If your stories could talk…

A number of years ago I learned about intertextuality.

It is how one text speaks to or shapes another; how seemingly distinct texts can be in relationship with one another.

Here’s an example: three books stacked together in my home:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is the powerful story of a womans moral and spiritual development in 1st-person prose.
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton captures the spirit of a city (and our humanity) through photography.
  • Women is a collection of 170 photographs by Annie Leibovitz with an accompanying essay by Susan Sontag.

If they could talk to each other, imagine the dinner party conversation they’d have.

Jane Eyre and Bronte would talk with Liebowitz and Sontag about all that has changed (and hasn’t) in women’s perceptions of themselves. Stanton would jump in and speak of particular images he took where those very perceptions were what he saw through his lens – and sometimes just the opposite. Sontag, a brilliant critic, would draw everyone’s attention to the larger themes and constructs present in all three of their texts: what we see, what we don’t see, what that says about us.

There would be no end to the things they could discuss! All the ways in which their perspectives and protagonists and photographs and prose would overlap and intertwine. This is intertextuality. You have this kind of dinner party taking place in your life all the time: texts and stories that operate in exactly the same way – overlapping and intertwined and endlessly speaking.

But let’s be honest: we work pretty hard to keep everything compartmentalized and separate. More than opposite ends of the dinner table, we often put our texts and stories in completely different rooms in the house. As example:

  • Your teenage years.
  • Your current Netflix binge.
  • The predominat way in which you “show up” at work.

These are not all at the table together, right? Chances are high that you are pretty determined to keep your teenage self as far away from your work self as you can. Still, let’s acknowledge, shall we, that the two are completely interconnected?

It’s possible that you are pretty sure your viewing habits on Netflix have nothing to do with your past or present. But when you apply the rules of intertextuality (even imagining such) you see they have much in common, much to discuss, and infinite overlap in the most curious and complicated of ways.

It’s possible – and probable – that things can get even more complicated (and noisy) when you add in “guests” like cultural background, family of origin, organized religion, socio-economic status, politics, any number of things that have a tendency to bump into one another at parties, at dinner tables, and certainly within.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that you try to figure out how these particular “texts” speak to one another. (OK. I am actually suggesting that…) More than the details of being a teenager, watching Netflix, and going to work, this is my point: 

 

It is necessary and profoundly healing to see the way in which the texts and stories of your life talk to each other all the time.

 

Want another three to consider?

  • The stories you were told growing up.
  • The stories you tell yourself (you know: that endless chatter in your head…)
  • The cultural stories and messaging you injest via social media, all media, the water in which we swim every damn day.

Again, picture the dinner party: Hansel and Gretle, Cinderella, even Eve are making polite and sometimes pointed conversation with your endlessly-chattering inner critic who you know so well. That inner voice, a bit on the defensive, is being assuaged by the latest IG Influencer or targeted FB ad – sitting there in all their slick beauty and endless promise. And later, IG and FB chat away with your childhood stories; their not-so hidden agenda of either reinforcing or rejecting what you’ve believed and held on to all these years.

It’s true: intertextuality is *simply* a conceptual framework; but the stories and texts that are yours (conscious and not, known and unknown) are far more. They are real. They are active. And they shape every bit of who you have been, who you are, and who you will yet become.

Intertextuality, looked at another way, is considering – with depth, compassion, and curiosity – all that makes you who you are: the stories you are proud of and those you try to hide or wish you could evade. It offers you a way of looking at the complexity of your own life – the influences, the influencers, the pain, the joy, the harm, the hope – all of it speaking and speaking and speaking. Because at the end of the day…

You ARE your stories. And they are interacting with each other all the time, whether you take a seat at that imagined dinner table, or not.

So…why not pull up a chair?

 

  • Listen closely to your own texts, your own stories. They usher you into the wisdom and courage that is (already) yours; all that you long to experience and express.
  • Pay close attention to the stories you’ve been told. They help you better understand the stories you continue to tell yourself.
  • Determine, with great intention, the stories you will give credence to, will listen to, will allow and endorse. They create the world  you live in, the one we live in together, the one that is ours to nurture and heal.

None of this is easy. And as you know, few things that are of value rarely are. You are of value, though – worthy of any and every effort on your own behalf. So this is the question to ask again and again and again:

If my stories could talk (which they can and are), what do they have to say? 

 

(If nothing else, look at the books on your shelves. Pick a few that are sitting side-by-side, and imagine what they talk about when you’re asleep, what they have to say about you while you sleep and what they hope for you when you’re wide awake. All. So. Delicious.)

 

*****

 

This work of looking closely at your stories and the ways they speak is a big component of SOVEREIGNTY – my 9-week program.

Step-by-step, with generosity and compassion, I’ll take you through processes that help you identify those stories, hear their deeper messages (for good and for ill), and then choose to show up in your world with wisdom, courage, agency, joy, and yes, sovereignty.  The next cohort begins on May 10.

And if you didn’t hear, I dropped the price by more than 75%. This may sound completely crazy, but in listening closely to my stories and the texts/themes within – even imagining them at the dinner table talking – I realized that access matters to me, opportunity for transformation matters to me, sovereignty for women matters to me. And you being able to join me in all of this and then some matters to me, too.

Learn more, book a call with me to talk, and/or register today. CLICK HERE

 

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.

 

*****

 

Just last week, inspired by stories like the one above, it struck me that what I want most of all is for more women to have access to all this and then some (courage vs. fear, the ability to take risks, pursuing life, etc.) So I decided to dramatically reduce the pricing of SOVEREIGNTY from $1995 to $450. I know! It’s a lot! No worries: it’s not a fire sale or a drastic, last-ditch sales effort. All is well. It’s just me, listening to my own sovereignty, and wanting to do everything I can on behalf of yours.

The 9-week program begins with a new cohort of women on May 10. Learn more. And if you want to talk, ask questions, discern whether it’s right for you, etc., don’t hesitate to book a free call with me. I’d love that! No pressure. Just sacred conversation together.

 

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]

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.

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]

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