Hear myself out

This is one poem in a series from the “Write to Recover” group I facilitate. I put them together from phrases that resonate with me while participants read, adding nothing but punctuation and the occasional conjunction. This one is comprised of the words of four participants who were writing on the theme, “Your own voice.

Distractions of the necessary,

Ants scurrying around the concrete of life.

 

But I am not spineless;

My spirit can fly.

A shimmer of aliveness,

Fresh,

Like a baby carries a big lot of love.

 

I remain quiet

To protect my being,

The true essence of me;

This gnarly mess–

My very “I am” self,

A fresh flowing fearless frequency.

 

Sit gently like

A grain of sand in time — rock time

To hear myself out,

Another human hand holding hope, and

Nurture lovingly and meaningfully

Because I am real and worthy of love.

In the Beginning was The Word

Here’s another poem written during grad school. This one is on the opening page of my thesis.
klimt mother child

In the beginning was The Word

And The Word was with Silence

And The Word was Silence.

In the beginning was Voice.

And the Voice was with Mother,

And the Voice was Mother.

It was with Mother in the beginning

Through it all things were made.

In Voice was Life –

The One-ness of all living things.

And the Voice became Flesh

Became Word

Became Face, became Image

Became Warmth, became Touch

Became Milk, became Taste

The Voice became Love

It resonated in the darkness

And Silence has not overcome it.

Yes! I Will Speak

From http://sensualblissvoyager.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/throat-vishuddha-chakra/

I stumbled across this poem today that I wrote two years ago during grad school. I don’t remember writing it and it’s far from the best poetry ever written. But it’s fierce, and I like it.

Yes, I will speak my truth although you tell me it’s not true
Yes, I will cry even though it forces you to touch your own frozen tears
Yes, I will yell when my chest hurts from holding on too tight
Yes, I will breathe into my belly and find my own creation there
Yes, I will tell you how I feel even when it doesn’t fit the shape you have molded for me
Yes, I will say what I need and I will do it even if sometimes it is not best for those I love
Yes, I will allow my body to speak to me not just to yours
Yes, I will move with rhythms of the earth not your man-made march
Yes, I will love with my presence as well as my body
Yes, I will be fierce when I, or others, are wronged
Yes, I will sing when I am sad, full of joy, and searching for inner peace
No, I will not be silent to ease your dis-ease
Yes, I will release the wisdom caught in the web of your lies, told to centuries of my mothers
Yes, I will shout the words lodged in my throat
Yes, I will speak
And, yes, and you will hear.

Prompt: “Yes, I will…”

Stop striving. Start listening.

This is a follow-up to this post: On a mission (statement)
credit: Joanna Tebbs Young

credit: Joanna Tebbs Young

I’ve written of Serendipity and Synchronicity before. There have been many examples of it in my life, such as the time two women showed up to one of my workshops out of the blue. It “just happened” that these two women were from the very organization I had been trying to connect with the previous week but from whom I had, frustratingly, received no response. Turned out they had never received my email, but had picked up one of my brochures and felt my work was perfect for their organization.

These occurrences always seem to happen right after I have had an emotional break-down of epic proportions. Crying. Blubbering about giving up. Despairing. Wondering how I will ever make things work.

You see, I forget. Every. Single. Time: I can’t make things work. I get caught up in trying too hard, striving, driving to do and be more. Without even realizing it I do this. It’s an unconscious thing.

Instead, I have to remember to allow things to happen organically. I have to be open to possibilities. And above all, I must be authentic and truthful with myself.

So, here is the latest series of synchronous events.

First, I have been trying to find work in a particular industry for a while. Reason being: it seemed the only possibility for any real money. However, even as I was pursuing it my gut was saying to my brain, “Hey, up there! I’m not so sure about this!” But I kept pushing anyway.

One meeting that made me feel a little ill, then another. But still I put together proposals and hoped for the best.

Then, one day, during a writing exercise (as described here), I realized I had it all wrong. This wasn’t what I wanted to do. Instead I created a new mission statement.

As soon as I did that, I felt clearer.

And things began to happen.

1. The director of an art center asked me if I’d like to teach a summer workshop for teen girls. As my graduate research was focused on the loss of voice experienced by girls at adolescence and how expressive writing can help reclaim it, this is a perfect fit for me. I put together a proposal (one that didn’t prompt my stomach to yell at my brain).

