Navigating transition with ease and grace

This life.

Beautiful, amazing, messy, miraculous, confusing, ugly, painful.

All of it sacred.

All of it unfolding perfectly, even when we can’t see it in the moment. Even when, in the dark struggle of some phases, we forget how precious all of it is, how the light is still there behind the clouds, how the timing is always perfect.

The timing is always perfect.

A big part of the art of living is choosing to believe this. To make this your narrative – so that whatever happens, no matter how incredibly awful it may seem, you will find the gifts in it.

The light. The hope. The lessons. The opportunity.

Because there is always that. Always two sides – darkness cannot exist without the light; when we look for it with open hearts even in the darkest dark, we will find light.

Wherever you are, whatever is happening, is exactly what is needed.

The timing is always perfect.

The story of our lives

Ever-unfolding, this life. Telling a story through us, through our lives, our struggles, our joys.

We are the heroes of our own stories, living a continuous cycle of hearing the call for a new adventure, severing ourselves from what we were until that point, setting forth and crossing the threshold into the uncertain territory of the unknown, facing challenges and receiving aid, surviving the greatest test of all in the final culmination of our metamorphosis, and returning to our lives irrevocably changed to begin a new phase.

So many parts of that journey that we cycle through again and again are fraught with danger – psychological danger anyway – shaking the foundation of who we thought we were.

And this is the lie we are told – that you become an adult and then you are ‘done’. Finished. Ready to go and face the world and make your life.

But this is not true.

The truth is that life is an ever-emerging process, and we, as expressions of life, are ever-unfolding beings. Our task, individually and collectively, is not to remain static, but to allow life to live us, to flow through us, to morph and shift and grow and change…and to trust that the process will unfold, that we will not get stuck in any one part of the journey, that we will emerge from each cycle of change cleansed, different in some profound way, humbler and stronger, ready for the next phase of our lives.

Transition

Transition comes at four major points on the hero’s journey; severance, crossing the threshold, facing the challenge, and returning home.

Severance is the letting go of what has been – the understanding and acceptance of the fact that what was must now end, and you must leave it behind you. In many ways this is the biggest test of our strength, because leaving behind the familiar to step into the unknown, with the uncertainty and the perceived lack of security that comes with that requires fierce courage and determination.

Crossing the threshold happens the moment we exit our habitual reality and enter the world of the unknown. There is always a perceptible shift in us when this happens; a momentary clarity that something important has changed, although we might not know what. From this moment on, our task is to remain as alert and open as possible – to be aware of any signs, coincidences or messages that cross our path. There is a giant increase in the intentionality with which we move forwards.

Successfully meeting the challenge requires the negotiation of the most dangerous part of the journey. This task, trial or challenge will ask of us to draw on strength, wisdom and courage we did not know we had, will push us to the limits of our endurance, past the point at which we thought we could survive. In a way, it will break us. The meeting of the trial is in a way a death; but a death that gives rise to a new iteration of ourselves that includes and transcends the old.

Returning home is the final transition of the journey. A sense of completion exists within you; you feel it in your bones. Time to return to regular life, to settle down again to the everyday. Fundamentally different, even if things look the same on the outside. This can be rocky navigation as well, as the intensity of the journey must be left behind and we must return profoundly changed to a world that may not have changed while we were away.

The cycle of life

Life, nature, our nature, is cyclical – we weave in and out of life phases as we grow and evolve, and are confronted with new experiences. The trick to moving through these transitions with ease and grace is to surrender to them as they arise (rather than resist, which is what often happens until we are forced to acknowledge change).

And knowing what phase of the cycle of change you’re in at any given moment is an immense aid.

It means that instead of feeling lost, terrified, hopeless or despairing, you have a framework you can place your trust in, a map with a path to follow – and while it may be a rocky, uneven and dangerous path; and while you may sometimes lose sight of it for a period of time, or doubt the signposts and fear you have lost your way, if you just keep moving forwards you will emerge from the path on the other side.

And when you bear in mind that every step is sacred – then even the hardest transitions hold beauty and grace.

//

*Terminology used comes from Joseph Campbell’s work on the monolith (see “The hero with a Thousand Faces”)

 

Why are women still hiding?

Here’s my question: Why is the conversation about women’s empowerment still happening in a masculine paradigm?

And why has the women’s empowerment movement not delivered on its promise: that women can be just as powerful as men?

I believe the answer lies in the misunderstanding of women’s power.

Now I in no way want to minimize the progress that has been made with regard to women’s liberation and women’s rights; I am hugely grateful for all the work that went before my growing up in the 80’s in a Western middle class family with feminist parents and being able to take many things for granted that throughout most of human civilization (and indeed in many parts of the world, even today) are by no means a given.

However, as Tara Mohr offers in her fantastic book “Playing Big“:

Western women are liberated but not empowered.

In the 80’s it was all about having the same rights as men, and being able to do the same things; so was born the infamous “power woman” – the women who adapted to the greatest possible extent to the masculine, ego-driven corporate world. In the 90’s the ideal became a little softer; women could ‘have it all,’ could be the driven career woman AND have a family – cue massive rises in burnout and other stress related disorders.

The new millennium has seen a dramatic rise in stress-reduction activities such as yoga and meditation, and the driven career woman now has permission to ask for help and take some time for herself. In addition, younger feminists are now busy reclaiming the symbols that were rejected by earlier generations of feminists, which looks (in its healthy aspect) like a move towards a more integral feminine expression.

But the bottom line today is that women are often either in a constant mode of striving and feeling like it’s never enough, or are hiding and playing small.

Neither of these groups are embodying their power as women. The first is still caught up in the masculine power paradigm, the second is rejecting it, and both are disconnected from the feminine power source.

This is because we’re pushing (acting from the ‘masculine’ locus of power in the solar plexus) rather than accessing our feminine power – which sits in the belly, in the womb, that magical space of creativity, in our hips, our ability to open and surrender and receive, to express our passion and our emotions (all of them), our intuition, our mystery, our connection to life and death, and our innate sensuality.

The power women are trying to embody is what we have grown up with as an example – often as the only example. Women who truly embody feminine power are few and far between in the masculine-energy-dominated structures of cities and corporations.

And on the big picture side of things, the imbalance of masculine and feminine power in the world is clearly visible and has come to the point of being unsustainable; the current situation is no longer viable for sustaining life and the rebalancing of energy at all levels in society is now of critical importance.

To get to the next level we are going to need to break out of the paradigm we’re currently still limiting ourselves with.

A few weeks ago I went into researcher mode and hunted the web for large events for women. Events aimed at transformation. Events that explore women’s empowerment in a truly integral and holistic way, including all dimensions (the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) with an experiential, embodied approach.

Nothing. Not one.

What I see is the women’s empowerment movement bumping up against the ceiling of the current (immature masculine/patriarchal) paradigm.

The way we’re thinking about it, the contexts we’re having the conversations in, the fact that most of it is happening in settings and structures that have little to no intrinsic appeal to feminine energy. The way we refer to it as a conversation (heady), and that even though it’s often referred to as a movement, I don’t see many embodied aspects in it.

My vision is for this movement, rather than a mere conversation, to become a dance, a celebration, an exploration, a tuning in and allowing to emerge. For us to be facilitating change in a way that is aligned with the feminine; easeful, flowing, and receptive as well as fiery, fierce and powerful. From the inside out; adopting a mode of existence where BEING is primary, and DOING emerges as an inevitable and easeful consequence of what we are. 

Changing ourselves and from there creating new structures, systems and processes that emerge from an integrally feminine way of being (rather than continuously trying to adapt masculine structures and systems to be more “feminine-energy-friendly”).

The truly powerful woman, an integral woman, is one who has embraced all that she is. Who is embodying her feminine and has integrated her masculine. The world will not change until women step into and embrace who we are in our wholeness again – only then can we bring the world back into a healthy balance of masculine and feminine energy.

Women who are deeply connected to their power are unbelievably radiant, magnetizing, sensual, and powerful. They have a viscerally different energy to women who are predominantly in their ‘masculine’ power and in ‘pushing’ mode. This, ladies, is what we’re aiming for.

And creating contexts in which this state of being (the integral feminine) is fostered, is, I believe, the next step for women’s empowerment.

//

{ Sign up for the newsletter to stay informed about the next retreats and events }

 

Flow: When we align DOing with BEing

We live in a  culture that worships doing.

The more you do, the more busy you are, the more “successful” you must be.

It’s exemplified by the question we’re asked from an early age; “What do you want to be?” Not “Who do you want to be?” or “How do you want to be?”

