Having been away for a while, I’ve been luxuriating in catching up on the blog entries from the folks in the WEL-Systems Blogging Community. I really enjoy that process as I bear witness to what it is to be included in open, authentic, real-life, real-time expressions of our humanity. As much as I get to know more of each of these terrific women, I also learn more about myself.
As always, I was reading Marie’s blog today and was drawn in to her enthusiasm and willingness to just live as she writes… or is it write as she lives. Not sure which and both are fine with me. But I digress…
In all that she shared, what struck me was her comment that “…men are not the enemy…”. I’m not sure why that stood out as it did, so I’ll just rumble along here and see what comes out.
I agree - men are not the enemy. And they, like we, are imperfect. How come we’re ok recognizing that in ourselves and yet, seem to harbour such discomfort in recognizing it in the men in our lives? Or perhaps more potent, as a generalization that can be applied to the much larger collective of men of the culture?
I agree – men are not the enemy. Nor are they necessarily allies and/or friends. How can it be otherwise? As the facade of their ‘maleness’ permeates every cell of their being and the facade of our ‘femaleness’ owns the very flesh we pour into our relentless pursuit of being the ‘right’ kind of woman, what chance do we stand of ever connecting in ways that are honest, authentic, open, clear and direct?
I agree – men are not the enemy. And far too often what is required before a man can find his humanity, is that the woman in his life must find hers. Like Marie being willing to discover how the snow blower works actually frees her husband from his invisible cord to all that is considered ‘male’ or ‘manly’ – and frees up the space for him to discover more of who he is without his gender owning the way he moves through the world.
I agree – men are not the enemy. It is not the person of the man who is the enemy, it is the mindlessness of being lost in the facade of who he has had to prove himself to be – to himself, to other men and to his culture. THAT is the enemy of us all.
Yesterday, at the invitation of Sheila Winter Wallace, women gathered in a small group, talking… about their experience of who they are as women in business. The invitation was for us to come together and discover what a powerful conversation would sound like for us, as business women.
It was one of those rare occasions for me when I had the absolute luxury of sitting silent in the Program Room, listening as each of these unique, potent forces slowly and steadily opened the door wider and wider that we might all catch a glimpse of the soul that fires the passion. Without the need to advise each other, or guide each other to discovery, women shared what was meaningful to them and became a living invitation for the others to explore that same thought, within themselves.
It began as many things begin – slowly, haltingly, seeking to get the ‘lay of the land’ before taking a first step forward. It ended as great things often do, with women eager to engage and share yet one more thing before our time came to a close. Many lingered long after the morning ended, clearly ready to make the bigger leap to…. something!
If I were to identify the three things that took the greatest form during the three hours, they would be:
* being authentic – being able to create a successful business that would honor who the person was, rather than the person having to redesign herself in order for that business to succeed;
* being connected – knowing that there are other women who share the desire to be authentic AND are willing to take the risk to do what is required for connections to awaken and deepen; and
* being able to trust that the truth is more valuable than the veneer – seeking and finding those others (clients and colleagues, alike) who are welcoming of something more meaningful in business.
Each of the women who spoke – sometimes, with heart pounding in her chest and voice cracking – did so from a deep desire to reveal herself and to ensure delivery of the message: that this kind of conversation was indeed, a meaningful and powerful one; and that she welcomed the opportunity and wanted more!
A deeply personal moment unfolded for me as I had the opportunity to hear six women that I’ve worked with over the years (some as recently as the last 12 months and some for 2 years and more) step into the conversation and share the truth of their experience. When they spoke, the vibration in the room changed. Their voices were strong, clear and definite. They spoke without hesitation and without need of permission from anyone. Without the need to have the answers, they were committed to engaging the larger questions in their lives; and were willing to trust that although they may not yet know the details of their journey, they would be fine in trusting that it would take them to where they wanted to go: each inextricably connected to herSelf.
When they spoke, the room fell silent. When they finished speaking, the silence lingered in the room as the vibration of their sound echoed through those of us listening. It was entrancing for me to bear witness to these magnificent women in full flight! I know, in every fibre of my being, that they are already changing their world, and that of all who come in contact with them. I am honoured to journey with them.
And so, there it is: yet another moment of women gathering in small groups, talking… and changing their worlds in three short hours! Already, dates are set for two more such events in Ottawa (contact Sheila@actandinspire.com for info) and the rumblings of women gathering can already be heard. I’ll be gathering with a small group of Entrepreneurial Women at Oceanstone in February, each of them eager to press the edges and discover how to manifest a successful business as a conduit for accelerated change – for self and other.
What conversations are you having these days?
