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Your Wild Voice Within

…the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The wild voice within that says more and edits less. It digs deep and dives down. It is impossible to embarrass and completely unrestrained. It refuses to keep quiet. It’s not interested in playing nice. It is passionate, risky, even  risqué. It is dark and red and viscous. It weeps. It delights. It knows. It howls at the moon. And on paper – in journals and on documents – it captures all of this and then some…

But that’s about as far as it goes. 

The voice without holds sway. The one that’s required. The one that’s acceptable. The one that others can handle.

But what of the pages and pages that never see the light of day? Notebooks and journals written by hand. Hundreds of documents started then saved. 3×5 cards scattered in the bottom of drawers. Ideas barely captured before they disappear.

Disheveled and raw, desperate almost, this voice pours forth. Never mind the incomplete thoughts, the inchoate sentences, the impossible to deny emotions. Still it speaks. The voice within is wild and will not be tamed. 

Often held at bay by nothing more (nor less) than a lump in the throat – it sits on the tip of the tongue. 

Eventually, always, undeniable truth and endless desire and sheer volume finally tip the scales. 

The wild voice within within is acknowledged, seen, run toward, and embraced – like the Prodigal returned. No longer outcast, marginalized, hidden away. Far from penitent or tame. Fiercer than ever before. Articulate and wise beyond measure. Consonants, vowels, words, sentences, pages, index cards, memories, stories, beliefs, emotions – all tumble forward. Falling, twirling, dancing, taking form. Every stroke of the pen, peck of a key, and paper stacked or saved finally and  fluently coalesce. Alchemy. Magic. Grace. Nothing but pure, unadulterated beauty and strength flows forth. 

On that day and for all that follow, finally reunited and reconciled to your very self, your voice will speak-sing-write-create your way way into a world that has been waiting for you all along.

We are all filled with a longing for the wild. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

May it be so. 

*****

In my own experience and in the lives of nearly every woman I know, we hear the wild voice within, but so much keeps us from letting it speak. The list is long: what it will cost us, the consequences that will undoubtedly ensue if and when we let it loose.

This is why I devote an entire week to risks, costs, and consequences as part of SOVEREIGNTY – my live, 9-week program. It is hard to be 100% yourself, 100% of the time – to let the wild voice within actually show up in all of your world.

Spoiler Alert: I will not tell you how to mitigate or avoid the risks, costs, and consequences. They’re a given when we choose to step into all of who we are – unedited, unrestrained, and in integrity. But I will tell you lots about what sovereignty looks and feels like in the midst of all this. Not easy answers; true ones.

Registration is open. We begin in early September. Learn more and apply today.

Smart. Responsible. Steadfast. (Or not…)

Smart.
Responsible.
Steadfast.

These three are jailer’s cell.
A clanking of keys;
lockstep required. They demand,
silence, and shrink. My destiny
and demise, it seems.
I despise them so. 

Of course I cannot go.

They say to me: There are rules to be followed and expectations to be met; even more to be exceeded. Who are you to want, let alone do anything different, anything more? And really, what’s wrong with the life that you have? Don’t you see? Smart, responsible, and steadfast is definitely the way to be!

What they don’t know is that I want to be wild and passionate and free. What they don’t understand is that underneath this expected and well-rehearsed demeanor I want to run naked through the woods and scream at the top of my lungs and dance wildly and eat food with my fingers and stay up until dawn doing who knows what.

What they don’t know is that I am inhabited by the Goddess herself, that a drum’s boom-boom, boom-boom causes my heart to beat faster, that I can hear what hummingbirds have to say, that I am merely bemused by all the activities that humans deem important but that I know don’t matter a whit.

I hold all wisdom. I am completely free of all restraint. And I express passion in everything I do – in my laughter and tears, my waking and sleeping, my walking and sitting, my speaking and writing, my touch, my silence, my gaze. I am electric. High voltage. Magnetizing. My scent lingers long after I’ve glided past you, making you woozy with desire and a familiarity you can’t seem to shake – and don’t want to.

Don’t you see? Wise, passionate, and free is what I am, who I am. It’s too late for me to be any less.

Wise.
Passionate.
Free. 

These three are siren’s song.
A haunting melody;
they seduce. They beckon:
follow our voices, heed your own.
My dream and
desire, it’s certain.

Of course I must go.

Come with me?

 

*****

 

In cleaning out LOTS of files from my hard drive, I came across what you just read . I have no memory of when I wrote it or why. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to drag it to the trash icon on my desktop. It wanted to be heard.

In complete transparency, it took a bit for me to hit “publish” and let this one out. But Wise. Passionate. Free. kept working on me, calling to me, compelling me. And so, “publish,” it is!

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. You, too, feel the tension between Smart. Responsible. Steadfast. and Wild. Passionate. Free. You, too, have things you’ve hidden away – whether on your computer and/or in your heart – that are longing to be found and heard, that call to you and compel you…

Those things, those whispers, those shouts, those callings? They all matter. They are beautiful and worthy expressions of your wisdom – that know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within. And they can be trusted.

May it be so – for you and me both!

 

*****

Learning to hear and trust your own wisdom is one of the four pillars of SOVEREIGNTY – my live, 9-week program. We begin again in September. I hope you’ll join me.

This program was way more and way better and way deeper healing than I knew to ask for. Though I had an idea it would be awesome, what I got was a gift I didn’t know to ask for, much less receive. I’m so grateful I said, “yes.” ~ Sheri M

CLICK HERE to learn about SOVEREIGNTY.

 

Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, I send out Monday Morning Letters (via email) every week. Snippets of my story, some of the stories I love, and every bit of encouragement and support I can muster on behalf of your story. Subscribe.

Write Toward Vulnerability

If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive. ~ Anne Lamott 

She’s right, you know. It is Anne Lamott, after all! 

If we had found these sentences in Scripture we would have taken them to be prescriptive advice for exactly what we should do, exactly how we should behave, exactly what is required. No questions asked. 

Let’s assume Anne Lamott’s voice to be Sacred Writ.

Let’s follow her advice, her mandate, her template for writing…maybe even life.

Let’s review: 

  • Risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. 
  • Write toward vulnerability. 
  • Risk being unliked. 
  • Tell the truth as you understand it. 

Can I get an Amen?!? 

do try to do this in my writing (over and over again). Yes, the writing you see here, but first and foremost in the writing I do for myself.

When I “write toward vulnerability,” I don’t always like what I see, what is revealed on the lines and in between them. And for this, I am profoundly grateful. Something revoluationary and subversive is at work.

When I see the mess and the frustration and the imperfection, I recognize that now, finally, I am telling the truth. 

Anne Lamott says If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this.

As humans we have a moral obligation to do this: to tell our truth. Emotional. Vulnerable. Sometimes even unlikable. As we understand it. And yes, often messy and frustrating and imperfect. Maybe even revolutionary and subversive! 

More of that, please!

Amen.

******

A postscript (or prompt): When I first saw the words write toward vulnerability, I interpreted them literally. Like writing to vulnerability – a letter, an email, a sonnet, an epistle. ‘Might be worth trying – even if messy, frustrating, imperfect, and unlikable. And revoluationary. And subversive. Just a thought…

A late-night text

I’ve been thinking about the wisdom that has shaped much of my life. I’m grateful for some of it, to be sure. There’s been a lot more that I’ve had to intentionally dismantle and deconstruct.

I was raised in the church. Both consciously and subconsciously it inferred, offered, and proclaimed Wisdom – as an institution, within its sacred text, because of its God. And not just a  wisdom, the wisdom. It was the only wisdom that I was to rely on, turn to, and build my life upon. I was dutiful. I was obedient. I was disciplined. And to be fair, it was this wisdom to which I turned, on which I relied, in which I took solace. The darker side was also true: when I didn’t turn to it, rely on it, or took solace anywhere else, I felt vast shame and guilt.

But it wasn’t just the church, religion, or God as wisdom source – it was men. (White) men were seen as the experts, the holders of authority, the ones I could and should trust. In completely transparency, for a very long time, I rarely-if-ever thought to consider anything else! They had the answers. And because that was so obvious, it was just as obvious that I did not have answers – or wisdom; that my thoughts could not be trusted, that I could not, should not trust myself.

Then there was academia. It would have never crossed my mind to question why all of the things I was learning were from (more) white men. Yes, I had a few women teachers along the way, but they were instructing me from textbooks written by white men. Even in college, as a Business and Communications major, everything I learned was from a man’s perspective, man-as-wisdom. I didn’t question a bit of it. I appreciated what I was learning. I took it in as gospel.

