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.

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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

IN THIS MOMENT, I AM ENOUGH

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 morguefile.com

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…

Authentic Voice Project: N is for Need

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 14 (New Moon)

N is for Need

Really, what do we need, really? I’ll tell you what I don’t need: another pair of black shoes (or brown or cordovan or purple, for that matter), that late night bowl of ice cream sprinkled liberally with natural coconut (for justification and fiber) or the huge cherry-chocolate chip scone with my coffee, or this smart phone that sucks my concentration into the little screen of brain-death. I also don’t need to beat myself up over dusty bookshelves, panic over large or unexpected bills, work obsessively on whatever project-of-the-moment has me in its “I Should” clutch, make decisions based on fear, or stay hidden in my office at the expense of making new connections and friends.

What society tells us we need is far, far from what we as humans actually need. And what we tell ourselves we need or need to do is usually exactly the opposite to our true needs. Do you need to stay silent at your own expense for fear of offending another? Do you need to stay put just in case that adventure might possibly turn out not exactly as you have envisioned? Do you need to continue in the job that is draining you of energy and spirit? Do you need to skip that painting class because you’d be a neglectful parent if you leave for the evening? What restraints do we put on ourselves out of guilt? What expectations do we put on ourselves in the form of projection (what we think others expect of us)? (And if they are telling you they need something from you, they are searching outside themselves for happiness. You will never make another person the kind of happy that is deep and personally fulfilling, only they can do that.)

In reality what we all need, boiled down to its basics, is:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Connection/Love (with self, others, nature)
  • Belonging (Count)
  • To Contribute
  • To be Capable and Courageous

When we meet these needs (which, after the first two, are all INTRINSIC), all others pale – they raise your energy, which in turn contributes to the raised energy of The All. Do not base your needs on what another says you need, even (especially) if they claim it is for your own good. No matter how much you love them or they love you, if it doesn’t fit with your own authentic, intuitive need, if it doesn’t resonate with you (if you can feel that resonance over the thump of fear), you don’t really need it. Tune into your heart, into your inner voice and let it tell you what YOU need.

Prompt: “If I were tell my own truth, what I really need, for me, right now, is… “

(Thanks goes out to Lana for the suggestion of this topic.)

Photo credit: imelenchon from morguefile.com

Authentic Voice Project: L is for Life, M is for Matter

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 12 + 13 (Full Moon)


L is for Life and M is for Matter

What is the purpose of life? What does it mean to be alive? What does it matter?

I was taught in my church-going childhood that this life was just a waiting room for the next life, the more important life, the one with God. At the time I was too young to realize that this concept made a mockery of this life – now. How could I be grateful for all I had now if it was just a trial, a test? For what? A time when I would no longer be with my family, my dog, my beloved house? Needless to say, that wasn’t very appealing to me as a child. I didn’t want my Mummy and Daddy to disappear and leave me, alone. Everything and everyone was suspect because they could cause me to do or say or even think something that would anger God enough that when I reached that Judgment seat, He would say, “Sorry! Next!” and I’d be out; flung out beyond the walls of the Kingdom along with those who wept and gnashed their teeth. I was taught that The World was a scary place; the next world seemed even scarier.

But now I have a new understanding of Life. Someone said somewhere,

Life is made up of moments.

I read this at some point in my twenties and I remember it was a light bulb moment. Waiting for your life to start means every moment you stand around waiting for the starting gun is a wasted moment, therefore you are wasting the life you have right now. This my life NOW. I no longer believe there is anything after. If there turns out to be, I don’t want to be the one who is asked, “And what did you do with the life you were given?” and having no good answer. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one who had to say that s/he spent every moment hating on someone/thing “other.” I want to take the life, the gifts, the talents, the passions I was born with and cultivate them and sow them. Life for me means constantly looking for my potential so I can grow and change and give and love with the personal and universal knowledge I am gaining.

Why does it Matter?

Matter is earth. Matter is body. Matter is “mater,” mother. And it matters because we all come from Mother Earth. We are all made from the same stuff as the earth and the plants and the trees and the animals: air, water, carbon, and energy. We are all vibrating with the same source of energy.

I was taught the body is a thing at the least to ignore, at the most, of which to be ashamed. My intellect was what mattered (“mind over matter”). I learned to live in my head, to dismiss the emotions and the needs of the body. But body would not be silenced. Its energy runs through my throat, my neck, my shoulders and reminds my head (sometimes painfully, particularly by way of the sinuses) that it is still there and that, although “just” matter, it does indeed matter. We experience Life through our whole body, through our matter, because Life’s energy, Earth’s energy is connected with the body’s energy. They cannot be disconnected no “matter” how hard we might try to deny we are of this earth. So plug in!

Life matters Now because we are Matter now. We are all matter. And because we are connected to all other matter we have a responsibility to our fellow and sister earth-dwellers to seek our highest vibration. To be alive means to have energy flowing through your veins. Your purpose is to live with a passion that causes this energy to pulse in life-giving waves through and around you. Energy builds energy. Pass it on so all may benefit (you have, I’m sure, experienced a lightened mood just by being in the vicinity of a authentically happy or passionate person – this is mutually raised energy). Raise the universal energy for this life, in this life, where the suffering is now and needs to end now. Because Life Matters.

Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com

Authentic Voice Project: J is for Judgment; K is for Know

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 11 (Full Moon)

J is for Judgment and K is for Know

Ugh, judgment. Other-judgment, self-judgment. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

OK, so now you know how I feel about judgment.

Coming into this post I have some self-judgment going on and that is the worst judgment of all. You’ll notice this is a double letter post. I kinda didn’t ever get to write this J post two weeks ago. And now I’m a day late on K as well. And I’ve been judging myself all over the place for that. I do have two great excuses: grad school and children. But in reality I have had enough moments where I could have sat down and gotten this post written. I just didn’t. I resisted it. Why? I can’t quite say. OK, yes I can. The whole concept of Judgment is just too icky. (I’m not talking about Eternal Judgment here. I’m soooo over that!)

I saw a video recently of a talk by Amanda Gore (can’t recall which one, I watched a whole bunch – she’s great!) where she said essentially:

Quit worrying about what others are thinking about you; they’re too busy worrying about what you are thinking about them to be thinking about you!

Self-judgment under the guise of Other-judgment is probably our worst enemy. We project all over each other all the time, seeing ourselves mirrored in another and then despising them for it. It is so true that what we dislike in another is – guaranteed – something we dislike in ourselves, and of which (most of the time) we are simply unaware is our own truth.

Which brings me to K is for Know.

In the coffee shop where I am writing this, there is a blackboard on which the owner has chalked a quote by Descartes (you know, that “I think, therefore I am” guy):

I will converse with myself and scrutinize myself more deeply; and in this way I will attempt to achieve little by little, a more intimate knowledge of myself.

Although I think “I feel, therefore I am” might be a more accurate description of the human condition, Monsieur Descartes makes a great point. We have to “converse” with ourselves through writing, singing, painting, or any other form of self-expression/-reflection in order to really know who we are. By discovering this we are less likely to project our shadowed (unknown) issues onto others which causes us to judge them. When we recognize and accept our own foibles and weaknesses and biases, we become more compassionate to ourselves. This in turn allows us to become more understanding of others’ character flaws.

 

Authentic Voice Project: I is for (Divine) Intervention/Intuition

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 9 (“Super” Full Moon)… a week late, ooops.

Throat Chakra

I is for (Divine) Intervention/Intuition

(The original version of this post turned out to be very long. This is the condensed version which is more in line with the Authentic Voice Project’s format. However, I have included the full version at the bottom of this post.)

Many believe that god is not an external being, but that god is within. Every creature, rock, tree, is divine; as Krishna Das said in an interview in Sun, “There’s only one God, and we’re all it.” And we, as humans, can find and access this divinity – and its divine wisdom – if we choose. When the divine energy and wisdom of all things is in concert, powerful things can happen.

I believe Intuition is this divine – and sometimes inexplicable – wisdom, and that “Divine Intervention” (or Serendipity or Synchronicity) is tapping into knowledge we did not know we know and into sources of energy to which we did not know we were connected.

Throughout my journaling “career,” but particularly since I recognized this to be my life’s work, and even more intensely since I began grad school, I have been struck by life’s connections. Sometimes you can recognize the separate links as they appear (often in the strangest places) and connect, creating new knowledge and understanding. At other times, one comment or sentence can in a flash fuse together seemingly disparate events, books, people, dreams together to reveal new meaning and insight.

My most current experience is with my own definition of Finding Voice, meaning both the physical act of being able to speak up and out, and also as a symbol of finding and knowing Self, which is the theme of my thesis and memoir. I have always called myself a singer but I discarded this application of using/finding my voice in my studies and writing. But it was not to be so. A series of events, from losing my voice to a cold, to inadvertently connecting with a voice teacher on Facebook, to picking up a random magazine whose current theme turned out to be singing, have made it clear that my songs also need to be heard.

