Saturday, October 27, 2012

Use Your Brain

I saw some stats that said women were leaning toward Romney. I just cannot wrap my head around that. I've heard some women say that they are worried about the economy and want to focus on the economy, and that's why they are leaning toward Romney. Okay, but how exactly can you address the economy or help create positive change when you don't have a voice? In Romney's world (and his supporters), women do not make choices for themselves. How can you have the power and influence to create the change you want in the world when you are treated and seen as less than a whole person? This is a civil rights issue. A friend of mine who is gay posted something on FaceBook that really deepened my understanding. He posted:

"When you read the anti-gay comments and/or rhetoric of what “gay rights” are and what they will do, replace the word gay(s) with my name.
LEO shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
LEO getting married is a threat to families.
LEO cannot be a good parent.
LEO doesn’t love, it’s only lust.
LEO is ‘fixable’ with electroshock therapy and psychological torture.
LEO is what’s wrong ...with this country.
If LEO can marry, we should just let people marry animals.
Being LEO is a choice.

I hope that this contextualizes the argument for you.

The ‘gay movement’ is about people that love one another and want to spend their lives together. It’s about legal recognition and protection of my commitment to another person. It’s about recognizing me as a human being, worth just as much as my non-GLBT marriage-eligible counterparts.

How is that threatening to you? More importantly, how am I?"

When I read this with a man's name in it, a man I have not even yet met, but a person I feel a connection with, a like-mindedness, a person I call "friend". It puts things into perspective for me. I also have dear, close friends here in the Atlanta area whom I consider family. These family are also gay. When I put their names in this quote above, I feel angry, angry that there are so many people in our country who see my family, and me as well since I am a woman, as less than - as less than a whole human with less than rights. 

If women want to make change for a better economy, we must be creative in our thinking, in our problem-solving, in our actions. We must elect people who are creative in their thinking, in their problem-solving, in their actions. But you cannot be creative and use your critical thinking skills when you are rigid and closed, when you are not willing to let die what is old and counter-productive. I teach art in the public school system. I see this all the time. It is not just with kids in school. It is a way of operating in the world. 

You want a better economy? To accomplish that we need innovation, collaboration, creative problem solving, cooperative decision-making, the knowledge of how to make multiple revisions, and clear communication. We are living in an age of ever-changing media, technology, and information. An innovative and creative leader is tolerant and open through multicultural and historical perspectives and through their involvement in the creative process itself. There are WAY to many problems and issues in our country and our government today NOT to have someone who is a creative and innovative problem-solver. Each of us is now challenged to be and to have these characteristics above. Rigidity and holding tightly to old and outdated ideas constricts and cuts off critical thinking. Critical thinking come from a place of openness. 

To women especially I end with this quote. It is this kid of "dead woman" that Romney's culture, beliefs, and actions seek to create.
"Be good, no creative life. Sit still, no creative life. Speak, think, act demurely, little creative juice. Any group, society, institution, or organization that encourages women to revile the eccentric; to be suspicious of the new and unusual; to avoid the fervent, the vital, the innovative; to impersonalize the personal, is asking for a culture of dead women." CPE 
And I would add, dead people.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Worthy of Love & Belonging

A question was put to me; “If a person does not believe in God and the tenants of a creator, then what is to keep them from doing whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences?”

My experience and my truth is that a person does not need God for this purpose. It is not the belief in God, nor the belief in God's guidelines or rules that makes a person act good or be good. [By "good", I mean loving, respectful, truthful, generous, thoughtful, supportive, encouraging, of integrity, and all the positive qualities one might associate with "good".]
It is rather the belief in their own worth and in their innate value and significance that drives or motivates a person to take loving, right action, and to consider how their actions impact another.
When a human knows, TRULY knows, their worth, value, and significance in the world, then that knowing, that belief that they have something of worth to bring to the table, that they are needed and necessary creates empathy, understanding, compassion, and connection to others and to community. Out of that, one comes to understand the impact of their actions on others, in the community and on the world (environmental awareness, etc.)

While it is true that some seek to get their sense of value and worthiness from their relationship with their God, it is not dependent upon that belief. I, myself, am proof of that. There are also those who believe in God and yet do not believe in their own worth, value, and significance as a human being. To see the evidence of this, all one has to do is look at their behavior and how they treat themselves and talk to themselves. A person's self-talk speaks volumes about what they truly believe.

It is also true that there are those people in the world whose actions are not what we might call good. For example their actions are often greedy, selfish, thoughtless, hurtful to others, diminishing, discouraging, belittling, lying, deceitful, etc. I could go on, but you get my meaning.

My truth is that all human beings have within them both the light and the dark. It is in embracing and owning that I too have those not-beautiful qualities that moves me out of shadow and into the light where I can see them. This is not for the purpose of beating myself up because I discovered the not-beautiful in me, but rather by bringing these shadow aspects into the light where I can see them (awareness), I can now make conscious and informed choices about how I want to act. How I want to act is driven by how I want to feel afterwards.

