The how-to’s of being “big” – along with the costs, the consequences, the fallout

We must learn to be big in a way we’ve never been big – we must claim our right to take up space, to say our words, to claim our desires. We must also learn to be small in a way we’ve never been small – to be in service, led not by our egos or by our desire for material goods or by our fears and aversions, but by our desire to be liberated from these things. And we must do both at the same time. ~ Holly Whitaker, from Quit Like a Woman

Let’s review:

In my last post I named the ways in which we have transmuted being small into our very DNA. This is not the kind of small that Holly Whitaker is talking about. Not even close. It plagues us, sits with us, stays with us, and is the very thing that prevents us from being big. It’s complicated.

Whitaker also wisely says this:

Perhaps before we can learn to be both big and small at the same time, we first have to learn to be big…I’ve had to learn to get big, in order to practice being small. 

What’s that how-to? How do we learn to get big so that we can practice being small? Well, using her quote above, it consists of three things:

We must claim our right to take up space.
We must say our words.
We must claim our desires.

Done and done, yes?

Or not.

No surprise: I immediately go to Eve when I see this list. It’s why I talk about her – again and again and again. Her story has been told as the cautionary tale to prevent all three of these things! Look what happens when you get (too) big! Banishment. Downfall. Disaster. And a lifetime of separation from all that is good and perfect. No pressure. But that’s ONLY because that’s how her story has been told! If we want to learn to be big, we must blow it up and start again. (I’d probably go so far as to say we need to do the same thing with our own story, but that may yet be another post…)

Eve says, “Take up space! It’s your right and destiny! You are created in the image of the divine, for goodness sakes; the pinnacle of all creation!! Walk through your world as the regal, sovereign, and amazing being that you are!”

Eve says, “Say your words! Those that are disruptive. Those that go against the grain. Those that call into question every structure of power, every rule that needs breaking, every line that needs crossing. Speak what is healing, what is authentic, what is deep, and what is true. Your voice ushers the divine right into our midst, and brings a woman’s clarity, strength, and yes, her desire, to the fore – where it belongs, where it is desperately needed, where you belong and where you are needed!”

Eve says, “Claim your desires! Listen to the voice within (remembering that the snake was always seen as a symbol of wisdom) and follow it – no matter what, no matter where. Take. Eat. Devour. Be nourished by. Wipe the juice from your chin – or don’t. And look at yourself in the mirror, through my eyes, as you deserve to be seen and experienced: fully sated, rightfully fed, awake to and alive in all your desire, all your beauty, all your strength!”

Eve also says, “I get it. The costs, the consequences, the fallout: all of these are real when you choose to be big.”

 

PERFECT! That apple cart you are afraid to upset, the Pandora’s Box you are hesitant to open, the s*** that will inevitably hit the fan – this is the very evidence you need to affirm and confirm that you are moving in the right direction, making the right choice(s), doing the right thing(s).

 

Too often we see the ledger of what “big” will cost and, from an ROI standpoint, determine it’s not worth it. I believe it’s just the opposite. That ledger is an Excel sheet of data that tells you to step forward, to show up, to follow Eve’s lead, and to be as big as you possibly can be.

I am not naive – nor are you. None of this is easy. Costs are, well, costs. Consequences are real. And fallout happens. But I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to name how hard it is to not be big, what that costs you – day after day after day, what those consequences are.

A story: By the time I was in pretty deep to the retelling of these ancient, sacred stories of women, I was also in relationship pretty deep with a man I loved. Though there was much that was good and lovely between us, he did not like the way I told these stories. He found it to be disrespectful of the original text and intention and far too disruptive. No matter my efforts to talk through textual interpretation, the ongoing evolution of theology, even the patriarchal stronghold on religion, the argument continued. And my stance? I’m not happy to admit it, but ‘here goes:

  • I would not take up space – either in the conversation itself or on behalf of these women who deserved my advocacy and care.
  • I would use my words, yes, but in twisty and maneuver-y ways that maybe-just-maybe would be acceptable to him.
  • I would not claim my desires in out-loud or powerful ways because I was convinced that I desired him more than my own integrity.

Over and over again, every time the topic came up, I would ultimately downplay the significance of my own work, my own wisdom, the value of the women themselves and their stories, and my very self. I got smaller and smaller. And that ledger? Well, the list was long of what I would lose if I couldn’t/wouldn’t somehow fit myself into his image of who I should be – and should not be. And I didn’t want to lose those things. I didn’t want to lose him. They mattered to me: laughter, companionship, his relationship with my daughters, the time we spent together, the memories we’d made, the future we could share. I was willing to lose myself. And “small” seemed a small price to pay.