What causes these bizarre “coincidences”? I believe it is a divine wisdom, intuition – knowledge from a deeper/higher place – that causes us, and the world around us, to unconsciously move in a certain way. We must be open to it though. We must be seeking our potential and moving in a direction of growth and healing. And while I am not yet certain how this slight expansion in definition of “voice” will affect my writing and studies, I am choosing to trust the process. I am trusting this Divine Intervention and my Intuition.

~~~~~~

I is for (Divine) Intervention/Intuition (The Unabridged Version)

Many believe that god is not an external being, but that god is within. Every creature, rock, tree, is divine; as Krishna Das said in an interview, “There’s only one God, and we’re all it.” And we, as humans, can find and access this divinity – and its divine wisdom – if we choose. When the divine energy and wisdom of all things is in concert, powerful things can happen. I believe Intuition is this divine – and sometimes inexplicable – wisdom, and that “Divine Intervention” (or Serendipity or Synchronicity) is tapping into knowledge we did not know we know and into sources of energy to which we did not know we were connected.

This week’s post is an example of this. It is a convoluted tale with many different threads coming together from diverse and unexpected places and people. It is about “impossible” connections and happenings that, I believe, occur when wisdom/knowledge beyond our understanding is accessed.

My graduate thesis and memoir is about “Finding Voice,” with “voice” meaning both the physical act of being able to speak up and out, and also as a symbol of finding and knowing Self. Recently I was writing about some childhood memories where I was silenced in one way or another. I began to experience some sinus pressure while writing. The next day I happened upon this passage:

‎Many women have difficulty speaking, actually allowing words to come easily through their throats. Their sinuses are often blocked… ” – Leaving My Father’s House, Marion Woodman

This passage goes on to say:

The [sexual] chakra and the throat chakra are connected. Is it possible that when they fully forgive themselves for being sexual beings and fully let go into their creatureliness… Are their frozen tears the tears of generations of women who could not accept their creatureliness in their sexuality? When those tears flow will women be able to speak with clear, easy resonances from their feminine depths?”

I wondered about this connection between voice/silence and sensuality/sexuality. As a teenager I had often experienced an inability to swallow food in conjunction with stomach pains.

Then, while “chatting” on a Facebook group of former church members about the body-mind connection in relation to spiritual and sexual transcendence, one woman happened to mention she was a voice teacher. She said she has noticed that, “most peoples neuroses manifest in the way the use their voices, and most people don’t use their voices naturally and efficiently.” Suddenly I made the connection between singing and emotion. I have sung in choral groups and as a soloist most of my life but for some reason I hadn’t thought this was an important aspect of my story of Voice/Self and the silencing one can experience as a child – particularly a daughter – of fundamental/patriarchal religion. I did think it was interesting that as a teenager I was afraid that I would somehow lose my singing voice, as if unconsciously I was aware it might be the only voice I had, but to focus my writing on my singing still hadn’t seemed warranted.

I decided to write an essay, “The Story of My [singing] Voice” to discover whether my singing “career” somehow reflected suppressed emotion and loss of Self. (I can only figure such things out by writing through them.) Through the essay I realized my singing voice had, paradoxically, kept me both disconnected from my emotions and, albeit by a thin thread, connected to them through my physical, sexual/sensual body.

The morning I had planned to write the essay, I awoke with a raging sore throat from a dream where a mouse had bitten deeply into the skin at the base of my big toe. I looked it up and found that in reflexology this region is connection to the throat. Over the next three days I completely lost my voice. I then remembered that almost a year ago I had had a dream where a mouse bit my heel, which is the region connected to the pelvis. I knew then that the passion of my teen and young adult years, singing, could not be discounted in my story of finding and reclaiming my self as a whole woman and human. My voice, whether spoken or sung, is the “voice” of mySelf and I needed to investigate it to go further along my road to healing.

This past week my family went on vacation. While on the train I found a notebook in the bag I had dug out of the closet specifically for the trip. Looking for a blank page, I found this note from last summer when I attended the senior voice recital of a friend’s son:

I notice discomfort watching him showing emotion. Embarrassed for him. Find it hard to watch his face. Moved by music itself but interaction between him and female singer causes more discomfort.

Here it was again, a link between singing and emotion. Whatever causes an emotional reaction in us, whether it is discomfort, anger, or a knowing resonance, it is a clue to our own truth. While I had not consciously known when I jotted it down the relevance of this little note-to-self, finding it at this very moment gave me a message I needed. A little while later on the train ride, I found the magazine I had thrown in my bag at the last minute which I had recently “stolen” from a coffee shop (it was a old issue and I knew the owners were wanting to whittle down their piles of reading materials.) I didn’t open it before pilfering it, I just knew it was a great publication. The first article I opened to was “A Joyful Noise: Krishna Das On Chanting the Names of God,” and upon further inspection discovered that the theme of the whole issue was, yes, singing.

What causes these bizarre “coincidences”? I believe it is a divine wisdom, intuition – knowledge from a deeper/higher place – that causes us, and the world around us, to unconsciously move in a certain way. We must be open to it though. We must be seeking our potential and moving in a direction of growth and healing. And while I am not yet certain how this slight expansion in definition of “voice” will ultimately affect my writing and studies, I am choosing to trust the process. I am trusting this Divine Intervention and my Intuition.