By the time I got to my Masters Degree (with a nearly-20-year break in the middle) very little had changed. The professors and authors were still almost exclusively white men – in my studies of both theology and therapy (especially theology). But it was also during this time that things began to shift. I took a class called Feminist Critique (taught by a visiting professor who was a woman and only assigned texts written by women) that opened me up to a wisdom that made me really, really angry.  She systematically revealed the white/male lens everywhere, influencing everything. And that lens was not mine.

At about the same time, probably not at all coincidentally, I began to experiment with the interpretation of women’s ancient, sacred stories through a non-male lens, through a woman’s lens, through a feminist lens, through my lens in order to pull forth something different, anything different. And it was this effort that became a practice that became my everything that enabled me to find, hear, and actually trust my own wisdom. For the first time.

A few weeks back, I woke up in the middle of the night and typed a text to myself – just so I wouldn’t forget the thought that was keeping me from sleep:

We need sources of wisdom that are distinctly feminine. Only they can mirror our experience in ways that allow the wisdom to actually land, to be relevant, to support and strengthen us.

I was pretty happy to see that text waiting for me the next morning.

I’m not opposed to the wisdom of men (well, maybe a little). What I want, though, is the wisdom of women – not in opposition, but as obvious choice.

Without such, it’s no wonder we walk through our lives doubting ourselves, not trusting our intuition, flailing in relationships, putting others ahead of ourselves, tamping down our desires, and wallowing in (often) self-inflicted shame. Everything we learn is not who WE are. Everything we compare ourselves to is not who WE are. This is the patriarchy, of course; the water we swim in, the air we breath, its insipid presence in everything we do, think, and feel.

But…

If we had feminine sources of wisdom – and saw them as reliable, trustworthy, honorable, valuable – we would have a template through which to understand ourselves that syncs with who we most closely are, who we most closely resemble, how we most often act, think, and feel.

Imagine it for a moment.

If I had grown up in a goddess-worshipping coven, it would have been normal for me to trust my body, to eschew anything that smacked of self-contempt, to always look within for answers, comfort, and strength. Even if I don’t take it to that lovely extreme, let’s say I grew up in a Christian home, attending church, going to Bible studies, but everything was focused on women. At church I would have heard stories that were not about a woman’s sin or shame; rather, their magnificence and strength and power. I would have never heard a single message – spoken, assumed, written, or preached – that told me I should be more submissive or more humble or more obedient; rather, I would have been extolled and encouraged to trust my voice, my heart, and yes, my wisdom. I would have grown up reading books written by women, novels about women (written by women), and even if my teachers and professors had remained mostly white men, that input would have been consistently “countered” by the reminder that at the end of the day, what I thought mattered. When I watched TV or read Seventeen magazine, I would not have been inundated by women’s objectification; instead, I would have known and understood that women’s bodies are our own, that they matter, that they are beautiful and perfect  – in every way, shape, and form. And I would have been very clear that attracting me was the end-all, be-all – not attracting a boy, a man, or a prince. Can you even imagine?

We need sources of wisdom that are distinctly feminine. Only they can mirror our experience in ways that allow the wisdom to actually land, to be relevant, to support and strengthen us.

This wisdom allows us to see ourselves in the mirror, to listen to the voice within that not only makes sense, but is 100% true and right. This wisdom teaches us to trust ourselves – which leads to agency and power – which leads to doing the unexpected thing, to rising up, to speaking out, to resisting anyone who tells us anything different – which leads to a disallowing of violence because of race or sexuality or difference of any kind, sickening entitlement because of gender or power, and ignorance based not in wisdom, but foolishness! 

 

So find that wisdom. Be that wisdom. Be that wise. It’s all within you. It always has been – for generations and generations, from the beginning of time. And it’s all yours to offer us. Imagine the world you’ll change, create, and birth along the way.

What’s left on the cutting room floor?

Each morning, lately, I have been reading from a book with 365 reflections. Some I resonate with; others, not so much. And some surprise me. Like today’s… 

The author began by telling a story of having once interviewed the runner up of The Bachelor (the last one standing besides the one who gets the proposal). She asked how much of what we saw on the show was real, and how much just reality TV. Not surprisingly, the woman confirmed what all of us already knew (right?!?): she was not seen for who she was – not really. Every clip of her being anything other than how the producers wanted her dipicted (partying, disruptive, etc.) had been left on the cutting room floor. 

Ouch. 

We would be wise to name the “producers” in our world – those who are intentionally shaping the narrative, the story, the plot they want us to believe and buy – whether media, religion, politics, our family of origin, even those closest to us. We need to ask ourselves what’s being intentionally left on the cutting room floor so that we comply, stay in line, and don’t make waves.

We would be wise to ask ourselves how many women, how many stories, how much wisdom has not been ours throughout time. And we need to pay attention to how that has impacted us – dramatically and definitively. Because we’ve not seen those reels – the raw vs. edited footage of  Eve, Mary Magdalene, Tamar, Hagar, and so many more, it’s not surprising that we often feel isolated and alone (part of the producer’s plan, no doubt). We have not been given access to the legion of women who long to speak, have much to say, and stand alongside us even still. 

We would be wise to wonder about how we produce and edit our own stories. On the cutting room floor lie reels and reels of what we don’t want others (and sometimes, even ourselves) to see, what doesn’t “fit” with the story we’re telling, what feels better left unsaid, hidden, even thrown away. 

For every scene, every conversation, every part of us that’s been discarded – whether by choice or under duress – the woman others do see is not complete, not whole, not all of who we are. And that is both excruciating and untenable. 

We would be wise to consider:

  • what we intentionally cut out of our own story so that we better meet the “reality TV” ideal, the IG influencer ideal, our culture’s ideal, even the ideal of our boss, our peers, our significant other…
  • how feeling the pressure of other “producers” or “editors” in our life has translated into compromising the story we want to tell, the life we deserve and desire to live. 
  • how the reels and reels on the cutting room floor might, in truth, be exactly what and who deserves to be seen and heard.  
  • what we are most afraid of if fully seen, fully ourselves, unedited, unrestrained, untamed.

…what the world needs right now in order to evolve is to watch one woman at a time live her truest, most beautiful life without asking for permission or offering explanation. ~ Glennon Doyle, Untamed

That woman leaves nothing on the cutting room floor.

May it be so.

[Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash]

Go Deeper Still

Go deeper still…

You already know this: there is profound wisdom, strength, beauty, and grace that lies in wait – deep within you. When you listen, when you trust, when you are honest, it’s what only you can hear. It’s your voice. And it tells you to stand, to rise, to sing, to create, to dance, to write, to speak, to weep, to preach, to scream, to dream, to desire, to hope, to love, to be…you.

 

Go deeper still.
Beneath the layers of cultural messaging and familial patterns.

Go deeper still.
Beneath the relational rules and patterns that twist and contort.

Go deeper still.
Beneath the voices – within and without – that shout you into silence.

Go deeper still.
Beneath the shame that suffocates.

Go deeper still.
Beneath economic restraint that (seemingly) hinders.

Go deeper still.
Beneath the religious constructs that bind.

Go deeper still.
Beneath the ego’s incessant drone that causes you to recede.

Go deeper still.

There, beneath all of this (and deeper still) beats your heart. And there, in that deep and solid and gorgeous you, is all you’ve ever needed, all you will ever need. The confirmation. The affirmation. The certainty. The will. The sovereignty. The profound wisdom, strength, beauty, and grace that is (already) yours. That IS you.

 

Ahhhhhhh.

 

I know…

Just as quickly as you descend, you are pulled – coughing and spluttering –  to the surface. Your practiced, poised, and “appropriate” self already anticipates the problems, the risks, the consequences of letting that voice, that you, out. You will most certainly be misunderstood.

Exactly!

You are not here to be understood. You are here to be you.

Which is why you must go deeper still. Into the very womb of your truest self where you are fluent in your heart’s language, where you are certain of your knowing, where you are whole, complete, not lacking for anything, and at rest. Where you are sovereign. Where your profound wisdom, strength, beauty, and grace lies in wait.

And just so you know: none of this, this you, is going anywhere. And we can (and will) wait.

I’m wondering though…Can you?

It’s time to go deeper still.

May it be so.

 

*****

 

This “deeper still” place is what I’m committed to on your behalf (and my own). It’s what I invite you to and support through my Monday Letters,  through Sacred Readings, and through SOVEREIGNTY – my live, 9-week program that speaks to all of this and then some. In the meantime (and ongoing), please join me in my SOVEREIGNTY Facebook Group. It’s time to go deeper still – and I want to make this journey with you.