As always, I started my day with a stroll through the blogs of some of the women in my life. In the words of each of them, I am often able to find myself. I know that each of them is an expression of some aspect of my own ‘consciousness’; and in paying attention to what I notice, I can more effectively discover the ‘more’ that there is for me to learn about myself.
Today, Amy is aware of the degree to which she is her own power source! It is a reminder to us all that indeed, is there ever really any other way? The moment I forget that, I begin to rely on things outside of me (people, events, stuff, etc.) to connect me to myself and my own life.
Marie is noticing and claiming her need for far more powerful expressions of herself! Hers is not just the need to move but the need to move in huge, vibrant explosions of herself! How many of us spend our lives dedicated to living with our knees pressed tightly together, hands folded neatly in our laps…. wondering why the hell we feel so restless and wired????
And then we come to Anita and her (in my opinion) dead-on comments about women and resentment. In my many, many years of working with women, I can think of nothing more crushing to the body and devastating to the soul than resentment. Resentment literally eats us alive… slowly, meticulously, relentlessly destroying one cell after the other; feasting on the body, mind and spirit until the dis-ease that remains (chronic debilatating diseases like Chrone’s, fibromyalgia, cancer, diabetes, etc.) has become the context from which we exist – and life has long left the building!
What came to mind for me as I read Anita’s words was all those years of working with women and remembering this ever-present sense of a deeply held secret: the degree to which women are bored out of their minds with their lives! Bored with the roles they occupy. Bored with the tasks they do on a regular basis. Bored with the relationships that they’ve learned to ‘manage’ effectively (including the one with themselves!) to keep everything flat and orderly. Bored with the things that await them around the next corner. But more importantly, they have become bored with themselves.
Their own thoughts have become small and puny and repetitive. Their own dreams and visions and intentions - for themselves and the people they love – have become weeny and tedious. Their conversations – inside themselves and outside with others – have become repetitious and vacuuous.
What they are most aware of is the gigantic, enormous, ever-present, constantly-pounding, soul-sucking, body-wrenching SCREAM inside their body!!!! And they are terrified to tell anyone about it.
It’s not nice to be bored with being a mother. It’s not acceptable to be bored with our marriages and our relationships with our family members and friends. It’s ‘bad manners’ and ‘in poor taste’ to defy the rules and expectations of how to live and know, deep inside the belly, that it is possible for us to love deeply AND be bored by our own lives!
We can profoundly love our children AND tire of engaging with them. We can love our partner/mate/spouse AND often prefer the company of other women. (Let’s face it – most women I know are far more interesting to hang out with than the vast majority of men I’ve met! Sorry, guys… and if the women in your life are telling you otherwise, you may want to test what I say by asking them the degree to which their conversations with you gratify their soul!.) We can care deeply and be profoundly committed to the wellbeing of the people we love AND still prefer to spend time elsewhere. In my view, these are not the things that are killing us. What’s killing us is our deep shame that it is so.
I visited the dictionary and found the word ‘ennui’ as a synonym for ‘boredom’, and here’s what it had to say about ‘ennui’ (which, having a French background, felt immensely accurate): “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest”. Women are dying, filled with seething resentment, because they are bored out of their gourds with what women are encouraged, expected, allowed and rewarded for being in our neat and tidy little world.
Women are dying (breast cancer has reached epidemic proportions; women over 40 have rates of hypothyroidism that are off the charts; anxiety, panic, gastro-intestinal/stomach disorders have become ‘the norm’ for women; food-related issues (too fat, too thin) are rising in the causes of heart disease killing women; etc, blah-blah-blah, and on and on it goes… and that doesn’t even begin to list how we’re getting crazy in the head!) in huge numbers; and many who aren’t, wish they could. For some, dying feels like the only way out.
For many women, living as small, powerless victims when they know the roar of their own passion for living and ability to engage it, has become intolerable. Dying is looking better and better by the day.
So thanks, Anita… for putting resentment out there for all to consider. May I add the invitation to also look under the resentment and allow ourselves to see the truth of boredom/ennui and the toll of its tedium (droning, mindless, numbing repetition) in our lives. Having worked with hundreds and hundreds of women, I know that I am not alone. Only when those voices are willing to be heard, will anything change.
Our commitment to being polite and inoffensive will see us to an early grave.
I just finished posting to the ‘WEL-Systems World!” on Facebook about my experience last night of the Women Awakening group. Close to 20 women gathered in this small group, talking… about their awareness of the restlessness; about the pressure in their bodies to move forward, to grow and to engage their lives more fully. I was stuck by their determination and commitment; by their unwillingness to give up on themselves or to just ignore the whole thing until it fades into a distance memory.
