Hello, lovelies. I’m so glad to be here.
I’m a believer in the natural life cycle of all things, and the wisdom of fully inhabiting each stage. In my work I call this Unfurling. For me, writing for the Tribe at Roots of She wasn’t possible until now, because of where I was in my own unfurling journey.
Part of my process has been the dance I’ve been doing with myself as a writer, a dance that has involved long periods of incubation and quiet regeneration and peacemaking and writing words no one will ever see.
And in order to be authentic – which is a non-negotiable at this point in my life – I’ve had to be patient as I step into who I’m becoming. These things won’t be rushed. People-pleasing, affirmation-seeking tendencies have tried their best to creep in around the edges, but they aren’t allowed in. Not this time.
Showing up and sharing my voice here is part of stepping out from the comfort of my cocoon and exposing my soft underbelly to the night air. (Here’s me taking a deep breath and readjusting my coat). What makes it okay – no, what makes me smile with calm knowing – is that YOU are the recipients of my words.
I’m ready for the honor of writing here. I know I’m ready because along with butterflies of anticipation and the occasional whisper of doubt, I’m at ease. Yes, ease. Ease is the hallmark of unfurling.
My intention is to share with you who I’m becoming this time around, because my experience might spark something healing or affirming or wonderful in you. I will write about the joys and the challenges that come along with this particular stage of the cycle for me, and I’ll welcome any conversation that bubbles up.
So I thought I might share a few tidbits about who I’ve been up until now:
:: I traded my historic East Coast town that never felt like “home” for the West Coast 18 years ago. Never looked back.
:: I speak an obscure African language that has no past or future tense.
:: I feel most alive in the company of pounding surf and white hot sun.
:: In birthing my two babies at home I birthed myself as a woman. Truth.
:: My two most favorite moments of the day: when my young daughter gets on the yellow bus in the morning, and when she gets off it in the afternoon
:: I deeply appreciate what author Miriam Greenspan calls “the fecundity of the dark emotions”. I’m crazy grateful for tearstained journals and long phone calls late at night.
:: I am more comfortable dancing than walking. And I still sweat when I think about standing backstage as a kid, waiting to perform. Never again.
:: I drink green juice alongside a double shot of espresso most mornings
:: My favorite music is what I listened to at 20 : the Indigo Girls, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor
:: I met my husband on the eve of the millennium, and we are beginning divorce proceedings twelve years – to the day – later.
Thank you for receiving me as a member of the Winter Tribe. I happen to be speaking at the moment, but we’re sharing the space in that way we do so well. We hold each other here, hearts open and minds curious. Connected and yet alone. We support and are supported as we each investigate who we’re becoming.
Feeling My Way – The Full Embrace of Embodiment
My word for 2013 is embody. Actually there are a cluster of words that surround this chosen one : shine, courage, emanate, radiate, trust, know, love, be.
And along with the words, there’s a felt sense that accompanies embody. I can best describe it as that pause after a deep exhale, the kind that empties your belly top to bottom.
Embodying something means knowing it in your bones. Feeling it in your cells. Living it from your center.
It’s dancing your life, rather than making a speech about it.
The Many Gifts of Introspection
Don’t get me wrong : I love words. I consider myself an artisan conversationalist whose gift is to invite fellow seekers to excavate what’s in their hearts and bring it out for discussion. This is what I do on the bus, in line at the bank, with my best friends, in my coaching practice.
And along with my appreciation for the language of inner journeying, I spend most of my time in my head. Many of us do – especially those of us who inhabit female bodies that have been treated with varying degrees of love and trust.
I’m part of the musing, thinking, analyzing tribe. Are you, too? I have filled bookshelves with journals; got my first one at age 8 and the latest one yesterday (Orange moleskine. Yum). When I’m heartsick the first place I go is to the page, where I suss out what I’m feeling as I puzzle out the words that give it shape.
There’s a beauty in the practice of deep thinking. I’m grateful for my ability to name, to reason and to invite emotion to flow through my thoughts. I am awed by what I learn about myself in the process of “processing”. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Concept vs. direct experience
I also see where language limits my experience of knowing.
(It’s ironic that I’m writing about this, isn’t it?)
When I go looking, I can find corners of myself that are murky and hard to access. Areas I’m unfamiliar with. Parts that are still cocooned, growing themselves in private and not yet ready for the world
My first instinct is to name these areas, to befriend them or at least offer them a landing place within my psyche. And some of them are unnamable, unformed, clumps of pain that don’t play nice with the other parts of me. They aren’t meant to be dealt with through words : when I ascribe them titles like hurt, or frustration, or unknowing, or anger, or shame I feel a hollow relief that only lasts a few moments.
This is where thinking/processing/understanding fails, and where direct experience – embodiment – is the only way to be with what is.
Trusting What I Find
There are reasons, I think, for my willingness to shut down embodiment.
Primarily it’s about trust. The body is an exquisite instrument, and unbelievably generous with its wisdom. It provides us with clues and information again and again, whether we say Yes to it or not. My body has delivered me lessons on survival (when I was starving myself as a teenager), shame (when my weight see-sawed in my twenties), flexibility and grace (through the gift of dance), superhuman strength (in birthing my babies at home) and, mercifully, self-love (in finally making peace with my physical form as a woman).
As Martha Graham wisely preaches, The body says what words cannot. When we absorb the teachings our bodies offer, we experience ourselves fully. We emanate the beauty that is uniquely ours. We show up.
Clarity + Courage
I’m cultivating embodiment right now in a way I haven’t been able before. It means giving up some of what I have finessed so long and so well – my facility with words and my knack for focusing only on the parts I can figure out. And it means being open to hearing the body’s wisdom, even if it’s hard to accept.
Embodiment is only possible when we are willing to seep into all the parts of ourselves, leaving nothing behind. I recognize this willingness here and now.
I’m in a fresh new place in my life, bright with pain. My marriage is ending, and I’m walking an unfamiliar path. The thinking me wants to put plans in place, journal through the dark bits, work out answers to open questions. But I see the limits of this approach, and am pulled by a deeper sense of how to navigate the terrain – to feel into it. To allow animal wails to work their way out of my womb, to follow my gut through movements on the dance floor, to stand in the wind and rain, feeling for clues.
Amazingly, what I notice most is the sense of clarity in my heart. It’s a clarity not related to specifics or thoughts or analyses … it’s the clarity of having closed out a chapter that was keeping me from fully inhabiting myself. With the certainty of divorce, I’m no longer feeling like a fraud. The incongruity that was crippling me is now gone, and in its place is calm knowing.
From here, I know what to do. I listen to my wise body for clues, and I follow the breadcrumbs. I practice courage, which doesn’t mean I’m a fear-slayer but rather an open-hearted and vulnerable explorer. I lean on my allies, seen and unseen. My feet are on the path. My breath is my guide.
My word is embody.