we are silent we are easily influenced by other voices, external voices of authority that fill the space where our own voice should be.

Healing is re-connecting body and emotion and spirit and voice through voice by placing the divine (connected) source of vibration within – the internal voice of authority. Healing is no longer believing the lie that one should be silent lest you be judged or rejected. It is speaking out for justice and compassion for self and others. It is not believing that those in power – the Other –  is anymore right or anymore wrong than you, that we all have a place, a right, a voice.

Authentic Voice Project: U is for Union

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 22 (New Moon)

U is for Union

Union = bring together, connect, to make one

Yoga = from sanskrit word meaning union

Religion = from Latin root ligare, meaning to bind together, a union

Spirit = from Latin root spirare, meaning to breathe (the act of which brings psyche and soma (mind-body) together as one)

Modern religion, based on hierarchical and dualistic paradigms, fosters the exact opposite of its root meaning. God over Man, Man over Woman and Nature, Mind over Matter (Body). Spirit vs. Flesh, Us vs. Them, Good vs. Evil. True Union – Oneness – cannot be achieved in this concertized pyramid.

But this is not the nature of nature – human or mother. The world – the earth – is not a pyramid; it is a circle. It has no edge, or top or bottom, left or right. It is a delicate balance of all. There are only interconnected circles of existence, continuums of being, webs of connection between nature, all humans, all cells.

There is Union between continents when the tides inhale on one shore and exhale on the opposite. There is Connection between peoples when we feel sadness draping over our communal shoulders in the aftermath of disaster. There is Oneness when a man and a woman come  together in sacred union. There is Religion when, standing atop a mountain or in a dense forest, the body seems so small yet so big, and the air is your spirit, your breath is the air, and you are One with it all.

True Religion is Spirit. It is the connection between all the things. It is the oxygen that you take in, the same oxygen breathed by every creature and plant surrounding you. It is the breath bringing life to all cells, all organs so your mind-body may operate in balanced harmony with itself. It is the vibration of one entity’s life force resonating against another, like a drum pulsing with the beat of another. A web’s every strand shimmying in the breeze.

Religion = Union with the Divine, with the divinity within each of us, the “God Within” – the Self that is our whole, holy, unified mind-body, fully in spirit with Mother Earth.

Authentic Voice Project: S is for Sin

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

Codex AemilianensisThe Authentic Voice Project: Week 19 (Full Moon)

S is for Sin

Next to Evil, I think Sin has to be my least favorite word.

Sin… Born black with it. The inherent human state of it. Living in it. Redeemed from it.

It’s just another word shouted, whispered, preyed upon us in an attempt to keep us in line. To keep us in a state of fear. Afraid of ourselves. And our wicked ways. But look at a baby. A child has to be taught not to love. Love is the natural state.

I ask you, how can a person ever grow, foster their own strengths, move towards their inherent creativity if they believe every step in this “sinful” world could bring wrathful judgement upon their head? The answer is, they can’t. Fear is a stop sign. It is a shut door. And belief in a “natural” sinful nature is a stagnant pool with no life vest.

Yes, all humans have the potential to do some very awful things, but it is not inevitable and more than not choose to do the loving thing. It isn’t faith in a god that prevents the majority of us from slowing down to avoid hitting a dog walking across the road or prompts us to help out an elderly neighbor who needs her driveway shoveled. And (except in very rare cases) no one chooses to live a certain way because they enjoy being hated and rejected.

True “sin” to me is an action, not a state of being. Sin is killing this earth in the name of money. Sin is denying others basic human rights. Sin is living in fear of “sinful” people and blindly following external authorities who proclaim they have The Truth or The Answer. Sin is denying one’s own abilities – the natural creativity with which we were born – and instead choosing to live in an inauthentic and joyless, thankless life.

If Sin is denying the Divine, then OK, I agree. We are all divine, all points of light in this web of life on Mother Earth. Denying this divinity in ourselves separates us from the earth, nature and each other, and when there is no connection, there is death. Death of Soul. Death of Spirit. Death of Love.

Authentic Voice Project: P, Q, R is for Perfection reQuires Release

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 18 (New Moon)

P, Q, R is for Perfection reQuires Release

(Six weeks behind… I’m playing catch up on this one!)