When I think of the image that I chose for this blog (that of the image of the three small hurricanes blowing across the ocean and heading for land), I am aware that as I looked out at these women, I could feel the wind starting to move! Each of them is/was, within herself, the potential for massive change. As they shared space last night; as they shared thoughts about what they want, what stops them and their intense desire to engage, they fed off each other. One woman’s insights became another woman’s invitation for discovery. One woman’s expression of pain became another woman’s reflection of fear. And on and on it went, for more than 3 hours.
Women awakening are highly contagious! Women moving are invitations for other women to begin to move. Women willing to be in the presence of other women, to wonder and wander through uncertainty, fear, discomfort, desire, intentions, hopes and dreams – out loud!… where she can be seen and heard! – cause veils to fall away and walls to come down. Women willing to be seen and heard invite other women to find their voice and decloak.
It will take women to propel other women to do what is required for them to find themselves. It will take the vibration of awakened women to create a wave that can penetrate the thick calus behind which many women have learned to hide and protect themselves. It will take women gathering in small groups, talking… about meaningful things; about things that are personal and profoundly touch our lives; about things that make a difference; about potential and possibility and the future; and about the greatest intimacy that we can experience : our connection with ourselves.
I am clear that women are naturally drawn to a WEL-Systems way of moving through the world. There is a natural alignment that makes the connection to the process effortless, even if what they find sometimes demands effort for them to stay present to themselves. No matter what it takes, my experience with hundreds of women has shown: it’s well worth it.
“Persevere!” Apparently, the one word spoken by mega-star Tom Hanks to a striving/starving artist when asked: “What’s your advice on how to make it?”
Persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. Stay with it and stay at it – even when things (people, measures, events, etc.) suggest that you should stop. Staying with it because it’s what’s real for you… what’s true for you and what matters to you.
Perseverance leads to momentum and with momentum, what once felt like a burden begins to lift and travel under it’s own force. An idea takes flight!
Perseverance requires tenacity - the ability to stay with it, no matter what. Our greatest capacity for tenacity comes from the inside of who we are, not the outside. When we are moved from that which is deeply meaninful to us, we are better able to connect to and trust what motivates us.
As women, we too quickly and too often abandon our own intuition and insights to the opinions and direction of others. Is there any wonder why we become unable to stay with it… to persevere… when we have lost faith in that which propels us forward? From that single instant, we lose tenacity and the potential for momentum is lost. And we feel, yet again, like we are starting from scratch.
Do you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Like no matter how much effort you put into it, you can’t seem to get any traction on your intention? That result is a legitimate consequence of how we’re moving through our world. And that result is also an invitation to reconsider two key things:
* What is the internal truth that guides me? Is it still relevant and meaningful to/for me? If not, what has taken its place?
* Given that internal truth, what do I need to be able to find within myself the force to continue to engage; the tenacity to move forward and take action in ways that will bring that internal truth into expression? And how do I know engage to build momentum that it might take flight?
Without consideration and regular check-in’s on that internal truth, you may find that you start ‘running out of gas’… start losing the energy/force/attention that is required to ensure that you can move forward effortlessly. You might also discover that outside your conscious awareness, new information has entered ‘the system’ that you are and that your internal truth has shifted in some way, leaving you continue to engage in ways that are no longer useful. Like your car, your internal truth needs regular check-ups to be sure that all is functioning well.
We need to take the time to pay attention to those moments when we find ourselves losing interest, losing desire and ultimately, losing our way through the myriad demands in our lives. Things change – we change! – and we need to discover how to use that essential truth to work for us instead of against us.
We need to discover how to trust our internal truth and engage, even when we must do so alone.
Momentum is at its most potent when we, as individuals, have each become unstoppable! Imagine what becomes possible when we do finally choose to come together…
Women gathering in small groups, talking… when sourced and fuelled by the internal truth of each of the women there, is an unstoppable force for growth, evolution and change. Internal truth coupled with gathering numbers takes shape on the horizon and the winds of change begin to blow.
I just finshed reading two more blogs – Sarah’s and Amy’s.
Sarah’s was about giving herself permission and choosing to step up to the plate and engage her own live, differently. Amy’s was about getting on with it by engaging with others and sharing enthusiasm and the willingness to engage (her connection with Lori); and by recognizing that she does not have to re-invent the wheel.
My life has been my greatest experiment. From one day to the next, I’ve discovered over time how to pay attention to something other than my history, my cultural conditioning and external references, and have discovered how to trust the truth of my inner cues and remember the full measure of who I am. My life is both a constant invitation to the ‘more’ that I know we all are, and evidence that it’s always already there – all I have to do is be willing to notice and engage.
I created the WEL-Systems body of knowledge, Quantum TLC™, The CODE Model™, CODE Model Coaching, Evolution by Intention and Emerging Futures so that you wouldn’t have to. I did the ground work, experienced the turmoil, made the big mistakes and lost my way – over and over again – so that you wouldn’t have to. Amy has that all figured out!
