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The Shame Game

I recently made a comment on Facebook (my first mistake) that sparked some curious responses. So I am doing what I do best. Not responding on Facebook in a comment, but writing an entire blog arguing my point. Because I still value critical thinking skills, especially in today’s age. Having an opinion and using logic and informed decisions to defend that opinion is crucial to understanding opinion can co-exist with respect. So, as I was taught so well as a public policy major, I present my case.

Here is the very comment I posted on FacebookAre fitness leggings and sports bra / crop top a new airport attire trend I am not aware of?

While some people supported my statement whole heartedly (mostly those over the age of 40 — shit now I’m an ageist!), others immediately got defensive and made their case for why they wore leggings to the airport or dressed as if they immediately walked out of a gym to step on the plane. Others commented that my statement was body shaming and judgmental — that I was tearing down other women and contributing to a culture that shames victims (I assume of rape and sexual harassment) and slut shames.

There are several points to make here.

First, there is a difference between an opinion or a judgment and shaming. I said nothing about the size, shape, or appearance of the women’s bodies themselves. I didn’t go up to any of the women at the airport and tell them they shouldn’t dress like that. Or that they looked terrible. Or that they should be ashamed of their bodies and request they cover them up. I made an observation. This observation led to yes, I admit it, an unspoken opinion: that gym wear is not appropriate to wear to the airport. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, however, as I mentioned, this seemed to be a trend.

If these women were comfortable in that outfit, God bless them. I don’t care if Giselle cruised by me in Terminal 4 with a sports bra and leggings. I’d still think it was inappropriate to wear in the airport.

If you’re my friend and you wear a sports bra and leggings to the airport, I will think that you could have made a better choice. You still have a right to make that choice regardless of my opinion. I’ll still love you. Your personal choices have nothing to do with our friendship. (Unless you are choosing murder or cocaine or wearing Birkenstocks out in public . . . then we’d have to talk.) Lord knows what my friends have thought of my choice of men over the past twenty years. And honestly, they probably were right and I should have listened to them.

It also depends on the friendship. Is this a friendship built on years of trust and mutual respect? Or is it a Facebook friendship? There is a difference.

Which brings me to my next point. Why does everyone take an opinion as a personal affront these days? I think people are taking Brene Brown’s famous TED Talk a little too far. Yes, it’s terrible to grow up with constant shame from a parent or being bullied when you’re little. This leads to developmental trauma, which, if remains unexamined, can spark unconscious reactions that may not be warranted as an adult. And yes, shaming also occurs as a method to keep victims silent.

But I wasn’t talking about sexual assault or even something I considered remotely serious. (Please take everything I say on Facebook with a grain of salt. Have you seen my last two videos?) I assume if you are reading this you are a grown adult. Get a backbone. Not everyone is pointing a finger. Even if they are — who cares? Do you know the person making the comment? Do you love them or care about what they think? If the answer is no, move on. Is it a Facebook post? If the answer is yes, move on.

This is called critical thinking. Being able to discern thoughts from behavior. To potentially have a judgment and in the moment know that you’re having a judgment and choose to not react in the moment is called discernment.

(It’s also called using social media for what it’s worth which is frivolous opinion and not important issues, but I’m old school.)

Even if I did have the audacity to go up to one of these lovely young women and say Excuse me, I feel like your outfit is totally inappropriate for airport travel, she would be well within her right to say Piss off old lady. My reaction to that is up to me. Would I throw down and start a fight? Hell, no. I’d walk away and say fair enough. Her life.

And why are we so afraid of shame? Wouldn’t you want Derek Chauvin to feel a smidge of shame? How about a cheating husband? Shame, like every other emotion in the range of humanness is valid and it belongs to no one else but ourselves. It’s how we process it that counts. Can our shame be used as a force for good and move us to positive action? Or do we allow others to leverage it against us and defeat us? That is a choice.

I’d also like to address the comment saying “I’m surprised coming from you . . .” Why? Because I have an opinion? Or because I’ve promoted body positivity and been candid about my struggles with my own f’d up body image? Yes, absolutely — I am sensitive to women’s emotions and attitudes towards their bodies. Very sensitive. But I also believe there should be some set of decorum in airport attire when traveling. One has nothing to do with the other.