This is key, because we ARE before we DO. Being is primary. 

We’ve kind of forgotten that and it’s led to a whole lotta shit.

Being and Doing

BEing is a state; who you are, what is there when there is no (active) DOing. It’s the subtle vibration that is this living being (that’s you) in the silence, in the absence of doing. Being is the space between two breaths. It is the moment you wake up, before mental activity kicks in. It is the embodied aliveness of existing, in the absence of effort.

BEing is, in my opinion, horribly and worryingly underrated.

Worryingly because when we DO from a place that is not rooted in BEing – that is disconnected from what we are without the influence of our thoughts, disconnected therefore from our deepest, core selves – there is a giant margin of potential error.

Those moments when something just doesn’t feel right but we’re not sure why? Doing without Being. When we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and we’re supposed to be enjoying it but we feel like we’re being slowly suffocated by Salvador Dali’s worst nightmare? Doing without being. When we’re exhausted and don’t know why? Doing. Without being.

No good.

And the worst part is that often we look at all this Doing that’s not feeling right, and figure it must be something about the doing that needs to change; that we just need to reshuffle, reorganise, create a new action plan, a new schedule, a new set of goals, and we’ll be all set.

To change the external circumstances in other words. The Doing.

This strategy might work for a short time by distracting us, but it doesn’t deal with the underlying issue, which is most likely that what you’re doing and your being (as in who you really are) are not lining up, and that causes MAD tension.

Because – as we all know (right? contact me if this isn’t clear) – circumstances do not define inner experience.

The real goal

The “real goal” (aka, the one that will actually enliven your life and bring you wild crazy joy), is to find your sweet spot of Being.

➳ How do you want to feel on this crazy ride known as Life?

➳ What mental and emotional states do you want to spend your days in?

➳ What impact do you want your Being to have on other people? On your children? On the world?

The goal is to get clarity on the “Who” and “How” you want to be, and then explore, experiment and experience activities, pursuits and lifestyle choices that facilitate those things.

A guiding question once those “state goals” or “being goals” are clear is:

“How can I deeply honour myself?”

In every moment.

Because knowing what we want and need is one thing. Aligning our actions and lives with that knowledge is what will change everything.

Doing arising from Being

Because Being is primary to Doing (we are energy before we are matter, as is everything we create), it follows that if our Doing arises from Being, it will be in alignment with ourselves. With our values. With our soul. With the reason we are here.

Doing then becomes an unfolding process of being, listening, and then taking action.

This process – unlike what most of the western world assumes is the “correct” order of business – requires letting go. Trust. Courage. Stepping into who we truly are and acting, creating and making our mark on the world from a place of surrender, rather than a place of (perceived) control.

And this is so important because control is life-negating.

Control is death.

Life is not controllable, boxable, definable.

Life is flow, unfolding, emerging. 

Especially for women.

Masculine energy thrives on directionality, clarity, straight lines. And yet within that there is still space for flow, although it usually looks abrupt when things shift.

But for us ladies the Doing-focus is particularly toxic. Our energy is expansive, flowing, creative and more easily stifled by excessive Doing. Our mission is to find out what balance of Doing and Being works for us, and even within the Being state to hold the eternal question in every moment: “Where next?”

Moving into more Being

Meditation (unsurprisingly) helps us to spend more time in a Being state. it doesn’t need to be thoughtless awareness, but simply shifting our attention to our inner reality; how does my body feel? What emotions are present? What does my energy feel like today? What do I feel like I need?

Another great one is nature – and keeping our attention devoted to taking in every detail; the sounds, the smells, the intricacy of every tiny detail.

In everyday life a very helpful practice is to begin inserting “Mindfulness Buffers” into the day. I have a desktop timer on my mac, and one for my pc that go off every hour, at which point I do a little inner dive to check out what my state is like.

I’ll usually close my eyes, have my feet planted firmly on the floor and my knees shoulder-width apart, take a long slow breath, and then sink into myself, with an open and curious attitude, and listen.

That’s it. Just listening for anything that might want to be noticed.

I might notice that I need some water. Maybe I want to stretch my legs. Perhaps something flashes into my mind that has emotion attached to it that wants some space (i.e., some of my precious attention).

It’s not difficult. It’s not complicated.