Over the years (and it has now been 17 years), I’ve encouraged people to engage and share this material with others. All I’ve asked is that people honor copyright and trademarks. Read the books! Listen to the CD’s! It doesn’t have to cost a lot to change your life – profoundly and generatively – in a way that leaves you as the power center of your own evolution. Lives have been transformed just by reading Fully Alive or Phoenix Rising or When the Horse Dies, Get Off. Not much effort required there.
Because I believe that women are the key; and because I believe that it is women who have kept other women in check, it is now women who must engage to awaken other women to their own potential. Women gathering in small groups, talking… about their potential, about possibility, about strength and courage and tenacity; women gathering in small groups, talking… about the things that open their lives and propel them forward and free them from their past, is what it’s all about.
When women become willing to engage openly about the truth of who they are, their fear dissipates. And because, initially, there is a greater sense of safety in numbers, creating these small groups of women gathering… is a way to create safe space within which we can begin to discover the power of who we are. Women gathering in small groups, talking… is a powerful, dynamic and unstoppable force. We need to recognize it as such and discover how to harness its potential to shape the world we want. To do that, we have to begin somewhere and test the waters of our own fear.
Attractors. Seed pods. Beginnings. Being willing to be the first awake, enlivened and vibrating cell that touches and awakens the cells around it, and before you know it, new life has taken shape.
Women awake, women enlivened, women awakening other women. Women wiling to be seen and heard. Women inviting women to be honest, open and clear. Women seeking their unique truth rather than capitulating to a collective lie. Women respecting themselves and each other. Women willing to be different – to speak differently, act differently and engage differently. Women sharing what they know and what they don’t know – each a powerful gift to another. Women coming out of the shadows and silence. Women taking shape, with clear lines and sharp angles. Women unwilling to blend into the background… unwilling to be the wallpaper on which others hang their lives.
It’s about women engaging! We don’t have to have the answers – we just need to be willing to explore the much bigger questions. We don’t need to become best friends and all hang out together and have sleep-overs, we just need to respect each other; to welcome our differences and honor the invitation that we are to each other to break out of our tiny lives.
It’s about living, fully, as the truth of who we know ourselves to be deep down, where no one can see.
It’s about our lives.
I was reading Lori’s blog this morning, entitled ‘Starving for Conversation’. I’ve had enough experience with Lori to take a wild guess that when she says she’s starving for conversation, she’s not talking about explorations of the weather… or the latest sports scores… or who bought what on their last trip to the mall. She’s also not talking about gossip and telling stories about each other. She’s talking about the kind of conversations that make it worth getting out of bed in the morning and that leave you going to bed at the end of the day, delighted with who you are. The kind that you have to be awake to have and can’t just skim through with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back because you’ve had them a thousand times before ! The kind where you have to show up, take a stand and risk allowing yourself to be seen and heard by those around you, for the truth of who you are.
These conversations change lives – hers and that of others around her. Lori’s Conscious Parenting conversations not only change the lives of the parents and their children, they hold the potential to shape future generations. Why? Because we’re creatures of habit, prone to do what we’ve done before. Imagine the implications if our children live differently and as such, parent differently. In one moment, we can shape the future for generations to come.
But here’s the point: Lori already knows that if she’s going to have the kind of conversation she’s starving for, she’s going to have to create it for herself. She’s going to have to make it happen and not wait for it to come along. Her passion for engaging meaningfully will propel her to invite others into the kind of converstaions that she wants to have – and those who want them, too, will show up. Like Sheila’s invitation, in order for her to get what she wants, Lori is going to have to decloak and reveal who she is, what she cares about and what’s meaningful to her. She’s going to have to go first, and put herself and her intention ‘out there’ – just as she describes in her blog entry. In that moment, she will attract to herself what she is looking for.
Far too often, in our desire to be ‘subtle’ or ‘diplomatic’; in our attempts to avoid ‘making waves’ or annoying or irritating someone, what we put out to others as a call to engage is a pale, ghostly reflection of the deep intensity that we truly feel. We tone down, soften, round the edges and cloak in ‘niceness’ the truth of who we are and what we care deeply and passionately about. Heaven help us if we were to be seen to be other than harmless and mild-mannered!
Wherever did we get the idea that we should tread softly and never ruffle any feathers if we are to get what we want? That is reminscent of being sure never to annoy the masters – never bite the hand that feeds – if we are to have anything at all.
And perhaps more pointedly: wherever did we get the idea that directly asking for what we want or – god forbid! – taking what we want is to be scorned and pressed away??? Underlying our hesitation is an old, worn out, ragged belief that there is always someone or something outside of ourself that must give us permission before we can do/have/be what we desire. Permission! Clearly, in the cradle of such beliefs, our lives are not our own and yet, far too often, we are lulled into numbness and inaction by the gentle rocking of our repetitive lives. However, despite the hypnotic rhythms of the sway, there is a restlessness that comes from knowing somewhere deep inside that there is more to living than just being alive.
For generations and decades, as with the binding of the feet, far too often it is women who keep other women in check. Shunning. Raised eyebrows and glances of disapproval. Mothers shaping their daughters. Devastating gossip. Friends encouraging women to try one more time, even if black eyes lead to broken bones. Caustic comments about behaviour or dress. Unanswered emails and unreturned phone calls. The power of the subdued pack to shape behaviour and intentions for compliance. As I write this, I am aware of a group in my own experience that causes women to choose between people they care about and the work that they do. I wonder how vulnerable the men are to such leverage…
In today’s world – in Lori’s world – things are changing. Women are discovering, one conversation at a time, that they can have what they want. They can be/do what is meaningful for them. But for it all to happen, permission must become the domain of our own choosing. We must give ourselves permission to determine our own outcomes; to shape our own intentions, choose our playmates and engage as we see fit. When it comes to the quality of our own lives, the buck stops here. In that single moment, the conversation changes and awakens the potential to change our world.
I often wonder… what it is that stops us from living the life we know is possible? What is it that gets in our way and prevents us from even opening our mouths and speaking out loud the thoughts that haunt our movements through every day? Why is it that we can’t seem to give ourselves permission to step into the ideas - the potential and the possibilities – that pound away at the inside of who we are, screaming to get out?
Not a single one among us does not know, deep inside, what we care about; what we really want for ourselves and the people we love; and what will bring a sense of vitality and it’s-great-to-be-alive-and-be-me’ness into our daily existence. Sometimes, the apprehension/fear is so great, we dare not even reveal it to ourselves! And yet, after having worked with women for more than 20 years, there is no doubt that it’s there.
What stops us? Here’s the short list I’ve come up with from years of working with other women, as well as from engaging and metabolizing the wisdom that comes from standing face-to-face with my own demons.
* Shame/embarrassment/humiliation: I can’t think of a more potent way to ensure that we silence ourselves. I believe that the best way to ensure self-silencing is to teach someone that they have nothing valuable to say. With such a ‘reality’, why would they open their mouths? A sense of worthlessness will ensure that no attempt is ever made to manifest worth. Things like, “That’s such a stupid idea!” or “I can’t believe you said that!’ or “Whatever made you think that was a smart thing to say/do!” or “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!’ or …. fill in the blanks.
Often far more potent in its impact is a reaction that has no words but cuts much closer to the bone, like: you speak, there’s complete silence and someone changes the subject; or you ask a question or say something, people look at you, turn and walk away; or (for some) you take the risk to speak what’s true for you and someone hits you, or throws something at you, or worse. We learn quickly how to protect ourselves.
* Rejection/abandonmnet: the idea that we don’t fit in, that we don’t belong, that we are not fit for, that we are not wanted in a larger collective that we hold as meaningful to us, i.e. family, peer group, team, club, etc. is a powerful motivator to pull ourselves in, tone down our perspective and blend gracefully into the background so as not to be seen to be different. Far too often, our ticket into a collective is our compliance with that collective, surrendering what is unique about us that we might be like/sound like/act like and look like everyone else. The price for not doing so is to be ejected from the collective.
This is a terrifying notion for many women in their relationships with other women. In a world where women often experience themselves as victims in some way, their sense of safety is tied to the company of other women. We presume that they ‘know’ or ‘understand’ and can empathize. Other women become the last frontier… the escape of last resort… for us to go to when we feel at risk everywhere else. To dare to do/be in ways that will alienate other women is to risk that when danger comes and they circle the wagons, we’ll find ourselves on the outside. – alone and vulnerable. Then what do we do? Where is there for us to go? We often sell ourselves down the river rather than risk being annoying or irritating to other women.
* Punishment: If we break out of the box; if we allow ourselves to think differently, speak differently, act differently; if we do not subscribe to the cultural/familial/communal expectations, there will be a price to pay. Sometimes that price will be exacted in the things mentioned above (shame/rejection, etc). Sometimes, we’ll pay with the loss of a job or an opportunity for advancement. Sometimes, we’ll pay for it by losing long-time friends or family relationships. And sometimes, we’ll pay for it with the loss of our marriage and our children. All of these take their toll on the quality of our lives.
However, what we often fail to notice is the price we’re already paying by NOT being true to ourselves! The hours and days we spend in internal turmoil, longing for our lives to be different. The stress of body, mind and spirit from living a life that does not reflect the truth of who we are. The sense of deception and self-betrayal that comes from pretending to be who we are not; and the decline of the body from wearing this mask every day of our lives, for decades.