Isn’t this, by the way reverse shaming? Shaming me for having an opinion? Now you want to silence how I feel? Shame on you.

When does anyone comment on men’s airport attire? one comment asked. Right now. I am an equal opportunity judge. Find me a guy walking around the airport in a tank top, basketball shorts and Adidas pool flip flops with socks underneath and I’ll say the same thing — inappropriate. Will I go up to him and tell him he’s wrong or to get his shit together? No. But you can’t stop me from thinking it. He’s still free to wear them but if he asked me out on a date I would say no.

This is called human decency and it’s why we don’t all go around telling people what we think. But if you’re one of those people who let everything roll from their brain out their mouth — God bless you. Doesn’t bother me either way. Unless you’re my mother. And then my shit gets triggered.

If you think you carry no judgment let me ask you how you feel about people who vote for Trump? Or Biden? Or a pro-lifer? Or a pro-choicer?

Hold up a mirror. We all do it. How you handle your judgment is up to you.

There is no Utopia. Humans are messy, sloppy, feeling, wrong-doing, right-doing people, opinionated and God bless us, judgmental people.

We are all swimming in vomit of shame and blame. From where I stand, as long as you clean up your own puke, you’re good by me.

#TBT

Wednesday, Christmas Day, 2002

Could I be any more blessed? I say that truly meaning it and not just writing the words to pretend that all is wonderful and perfect. But seriously, I am sitting on a sandy beach on a warm sunny windy day able to marvel at the wonder of the vast Atlantic Ocean in front of me, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I realize I have been somewhat taking my week here for granter. When I think about the minutes, hours, time wasted on bickering with my mother, being angry, etc. This time may not come again but so often I lose recognition of that fact in the moments where I find myself annoyed, bothered, angry, etc. I don’t beat myself up for it because I am a highly reactive, emotional and feeling individual. however, the better I am at replacing those negative feelings with ones of compassion and love, the happier I will be. Sure, I don’t doubt that I will continue to be an opinionated person, but that’s why I have the stage, Jennifer. Use those where they will be most appreciated. And try to come to terms with your family, that they aren’t going to change. I know I write this all the time, but realize that the more you try, the more you set yourself up for disappointment and hurt. Turn to other relationships for support in yourcraft and day to day struggles. Cultivate those realtionships that will make you grow – stronger, better. You just re-connected with Laura to find you have so much in common. Doug is another. YiaYia, too. She is most supportive. I think you know, in your heart though, moving to NYC is not for you right now. Right now you need to embark on your own path – whatever it may be, with the confidence that you and only you know what is right for you. Talking it over with your friends, family, lovers (?), teddy bears (!), whatever, may help you discover these things for yourself by verbalizing what is in your heart – but only you know ad only you can make your decisions based on what is in your heart.

And please don’t berate or belittle yourself if things aren’t going as you think they should or as fast as you think they should. You are where you are meant to be. Remember that. This next year’s endeavors may be tough, but your rewards will be great. And you will be happy. Continue not to lose the love and light in your heart and treat every single person you meet as an opportunity to share your light and bright personality. And your gifts. Sure, there will be some dog days when you’d like to say “Fuck You” to the world. So go ahead. Do it. And then let it go and be done with it.

Monitor your ambition. Keep it focused and don’t allow it to run you ragged. Go after the things you are most fearful of – a successful relationship, career whatever. Just do it.

Connect, Jennifer. That is your strength. No matter how you do it, whatever your medium, connect with people. You are so good at it. As you were walking down the beach just now, something Patty said to you resonated in your head . . . “Look up. Don’t look down or at the floor when you dance.” that is a good metaphor for life, Jennifer. Don’t look down or avoid that opportunity for a connection with people. That’s how you affect people, Jennifer. Communicate with them. Don’t be afraid to reveal or show yourself. Who you are. What’s inside of you. Believe that what you have to express will better people’s lives. Either make them happy or force them to explore parts of themselves and emotions they never knew were there. That is your purpose. Your charge, your calling. That is what I am challenging you to do, to accomplish.

Don’t fear. I will be here – there – in all ways to guide you if you move ahead with courage, conviction and fortitude.

Lost

Nature has always been my go to for when I’m feeling lost with no direction. Or bored and aimless. It gives me someplace to go. Something to do. I have a hard time sticking to well marked trails. I want to prolong my hike, see parts of the land others haven’t seen. I’ll venture off just to the left or right or to some unmarked territory.

I like to get lost. My head empties seemingly making space for ideas and inspiration. I have so many random ideas and musings in the notes section of my phone I should compile a book. I would title it Random Thoughts Inspired By Hikes That Have Nothing To Do With Each Other. Often times, some great lesson will reveal itself to me. As if She has been trying to tell me something all along and all I needed to do was come to Her to receive the message.

I hear Her when I’m wandering around Her land. Her voice filling my head. This is what happened the other day when I got lost in Malibu. On my way into the trail, I took note of a creek. So when I lost reception and access to my trail map and came upon the creek, I figured I’d simply follow it and it would lead me back home. It was at this moment I heard Her. You go above and beyond the path laid out by others. You wind and twist and take routes unestablished. It may take you longer to get home , but just think of everything you got to see that others didn’t.

I was happy to be lost until I came to a part in the creek where I wasn’t able to pass. My only option was to go back up the hill in hopes of finding a trail again. I literally clawed my way up the mountain where I would slide back down about every tenth step. The fires had left little vegetation for anything to hold onto – including my feet. One second a burned branch would be my lifeline as I would grab it with my hands to pull myself up. The next moment it would taunt me as it’s charred pointed end would catch my shirt, insisting I stay right where I was if not fall back. What began so beautifully ended up somewhat treacherous. Eventually, I made my way up and stumbled upon a ranch with some lovely horses. I pet the horses muzzle and immediately felt relieved knowing I’d be okay. I was on private property but no one saw me as I crept through the ranch eventually finding a gate with a passable door that led to a paved road. I was exhausted and dirty and ready to follow the well established route home.

I learned so much from Mother Nature that day. She can destroy as easily as she regenerates but destruction happens so quickly and regeneration takes much more time. Things can turn on a dime. You never know what may be just around the bend. So keep walking. Keep falling. Keep showing up.

You were never lost. You were always on the path. It just didn’t look like everyone else’s. You likely got a bit dirtier, tripped and stumbled more than the others. But all of this is preparation for a sweet reward that awaits you at the end. The reward may look the same as anyone else’s, but to you it will taste so much sweeter and what you’ve gained along the way is rare. Like heaven right here on Earth. Indulge in the reward. Savor it. It is yours.

EMPTY

Sometimes I do it on purpose. Play the sad song. Because I can feel it  sitting in my throat. The big old lump that just won’t seem to budge on its own.

So I open Spotify, search for Sarah McLachlan and hit play. Usually the first song that plays is Angel. Fool proof. The tears stream and energy seems to move, albeit slowly. But the lump is not gone by the end of the song. So I find another song. Gravity by Sara Bareilles. Another good choice. The tears run.

And I let them. With every waterworks, every big old messy fucking yawn, every stretch and crack and pop of my joints – I can breathe a little easier.

These are messy moments. The salt water mixed with mascara. My shorter hair doesn’t completely pull back into a ponytail so it falls alternately in my face and then gets pushed back, wet with tears. These are not the dainty Awwww, she’s sad kind of cries. These are ugly fucking cries.

Maybe I’m just tired. I know I’m tired of trying to figure this out. Who knows. It could be some deep ancestral trauma or an ex-boyfriend or a couple times of sex that I wished was a boyfriend or the last episode of Transparent I just watched.

If I close my eyes and let it continue to flow, eventually . . . eventually, I feel empty. Empty and exhausted. And that’s a good place to start.

And now, Rocket Man.

Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

Selling Shit

I don’t want to sell you anything. I don’t have a course or a program or a product or an image or a system to sell you. Wait. Yes, I do. I have workouts and videos and tutorials you can purchase and watch. However, I don’t do much to tell you that I have these things or spread the word. In this day and age, it requires too much time to wave you down, screaming “HEY LOOK AT ME!” And I don’t have the stamina for that.

