So, I promised some kind of action steps regarding the abductions in Nigeria of over 200 girls from school. I've been noticing that this story is fading from the news, and regardless of "assistance" from other countries... the girls seem to have disappeared. I have looked for good places to donate money or assistance, but have found very little in the way of credible organizations. What I have found is below...
I'm resisting the temptation to get discouraged. While I struggle to maintain hope for these girls in Nigeria, I'm realizing that I have a choice to either feel incapacitated by powerlessness, or I can choose to address a larger situation. I can apply my desire to help change the pervasive subjugation of girls everywhere. Here's what I can share:
Girl Rising is a mighty group that supports educating girls as a road to empowerment. They are dedicated to telling the stories of girls all over the world. Right now their primary contribution to the girls in Nigeria is to maintain pressure the government to work together to retrieve the girls. Join their efforts here. Watch a trailer for the Girl Rising film below, or at the Girl Rising website.
Brave Girls Club
Brave Girl's Club at its essence is simply about women being kind and compassionate to each other, and to themselves! They have lots of art classes and retreats, but the thing they do that I channeled energy into around empowering women is their TRUTH CARD EXCHANGE. You make cards meant to encourage and support women coming out of human trafficking situations all over the world, and these cards are given to the women as they enter work training that enables them to be free of slavery. Just the other night, I got together with a couple of friends and we made these cards:
In order to complete the cycle, Brave Girls Club has partnered with Full Circle Exchange to bring the products these women are trained to make, to retailers in the US. That means, you can send loving support to a newly freed woman early in her education and training, and you can buy her handmade cards to support her new life!
Healing the Sacred Feminine
The other thing that you can do is to heal your own wounds around the Sacred Feminine. The Dalai Lama famously said that "the world will be saved by the Western Woman". And, while I'm sure we could debate for a long time about his intentions with those words, I'll tell you my interpretation.
I know that women are powerful. Generally women will reinvest what they have into their families and communities. So, my call to you, is to do your inner work. Don't only send your money and love to women elsewhere (do do that, but... also... ) give to yourself. Give yourself permission, and compassion, and love... as you would to another. Heal the wounds you carry around the nurturing and mothering you received (or didn't). This is not just about your mother, yes, her, but others too... were they there for you? When no woman taught you what it was to have a moon cycle, how to care for yourself, or initiated you into the blood mysteries... what did you begin to believe about yourself as a woman? Has your feminine expression ever been shamed by another woman? These experiences create a Mother Wound... a wound that for many women created a barrier to her own connection to and expression of her innate Sacred Feminine.
When we heal these things for ourselves, we bring ourselves into alignment with the Sacred Feminine. As more women live their lives in coherence with the energy of reverence and confidence around their feminine aspect, they invest this energy in their families and communities. They empower their daughters AND the daughters of others. Because women know that we are interconnected, that we depend on one another, empowered women will stand for girls everywhere. The more of us there are, the more demands are made for education for girls, fair treatment of women, and intolerance of sexual slavery and subjugation of women.
So, do your work around your Mother Wound. In our lives in the west this wound might show up in a strained relationship with your mother, guilt around your own mothering, as difficult relationships with other women, or even as depression, hormone imbalance, and/or a hesitation to follow your dreams. It might also show up as unequal/unbalanced relationships with men, a sense of duty or owing others, and believing that the needs and feelings of others are more important than our own.
Do what you came to do in this life, be who you are whole-heartedly. And send money to or volunteer for organizations that YOU feel good about who are empowering girls all over the world and working to better their situations. Or nurture your creativity through making Truth Cards for Brave Girls Club... or whatever it is that sets your heart afire with passion. Do it. Please.
It feels impossible, yes? To know that 230 young women were abducted from their school to be slaves to the militant factions of Nigeria. To be aware of the dynamics that produces such an event is overwhelming to me.
