The how-to’s of being “big” – along with the costs, the consequences, the fallout

We must learn to be big in a way we’ve never been big – we must claim our right to take up space, to say our words, to claim our desires. We must also learn to be small in a way we’ve never been small – to be in service, led not by our egos or by our desire for material goods or by our fears and aversions, but by our desire to be liberated from these things. And we must do both at the same time. ~ Holly Whitaker, from Quit Like a Woman

Let’s review:

In my last post I named the ways in which we have transmuted being small into our very DNA. This is not the kind of small that Holly Whitaker is talking about. Not even close. It plagues us, sits with us, stays with us, and is the very thing that prevents us from being big. It’s complicated.

Whitaker also wisely says this:

Perhaps before we can learn to be both big and small at the same time, we first have to learn to be big…I’ve had to learn to get big, in order to practice being small. 

What’s that how-to? How do we learn to get big so that we can practice being small? Well, using her quote above, it consists of three things:

We must claim our right to take up space.
We must say our words.
We must claim our desires.

Done and done, yes?

Or not.

No surprise: I immediately go to Eve when I see this list. It’s why I talk about her – again and again and again. Her story has been told as the cautionary tale to prevent all three of these things! Look what happens when you get (too) big! Banishment. Downfall. Disaster. And a lifetime of separation from all that is good and perfect. No pressure. But that’s ONLY because that’s how her story has been told! If we want to learn to be big, we must blow it up and start again. (I’d probably go so far as to say we need to do the same thing with our own story, but that may yet be another post…)

Eve says, “Take up space! It’s your right and destiny! You are created in the image of the divine, for goodness sakes; the pinnacle of all creation!! Walk through your world as the regal, sovereign, and amazing being that you are!”

Eve says, “Say your words! Those that are disruptive. Those that go against the grain. Those that call into question every structure of power, every rule that needs breaking, every line that needs crossing. Speak what is healing, what is authentic, what is deep, and what is true. Your voice ushers the divine right into our midst, and brings a woman’s clarity, strength, and yes, her desire, to the fore – where it belongs, where it is desperately needed, where you belong and where you are needed!”

Eve says, “Claim your desires! Listen to the voice within (remembering that the snake was always seen as a symbol of wisdom) and follow it – no matter what, no matter where. Take. Eat. Devour. Be nourished by. Wipe the juice from your chin – or don’t. And look at yourself in the mirror, through my eyes, as you deserve to be seen and experienced: fully sated, rightfully fed, awake to and alive in all your desire, all your beauty, all your strength!”

Eve also says, “I get it. The costs, the consequences, the fallout: all of these are real when you choose to be big.”


PERFECT! That apple cart you are afraid to upset, the Pandora’s Box you are hesitant to open, the s*** that will inevitably hit the fan – this is the very evidence you need to affirm and confirm that you are moving in the right direction, making the right choice(s), doing the right thing(s).


Too often we see the ledger of what “big” will cost and, from an ROI standpoint, determine it’s not worth it. I believe it’s just the opposite. That ledger is an Excel sheet of data that tells you to step forward, to show up, to follow Eve’s lead, and to be as big as you possibly can be.

I am not naive – nor are you. None of this is easy. Costs are, well, costs. Consequences are real. And fallout happens. But I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to name how hard it is to not be big, what that costs you – day after day after day, what those consequences are.

A story: By the time I was in pretty deep to the retelling of these ancient, sacred stories of women, I was also in relationship pretty deep with a man I loved. Though there was much that was good and lovely between us, he did not like the way I told these stories. He found it to be disrespectful of the original text and intention and far too disruptive. No matter my efforts to talk through textual interpretation, the ongoing evolution of theology, even the patriarchal stronghold on religion, the argument continued. And my stance? I’m not happy to admit it, but ‘here goes:

  • I would not take up space – either in the conversation itself or on behalf of these women who deserved my advocacy and care.
  • I would use my words, yes, but in twisty and maneuver-y ways that maybe-just-maybe would be acceptable to him.
  • I would not claim my desires in out-loud or powerful ways because I was convinced that I desired him more than my own integrity.

Over and over again, every time the topic came up, I would ultimately downplay the significance of my own work, my own wisdom, the value of the women themselves and their stories, and my very self. I got smaller and smaller. And that ledger? Well, the list was long of what I would lose if I couldn’t/wouldn’t somehow fit myself into his image of who I should be – and should not be. And I didn’t want to lose those things. I didn’t want to lose him. They mattered to me: laughter, companionship, his relationship with my daughters, the time we spent together, the memories we’d made, the future we could share. I was willing to lose myself. And “small” seemed a small price to pay.

Until it wasn’t small anymore; until it became way too big a price to pay.