I try every now and then – to post something on Instagram or Facebook that will direct you to my shit for sale. Or to amass a big enough following so that no matter what shit I sell, you buy it. From what I understand social media marketing requires constant, carefully crafted messages and images to be successful. That means ME ME ME all the time. I can do me a lot of the time, but eventually, I lose steam. Even if I think what ME is offering is valuable.

Truth be told, I have many fabulous friends on social media, but if they are selling something, I get sick of seeing their shit, too.

So I now find myself in conundrum. I could produce more content and pump out more information, but that would require me promoting that content and trying to make you look at ME in a sea of other yoga and nutrition and wellness people. I hesitate to use the word ‘expert’ because some of the shit that people are listening to, watching and following the most, are from those under 30 years old with a 200 hour training under their belt and few years lived. I’m not saying you have to be old to have something to offer this world, but when it comes to the category of personal growth, time, trials and tribulations are a pre-requisite for significant change. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I don’t see many.

It’s already so LOUD out there. I hesitate to add to the noise.

I don’t really want to manage you either. Although, I’ve done that, too. Managing a team or even one person always felt like adult babysitting. Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t really want to be responsible for anyone else. Their successes or their failures. I think everyone has to do that on his or her own. Although I’m glad there are people that do enjoy managing others and people that like being managed. Or else everyone would be running around aimlessly with no direction. Kind of like me. Makes sense because I don’t particularly care for being managed either. This knocks out a whole other category of employment for me. Quite a large one at that.

I could continue to be a teacher. I enjoy it. I even love teaching on camera. I do from time to time feel like I have something to offer. But I’m too old and frankly tired to get on top of the mountain and shout about it. I don’t enjoy what it takes these days to tell people about what I teach or to earn a living at it. I get thrown back into the social media pickle. (However, if someone would like to hire me to tell people about your amazing product, I’d be happy to do so. If it really is an amazing product.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should be doing what, in my heart, I’ve always wanted to do. Create and share stories. I have a wicked imagination. Before any of the dramas of my own life have concluded, I’ve already schemed up twenty different endings.

I can share stories via my body with dance. I can share stories via word – both spoken and written. I can act out other people’s stories via, well, acting. I am an artist. It took me 45 years to figure this out, but here I am.

Now I just have to figure out how to not be a starving one.

Involuntary Detox

You don’t believe in Mercury Retrograde you say? Ha.

A tree knocked down a power line by our house Friday. We were the only property without electricity. Or internet. Seriously. My neighbors all had power. Every. Single. One. Of them. Just us. Because of this, as you can imagine, the power company was in no particular rush to fix one power line providing power to one house in the middle of a canyon, CA . Luckily, for all my bitching and moaning, my landlord is the guy you want around in a situation like this. The same man that refused to evacuate during the Malibu fires this past Fall. He lived on a generator for almost a week. He’s pretty handy like that.

So electricity was not a concern. At least between the hours of 7am and 11pm or so at which time he’d turn off the generator. Luckily, I don’t keep meat in the fridge nor did I have any cheese in there. All other food would survive intermittent temperature drops. And on the off chance I’d happen to be awake after 11pm and wanted to read, it would be candle city for me. Just like the old days.

That leaves the internet, which even though my phone and computer both insist I have full connectivity, doesn’t seem to work. Which means I have no connection to the outer world. If you’ve ever tried to have a phone conversation with me while I’m at home, you know what a futile attempt that is. I have no reception here on the mountain. Without WiFi, I’m no better than that guy on a deserted island with Wilson the volleyball. At least I have Zeus.

Here’s the real punch line: Frontier, our cable provider, can’t come out to fix this mess until March 14th. That’s five days from now. (And I’ve already been without for this whole weekend.) No communication. Once my car makes that last curve around the bend up to my house, I’m cut off.

No trolling Facebook because I’m bored. No scrolling Instagram for the high of seeing who hearted my most recent photo. No posting the fabulous things I’m cooking up or drinking at home. No scenic sunsets from my deck in my stories (that one’s kind of a shame) or cute cat photos of Prince Zeus (how will you live?!?!?)  What’s a gal to do?