And yet, I am about healing. So, though I have raged and stewed and thrown up my hands, I will not let this slip by me. I will not write them off. I will not ignore it. While I can't make a government go and get these girls back... and I can't stop the violence... I can take steps toward healing.
Rape functions as the deposition of rage and pain and suffering of all people into women. We are all suffering at the hands of the current power structures in different ways. Freedom comes as women heal themselves of the pains of the world that have been deposited with them… both current and ancestral. We all carry this knowledge and experience within us. This pain is our doorway to healing... for these 230 girls that were abducted two weeks ago in Nigeria, and other women who have been forced into being receptors for the great pains of the world. I will stand for these girls... and all women, for their sovereignty, their autonomy, their beauty. I will stand for healing.
To do this... you and I can heal the pain that we carry, and we can offer this possibility to the collective, this experience of healing. You and I can do this here and now. I will. I am. For these 230 girls, I acknowledge the pain I’ve been willing to carry… AND I stand for no longer carrying that heaviness. I express the hope and beauty available to all when we no longer carry so deep a burden of shame and revulsion with ourselves, that we are able to be fully in ourselves… all of us... healed and whole. This is the healing of the Sacred Feminine. It is not a small act. And it requires deep courage. We can do it together.
Action step coming soon... I promise!
We have so many idioms about our digestion:
I guess it's not much of a surprise, then, if I tell you that we often draw connections between experiences in our external world, and our bodies. We understand the world through the physical because that's where we get the feedback of sensations and emotions (which we call "feelings").
For some reason I've been retelling my story often about how I came to healing. So, I thought I'd share it with you...
I was in midst of all kinds of mess that I won't go in to now, but suffice it to say my world was in major upheaval. I had two toddlers, and having come off of a long stint in academic science, the parental world of unending need and repetitive tasks just overtook my ability to cope. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression and put on medication.
Oddly enough, that wasn't enough to be my turning point. Things had to get worse first. And, the thing that eventually caused me enough pain to seek help was my digestion. I was allergic to dairy and it had become so unbearable that I couldn't eat out anymore. That was my last straw, because I was sick and tired of making 50 meals a day between two toddlers who at all day long and two adults that didn't want to eat bland toddler food. When I couldn't take a break from what was overwhelming... and get some support from a restaurant, that was when things got painful.
A friend invited us over for dinner one night... along with another family. Between all of us and our food sensitivities and preferences, we needed to avoid dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy. So, it was no surprise that our discussions turned to food at the dinner table. This woman I didn't know asked me why I thought I had an allergy to milk... and I told her I didn't know. I guess, at the time, I just thought that we are victims of circumstance and you just had to deal with it when you have food allergies... "avoid the offender".
She suggested to me that from the perspective of Bioenergy Balancing, which was a healing art she was being trained in, that dairy sensitivities were often associated with intense experiences around mothers, mothering, and nurturing. While I could totally relate to the mothering part, I couldn't see how it would show up in my digestion.
Six months later I was so deep in the discomfort and unhappiness of the constraints on my life, that I called this woman and asked her to work with me on my digestion. Eight weeks later I could eat anything I wanted to, and 7 years later I can still eat what I want.
From there I took the Bioenergy Balancing Practitioner Training and was able to address my hormone imbalances. However, what I learned in that transformation around my digestion was that I had literally internalized many beliefs, agreements, and ways of being, that were not true for me. The conflict that created between the life I believed I could have and the life I wanted were causing havoc in my system.
The process I went through took me from exhausted, depleted, and irritable, to happy, present, and fulfilled. So, if you see yourself in my story... overwhelmed, frustrated, and fatigued... consider joining me for the Healing Circle call on Sunday, May 4th at 9am Pacific. There's no cost to you, and it could be the beginning of addressing your pains. Don't wait until they're unbearable and you're desperate. Sign up for call in information here.
I was outside last night with the moon... did you feel that alignment? To me the moon felt heady, like laying on a bed of jasmine flowers. I also have to say that, though I don't really follow astrology all that much, I felt the cleansing, shedding aspect of it loud and clear. It felt like a snake moon to me... shedding the layers of some of the things that are old and not serving me anymore.