2. During a conversation around this same time, someone pondered if my work might be a good fit for enrichment classes in independent schools, for which this person had quite a few connections. I thought “That sounds exciting. Maybe so…” and filed the idea away. Until…

3. While putting together the art center’s summer class proposal I was asking for some wording input from parents of teen girls. This prompted one mother to suggest I put in a proposal for an enrichment class at her daughter’s independent school. Because I already had a proposal in the works, I was able to tweak it and send it off immediately.

4. Because I now had a proposal specific to an enrichment class I could now contact the person who had suggested enrichment classes to me the previous weekend and say, “Hey, hook me up with your connections!” That person asked if I had a flier she could give out. Well…

5. I had that very day been designing one. As soon as I created my new mission statement a couple of weeks ago, I had decided I needed to put together a new flier. With this additional, potential audience in mind I re-worked it slightly and soon it will go to print.

6. Meanwhile, I discovered a conference, for which I registered, is coming to a neighboring town focused on mentoring young women, and I was just asked, thanks to a recommendation from a wellness director at one college, to run my intro to journaling workshop for students at another college.

Trust. It is a difficult, difficult thing to do, especially when the bills are piling up and walls seem more numerous than open doors. But I believe it is these walls and road blocks that signal you’re not on quite the right path; often it’s close to the right one, but if it’s slightly off, you will get the message. The Universe likes focused aim with the target being your authentic passion.

Eve Ensler said in one video (I apologize I’m not sure which one), and I paraphrase: Happiness is action… and giving away what you want the most.

I felt silenced as a young girl (and not so young) woman/person. I want to be heard. I want a voice. This is what I want to give to other people. Once I articulated what it was I wanted and needed and really heard myself say it then things began to click into place.

I have no idea where, if anywhere, any of these recent events will lead, but it feels like a step forward through an open door, instead of trying to smash through a wall.

Prompt: I’m trying too hard to… What I really want to do is…

Self, Reclaimed

18 months ago I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever made myself do.

I sang in public.

What made it so hard wasn’t that I had never done this before, it was that I had. Many times.

I started performing when I was very small. I was in school musicals where I usually had a solo singing part, and at age ten I opened my school’s Christmas service in the local church singing the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s City.”  At twelve, I was given a lead role in a musical based on Cinderella — I was Prince Yohann.

Throughout high school I performed solos in each year’s choral concerts and sang a duet for our class’s graduation. In college I was the only Freshman with a solo part in that semester’s production of “Allegro.” I sang at friends’ weddings and I was given solos in many performances of the choir of which I was a member.

And then I stopped singing.

Why exactly, I’m not sure. Singing had been the very core of my identity for so many years. The fact that I became a mother right before I stopped may be part of the answer, but that’s too psychologically deep to go into here (I did investigate this in my MA thesis, however). Whatever the reason, by the time I was in graduate school at age 38 and had the chance to perform in extremely informal and fun cabaret, I could not do it. I couldn’t even remember the words of one of my most favorite songs.

I wrote my thesis about reclaiming voice, a metaphor for reclaiming self. It wasn’t until I was deep into my research that I made the — what should have been quite obvious — connection to my singing voice. My singing had been my way of expressing self for years. But I could no longer do that. Singing had become just too raw. Too vulnerable. Too in my body.

Then came my final semester of grad school. And my very last chance at Cabaret. I forced myself to sign up and then I cried. And cried. I was a nervous wreck for the entire 24 hours before the show. It felt HUGE. Like this was a turning point. I was either going to bomb completely or have a break-through.

I did neither. I got up there and I sang. And it felt like the most natural thing in the world. My body knew how to do this.

Today I am at another milestone. After a year of lessons, I am performing in my first formal recital in almost 15 years. I am learning to emote on stage, I am learning to be vulnerable. I am learning to go into body and find, then express what’s there. I am learning that I have a voice and that I have a right to be heard. I’ve never sung this type of music in public before — it is operatic, a style I denied was my true forte because it was so… so… loud. And opera-y. But I will deny no more. I have a voice. I have a talent and I will sing with joy. I will share my gift.

Yes, this is a big deal to me. I need it to go well. Because it is more than a recital; this is Me. Reclaimed.

 

W.O.R.D.S.: A new project

maa-saraswati

Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts (including writing) and science.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati)

Can I tell you how much I miss blogging? When I began this strange – as I saw it at the time – new form of writing over five years ago, I was quickly (as in, instantly) hooked. I loved the freedom of my own forum, the informality, the brevity, and above all, that lovely button that says “publish.”

Click! Yes, I’m published. Click! Published again. Click, Click. Click.

I’ve never really been concerned that my readership is low, I truly write for myself (but that doesn’t mean I don’t check my statistics page like a hawk and get all excited when someone comments). I love the tippity-tap of my thoughts manifesting on screen, the words a reflection of my inner knowledge that many times I did not know I knew.

I didn’t blog much while I was in grad school and even less now that I am back in the “real” world learning to make a living doing what I love. But it has become very clear to me that part of what I love IS blogging.

And I have so many things I want to share from my graduate research and memoir-writing.* So many things from that experience that I still need to process. So many words I have still inside me.

It is as a storyteller-writer-scholar, I want to introduce a new blogging project. Through it I will look at women’s studies, myth, psychology, spirituality, embodiment, goddess-consciousness, creativity, and of course, transformational/expressive writing.

And I am giving myself self-inflcited -imposed deadlines. If I am to do what I love successfully, I must have deadlines. As my friend, author Burnham Holmes said yesterday in his presentation at the Horace Greeley Writers’ Symposium: Deadlines are your friends.

So, introducing…

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions. Including writing prompts. Starting next week.

~~~

*Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice

Trust the Process (pt 14): The finale (or the beginning)

credit: Robin Russell

credit: Robin Russell

Three years ago, almost to the day, I was sitting on a bed just like this one. Same ugly, motel-like comforter and surprisingly puffy pillows, the same blank off-white walls. But it’s not the same bed, it’s not the same room, and I’m not the same person.

On that day in 2010, I felt forlorn and petrified as I retired to my room for the first night of my graduate career. I had no idea what to expect from the night itself, from the week of residency, or from the coming semester. I scribbled in my journal as if my life depended on it as I tried to assimilate this huge life step I had taken.

But now, here tonight, it’s that “ahhh, bra finally off!” feeling; home again. Having checked off the “live with a roommate” life experience after that first semester, I have roomed alone for the past five residencies, three of them in this very room. It may not be the Hilton, but it’s mine, all mine, for a whole week. The door locks and I can sit here and write with the guarantee that no offspring will spring from somewhere asking for something. And I don’t have to cook or scrub a thing! This is has been my vacation week every six months for the past three years.

Of course, there was always plenty of work to be done: workshops to attend, mind maps to draw, outlines to plan, bibliographies to research, and deep thoughts to be thunk, all leading to that final ‘Submit’ of the Study Plan before heading home to begin the real work. The first night always held a double dose of excitement and apprehension of what the week had in store, as well as – I’ll admit – a (tiny) sprinkling of missing my family.

But tonight, the only thing I’m missing is the worry.

This weekend is about celebration. An acknowledgement of the work I have done over the past three years. And done well. I can pat myself on the back because it’s not braggadocio to admit that I have accomplished and I learned a lot. I worked hard. I did create a new me, after all!

This graduate process has been intense. It has been exhilarating, painful, overwhelming, mind-blowing, and life-changing. I discovered very quickly that what I thought I was going to do when I first walked onto this beautiful campus wasn’t what I needed to do. But once I got out of my own way and let the study and writing lead me where it wanted, magic happened.

So, tonight, while sitting on my crunchy dorm bed, I celebrate. I celebrate “Trusting the Process” because it works.* I celebrate me and the gift I gave to myself. I am a better writer, a stronger, more confident woman, and a more accepting-of-self mother. I am singing again and I can say with pride that I am a Storyteller. I found my voice in more ways than one.

Thank you, Goddard College and all the amazing people who were traveling their own journey along with me and who have been all part of my new learning. I will miss you dearly. Thank you for the ride of a life time! From the womb room I am reborn. I will now go forth into my new life.

*And still working! Ever since I began this work, I have used a rambling, unclear explanation of all the threads of learning I have connected throughout this process, which was always slightly changing as I discovered another piece of the puzzle. But! After working on my graduate presentation for this weekend, a concise statement of understanding of my entire thesis project FINALLY arrived while I was in the shower just yesterday morning.  Magic. It happens.

Read the entire 14-part “Trust the Process: The Goddard Chronicles” here.

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

maa-saraswati

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: http://www.brainpetals.com/haulmaxsecure/SaraswatiPuja.aspx

 

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)

http://mrg.bz/nfQbXIV 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: 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.