One cold, dark, beautiful morning…

vt in october

I wrote this post almost nine years ago, in November 2009. My life looks very different now — I no longer need to lay out my children’s clothes, for one thing, thank goodness! — but the main message, that we all need support and friendship, is particularly on point for me right now. 

When I originally wrote this post I didn’t have a true friend with whom to share intellectual conversation or a listening ear over coffee or wine. But just a couple of days ago a relatively new friend, whom I feel so, so fortunate to have in my life, and I were talking about how important interpersonal relationships are and in particular how incredibly vital it is for women to surround themselves with other strong and supportive women. I re-post this today in honor of my dear friend and all the other women out there who believe in the power and beauty of women who hold each other up. Thank you.

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Yesterday I dragged myself out of bed an hour earlier than usual. The coffee wasn’t on, and, because I had forgotten to do so the night before, I had to lay out the kid’s school clothes and get their backpacks ready in the dark and cold. I dug out my own dusty winter coat and gloves, kissed my sleeping children goodbye, and went out to my chilly car.

As I huddled over the steering wheel I wondered if this trip was worth it. But as I wound along a road that hugged the feet of golden tree-shod mountains, through small villages and farmland where woodsmoke and cow breath was visible in the frosty air, I realized the journey itself was more than worth it. When I arrived at Hildene, the summer home of President Lincoln’s only son, Robert Todd Lincoln, in Manchester, VT the mist hovered over the mountains, muting the splendor of fall foliage. Oh, Vermont!

Inside I found the room I was looking for – warm and smelling of coffee. A small group of women were chatting over their paper cups and I suddenly felt shy and lacking in confidence. But a friendly woman shook and my hand and welcomed me to WBON: Women Business Owners Network.

The speaker, Chris Berkhout of Alchemy Productions, was funny and shared great information about making goals, sticking to them, and being confident your own ability to get where you want to be. She spoke about how writing down what you want makes it happen. I know this so well! My writing refuge is just one example .

The camaraderie in the room was inspiring; although a new “business” woman and feeling inferior, maybe even doubting that what I was doing was a business, I felt accepted and motivated. We were not a bunch of catty women competing against or judging each other, we were there to offer advice, encouragement, and… business cards, lots of business cards.

I once had a boyfriend who was so deeply stuck in his own creative rut that he couldn’t see over the sides into the real world. He believed if he stayed in his room practicing his art night after night that he would one day “make it big.” He didn’t think he needed anyone else’s input, inspiration, guidance, or even fellowship. When I mentioned he might consider getting a mentor (at the suggestion of my professional artist father) he flipped out and accused me of thinking he wasn’t a real artist and not believing in his talent. Our relationship never recovered from my offense.

I confess I would probably have had the same response. I used to believe that if I couldn’t do something well without help or practice then I obviously lacked the natural talent and shouldn’t be even attempting it. I have applied this philosophy to piano playing, singing, art, and most recently, giving birth and parenting (I still struggle with that one). But the truth is, we all need help. Just like the flower needs the bee to help it fulfill its own destiny, we all need the input of others in order to discover our full potential. It is not a weakness to seek out assistance – it is a strength. Utilizing other people’s strengths can only give you more stability and resistance. No two people think exactly the same which means we can all offer each other something new – maybe even better.

This is why I came away from this meeting of fellow business women feeling sturdier. I now know I have a buttress of local, creative, ambitious, imaginative, self-believing women to whom I can turn for help and connection. Although I already believed in myself and my dreams, knowing this made the cold, dark morning a truly beautiful one.

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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.

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*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

Wise Women Speak: 1.22.13

Above all, don’t fear difficult moments, the best comes from them.

Rita, who passed away at 103

Are you a Wise Woman? Inspired by a recent gathering of Wise Elders where a 75 year-old great-grandmother shared this life wisdom with us younguns: “Remember to Laugh!,” for my 2013 blog project I plan to share the gems of wisdom of older women. Please send me your wisdom (or words you have heard from the older, wiser women in your life).

Wise Women Speak 1.3.13

The greatest gift a mother can give her children is her own happiness

j, age 68

(Paraphrased from Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher)

Are you a Wise Woman? Inspired by a recent gathering of Wise Elders where a 75 year-old great-grandmother shared this life wisdom with us younguns: “Remember to Laugh!,” for my 2013 blog project I plan to share the gems of wisdom of older women. Please send me your wisdom (or words you have heard from the older, wiser women in your life).

And how appropriate this project should begin on 1.3.13, 13 being the sacred feminine number; the number of full moons (and menstrual cycles) in the year.

Please do surrender to your nature! (Or Life, Photoshopped)

I’m usually not one to jump on a bandwagon. If everyone’s doing it I tend to turn the other way. But this one could not be ignored. I, as other angry men and women already have, must respond to a certain backward-thinking op-ed article. (A particularly good response is here.)

I recently read Suzanne Venker’s article: The War on Men in which the author blames us liberated women for upsetting the “proper” way of the world by forcing men to compete with us instead of doing what they all prefer, which is, apparently, look after us incompetent creatures. Apparently we’re just not womanly enough anymore and – poor guys – they’re so confused. But, the author, happily concludes: “there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.”

OK, so here’s what I say to that: YES, LET’S! Let us all surrender to our nature!

Our natural nature… not a societal, cultural, patriarchal version of it. (Note: Patriarchy does not mean Men. It is a hierarchical, dualistic system that has hurt men as individuals as well as women – and nature and anything else that is considered the “Other” of the moment.)

Feminism, even with its rough patches, has done one very important thing: allowed women to see there is another way of being – their own way. Women are looking inside and asking themselves what they want, what they can do, what their own dreams are, where their talents can take them. And while 1970’s feminism dismissed the possibility that any woman would want to be chained to the kitchen sink and having babies, and ostracized those who did, modern feminism is slowly accepting a more holistic view of “equality.” We can be and do what our hearts tell us we can. For one woman that might be becoming an astronaut, for another it is raising her children (after flying to the moon first – if she chooses.)

And the same applies to men. They too have to stop living by the script society has written for them. Macho Smacho. Being a real man means just that – be REAL! Dance, draw, heal people, stay home with the kids, cry, collaborate… be whatever youare and quit hiding behind this whole Manly Competitor/Hunter Image Thing. Guess what? That Image thang ain’t real; it’s Life, Photoshopped.

I recently read a quote that went something like this, referring to Adam and Eve: You’ve got to know that when you try to make a women out of a man, there’ll be trouble. And it’s true. Which is why I put equal in quotes above. The truth is we should be striving for equity, not just equality. Women are not men, can’t be men, and neither is a man a woman. We are biologically and psychologically different – NOT better or worse, just different. We are two sides of a what should be a balanced equation, not a hierarchy as patriarchy would have us believe. What we are searching for is, yes, equal rights, but also equitable rights.

Equality means treating everyone the same without needing to know their personal story. Equity means hearing their story so you can treat them according to their needs. This means we have to get to know each other and ourselves – our true selves – and our needs by listening to each others’ and telling our own stories.

So PLEASE do surrender to your nature, in whatever form that takes. Listen to yourself, to your emotions, your body – who are you? Really? Once we as a culture can fully embrace both the feminine and masculine energies in us all by accepting and using ALL of our talents, integrating ALL our emotions, and understanding our full capacity for love, we will have finally ended the war on, not just women or men, but on Humans.

Trust the Process, pt 2 (The Womb)

credit: Robin Russell

Tweet This Blog Post!The morning of day two at Goddard College my stomach was still a bag of jelly fish. I had slept fitfully through slamming doors, footsteps, ill-fitting sheets and my roomie’s arrival at 2AM. And I woke up at 5AM. I managed to doze until 6:30AM but I was out the door and looking for a place to meet with my journal by 7AM. I questioned how I would be surviving this experience without its sturdy spine to hold me up?

As memories of the high school cafeteria sprung to mind, I worried about who’d I’d sit with at breakfast, and despite a crushing need for caffeine I didn’t want to get there too early for fear of seeming too anxious. My Teen was full on.  That issue resolved itself very shortly as I found my roommate awake and headed to breakfast. From then on meal times were only a tiny source of anxiety as I met and became friendly with and – by the end of the week positively close – with my fellow IMA-ers (Individualized Masters).

By day three I was raring to go. I wanted to get started, have work to do, a direction, a task, a plan. I wrote in my journal, “I finally have some homework!” I was like a clock-work toy, all wound up but with its wheels held still. I wasn’t sure where I was going once let go but I sure was ready to make a dash for somewhere.

My advising group met in the brilliantly bright Silo room. It was round – naturally – with a round table and round rug. It was a like a hug. Eight women spanning the age-spectrum from late 20s to mid-60s sat around this table every morning to share our thoughts on our process, our fears, our questions, our personal hang-ups and life outside the walls of this womb (was there such a thing?). While inking mandalas, singing or sharing our insta-poetry, we women made a connection. Diverse backgrounds, stages of life, communities and talents blended and sparked inspiration and respect. I felt held up. Supported. Supporting. As a community should.

In the small isolated family-unit islands that our society has developed over the centuries, we rarely have the chance to talk with others outside our borders: those who are younger (who wants to try to engage a teenager?), those who are older and wiser (what do they know about my modern, hectic life?), or those from completely different living environments or cultures. But the lesson is, these people not only teach you something about life but they teach you something about you and us. We are not so different. We are one. Slightly different glasses, same view.

And my biggest lesson? In a room of eight women who share the same number of chromosomes and similar feelings and experiences, I learned I am not alone.

Prompt: I feel supported when…

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