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2018: Growth and Gratitude

I don’t think I’ve ever written an ‘End of Year’ post here. Or, if I have, it’s been a long time. In any case, I feel like writing one today, so here we are.

Some years I have been very into reviewing the past year and making big plans for the coming year. In years past I have also picked a Song for the Year (although, wow- looks like I did that once– ha!). Last year I simply wanted to read 3 books a month and keep up with my bullet journal. I read 18 books total and kept up with my bullet journal about 60% of the time. I’m actually not disappointed with those results, because this last year felt like a baseline year, but I want to do better this year.

This year, I want to keep up with my bullet journal, read 20+ books (which I’ve actually listed out in the hopes it will keep me on track), but I’m also adding picking a word for the year, and keeping a section in my bullet journal for a gratitude practice. I’ve struggled with gratitude in the past, so it’s kind of weird to be into it now, but I think it’s time for me to expand my heart and spirit in this direction.

[[I’m still super in love with The Little Paris Bookshop. I find myself reading it very slowly. There are gems like this everywhere: 

“Not get over it, but…then? What then? What task do the departed want us to do?”

That was the question that Jean Perdu had been unable to answer for all these years.

Until now. Now he knew.

“To carry them with us- that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole again. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost then…then we are no longer present, either.” …

“All the love, all the dead, all the people we’ve known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up, too.”

I love all the men in this book; they are so honest with themselves.]]

::: ::: ::: :::

To start that, I wanted to look at the things I’m grateful for from this year. And also where I’ve grown- because that’s my favorite thing.

We spent our first full year in our new house this year. I love this house. I finally feel truly at home in this particular pile of sticks (it’s a really nice, comfy pile).

We got a dog. I love her.

My family and I travelled to Paris for the first time ever (well, it was the first time for me and my kids). I wrote about it here and here. It was one of the most thrilling adventures of my life. (I want to go back!)

I have been struggling with my hypothyroidism symptoms for two years and I really dug into my own fat phobia and fat shame (even though it was just 15 lbs- it was uncomfortable) and learned some new things about my self and my self-esteem and social conditioning. It’s hard to shake off, but I’m working on it.

On the flip side, I started a new supplement that makes my thyroid meds work the way they should, so my hair is growing again, my nails are growing, and I’ve lost enough weight to actually fit into my pants- even my favorite skinny jeans! The irony and ‘once you let go of it, you’ll get all you want’ energy is not lost on me.

After last week, I’m full of gratitude for simply being upright and breathing.

I’m truly grateful for my partnership and my partner. We have what a lot of people crave- and we work to make it great, it’s not just luck. And I’m just grateful for him and how we make it work.

I’m truly grateful for my kids and how much joy they bring to my life. They are amazing humans and I’m glad these particular souls are the ones I was given to parent.

I’m grateful for all the struggles I’ve had this year. I’ve learned a lot.

It’s been fun to start playing with magic and spells this year. (You may or may not know: I’m a witch.) As one of my teachers notes: you learn something new every time and I’m stumbling towards greater understanding and capacity.

I’m also very grateful that I have been given the chance to fight for some things that are very important to me and to fight to stop things that are morally and spiritually repugnant. I’m trying to use my privilege to make the world a better place- and this has been weird and uncomfortable, but also a good practice.

 

We travel ever upwards (we hope).

Photo by Reid Zura on Unsplash

 

The other side of this year has been about growth. Growth, in my experience, is about the places where we cry, gnash our teeth, surrender to reality, and then we learn to behave in new ways. Better boundaries, clearer goals, letting go, and the like. It’s the hard work that our hearts and souls demand of us.

I got some very clear guidance a month ago about what’s next for me:

  • Telling the whole truth, instead of just doling out pieces of it.
  • Limiting connections to folks who are on my level (or will at least try to get there).
  • Continuing to be passionate and fearless and letting go of those who don’t want to run with me.

These are the things I’m taking into 2019 with me, the new ways in which I will behave. I also learned some other things, too.

One of the biggest lessons for me this year is that I’m probably going to be attracted to other people at various points in my life. For the first 22 years of knowing my husband, I was never attracted to anyone else. But then, the Sex Surge happened, and I’ve been attracted to two other people. One of the clearest things I know from all this is that it’s probably going to happen again, and how I handle it is the most important question. Do I want to destroy my marriage for a crush or somebody who is cute or intelligent or interesting? Nope. Not a bit. So, I proceed with that end in mind. Having a crush or a sexual attraction to someone else isn’t going to kill the great thing I’ve got with my husband; I know that now. But I also need to be mindful of my needs and what lines are crossable/not crossable and to enjoy the gifts of relationship and attraction.

