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About My Book

It feels WAY too far away to actually talk about, let alone celebrate, but still, I’m naming it:

On 10.3.23 my book will be published! Rewriting Eve: Claiming Women’s Sacred Stories As Our Own

I am relieved beyond words that 20-ish years of writing — and my deliberating and editing and doubting and pitching and starting over and sticking with it and frankly, just sheer endurance — is, at last, making its way into a book that I can hold in my hands . . . as can you. 

I can also tell you that it would be just like me to bypass every bit of this, to not note the significance of today’s date, to not let myself revel — even for a moment — in what I’ve accomplished, to not celebrate at all.

My dear friend Tanya Geisler talks about this often:

“[T]he Imposter Complex and its relentless requirement for perfection and certainty tries to keep us from celebrating our accomplishments, because what has been done is ‘not enough.‘”’ Or it could have been done better, faster, or more . . . something.

And so many of us have been conditioned to believe that celebrating our own accomplishments is far too much. Far too audacious.

And who are you to be larger than life, anyways?

Listen, I won’t lie.

Taking up the space the universe has carved out for you is not for the faint of heart. It takes tenacity and resilience and a reverence for ourselves that transcends the wee space around our toes. It takes boundaries and a willingness to rewrite the stories that were originally written to limit you and others like you. It takes support and a clarity of vision and a relentless fidelity to the promises you have made . . . to yourself as much as to others. It takes discernment and care and a trust in your ability to wield power in generative ways, even if you haven’t seen it modeled well before. It takes audacity. 

You can read her whole post here.

She’s right of course.

I feel the heat rise to my cheeks because I know that every bit of this applies to me, that she’d say exactly these words to me (and few choice others), to be sure. I hear the voices within that natter on: “It’s not that big of a deal.” “Don’t get ahead of yourself.” “Almost a year away yet?!? Sheesh! Let it go.” 

I don’t like admitting any of this. 

But I know it’s needed: my own truth-telling. I also know that when I name my patterns and proclivities — with empathy and large doses of grace — I become more aware, more awake, more myself. 

I also know that every bit of this beyond-ironic. 

My book speaks EXACTLY to Tanya’s words above and my own: truth-telling, believing I am enough (and not too much), “. . . rewrit[ing] the stories that were originally written to limit you and others like you.” It’s what I have done in 60,000+ words. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last two decades, at least. And every page of it is about what it means to see ourselves as sovereign, glorious, and amazing. It’s a celebration of women, their stories, their wisdom, and their lives: the ancient, sacred ones, yours, and mine. 

And still, I struggle to celebrate myself! *sigh*

So today I’m making an effort. I’m giving focused attention to unravelling the messages within. I’m trying to do just the opposite of what I’m predisposed toward. I’m choosing to celebrate this “small” thing in preparation for what’s coming in another 330-some days. 

In the same blog post linked above, Tanya quotes Caroline McHugh:

“[There] are individuals who managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and they put that in the service of their goals…

And when we see these people, we invariably call them larger than life. Life is large, but most of us don’t take up nearly the space the universe intended for us. We take up this wee space ‘round our toes, which is why when you see somebody in the full flow of their humanity, it’s remarkable. They’re at least a foot bigger in every direction than normal human beings, and they shine, they gleam, they glow. It’s like they swallowed the moon.”

This is the ache and the invitation, isn’t it? Not just for me, but you as well.

We are loath to take up more space, to shine, to gleam, to glow. We WANT it to be true about us AND we struggle. Both at the same time. 

This? Being a woman who has figured out the unique gift the universe has given them? Putting it in service of your goals? Looking like someone who has swallowed the moon? It’s what I want for you, more than nearly all else. It’s what you deserve.

And yes, me too. 

May it be so.

The truth is almost always personal

I recently read Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, by Beth Kephart. On the back cover are these words: 

It is almost always personal – and consequential – to tell the truth. 