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

― Albert Einstein

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

― Thomas A. Edison


There is no such thing as Perfection. Planning on perfection means failure. Guaranteed. You’ll never get there. Perfectionism stunts growth. If nothing is ever tried, nothing, truly, is never gained. But our society is not a big fan of failure. Despite all the quotes by the “Successful,” like those above, telling us otherwise, we still seem to believe that making a mistake is the epitome of failure, from which there is no return. And so the carrot of perfection doesn’t prompt us forward, it stops us in our tracks, destined to sit in the dust of those who braved the unknown path ahead.

Ours is a culture built on the (religious/patriarchal) concept of dualism. Black or white thinking: With us or against us; Us or Them; Good girl or Bad girl; Right or Wrong; Good or Evil; Heaven or Hell; God or Satan; Fail or Succeed. Perfection is a goal in this type of thinking, with Perfection being the Truth. There is no room for in-betweens, for questions, for learning by mistake.

Yes, we can strive for the best – YOUR best. That is your perfection, not someone else’s definition of it. Working towards – practicing – your Potential and the instant gratification of societal “Success” are two very different things. And in order to journey towards, to go on a quest for, your own idea of perfect, you must RELEASE. Let go. Question.

Release all expectations. Release certainty. Release fear. Release discomfort. Release those voices in your head which are not your own. Release debilitating perfectionism. Ask yourself what is your truth. Change “Perfect” to “Enough.”

Whether you are suffering writers’ block, fear of failure, or even fear of success, as you step out of what has been the status quo, know that you are learning and in this moment, you are enough.

Prompt: I am learning to…

Photo credit: blondieb38 from

Authentic Voice Project/Trust the Process: O is for “O” Moon (Speaking your Full Self)

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 15 (Full Moon)/Trust the Process (Part 12)

O is for “O” (Full, Whole) Moon

I write this from the cool (-ish) basement of the library at Goddard College. I’m here for the residency portion of the second half of my G3 semester (I am a half-time student so this means I am 3/4 through my degree work.) For me, this residency every six months is pure joy. I have my own room where I can choose to sleep, read or write without interruption; my food (three amazing meals a day) is cooked for me and I don’t have to wash one single dish afterwards. I never have to bend down to pick up a stray toy or little sneaker, and the only laundry I see is my own small pile that I can ignore for eight whole days! For this mother, this IS vacation.

But also for me, the writer and thinker, being here amongst some of the most intellectual, progressive, compassionate, creative, change-seeking people is like coming home. A family to which I never knew I belonged until I met them. It is here I began the journey towards my authentic voice. It was here that for the first time I realized I had opinions that I could voice without judgment. Even in disagreement there is still love and respect here. I stood up for my own beliefs and hugs were not withheld nor companionable laughter restrained.

I have also learned here that words like “never” and “always” and “everyone” and “should” do not apply. Except in one thing:  ALL are ALWAYS needing love and acceptance. To belong – whatever their opinion, belief, background, orientation. And that is Goddard: A place to be belong. To be heard.

The only way one’s voice/self can be truly heard, it must have something against which to resonate.

First, you must make yourself vulnerable and speak your truth. Others must hear you, really hear you (or maybe just one Other – sometimes that’s all it takes). And if at first it is on the page only (which ALWAYS listens), that is a great start. But once you are heard, acknowledgement and acceptance join forces to produce confidence. The whisper of your voice grows steadily louder until it is all you can hear. The “shoulds” and “oughts” of society become drowned out. At that point you need nothing but your own heart for resonance. If it feels right in your body then it is right for you. Your intuition, your body wisdom, your Self will speak out strongly and with conviction. In turn, the raised energy of your own authenticity will give permission to others to express theirs.

So, on this full moon, the full circle of light – a symbol of wisdom and intuition and wholeness – I urge you to “trust the process” of listening for and speaking from your own place of truth. With your own voice. Listen to yourself, speak for yourself, know yourself; the Whole You. The Holy You. The Divine* You.

* To Divine: To know by inspiration [to breathe into body], intuition [body wisdom], or reflection [look into self]. Divine: Magnificent, Beautiful, Godlike. Individualization: the gradual integration and unification of the self. (The Free Dictionary)

Prompt: Like the full moon, I am divine – whole, magnificent, all-knowing – and wish to be heard. One truth that resonates with me today is…