I’m considering the rest of this week as a forced vacation. A staycation if you will. I will read (please pass along to die for book recommendations). I will write – this being the first in what may turn out to be daily blogs. Maybe without so much fucking distraction my mind will find the space to offer some clarity around what the hell I should be doing with my life.

After turning down a pretty great job last week, I’ve already experienced extreme discomfort concerning the big gaps in my calendar. I’m talking DAYS of nothing in that little square box except a friend’s birthday. So. Much. Time. I’m squirming. Without my beloved internet – shit’s about to get real as the kids say. Not to mention QUIET. No internet for me means no Netflix. And virtually no MUSIC. If you don’t hear from me in the next 48 hours, send the authorities. I may have died from a broken heart. 

My Staycation

As of Friday December 21st, I gave myself permission to take a two week stay-cation. I decided due to the expense of travel during the holiday coupled with a deep desire to go nowhere and do no-thing, to stay put in Los Angeles. I was looking forward to sticking around while everyone else left. L.A. is best when half the town leaves. You can get from the west side to the middle of Hollywood in less than 40 minutes. That’s unheard of on even the best of days here in the City Of Angels. I actually enjoy driving as long as I can move unobstructed by other cars. I love driving fast even more. (It’s particularly satisfying driving north on PCH with a stick shift.) I roll the windows down, crank the music, sing loud and feel free. Other times, I just listen to the wind in complete silence. Either way, it’s a meditative experience for me.

I told myself I wasn’t going to work for two weeks. That I would take time for personal projects and self care. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the last two weeks of 2018. The two weeks prior had been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I had been feeling tired, lost and sad. I assumed my heavy mood would extend into the holidays and maybe even intensify given the particular amount of loneliness one can tend to feel this time of year.

I experienced just the opposite. The past two weeks has been fulfilling and inspiring in ways I couldn’t imagine. I binge watched my now favorite episodic – Californication. And while for many the show may have confirmed that L.A. is nothing but a cesspool of vapid wanna be artists, it made me fall in love with my town all over again – its landscapes, its debauchery and its ability to continually inspire (and simultaneously ass kick) any who have aspirations for a creative life.

I began writing again. Not in the long form ways (like this blog) that I feel compelled to share with the world, but just musings and short poems and random thoughts – streams of consciousness that may or may not have a public life somewhere down the road. I wrote in ways that were personally satisfying.

I began dreaming again – allowing my imagination to open avenues of creativity for me. Thinking of all the possibilities this town holds, excited for what’s to come and the ride that 2019 will take me on.

And while I told myself I wasn’t going to work – I did here and there. Which proved to me, that no matter what, I know I will always be motivated to move ahead. I suppose I needed that confirmation.

Somewhere in the past two weeks, I began to trust myself more. Trust what I’m feeling called to do. Where I’m guided to go. I let go of the should’s and shouldn’t’s and gleaned what I was doing out of necessity and what I was doing from sheer love.

I drank (quite) a bit, I moved a bit, and I expressed a lot in all forms. By golly, I had FUN. I found pleasure in life in so many ways. I found what has been missing for so many years.

Given how not busy my life was, I had plenty of time for social media and other distractions. However, I had no desire to post much of anything. I had nothing to say. I was too busy LIVING my life rather than pontificating about it. A whole day would go by and somehow, I just couldn’t find the time for Instagram.

While I know my life will ramp up as the New Year moves forward and that I am never completely free of the darkness that sometimes distinguishes my light, I am going to try my darndest to carry these past two weeks with me. The ease. The joy. The disinterest for what I thought my life was supposed to be or look like. Because I’m too busy enjoying what it is.

Finding My Feminine

I was gladly traveling in London and Paris while the debacle of the Kavanaugh hearings were unfolding. I did not hear or see much of anything until one day I opened Facebook to a slew of posts referencing Kavanaugh’s impulsive and juvenile responses to the accusations from Dr. Ford. And in contrast, her cool, collected posture in the face of what was likely a pressure cooker. Watching just a half hour of the shit show was enough to bring me back to the reality of what’s happening in our society – at home and abroad.

