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. http://juliaspeerart.com/Soul_Tending.html

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.