I learned a long time ago that life is about choices – and every choice has its own natural consequence. Not good/bad, right/wrong – just a consequence that is the natural by-product of engaging life in a certain way. Some consequences feel like punishment and some consequences feel like a reward but what you can rely on is that there will always be a consequence. Perhaps a useful consideration would be to look around and ask yourself: what are the consequences of the life I’m living now?
There are no tips or techniques that will change my life. I need to be both willing and able to do what it takes to create that change in my life, recognizing that my life is up to me! Sometimes that means reading a new book or listening to an audio product. Sometimes it means talking to new people. And sometimes, it means having new conversations with the people that have been in my life for a long time. But whatever it is, it’s up to me.
Sometime ago, I wrote the thoughts below. I think they’re worth sharing here. Like I believe that there are things that stop us dead in our tracks, I also believe that there are the things that allow us to change our lives, ourselves, without waiting/hoping/wishing/praying for someone else to do it for us; or for some magical event that will make it happen. Here’s what I believe we CAN do:
Trust your body - Your body never lies. Unlike what many of us have been taught to believe, not only is your body not the enemy, it is in fact the gateway to the transformation that we seek. Far more powerful than any process of the intellect, your body is the quantum biological processor that creates all the feelings/emotions that shape the experience of your life – and since it created them, it knows exactly what to do with them. All we need to do is surrender the intellect to the body and let the body lead. Our greatest challenge is getting out of our own way!
Breathe – Science now tells us that your body is a quantum biological instrument of immense capability. It is not ‘like’ a bioprocessor – it “IS” a bioprocessor and breathing is what makes it possible for it to do its best work. Begin by paying attention to your breathing and notice when you hold your breath. In that moment, just stop…..close your eyes….and take three or four long, slow, deep breaths. If you extend the exhale so that it is twice as long as the inhale, you’ll go a long way to creating a deep state of relaxation in the body. In that state, you cannot feel fear – and when we are unafraid, we are more willing and able to consider new information and new experiences.
Follow the Impulse - The next time your body ‘feels’ something, instead of trying to shut down or move away from that sensation/impulse, breathe; relax your body; and choose to move into the sensation rather than away from it. Keeping your body open and relaxed, allow the sensation to begin to flow and to fill your body, all the time focusing your attention on keeping your body open and relax. You pay attention to your body and your body will pay attention to the energy/information that is moving. What you’ve been taught to call ‘emotions’ are really waves of energy/information trying to be metabolized (like your lunch) in the quantum biological processor that your body is, so that you can get on with your life! With the integration of each wave of information come insights and discoveries. Life changes – quickly, easily, effortlessly – and there is no going back.
Tell the truth - Even if you never say it out loud to another soul, tell yourself the truth – inside you, where you live. Allow yourself to know the truth of your own experience. We lie to ourselves all the time and tell ourselves that something doesn’t matter, when it does; that we’re willing to do something when we’re not; or that we want something when we don’t. When we allow ourselves to claim the truth of our own experience, something powerful happens inside of us and in that moment, we discover more of our own potential. Yet consider, as much as you need never tell another soul, remember this: Telling yourself the truth is an act of courage. Telling your truth out loud to another human being is an act of transformation.
Stay in the tough conversations - The toughest conversation you’ll ever have to stay in is the one with yourself. When you consider that there are only two things going on in the world – the conversations you have with yourself, and the conversations you have with another human being (i.e. chats, email, reports, etc); and when you consider that you can’t change the one you have with another person unless and until you’re both willing and able to change the one you have with yourself, staying in that tough conversation with YOU will determine the quality of your life! It will also determine your capacity for intimacy and connection to another human being because if you can’t stay connected to you in a meaningful way, how can you ever connect to someone else in a meaningful way?
Be willing to stand alone - That doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stand alone, you just need to know that if push comes to shove and you have to, you’re both willing and able to do so. Far too often in life we go along just to get along, We compromise ourselves because we think that if we really let others see who we are, they’ll move away from us. And yet, when we do that, we end up not liking ourselves much and have already moved away from ourselves. When we become both willing (a choice) and able (see the previous four points) to stand alone, we discover as we look around that there are many others who seek the same quality of life. These folks indeed, make great playmates!
I just got an invitation to be part of women gathering in a small group, talking… about entrepreneurial women. Count me in for that one! But that’s not the point. The point is that with permisssion from Sheila Winter Wallace, I’d like to share with all of you what an invitation for women to gather, might sound like.
We often hesitate to invite others to engage in conversations with us unless we have a good reason, an agenda, a defined outcome, a sense of how we want things to unfold and what things we want to have unfold. You know, all the things that we’ve been taught should be in place so that we have a sense of being ‘in control’ of the process and will be seen to ‘know what we’re doing’ by those who are invited to engage with us.
We’ve been brainwashed into believing that calling people together for a meaningful outcome must be framed, labelled and prescribed in some way. Nay, nay! Not so! Far too often this becomes the tiny box that we all mold and shape ourselves to and end up leaving such conversations feeling that we have, indeed, wasted our time.
Here’s some of what Sheila (a certified CODE Model Coach™) wrote:
“I am looking to engage with women who ‘work’ for self- discovery – for whom manifesting a meaningful and prosperous life demands that they wake up to who they are and who they can become; women who are self-employed or are in the employ of others and who are entrepreneurial in their willingness to create differently; women who risk the contextual expectations of the collective by intrepidly inserting themselves uniquely into their worlds; women, who, because of their urgent desire to carve out self- transformative lives, risk so that they can become more; women who are done with being sick and tired; women who are done with championing the cultural phenomenon of the ‘balancing act’; women who know, inherently, that life is not to be lived in separate boxes according to external references; women who trust their intuitions more than their intellects; women who are ready to say, ‘No’, to what no longer works; women who are urgently ready to say, ‘Yes’, to what they do not yet know about themselves in their capacity to choose for themselves in their respective worlds; women who are ready to redefine and reclaim their lives according to who they are and to whom they can become, not according to what they do.
I am not looking for strategy, rules, dogma, policy, best practices, training or tips in a discussion about business. I am looking for a potent, deeply meaningful and spiritual conversation about what it means to be me in my life – with business, work and entrepreneurship being the result of me showing up and engaging authentically… for me.
… I have no agenda. I have no desire to set up a new network per se; the connections that create themselves will naturally and authentically fall out of the deeper conversation that starts on January 19. My desire is to connect with others, in simple aloha here and now – with others who want to define and claim what is potently possible for them by just showing up. Just show up. No agenda. No fees. We’ll see where it all goes. ”
Sign me up!!!! And here’s what it took from Sheila to create such a compelling invitation and the space to engage with her: before anything else, she had to get honest with herself about what she wanted as an experience. She had to decloak. She had to be willing to get naked and allow all to see what she cares about and what she’s done with - regardless of how others might have their interpretations about that and their judgements/opinions about that. I learned long ago: judgements/opinions are like belly buttons – everybody has them and none of them belong to you!
Sheila had to ‘go first’; had to put herself out there and declare what she wanted, not knowing who (if anyone!) would share her desire. And you already know how that goes: we’ve been trained to hide in the weeds and get the lay of the land before sticking our necks out and allowing ourselves to be seen. You can never be too cautious when it comes to preventing a sense of shame and/or embarrassment in the body.
You can’t make a difference – in your life or the lives of the people you care about – if you’re not willing to stand up and be seen for what is real, true, honest and meaningful for you. You can’t create the life you want by living the one you think you’re stuck with! And when you do dare go first, be prepared to be amazed by how many people have also been sitting in the weeds – waiting for you to show up and lead the way.
Leadership is an outcome – a result – of living authentically. It is not a verb describing an action, it’s a noun that allows us to look back on the byproduct of living true to ourselves. Breathing in and breathing out; allowing the truth of your experience to flood your body; and engage! That’s what it takes.
Be bold! Ask for what you want and let your voice be heard! Who knows what Practical Magic you can create!
Thanks, Sheila, for being wiling to go first. I know I’ll be in great company on January 19th!
I’ve taken up watching Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer - not because I have a dog but because I am intrigued by his awareness of and linkages between energy, the impact of internal states on external outcomes and the notion of ’the pack’.
As much as Cesar is able to work with a difficult dog to create what he calls a calm and submissive’ state, he often chooses to allow his calm and submissive pack do the work. With that intention in mind, he’ll introduce the “unstable” (e.g. outlaw/renegade/fearful/nervous/insecure) dog to his pack and let the pack influence the new dog. All of the dogs in his pack were at one time “unstable”; all of the dogs in the pack have become ‘balanced’. Without exception, as the outstanding pack leader that he is, Cesar achieves the outcome of ‘calm and submissive’ – and a dog that becomes more balanced.
When I watch Cesar (and I encourage all of you to watch one of his shows, paying close attention to the parallels between how he speaks of energy and the power that it has in our lives), I can’t help but be reminded of all the years that I’ve worked with people and have noticed the same things. For purposes of this note, what catches my attention is how the balanced pack influences and shapes the behaviour of the new/problem dog much faster and easier than a one-to-one engagement. The pack (a gathering in a small group) quickly allows the individual (the unstable dog) to find balance.
We do that with our children all the time. Where you and I first learn how to be a good little girl (and, subsequently an appropriate, well-behaved, acceptable woman) is by being exposed to other women who determine praise/punishment relative to how we ‘fit’ into the pack.
In Cesar’s world, pack thinking creates calm and submissive dogs. In my world, pack thinking creates mindless habituation and the capacity to abandon ourselves to thoughts, intentions and behaviours that do not serve us. Oh, right! That’s because we’re people and not dogs!
Each of us is a unique expression of the godforce in a physical universe. We’re not supposed to be homogenized into ‘group think’ and go along to get along. We’re supposed to dance to the unique song we are in the world – and we do that until we’re about 2. And then, ‘pack thinking’ kicks in and we learn to abandon ourselves to the larger collective and become ‘calm and submissive’ to the larger whole (i.e. family, Brownie pack, team, etc.). And, we’re all living proof that it works.
Young girls are desperate to look like/sound like/act like/dress like and do as they are taught (marketing, media, hype, modelled behaviour, etc) to believe they should. With each passing year, young girls learn to abandon themselves to the pack in order to feel safe, to feel valued and wanted, and to feel that they are ‘ok’. Eating disorders, teen pregnancies, so-called recreational drug use, gangs and cliques are the end result, whether they’re the cheerleading squad or the geeks; the saints or the sinners, it’s still a pack thinking thing.
And it all starts with how we circle around Mom. We look at Mom. We watch and listen. We look to Mom to be our guide on how to be ourselves in this world: how to solve our problems, manage our experiences and manouver through our environments. We take our cues on what’s safe and what’s not to say and do, and then we replicate. As females, our first pack experience is to look to Mom to deterime what our outcomes should be.
Add one or two or more sisters to this mix. Older ones to model; younger ones to shape and control. Our first experience of women gathering in small groups, talking… is with our family. Keeping in mind all the info above (and there is so much more!) re: how we’re molded and shaped for group-think, this might be a good time to let yourself consider a few things about growing up:
- How much of who you have become as an adult woman is like Mom or the flip-side (“I’ll NEVER be like HER!) of Mom? (Either of these two extremes will ensure you never get to discover your unique self!)
- How often do you still hear your mother’s voice inside you, telling you what you can or can’t do; what you’re capable of… or not; what you can become or what you’ll never be able to be; how you measure up or don’t? (If you’re still hearing it, you can be sure it’s still shaping your life in some way.)
- How much of how your mother moved through her world was a model for you for distorting the truth, self-silencing, blaming others for your life, making do and getting by, surrendering yourself to the needs of others, etc?
This isn’t about your mother or mine – it’s about a culture that still teaches the group-think of ‘men are responsible for the tasks and women are responsible for relatonships’. When relationships equal survival in some way (since we are taught that we have no capacity to be adept at the tasks), we learn well how to manipulate relationships – with ourselves and others – to produce the outcomes that are usually attached to being effective at managing tasks!
When women gather in small groups, talking… we either seek to use the ‘pack’ influence to chastise and control the other women or (because we are not dogs , we’re people) we can engage the ‘pack’ influence with each other to explore that which is unique to each of us and encourage expression, sustainability and further discovery of that unique essence of being. Women gathering in small groups, talking… can be a ‘pack’ influence that calls to and awakens the unique presence that each of us is and encourages its expression. It’s a choice that we make, mindfully or otherwise – and it’s still a choice.
Women gathering in small groups, talking… is highly contagious. To this day, much of how we move through the world is pure habit, without the kind of scrutiny or mindful consideration that would make it possible for us to awaken from the deep sleep of ‘pack thinking’ and culturally-induced coma. No matter how much we were told that it was for our own good, it wasn’t – and it still isn’t.
It’s no secret that I believe that the future of the world is in the hands of women. We are the crucible for conception and gestation; and we are the most powerful influence in the lives of our children. – for better or for worse. We live in a world where so much of one day to the next is on automatic… is fueled by mindless repetition of what we did yesterday that we might do it again today and sustain it for tomorrow. As we live like this, we teach our children to be like us – to think like us and to move through the world like us and, perhaps more important, to create the world as we’ve created it. It’s not working anymore.
Women gathering in small groups, talking… can make or break this cycle. But we must first WAKE UP to discover how much of who we are is habit and how much is who we really believe ourselves to be. Gathering with other women who are Self aware is important to a balanced pack. It’s a choice – and it starts with the unique ‘me’ that each of us is. The rest comes together all by itself and shapes our lives – and our world.
The next time you gather with other women and talk, start listening to yourself that you might discover:
- Does the conversation going on inside of me match the one that’s going on outside of me?
- Am I shaping what I say to suit what I think others want to hear?
- Does my own resentment and resignation cause me to silence another woman’s search ‘more’ in her life?
Each of us is at the core of our own future. Who we gather to us and how we engage will determine how that future unfolds.