Today, a small group of women gathered… talking… each woman speaking to what mattered most to her in the moment. No agenda; no notes; no pre-determined outcome. Just each of us, in turn when we were drawn to, willing to be fully present, authentic and engage!
These women are passionate about living meaningful lives. As a result, the conversations are equally intense and frequently (ultimately and predictably) turn to include our early family experiences. As the Jesuits knew a long time ago, we are indeed, shaped by the time we’re seven. The good news is, it’ s not fatal! We can awaken to the effect of cultural conditioning (brain washing, mind share, etc - call it what sits best with you…) and choose to engage otherwise. However, to attempt to do so on a platform of pretending our history has not shaped us is a recipe for failure.
Part of this early family systems experience requires an acknowledgement of loss of innocence. In truth, I know of no one who has been spared. And the innocence of which I speak is not about youth or naivete. Nor is it necessarily a dictionary-bound definition of innocence – it is much more powerful than that.
The innocence of which I speak is tied to a capacity to trust the world, trust myself and trust my ability to not only navigate my world with safety but with a boundless sense of joy and adventure! It is a state of being that says ‘YES!’ to everything, knowing profoundly that I am creating my world as I go; and that the world I am creating will source and nurture and not only sustain me but allow me to grow and expand and become more!
The innocence of which I speak is a force of being… an outflow of energy that emanates from the core of who I AM… that says “This is my world and in my world, I am master of my own outcomes.” It is a force of being that trusts that all things are possible; that life will prevail; that choices determine outcomes and my choices are of my own design. This innocence… this state of being… allows me to look around at my world and find excitement and joy and adventure in everything that draws the eye. It is a way of seeing… a way of staying connected to mySelf and being able to connect to others. It is an open heart/open hand way of moving through from one moment to next, without any sense of harm existing as a possibility in my universe. Innocence as a force of being stands on a platform of complete safety – inside and out – and is fed by an insatiable curiosity about the ‘more’ for which (I believe) we are intended and designed.
And then, in the midst of all this, along comes ‘reality’. In the midst of my innocence ‘state of being’, I am birthed into a context – a larger collective called ‘family’, however it is defined in my particular experience of it – and the innocence of who I AM now begins to unfold within the context of this larger collective. For far, far too many of us, those who shape and direct and mold this larger collective are themselves bereft of their own innocence, it having been taken a long, long time ago. Innocence lost will produce a sense of disconnect; innocence taken will produce vengeance and rage!
It is into these contexts that our own innocence seeks to express and survive. For most of us, we don’t stand a chance! So, we grow up in environments and in experiences where varying degrees of ‘assault’ are perpetrated upon the innocence of who we are on the inside, and the powerless of the small child that we are on the outside. For some, it is at the end of the continuum of being dismissed, disregarded or ignored. For others, it comes in the form of violence and assault of body, mind and spirit – whether directly on our being or witnessed in our own powerlessness as it is directed at others. No matter its content, its ultimate outcome is a deep and vast sense of betrayal – of Self, of our world and of the ability of our Self to function effectively in that world. And in that moment, I am lost to my innocence. I must disconnect in order to survive.
There is great power in innocence as a state of being. In that state of being, I am both willing and able to trust – mySelf and yourSelf. I am willing to engage and move forward. I am able to know that I can choose, I can create and I can manifest my life as a reflection of these. I am without fear – not because I talk myself into it, or affirm myself into it, but because there is, in truth, no fear that moves through my body. I am able to see what can be and am not blinded by what is. I touch and am touchable. I move through my life, moment to moment, with my eyes open, my heart beat strong and resonating through the world around me; and I recognize that I AM all things and all things are who and what I AM in my world.
In innocence as my state of being, I am able to see through the eyes of the godforce that I AM and in each moment, recognize the same in you. My desire is to engage with you to co-create a life worth living.
Is there any wonder that we must find ways to strip our children of this force? This is a force of being that transforms the nature of who and what we are. This is a force of being that can profoundly reshape our world. In addition, if I have long ago known this force in my own being and I have had this stripped from me, my longing drives me to destroy it in others. If I can’t have it, then neither can anyone else! And from one generation to the next, the deed is repeated until we no longer remember who we are.
Can innocence, as a state of being… as a force… be reclaimed? I believe so. And it requires, first, that we awaken from the deep, deep coma of ‘cultural conditioning’; from what we have been told is ‘the truth’ or ‘reality’; and that we bring the full measure of that formidable awakened presence to bear in all that we choose. A re-awakening, reclaimed innocence brings with it the will to claim all that we have already become and all that we might be – and we honour that in each other. Only by taking back who I AM in the world will I ever find a place to stand that I might honour your doing the same.
Thank you, Lucy, for you recent post in response to my observation that there is a storm brewing… I think you captured it all! And as I read your words, what is most present for me is that notion of ‘intensity’.
There is great power in our willingness and ability to make friends with our own intensity… to reclaim the territory of being FULLY ourselves, COMPLETELY engaged and UNAPOLOGETICALLY committed to the truth of our own experience. Without a doubt, in that choice we also become IRREVERSIBLY unmanageable! And in that same moment, a space opens up in which something genuinely new can take shape. Space…. Movement…. Flow. It all begins with Space. And without the willingness and ability to know what it is to relax into our own intensity, that which is often essential to dislodge the status quo sits bound and gagged in some dark corner of our being… waiting to escape. Space closes in and we remain bound to who we have always been.
So thanks, Lucy, for being willing to be so open, clear, honest and direct. I know that I am in good company!
Lately, I’ve been drawn to and fascinated by any and all programs that address the forces of Nature. My favorites include pretty much anything on the Discovery Channel, not just for the content but for the often breathtakingly beautiful images that stream in front of my eyes. There are moments when, for no apparent reason (at least, not to me), I find tears streaming down my cheeks. What! What is that all about???
As I watch, I see a magnificent, living, sentient Earth. I hear the sounds of vibrancy and life. I feel Gaia. Inside myself, I know this story well.
It is the story of a woman who keeps trying to deal with what is thrown at her. The story of a living being who is willing and able; a living being who has the desire to contribute and to engage and to be part of a living community.
It is the story of a woman who is trying desperately to be patient; to be reasonable; to try just one more time; to go for one more day. It is the story of willingness coupled with ability, without the need or desire to surrender or let go. In these stories, the outcomes are the same: someone usually ends up dying.
Soon, I will be 58. I’ve been working with women since I was 18. The first 20 years were ‘informal’; the last 20 have been more ‘formal’ and through coaching, programs, retreats, etc. that have made it possible for me to work with thousands of women. That’s a lot of stories!
I found my way into the work that I do quite by accident. It was not always about working with women. And although I spent almost the first 15 years of my business working with both men and women, it has become very clear to me where my heart lies. I got tired of watching women die – in body, mind and spirit.
Women who had lost their edge and had subsequently lost themselves. Our culture is not fond of ‘edgy’ women! It is much preferred that we not be so… well.. sharp! But then, that is one of the things that comes with edges. They can be well honed.
Women who had become so detached from their own sense of self, it never occurred to them to tend to their own needs; to take what they required. Our culture is not fond of women who have become unwilling to ask and negotiate and wait their turn. Sometimes, we’re afraid of women who have become unwilling to wait to be invited to the table… and who simply pull up a chair!
Women who had so lost their sound, even their ability to breathe had become small and tiny and tight in their chest. Our culture is not fond of women who make noise; women who speak a booming ’NO!’ rather than whisper yet another ‘Please, sir, may I…. “. We become afraid when women are no longer soft and welcoming and inviting and agreeable. And in that awareness, we often hear “What has the world come to!!”
Our world has come to a crossroads and is rapidly approaching a flashpoint. Gaia can no longer swallow and digest and maintain the status quo on the toxins that fill her flows; the garbage that swells her surfaces; and the poisons that make it impossible for her to breathe. She is on the move, no longer willing to wait patiently for it to be taken care of by some ‘other’, while we review and ponder and pontificate about how bad it is or isn’t, whose fault it is and why its not ours. She is marshaling her forces – and they are formidable. Around the world, we are feeling the power of her awakened presence.
It is happening in my world, on all levels. It is happening with Gaia. It is happening with the women in my life. And it is happening inside myself. Forces are gathering inside each of us… where we live… and things are changing. Sometimes they change effortlessly as we move to create that which we desire. And sometimes, they change with chaos and tragedy as that which resists begins to crumble under its own weight. But however it goes, it is changing.
I received this note today from one of those amazing women I have called into my life to remind me to stay connected to myself. We are part of a small group of women gathering… to talk, at Oceanstone in June. Her words were stunning as I read and realized that she was a reflection of my own internal state and that of so many of the women I come to connect with. In her own words:
“For a while now, I have been noticing a number of things such as a feeling of intense boredom washing over me in the midst of an activity; frequent pressure/pain in my heart chakra area as old beliefs start to surface and shift; disruptions in who has authority in my life i.e. externally versus internally driven; in addition to huge waves of fire energy and an insistent and nagging desire for some massive change in my life. It is as if I am in the midst of something huge within me waiting to erupt … and I have no clue what it is about! Even (my husband) has mentioned that I have become so outspoken in expressing what I want in every day life that he hardly recognizes me as the woman he first met … and adds that I could be less mean and alot nicer about it … biatch! (Guess I am just not that nice little girl anymore … ah, finally, cuz I have been trying to lose that title for years!)
I have been paying attention to the things that I just could not care less about or that do not light me up anymore compared to those things that are heart felt and trigger my connection with my higher self. I have been noticing the choices that I make in my work that can bring me income (never a problem attracting that into my life) yet do not always offer me the meaningfulness that I say that I want. I am getting better at turning down clientele that would not be fulfilling to me. As I feel that I am gearing up for a new shift in what I will be creating, I wonder if my changing clientele are there to make it easier for me to let go when the time comes? I have also been noticing myself selected as consultant/advisor for the development of colleagues as they turn to me for guidance in their own coaching … a new realization of my natural leadership.”
