Today is my birthday!

I am 60 years old today. How is that even possible?

The days leading up to this one have been filled with reflection, to be sure. I suppose that is always the case, but this year – given that 2020 has been, well, 2020 and that I left my corporate position and that both of my daughters have moved far away from the city we’ve called home for 25+ years now and that I’m turning 60 (!!) – it feels like a lot.

Still, there is a lot to be grateful for: health, family, friends, airplanes (made far more accessible, hopefully, in the months to come). And this year, in even more significant ways than ever before, I am grateful for the ancient stories of women that have endlessly companioned me along the way.

I drew a card for myself this morning. Though I’ve done this literally thousands of times – for others and myself – I never cease to be amazed by who appears and what She has to say. As I shuffled the deck, I asked “What is uniquely mine to know on this, my 60th birthday?”

Ready for this?

Mary Magdalene:

  • Honor and distinction are yours.
  • You belong in the inner circle.
  • Oh, the wisdom you have to impart.

I could tell you of her story – how it’s been told, how it’s been misunderstood, how she’s been silenced and shamed, and still, how she rises up anyway, always, and speaks. I could tell you of the many ways in which her story mirrors my own. And I could certainly tell you much of how powerfully these three themes speak to my heart. Maybe I will do all of this and then some in a later post…

But right now?

Oh, how this touches me. (Had I done this on video, you would have seen my tears.) Oh, how I needed these words – her words. And oh, how relevant and timely and compelling and challenging and honoring! Especially since this is exactly why I’m writing this post in the first place today…

Honestly. I started this post because it is my birthday. Because on my birthday I offer New Year Readings to you at a wildly discounted rate. Because I haven’t done this the past 2 years. Because 2020 has been, well, 2020. Because am offering them again this year (at a wildly discounted rate).

Honestly. I hadn’t intended to draw a card today, right in the middle of this writing. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated who showed up on my behalf. And I shouldn’t be remotely surprised.

Honestly. This is always what happens!

And this is perfect, actually! You can see who has shown up for me and I can invite you to find out who longs to show up for you. Truly. There are 51 more stories I work with besides Mary Magdalene’s – each of them powerful in their own right, each of them offering exactly what you need to hear and trust in 2021. Because, let’s be honest:

You deserve a year that does not disappoint.

Your 2021 Reading and the woman within will provide you every bit of the advocacy, wisdom, and grace you desire and deserve.

How can I be so certain? Well, the list of reasons is endless. But for now, let’s go with what just happened – for me (which is exactly what will happen for you)!

Today, my birthday, right now – I am clear and certain that honor and distinction are mine because I have the privilege of doing this work in the first place, being blessed by the presence and power of these women, and offering every bit of that to you. I am standing in an “inner circle,” embraced by 52 amazing women and their stories. And I am imparting wisdom – learned over 60 years to be sure; but endlessly supported by that of the ancient, sacred women who long to support you. Perfect!

Oh, how I’d love for you to receive all of this for yourself – as gift from me; the gift of your 2021 Reading. 

And the “wildly discounted” part?

Starting today, in honor of my 60th birthday, I am offering the first 60 Readings sold at 50% off.

  *****

I still find it impossible to believe that I am 60 today. But it’s not impossible for me to believe that I get to be here, right now, writing this post on this day and miraculously, graciously, still offering my deepest heart to you: these women, their stories, their knowing – and all on your behalf.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the 50% off. More, I hope you’ll receive the 2021 Reading that is yours – already waiting for you and filled with the perfect-perfect-perfect words your heart longs to hear, your year longs to make manifest, and your deepest, truest self longs to live into. 

Learn more.

Remember who you are

I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old; but now I am a woman again – as I always am when I write.

I love this quote from Virginia Woolf.

Given that my birthday is just a week away, it takes on new and deeper meaning. By all manner of cultural definitions, I am not only thinking myself very old, I actually am! 

Let me be quick to say that there is a chasm of difference between what the culture has to say and what I know-believe-feel. That’s not to say I don’t, from time to time, hear the insipid voices within that love to conspire with the ones without. Which, again, is why I love her words.

Those voices – the ones within and without –
can be so noisy, so constant, so overwhelming,
that we forget who we are.

I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER.

I get it. It’s not all that hard to feel disjointed: wearing multiple hats, playing a myriad of roles, adapting, nurturing, creating, birthing, cleaning, working, laboring, loving. We loose our footing. We find ourselves in a “queer mood.” We forget who we actually are. 

So how are we to remember? 

Take Virginia Woolf’s words as gospel. Express all of yourself – with complete permission and unfettered freedom. Nothing less will do. 

Words.
Thoughts.
Emotions.
Ideas.
Dreams.
Desires.
Revolutions.

Uncensored.
Unedited.
Unguarded.
Impossible to quell. 

Remember?   

Oh, that’s right! Now I remember. I am whole, complete, broken, tentative, powerful, tender, amazing, wise, strong, vulnerable, grounded, undone, spontaneous, angry, passionate, beautiful, smart, funny…myself. Now I am a woman again.

My hope for you is that you come home to yourself through whatever it is that gives you complete permission and unfettered freedom to express everything. No holding back. Whether writing, journaling, screaming into your pillow, recording a voice memo that tells the whole story – from your perspective, in your words, through your lens – taking a long walk with only the birds hearing your deepest heart. 

You, when expressed, returns you to yourself, makes you most yourself, and enables you to give yourself, yet again, to your world in the most powerful and undeniable of ways. 

And that you? Well, that’s the one we long for, desire, and need to have step forward in all the glory befitting the sovereign, regal, and wise woman you already are. 

Remember her?

May it be so. 

**********

It’s true: my birthday is just a week away. And as has been true in the past, the gift-giving is from me to you. I am offering New Year Readings at a special price…because I want you to hear impossible-to-quell expression that is 100% on your behalf; filled with all the reminders you need to be YOU in the year ahead. SUBSCRIBE to get the details as soon as they’re released! 

She was a voice

I ordered and read The Book of Longings last week. Written by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (required reading for any woman who grew up in the church), it is the imagined story of Ana – wife of Jesus.

I won’t give the plot away, nor is that what this post is about; rather, the prayer Ana recites, cherishes, and lives into:

…Bless the largeness inside me, no matter how I fear it. Bless my reed pens and my inks. Bless the words I write. May they be beautiful in your sight. May they be visible to eyes not yet born. When I am dust, sing these words over my bones: she was a voice.

She was a voice.

She was a voice.

This nearly takes my breath away. 

But not before I inhale deeply – and then exhale an inexhaustible stream of words and emotions about how profoundly I long for this to be true. For me, to be sure. For my daughters. For my friends. For you. For countless women of the past who were not given voice (and about whom I write).

For too many women, yet today, who are still silenced – because of patriarchy, political realities, racism, bigotry, abusive marriages, fear, oppressive corporate structures, a predominant culture that blatantly prefers us quiet and compliant. The list goes on. 

Still, she was a voice.

More powerful than all that holds us down and back, within and without, is exactly that for which Ana prays:

sing these words over my bones: she was a voice.

A woman’s voice heralds wisdom.

A woman’s voice offers truth.

A woman’s voice brings justice.

A woman’s voice articulates desire.

A woman’s voice invites hope.

 

And without a woman’s voice? Well, that explains everything, yes? The lack of wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope. The list goes on.

If we want a world defined by wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope, then we must be a voice.

 

We are the ones who speak into being the life and reality we long for. This is the largeness within us…

No matter how we fear it.

Be the voice. The voice that you alone can express and embody. The voice that whispers and shouts within. The voice all of us long to hear – and already know dwells within you. Beautiful. Powerful. True.

She was a voice. May it be so.

My voice comes forth, at least in part, by reimagining and recreating the voices of other women – some you’ve heard of, many you have not. I do this through Readings – the personalized and powerful voice of one woman who speaks into your story in bold and winsome ways – who is already choosing you. 

I’m days away from making 2021 New Year Readings available (with an amazing discount!) All the wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope you desire and deserve as you (finally) put 2020 behind you and step boldly, courageously, and beautifully into all that is ahead – including your voice! SIGN UP to be the first to hear.

[Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash]  

How the old stories make the new ones stronger

I listened to Brene Brown’s latest podcast – a conversation with Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute and author of Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes

I’ll admit, it was hard for me to hear their lovely conversation, given that the one in my head was constantly drowning them out: “Yes! That’s what I’ve been saying! Exactly! Thank you! You’re right!” If I’m being completely honest, I also need to admit that I was irritated. In some ways, Lesser has written the book that I’ve been talking about forever!  

I got over it pretty quickly because more than all else, I was flooded with gratitude. Wise and amazing women talking about the ways in which the ancient stories of women have been maligned throughout time because of the way that men have told them – and the ways in which those tellings still impact us today. That’s the most blissful conversation ever for me! 

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not mad at men. I can hold the big picture, the larger cultural history, all of that. As Lesser names, the time has long passed in which that lens, exclusively, should be the one through which we view ourselves.

  • Blamed for the downfall of all humanity, too full of desire, too curious, too dangerous. 
  • Filled with centuries of shame. 
  • Convinced that we are not enough and worrying that we’re far too much. 

Enough!

Lesser says this:

Whether we know it or not, whether we have read them or not, whether we believe them or don’t, our daily lives take direction from stories that are hundreds, even thousands of years old…Once metabolized, the old stories are hard to shake from the mind of an individual or the hierarchy of a family or the guiding principles of a country. 

Mmm hmm. (Maybe she’s watched my TEDx talk?)

I downloaded Cassandra Speaks to my Kindle as soon as the podcast finished. I’ve finished Part One – she looks at Eve, Pandora, and Cassandra as the formative stories/myths that have created the mess we find ourselves in today. Parts Two and Three follow, so I don’t want to presume I know the direction she will yet take.

I’m clear on the direction I’ve taken – over and over again in my own life and on behalf of others.

For me, it’s not enough to name the ways in which patriarchal tellings of these archetypal stories have impacted us. Nor am I willing to do away with them completely. What I want, what I’m committed to, and what I do – over and over again – is go back to them, dust them off, breathe life into them, and let them speak. I reimagine how they’d be told when she is the protagonist, when it’s her voice we hear, when it’s her wisdom from which we learn…and are transformed.

Did I mention? Bliss!

When I was contemplating whether or not I had the courage to end my marriage, I was overwhelmed with all the internal and external messages that told me why that was a mistake and why I needed to work harder, try again, keep at it, stay committed. I was working with a Spiritual Director then who asked me to think about the story of Hagar. (If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the Cliff Notes version: her suffering made mine look like a minor irritation.) She said, “What do you think Hagar has to say to you, Ronna? How might she see what you’re going through? What perspective does she long to offer you?” I opened up a blank document on my computer and answered every one of these questions. I wrote and wrote and wrote – as I wept. I could hear Hagar’s voice, crying out from the desert. I imagined exactly what she wanted me to know, what she hoped I’d hold on to, how she hoped I’d rise up, stay strong, and step forward…because that’s what she did. 

That process became a rhythm and ritual for me that I combined with ongoing academic work and research connected to my M.Div. and study of Feminist Theology. Before long, I’d written missives to myself from countless women – buried away in this ancient text. A bit later, I started writing them for others. And now, almost 15 years later, I still hear their voices whisper (and sometimes shout).  

They tell us what we’ve forgotten, but need to recall – and believe. They remind us that our story is NOT to be theirs – silenced, forgotten, or harmed. And they somehow, mysteriously, in the most sacred and secreted of ways, stay with us…when we look for them, when we seek them, when we ask for their presence, their wisdom, their generous kindness.

More bliss, to be sure!

I could go on and on. But that’s not actually what this post is about. (Hard to tell, I know.)

The reason I’m writing any of this today is because of Elizabeth Lesser and Brene Brown, because of a smart conversation between two women about realities that effect and impact us all – based on ancient stories of women that influence us still, whether we know it or not. 

The reason I write any of what I do, retell and reimagine any of these women’s stories is because I want them to influence us. Their voices deserve to be imagined and heard; their wisdom deserves to be honored. Yes, for them. But also for us, because along the way, our stories get retold and redeemed, our voices get heard, and our wisdom is honored. 

And when that happens? Everything changes…

I don’t know about you, but I’m up for everything changing.

May it be so! 

Listen to the podcast.
Read the book.
Subscribe to my blog.
Get a Reading. It provides you the perfect guidance and generous support you need to (finally) embrace the powerful and provocative story that is yours. I promise.

Bliss. All of it. 

More, please!

 

[Photo by Andrew Johnson on Unsplash]

The power of women’s stories…of YOUR story

There’s an old, old story told that begins with a narcissistic, paranoid, and power-hungry man (which sounds vaguely familiar); an Egyptian Pharaoh who was worried about the slave population growing too fast. So he issued a decree that all newborn sons were to be put to death (as though it were up to him: the choices women made). And who was to carry out this ridiculous and violent rule? Yes, women. He mandated that the midwives in his employ would make sure the deaths happened – the very women whose sole purpose was to make sure life happened.   

Two of those midwives decided that their principles, their ethics, their choices mattered more than his, so they ignored his mandate – not willing to participate in genocide. They continued their work. They stood alongside women, reminded them to breathe, wiped the sweat from their brows, talked them through their pain, and placed their children – no matter the gender – into their waiting arms. 

At one point, the two of them were brought before the Pharaoh – now even more red-faced and angry than before (which also sounds vaguely familiar). “How is it that the slave population continues to grow? Did I not say that all the boys were to be killed?” Without missing a beat, the two of them explained that the Hebrew women were not like Egyptian women. “They are too quick! They give birth before we even get to their home!” 

The story ends by saying that “…the people multiplied and increased greatly.”

If I were preaching a sermon (which, admittedly, I sort of am), here’s my first point:

Women’s advocacy, friendship, and support for one another changes everything. Everything! 

I suppose it’s possible, even probable, that one midwife could have stepped out of line on her own and saved a generation of humans. But the fact that she didn’t have to, that she wasn’t alone, is what makes this story so powerful. Together, the two of them let the baby boys live…which caused the Israelite nation to keep growing…which created the conditions for an entire nation’s escape from slavery to liberation. These two women did this! Their advocacy for one another. Their friendship. Their support. In the face their courage and integrity, the Pharaoh didn’t stand a chance. Not really. Not ultimately. These two women (who are rarely, if ever heard of) changed everything. 

We have the same capacity, you know. We are advocated for, befriended, and supported by the women we know and love. Even more, we are accompanied by the generations of women upon whose shoulders we stand – including the two midwives.

We are not alone! Ever.

And with this much beauty, power, and wisdom in our corner, what can’t we change? 

One more point (I’m making myself stop at only two): 

The stories of women (even when unknown, unheard, uncelebrated) are what enable the possibility of so many more yet to come. 

At about the same time of this story, another one was taking place. A baby boy was born. His mother, understandably afraid that he would be killed, put him in a basket made of reeds and let him float down the river – hoping that he would be rescued and given safety. Her hope was fulfilled when the Pharaoh’s daughter, bathing in the river, happened to see the basket and rescued the baby. Though that boy grew up in affluence and privilege, he could not ignore the ongoing mistreatment and oppression of the Hebrew people. He left his position and power behind – leading their rebellion and escape. His name was Moses. Maybe you’ve heard of him? The parting of the Red Sea. The 10 Commandments. And a few other juicy tales…

Could the midwives have possibly known how their courage would instill hope in others? Could they have possibly imagined that their actions would lead to one mother’s willingness to do whatever was required on behalf of her son’s life? Could they have known that this mother’s choice compelled compassion in yet another woman – the Pharaoh’s daughter – who took in that baby in as her own? Could they have known that their story would birth, nurture, and enable not only the story of Moses, but that of the Hebrew people’s deliverance? 

Of course not, but that’s the point. The stories of women, the ones we know and perhaps even more, the ones we don’t, are what enable the stories that are yet to be told.  

Guess what?! This includes your story. You are this powerful, this influential, this amazing. Just like the midwives. Just like Moses’ mother. Just like the Pharaoh’s daughter. Just like story after story after story of women since… Just like you. 

When we know these stories – the strength, courage, and beauty from which we descend – we begin to recognize just how powerful we are, the ways in which we shape the future of all that is yet to come, the way in which we have the capacity to change everything

Imagine all that you are yet to do – companioned by such a legacy of women; living your own story in ways that will champion so many more yet to come. How amazing are you? (I already know the answer.)

And it’s only Monday! 

May it be so.

[Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash]