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“You’re too smart for that.”

 

I have heard these words since I was a child.  As females, my generation was taught at an early age  that any show of emotion is irrational behaviour, and that if we want to be taken seriously in any area we must only rely on intellect.  As adults we are accused of histrionics at the slightest hint of emotion and as silly idiots if we follow anything out of pure intuition.  In fact, none of us is trained how to use our intuition as a resource.  We are told instead to ignore one of our most useful navigational tools.  Why is it hard to grasp a well-rounded life in which emotions and intellect don’t need to be mutually exclusive?

I am no stranger to the terms “follow your heart” or “follow your gut“.  These, and many other “do what feels right” adages are all ways of explaining the same thing: intuition.  One of intuition’s easiest languages to learn to read is emotions.  Can you see the pretzel beginning to form here?

The problem here is that we cannot learn to feel and process our emotions while we’re suppressing them.  We make mistakes.  As children we throw tantrums, and at some point we are all emotional, hormonal adolescents, but what society overlooks is a chance in those moments to not only teach us how to cope with emotions, rather than avoiding them, but to read them in others in order to better interact with other emotional humans. Enter: Customer Service.  I have gotten quite adept in my years of teaching, working with children with special needs, and working in Customer Service to know how to identify emotions in others and mold my approach to them accordingly.  I’ve made a sort of side hobby out of observing those around me and figuring out how people communicate their emotions without even knowing it. Imagine what a world we could live in if we were all taught these skills.

With Imbolc approaching the unnecessary disconnect between emotions and intellect has played heavily in my personal meditation.  Intuition might make me more likely to take risks, but even if those dice don’t fall where I want them to I gain something from rolling them.  This is also not a blind science.  Intuition and emotions may draw my attention to a specific area, and from there I can calculate the risks and decide whether the best case scenario is worth the worst.  Being a wife, a friend, a girlfriend, a businesswoman, a lady, and an adult all at once is a juggling act.  One can’t be too cold, too distant, too expressive, too whimsical, to caring, or too trusting of one’s intuition.    Brighid, however, shows us exactly how to juggle all those things without dropping anything or sacrificing quality.

Brighid is healer, midwife, poet, warrior, and smith, among other things.  When I evoke her in rituals I often speak to one of these facets, but I have found recently that calling out to one, powerful, multifaceted Brighid has made me stronger and more focused as a practitioner and as a woman.  Why?  Because Brighid’s complexity is what makes her powerful.  While each of her elements has its unique properties, it is putting them together that makes her Brighid.  She is the light of hope to make it through the rest of the winter because she is not just a single ray of light, she is the dazzling sunlight of dawn.  She is not just a single flame, she is every flame that has sparked from her torch.  She is intellect, art, and intuition, which is what makes her unstoppable.

Looking at Brighid this way has taught me volumes about myself.  I am not either a writer or a photographer.  I am not either a wife or a woman with a career goal.  I am not driven either by my intellect or my emotions.  I am all of these things, and I am stronger and more beautiful because of it.

 

Go now, feel your complexity.

Aloha

imbolc

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Despite being one myself, I have never understood females.  I had friends who were girls in elementary and high schools, but never a lot of them, and very few of them still exist in my life today.  When I moved to Philadelphia and started making a new group of friends, a large majority of them were males.

Why?  For one, I hate drama.  Be my friend, or don’t, but don’t make me guess, and don’t change your mind about it every day.  Know what you want from me, and be able to communicate that in a way that isn’t whining at me or bitching about it.  I understand that not all women are like this in the same way that I understand that some men are, but my experiences with female friends and girlfriends early on in life left my tolerance for such things awfully low.

Let’s now toss in a dash of awkwardness.  I’m never sure how to act around other women.  I’ve always had a very relaxed, “tomboy” streak, but I also have times when I like to dress fancy and be very feminine.  I’m never sure which one I’m supposed to be.  I spent many years as the fat friend, even more as the frumpy friend, and a few more than that as the one everybody knew liked girls.  All my life I’ve felt like other females spent time with me out of some sense of pity, like a community service project.  I constantly feel too old, too old, too square, or too stupid to carry conversations with women where I’m more confident in face-to-face interactions with men.  Why?  In my experience, men will tell me when I’m wrong, how they feel about me, and whether or not I’m boring the life out of them.  They will not sugar coat things or pretend to want me around.  In general, men are not afraid to be blunt and not patient enough to keep me around because I might be useful someday.

This awkwardness has bled into my dating life.  I’m not a dating guru by any means, but I can hold my own in the heterosexual dating realm in ways I could not imagine doing when dating women.  I have a hard time deciphering the girl code enough to know whether she’s flirting or just being nice.  I feel like making the first move makes me vulnerable to being laughed at and rejected, so I pull back very early on if I start to feel interested in a woman.  It’s a very odd feeling for me.

Hubby has tried to teach me to flirt with women for years.  He has seen me, in a single night, flirt a man so far out of my league that we shouldn’t even have been in the same room out of his number then clam up when a woman is obviously interested.  This is not to say I haven’t had girlfriends, but I have yet to have one in the last six years that Hubby hasn’t found for me.

I’m not really sure how to fix this problem or why I’ve decided to throw it out into the universe, but maybe one of you kind souls out there has a handbook or something…or just  woman to throw my way.

This weekend I left Hubby alone with the house and, trying not to think about the conditions to which I would return, spent my days on Assateague Island for a Women’s Empowerment retreat with the woman who attuned me to Reiki.  The group ended up being, with the exception of one woman, a mini reunion of my initial Reiki class.  Now, this was in many ways a “what happens on Assateague stays on Assateague” kind of personal retreat meant only for my personal (aka: handwritten and kept in a dresser drawer) journal, but I will share with you all a few poignant moments and what I brought home from the experience.

The first night we stayed up late not talking, but sharing and laughing.  Though for some of us it was only the second time we’d ever been in the same room together, I immediately felt a connection to each of these women.  We were five women of varying ages, experiences, paths, and lifestyles finding out how comfortably and easily we related to one another.  We went to bed relaxed and warm, and I couldn’t sleep.  My mind was racing, my heart and soul were optimistic and impatient, and my spirit was anxious to explore this new place like a bird newly set free in a bright morning sky.

I found myself up the next morning far earlier than I would normally wake up on my own feeling refreshed and ready for anything; ocean air has a way of doing that.  We eased into the morning and started our afternoon on the beach, where I had the auspicious opportunity to see a few of the wild horses of Assateague.  I stood in the sand and let myself feel the sand beneath my feet, the rolling surf on my legs, the breeze wrapping itself around me, and the run on my face.  I took in those energies and held them deep inside in perfect balance.  I was ready to begin.

Back at the house we began to do some real work with each other and within ourselves.  For me, this weekend was about long-term progress rather than the small and often illusory steps I seem to be reaching for a lot these days.  If Hubby and I are going to be back on our own two feet soon we need to think big and make it happen.  To be able to do my part in all this I need to be strong, confident, and possibly a little creative.  I also need to be patient, and oftentimes more quiet and at peace when I see the opportunity for it to mitigate the chaos and constant doing inherent to putting any plan in motion.  All this is what I needed to get from this weekend.

Part of the afternoon featured a short energy share.  On a normal day my benefit would mainly have been in receiving healing energy.  In that setting, however, I was most satisfied by giving.  Not only did it remind me of my love for hands-on healing and the joy I get from being able to translate messages from a person’s  body, but it also gave me a renewed need to do so on a regular basis and the confidence I needed to know where my real gifts need to be directed.

Having our ritual on the beach that night brought a lot of things together for me.  Since deciding that morning  what specific insight I wanted to get from the experience I had already been receiving messages and feeling the energies changing within and around me.  I have never been on a beach that allowed fires, so having a fire in the sand on a darkened beach was an amazing experience.  It was surreal knowing there were other people on the beach but also feeling like we were in our own space.  Unless I really looked for them I could not see the separations between the land, water, and sky, and it only added to the surreal feel of the night.  The only other people I did happen to notice where beautiful moonlit silhouettes of children playing on the dunes just after twilight.  My spirit wanted to play with them, and my heart smiled.

When ritual was over I wandered towards the ocean and let the water wash over my feet and mingle with the sand between my toes.  Once again I felt the breeze wrap itself around me, but this time it was the moonlight on my face.  I remembered how the energy had felt earlier that day and let the two twist and blend within me, a glorious balance of the masculine sun and feminine moon energies.  There with my feet in the sandy surf and my head in the stars (the Milky Way has never been so bright!) I found myself singing a song of transformation.  I have never felt so moved and full of life-changing, positive energy in my life, never felt so sure I was on the verge of something great for myself and for my family.   It was emotional and almost overwhelming.  I let it flow through me and sang, “well of water, flowing emotion…transformation…we call…” and the ocean answered with one overflowing wave.  Where the other only licked my toes, this wave engulfed me up to my hips.  It happened once, and only once, and I knew it was time to join my sisters by the fire once more.  I was soggy and cold, but I was a new me walking back to them that night.