I guess it's no wonder then, that the Body Wisdom Healing Circle call for May is about digestion and discernment. It's all about what we choose to keep and nourish ourselves with, and what we are willing to discard that doesn't work for us anymore.
Last night, as I stood in my back yard, in the light of the eclipsing moon, feeling the shedding... almost like my clothes were removed and dropped at my feet... I realized how much I carry that is outdated and how it stands in my way. I say I want one thing and experience another, or I find my tribe and then I fear losing it, or I say I want life to be easy and then I cram my schedule so that I have no time for lunch and I'm always late. I even have conflicting beliefs about how successful I can be at building my practice, and at being a working mother. Those are the two that hit closest to my heart these days.
It's been exhausting to carry those things with me. And I know, that it's exhausting for others because they're the ones that show up in my healing practice. I have a mentor that always tells me to watch what comes through my door in my clients... because it's probably what I am working on too! Yup.
So, if you're interesting in having someone walking this path with you... the path of shedding, transforming, honoring, transmuting, and healing... you can join us on the Body Wisdom Healing calls that happen on the first Sunday of every month (next one is May 4th at 9am. Sign in for the call phone number here. I always welcome fellow travelers... because I know one thing for sure... which is that I don't want to do this alone!
*Oh... and if you were wondering if I took the picture at the top of the page... yes I did. I'm a bit proud of it too! I was experimenting with the exposure... and it's always a pleasure when a miracle occurs! :)
Part of the journey of the Hero (or Shero) is coming across injustice. There will always be a time in our lives that things feel unfair or unjust and we will feel angry. When we hold grudges, or hold past actions against people, we end up feeling resentful and bitter. Instead, we want to transmute anger... because when we do we allow space for ourselves to live in this moment (rather than in the past that we're made about) and to fully embrace our lives as they are.
This hasn't been easy for me. Recently I had an experience of an old pain that came to mind as I was trying to figure out what was blocking my path. Do you ever feel like there were profound moments of pain in your life that keep coming back for you to deal with? Do you want to smack your head and say "This again??? I thought I dealt with this already!"? Yeah. That.
My experience was being bullied from kindergarten through the fourth grade. I went to a small school, so I didn't have lots of options to find other friends... and my particular cohort would even seek me out to walk circles around me, hitting me on the head, saying hurtful things. At home, my parents were getting divorced and things were falling through the cracks, as things tend to when people are putting the shards of their lives back together into a new mosaic.
I've spent decades undoing the beliefs that I created about myself at that time. The unworthiness, being unlovable, invisible, less than. So, when it came up again I had that sense of "Really? I've done this a thousand times! How many more times do I have to address this to get to the bottom of it?". There's probably not an answer to this question... because all good food for growth continues to deliver nuggets of our personal understanding for a long while! But, I have to admit... when I got to it this time and I found anger... I felt like I was really getting to the nitty gritty.
What I know from this experience is that we can't pretend like the injustice didn't happen. We need to honor it, both as a true event, and as something that is currently standing in our way to our vision of the life we want. When we can contain these experiences as our truth, but without the resentment, then our vision can pull us forward and expand our capacity for true happiness.
The Healing Circle call this month focusses on anger transmutation, honoring the pain in our lives, and creating space for a new perspective. Please join me for transforming old pains into new capacities! The call is Sunday morning, April 6th, at 9am Pacific. Register here for call-in information.
One last thing... I created a worksheet for this Healing Circle call (feel free to download below) because I believe that for women anger can be a very powerful limiter. In order to get through it we must have a healthy way to move through and transform anger so that we can use those feelings to show up in our lives in strength and power rather than aggression and rage.
