More thoughts on Authentic Voice (and writing)

Authentic Voice is that which longs for interconnectedness, looks toward growth and actualization (as opposed to purely “defense” needs and “elemental drives” such as eating, sleeping, finding shelter, having sex [Eisler, 190]), and is not “encased” by societies’ rigid hierarchical gender roles and stereotypes. It is not selfish or self-centered, but a recognition of “our essential interconnectedness with all humanity.” (Eisler, 190)

Authentic Voice is the one yearning for connection – love – and as such is the spiritual voice. Self-actualization cannot occur when living in fear or under suppression, and Authentic Voice cannot be heard in those states either. Love cannot be heard when there is “fear” of an “enemy” – within or without. “Hierarchies… require defensive habits of mind.” (Eisler, 190)

Authentic Voice is the suppressed “feminine” voice of the psyche – that which yearns for connection and affiliation with nature, others, and self – held down by fear in order to keep hierarchy in place. Releasing this “feminine” aspect through writing gives voice to the other half of our psyche and to our natural selves – our actualized self and helps bring us into balance.

So, like a mother does for her children, we write to vanquish the fear, to build self-confidence, to empower ourselves, so we can empower others (by realizing we are the same and not enemies). And to enter states of mind, i.e. whole, balanced, meditative states that increase “flow’ and feelings of connectedness. When we write we are fostering our own psychic growth towards actualization which in itself moves us “toward a different reality: the ‘peak experience’ consciousness of our essential interconnectedness with all of humanity” (Eisler, 190).

Writing allows us to tap into our own symbology, it uses both sides of the brain – this is whole “seeing.” It accesses body wisdom – the unconscious memories and collective unconscious. It balances the psyche, which fosters growth through creativity. Creativity is new ideas brought together in a “non-conventional” way to envision different forms of beauty that can initiate change. Creativity is insight – into self, into others, into new possibilities. Authentic Voice is our source of creativity and a path to self-actualization.

Source: Eisler, Riane Tennenhaus. The Chalice and the Blade : Our History, our Future. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. Print.

Authentic Voice Project: B is for Belly

Venus of Willendorf

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 2 (New Moon)

B is for Belly

I considered many “trigger” words for this post: Behavior, Body, Beauty, Blame, but I settled on Belly because… well, I have one.

Society says:

A woman’s belly should be flat; nay, concave. Low-rise and skinny jeans (practically the only type you can find if you don’t go in for the proverbial “mommy jean”) only work on such a non-belly. Otherwise you are in danger of committing the fashion no-no known as “muffin-top.” The popularity of Spanx and other forms of shape-wear (modern version of whale-bone corsets, and I contend, surely just as uncomfortable) tell the self-conscious woman that her natural curves should be tamed and restrained. Even the word belly makes us a little uncomfortable, we tend to think of bowls of jelly. The curvacious beauties of previous centuries are considered fat by today’s standards. A woman’s belly should be flat (lifeless?) – and called a stomach.

I say: Bellissimo! Lovely, beautiful, splendid, gorgeous, magnificent.

I never used to have a belly, but, of course, I thought I did. At 23 I had a boyfriend who used to make fun of my pot-belly, a feature I hadn’t considered I possessed until he said it. In fact, until after I left college I berated myself for being “too skinny.” I was one of those annoying people who could eat everything in sight and not gain a pound. Much to my embarrassment as a teenager, my hips bones stuck out when I lay down to sunbathe at the beach. And once, while riding in the front seat on a college friend’s lap (any cops reading this can ignore that part), he complained that I had the boniest ass ever! As a senior in college, a concerned classmate pulled me aside and asked me if I was anorexic. I was horrified!

But suddenly at the tender age of 23 I was faced with the realization that I was getting fat. Bear in mind, I was still wearing a size 5, and looking back at the photos from a Florida vacation that year, I was still about as curvy as a pencil. But because I was told I had a pot-belly, I believed it. An outside “authority” created my reality for me.

Almost two decades and two children later, I legitimately have a Belly. A nicely padded, well-earned “mommy belly.” And I claim this belly! I see it. I know it is there because I see with my own eyes and my own voice says it is there. I am my own authority on this personal matter. It is where my children lay curled in blissful warmth pulsing in rhythm to the dance of my blood. It is the “cauldron” where my womb lays hidden and protected, now empty, but churning with creative energy. It is one of the distinct features that makes a woman a woman, whether she has mothered children or not (because we are ALL creators!). Recall the rotund Venus of Willendorf (above) – now there’s a muffin-top to be proud of!

A couple of years ago I attended a belly-dancing festival. What impressed me the most (other than the young woman who could make every muscle in her flat stomach dance independently) was the utter lack of self-consciousness of the other moderately and well-bellied, naturally full-bodied women. Confidence in their own magnificence as real women. The radiating beauty of women who were completely at home in their bodies. Fully embodied. And they glowed with energy and pure joy as they reveled in the sensuality of themselves and the music. Bellissimio!

Belly: The “heart,” the soul, the foundation of a woman; the fount of her energy and love. A true pot -belly is one that is rounded, full, abundant with (potential) life and creativity.

Prompt:  I know this about myself because I know it to be the truth…

The Authentic Voice Project

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, on the dates of the new and full moons, I will write a post based on a word, starting with A and proceeding through the alphabet until I reach Z on December 28, 2012 (that’s actually only 25 postings/moons so I’ll double up somewhere or just skip X). 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 redefinitions (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.