The ride home was jovial.  We laughed a lot and never missed a chance to kick the laughter up a notch.  I knew then, as I know now, that these women are now an important part of my life.  I hold a new respect and love for each and every one of them.  I know I could call any one of them if I had a problem or question, and she would listen with an open heart and help me find the power I discovered on the beach.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convey with words how this weekend has changed me, which is a hard thing for a writer to admit.  I can count on one hand the times in my life I have been speechless, but this experience definitely goes on that list.  Now is the time for my next steps.  They will be small, slow, and quiet, but they will change my life as I know it.  We will overcome this situation.  I will not be alone, nor will I fall behind and be carried.  I will not forget I am a woman of Brighid, a woman of the Earth, and my mother’s daughter.  I will not forget that I am often the only one making me weak.  At some point the woman I know I can be got buried far beneath the woman I let myself be far too often. She’s the woman Hubby sees.  She’s the woman the children look to for guidance and nurturing.  She’s the woman who can, and will, and continues to thrive.  She is the woman I have always been, the woman I disinterred on Assateague Island.

Go now, my friends, and find your power.

~*Namaste*~

There is no way to list all the women in history who have changed the world in which we live.  Just the same there is no rubric for which ones deserve the most acclaim and the unique privilege of being written about in the blog of yours truly.  If I sat and poured over the timeline of women’s history, I’d end up with an overwhelming number of women who made it possible to even have such a blog, or even the ability to read and write.  Let’s get a little more personal than all that and honor the women who have made the most impact on my history.  The list is long, but I will cover a few.

Let’s start at birth.  I come from a long line of strong women on both sides.  My great-grandmothers overcame hardships and stigmas, and sometimes had to be a little creative or daring,  to make sure their families were provided for.  While one worked as a Rosie the Riveter, another sold moonshine from her basement during Prohibition.  My grandmothers  joined the work force as career women.  My mother, a diabetic since early childhood, knew the risks of continuing her pregnancy with me but did it anyway.  She lost her sight in the process.  Not only did she adapt, and being discontent with being “disabled”, she flourished in both her career at a local community college and her personal life.  She made sure I always knew I was loved, and she never sacrificed a good time.  Beautiful both inside and out, she taught me through her actions and words that grace and strength are not exclusive to each other.  Without this I would not be the woman I am today.

There have been several teachers in my life who have made a huge difference.  My 5th grade teacher, Ms Borges fed the writing bug and encouraged me to write poetry.  We still talk to this day.  She may be appalled to find my writing success is thus far limited to the scope of a blog.  Then I went to high school, an all female, former boarding school connected to a Catholic convent, whose catch phrase at the time was, “Where Young Women Exceed Expectations!”  There I encountered the likes of Ms. Sutter, lovingly referred to as Ms Debbie.  I may have been less than adept at the French language, but I learned invaluable lessons about individuality that have given me the courage to be the woman I want to be instead of the woman others want me to be.  There were other women on the administration who inspired me and taught me more about myself than about the subjects they covered, because while I remember very little about high school physics I will always be prepared to prove my worth and strength as a person rather than as a woman.

Last but not least, and I hope I don’t embarrass her, is one of my best friends.  I have watched her sacrifice everything she has for her son, friends, sisters, and parents without asking for anything in return.  One of my first female friends in Philadelphia, she became like a sister to me years later as roommates.  She has coached and held me through sickness, break-ups, and personal crises, and has never judged me for any of it.  She is a beacon of perseverance and the quintessence of resilience.  I have seen her bounce back from a fall more times than I can count, and she never lets it get her down for too long.  Because of her I am never afraid to be an individual, nor do I view mistakes as fatal.  She has taught me to laugh at myself and never take anyone too seriously.  She embodies the saying, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  Thank you, Cat, for always being willing to laugh at me, and for always being honest even if it might hurt my feelings.

This list is by no means complete, but these women are on my mind and in my heart as I look up at posters of Amelia Earhart and Marie Curie.  The women I have written about deserve a bit of recognition for the impact they have had on my world every bit as much as any woman in a history book.  Think about the women in  your own lives, my friends, and whether or not they know what a difference they have made.  Maybe it’s time they learned.

Go now, hug your matriarchs!

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