Over the past year or so, I have chosen to, for the most part, stay silent concerning the #MeToo movement. With exception, when the movement began, I posted one blog about my own sexual assault while in college – a memory I had blocked until May of 2017. I have been marinating in the up and down emotions of that trauma ever since, attempting to shield myself from the outside influences from the hashtag movement. I wanted to go through my own healing process and come to my own understandings of how my story shaped my life and how I could learn and grow from the incident.

At first, I thought resurrecting and coming to terms with the events of the night of my assault was my solution – my key to freedom from a heaviness that weighed on my heart for over twenty years. And while I did feel a not insignificant load lift, the truth of what happened so many years ago simply nudged the door open, allowing a sliver of light in. It turned out to be just the beginning of what has been a consistent and growing understanding of the contrasting Masculine and the Feminine energies – in myself and the world.

Let me come clean – I am not a feminist. I have struggled with the #MeToo movement since it began. Something just hasn’t sat well with me. It seems to put women in the role of victim, taking men to task and retaliating at them for all the wrong they have done. Frankly, it feels like a lynching of the Masculine. The I am woman hear me roar voice stronger than ever, castrating anyone with a penis. “Time’s up” seems to be a masculine response to a masculine issue. In my opinion, women have far more to gain from an I am woman, watch me love and forgive battle cry.

I am by no means suggesting that women stay silent. We need to keep exposing all the dirty, ugly reality of the massive disrespect for the Feminine. But maybe we can focus less on the stories of what happened to us as women and more on what those stories are teaching us and how to heal and move forward.

I don’t believe we can simply stand on our Goddess podiums and point fingers. We need to turn some of this scrutiny on ourselves. When I realized how much I myself contributed to a society that values, above all, the shadow masculine qualities of power, achievement, prestige and social status, I cried for days.

I am the queen of take control of the situation and kick ass. Get it done because you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. But for the past 18 months or so, more and more, I’ve been forced to surrender. To find my strength not in fighting but in faith. To turn it over to something bigger than me. To find fluidity and dance with grace. To embrace my mercurial moods and shifts. To sit with myself – my Feminine self – over and over again and watch my own resistance to it. In a world that doesn’t seem to honor this way of operating, I continue to learn to embrace everything fluid and divinely Feminine about me. For She is a part of my essence, more than I could have ever imagined.

Yet everything I learned growing up became a shield to protect the sensitive, feminine, highly intuitive woman that’s always been inside me. I learned to play in the sandbox with the men – I was the ‘guy’s girl’. I drank beer. I watched football. I thought it was the only way to succeed. I wanted men’s attention, their praise. Simultaneously, I shunned women that were too ‘girly’. I dismissed many women as petty and jealous. I always ‘just got along better with the guys.’ This worked for a long time. Except in romantic relationships. Because I was a wounded female, I attracted wounded males, with a couple of exceptions. I tried to play the games these men would play but wasn’t very good at it. Mostly I got my heart broke.

As I began to dismantle the masks of masculinity that I wore, I uncovered more of who I truly was. Returning to my most authentic Feminine form has been and continues to be a lot of work. A lot of reprogramming. But I’m finding the more I honor and respect my Feminine the more I meet men willing to do the same. I’m learning not to hate men and expect the worse from them. I’ve begun to cut them some slack and allow them the space to heal, as I have needed to do the same for myself. At the same time I’m raising the bar a little higher than what previously has been acceptable in all of my relationships.

We need men and their ‘dude’ ways. The strength, stability, confidence and purpose a self realized man brings to the table is attractive. It’s valuable and it’s necessary. We need more of these ‘real men’ in the world and we need to help them get there by encouraging them to heal themselves and embracing them as they go through their own grieving process. The more we shame and degrade them, the more they will feel the need to ‘man up’ and defend themselves with the shadow side of the Masculine. The side that puts the accumulation of power, prestige and wealth on a pedestal.

Yes, men need to take responsibility for assaults and abuse they’ve perpetrated. Especially those that have taken advantage of their rank and position. However, women, so do we. How have we diminished the most beautiful and sacred Feminine qualities of ourselves to fit into this society? How have we stepped aside, stepped down and allowed it? How have we given away our power? And most importantly, where have we failed at honoring ourselves?

We don’t need to change the rules, ladies. We need to change the game. We can start with changing ourselves.

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