I will use the concrete example of adultery: I could choose to have an affair. It might feel good in the moment. But what is it costing me in the end? How do I *feel* in the end? What is really going on here? If I do not value myself, if I believe on some deep level that I am not worthy of love and belonging, then I will *live* out of that place of unworthiness. I sabotage my marriage, I destroy another's marriage, I destroy my children's home, etc.
There is more; the affair was not created in a vacuum. The acting out in an affair can be a distraction or drug that keeps me from looking at what is missing from my marriage. Somewhere something is not working for me. Somewhere some need is not getting met. Perhaps (like my first marriage), I chose a man who is belittling or demeaning in the way he speaks to and treats me. Now we are back to my belief in my own unworthiness. So in my unworthiness, I choose a man who also is disconnected from his own worth, and we co-create a marriage that does not nurture, support, and help us thrive. Because I do not value myself or see myself as worthy, I do not know how to give that in a sustaining way to my husband.

Now take this same marriage example, and nourish it with a belief in self-love, worthiness and belonging. You will get a completely different outcome. When conflict arises, and it will, the woman who knows her own worth will honor the conflict as natural. She will treat both herself and her husband with respect and conscious consideration. Why? Because she *knows* she is worthy of love and belonging. And because she knows this, she may be afraid of the unknown, but her fear does not paralyze her. She has the courage, the strength, and the belief in herself to take conscious action driven by this sense of love and worthiness (as opposed to fear and inadequacy). She is not afraid to set healthy boundaries because she is clear about her own worth. She *knows* she deserves a relationship of mutual love, respect, honesty, value, tenderness, etc. and because she *knows* this, she has chosen a man who ALSO believes he is worthy and they co-create this together.

This is not about a belief in God, but a belief in one's own innate worth.

So in answer to the question: What keeps one from doing whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences? My answer is: Self-love. My belief in my own worth, value, and significance. That is what drives my actions, creates empathy and compassion, and connects me with the community and the world.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Who are your female heroes? Are you too young to have seen the movie Thelma and Louise played by Susan Sarandon (one of my personal heroes) and Geena Davis? It’s such a favorite of mine, I own a copy… and I don’t own a lot of movies. When I first saw this movie, I identified with Thelma, played by Geena Davis.  She plays a passive housewife married to a verbally abusive and controlling jackass of a husband. Thelma’s character arch was how I saw myself, or wanted to see myself at the time. I too was in a marriage with a verbally abusive and controlling husband. I wanted to be free… free from the inside out.

One of the most powerful moments in the movie for me is when the two women decide they would rather have freedom in death and the unknown than live in a world where women pay the price for the sins of men. Every time I have seen this scene, I cry. Ridley Scott knows how to portray my heroines. I’d dare say Ridley Scott knows women. The character development of Louise goes from anal, compulsively neat and clean, tight French twist wrapped in a scarf - to no make-up, sunburned cheeks, hair wild and free, blowing in the wind of her convertible. We as an audience, watch them both transform in a way that to this day, I find stunning. The beauty of it takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes.

Thelma and Louise was produced and directed by Ridley Scott in 1991. He also directed Alien, a sci-fi movie where Sigourney Weaver was pretty badass and even more badass in the sequel Aliens directed by James Cameron.

The role of women in stories has changed over time. Originally, the woman was a prop – the recipient of the hero’s love. Often portrayed as a damsel in distress or a steadfast partner. Parts played by women reflect their roles in society.

The archetype of Nurturer, altruistic, optimistic, capable, is one that gets a lot of good press. She is often most content at home, and takes care of everyone around her before tending to her own needs. An ideal mother, companion or friend, She is loyal and truly kind, always ready with encouragement. Pleasant and enjoyable, she is the glue in social settings. Has a hard time saying no – a people pleaser. And although this Nurturer energy has many wonderful and necessary qualities, women often stay stuck in the shadow aspects of this archetype, failing to give the same time, attention, and love to their own needs, desires, and dreams.

There are many archetypes playing out in the lives of women, and they each have both a light and a shadow side. The four archetypes of survival are Victim, Saboteur, Child, and the Prostitute. You might read this and say, “WHAT??!!! PROSTITUTE! VICTIM! Child, sure I get that… and MAYBE I can sometimes see Saboteur, but not those other ugly and distasteful archetypes.” And my response to that is, they call it Shadow for a reason, Honey

Our shadow is disowned and rejected aspects of self. Usually it is because we see those aspects as negative in some way. But we also disown our beauty, our strength, our power. We then see it in our projections onto other women and wish we could be more like them, not knowing that we hold that very thing we see inside of ourselves. Estes (WWRWTW) reminds us that shadow also “can contain the divine, the luscious, beautiful, and powerful aspects of personhood. For women especially, the shadow most always contains very fine aspects of being that are forbidden or given little support by her culture. At the bottom of the well in the psyches of too many women lies the visionary, the creator, the astute truth-teller, the far-seer, the one who can speak well of herself without denigration, who can face herself without cringing, who works to perfect her craft. The positive impulses of shadow for women in our culture most often revolve around permission for the creation of a handmade life.”

