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About “someday”

You know of Lizzo, yes? Her music, her recent show on Amazon — Watch Out For the Big Grrrls, her incredible voice as a singer, but also in the world. I am enthralled by her, quite honestly; taken aback (in the best of ways) by her boldness, her courage, her defiance, her fierceness. 

I recently came across something she said that feels worth sending your way — along with some thoughts of my own and hopefully prompting many of yours! 

“My movement is my movement. When all the dust has settled on the groundbreaking-ness, I’m going to still be doing this. I’m not going to suddenly change. I’m going to still be telling my life story through music. And if that’s body-positive to you, amen. If that’s feminist to you, amen. If that’s pro-black to you, amen. Because ma’am, I’m all of those things.”

Many if not most of us hope to do something groundbreaking, to enable some kind of significant change, to leave a lasting legacy. And right alongside that desire — whether secret or stated — is our lack of belief that such a thing will ever be so. 

Or maybe it’s just me. 

There is so much I’d love to be able to do, transform, create, dismantle, build up, leave behind. I have the greatest visions, the biggest imagination, the strongest hopes and a voice within that says, “Keep it in check. Tone it down. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Who do you think you are?”

Who do I think I am? Well, if I lean on Lizzo’s wisdom…

“I’m all those things.” 

It’s not about becoming more, somehow transforming ourselves into who we yet want to be. It’s about acknowledging who we already are! 


Consider listing out all of the things you most hope for and dream about in your own groundbreaking-ness. 

Now, will you (can you) acknowledge them as who you already are? Not who you might or might not become. Not someday but today! Not what you wish could happen, but don’t dare dream. Not what you visualize or long to manifest. But already within you, part of you, all of you — right now.

Lizzo’s self-acknowledged groundbreaking-ness has to do with being body-positive and feminist and pro-black. “I’m all of those things.” My groundbreaking-ness has to do with redeeming women’s stories and inviting/compelling women into their inherent sovereignty. “I’m all of those things.” 

And your groundbreaking-ness? What is it? What do you want it to be? What would you hope-beyond-hope it could be? What if you are all of those things? (You are, you know?!)

If, like me, your inner critic is already working over time to convince you of just how impossible all of this is, that’s the BEST news!

It’s evidence that you are on to something, that your groundbreaking-ness is not only imminent but inherent within you! Otherwise, the voice wouldn’t be speaking at all!

The gap between what you desire and what you doubt is the very path to take. It IS the discernment you need to keep moving forward. It’s the direction that’s yours to walk. 

Not easy, but clear. Not without risk or cost, but worth every one. And “when all the dust has settled,” the you-you-already-are you will still be standing — in all your groundbreaking-ness and gloriousness. 

May it be so!

Stepping Into Fear

Every so often, when you’ve come into fear, you’ve walked away. What if today you held that tremble, and stepped into the centre of it? What if today, you allow yourself more courage than you’ve ever felt? What if you did it anyway?

~ Sukhvinder Sircar

  • Read the quote again — and maybe a 3rd time.
  • Remember the times when you’ve come into fear and walked away. Extend yourself grace. It’s OK. It’s understandable. You’re allowed.
  • Where is fear most present for you now? What if you “held that tremble, and stepped into the centre of it?” What might happen? How might you acknowledge and weigh out all those risks, costs, and consequences and “stayed” with it?
  • If you allowed “yourself more courage than you’ve ever felt,” what would you do? What would you say? What would you write? What would you create? Who would you be?
  • “What if you did it anyway?”

Short and sweet. More than enough. May it be so.


Every week I write you a letter. From my heart to yours. My thoughts, the stories I love, and lots of reflection— all on your behalf. SUBSCRIBE to Monday Letters. Thanks in advance!!

About the quiet and silence.

 

So often, I talk about a woman’s voice and courage and sovereignty. Yours. Mine. Ours. It matters. It is what I’m passionate about and committed to. And. All of these realities, these ways of being, are profoundly strengthened when we choose, revel in, and allow silence.

I was inspired to write about this via an article in the Atlantic and this quote:

“In a world of so many traumas and terrors, I am desperate for silence. It is not escapism, not always. It is about meeting oneself. The way you might encounter yourself in the silence of, say, journaling, is distinct from how you reflect in the public arena. In silence, a certain veil is lifted. We might realize that the rage we feel in public is born from fear or despair in private. Healing is a very quiet thing. In the silence, we can wrap our wounds. There are times when taking shelter is a noble thing to do.” ~ Cole Arthur Riley

(I immediately downloaded her book: This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us)

Silence “not as escapism,” but about “meeting oneself.”

How beautiful are these words? 

“In a world of so many traumas and terrors, I am desperate for silence. It is not escapism, not always. It is about meeting oneself.”

We often fear that if we’re not taking a stand and speaking up and constantly talking about all of the “traumas and terrors,” that we must be trying to escape; we are evading what requires our attention and looking the other way. And though that may sometimes be true, more times than not, it’s not.

There is a lot going on: the stories happening in our world and the oft’ excruciating stories in our own personal world. As I’ve named before, it can be difficult to let ourselves feel all of it — to name what we feel, to give ourselves permission to feel, to believe that the sky will not fall when we do. It is far easier to stay busy, to distract ourselves, and to allow “noise” to overtake the quiet.

But in such times, silence is what we need more than anything. It’s how we hear ourselves think. It’s how we name — with honesty and courage — what we truly feel and why. It’s where we actually feel — at least in part. It is, indeed, about “meeting oneself.”

And it is not escapism when you allow this, when you choose this, when you prioritize this. It’s intentionalism. It’s sacred. It’s necessary.

Why journaling matters and why, for me, it gets prioritized above nearly all else.

Again, let’s return to Cole Arthur Riley’s words: “The way you might encounter yourself in the silence of, say, journaling, is distinct from how you reflect in the public arena. In silence, a certain veil is lifted. We might realize that the rage we feel in public is born from fear or despair in private.”

Exactly. We MUST have a place that is ours alone, quiet but for our own voice; safe, secure, and completely vulnerable — with no risk at all. 

Oh, that we could know this in relationship with others, that we could trust that our every thought would be allowed, welcomed, not “fixed,” argued, or requiring defense. I used to believe that such a thing was possible…even mine by right. I also used to believe that it was for-sure my fault that I didn’t have relationships like that. It didn’t occur to me for a very long time that I was the one to give this to myself. 

*****

There was a season in my marriage where I picked journaling back up after a hiatus of a few years because I needed a place to process all that was hard, everything that made me so angry I could hardly see straight (but never acknowledged out loud), the long list of things I wished was different.

I kept a 3-ring notebook just under my side of the bed. College ruled paper. My favorite pen. First thing in the morning, before the girls woke up, I’d pour myself a cup of coffee, climb back into bed, pull it out and write. It never occurred to me that my then-husband would ever read it. But one day, in the midst of another painful conversation, I realized that he had been. I was furious. I was exposed. And most of all, I was ashamed. Ashamed that I had any thoughts or feelings that I wasn’t willing to let him see and know.

I know better now. I know that every one of my thoughts and feelings were legitimate and allowed. I know that the shame never belonged to me. And I know that were it not for that silent-and-sacred space (sans it being violated), I wouldn’t have been able to hear me, to make hard choices, or begin to see — with increasing clarity and strength — what was calling to me.

*****

Now, almost every morning, after pouring a cup of coffee, I sit down at my laptop and let myself ramble for an hour. Sometimes it’s just that: rambling. I articulate what I did the day before, what’s coming up in my schedule, a snippet of a dream from last night. Sometimes it’s a response to my inner critic or my fear — letting them speak instead of pushing them away. Sometimes it’s something I’m worried about related to my daughters or money or any number of other pressures I feel at times. Sometimes it’s about my spirituality, my beliefs, my questions, my doubts. Sometimes it’s the way that I work out what I want to write and why I’m even doing it in the first place. And always, with about 15 minutes left, I turn over the next card in my deck and wonder what woman-and-wisdom will show up to speak directly to what I’ve just written and expressed. (It’s amazingly perfect and profound. Every time. I still can hardly believe it.)

I also know this: especially when it is not safe to name and express your deepest feelings, your truest truths, you must have a place that is. Journaling offers that. (With, of course, the caveat that it IS safe. You should know: my journaling immediately switched to a password-protected document on my computer from that point on.)

You deserve and need a place in which you can say any and everything, in which you can rant and rage, in which you can wish and hope and dream. You deserve and need a place in which you can wander without direction and process without answers. You deserve and need a place in which you can, as Riley says above, lift the veil and encounter yourself. 

It’s quiet there: silence that is blessed and expansive and healing…

How “healing is a quiet thing” and enables us to “wrap our wounds.”

Again, how beautiful are these words?

In the context of the story I shared above, it was only in silence that I could hope to heal from that betrayal. Talking about it with him (which is what he wanted) only left me feeling more raw and exposed. Stepping back, choosing silence, and giving myself permission to be quiet, to not speak, was what allowed me to heal (eventually), and, over time, what enabled me to build the strength I needed to leave.

That’s but one example. There are many, many more. But far more important than my stories, are yours.

What reality, experience, or current struggle comes to mind that deserves healing? What wound is waiting to be wrapped — with a steady hand and a generous heart…yours on your own behalf? What spaciousness and quiet are you intentionally giving yourself for all of this and then some? (These might just be questions worth journaling through.)

Inviting the quiet in, letting the silence “speak,” will offer you exactly the wisdom you desire (and deserve). It’s how you hear that know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within. ‘Promise.

Can we know when to choose silence and when to speak?

My quick answer: Probably not — at least with failsafe certainty.

My longer answer: Yes. Definitely.

I return to exactly what I named above: that know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within. It speaks to you all the time. It knows of what it speaks. It can be trusted. You can be trusted.

Your own wisdom (which you can hear in the quiet) tells you that silence is the right thing, right now: that your voice does not need to be front and center, that more healing is required (and deserved), that other voices must be given attention, respect, and volume.

Your own wisdom (which you can hear in the quiet) tells you that silence is NOT the right thing; that it is actually preventing you from being heard, seen, known, and yes, sovereign. It’s no longer tenable. It’s no longer tolerable. It’s time.

Your own wisdom (which you can hear in the quiet) tells you that your voice is exactly what is needed and the most perfect-and-powerful thing you can bring and trust and use in this very moment. Definitely.

We can know when to choose silence and when to speak when we’ve given ourselves enough silence, enough space, enough quiet to discern exactly this! I could keep talking, keep writing, but that pretty much defeats the point of what I’m attempting to say, yes?

I’ll conclude with one more paragraph from Cole Arthur Riley (definitely read the article; it’s so good!):

“Audre Lorde famously said, “Your silence will not protect you.” This wisdom has been taken to the extreme. To be silent is to be complicit, people (including myself) have said. This can be true. There is certainly a silence born of cowardice, a silence that emboldens oppressors. But sometimes to be silent is to finally become honest. To halt the theater. In the quiet, we at last hear the sound of our own interior world. The pain or numbness. The guilt. The nothing at all.

And I would add, the deepest, most reliable wisdom that endlessly dwells within. Within you.


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About the Ocean and Anguish

I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach lately. As soon as we arrive, my 9-year-old niece Grace, runs to the water, her dad not far behind. And there she stays — for hours — letting the waves carry her or crash into her; she doesn’t care which. All she wants is to be as “in them” as much as she possibly can.

Me? Not so much. I’m more of a shore girl. I position my reclining chair just so — making sure I directly face the sun. I rummage through the huge bag I’ve brought with me for a towel, sunglasses, my Diet Coke, and maybe (sometimes) the sunscreen. It’s hot and I’m restless. I get out my phone, but the glare of the sun is too bright to read the screen. I dig for the book I brought, but then decide that the white pages are going to hurt my eyes. So I watch Grace — out there in the water — while I try and sit still in the sand. 

I wonder about this: the chosen “safety” of the shore, the restlessness that sometimes overwhelms, the seeming-inability to just be, to let the waves carry me or crash into me, to let myself feel all of it. (I’m not talking about the water or the beach anymore; rather, about emotions.)

This business of “being” with our emotions — whether they carry us, crash into us, or both — is hard. 

Life is hard! And right now? When everything feels out of control, when bad stuff happens to good people, when wars persist, when Supreme Court rulings are overturned, when school shootings occur yet again, when the NRA meets anyway, when the most paid-attention to news is about a celebrity…it is WAY easier to think about all of these things than to feel them. 

Our emotions are overwhelming. Too much, even. We don’t know what to do with all that we feel, so not feeling seems a better and maybe even safer/saner alternative. It’s like picking the beach chair over the waves. Slightly more stable. A bit easier to control. A known entity.

Still, those waves, the power of the ocean, being small in something so very big, letting go…It pulls at me sometimes. Like the tide.

When I first began working with a therapist, it wasn’t long before he asked, “When do you grieve, Ronna? How do you rage?” (Notice: not “if,” but when and how!)

“I don’t.” 

“But so much of what you’re telling me deserves those emotions, don’t you think?” 

“I don’t know how to do that. And I’m afraid that if I start, I’ll never stop. The people in my world cannot handle me falling apart. I would be way too much.”

Over time (and with extreme patience), he began to suggest ways to let go of those set-in-stone beliefs, let go of my tight grip on NOT letting myself feel. It felt incredibly dangerous, tenuous, like a tidal wave about to crest, certain havoc. But I trusted him and tried. It was hard. It was scary. And shockingly, the world did not come screeching to a halt, nor did anyone drown (both of which I was certain would occur).

These days, things are incredibly dangerous, tenuous, like a tidal wave about to crest — barreling down on us. How are we to take it all in? What are we to do? What can we do, really? It all feels so hopeless. And we feel so helpless. 

In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown describes this as anguish. (It’s a long quote, but well worth reading.)

“Anguish is an almost unbearable and traumatic swirl of shock, incredulity, grief, and powerlessness…The element of powerlessness is what makes anguish traumatic. We are unable to change, reverse, or negotiate what has happened. And even in those situations where we can temporarily reroute anguish with to-do lists and tasks, it finds its way back to us. 

“…we can convince ourselves that we’re okay and keep ourselves upright by hanging our crumpling anguish on rigidity and perfectionism and silence, like a wet towel hanging on a rod. We can become closed off, never open to vulnerability and its gifts, and barely existing because anything at any moment could threaten that fragile, rigid scaffolding that’s holding up our crumpling selves and keeping us standing.” 

As I read her words for the umpteenth time, I think that maybe, sometimes, it’s OK to let the scaffolding fall, to step into the waves and let them carry us and crash into us. It’s OK, even critical and healing and transformative, especially during these times, to let ourselves grieve and rage, to feel everything.

May it be so. 

About Bridgerton & Romance Novels

A couple years back I devoured every novel in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series within a matter of weeks — far before I had any inkling a Netflix version was on the way. (You can only imagine how I responded when that news arrived!)

I’ll admit that I felt a flutter of shame (maybe “embarrassment” is a better word) for pouring through those books in record time, for enjoying them as much as I did, for getting sucked into a romantic trope that is (or at least was), in my opinion, completely unrealistic, nothing more than fantasy, and only enticing because of the steamy sex.

Harsh, I know.

(That inner dialogue and critique did not keep me from reading more — or from binging on both seasons.)

What is it about these stories that draws us in?

I have a few ideas…

So do others:

As early as 2013, an article in The Atlantic endeavored to show “how romance novels came to embrace feminism.” A few years later, the author of an article on the genre in the online women’s magazine Bustle characterized romance novels as some of the perhaps “most rebellious books you can read right now.” Romance novels, she affirmed, are “practically the only books in which women get exactly what they want, all of the time, and aren’t asked to feel bad about it. (source.)

‘Might be worth reading that last sentence one more time…

Where do you get exactly what you want, all of the time, without being made to feel badly about it?

Where do you know this to be true for yourself? An even better question: DO you know this to be true for yourself?

Go ahead, think about it for a bit. I’ll wait for you. Where do you get exactly what you want, all of the time, without being made to feel badly about it?
.
.
.
.
.
.

This is foreign territory for most of us. And it uncovers a truth that we all-too-often dismiss.

We live our lives, in large part, without getting what we want, most of the time, and when we do, we are made to feel badly about it and/or we impose that shame ourselves.

Ouch!

So, what are we to do? Well, maybe read more Romance novels.

They let us imagine our own story, our own life in a much different way from “normal.” All obstacles are conquered. All misunderstanding healed. All betrayal (by self and others) disallowed. We are powerful, chosen, and the one who does the choosing! They allow us to feel into what we deserve and what we will NOT tolerate. They help us identify and name our desires. Yes, for love, but so much more (strength, wit, discernment, agency, courage, passion, voice…) And all of this without a hint of shame.

The story of a woman in a Romance novel invites us to look far more deeply at our own story; to admit and allow, even if only within those pages, that we want what she has. That we want, period.

For the skeptics in the crowd:

Believe me, I know. The tendency is strong to bucket every bit of this into “fantasy,” an escape from reality, a silly diversion. I mean…come on! It’s just a book! It’s a trope that is intentionally designed to make us feel this way. There’s a happy ending, for goodness sake! Come down from the clouds.

And…it always feels far safer to stay in skepticism, even contempt, than to hope. (Believe me, I know.) It’s what I wrote about a couple weeks back, yes? Me not practicing what I preach, resisting desire for fear of disappointment. I get it.

There’s some logic I’m following that I think (and hope) might just change your mind. It’s definitely changed mine.

We must take in as many stories of women as we possibly can — especially those who get what they want, all of the time, without being made to feel badly about it. They invite us to imagine — and then create — a story of our own, a world, in which we are our own protagonists, unashamed, strong, and full of desire — passionate, awake, alive.

We must take in as many stories of women as we possibly can — especially those who knew great harm, misunderstanding and malignment, silencing and shame. They compel us to imagine — and then create — a story of our own, a world, in which their losses are NOT ours, in which we lean on and learn from their wisdom and strength, and through which we are reminded that we are not alone; that we stand on the shoulders of an entire matrilineal line on which we can depend.

Entering into the stories of women don’t whisk us away from reality, they usher us into it — with fierce defiance, fiery passion, and an endless determination to get what we want.

And what is that? What do we want, ultimately?

We want a world in which every woman’s lived story is not imagined; it’s real, felt, experienced, and expressed. Strong and sovereign. Never made to feel badly about anything; instead, honored, acknowledged, and esteemed; heard, seen, and valued.

May it be so.

About Being an Outlaw

Yes, about being an outlaw…but also archetypes and exhaustion and self-care and then some.

The dictionary defines an archetype as a recurrent motif in literature, art, or mythology; a typical example of a person or thing. You’ve heard of the maiden, the mother, and the crone. There’s the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. Then there’s the outlaw.

Here’s some description:

  • The Outlaw yearns for liberation from oppression. They’re risk-takers, progressive, and exude bravery in all circumstances.
  • They have a penchant for revolution to help change the world — and if anarchy is involved, so be it — to make the world a better place. They are rule-breakers, despise being regulated, and oppose conformity.
  • They denounce the normalized, what’s accepted, and status quo for something better. To do this, disruption is their tool. They run counter to the crowds. (The Brand Leader)

You can relate, yes? These things describe you — at least in part. Me too.

Here’s another definition that I find even more powerful:

“A woman who begins to take charge of her own life drawing not from patriarchal notions of individualistic success but from a desire to escape these norms is committing an act of social deviance and rebellion. She is the outlaw…” ~ Danielle Dulsky, The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman.

There’s much in me that aspires to this archetype, that wants to be the outlaw. I’m all about liberation and risk-taking, revolution and rule-breaking. It feels required, quite frankly. But to only be this, leaves me feeling tired, sometimes discouraged, and often overwhelmed by just how much remains to be “disrupted” in order to make the world a better place.

I want to be the outlaw AND I am more. I am the maiden, the mother, and the crone. I am the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. All of these at the same time. As the poet Walt Whitman said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

So, I wonder how to hold fast to the passion, intention, (and critical necessity) of the outlaw while holding on to all of myself — all at the same time.

And then I wonder, “What if I just let the sky fall? The falling sky is what Chicken Little was deathly afraid of — certain the world was coming to an end when, in truth, a single acorn had fallen out of a maple tree and landed on their head.

I am not comparing Chicken Little’s tiny acorn to the sky that we hold up.

I am NOT saying that our concerns are over-reactive or hysterical; they are real and significant; they matter. I am NOT saying that we shouldn’t worry about all that might happen were we to let go of the “fight,” even for a little while; vigilance and perseverance is needed — now more than ever. I am NOT saying that we should just kick up our heels (with or without “outlaw” boots) and forget about it all; ignore the issues, bury our head in the sand, live and let live.

I AM saying that sometimes, especially when our arms are tired and we’re worn out from fighting, that there are other aspects of who we are that deserve our time, attention, nurture, and care.

I AM saying that it is radical — and rebellious and rule-breaking — to be kind to yourself, to nurture yourself, to think of yourself first (!!!); to go within and pay attention to your emotions, to listen to your heart, to follow it; to stop holding up the sky at the expense of all else, at the expense of all of you.

I am saying that perhaps this IS the most outlaw-like choice of all.

To do any of this IS “a woman who begins to take charge of her own life, drawing not from patriarchal notions…but from a desire to escape these norms…She is the outlaw.”

Here’s what’s true: We can advocate for social justice and let the sky fall — both at the same time, at least for a time. We can think brilliantly and feel deeply. We can be (and are) more than enough and never too much. We can be honest and loving. We can tell the truth and be compassionate. We can be the maiden, the mother, the crone and the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. We can be the outlaw and nurture ourselves in the most generous and extravagant of ways. In fact, we must.

More and more, I am coming to believe that it is just as radical and revolutionary to be kind to ourselves, listen deep within, trust our wisdom, and yes, let the sky fall, as it is to decry patriarchal notions and norms and commit acts of social deviance and rebellion. Even more rule-breaking and defiant than either of these is believing and knowing that we have the capacity to do both at the very same time, to “contain multitudes.”

It’s when we acknowledge, allow, even celebrate all of this — all of who we are — that we become the most outlaw-esque of all.

From one outlaw (and maiden/mother/crone/lover/hero/magician/sage and more) to another, may it be so.

*****

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