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.

Authentic Voice Project: H is for Healing

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 8 (New Moon)


H is for Healing


The medical world believes healing is taking a patient with a clinical diagnosis and controlling their physical symptoms enough for them to function as “normally” as possible. The emotional and spiritual state of the individual is rarely taken into consideration. In fact, in many instances “healing” involves suppressing these aspects with drugs.

The mind and body have been split asunder. Our memories, past abuses (self or other-inflicted), old traumas, our psychological complexes, our cultural “rules,” and religious indoctrination – all the “stuff” that makes us who we are – are not questions on the intake survey. Those body workers who do consider these aspects of the whole person, masseuses, chiropractors, energy healers, and other “alternative” medicine providers, are considered woo-woo by the establishment. The body is just a vehicle to be patched up when its bits and pieces get rusty, like any old car.

True healing is not duct tape on the bumper or a tin can on the muffler. These things may keep the car running but the rust is still there underneath, eating away at the structure.There is extensive evidence that psychological wounds eventually and inevitably manifest as physical ones. Keep something suppressed long enough and it will let you know there is a problem. Stiff back, digestive problems, sore throat, swollen joints… while natural elements of aging, they are also flags that it is time to address your inner life. Mid-life crisis? Just a shove and opportunity for new self-discovery and growth. Ignore this and you get psychologically more discontent and physically uncomfortable.

I am not saying there are not externally-generated illnesses, viruses, chemical disruptions, or accidents that hurt our physical body, obviously there are. What I am talking about is the body issues that slowly (or suddenly) make themselves uncomfortably obvious. Our psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual lives are all connected – interwoven, linked, one in the same. To truly heal ourselves we must acknowledge every level of ourselves, down to the deepest and most difficult to see. But every connection we make in our lives, inside and out, heals by bringing us closer to balance and wholeness (the word “heal” means “to be made whole”). (I wrote more about the healing of connections here.)

Yes, you can pop a pill. Or you can take the time to honor your whole self and ask, “what is wrong, really?” and “what do I need right now to be my best self?” Release the pain from your body by acknowledging your true feelings and sensations. Connect to them and really heal them.

Photo credit: sideshowmom from morguefile.com

Authentic Voice Project: G is for God

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 7 (Full Moon)

G is for God


I’m cheating this week by letting others speak for me. I came across this just two days ago purely by “accident” – the timing was perfect. So, I will hand over the talking stick first to Marilyn Sewell and then to Mary Daly:

God is a spirit, a mystery beyond human understanding, and therefore we can only approach that mystery through metaphor… The problem is that in the formulation of the religious metaphors we live by, women’s experience has once again been largely discounted. God has been king, prince, lord, father, conqueror, judge… [Let’s evoke] images [that] allow a divinity of softness and vulnerability, of tenderness and nurturance [so] we are led to less fear and to more comfort and hope than traditional images alone have provided…

– Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality

~~~~

Why indeed must “God” be a noun? Why not a verb – the most active and dynamic of all? Hasn’t the naming of “God” as a noun been an act of murdering that dynamic Verb? And isn’t the Verb infinitely more personal than a mere static noun? The anthropomorphic symbols for God may be intended to convey personality, but they fail to convey that God is Be-ing. Women now who are experiencing the shock of nonbeing and the surge of self-affirmation against this are inclined to perceive transcendence as the Verb in which we participate – live, move, and have our being.

– Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father as quoted in Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality, edited Marilyn Sewell

Prompt: My metaphor for God/dess (Spirit, Transcendence, Universe) is…

.


Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com

Gypsy: A Fairy Re-Tale

Gypsy

They say she danced from her mother’s womb. They say her first yelps were a song to the ear. They say she was born with the pulsing rhythm of her heart glowing red beneath her golden skin.

They say when she was twelve, a white man of the cloth saw her dancing alone by a stream. Her hair flew and her skirts billowed as she twirled. She was bewitched by the blaze of the sun on her upturned face, the throb of the drum, the stomp of her feet, and the rush of the water. He saw her Passion and it made him wild. He loathed her for that. He began to yell and shake his fists at her, calling her names she had never before heard. He said the devil lives in the skin of the drum and demons were dancing beneath her skirts. But she continued to dance while he continued to condemn. And then she stopped. For a moment she felt her Joy, her Love, her Passion falter. The poisoned arrows of the man’s words had pricked her heart and she felt something she had never known: Shame.

But they say she then began to sing. She looked the man in the eye as she sang. She saw things there that frightened her. She saw self-hatred and weakness and sadness. But above of all, she saw Fear. She sang to the Fear. Called it out of its deep, dark place where it was festering and polluting the man’s heart. She sang and she sang, and as she did she felt her Joy, her Love, and her Passion begin to flicker again. The deep red of her dress and of her Love reflected in the man’s eyes and began to burn the hard, dark steel plate of Fear and Hate. As her voice got stronger, her Love grew stronger and his eyes became soft with tears.

Then she danced again. She danced right into the river and let the rushing waters wash away the poison the man’s words had embedded in her heart. It beat fully again in time with her drum.

They say when she was a grown woman, the tiny perforations that Shame had ripped in her young heart allowed in the light of Compassion. She sang to lead all voices in harmony with the wind. She danced to call up the energy of the earth. And she beat her drum so that the hearts of those around her might pulse as One. And just like a broken bone that rebinds stronger than before, her Love, her Passion, her Joy – her Voice – swelled so no one’s words of fear could ever cause her doubt again.

Authentic Voice Project: F is for Fornication

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

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 6 (New Moon)

F is for Fornication

When I was six, I learned to pronounce it. At ten, I knew what it meant. And at eighteen it was burned into my chest.

In my last blog post I wrote that “Evil” is the most evil word I know. Well, “Fornication” can’t be too far behind. For me, the word weighed heavy throughout my teen years. It was the sin that was always on my mind because well, it was on my mind. Even thinking of it was supposedly a sin. That which is so natural to us as human-animals and is part of the regeneration of all life considered a sin! Unfortunately, condemning a sacred, spiritual, natural act as dirty really sullies its reputation overall, whether or not there’s a ring on its finger. Just look around at the way women and sex are denigrated in our society. And to convince young people that the natural needs of the body, with which they were born and over which they have no control, are filth tells them one thing: that they too are filth. Not so grand for the self-esteem.

“Fornication” is an ugly word, one of many words plundered and remolded as a weapon to keep us in line. Various Biblical sources tell us originates from the Latin word “fornicatio” which means arch or vault and is related to the Greek word “porneia,” to act the harlot (who stands under arches). Harlot: originally a description of a male vagabond, but since the 14th century, a prostitute or promiscuous woman (thefreedictionary.com). Ugly words, ugly accusations. For a completely natural, beautifully human need. Like eating…

A fornix, was an earth-oven – arched or vaulted – for baking bread which were named for the Fornax, Goddess of the Furnace or Ovens. The Ladies of the Bread were the priestesses, standing under the arches of these Goddess temples in ancient Rome. Festivals, which included sacred sex to ensure good baking throughout the year, were called fornacalia, meaning oven-feasts. Baking bread, furnace, hot sex… bun in the oven. Yup, that’s where it came from. The Romans used to say, “the oven is the mother.”* The mother “bakes” the babe and the oven bakes the bread that feeds the babe.

Sex and sexuality and/or sensuality is a way to “feed” yourself and the one you love with affection and care. To share something that is healthy and vital to our physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. As life-giving – and natural – as baking bread to fill our loved ones’ bellies and souls.

* Sources: Reinventing Eve by Kim Chernin and Bell’s New Pantheon

Authentic Voice Project: E is for Evil

Photo credit: colossus from morguefile.com

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 5 (Full Moon)

E is for Evil

In my opinion the most evil word in the dictionary is, well, evil. It bites, slices, crushes; it infects, sickens, kills. I believe this word is too often thrown around where it doesn’t belong. It instills fear of rejection and shame in those who do not have (or were never given the opportunity to have) a strong sense of belonging and/or self-love. And those who think themselves to be of little significance have little power and are easier to push around.

Growing up, especially during those “rebellious” teenage years (when I never actually did rebel much more than attend a high school dance that I “shouldn’t” or make out in the car after a date), I heard this phrase too often: “Don’t give the appearance of evil.” Six words that imply so much more. “Your actions, and therefore you, have the potential to be evil. So, I don’t trust you (you shouldn’t trust you either) and you also shouldn’t trust others because their opinions – what they might be thinking – is more important than anything. Bottom line: be afraid of yourself and others. Just do what is right – what you should do – not what you are inherently capable of doing, which, as we said, is evil.”

And what about all those “evils” flung around at church each Sunday? “…every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” (Gen. 8:21) Yikes! How can anyone who has ever had or held a baby think for one moment there can be grain of evil in that precious, innocent little body? Of course we all have the potential to make “bad” decisions and we aren’t always nice. But evil?? According to the Bible-thumpers, we apparently have evil thoughts, evil ways, even evil bodies – from birth! Our basic needs are evil: eating, drinking, having sex, making money, getting educated, loving and caring for our bodies, minds, and spirits, seeking actualization and self-enlightenment… Seriously? This is evil?

Hilter was evil. Torture is evil. Child/domestic/animal/nature abuse is evil. Rape is evil. War is evil. A man,woman or child living their life according to their human nature is NOT evil. Convincing us that our nature is evil is abuse in itself. It denies us of our Mother-Earth-given right to pursue our potential, make use of our talents, and follow our bliss towards happiness and joy. Tell a child they are evil and you fill them with self-hate. Self-hate breeds Other-hate. Other-hate makes for a fear-filled and evil world.

I say: No thanks. I choose to believe that I – and others – have the potential of love.

Authentic Voice Project: D is for Drive

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 4 (New Moon)

D is for Drive

Society says: Drive is good. Drive is what allows one to come from nothing and go to something. Drive makes the downtrodden get up, turns the girl next door into the celebrity on the hill, and gives the death-diagnosis a bill of good health. This is all true. But drive can also be destructive.

Drive to be more… better, faster, slimmer, prettier, richer… this all implies that what is here, now, you, is not OK. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and I do believe in order to have purpose and meaning in our lives we must always reach beyond our comfort zones and propel forward towards our potential. But pursuing our potential must an intrinsic goal if it is to be authentic. However, to be driven towards a goal/standard that is projected upon us by some outside authority – whether that is society, family, your boss, professor, etc. – is not authentic to you,it cannot bebecause it did not comefrom you.

I think women have a special relationship with Drive because we, as liberated women of the 21st century, suddenly feel we have so much to prove. Yes, we can be mothers, housekeepers, cooks (organic and fresh at all times, of course!), volunteers, activists AND full-time employees or students; tough AND beautiful; independent AND care-giving; and the list goes on. Saying “no” is hard to do because we don’t want to be seen as weak or uncaring or uncooperative. And in many cases, I do believe, we are still trying to prove just how smart we are.

I say: You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Accept yourself for where you are right now, in this moment. Yes, by all means, Drive! But drive towards your own dreams, not someone else’s dream or plan for you (or the plan you think someone else has for you). You’ll know when it’s authentic to you because instead of Monday morning rush hour, it will feel like a Sunday drive through the country.