This is some of what we will explore at the Women’s Soul Journey Retreat in September. Join us for this rich discussion, healing, growth, and play in the north Georgia mountains. For more information, follow this link and click on Fall Women’s Retreat; Exploring the Good Girl Archetype.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quiet Mornings

I'm up before my husband. The coffee is freshly brewed. Its flavor is rich and full-bodied. It's the same brew I enjoyed at the beach with my girlfriend. Those were quiet mornings too. I love these times. I don't think of myself as a morning person, because I do love to sleep in. But there is something both tranquil and delicious about this time. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a large family with lots of siblings... very vocal sisters, that I feel like I'm sneaking some secret delight.

As I sit here on the couch sipping my "hot beverage", as Sheldon calls it (You see. Even the geeky character on Big Bang Theory knows the warm and welcoming properties of a "hot beverage"), I hear the soft ticking of the clock in the kitchen. Max, my lovable and true black lab-shadow, lays at my feet. Outside the window all is green and greener from recent rains. Wild rabbits, looking much like those in my favorite story The Velveteen Rabbit, graze in the front yard. What could be sweeter than this?

It's the little things, they say... whoever "they" are. I'm not knocking the big things, mind you. I've got big dreams. Very BIG dreams. But they are right about the little things. So, I think I'll pour myself another cup o' joe and send a cyber wink to my girlfriend who enjoyed these times with me at the beach a few weeks ago. You brew a damn fine cup of coffee, Girlfriend! I hope you are sitting in your quiet space enjoying it as we speak (BIG smiley face).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me Me Me Me Me

My body woke naturally at 6:07 a.m., the fan above me whirring in a quiet purr. I lay there and stretched, a big grin spreading across my face. I could smell the coffee Angie made, freshly brewed in the kitchen. Pulling on a pair of soft, cut-off sweat pants, I let my nose lead the way. The sound of the glass pot as I pulled it from it's carriage, the warm liquid as it filled my cup, mmmmmmmmm. Just the right amount of half and half. No fake powder shit or smells of hazelnut intruding my senses. Just a good, full-bodied brew. I carry my mug out onto the balcony. Standing, I can only see a small portion of the water above the roof tops and palm trees. Still, I know it's there. I can hear it; that constant sound of the waves against the shore.

I am at the beach with three other women. Five glorious nights in a pastel mermaid and fish decorated condo. I have a room and a bathroom to myself. Last night, I climbed into bed with my lap top and brought up Netflicks. Ear buds in, big grin on my face, I would watch anything I wanted. No one to decide with. It was all about me. I felt sneaky. Deliciously, decadently sneaky. A guilty pleasure. May not sound like much to you, but this is how it felt to me. And in that it told me just how badly I needed this time. No agenda. No to-do list. Nothing to take care of. Just do whatever I want.

Angie and I speak in low tones to each other, while my daughter and Megan sleep in. I stand at the railing looking out over the well manicured pool area. Just the tiniest bit of blue peeks out over the spot of ocean view I am afforded. The rest is all dark gray. Directly above me is a heavy, thick cloud. Just as I sit down, it comes. First a light spray, then full shower. We scramble to get the towels inside, our lap tops tucked under our arms. Then as soon as it's started, it's gone.

Whoever you are reading this right now, create some decadently agenda-free time for yourself today.  No more excuses. None of that, "I don't have time" bullshit. Make the time. It doesn't have to be a beach trip. It could be a quiet moment as the sun goes down in your back yard. Whatever it may look like, carve out that time for you. You eat, you sleep, you give your body breath. This is vital too. Don't wait for someone else to give it to you. Make yourself that important. I promise you, it will pay off positive.


Monday, June 4, 2012

A week or so ago, I was walking across a parking lot into a Publix where I used to shop in a past life. By that I mean when I was married to my first husband. It was the Publix in the neighborhood where I lived with him so many years ago. This was the place where I bought our family groceries. As I got out of my car and walked toward the door, there was another woman getting out of her car. Big, expensive SUV. Small children she was helping out of the vehicle. The woman was in her mid to late 30's; tan, muscular arms, shapely athletic legs. She was what some might call a MILF. "That used to be me", I thought to myself. "I used to look like that. I used to feel strong and sexy."

I got closer to the store front in the bright sunlight. I saw my reflection in the dark glass. My gray-white hair was straight and flat against my head, in bad need of a cut. My shorts and t-shirt well-worn and faded. My body thicker than it used to be, the skin above my knees showing signs of gravity and years on the planet. "Where did she go, that woman who could turn heads when she entered a room?", I thought to myself. "I still feel her in here." I don't feel so different than I was, until I see myself in a mirror or catch sight of my reflection in the glass.

This summer I will be 55. I'm not the woman I used to be, and I'm glad of that. I really like the woman I am. I couldn't say that years ago. Today I am learning to embrace all of me. Some days are better than others. I planned a trip to the beach. Going with my almost-thirty-year-old daughter and her same-aged friend, Megan is not difficult when they are so many years younger. With a big enough age difference, I can be free from the internal comparison that women so often do - our legacy as women. I don't know a woman who doesn't know intimately that internal dialogue. But I also invited a woman my same age. A woman who I have reconnected with after many years. A woman who takes care of her physical body in a way that I no longer do. In fact, all those years ago, she and I taught fitness classes and worked together at a health club. She knew me then. She knew me when I had 16% body fat and a sculpted body so that strangers looked at me and regularly commented, "Do you work out?" Then, when I used to weigh and measure my portions, count fat grams, and sometimes carry my food in a cooler into restaurants because they didn't have the food I ate.

I felt the anxiety rising at the thought of her seeing me in a bathing suit now... the thought of seeing her in a bathing suit, still muscular and trim, sexy and youthful. She is my same age. There would be no fooling myself with age reasoning. But today I feed my soul in a way I didn't so many years ago. Today I like myself. Today I have a good healthy dose of self-acceptance. So I told her how I felt. I spoke aloud my fears... not so much because I trusted her, but because I trust me. I trust that I love me right now in this moment without changing or improving upon one single thing. And THAT, Dear women, is true freedom.

On the Saturday before we left for the beach, I sat in circle with "my gurlz", the women who love me and have my back. It was a good and healing circle. A safe place to speak our truth and share our experiences, struggles, and triumphs. After circle, we were invited to stay, have lunch and sit my the pool. The woman who is joining me for the beach trip was there. It was just the two of us in the room by the pool area. I was in my suit and wrapping a towel around me. She saw me and said, "Oh I was wondering if anyone else was going to wear a swimsuit." I said, "Yes, but as you can see, I am wrapping myself up in my towel", and I pulled the long beach towel around me from both sides. "Alright", she said with a grin. "Let's see it. All of it!" and I stepped into that place of soulful knowing and loving self-acceptance and threw open my towel from both sides, striking a playfully confident pose in all my 55 year-old glory. She responded with words of enthusiasm, love, joy, and encouragement. I don't even remember what they were. What I do remember is what it felt like to let go and be seen, really seen, all of me right here and now, wrinkled skin, blue veins, fuller hips and thighs; a beautiful, radiant, sensual being. Me.

And here we are, our first full day at the beach; my daughter, her friend Megan, my friend, and me. Four women in different stages of their lives being our beautiful, radiant, woman-selves. I breathe easily into who I am and am becoming. I welcome her, this wisened woman that I am. Today I embrace and celebrate her.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Living Myself LARGE

The other day I posted an affirmation on my Women's Sacred Circle Facebook page. "I am willing to take up space. I am willing to be as large as I am. I am a vibrant, passionate woman, and I love and accept ALL of me." I received some emotion-filled responses from women who stated that they struggled with this one. Their responses led me to ponder the role of the Good Girl Archetype in our culture. 

When this archetype shows up in my life it often shows up as me playing small and feeling stuck in a prison of other people’s ideas. Many women, even today, grow up with the feeling that we have to live up to the idea of being “good.” This pressure to be "good" manifests in a myriad of ways. There are parts of us that work to keep the good girl persona in place: the judge, the critic, the perfectionist, the people-pleaser, the care-taker, and the limitless giver, to name a few. This pressure to remain a "good girl" often shows up just as women are about to expand and grow, just as they are beginning to use their true voice to speak up and be seen and heard. 

Society plays a large role in this "keeping us in our place". Below is an excerpt from the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.


  • Take an original.
  • Domesticate her early, preferably before speech or locomotion.
  • Over-socialize her in the extreme.
  • Cause a famine for her wild nature.
  • Isolate her from the sufferings and the freedoms of others so she has nothing to compare her life with.
  • Teach her only one point of view.
  • Let her be needy (or dry or cold) and let all see it, yet none tell her.
  • Let her be split off from her natural body, thereby removing her from relationship with this being.
  • Cut her loose in an environ where she can over-kill on things previously denied her, things 
  • both exciting and dangerous.
  • Give her friends who are also famished and who encourage her to be intemperate.
  • Let her injured instincts for prudence and protection continue without repair.
  • Because of her excesses, (not enough food, too much food, drugs, not enough sleep, too much sleep, etc.) let Death insinuate itself close by.
  • Let her struggle with "good-girl" persona restoration and succeed at it, but only from time to time.
  • Then, and finally, let her have a frantic re-involvement in psychologically and physiologically addictive excesses that are deadening in themselves or through misuse (alcohol, sex, rage, compliance, power, etc.).
  • Now she is captured. Reverse the process, and she will be free. Repair her instincts and she will be strong.

Our feminine sensuality, our emotions, our anger, our ecstasy; these are all beautiful, powerful gifts, but when we’re taught at a very young age that these things are “wrong,” or "bad", or "naughty", we begin to repress them. We develop a strong internal judge and critic to keep us in line and in check. We are trained or programmed to play small, "know our place", "act like ladies", "shhhhhhh", "don't rock the boat". We become cut off from the very things that are large and vibrant and beautiful about us. 

Think about it. Anything large in our culture, when it is connected to women, is seen as "wrong", ugly, unacceptable. Our bodies "shouldn't" be large. Our voices "shouldn't" be large. Our emotions and our expression of those emotions "shouldn't" be large. Large is bad because large is un-ladylike and unattractive. And we all know that a women's worth in our culture is based, in large part, upon her appearance. You need look no further than any magazine or commercial to know this.

Is it any wonder that women struggle with taking up space? Lay on top of that, messages about scarcity and not-enoughness. If I am programmed to believe that there is a finite amount of love, attention, energy, money, etc., and I am programmed to believe that I am responsible for taking care of all others to the exclusion of myself, then I cannot take some (love, attention, energy, money, etc.) for myself! How dare I?! If I do, then I am taking away from what is yours. "No, you go ahead. Really. It's okay. I'm fine. I'll just sit here in the dark." And in that you can see how closely linked are the good girl and martyr. 