And . . . right alongside the risk of truth-telling, is the possibility, the benefit, and our hope:

“Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.” ~ Carolyn See

I’m back and forth between these two bolded statements because of my own writing of late: the final edits of my manuscript. It’s not memoir, but still, personal – and consequential; not memoir, but certainly compelled by my dogged desire to “change the story of the world.” (Or at least the way we have been telling the stories . . . )

On the one hand, I am reminded that it’s not truth OR consequences (a reference to a very old TV game show – if you are too young to remember); it’s truth AND consequences. On the other hand, I am compelled by just how important it is that I write, that I speak, that I trust the ways in which my words, my truth, do change the story . . . my own and others’.

Writing and me aside, the same is true for you. All women sit in the tension these two statements elucidate.

We are caught between the risk of our truth and its impact, its cost and its significance, our fear and our yearning.  

*sigh*

*****

Another recent read has been The Book of Essie. I stumbled across it while looking for an epigraph quote — a couple relevant keywords in Google, plus “quotes” and this is what showed up:

“It’s men who trust they will suffer no consequences for their actions, while women suffer no matter what they do.” ~ Meghan Weir

No surprise: I immediately went to Amazon for details, then my online library app for the audio book. I won’t spoil it for you, but again – no surprise – it deals with exactly what I’m naming here: Women reside in the impossible tension between telling the truth and changing the(ir) world.  

It shouldn’t be impossible.

As I was lost in the pages of Essie’s story, I thought back on my own — the places where I knew my truth, but wouldn’t take the risk and couldn’t bear the consequences (or so I thought). I thought of other times in which I spoke my truth, how everything changed, how it was impossible to go back, how most of the time I wouldn’t have gone back even if I could, and how painful it was to move forward. And I thought about how this is the reality for most every woman. Past and present. Not just once, but over and over again.

If we weren’t so familiar with it, we would feel crazy (and often do)! It’s become par for the course, second nature, what we know how to do extremely well.

Weigh the costs
Consider the outcomes
Put ourselves second . . . or last
Compromise
Comply
Long for change
Wonder if it’s even possible
Speak up
Take it back
Apologize
Wish we were stronger
Get stronger
Step forward
Risk everything
Survive

I’d be elated if we could jump directly from “weigh the costs” to “step forward,” “risk everything,” and not only “survive,” but thrive.

There’s no simple “answer” to this conundrum, but I do have some thoughts.

We alleviate the consequences of our truth (or at least our fear of such) by telling it, by building our capacity to do it even more, by trusting ourselves.

The way in which this messy and excruciating world will change is by women being unswervingly committed to their truth – and its out-loud expression.

Our courage to tell our truth and change the world is exponentially increased when we are surrounded and supported by stories of other women who have done the same – whether Essie, Eve, or countless others.   

I had “maybe” at the start of each of the three sentences above. A dilution of my own truth. A fear of being misunderstood or too bold or too outspoken. And a way in which the change I long for on my behalf, yours, and the world’s, is slower to occur, harder to imagine, and that much further away. I guess it feels important to acknowledge that even though I am the one writing all of this, I am often stuck in the same bind – over and over – in the most insipid of ways.

And then there’s this:

I know telling your truth is hard. I know it is scary. I know there are consequences. And I’m sorry. 

I also know that your truth, the know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within, is worthy of being heard, that your story is, that you are. Written. Spoken. Allowed. Celebrated. Lived. And when that happens — as it should and as it must — it’s definitely world-changing, story-changing, life-changing . . . changing everything. As you deserve.

As I’ve written this today, I’ve wondered how it will land for you — whether you will feel desire or tension, a deep knowing or a shoulder shrug; if you will be proud of where you’ve boldly and bravely told your truth or lost in your memories of truth-avoided.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I long for you to trust your truth and your power to change the story of the world . . . of your world. If I could wave a magic wand or say a prayer or cast a spell or maybe all three in one, this IS what I’d wish, hands down, every. single. time.

May it be so.