Until it wasn’t small anymore; until it became way too big a price to pay.

On the other side of the ledger, revealed over time, in both tiny glimpses and dramatic-but-excruciating exposure, was my compromise and compliance, the well-learned practice of holding my tongue, the ever-present awareness that I was not being honest, not being my (big) self, not living my external life in alignment with my inner one. And at the end of the day, when I took a good, long look at the spreadsheet, I couldn’t reconcile them. Painful to acknowledge (I can feel it even still – though years have passed) . Heart-breaking to walk away from. And ultimately a simple (though not easy) choice between being big or staying small.

I wish I could tell you that seeing these costs and consequences offered me an immediate spike in adrenalin, strength, and courage; that I was able to simply. walk. away. Nope. It was messy. It took far too long. Not a bit of it went as I might have wished. Here’s what I will tell you, though: every bit of it, even (and maybe especially) the messy parts, have helped me learn what to do next time – far faster and with much more capacity and confidence – in relationships, in my work, in leaving my most recent job, and in response to the insipid and endless cultural demand to conform.

We become big – not all at once, but because we practice….and fail.

We become big because we let a story like Eve’s remind us of who we actually are: here to take up space, to say our words, and to claim our desires. We become big because we choose, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and sometimes, necessarily, minute-by-minute, to be sovereign – to trust our wisdom, to use our strength, and to soak in the grace that is inherently, always ours to receive and to give. And good news: there is so much more bigness yet to be experienced and expressed within and through us; it’s limitless, expansive, and infinite.

 

We are here to be big, bigger, ginormous! No matter the cost, the consequences, the fallout. Maybe and especially because of them! 

 

Back to Holly Whitaker’s point, once we’ve learned to be big, then we can learn to be small (in the best ways); we can learn to be both at the very same time. Because we are that amazing, that complex, that brilliant, that wise, that strong. All that and then some.

May it be so.

 

*****

Again, I am not naive – nor are you. This is hard work and it lasts a lifetime. It deserves your attention and vast, extravagant support. And it’s what I’m building, even now, through SOVEREIGNTY – an online program. I’d love for you to know about it, to experience it, when it’s ready to be birthed into the world. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

In the meantime, please join my Facebook Group – also called SOVEREIGNTY – for inspiration, encouragement, and conversation with other amazing women…just like you.
[Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash]

The stories we tell ourselves

I’ve been thinking about the stories I tell – those of ancient, sacred women who have been absented from our known-and-relied-upon lineage.

I think about them all the time, truth-be-told, but in the past couple of weeks, while working away on Readings and being deeply “with” them, I’ve had another thought:

The degree to which we are supported by the stories of strong and amazing women who have gone before us – the shoulders upon which we stand – is directly related to the quality of the stories we tell ourselves.

Said in reverse, it sounds like this:

The stories we tell ourselves, the ones we live (too-often filled with self-contempt, shame, and silence) are directly related to the absence of stories of strong and amazing women – those in our lineage – who refused all of these realities and then some.

 

Think about it…

When the stories we learn as young girls include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, even Eve – we incorporate beliefs about ourselves because of such. They’re subtle. Subconscious even. Until they aren’t.

It’s not surprising that we struggle with a messy soup of assumed-truths that include “someday my prince/ess will come,” “someday I will awake from this sleep only to find all my dreams fulfilled,” and “its my own fault I’m living in this East of Eden reality.” It’s not surprising at all – given what even these three stories affirm and teach!

Let’s work only with Eve here for a minute…

When you were growing up, what if you learned of her as a bold risk taker? A woman who followed her desire, no matter the cost? The first woman in this recorded text to actually speak of her beliefs, her ideas, her understanding of the divine? A woman whose courageous choice enabled the furtherance of an amazing world?

There’s nothing in that telling that would ever lead you to self-contempt or shame; certainly not silence. Instead, you would have learned to honor and trust risk-taking, your own desires, your own beliefs, and your own choices.

Here’s the good news, as I see it:

If the way one woman’s story has been told (whether Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Eve, or countless others) has had the power to shape everything, then the way that same story is reimagined, redeemed, and retold has the power to do the same.

And that is good news!

The same is true for your story: those tales you’ve been telling yourself, believing about yourself, holding on to like they’re sacred writ? They can be reimagined, redeemed, and retold, as well.

 

And even more good news?

When we retell, the old stories – like Eve’s and so many more – we realize that we’re not alone…that we never have been…that we stand on the shoulders of a long and illustrious lineage of strong and amazing women who offer us all the advocacy, wisdom, and grace we desire and deserve.   

 

No surprise that this is what I do.

I believe-believe-believe in the power of these women’s ancient, sacred stories: not because of how they’ve been told in the past (interpreted through and lost in the lenses of doctrine, dogma, and of course, patriarchy), but because of how they can be told anew. Because of all they have to say, long to say, need to say! Because they have the power to change everything!

These stories – when they are known, heard, and honored – are directly related to your capacity to be known, heard, and honored. I’m certain of this. 100%.

 

*****

 

I’d love to provide you a 2021 Reading: one of these ancient, sacred stories – reimagined, redeemed, and retold – so that your story can be, as well. The 50% off discount ends at midnight – Monday – 12/14/20. CLICK HERE.

(They’re also available as gifts…)

[Photo by Jan Mellström on Unsplash]

My grown-up Christmas list:

One of my favorite Christmas carols by Amy Grant, offers these lyrics:

“No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,

And time would heal all hearts.
And every one would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list.”


Who doesn’t wish for these things – every day of the year – and especially after this year: the pandemic, the election, racism, and so much more?

If I could, I’d wrap up each of the above and have them delivered right to your doorstep.

In lieu of such, I offer you Readingsa way in which I can, at least in part, heal your heart, offer you a friend/advocate/muse, remind you of what is “right” and amazing about you, and give you love, love, and more love.

Yes, I’m horribly biased. But isn’t that how a person should be when they’re giving a gift?

 

You can hardly wait until the other person opens it because you KNOW they will love it, because you KNOW what you’re offering them is perfect for them, because you KNOW that what’s inside is but a tiny reflection of just how much you would give them if you could.

 

I KNOW Readings all this and then some. Thankfully, I’m not the only one. Here’s what a few others have said about their Reading (gift to me, to be sure):

  • You know when you scratch an itch that you didn’t know was even there? That was my Reading, the soothing of a deep soul itch. I expect nothing but impeccability when it comes to Ronna’s work. It left me teary-eyed and truly breathless. Truth’s like that. (Tanya Geisler)
  • From the first page to the last, my Reading spoke to an area of my life where I had substantial questions and doubts. Somehow, the whole Reading addressed them all. I’m a VERY private person, so there is no way Ronna could have known what to mention or how to address it. Spirit is alive and well in her Readings. (Lena West)
  • I bought a Reading when I was at a huge turning point and had no idea what a transformational year lay ahead of me. My Reading was exactly what I needed to hear to help me finally publish my book, and believe in how important my own journey is. (Meghan Genge)

You can read even more lovely words, here.

So yes, a Reading is on my grown-up Christmas list for you. (And perhaps on yours for someone else; you can definitely gift them!) To make things even sweeter and more festive, they’re 50% off…but just until midnight, Monday, December 14.  

I hope you’ll accept the gift that’s yours – the advocacy, wisdom, and grace you deserve for the year ahead; my heart on your behalf.

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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! 

Being Militant. Choosing Hope. Pursuing Desire.

(A Sunday Sermon, of sorts – even though it’s not a Sunday…)

To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up…Each of us must find our work and do it. Militancy no longer means guns at high noon, if it ever did. It means actively working for change, sometimes in the absence of any surety that change is coming. (Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider)

Mmmmm. This is relevant, yes?

It is far too easy – and tempting – to not be militant; to let minutes, hours, and days pass with a wish and a prayer that things will get better. But to intentionally choose to shape our future? Militancy, indeed, is required. 

Militancy PLUS every bit of the courage, strength, heart, wisdom, passion, and tenacity we possess. 

Here’s the good news: we have every bit of these things in endless supply! It’s what, and who, we are at core as women. (Don’t let anyone – especially yourself – tell you otherwise!)

And because we possess all of this and then some, there is hope.

Hope for change.
Hope for justice.
Hope, period.

I’ve had acquaintances over the years who have critiqued me for holding on to hope – as if it’s somehow too whispy and whimsical, not practical enough. I completely disagree. Clinging to hope is what turns our eyes and heart toward what can be, what must be, and everything that we desire. And desire? Don’t get me started…

Well, ok, just this: if I know anything it is that a woman’s desire has the capacity to change the trajectory of the entire human race! It’s that powerful. You are.

So pursue desire (no matter who you upset along the way).

Choose hope (and defy anything that would influence you otherwise).

And be militant (on behalf of the change, the future, the world we long for and deserve).

 

Practically speaking, in the very near term, this means voting, advocating, speaking out, showing up, and doing everything in our immense-and-unstoppable power to actively work for change, yes, “sometimes in the absence of any surety that change is coming.”

And just because: one more worth-repeating quote of Audre Lorde:

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

May it be so.

[Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash]