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Changing Everything

If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories.

If you want to change a culture, change the stories.

This quote by Michael Margolis speaks volumes. It can be thought of on a wide-scale level: our culture, as a whole. But it is equally applicable and important at an individual level.

Maybe most concisely stated like this:

If you want to change, change your stories.

 

When I began working with the ancient, sacred stories I love, I became crystal clear about what made me crazy and super-frustrated with how their stories had been told over thousands of years: Deeply-ingrained patterns layered onto the page and in between the lines that shamed women who had opinions or used their voice, that believed women to be dangerous who were different, that kept women contained so that they did not disrupt systems of (or persons with) power.

When I looked closer still, something else became crystal clear: what made me crazy and super-frustrated with their stories was exactly what made me feel the same about my own.

MY story was made up of deeply-ingrained patterned beliefs that found me withholding my opinions and quieting my voice, opting to not be different (and certainly not dangerous), to not disrupt the system or upset the apple cart; instead, to play by the rules, be good, stay inside the lines.

That had to change. had to change. Everything had to change.

 

Truth-be-told, I found it far easier to change stories that are thousands of years old, than to do the same with my own. I could endlessly talk about Eve (which I continue to do) – praising her for eating the fruit, listening to the serpent, following her desire, and honoring her own wisdom. But to do that for myself? To tell and live that story? Much, much harder. And…ongoing; a life’s work, to be sure.

As I’ve remained committed to reimagining, retelling, and redeeming ancient, sacred stories, I’ve worked to do the same for myself. And I’ve learned a few things along the way:

  • The stories we’ve been told, the way they’ve been told, live deep within us. Sometimes for good; sometimes, not so much. 

  • Those stories (and the lessons within) turn into the stories we tell ourselves – the inner-voice that constantly reminds us we are too much, not enough, potentially both. 

  • When we listen to these stories, name them, acknowledge them honestly, and choose to change them, we can then begin the work and practice of telling and living the stories we desire and deserve. 

Every bit of this is sacred practice; responsibility, privilege, and gift. It’s also the most important thing we can possibly do.

 

When we change our stories, we change everything.

 

And perhaps it’s dangerous and disruptive to say so, but changing everything is what matters most, what’s required of us, what we’re called to – for ourselves and for our world.

May it be so.

 

*****

 

The process and practice I have developed with ancient, sacred stories (and my own) is probably the most concise way for me to describe what my 1:1 work is about: inviting you to name the stories that have made you you, then helping you reimagine and rewrite them in ways that empower, embolden, and, well, change everything!

I currently have space for new clients. Book a free, 30-minute call with me. No pressure or obligation – just a chance to chat (which I’d LOVE).

 

*****

 

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Hearing Voices

I am neck-deep in manuscript-writing these days. This book, my book, this thing I’ve been nurturing and holding and holding back for years (and years and years) is now making its way into the world. Much like labor, I can’t stop it now – nor do I want to.  

The section I’m working on currently tells the story of a young woman whose life was violently, brutally ended.

I don’t like the story at all.

I wish it didn’t exist.

There’s no justification of it, no making sense of it.

And though I might wish to just ignore it – to dismiss it as one more piece of evidence against the text within which it’s found – that only perpetuates her harm. Which isn’t acceptable to me.

It is in telling women’s stories – even and maybe especially the most painful ones – that we invite the healing we desire and deserve.

When I calm myself down, at least for a bit, about the injustice and senselessness and violence, I can hear a different voice; I can hear hers. The one that was snuffed out. The one that was permanently silenced. The one we’ve rarely-if-ever bothered to listen to. The one that I imagine she’d speak on our behalf if only we could and would hear.

This is what I believe she’d say:

  • Fear is not your birthright.
  • Do not hold back – no matter the danger or risk.
  • Pursue what brings you life.

I am clear that these three statements are, indeed, the wisdom she longs for all of us to embody – in honor of her sacrifice, in honor of her story, in honor of her, and most of all, in honor of the life and story that is ours.

I am clear that were we to follow these three statements as gospel, it would be our own healing and that of our world that we would enable, invite, witness, and proclaim.

And I am clear that if I were I to imagine her saying even a bit more, it would sound a little something like this:

I’m right about this! Fear is not your birthright. But courage is. Write. Speak. Say. Do. Be. Say “yes.” Say “no.” Quit. Continue. Decide. Whisper. Roar. Love. 

Risk is a given. To try and mitigate it, lessen it, create a balance sheet to show you exactly what might happen if you move this way or that is not the the least bit practical nor remotely close to your destiny. Do not hold back. Let risk and danger be the signs that you are moving in the right direction. And then read the paragraph above over again so that you can remember that fear is not your birthright.

Learn from me. Let my life (and death) offer you invaluable perspective. Cherish every moment. Pursue all that is yours, all that awaits you, all that exists within and around you, all that you desire and deserve. And then read the two paragraphs above over again so that you can remember that fear is not your birthright and you must NOT hold back, no matter the danger or risk!

Of course we wish that stories like hers did not exist, then or now. We must rage (rightly and justifiably) against violence. And in the midst of both, we must honor the voices that can no longer speak, the stories that are rarely if ever told.

We must use our own voices and live our own stories in ways that are courageous and risky and full of life.

 

And when we do? Well, Jepthah’s Daughter smiles and says “Thank you.” Oh, and this:

Read the three paragraphs above over again? And then maybe a few more times? 

With her wisdom as rubric, encouragement, and hope, I labor on – knowing and trusting that the imagined words of even one ancient, sacred young woman might strengthen you in the labor that is yours, in the story that is yours, in all that is yours to birth and live and heal.

May it be so.

Choose life – and life – and life

There is an ancient story told of a woman who did not waver when the situation demanded swift (and brilliant) action. She trusted her perspective, her wisdom and made choices in alignment with both. She stepped WAY outside the bounds of what would have ever been expected of her, even allowed. And in so doing, saved the lives of many.

It’s highly possible that your day-to-day actions do not hold quite the same level of consequence. And, I wonder…

During one of the most difficult seasons of my life, the question that my Spiritual Director kept asking me was,

“Does this bring you life – or death, Ronna?”

I could not deny the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice within. And it moved me ever-closer to truth (and truth-telling). When I listened, the data became impossible-to-ignore:

  • Hearing that voice, my wisdom, and trusting it (no matter what that meant or looked like), led me to life.
    When I heard it and did not trust it, it led to death.
  • No, not literally. But close.

“Life” meant risk, to be sure; but I was awake, alive, and strong…sovereign. “Death” meant avoiding risk; I felt shut down, small, silenced…not sovereign. It was not at all difficult to see the cumulative effect of this (past and future). Not life-giving.

 

I’m not naive. Making these kind of choices and decisions, taking these kind of bold actions, does have consequence! (The woman in the ancient story experienced them, too!) Which is why I extend you, me, all of us massive amounts of grace as we learn to LIVE this way; as we step into the sovereignty that is ours – without question, compromise, or limit.

So, here’s some grace to soak in – inspired by the ancient story I referenced above and supplemented (just a bit) by my own story:

  • Your wisdom is worth hearing…and trusting.
  • It won’t go anywhere as you test the waters, feel it out, take the smallest of steps. It’s your wisdom, after all!
  • You deserve life and life and more life – in every single way possible.
  • You are not alone as you figure it out, as you falter, as you rise up, as you notice pink elephants everywhere.

*****

I’ve been teaching a free workshop this week in my private Facebook Group: How to Hear & Trust Your Own Wisdom. All this and then some is on the docket, to be sure (along with LOTS of grace).

It’s not too late to join in, get recordings of anything you’ve missed, and download the Wisdom Worksheets I’m making available every day. Click here.

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%.

If we could have coffee together…

If you and I were sitting across from each other, sipping coffee, it would be inevitable that eventually I would tell you stories.

Stories of ancient, sacred women who have miraculously stepped into my life, who have spoken into it, who have gifted me with the honor of speaking on their behalf.

I would tell you the story of Hagar, the Woman at the Well, and the nothing-short-of-glorious Woman of Revelation 12. I would tell you of Eve – of course! And Mary Magdalene and Hagar and the Persistent Widow and Jairus’ Daughter and Lot’s Wife and Noah’s Wife and Job’s Wife. (Yes, I wish they had names, too.)

I would recite an infinite list, filled with the ways in which each of them have been a transformational part of my story; about all that happened when I allowed myself to imagine their voices, their experiences, and their wisdom. 

I would tell you about how all of these stories and so many more, have been buried under centuries of patriarchy and religion’s doctrine and dogma (in which I don’t conspire).

I would tell you about how all of this has silenced their voices, often shamed them, left them misunderstood and frequently maligned, and worst of all, forgotten. And this is hardly unique to them – but the VERY thing that has happened to us. It’s a direct correlation: our stories, our voices have been buried, silenced, and filled with shame. We’ve been misunderstood and often maligned. 

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we are here. ~ Sue Monk Kidd

I’d tell you what they’d tell you: “Your story is NOT to be mine! No more silence, shame, or misunderstanding. Live the story that we long for on your behalf – one filled with voice, courage, beauty, brilliance, and grace!”

And I’d tell you how I’ve been about this work for nearly 20 years now – curating these women’s stories, remembering them, reimagining and redeeming them, letting them speak. First, for them. It’s what they deserve. Second, for me – for my own story and my insatiable hunger for women’s wisdom – spoken on my behalf. And third, for you – because your story, your reality, your life deserves to be companioned, accompanied, supported, and strengthened by these stories; by women who know exactly what you feel, who know exactly who you have the capacity to be, when you remember, reimagine, and redeem your story.  

I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. ~ Natalie Goldberg

This would be the stuff of more than just one cup of coffee, to be sure…

So, I do all of this through Readings: one woman’s story that will come alongside you in the New Year and offer you all of what you deserve to hear and know – the story you deserve to live!

The process of storytelling is itself a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning to them. They’re taking the time to do this because your life could use some help, but they don’t want to come over and just give advice. They want to give it to you in a form that becomes inseparable from your whole self. That’s what stories do. Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why they heal you. ~ Alice Walker

These stories, the women within them, and every bit of their wisdom – honored in 2021 Readings are 50% off for a limited time – because I want you to have the healing they’ve given me.

*****

[In lieu of the gift of time and generous conversation over coffee, please reach out to me with any questions that come up for you about Readings – for yourself or as gift for someone else. I so want you to know why, with everything that’s in me, I believe in their power. ronna@ronnadetrick.com]

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

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.