Daily Life and the Spiritual Journey

I read and highlighted these two sentences recently:

The spiritual journey is what the soul is up to while we attend to daily living. The spiritual journey is the soul’s life commingling with ordinary life. ~ Christina Baldwin, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice

I love this. No doctrine or dogma. Open to broad and expansive interpretation. Rich. Practical. Mystical. True. I could write paragraphs and pages, to be sure, but instead, an invitation:

Re-read the quote above and then notice what shows up for you. Where do you feel resistance? Where do you feel resonance? Where do you feel desire? For what? What makes you curious? How so? What’s under the surface of any/all of your responses? What else?

That’s it.

Believe me: your thoughts about this are far more vast and beautiful and poignant and powerful than mine could ever be. Because they’re yours! Expressions of your soul and your journey. So incredibly sacred and so amazing.

********

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Not practicing what I preach

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my desire. No. That’s not quite true. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my lack of desire — my resistance to it. Not across the board — but in particular areas of my life.

This awareness has come as a surprise to me, quite frankly.

Desire is hardly a new thought or topic in my world. I’ve learned to follow its impetus and wisdom more times than not (after many decades of just the opposite). And I’ve certainly written and talked about it a ton — redeeming Eve’s story in ways that reveal her as inspiration and model of desire — in the best and most perfect of ways. Our blueprint, our forebear, our legacy! She calls us, beckons us, invites us to desire; she reminds us that our desire is good, that we are!

All this said, you can see why this is a conundrum for me, this chasm between what I practice and what I preach!

A dear friend came to visit me. We sat in my living room and talked of many things — among which was our respective books. She told me about just recently turning her completed manuscript over to a designer who will now create the book itself in preparation for self-publishing. (It’s going to be magnificent.) I spoke of my own manuscript, my timeline, how I am (mostly) pushing past my resistance. And we bantered back and forth — sometimes lightly, other times with much more angst — over the whole world of marketing, publicity, and promotion that yet remains. And all with no guarantee of “success.”

In the midst of all this, I said, “What if I just don’t care? What if I just write the book because it deserves to be written, because I want it written, and then let it go? What if don’t worry myself with the outcomes, the numbers, the success (or not)? What if it’s really about the creation of it — not what happens once it’s finished?”

To which she replied, “I suppose that’s one option, Ronna. Or you could actually acknowledge that you do desire so much more. If you’re being completely honest, you want your book to be wildly successful. You want your work honored, your voice heard — not just by some, but by many. Maybe you could let yourself have that: all of your desire — whether it happens, or not.”

Record scratch.

That was weeks ago. I have been sitting with her words ever since.

Actually let myself want? Really acknowledge my desire? Open myself up to that kind of dreaming — even though it feels completely unrealistic and outside the realm of possibility?

If I don’t desire — at least not in amazing and vast and extravagant ways — if I tamp it down, then I spare myself that pain. Sort of. Not really.

To let myself desire — honest, raw, and unedited — means that I allow disappointment instead of trying to avoid it.

*sigh*

Every bit of my resistance (and yours), every emotion that rises to the surface for me (and for you), invites me/us that much deeper and further in — to our stories, to our soul, and yes, to our honest, raw, and unedited desire. Which, of course, is good…and amazing and vast and extravagant. Really.

When Eve bit into the apple, she gave us the world as we know the world — beautiful, flawed, dangerous, full of being… All we know of heaven we know from Eve, who gave us earth, a serviceable blueprint: Without Eve there would be no utopias, no imaginable reason to find and to create transcendence, to ascend toward the light. Eve’s legacy to us is the imperative to desire. ~ Barbara Grizutti Harrison, Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible

The imperative to desire.

May it be so, yes? For you and me both!

1 quote and 3 (tiny) topics

The Quote:

Re-vision–the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new, critical direction–is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we’re drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. A radical critique…feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped us as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name–and therefore live–afresh…not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us. ~ Adrienne Rich

Topic #1: Internalized Patriarchy

Ooooh, how this has shown up within me lately. Places and ways in which I default to deeply-held beliefs (even though I no longer believe them) and values (even though I no longer value them) that continue to wield their power in my psyche and day-to-day life. Ick. Ick. Ick!

Here’s a quick example…

My book is scheduled for publication in Fall of 2023. (I know: champagne, confetti, all that!) I’ve struggled in celebrating. Why? Because I’m going a hybrid publishing route vs. traditional. And why would I have any ambivalence around this at all? Well, because of internalized patriarchy! Somewhere, despite my better judgment, I believe that being acknowledged and chosen by the powers-that-be actually matters. I want the value deferred upon me by those same powers-that-be. The potential cash-advance? Well, that validates my value even more, yes? Ick. Ick. Ick!

The internalisation of patriarchy is not a fault. Its unnecessary, unrealised legacy women are carrying. We don’t even realise when and how patriarchy has seeped into our identity so much that we hallucinate its compulsions as our choice. ~ Emila Dutta

I don’t like it! 

Here’s what I do like: 

Internalized patriarchy — when seen and named — has a definite upside: the places in which we feel the most resistance, the most confusion, and even the most shame (3 markers that signify patriarchy’s presence, to be sure) serve as powerful sources of discernment. The things we dislike and fight with/against the most are the very things that afford us opportunity to listen to and trust our own wisdom, to remember who we truly are, and to say “of course!” as we acknowledge our sovereignty and strength. 

Topic #2: Re-visioning and Assumptions

By way of review: 

Re-vision–the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new, critical direction–is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.

Rich is right, of course: When WE look back, when WE see with fresh eyes, when WE enter an old text (which includes our own personal texts/stories) from a new, critical direction, we do more than just survive: we finally and exquisitely thrive! And not just us, but all women, all of humanity — past, present, and future!

Mmmmmmm. SO much here, yes? Yes.

But wait, there’s more!

Until we can understand the assumptions in which we’re drenched we cannot know ourselves.

“…the assumptions in which we’re drenched.” I love this phrase and it weighs so, so heavy on my heart. Her words describe, in so many ways, what I am always talking/writing about when it comes to the stories we’ve been told, the ones we tell ourselves, the culture in which we live, and so much more. Naming these is what I focus on with clients and strive to consistently name in my own life over and over again. It’s definitely what I reveal (and re-vision) in my book. And every bit of this, to Adrienne Rich’s point, is so that we can know ourselves. 

And that? Knowing ourselves? It matters more than all else, is sacred above all else, is worth more than all else. 

Topic #3: (Trapped and) Liberated by Language

Again, by way of review, the final sentences within Adrienne Rich’s quote:

And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. A radical critique…feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped us as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name–and therefore live–afresh…not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us.

When we re-vision, when we acknowledge the assumptions in which we’re drenched, we cannot help but see and name how language has both trapped us and liberated us. Too often, this happens through language that’s been spoken for us, around us, and about us. Stories. Roles. Assignments. Stereotypes. Value. Worth. These have defined us, shaped us, and yes, (mostly) trapped us. 

Adrienne Rich is not alone in naming this. Brené Brown speaks almost exclusively about it in her latest book, Atlas of the Heart:

If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful connection.

The key is to make language our own, to claim its power and beauty, to take agency, and to move from being trapped by it to letting it be the source of our very liberation. Ultimately and paradoxically, the very things, experiences, even people that have oppressed or bound us, when named with language, are what enable our freedom.

  • When you honestly name and put language to the harm of your past, you can then step into freedom from it.
  • When you bravely name and put language to your fear, you can then experience a life that is freed from such.
  • When you fiercely name and put language to your truth, you can then begin to live in uncompromising, unedited, and freedom-suffused ways.

All easier said than done. All the work and journey of a lifetime. All deeply sacred.

*****

So, to (finally) wrap things up…

  • internalized patriarchy is a real thing — which is why:
  • re-visioning matters.
  • understanding the assumptions in which we’re drenched matters.
  • naming how language has trapped us matters; letting it free us, even more!
  • doing every bit of this not alone makes all the difference.

All of this, on repeat and with constancy and dedication, is what can and will change the world. Needed now more than ever, yes? 

May it be so.

About hearing voices…

Yes, let’s talk about hearing voices…And (just a bit) about RAISING our voices and being countercultural! 

Over the past 8 months or so, I’ve been painstakingly recovering and republishing all my blog posts from 2004–2019. It’s a long story — why they left my website in the first place. And though some might argue the relevance of bringing them back at all, for me, they’re like an archive, a written history that documents much of my thought and certainly my growth for nearly 18 years.

As I been plodding away at this monumental task, I’ve noticed something: what I was talking about at the beginning and along the way is what I’m still talking about today. 

Yes, my writing has changed and strengthened. My viewpoints have expanded. My belief systems have pretty dramatically changed. And my life over those years? More transitions than I can possibly count! Still, in the midst — underneath it all — there are themes, patterns, questions, and a “voice” that has persisted throughout.

I’m seeing this literally in front of me, but I’m convinced I’m not unique.

If you could recall and recover where your mind has gone over the years, you would see the same: themes, patterns, and questions that have persisted, stayed, lingered. You would discover the “voice” that has been speaking to you all along — whether you’ve known, heard, or acknowledged it — or not. 

So let’s definitely talk about hearing voices!

WHAT THE VOICE KEEPS SAYING TO ME:

I’ll certainly not get it completely right and there’s FAR more for me to hear and learn, but were I to take a stab at articulating what this “voice” has been saying to me all this time — yes, through the blog posts; but far, far more, it would sound something like this:

You are enough. You are not too much. You don’t have to work any harder to be good or worthy or understood. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are wise. You are loved.

[I’d bet money that the voice within you has been saying something incredibly similar. I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.]

It’s what I’ve been writing about on my own behalf and yours — over and over and over again. Not always blatant, often hidden between the lines, but infinitely present, nonetheless — speaking, thrumming, singing, calling me home to myself.

Here’s the thing:

I have not been hearing this voice (or writing about it) for so long because it’s distinct, unique, or special to me. Not at all! As I look back, I can see that this deeper voice within has been attempting to express itself, to make itself manifest in my life, because it’s what is TRUE. 

Which is why I’m pretty sure it’s the same voice that you hear — that you’ve always heard in one way or another — that will never stop speaking within you.

WHAT THE VOICE INVITES:

The invitation now — for you and me both — is to let it speak, let it drive, let it lead, let its truth be undisputed, accepted, fiercely claimed, and fully trusted. No longer doubted. No longer whispering. No longer being shouted over. No longer silent. And certainly no longer unknown or unheard.

The invitation now — for you and me both — is to acknowledge what IS true, what’s always been true, and then live it.

Would another quick review help?

You are enough. You are not too much. You don’t have to work any harder to be good or worthy or understood. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are wise. You are loved.

You definitely don’t need 18 years of my blog posts to find and hear the “voice” for yourself. Weave together the threads of your life that reveal this TRUTH: where it has been whispering, crying, beating within, longing to be heard and trusted, shouting, and most-definitely showing up. YES, PLEASE! MORE, PLEASE!

As a woman, you live in a world that is adamantly committed to you NOT listening to this voice. not believing it as truth. Because, quite frankly, if you did start listening, believing, trusting, and living this truth truth (that IS already and always yours), everything would fall apart: patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism . . . Yes, please!

There’s still more that I hear the voice saying when I look back, look within, and pay attention. It’s for me, to be sure — and for you:

Now, rise up. Trust yourself. Go deeper. Let go. Listen closer still. 

Once we’ve heard what’s true, then we’re called to live it.

Rise up. Stand up. Speak up. Don’t hold back.

Trust yourself. Your intuition, your wisdom, that know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within.

Go deeper. Into your own stories, into your questions and doubts, into the conversations that will invite the kind of transformation and life that you desire and deserve.

Let go. Surrender. Open your clenched fists. Loosen your grip on others, on expectations, on demands, on control, on your endless self-critique. Breathe deep.

Listen closer still. Drop below the surface of the raging river that is your mind and listen to your heart — the still waters underneath, the voice that’s always been there, the truth — period, the end.

And did I mention?
You are enough. You are not too much. You don’t have to work any harder to be good or worthy or understood. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are wise. You are loved.

Now, rise up. Trust yourself. Go deeper. Let go. Listen closer still.