But spending more time connected to ourselves, or as meditators would say, “present,” allows us to cultivate greater sensitivity about what serves us and what doesn’t. From this place of greater awareness we are empowered to make choices that truly align with our deepest needs and desires.

In fact, being “present” is being able to simultaneously be deeply connected to ourselves and connected with the external world (what’s happening, or wherever we choose to place our focus). Most of us however spend a lot of time being overwhelmed by the external world’s demands and lose the connection to ourselves in our efforts to keep up with those demands.

Another amazing Being practice is unstructured play. Goddam, if all adults had an hour of unstructured play every day we’d be living in a radically different world.

It can be dancing. Walking. Playing with a kid or an animal or a leaf. Creating something simply for the pleasure of creating it (and it’s fine if it gets knocked down afterwards).

The only rule is: it has to be purposeless.

In other words, kicking a ball around counts; playing a football game doesn’t. Making random art because the colours are fascinating to you and you want to draw with your fingers counts; trying to create a piece of art doesn’t. Notice where you turn something fun into a “should” or a “project.” Unstructured play is about climbing out of the box, exploring all around it and then wandering off and forgetting about the box for a while.

Being time is about Being and Doing for the sake of BEing.

It’s a practice but it’s one that will shift the gears of your life from striving and control to ease and flow.

And when that becomes the norm – everything changes.

//

Stay tuned for the Guide I’m creating on how to live in flow – I’ll be sending it out to all subscribers as soon as it’s ready!

 

Why we need to talk about loneliness

Confession time:

1. I feel lonely a lot of the time the last few years

2. I’m (still) crap at being deeply vulnerable

During my adult life, I’ve moved around a lot. Different jobs, different cities, different countries.. So I’m pretty used to starting over somewhere new, exploring and opening and making every effort to be sociable and meet new people…and make new friends.

You learn a lot about human psychology in this way.

How most people (who stay in the same place) are happy to stick with the friends they grew up with, do the same things every weekend, and aren’t that interested in making new friends outside their established circle (which is why, as an expat, you usually just end up being friends with other expats; not because you don’t make an effort to make friends with the indigenous folks, but because they’re not that bothered about extending their circle of friends).

How after about your mid-twenties, men are no longer (ever) interested in being friends (I realise at this juncture some people will ask the rhetorical question “Were they ever?”, but even if they weren’t, back in the day they pretended and you could hang out and have a few beers together without it getting weird at least some of the time).

How rare and precious it is to meet someone with whom you have that instantaneous click, that feeling of recognition, of having known each other for ages, of intrinsically understanding each other. And how the deliciousness of that never diminishes.

How deeply everyone longs for connection. How making new friends is vulnerable. How so many people seem to settle for less than what they long for.

How much harder it is in your 30’s than when you were a kid, or at university.

How no one talks about it because we’re scared we’ll be called friendless weirdos and pointed at like lepers.

So I’m breaking the silence.

Connection

From the moment of separation at birth til our death, we are all seeking connection. Not just people to party with, but searingly deep connection. The creation of a space between you that fuses you together, so that you are no longer separate. A shared reality in which you are no longer facing the world alone.

We tend to search desperately for this in romantic partners (who should also ideally fulfill an assortment of criteria that will nurse our childhood wounds, love and accept our shadows, and caress our sense of worth and value), and then fall apart when the intensity of the demand implodes the relationship.

The people I know who are great at life, are also great at friendship. They swim gracefully through the reefs and rocks of friendship as they do life, washing over troubles and rounding upon new encounters with all the ease of a particularly well-adapted eel.

But many people (most) are not such natural experts at cultivating deep connection. Many people spend much of their lives feeling isolated (even when they’re surrounded by other people). Many people bear their joys and their sadnesses alone. Particularly in a society where anxiety disorders and depression run rampant, but where there is still so much stigma attached to both that shame is added to the mix and the pain of it is borne silently.

Friendship and me

My own experiences with friendship have been mixed.

I always had a few very close friends but had trouble in bigger groups. I never felt like I ‘belonged’ in the general mix. I made friends easily in one-to-one connection but struggled to show myself and connect in groups.

To a large extent, that is still the case.

At school and at university I had my tribes, easeful places of soul connection, for which I am infinitely grateful, because growing up feeling understood by at least a handful of fellow humans eased the existential anxiety that was my constant companion.

But since University, with all my moving and the craziness of life (admittedly some people tell me I cram a lot into mine) it’s become much harder.

There are old friendships that have run their course; where interests and approach to life have diverged to the point of losing that shared space. There are old friendships that persist doggedly, in spite of long absences and missed birthdays; where the shared moments of that particular brand of madness is all that is needed to rekindle the flames of connection, no matter how much time goes by.

There are new friendships that remain at a disappointingly superficial level, despite attempts to infuse them with more meaning. And then there are ones that are born out of that magical elixir of shared understanding, the ones that make you feel like you’ve come home.

There are many in my somewhat nomadic life, that come into being and infuse us with joy for a short time before one or the other of us is swept away once more on the currents of life. Many that are separated by thousands of kilometers. Many that never had the chance to blossom.

The bottom line of it is that the last few years, the sum of these friendships has felt insufficient. I long to have a few close girlfriends (guy friends would also be great) who actually live near me to really share my life with.

Because the reality is that when you’re officially ‘grown up’ and single and nomadic, you don’t automatically have people who share your life. And that feeling of being witnessed is something that we are wired to need.

Vulnerability

As I’ve come to know myself more over the years, I’ve learnt that there are particular environments where I am much more likely to find kindred spirits. However even in this age of Meetup.com, Facebook groups, expat groups, and the myriad other ways of finding people who have shared interests with you, it’s still not that easy to find those people who you can connect with on a deep level (whose particular brand of madness, if you will, matches yours).

Even for me, with my deeply rooted desire to be fully transparent and authentic, it’s hard to just get naked in this world. To be brave enough to really show who you are; a vulnerable, big-hearted human searching for connection, towing behind you all your scars and hopes and dreams, and the meandering story of your life.

And I think that part of the reason for that is that we still live in a world where vulnerability is regarded as weakness. And that this perception is so pervasive that in most environments it still feels like the weight of a fully open heart will crack the brittle veneer of social norms. And God help you if you do that. After all, in most places you need to show up not just as normal but as cool.

The dark side of human nature

This culture of coolness (where coolness is almost entirely externalized and the material is valued over the intrinsic) is responsible for so much of the shame and anxiety that people have about showing and sharing themselves fully, in all their scared, ugly, damaged human truth. In a culture where there isn’t space for those ‘undesirable’ parts of ourselves, the result is twofold.

1. We will never be fully seen and therefore only partly witnessed, and the sense of wholeness that is derived from having our experience as a Self be seen and shared is elusive. All manner of psychosocial disorders arise form this, and we have yet to establish any approach that yields sustainable results on a bigger scale.

2. The repression and secreting away of our ‘undesirable’ dark parts mean these are externally expressed in unhealthy (unconscious) ways, often masked in socially acceptable forms. Hence the ugliness, cruelty, and violence that we see across almost all cultures, as well as the unrepentant ravaging of the earth.

Our fear of the darker aspects of ourselves has led us to create a culture that tries to pretend that they doesn’t exist. That this doesn’t work is indisputable at this point, and yet our resistance individually and culturally to transform into a society that is open and accepting of all the intricacies of human nature is slow to yield.

A culture that accepts only the light creates an underbelly for the expression of the dark. And until we learn to value and express both the light and the dark side of human nature, we will continue to have the dark furtively expressed externally. In a world where one man can cause enormous destruction, that is a dangerous game to continue to play.

So how do we go about changing culture?

It starts with me and you. It starts with individuals being brave enough to face their own dark side, to work on integrating it, and to show up in the world as the beautiful, complex, multidimensional beings that we truly are. Owning ALL of who we are. Showing others that it’s ok to be in the world just as they are.

Bringing all of who we are into the workplace. Into sports teams. Into business and politics and education. Creating systems that support and honour full human expression. That make space for the dark side. That value vulnerability and understand that connection is the basis of all of human endeavour.

The Quiet Revolution is a revolution of the heart, of the soul. Vulnerability is not optional.

We have no choice but to bare our hearts, if we want to save the world.

//

 

Even Now There is Hope

Our hearts are like flowers.

The open and close according to the weather; how much sun there is, how warm it is, whether it’s nighttime or daytime.

They’re our barometers of wellbeing; opening in flow and closing in fear and pain. Opening to the light, even if it’s windy and raining, closing to the darkness when it seems the night will never end.

H O P E

Our hearts need to be watered by hope. For floods of it to wash through all the grief and despair about where the world is at today, until the petals of our heart are gently prised open once again so the light can get in.

Because there IS light.

Even now. Even now.

Even now in this murky ugliness, oozing with the dank odours of human greed, even now with our dirty skies and our poisoned waters, even now with the wars, the abuse, the endless and persistent hate.

Even now there is hope.

There is hope because there is light. Even in the darkest places, tiny cracks of light. The soft spring breeze of a new generation, filled with youths’ disregard for the possible. The silent multitudes using their scratchy voices for the first time since they learned it was safer to be silent.

The compassionate wave of a mindful revolution.

The unfaltering courage of the human heart in showing kindness to strangers, to love when it feels impossible, to give when there is nothing to give, to keep this fragile, bleeding, raw heart open.

Yes, even now there is hope.

And as one flame lights another, so these little sparks of light kindle others and spread. May they spread like a forest fire, flames flaming higher, winds blowing stronger each minute, until soon the raging burning engulfs all that is dark and dank and foul and cleanses our broken civilisation in the sacred flames of redemption.

May we open those pulsing flowers, those loudly beating hearts, to enclose all that we are, all of us and everything, to the furthest reaches of the universe and back.

Because we are all one. It’s all the same.

Dark and light are simply different paths.

May we choose the light.

//

 

We HAVE to hurt people – we have to speak the truth

“We HAVE to hurt people – we have to speak the truth”

These words were spoken by a man I respect enormously, a teacher. We don’t have time, he said, to become perfect ourselves before we start taking action in the world, before we can act with complete compassion, complete love, complete selflessness.

We must speak the truth that is in us, even if it hurts someone.

To me, with my desperate desire never to hurt anyone, that’s a radical thought.

And yet somewhere in me, I know this is not only necessary, but a secret possibility for grace. When we allow our truth to come out of us, something a bit mysterious happens – as that energy leaves us, our state changes, and if we are speaking with a pure intention, what is left afterwards is love.

I’ve only experienced this once that I recall – I was so tense, angry, frustrated that I felt like I was going to explode, so I spoke. I spoke my anger and frustration, directed at one person, but as I did so I stayed anchored in my heart – and she heard, was with me as I spoke, allowed herself to be impacted. And as I spoke what was there, it softened, and ebbed, until it was almost completely gone, and all that was left was love and compassion.

Radical Responsibility

Those of us who see – what is wrong, but more importantly, much more importantly, where the path lies for positive change – must act, and empower others to do the same. The urgency of this feeling is getting increasingly hard for me to ignore.

And these things that stop us, or at least which stop me – “Who am I to…” / “What can I possibly hope to change…” / “I’m scared I’ll be rejected…” etc. – are all ego-based fears. But this powerful desire to change things does not come from ego. It is driven by a heart-based desire for a more just, balanced, beautiful world – and allowing ego to stand in the way of that drive is to give in to the most base aspect of human nature; which most of us who hear this call vehemently do battle with in other areas where it holds us back.

So why not here as well?

It feels big, and powerful, and terrifyingly audacious to think about changing the world. And horribly humbling to realise we can only do it one small action at a time. And to take that responsibility, even if it means hurting someone.

Something that massively lessened the load for me a few days ago was realising that when I allow what is in me that comes from this deep desire, to emerge, the consequences are not just on me, on Steph. If I am truly allowing the creative impulse (or Divine impulse) to flow through me, then what happens as a result is not just for me to hold.

This can be seen in certain group settings, where many people are tuned in to a transpersonal/collective truth, and one person speaks it – the impact/effect of that will be held by the whole group (if they are holding a commitment to collective growth rather than individual), and doesn’t have to be borne alone by the individual who put it out there in words.

Power And Vulnerability

Holding the growing urgency of this desire to change things is becoming increasingly interesting. The last few weeks I’ve had intense creative energy washing up in waves from my second chakra, bringing storms of ideas and insight.

It feels immensely powerful (which is intoxicating), and most interestingly, it doesn’t feel like “me”. It’s like a force sweeping through me, and not part of my Self that I’m identified with. This is what helped me tune in to the idea that what comes from that energy is not 100% my ownership – because it’s not “mine.”

This power (I feel it as feminine) is strong and demanding, and she’s pushing me to take these ideas and insights and put them out into the world – which is great, but also terrifying (to my ego, which feels increasingly like it has no say anymore).

And so the flip side of this power is intense, incrementally increasing vulnerability; the more I tune into this power and follow the creative drive and put myself out there (Really? Me? Or just my creativity?), the more vulnerable and naked I feel.

And it feels like a paradox – as my power increases, so does my vulnerability.

It feels like that’s somehow a necessary balance.

And there’s a beautiful lesson in there as well; non-attachment to what comes through me/what I create. To not take things personally, whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’ To live, fully expressed, and rest in that, whatever the outcomes of my living, of me.

And…I feel like I have no idea yet really what it’s all about ;)

“Are you really naked?”

I was asked this recently, by a – highly perceptive – man who reads my blog, shortly after meeting him. And I was forced to say “No, not entirely –  I’m working on it.”

Ouch.

This was just one of many integrity checks that have been coming my way (internally and externally) in the last few weeks. Another thing I’m discovering about putting more of yourself out there into the world is that the stakes get higher, people’s expectations get aimed at you more, and being certain that you are walking your talk becomes a knife point of precision.

Thinking about facing that as ‘Steph’ is way too scary.

But tuning in to the feeling I have when I allow the creative force to flow through me, and not being attached to it or identifying with it takes away the fear – or rather, there is simply an absence of fear in that state.

And I don’t want to create anything that doesn’t come from that place anyway.

//

 

Have mercy on me; I am starving and have nothing to eat

Have mercy on me; I am starving and have nothing to eat. 

It’s 6:30am. I’ve been awake for hours, anxiety-ridden thoughts gnawing at my peace, my gut, my soul, as they have for months. Health issues that leave me with the terrifying fear that if I do not live what is in me very soon, my body might fail and it will be too late.

Finally I decided, Enough – I will read rather than listen to the endless tirade that the lonely hours of early morning leave me helpless to withstand.

I picked up the book I’ve been reading; “Vision Quest” by Steven Foster. A description of his journey and how it led to what is now the Western adaptation of the ancient timeless ritual of going forth alone into the wilderness to seek purpose, answers, and visions for ourselves and our communities.

Throughout the book, these words are present again and again;

Have mercy on me; I am starving and have nothing to eat.

Again I read those words. But this time, I heard them as I had not done before.

This time, they rang in my soul, through my very being, as though a great bell had been stuck deep within and reverberated through me like a massive earthquake, leaving me heaving with huge wracking sobs.

For the first time I saw it so clearly; his understanding mirrored mine, my own experience, my own perspective of the world, and the pity of it washed over me, into me, through me as the full meaning sunk in.

The people are starving and have nothing to eat.

And in their hunger they devour grease, cheap entertainment, horror, images, products. And this desperate urge to fill the starving abyss within is so urgent that they pay no heed to what they devour, to the quality of what it is they fill themselves with.

All they know is that this hunger does not leave; they consume and consume but the raging burning of starvation remains.

Our starving is killing the world. Our mother earth lies dying in protesting contractions as our hunger and ability to feed it with the illusion of satisfaction increases daily.

And in me, the recognition of starvation; my whole life until a few years ago, and even now sometimes, for a few hours here and there, it will take me back. Starving, and no one could tell me why. Starving, hurting myself in my futile attempts to stave off the aching chasm inside, a desperate scream unscreamed pulsing like a deadly poison in my veins.

I am starving and have nothing to eat!

Why does no one feed me? Why am I left alone in my misery to die of this unnamed illness? Why can no one tell me what is wrong with me? Why am I starving in a world where I can have everything?

My people failed me.

Alone.

Starving, with nothing to eat.

Many years of darkness before finally I started to learn where to look for my food. Started to feed myself. And it hurt so much, to finally have this food inside, because it made even more apparent the unspeakable desolation of all those years of starvation.

We are starving; a culture, a world now, starving to death, and the death of all we touch. Starving for our souls, for meaning, for truth, for realness, for life, real life, life that we feel pulsing through us, life that dances us from infant to elder, life that is connected, interconnected, raw, terrifying, passionate.

My people failed me, but I will not fail them.

I will dedicate my life to feeding my people, for they are starving and have nothing to eat.

This is my vow.

//

More information

Joseph Campbell – The Monomyth

The School of Lost Borders