So, what do we do about this? I'll tell you. 

1. We make friends with our natural body, developing a loving and nurturing relationship with this precious being. Women in our culture are taught to hate their bodies, and to collude with fellow women in that hatred. We actually compete with each other in that body-hatred, "No your thighs aren't as bad as mine. I have way more cellulite than you do. I won't even wear a bathing suit in public!" 
We can reverse the process of being cut off from our bodies by embracing and accepting our bodies right now, exactly as they are. We can appreciate our bodies for bringing us all along the way of our lives to where we are now, our legs for the miracle of walking, our hips for birthing, our arms for hugging and holding our loved ones, our feelings for lighting our way. Look for things to appreciate your bodies for right now. Be intentional about it. Love her. Listen to her. She has a wealth of wisdom to give you, if you are willing to hear it. This inner voice is our instinct and intuition. Listen.

2. Begin the regular and consistent practice of saying "NO". Contrary to our programming, "no" is not a dirty word. Nor is it necessary to give lengthy explanations as to why you are saying no. You've probably heard it said that "No" is a complete sentence. It is. If you feel the need for more words, keep it short and sweet. Something like, "I'm practicing setting healthy boundaries, and I'm going to say 'no' this time". 
An excellent tool in response to being asked is to get into the habit of sitting with it for a time, listening to your own instincts about the issue. For example, when asked to give of yourself in some way, respond with "let me get back to you on that". It is absolutely invaluable to give yourself a bit of introspective time to check in with yourself.
Remember, this is a practice of learning to listen to our own instincts about how to respond to any given situation. The more we allow time to check in and listen, the better listeners we become. The more we will know that instinctual and intuitive voice as our own. In saying "no" to others, you are saying "yes" to yourself. You are saying "Yes. I deserve to receive. I deserve to give good things to myself."
Do not be surprised when the "you're selfish" message comes in creating resistance to change. It's your old programming. It's that internal critic and judge, and it's a signal that you are indeed creating positive change. You can say "no" to those internal messages too. You are the creator of your own experience.

In closing,
Take up space. Be as LARGE and as PASSIONATE and as LOUD as you are. However you are, be that. Fully. Completely. Unabashedly. It's a beautiful thing. You are lighting the way for the women behind you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Feeling Beautifully Large,


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ask For What You Want

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there, myself included. I was looking at all the HMD posts on FB and remembered a gripe my mother has expressed on countless occasion. She tells the story of a time when she and my father were fighting about his lack of involvement around Mother's Day. They had five, yes five, children between them. Both theirs from their union. No blended families. So my mom is angry that my father does not honor her the way she would like to be honored on Mother's Day. My father's response, one he would never live down, was "You're not my mother."

Whew! Have you ever heard a more argumentative invitation between a husband and wife? Holy Shit, Dude! What were you thinking?! I don't remember what followed. I was either too young to remember or more likely, blocked it out. My parents fought quite a bit, and it wasn't pretty. What I do know is that my mother still, to this day, talks about that. In fact, I am about to call her, and I'll bet she brings up that story.

I do have a memory from about teenage years. I was in the kitchen with both my parents. My father had gotten some drinking glasses. They were packaged in a box, short glasses with birds on them. Not particularly interesting. Ugly, really. Not the particular taste of anyone in our family. My dad worked in the Automotive Trades division of 3M Company. He often got freebies of many kinds. I had the sense that these glasses were a "gift" from one of those exchanges. He brought them to my mother as a gift for her. I want to say it was Mother's Day, but I'm not certain.

SHE   WAS   FURIOUS!   And she let him know it, too. She let him know that this wasn't a real gift. It wasn't something she would want. He should know that, and if he paid attention, if he really loved her he would know that. On and on she went. I watched as my father's shoulders drooped. It was a familiar dance. I had the sense my father, on some subconscious level, set this scenario up over and over again. It was familiar. Still, as I watched my father, I felt sorry for him. I thought to myself, "If I were him, I would never give gifts. If that's what I got, I'd say F*** YOU! Get your own damn gift!"

As I remembered all this, while I sat sipping my Starbucks on my couch this morning, I wondered how many women were angry and disappointed that they were not honored for Mother's Day in the way that they wanted to be? Or forget Mother's Day, angry that they were not honored for _______ (you fill in the blank), or loved the way that they wanted to be. And out of these angry women, how many of them held the belief that "If he loved me, he should know". 

If you are one of those women, and I have been, I have a question for you. How is that working for you? Take a good, hard look at what that belief, that inner message has cost you all these years.  Isn't it counter-productive to getting your needs met? If you are willing to take a hard look, you will see that this is your part, your piece in creating this dynamic. This is one of the ways in which you, yourself, have perpetuated the problem.

Wouldn't it be nice to let that garbage go and replace it with a belief that actually helps you get what you want? What would it be like to ask directly, clearly and cleanly for what you want, with love and vulnerability? Sure, it will be new and awkward and uncomfortable, and even scary in its vulnerability. But isn't that why it's called a stretch? Isn't that the nature of "stepping out of your comfort zone"? It's not supposed to be comfortable, because you are in fact stepping out of your comfort, consciously and intentionally in order to grow soulfully and spiritually.

So I invite you, women and men, begin a new practice. Ask for what you want. Make it clear. Make a list. Make a list of what kind of behaviors make you feel loved, honored, seen, and appreciated. Make a list of your own personal love language and then make an appointment with the person you want to hear it. Yes. I said make an appointment. Set aside a time with no interruptions. A time that is honored as special. Be intentional about it. Set healthy boundaries around it. Take turns. Don't interrupt. Use a timer if needed. The point is, you create what you want. Step out of the victim role. You are responsible for your own happiness. That's a good thing! Enjoy.

With Love,

Friday, March 16, 2012


Dammit! I find it astonishing how completely blind to my own aspects of shadow I can be one minute, then a mirror is held up and WHAM! there it is, obvious, awkward, and clear as a bell the next. I see it and think "Jesus! How did I not see that?!! How did I not see that's what was driving me?! How could I be so blind?!"

But alas, that's why they call it "shadow". So right about now I'm feeling humbled and embarrassed and dreading facing up and owning my s**t, as they say. I'm grateful for the clarity, but oh how I hate the awkwardness I feel. It's sort of an internal cringe. I've been here before, though, and I know it passes.
After all is said and done, I will be wiser, truer, and more humble. Not a bad way to end that chapter. Not bad at all.


Most women I know love to give, but are extremely uncomfortable with receiving.

I find it intensely interesting listening to the myriad of ways women resist receiving verbal compliments. A woman is told she is good at her work. She replies, "Oh no! But thank you", as if the addition of the words "Thank you" make her unwillingness to receive okay. Another woman is told her figure looks great. She responds, "Yeah, now if I can just get rid of these thighs!" Still another technique is to turn the attention to the one giving the compliment. This can be done by receiving the compliment and quickly bouncing it back, "Thanks, but I really love your outfit", or by skillfully ignoring the compliment all together. For example, "Your hair looks pretty." Receiver: "Oh, I've always wanted to know where you get yours done." Women have been doing this for centuries. It is a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior modeled by women and passed on to the generations of young women that follow.

I teach elementary school. Just the other day I was in my room with a group of second grade girls. i  Yes. I said second grade. 7-8 year olds. They were chatting first about food and then talking to each other about their thighs. Their thighs. They were not happy with them. The conversation and kind of talk was obviously something they had heard women/mothers in their life say to one another. Just like little girls playing dress-up in their mommie's clothes, they were trying on the talk they understood to be grown-up talk.

Another way women create resistance is by the refusal to ask for help; help with a project, help with the kids, help with financial struggles, and especially help with something personal where they feel vulnerable. When we create barriers and resistance to receiving, it is a great mirror of our beliefs about deserving. We are uncomfortable with receiving because on some level, we don't believe we deserve to receive.

The good news is this new awareness of our resistance to receiving is a great opportunity to explore what we believe we deserve. Those internal messages we have about what we deserve usually come from early childhood experiences. What do you want that you do not have now? What did you learn/see about deserving in your home when you were growing up? What did your parents believe they deserved? Were there any spoken messages? Did you hear "You get what you deserve!" Did you always have to earn in order to deserve? Did earning work for you? What did your childhood religious upbringing teach you about deserving? Were you told that sinners don't deserve? Were things taken away from you when you did something wrong? What did you tell yourself as a result of those childhood experiences? What have you come to believe you deserve? Are you good enough? Will you ever be good enough?

If you have never explored your internal beliefs around deserving, try this:
Go to the mirror and look into your own eyes. Breathe.
Say your name and repeat the following statements while looking into your own eyes. Pause after each statement and listen to what you tell yourself about it.

I deserve an abundance of leisure time.

I deserve an abundance of loving and supportive friends and family.

I deserve a job that is deeply gratifying.

I deserve to be treated with respect, consideration, and value.

I deserve to feel good.

I deserve time to myself and for myself.

I deserve to ask for help and to receive it.

I deserve, in abundance, ALL the good things that the whole universe has to offer.

Now tell me, what was that like for you? What came up? For me, I noticed that the most difficult one, the one I almost deleted (interestingly), was the statement, "I deserve a job that is deeply gratifying." And, I was surprised that it was this one. I didn't see it coming. Not intellectually anyway. But on a feeling level, I noticed my resistance. It was palpable. So, now I know I have some "stuff" I carry around career, working, and it being "deeply gratifying". I can tell you that I carry messages that say "Work is hard. You have to do it. Everyone hates their work. Just do it and shut up. Don't expect more. Don't expect too much. You don't get to have more than that. Work doesn't have to be deeply gratifying. You're lucky you have a job, so just shut up and do it. How dare you ask for more than that! Deeply gratifying??? You want too much!"

Whew! See how you can discover what's in there? That's what is creating resistance to your joy; whatever your joy is. Now that I have identified those internal messages that are creating the resistance for me, I can change them. The messages we carry are learned messages. That means we can unlearn them. Therein lies our power.

I challenge you. Look into your mirror. Do the exericse. Be the conscious creator of your own experience. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

F#%K "Lady-like"!!

I'm 54. I'll turn 55 this summer. Growing up in a house with 4 other sisters, and a banner-carrying feminist mother, the fight for a woman's voice to be heard was no small thing. So today, when I make comments and post photographs on my FB page about Rush Limbaugh's insults, I do it because my voice is important. Period. So I am compelled to blog about this experience I am having of "Sshhhhhhhhh!... Don't give him attention." Blah, blah, blah. Yes, Yes. I know all about "What you focus on grows." I blog, post, and preach that too.

AND, there comes a time when I must speak up. If we always were quiet, turned the other cheek, gave "them" no attention, etc., there would be no revolutionaries. There would be no Elizabeth Cady Stanton, no Susan B. Anthony, no Alice Paul, or Lucy Burns. We women wouldn't even have the right to vote. Where would we be today if those women had listened to and heeded the "shhhhhh!" of their society? There is a time to speak up and speak up with passion and gusto. There is a time to step up and step forward, step out of my comfort zone and stretch into my voice, my LOUD, CLEAR, PASSIONATE VOICE.

When I was a girl, my dad (every now and then when I expressed myself in a way that wasn't in line with his thinking), would pop me on the rear end and say, "Julia! Act like a lady." Playful or not, the message was clear. Women have been told, in one way or another, to "shhhhhhh" for hundreds of years. So I suppose it's natural for even women in our society to "shhhhhh" me when I speak up. In fact, I don't think they realize what they are doing. I believe we (women) are still reacting out of deep, long-term programming. It seems the only time we women allow ourselves full voice, loud and passionate, is when it is in defense of the children. Then just try and "shhhh" me! See what happens!!!

But what about the metaphorical children? What about the new ideas and ways of being that we are giving birth to? They are our "children". Do we not have the right to give full voice, with gusto and passion to those as well? The challenge is to learn the balance between knowing when to push against and when to go with the flow. There was a time when I would have said the goal is to go with the flow, to be in a sort of Zen state where all is well all the time.

Ahhhhh.... but "The secret of Zen is just two words: Not always so."

Elizabeth, Susan B., Alice, and Lucy didn't go with the flow. They had been "going with the flow" far too long. It was time for them to push against it. And I am grateful to them for being willing to do that. Today, I have the right to vote because of them, because of their loud, passionate, true voice.

So no, I will NOT "Shhhhhhhh"!! I am not a "lady". I am not ashamed. And I will not be quiet. I am LOUD, and BAWDY, and PASSIONATE, and furthermore I LIKE the way I am. So I say "UNLADY-LIKE" WOMEN UNITE! SPEAK YOUR TRUTH WITH GUSTO AND PASSION! LIVE IT! LOVE WHO YOU ARE!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Full Bloom

There is something extraordinarily beautiful about a woman in full bloom. My sister is this woman. Last night I went to a little tea shop in Chamblee to see my big sister sing. I've known her all my life; 54 years. We humans are creatures of perception, and I have always experienced her as a tightly wound individual, rigid in many ways. And I am compassionately grateful for this, because I know she developed this particular self for survival. Being born into the role of Hero, she was 'Good Girl', got high grades in school, parent to her four younger sisters, and thereby robbed of her childhood. I watched during those years in the late 60's and 70's, her "friends" were cruel and two-faced. High school was a time of trying to fit in, hoping desperately to be accepted into one of the popular groups. One of my memories from that time is how important it was to have a particular designer clothing. A Villager or Lady Bug tag in your clothing or on your accessories was a ticket "in". Rumor was in high school they checked, actually pulled back the collar of your clothing to see, and then followed with ridicule if you did not measure up. I remember my sister's high school experience as cruel, and wounding. Unfortunately, this is true for many of us.              
She went away to college and wanted to become a doctor for our father, an absent father who travelled a lot and never gave her the approval and acceptance she so longed for and needed. Like most women I know, when we are girls, there is nothing we want more than our father's approval and acceptance. She ended up in Pharmacy school. I lived with her my final year of college. I don't remember her then, nor any time really, as a joyful person.

Today, her life is quite new, quite different. Recently divorced, or in the process of it, she has found a little apartment off the square in Marietta. It's in a old building, with lots of history. Just the kind of thing I remember her loving. She may use her skill and knowledge from Pharmacy school to pay the bills, but she is fearlessly and unabashedly exploring her creative side. In this transition, she is dancing, singing, developing stage characters, and even bought a new guitar she delightedly refers to as her "boyfriend".

So, I went to see her sing and play guitar at Zen Tea last night. She was radiant, spilling over with joy, a woman comfortable in her own skin. And not just comfortable, she was at home in her own skin. I don't think I've ever seen her that way. She was, and is, a woman in full bloom. It is beautiful to behold. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. There are no words adequate to describe how happy I am for her. She deserves to be this alive and loving it. All of us do. Thank you, Dona, for your engaging radiance. You are truly beautiful.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I was clearing books from one shelf to another. I found an old journal with pages falling out. I sat on the floor and read where it was open. It was 1998. Wow. 14 years ago. It was also, I discovered as I read, another life-time ago. My daughter (age 16 at the time) and I were watching t.v. together. I remember how good it felt to sit on that couch in that room with her curled up close beside me ...our time. We were talking. My marriage with her father was close to an end. He and I were divorced in December of '99. So our talk, my daughter and I, that day on the couch in 1998 was about serious things she felt I was never there and her feelings about that. We talked of being present emotionally and being present physically. I shared with her how my own mother was present physically, but not emotionally, and the consequences of that in my life. I validated her experience and told her she was right that I had not been there in many ways. I grieved the truth of how I was repeating what I learned from my own mother. I talked about children having unmet needs with parents and how at the age of 30, after I got out of treatment, I went to my parents and confronted them about it. I told her that some day I was sure she would need to do the same with me, and we would deal with it the best we could.
We talked about ways in which I could be more "there" for her. Then we watched t.v. together. I scratched her back as we sat there watching a movie. She shared fears and beliefs she had about my life and the way I was living it. Many were statements with large questions behind them. I didn't get defensive. I remained calm. I mirrored back what she said. I affirmed her experience as separate from mine. I answered the questions she asked. I remember feeling calm and loving ...and sad as well. I summed up all she said about me "not being there" and "always being gone", all her questions and her assumptions, all her "story" about my actions. Then I held her and told her what was true for me. I answered her questions in an honest, adult, loving parent way.
As I re-read my journal writings this morning, I saw a mother who did some things right ...who did some things beautifully, in fact. I know as a mother, there were some things I did awfully, badly, poorly.
And, there are some things I did magnificently.
This was one of the latter, and I am proud of me. I honor the truth that there are those times I did really well at mothering. I will admit that it is a struggle to let these words remain on this page and publish it. There is a part of me that feels compelled to go on and on about what I did poorly. Not today. Today, I celebrate the things I feel proud of. That day on the couch with my daughter in the year 1998, I listened ...truly listened. No defensiveness, no lengthy explanations. I validated her experiences as hers and rightfully so. I owned what I was responsible for. I worked with her to find healing solutions to what she needed from me. And I was truthful with her while maintaining a healthy parental boundary. My own mother had invited me to be her confidant, her girlfriend. It was not appropriate. It was out of balance and co-dependent. This time for me and my daughter, I chose differently. It felt good, and I am proud of how I stood in that Mother role.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Medicinal Properties of Soup

I'm a teacher. Teachers love Pinterest. I mean love it. It's teacher crack. Really. Those of you who don't know what Pinterest is, Google it. Or Bing it. Whatever your preference.

So here I sit an a cold afternoon on what's left of my winter break, slurping soup and finger-pecking my blog post. I mention Pinterest because this soup would be a great "pin". Wish I had a pic, I would post it... Not really. I ate it so fast there was no photo op time. But the amazing properties of soup got me to thinking about you guys out there, and I wanted to share this experience with you.

I recently returned from a luxurious stay at The Franklin Arms in Hayesville, N.C. (aka Patti and Rich's house). Patti eats a macrobiotic diet, so she always has tons of vegetable stuff on hand. She had made a soup she calls "Every Vegetable in the House" soup. Deeeelicious! That's her recipe; every vegetable in the house.

Well, in our house we don't have a lot of vegetables. So I stopped by the grocery store and stocked up. See if this doesn't get your mouth watering: I started with 3 strips of lean, center cut bacon sautéed in a big pot. Then I threw in about 1/2 lb. of fresh, lean ground beef (I don't eat a macrobiotic diet, in case you hadn't noticed). As the meat browned and the aroma filled the kitchen, I tossed in half of a sweet onion roughly chopped. Oh man, did that smell heavenly. And no, I did not pour off the grease. 
After two boxes of reduced sodium chicken broth and one box of Garden Tomato Herb soup, I proceeded to add every vegetable I had: 2 cans diced tomato, 1 container fresh black eyed peas, chopped celery, chopped turnip greens, chopped fresh green beans, chopped sugar snap peas, chunked Idaho potato, chopped carrots, 1 bag of silver queen corn kernels, fresh parsley, fresh sage, thyme, & rosemary, Fresh ground pepper, sea salt, and of course Michael added cayenne to give it some zip. Aaaaahhhmmmmmmmm...

On a cold, blustery day... or when you have less than adequate insulation on an old house, soup is just what's needed. Holding the bowl warms your hands. Eating soup warms your tummy. And an added benefit? You can soak your cold feet in it.
Just kidding.
If you have some, thick slice a piece of freshly baked Italian boule. Slather it with real butter, none of that fake shit.
Now that's comfort food on a cold, winter day. 

So, use this recipe, and give yourself some comfort. Trust me. It's worth it! 
And besides, you deserve it  :-D

Monday, January 2, 2012

Perfect on a cold night...

I'm at my friend, Patti's house. She has built a crackling fire. Outside it is windy and bitterly cold. Inside, however, it smells like heaven. She is fixing clam chowder for dinner. She just offered me a glass of wine. Aaahhhhh... How perfect an evening. She and her husband Rich call there place The Franklin Arms. They love to have people come and enjoy their wonderful home space here at Shiloh Stables. Patti is retired and living the life of her dreams. And I, (fortunate soul that I am to know her), am here treating myself to some very relaxed girlfriend time. Good friends, good food, special times.