July 2, 2015

Finding freedom inside obligation.

freedom-obligation

Darlings- Right about now, I get to thinking. It’s about to be the 4th of July here in the States. The holiday where we celebrate our freedom. And I am just about to chain myself to my desk for the next 8 weeks and bang out the final draft of my new book.  I want […]

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June 18, 2015

6 Practices I do every morning

self-care

It is my deep, hot, and holy conviction that the body of every woman is a living, breathing altar. Yes, I mean you. Overworked, underloved, insubstantially paid you. Yes, even underworked, overloved, exaltedly paid you. The question is- Do you treat yours as such? Think about it. There is no human alive today who was […]

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May 12, 2015

Ten thousand flavors of tears

collage-creation-featured

I am writing from a small café on the Champs-Elyseés, soaking in the final moments of my time in Paris (pics below!). After four days together in this breathtaking city, we just completed the graduation session for the Creation Course, and I’m overflowing. Overflowing with pride, with joy, and with volumes of gratitude. These women […]

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April 23, 2015

In Praise of the Pig-Headed Girl

pigheaded

I have always been a pig-headed girl. Always. Sometimes overtly, sometimes subversively. I secretly thought my way was always the best way. I had no tolerance for a certain kind of conformity. I got severely reprimanded for using orange typing paper by my closeted high school English teacher, since the white-out I used was, well […]

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March 31, 2015

Notes from my dressing room

weekendone-feature

I am writing to you from my dressing room. It’s 5:12pm on Sunday afternoon, and we have just wrapped the first weekend of Mastery 2015. Moments ago, I left a stage filled with dancing, hugging women, turned on and ecstatic, at a level I have never ever experienced on a first Mastery weekend. This work […]

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Sister Goddess Patty, Age 54

I was born in a car in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on my way to the hospital.

In those days (1960), since my mother gave birth before arriving at the hospital, I was considered “contaminated” and had to stay in the room with her instead of the nursery. She had often told me that I spoiled her hospital stay.

It’s interesting to think back on my earliest experiences, or lessons, on what it meant to be a woman in this world. Mostly, I think there were just too many of us for my mother (I’m the second of 7 sisters), and my father worked all the time, so we were left to “monkey see, monkey do” when it came to figuring it all out.

patty3

I do remember, when I was around 9 or 10, my mother sat me on the couch and handed me what I think was a Time Life book. She asked me to read it and left the room.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, and so I absorbed this book like any other fairy tale I got my hands on. It featured diagrams and photographs of reproductive organs, sex, and birth – but it never occurred to me that all of this was related to myself, my body, or my own situation with getting on the planet.

One photograph I remember vividly was of a fetus in utero, floating, eyes closed and fingers curled. My major concern was, how did they get a camera in someone’s belly to take a picture of a baby? Also, the baby looked gross, nothing like any of my sisters. I felt a little sick.

That was the extent of my education on sex, reproduction, and the miracle of birth. I didn’t have any questions.

The whole thing seemed as fantastical as a story I was reading at the time called The Borrowers about a world of very little people living right under everyone’s noses and using thread spools for dining room tables and matchboxes for beds.

Around the same time, my father had a stash of Playboy magazines which we knew we were not supposed to read but pored through anyway. I knew that was a magazine for men. I knew that the pictures of women were for the pleasure of men. The people, the pictures, and the places seemed like an unreal world. Once again, The Borrowers seemed more real than anything in that magazine.

Then my parents got divorced and my father moved away. We were left with my mother who was overwhelmed. From what I saw, being a woman meant you were tired, lonely, stuck and broke.

The next few decades were a pretty rough ride.
A series of foster homes in my teenage years, because my mother couldn’t “handle” me and turned me over to the state to see if they could do a better job.
At 19, I took a two week trip to the Bahamas to reconnect with my father, who was working there. Although he left about six months after I arrived, I never did. The Bahamas became my home.
I married at 21 and had three beautiful children. We divorced a few years after the death of our youngest daughter.
I joined a 12-step fellowship that helped me to accomplish what I went there for, but there was little joy in my life.

By the time I arrived in my early fifties, I was doing everything a person was “supposed” to do, yet I was as unhappy as a cat in a room of hungry dogs.

Inside I knew I was missing something. That there must be something, some one thing, that I wasn’t doing or wasn’t understanding, that if I could just figure it out, things would change for me. But I didn’t know what it was.

I really had mostly given up, thinking this is just the way life is. Some people are just lucky and some aren’t. Some get hit with the suffering stick and some miss it all together. I figured that if you were smart, like I knew I was, you just accept it. You just have to try and be the best person you can and get through it.

I actually found out about the School of Womanly Arts through Facebook. It showed up in my newsfeed that someone I knew liked a post from Mama Gena’s page. Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts? Out of curiosity about the ridiculous name, I clicked.

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Self-hatred is the New Smoking

It’s February.
I hate February.
Actually, it’s bigger than that.
It’s winter I hate.

Winter pisses me off.
Cold. Grey skies, short days. Losing gloves. Black ice.
February descends and my easy good times vaporize.
Going to the gym is hard. Everything is complicated, and I don’t want to leave my house.
My couch, to be precise.

And I noticed something: when I am down, there is something that I do that is worse than winter.

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Shacking up in Stuck-town?

So you’re stuck, huh?
Have you tied yourself into a big fat twisted stuck-knot?
Ugh. It’s the worst.

Stuck is everywhere. And there are so many ways for it to show up . . .

  • Stuck in a 26 year marriage, and it feels suffocating, sexless, and numb.
  • Stuck because her whole life, she’s had a sense of deep purpose, but she doesn’t know what the hell it is, and what she is called to do in this world.
  • Stuck because she just wants a damn date and for a good man to stick around . . . she’s waiting for her guy and just keeps hitting an invisible wall.
  • Stuck in her relationship with her body, after trying and failing every diet ever created, she doesn’t know what it’s going to take to feel healthy and beautiful.
  • Stuck in a job that does not honor her value and there is no room for growth. Not to mention, she doesn’t feel that she could actually sit her boss down and ask for a raise. She can’t even imagine having that conversation.
  • Stuck in a small town, where there is only one idea of what a woman can and should be — she wants to reclaim the fierce woman inside, but her culture doesn’t accept that part of her.

One thing about women is that we take our stuck very, very personally. Don’t you? Aren’t you convinced that something’s wrong with you, that it’s something inside you that has you immobilized like a fly on fly paper?

You think to yourself . . . Why the hell haven’t I been on a date in six years? What is wrong with me? Or why haven’t I had a relationship that lasts? Why isn’t anybody coming to do my astrology readings? Why haven’t I gotten that raise? Or why am I still in this stupid town? Or why am I still with my husband? Or why did I ever get divorced?

Here’s the thing. I’ve got a little secret to tell you. This is collective stuck. Let’s zoom out here.

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How the hell is this my life?

Sister Goddess Leslie, Age 41

When I walked through the doors of the School of Womanly Arts, I was getting a divorce at the age of 37. I was beyond devastated. On the other side of this journey, I am a proud new mama at the age of 41, partnered with my husband and best friend, and surrounded by sisters. It’s been a ride, an epic journey that started right around rock bottom. . .

February 2011. I was sitting staring blankly at my computer screen at work on a cold Monday morning, thinking, “How did I get here? How the hell is this my life?”

I had spent the previous weekend at an entrepreneurship workshop, trying to figure out how I was going to pay my bills now that I was single again. But rather than talking about strategy or refining my pitch, I basically spent the entire weekend crying. I had a pretty regular practice of crying back then; tears were almost always smarting behind my eyes, as much as I tried to look like I had it together.

I wasn’t happily married, and actually had wanted the divorce for a long time, but now that it was really happening, I totally fell apart.

Rather than feeling liberation and excitement about a new beginning, I felt lost and really alone.

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Do you get as good as you give?

After watching the Golden Globes the other night, I just had to check out the film BOYHOOD. I especially loved Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech, where she said:

“You placed in my hands the part of Olivia, an under-appreciated single mother. Thank you for shining a light on this woman, and the millions of women like her, and allowing me to honor my own mother with this beautiful character.”

‘An unappreciated single mother’ rang my gong.
I am one of those gals who brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan, helps with homework, volunteers at school, works out, and squeezes in a social life.

I see it all around me.
Women, doing a shit ton.
Going above and beyond.
Continually.
At work – staying late, being brilliant, giving their all and then some.
Maybe married with husband, but still carrying the weight of the child-rearing and the home-making.

You all know women, or you are women, who over-deliver. It is a storyline of our time. A woman takes it all on . . . at the expense of what? At the expense of herself.

One woman, who is new to my work and joining an upcoming course, wrote in:

“I have changed so much since becoming a mother of 2 sweet and busy boys. I used to be a spunky outgoing girl fearless of anything. Now I worry about lots of life’s challenges and feel as if I am not spunky at all. I look at old pictures and I need that girl back.”

Big sigh.
I really liked that Boyhood brought this cultural thread forward.
Because it’s true in every socioeconomic demographic – women have pressed the accelerator, they are not letting up, and a toll is being taken.

Women are giving at a new velocity.
Whether it’s single moms, for their kids.
Or successful business women, for their career.
Or daughters, looking after their aging parents.

This is an observation – not a criticism.
I would never have learned the depth and breadth of my talents, if I had not taken all the responsibility.
And I learned something very important, that I want all women to know.

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