On the other side of the ledger, revealed over time, in both tiny glimpses and dramatic-but-excruciating exposure, was my compromise and compliance, the well-learned practice of holding my tongue, the ever-present awareness that I was not being honest, not being my (big) self, not living my external life in alignment with my inner one. And at the end of the day, when I took a good, long look at the spreadsheet, I couldn’t reconcile them. Painful to acknowledge (I can feel it even still – though years have passed) . Heart-breaking to walk away from. And ultimately a simple (though not easy) choice between being big or staying small.

I wish I could tell you that seeing these costs and consequences offered me an immediate spike in adrenalin, strength, and courage; that I was able to simply. walk. away. Nope. It was messy. It took far too long. Not a bit of it went as I might have wished. Here’s what I will tell you, though: every bit of it, even (and maybe especially) the messy parts, have helped me learn what to do next time – far faster and with much more capacity and confidence – in relationships, in my work, in leaving my most recent job, and in response to the insipid and endless cultural demand to conform.

We become big – not all at once, but because we practice….and fail.

We become big because we let a story like Eve’s remind us of who we actually are: here to take up space, to say our words, and to claim our desires. We become big because we choose, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and sometimes, necessarily, minute-by-minute, to be sovereign – to trust our wisdom, to use our strength, and to soak in the grace that is inherently, always ours to receive and to give. And good news: there is so much more bigness yet to be experienced and expressed within and through us; it’s limitless, expansive, and infinite.


We are here to be big, bigger, ginormous! No matter the cost, the consequences, the fallout. Maybe and especially because of them! 


Back to Holly Whitaker’s point, once we’ve learned to be big, then we can learn to be small (in the best ways); we can learn to be both at the very same time. Because we are that amazing, that complex, that brilliant, that wise, that strong. All that and then some.

May it be so.



Again, I am not naive – nor are you. This is hard work and it lasts a lifetime. It deserves your attention and vast, extravagant support. And it’s what I’m building, even now, through SOVEREIGNTY – an online program. I’d love for you to know about it, to experience it, when it’s ready to be birthed into the world. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

In the meantime, please join my Facebook Group – also called SOVEREIGNTY – for inspiration, encouragement, and conversation with other amazing women…just like you.
[Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash]

Unraveling “small” on behalf of “big”

We must learn to be big in a way we’ve never been big – we must claim our right to take up space, to say our words, to claim our desires. We must also learn to be small in a way we’ve never been small – to be in service, led not by our egos or by our desire for material goods or by our fears and aversions, but by our desire to be liberated from these things. And we must do both at the same time. 

I immediately highlighted this quote while reading Holly Whitaker’s book, Quit Like A Woman. I “mmm-hmm’d” out loud. And her words dropped right into my center. You’ve had those experiences, yes? You hear something, read something, see something, and you just know it is deeply, powerfully true. (This happened multiple times throughout: my highest of recommendations!)

We must learn to be big in a way we’ve never been big….We must also learn to be small in a way we’ve never been small… 

Let’s be honest. That first phrase inspires us: We must learn to be big in a way we’ve never been big. ”YES!” we shout to the Universe as we sit up a little taller and feel a little stronger. That second phrase? We must also learn to be small. I’m quite certain it’s on-purpose that it’s named after the first. I’m also quite certain that for most of us, it got our attention, our acknowledgement, and our (re)commitment. No “YES!”, but a resigned awareness, a heavy sigh, and shoulders that slump just the tiniest, imperceptible bit.

So why the different response to each? Both matter – big and small. We hardly disagree with Whitaker’s words.

Here’s why:

Being small is what we default to. It’s what we know to do. It’s what we’ve been conditioned to do our whole lives as girls-then-women. True, at its best, it is a good and lovely thing: to serve, to extend compassion, to put others before ourselves, to tamp down our own desires on behalf of something larger, better, and “other” than us. In many ways, it’s a marker of growth and maturity – this ability and willingness to intentionally choose the higher good over our own.


(You knew one was coming, right?)

We are so good at this that we’ve lost sight of what happens when the “higher good” isn’t anything close and instead, we’re choosing anything and everyone over ourselves, most often without even being aware that it’s happening.

I learned this lesson well growing up and, let me be clear, with the best of intentions; nothing about it was overtly malicious or maligned. You probably learned it, too – among many other things, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

My mom had a series of hand motions she taught me so that I could remember. It was like putting on a glove – each word being the slightest tug onto a finger until finally it was completely in place:

Do – thumb
unto – index finger
others – middle finger
as – ring finger
you – pinky finger; then turning your hand around to the other side…
would – pinky finger
have – ring finger
others – middle finger
do – index finger
unto – thumb
you – gently pull the glove down completely, smoothing it out and over your wrist

Translated: be good, be kind, be generous, put others first (because, of course, you want them to put you first…which, oddly, they never seem to do). Don’t gossip, don’t be mean, don’t hit, don’t lie, don’t hurt anyone’s feelings (because, of course, you don’t want them to hurt yours, even though, apparently, they didn’t get the same mnemonic device or memo that I did). And the outcome of this? We become small. The motivation was pure; but over time, it became the very way in which we were diminished and, too often, destroyed – one word, one finger, one glove, one “do unto others” at a time. We look up – now in our teens or twenties or thirties or forties or fifties or sixties (you get the idea) – and wonder how, where, and when we disappeared.

We’ve gotten so good at these behaviors, at being small, that we’ve defined ourselves by their presence and consistency, shamed ourselves when we’ve fallen short, and lost ourselves in the process. 


Which is why Holly Whitaker also says this:

Perhaps before we can learn to be both big and small at the same time, we first have to learn to be big…I’ve had to learn to get big, in order to practice being small. 

practice being small.

This is what we need where small is concerned. Most of us don’t actually know how to be small in ways that don’t consume us or find us constantly complying and compromising. We need to learn.

What if small doesn’t mean losing space or strength or power or voice? What if small doesn’t mean sacrificing self? What if small doesn’t mean apologizing or taking the back burner or being patient (yet again)?

If any of these things are true (note: all of them are), then Whitaker is right: we need lots of practice.

…we first have to learn to be big.

(It’s my next blog post, I promise.)


I have learned that before I can even hope to step into new ways of being, big ways of being, sovereign ways of being, I have to unravel and deconstruct my known ways, my common ways, the part of me that feels like DNA. I have to look under the rug and into the dark corners of my mind. I have to be willing to acknowledge (without shame) the lessons I’ve incorporated over a lifetime – from whom and why – and then begin playing those tapes s l o w l y forward – watching each scene unfold. I must look at individual narratives (those I’ve been told and those I tell myself), watch myself within them, and with massive grace, begin-and-continue-to understand how I’ve become who I am.

I have done a lot of this in the past twenty years. It’s not been easy or simple – this thread-by-thread, story-by-story unraveling of all that’s made me who I am.


I go through seasons in which I take up either knitting or crocheting – another thing my mom taught me. I love the practice of it, the experience, the rhythm, the calm. It comes to mind right now – as it relates to unraveling.

If I’m crocheting and I spot a mistake I can quickly unravel to that point and nothing is at risk. The yarn and loops and twists all stay in place when you crochet. It only unravels when I unravel it – with little-to-no risk. Unlike knitting…

When I spot a mistake while knitting I now have to make a very difficult decision: do I fix it, or not? To unravel means that I have to painstakingly unloop each stitch and, simultaneously, put its predecessor back on the needle. I can’t pull too hard. I can’t stop in-process. If I succumb to my frustration or impatience, it can’t be salvaged.

Here’s the thing: I often choose crocheting because of this very reason. It’s far easier – both to fix and to finish! But were I given the choice of a completed blanket or sweater or scarf (that someone else made for me), I’d choose something knitted. It is more complex. It is more smooth. It is more elegant. It is more beautiful, at least to my eye.

My life is not crocheted. Nor is yours. We’re knitted together. And to unravel that knitting, those stories, those DNA-level lessons, is precarious work indeed, not to be taken lightly, and requires great intention, patience, and care – as well as a deep commitment to the value of the fixand the finished “product” we’re working toward.

To step into the life we long to live – to be big, we must claim our right to take up space, to say our words, to claim our desires. But that cannot happen, at least at full capacity and glory and amazing-ness, until we understand why “small” feels far more natural, far easier. We must understand why it has been required of us – even demanded (hint: patriarchy). To be big, we must unravel our stories of small. Then we can begin (re)creating; row after row of experiences and decisions and characteristics and ways of being that are informed by how small (at least as we’ve been trained to understand and express it) has not done us enough favors, what being big requires of us, and who we are when we can finally choose both.




The word I use for all of this – the work of becoming all of who you are, stepping into your deep and inherent wisdom, demonstrating strength, and extending yourself (and others) grace along the way is SOVEREIGNTY.

I have a Facebook Group called by the same name that I’d LOVE for you to join. And I’m working on a program that is week’s away from being released – filled with these very processes and practices, naming truths and telling stories and unraveling beliefs that hinder; being big (and small). SUBSCRIBE to get notification of when it’s available for you. 


[Photo by Marina Ermakova 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.




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.


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 Grace Notes (a free weekly blessing from me + a divine feminine voice), through Readings, and through Sovereignty – my soon-to-be-made-available 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.

[Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash]