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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.

Remember who you are

I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old; but now I am a woman again – as I always am when I write.

I love this quote from Virginia Woolf.

Given that my birthday is just a week away, it takes on new and deeper meaning. By all manner of cultural definitions, I am not only thinking myself very old, I actually am! 

Let me be quick to say that there is a chasm of difference between what the culture has to say and what I know-believe-feel. That’s not to say I don’t, from time to time, hear the insipid voices within that love to conspire with the ones without. Which, again, is why I love her words.

Those voices – the ones within and without –
can be so noisy, so constant, so overwhelming,
that we forget who we are.

I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER.

I get it. It’s not all that hard to feel disjointed: wearing multiple hats, playing a myriad of roles, adapting, nurturing, creating, birthing, cleaning, working, laboring, loving. We loose our footing. We find ourselves in a “queer mood.” We forget who we actually are. 

So how are we to remember? 

Take Virginia Woolf’s words as gospel. Express all of yourself – with complete permission and unfettered freedom. Nothing less will do. 

Words.
Thoughts.
Emotions.
Ideas.
Dreams.
Desires.
Revolutions.

Uncensored.
Unedited.
Unguarded.
Impossible to quell. 

Remember?   

Oh, that’s right! Now I remember. I am whole, complete, broken, tentative, powerful, tender, amazing, wise, strong, vulnerable, grounded, undone, spontaneous, angry, passionate, beautiful, smart, funny…myself. Now I am a woman again.

My hope for you is that you come home to yourself through whatever it is that gives you complete permission and unfettered freedom to express everything. No holding back. Whether writing, journaling, screaming into your pillow, recording a voice memo that tells the whole story – from your perspective, in your words, through your lens – taking a long walk with only the birds hearing your deepest heart. 

You, when expressed, returns you to yourself, makes you most yourself, and enables you to give yourself, yet again, to your world in the most powerful and undeniable of ways. 

And that you? Well, that’s the one we long for, desire, and need to have step forward in all the glory befitting the sovereign, regal, and wise woman you already are. 

Remember her?

May it be so. 

**********

It’s true: my birthday is just a week away. And as has been true in the past, the gift-giving is from me to you. I am offering New Year Readings at a special price…because I want you to hear impossible-to-quell expression that is 100% on your behalf; filled with all the reminders you need to be YOU in the year ahead. SUBSCRIBE to get the details as soon as they’re released! 

She was a voice

I ordered and read The Book of Longings last week. Written by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (required reading for any woman who grew up in the church), it is the imagined story of Ana – wife of Jesus.

I won’t give the plot away, nor is that what this post is about; rather, the prayer Ana recites, cherishes, and lives into:

…Bless the largeness inside me, no matter how I fear it. Bless my reed pens and my inks. Bless the words I write. May they be beautiful in your sight. May they be visible to eyes not yet born. When I am dust, sing these words over my bones: she was a voice.

She was a voice.

She was a voice.

This nearly takes my breath away. 

But not before I inhale deeply – and then exhale an inexhaustible stream of words and emotions about how profoundly I long for this to be true. For me, to be sure. For my daughters. For my friends. For you. For countless women of the past who were not given voice (and about whom I write).

For too many women, yet today, who are still silenced – because of patriarchy, political realities, racism, bigotry, abusive marriages, fear, oppressive corporate structures, a predominant culture that blatantly prefers us quiet and compliant. The list goes on. 

Still, she was a voice.

More powerful than all that holds us down and back, within and without, is exactly that for which Ana prays:

sing these words over my bones: she was a voice.

A woman’s voice heralds wisdom.

A woman’s voice offers truth.

A woman’s voice brings justice.

A woman’s voice articulates desire.

A woman’s voice invites hope.

 

And without a woman’s voice? Well, that explains everything, yes? The lack of wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope. The list goes on.

If we want a world defined by wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope, then we must be a voice.

 

We are the ones who speak into being the life and reality we long for. This is the largeness within us…

No matter how we fear it.

Be the voice. The voice that you alone can express and embody. The voice that whispers and shouts within. The voice all of us long to hear – and already know dwells within you. Beautiful. Powerful. True.

She was a voice. May it be so.

My voice comes forth, at least in part, by reimagining and recreating the voices of other women – some you’ve heard of, many you have not. I do this through Readings – the personalized and powerful voice of one woman who speaks into your story in bold and winsome ways – who is already choosing you. 

I’m days away from making 2021 New Year Readings available (with an amazing discount!) All the wisdom, truth, justice, desire, and hope you desire and deserve as you (finally) put 2020 behind you and step boldly, courageously, and beautifully into all that is ahead – including your voice! SIGN UP to be the first to hear.

[Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash]  

In tribute to Mary Oliver

At the end of last week, in reflecting on Mary Oliver’s life – small respite in the wake of her death – I ran a search through my previous 12+ years of blog posts to see what I’d written of her before, where her poetry and prose have inspired my own words (and heart).

I’ve chosen one of those many posts as remembrance; more, as tribute.

**********

An edited version of writing from March, 2007.

Though I know unfruitful, even unanswerable, I sometimes find myself asking questions like, Can’t things be easier? Can’t my life go the way I want it to? Does it so-often have to feel like a struggle?

And then I begin to wonder: if the divine were to answer these questions the way I subliminally desire (translate: a tame, sedate, even predictable life) who would that god be?

Surely not the one that Sacred Text portrays.

That god, that understanding of the divine, is one who falls asleep in storms – not one who prevents them from happening at all.

A case in point:

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)

This is no tame, sedate, predictable story. For this is no tame, sedate, predictable god.

So, a better question to be asking is: Why would I ever anticipate, let alone desire, my life to be such?

If I choose to reflect on, and even believe in this god (not to mention being created in the image of such) – one who is nonplussed in a treacherous storm – how then shall I live?

Ahhh, yes. Dangerous. Risky. Unafraid. Hardly tame, sedate, and predictable.

Mary Oliver speaks of this better than me:

Maybe
Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,
silky and sorry.

So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is
when something
different crosses
the threshold—the uncles
mutter together,
the women walk away,
the younger brother begins
to sharpen his knife.

Nobody knows what the soul is.
It comes and goes
Like wind over the water—
Sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth
like a tremor of pure sunlight
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them
miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails;
before he rose and talked to it—
tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was—
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer sea.

This understanding of, conception of the divine is one I find myself far more able to believe in; a thousand times more frightening than the killer sea.

Then choosing the storm (vs. demanding the tame, the sedate, the predictable) feels right; more, sacred.

**********

Rest well, Mary Oliver – in the arms of the divine you named. In your absence we feel and know what you did: tender, luminous, and oh, so demanding, to be sure.

The birth of my blog…

When you write, you have to attempt something greater than you can possibly hope to accomplish. That is the only way you can leave a hole, a gap – some chance for a miracle.

It’s funny: I thought that today, of all days, I would write a post filled with my own words – long, reflective, and full of introspection about all this blog has offered and invited since its inauspicious beginning one quiet evening, November 15, 2005.

But then I read Heather Harpham’s words above, her writing, and realized nothing more needed to be said.

Well, maybe just this:

The writing I’ve done on these “pages,” has been far more than some “chance” for a miracle. It has been nothing but such, over and over again. Relationships that have changed me forever. Confidence I could have never imagined. A voice I might not otherwise have known, heard, trusted, or honored. Gratitude beyond measure.