I keep coming back to a Huffington Post article I read recently, that contained 60 pieces of advice that women in their 60's would give to women in their 30's. I noticed it was actually a road map to grace and self-love. It just wasn't organized that way. So here's what I got from this list:
The overarching theme is to be yourself. To truly honor what IS you, and separate it from what isn't you (EX: your appearance, the date on your birth certificate). These kernels of wisdom speak directly to being who you are in this moment and not worrying about what others think:
When I realized that "be yourself" was really the message, I wondered how we were supposed to do that. I mean, it sounds great, but we've spent much of our lives being conditioned to take care of others, so how EXACTLY am I supposed to live my life in the present moment AS ME? Turns out, the answers were right there mixed in with "be yourself". It was a big list, but comes down to this:
And then I'll be totally honest with you... I've avoided this post for a good month or more because I hate lists of "easy ways to be happy" that sound all jolly... like "release your anger", "notice the magic"... because it just ISN'T that easy. If it were we'd all be dancing around throwing confetti.
But, these things, while they seem overly simplified (They are! They leave out so much!) are actually still true. They are the one sentence bottom line to:
What I'm saying is... that the list sounds simple, and I know it's not. What I'm asking you to do is to DIVE IN! When you feel that resistance to the simplified statement... ask yourself what is there for you do, what action needs to be taken, what needs to be acknowledged, in order for you to let that statement be simple? Since anger is one of mine, I'll be posting more on that soon.
"If you are nervous, imagine yourself as a lake...
The top layer is where you think you can't do it. Being scared rises to the top.
The layer under that is where you think: What if...? What if someone laughs? What if they aren't interested in what I have to say?
But if you take a deep breath, and go down... you will find the place where you know you can do it. Breathing will help turn the lake over so that you can do your best and people will be kind and interested in you."
Thanks sweet 9-year-old intuitive goddess-in-training. I will forever carry that vision of being a lake when I feel like I need to connect with my confidence. It will remind me to breathe. Namaste.
Tomorrow I will be speaking on a telesummit about the transitions women go through in life associated with their hormones (puberty, motherhood, menopause), so I've been going over the material I want to cover. But do you ever try to categorize things and just find that life doesn't want to slip into the boxes you built?
Today I can see how holding a space for wholeness, connectedness and complexity can support my efforts. I will commit myself to taking a walk in nature, noticing all of the elements, and finding a sense of completeness. To facilitate my noticing, I'll commit myself to taking five pictures today... one that represents each element... and allowing them to fill my day and my heart.
So, what do you need today? Do you need a particular elemental energy? Or, like me, do you need balancing? What can you commit to notice about how life can offer you exactly what you need? How can you make sure you'll see it when it comes by? Can you take pictures, or take a walk and gather all of what you need in your mind? Is it in meditation or an awareness practice that you find your core, your own wholeness? Even for just one moment... can you locate your breath... and feel present right here, right now? Can you set down your to-do list for five minutes to breathe and relax into this moment and appreciate each sound, each movement around you, the temperature, and the pockets of stillness?
And then notice... how do you feel? Our bodies give us so much information each and every moment, but often we've trained ourselves to keep focussed on the to-do list. What would happen if we trained ourselves to focus on our bodies for a time each day? What would we know then? What would happen if you organized your days to make time for your bodies to feel good, to relax, to speak its truth?
I'm a typical woman. I have a million roles to play each day, a million tasks to perform, and some days I multitask like no one's business. But that precarious little game I play falls apart every time one of my kids gets sick. And for whatever reason I often find my gremlins lurking as I sit in my pajamas, cradling my kid on the couch, giggling at old Looney Toon cartoons.
Why do my gremlins show up then? Because there's so much I'd planned to do today that isn't being done. My gremlins never see what I'm actually doing... how stars are popping out of my crown as I sit on the couch. I'm happy. Even though I have a tiny bit of puke in my hair, I can't tell you when I last showered, and I'm drowning in piles of laundry... clean piles AND dirty piles.
I feel like it's times like these when I am truly going with the flow, that I'm really happy just playing one role, not multitasking, and sinking into the moment, that the doubts... the gremlins... come out. They tell me that I shouldn't have planned all those other things I had planned today in the first place.
What IS that? WHY on earth do I think I should give up all those other things that make me happy... my work... my personal time... my friends... just because a few days a month I could unexpectedly have kids home from school? Answer: I shouldn't.
I know that things I'm up to right now are stretching me. I'm meeting some of my edges. And it's good. And it's scary. So, when the gremlins had an excuse to say there was something more important out there than pushing my edges... being present for a sick kid!!!... well, they just said I was wasting my time on everything else.
In some ways, the gremlins just required a perspective shift... and luckily I knew just the friend to reach out to. In the past I would never have reached out when I was feeling crummy... I would have tried to steel myself up and power on. But this morning, when the gremlins started screaming, I sent a quick text. I chose this particular friend because she's a mom too... and a minimum of words could convey my angst.
She responded by reminding me of my wholeness. She pointed out that all of my roles contribute to the others because they are each a part of me. Her coup de grace was this:
This journey of being multi-passionate is a sacred one. It is true that the balance of living all areas of our life as fully as we can is constantly challenged. But don't let that challenge be all you can see... for you are rich and full.
So, if you felt crummy today and DIDN'T reach out to a friend, please read Julie's words again. Most women I know ARE multi-passionate. And, most women I know are pretty hard on themselves for all the things that don't get done... or making sure that things meet others' expectations. Truly, we need to remember that it is the path of balancing all of the things we have going on that makes us rich and full. And some days are there to make clear our priorities, and some days we multi-task furiously. In our own gorgeously messy way we make it through, and if we keep our eyes on what truly and deeply makes us most happy, we really can't go wrong.
Back to the couch for me! And keep your fingers crossed that I don't catch this stomach bug!
Did you know that the brain is hardwired to remember the things we fail at, that make us miserable, and to be fearful of what might happen? Rick Hanson has several books on the subject and has a training program to rewire your brain (which I actually have not done, but love the concept of).
Did you know that the Titanic had a sister ship called the Olympic that sailed successfully across the Atlantic so many times that it became known as "Old Reliable"?
Well, unless you heard the NPR story about that topic, you probably didn't know about the Olympic. That's where I first heard about it too.
But it fascinates me. That our brains are hardwired to notice the struggles. That we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to cultivating happiness. It is our fear... when we perceive that something COULD go badly... that comes up. This fear, of being wrong, unworthy, unlovable, "losing face"... drives us to grasp and cling to our image, and we forget that... most often... things go well. Historical case in point, the Vietnam War. We failed at that war, and left hanging our heads. And yet, it was followed, not by a precipitous decline in our country, but some of the most prosperous years we had known. In fact, our fear of looking bad went largely unfounded. But there were huge consequences of the fear. We stayed in a situation that wasn't working... and we paid a huge price.
I wonder if there are parallels for many of us. Of course, there will be a difference in degree of the fear, the perceived fallout, and the consequences of basing our actions on our fears. But, do you see where you have feared a nebulous outcome... and it's kept you stressed and stuck? Do you see where you talked yourself into doing something you didn't want to do because you were afraid of not doing it? Or where you did something hastily, based on fear, and suffered for it? This fear, it encourages us to find balance... to be true to ourselves... and to embrace our values.
This year, 2014, is about noticing and releasing those fears... maybe even facing a few of them to find out that the repercussions don't match the fears we had. It is time to release shame, to express our essence, to live fully as the people that we truly are. This year is an invitation to be more present with yourself, spend more time and money doing what you truly value, and knowing what those things are!
So, I am going to make an Olympic Invitation to you: today, notice three things that went well, were successful, or otherwise made you feel truly happy at your essence. Write them down. Put them somewhere that you can remember to notice and absorb into your being, the happiness that is around you. Notice that the Olympic made it... over and over again. Awareness is a fundamental piece of changing your experience into the life you want to live!
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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