I contacted Susan* to let her know that her words had moved me to express my own thoughts. I asked for her permission to include her thoughts in this blog, as I believe that she speaks for so many of us with such passion and power. When she responded, not only was she encouraging but having read this blog she added:
“What bubbled up for me is that, as I begin to allow this force within me to be expressed, I start to feel more alive. I feel like I am finally puttting mySelf at the forefront of my life instead of being in the background. And, the only way to create what I want now in my life is to be a force to be reckoned with (just like Gaia)!”
The words that flow from the internal truth of this one woman speak for so many voices yet to be heard. There is a storm brewing on the horizons of our lives. We can pretend that it is not so, as we have pretended for generations that women are powerless and victims and afraid. Or we can stop pretending and allow ourselves to see and be seen for the force that we already are.
Women gathering in small groups, talking… can change their worlds, when what we choose to talk about are the things that matter to us; the things that make a difference in the quality of our lives and the things that we already know that if we give ourselves permission to say out loud, life will never be the same again. Telling ourselves the truth is an act of courage. Telling our truth out loud to another human being is an act of transformation!
There is a storm brewing and it is increasing in density and intensity, with clouds beginning to gather as the wind picks up and gains strength. There is always a gathering of the wind before the storm comes. Already, I can feel the goose bumps as it ripples across my skin…
*Susan Bremner – a WEL-Systems Catalyst™ and CODE Model Coach™ – is a National StarSkate Coach. She is profoundly committed to ensuring that young women are given the opportunity to fully express and excel in their chosen sport. To be successful, Susan has had to become the very thing that she invites in others!
Susan is contributing author to Sekhmet Rising: The Restlessness of Women’s Genius. Her chapter will profoundly move you, as well as motivate and inspire you to reconnect to the full measure of who you can become! For more information on Susan, visit : http://www.wel-systems.com/SekhmetRising/SusanB.htm
It seems like such an insignificant thing – to sit and be still until another Life has exhausted all that they have to share – and yet, it profoundly changes lives.
Women gathered in a small group, talking… and in that moment, shared a pact to be present and listen as one woman spoke the truth of who she had become. This was no small feat, as the agreement was that we would gather and share space; that we would be fully present, attentive and engaged; and that we would be there for whatever it took. We agreed that we would not interrupt, interfere, prod, poke, question, encourage, etc… we would just be there.
If it took 20 minutes, that’s what it took. If it took 6 hours, that’s what it took. And we would be there, fully present, for it all.
I remember years ago being part of a facilitated process with about 100 people. At one point, the lead facilitator left and a woman began to speak. About 20 minutes later, the lead facilitator left and the same woman was still speaking. The facilitator was outraged! How dare this woman take up all this time; and how dare the sitting facilitator allow this to happen! In a fit of affronted expertise, this same facilitator then asked the group, as a way of berating the sitting facilitator: ”How many of YOU would have allowed this to go on?!” In that group of 100, I was the only one who put up my hand. When asked why I would do such a thing, I answered: ”I believe that when she’s done, she’ll stop.”
Not rocket science. When we empty the vessel of who we are, we’re empty. In that moment, the space exists for more of who we can become to begin to pour in and fill the space. I have had the privilege to be witness to these Sacred Story tellings time and again. They have been as short as 10 minutes; and one went for 5 hours. Each is unique. And, when they are authentic and fully engaged – both from the place of the Storyteller and from those who have gathered in a circle to bear witness – they are profoundly powerful, life-transforming and a great and deep honour to be called to bear witness.
“With a MUCH clearer sense of who I have been since ’48 and how I’d been ‘leading’ (mostly NOT) my life, I feel much more connected to ME here-and-now. The ‘process’ of letting whatever comes out of my mouth to vibrate through me and hover in the air was pretty damn powerful! Well designed, Louise!
Massive movements continued on Saturday night and especially Sunday as more of the lies I’ve been living and random stuff that I was unwilling to see came into my awareness. Even this morning I was still feeling like my throat had been ravaged by a blowtorch, and the sensation of hot air coming out of my mouth made me feel dragonlike. (Not a great feeling, by the way.)
I feel a lot better (since) earlier this afternoon when … I sat down for a serious ‘talk’ (aka me pulling myself up to the table WITH my edges). I stated how much more connected and awake I am NOW and how I am going to stay that way; i was (untypically) frank about how I see ‘our past/recent years together’ today; and I was as clear as I could be about what I want going forward. And I’m very very aware that I’ve no idea where I’m heading AND I’ll be ok – because I’m going to remember who I am NOW and I’m going to choose ME. And this time ’round, I truly believe I will. This feels different, inside.
One woman’s life has profoundly changed… and no one did anything to her or for her or with her. She simply allowed herself to be fully present to the truth of her own experience and claimed the Sacred Space within which it flowed: herself. All that she touches will no longer be the same. The people she loves and engages will be awakened to her presence in a way unavailable before this moment. Her choices – and her future – are clearly in her own hands AND NOW, she can see that.
Women gathering in small groups, talking… is a Sacred Space within which we can reclaim the full measure of who we are. There is nothing to do but be present, be still and engage. In that moment, Life does what it knows best how to do: it awakens us to who we are capable of becoming and makes it possible for us to engage!