Related: sexual energy does not need to be coupled to sexual expression. I am reminded of this constantly. Sexual energy – libido, turn on – is simply the most heightened aliveness there is. It isn’t required to be expressed in any sexual way- there are a thousand creative and joyful ways to live it out besides with your clitoris/penis. It can simply shine straight out from your heart.

I also figured out something a couple of days ago that I’ve been struggling with for a bit. Bear with me- this is one of things where the puzzle pieces came together in my mind but I might not always write clearly about it. Nevertheless, I will try.

There has been a lot in my social media feeds the last couple of weeks about soulmates and woundmates and such things. I’m not a big believer in soulmates, but I am a 185% believer in soul work. Soul work is the work that we are called to do, in our heart or soul, because of an interaction with or attraction to someone else. I’ve been dealing with this kind of connection for more than a year- can’t quite connect, can’t fully let go (or be let go of, in this case). And as I was thinking about this a couple days ago, I asked myself: what do I know about this already? The answers were clear and also interwove with each other to create a new level of understanding for me.

First, I know that the kind of push-pull attraction that can’t let go is always about something else. I bolded, underlined, and italicized that for a reason. Sexual attraction is the easiest doorway for connection so that people can come together and do whatever work it is their soul is asking for. Especially if it’s a connection that can’t seem to resolve one way or another. The attraction is the big door that they need to go through, the sexual nature of it is the neon arrow that flashes and points towards the door, drawing them in. If the attraction brings them to connection, it’s done its job and they will walk through the door to the work they need to do.

Second, I was reminded that there are a 1000 steps between attraction and fucking.  What that means in this case is that people can be attracted in that “can’t let go” kind of way, but there are many levels at which to connect. Let’s look at them in these categories: talk, touch, kiss, fuck.

If there is soul work and it’s being brought out by attraction that won’t quit, you have to interactyou have go to through the door to figure out what the work is. But you don’t have to give in to the depth of desire; you can simply talk with the person. Talking is difficult, in some ways, because you’ve got to keep your desire in check. It’s also difficult because you’ve got to be as honest as you can possibly be – but telling the truth based on attraction is usually a big leap. (Not for me, honestly- I crave to both tell the truth and be told the truth by others.) Most people would rather slip into the ease of sex than talk about what’s going on between them. You have to ask big questions and be totally honest with yourself and the other person: Why are you attracted? What makes it difficult to let go? What do you want from a connection? If we did X, what would that do for you? As you reveal the answers, the work you’re supposed to do for soul growth becomes clear- it shows you an old wound that needs healing, it shows you a further step you need to take, etc. And, of course, talking is the most spiritually and emotionally clean option, so it’s sort of easier in that way.

Then, there’s touch. If the sexual attraction is strong enough, touching can sometimes tell you a lot. What happens when you touch? Does the desire dissipate or shift in some way? Do you have any kind of visions or memories? What does your body do? What feelings run through you? You have to be very mindful and attentive to what happens in your body if you go this route, but it can yield a huge amount of information about the work you need to do for your soul. If you add talking to the mix, you’re probably going to hit the target very quickly and figure out why you’ve been connected to this person.

Next is kissing. This level of interaction is where the emotional entanglements can lead us astray from the work we have to do, but the intensity of connection can give us much deeper information about what’s going on in the desire for connection. You have to really ground yourself in awareness and attentiveness if you take this route. You have to ask all the above questions, plus things like, “Did I feel relief in kissing them? Was it a relief of sexual tension or a relief like coming home?” What did I see in my minds eye when we kissed? What happened in my body? What memories arose? You need to be able to disentangle the sexually related feelings from the emotional lessons it brings up. Of course, kissing is so much more fun than just talking or touching, but it’s also more dangerous if you’re not careful or not with someone who knows how to handle the energy and what develops.

Lastly, of course, is having sex. Most definitely, this is the easiest (and probably most desired) option for people who feel pulled to each other. It’s very pleasurable. It doesn’t require much thought or trust- you just give into the feelings and desires. (I find it incredibly interesting that it’s easier to have sex than it is to talk when we’re in these kind of soul-attraction relationships. I think that says a lot about our humanity and how comfortable we feel with sharing our souls; we’d rather share our bodies.) Of course, having sex dissipates a lot of the sexual desire and tension, but it also entangles us emotionally and energetically in ways that might make it more difficult to find the nature of the soul work the two people need to do. Again, mindfulness and self-awareness are key. That said, I believe that sometimes this is exactly the right choice- there is no other way to find the work that you’re being asked to do.

I figured these things about because I got very close to being able to talk to the person I have this kind of connection with. It super sucks that I’m not going to be able to have the talk, because that only leaves “figuring it out on my own” as my way to deal with this. Of course, figuring it out on your own is also totally viable, but it takes a lot more work and it often takes a lot longer. Growth junkie that I am, it’s what I’ve got, so I’m using it. Because one thing I also learned this year is that when people say ‘no’ to connecting or interacting, you let them be. Not everyone wants to learn or help their soul heal or grow, and that’s their decision.

The coolest thing about figuring this out is that I can be totally fearless the next time I’m attracted to someone. I know that attraction is just the doorway for the work. And I can decide what level of interaction to ask for. I am wise and attentive and aware and so I’ll gain a lot from whatever way the other person and I connect. Because I understand how it works, I can walk into it with more clarity and skill and openness (and less attachment, hopefully). It feels really grounding to have previous lessons come together like this and help me understand how to handle these kinds of attractions in the future. Even if I don’t get to have my conversation, I get to have this understanding and that’s so awesome it kind of makes me cry.

::: ::: ::: :::

This year has given me a lot- a lot of grief and struggle, a lot of growth and grace. I’m grateful. I don’t have many plans for 2019- except as listed above. I think Life is enough of an adventure on its own, I don’t need to go looking for much new! exciting! stuff. And I don’t need to set high expectations for myself anymore (I’m sort of over that).

Fellow travelers, I hope that you’re finding useful lessons in your life – this year, this month, always. I hope that the lessons your soul seeks come to you with grace and desire and fun rather than the spiritual equivalent of being whacked upside the head with a 2×4. We all have things to learn and trials to bear- remember not to compare your miseries with another’s. I hope that, whatever it is you have to learn, you are given an equal measure of joy. And I hope you strive to become ever more your self.

I will leave you with another excerpt from The Little Paris Bookshop because I think it is so fitting:

“On the postcard Perdu wrote Catherine that night were the phrases Max had invented that afternoon so he could present them to Samy at dinner…

Star salt (the stars’ reflection in a river)
Sun cradle (the sea)
Lemon kiss (every knew exactly what this meant!)
Family anchor (the dinner table)
Heart notcher (your first lover)
Veil of time (you spin around in the sandpit to find you are old enough to wet your pants when you laugh)
Dreamside
Wishableness

The last word was Samy’s new favorite. “We all live in wishableness,” she said. “Each in a different kind.”

Big love and happy New Year’s Eve,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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The Beautiful Lessons of 2018

Ya’ll. I am so happy right now. Like, wow. Wildly happy.

Why?
Because I got the download yesterday.

You know the download? When you’ve been stewing on something and suddenly it all becomes clear?
Yeah. That.

I have gotten downloads (they might also simply be called ‘clarity’ or ‘solutions’) for many things in my life. I used to run women’s self-care retreats and would regularly get downloads for what content my fellow facilitator and I should put in them, how it should run from one activity to the next, etc. I have also gotten them for classes I’ve taught or a series of blog posts. And a variety of other things (including just what to do to turn particular people on- there’s no limit to what one can find clarity for).

I think this kind of clarity comes when we’ve been stewing on something for a while. For me, it often develops this way. I start thinking about something- gathering ideas, brainstorming, looking at details, imagining different ways the pieces could go together. And then- bam- it all falls into place one day while I’m in the shower (usually) or driving somewhere or drinking a cup of tea or laughing with a friend. I think it’s the ‘stewing’ part that helps it all come together in a way that makes sense.

I have also had clarity when I’ve been so frustrated with something and I’ve finally sat down and either bitched about the whole thing to a friend or wrote out absolutely everything about what’s going on and what’s in my mind and heart. And – bam – there it is. The download. Suddenly everything makes sense and I see why it all had to happen and how the pieces click into place to form the whole picture. [Pro tip: you can use both these tools for yourself and probably get the same results.]

That’s what happened yesterday.

I was feeling so frustrated about several things- personal, professional, relational, etc. I finally sat my ass down in a chair and just writing-barfed all over the page. I let out everything- every detail, every idea, every connection, every desire, every frustration. And when I was done, I asked, “What do I need to see here?” I got very quiet and very centered and noticed.

I noticed patterns.
I noticed places I’ve let go of my own power.
I noticed what needed to be fixed and how to do it.
I noticed who I am and how I have not been honoring that.

I found my lessons for the year.

 

Learn your lessons and the sky’s the limit.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

Typically, Fall is the time of year that I have insight into something about my life that needs to be looked at a little more closely. Often, that ‘thing’ also needs to be dealt with- felt, healed, put boundaries in place or change my behavior. This last year I’ve learned a lot of skills and new things about myself, but I haven’t been as focused on what I need to learn as in past years. I haven’t taken any classes this year, I’ve read only for pleasure, and that’s very different than in years past, so it didn’t feel like there was much in the way of lessons for me this year.

Except Life always has the last say, doesn’t she?

So, there I was, yesterday: sitting down and full of frustration and five other emotions. And I just decided to write everything out. Once I did, some things became incredibly clear. And I know they are my lessons for this year because once I saw them and understood their roots inside me and their impact in my life, I felt calm, clear, clean, and more alive.

What are my lessons?

To Just Tell the Fucking Truth. There are a couple of places where, if I had just been straight out about something, it probably would have gone a lot easier and better. Usually, I only tell one or two bits of truth at a time to see if people can handle it, or to see which direction they will take it. It’s easier for me to disengage if I’m not as invested (because I’ve not been vulnerable and not told the whole truth); it doesn’t hurt as much. I like to think my heart is always open, but maybe it’s not. And maybe I didn’t tell the whole truth because I was afraid of being hurt- and that fear turned things into a bit of a mess. If I’d just said, “Here’s the truth…” it would have all turned out much better (even if it hurt). I’m telling the fucking truth in 2019. Be ready.

 

Get On My Level or Leave. I give people a fuck ton of chances. And I realized I do this because it is rare for me to want to invest in people. Most people don’t get me. Most people don’t understand me or don’t want to. Most people are dumber and less strong than I am. And I don’t mind helping those people or hanging with them (to a certain extent), but when I find people I connect with and want to invest in, it’s rare. So I give them a lot of chances to hang with me. But that is just not working anymore.

I know that it’s hard to make decisions for some people. And I know some people need to feel 100% about something before they can jump, sometimes (although, that can also be an excuse based in fear). But I know I’m funny, smart, sexy, practical, creative, sensual, kind, supportive, weird, nerdy, beautiful, communicative, healing, etc. and if you can’t or don’t want to hang with that, I am finally good with it. There are people out there who see me and what I have to offer and have jumped at the chance to hang with me. Those are my people. They get me and they get how good it is to be connected to me. And I don’t have to ask them twice. In 2019 I am sticking with these people and not giving so many chances.

 

I Am Not Afraid. But Other People Are. I’m not as afraid to take chances anymore. I may think about it a lot. I may totally fuck things up in the process. But I do stuff and I think that scares a lot of people. Most people are afraid to change their lives, but I’m a change junkie. Most people are afraid of the pain of healing, but I know that pain results in pleasure. Most people won’t take risks of the heart or mind or spirit, but I will. And, again, I may totally fuck it up in the process, but at least I did it. At least I tried. And I know that scares the shit out of most people. I understand. It’s okay. It’s not a fault- safety is also pretty damn nice sometimes (there are skillful uses for everything). But when I’m ready to jump, I do it.  And that is not for everyone. In 2019 if you don’t want to run with me, I’m not going to hope that you try.

 

I’m Passionate. This Also Scares People. I’m ready to go, ready to walk the line, ready to party: once I’ve decided I’m ready, I’m ready. Like, all the way. I’m not afraid to talk about scary things, I’m not afraid of death (too much), I’m not afraid to make mistakes or go after what I want. And I think that really, truly scares people. Maybe it’s hard to keep up with. Maybe they need their own space and time so my pace and passion are hard for them to take. Either way, I’m not waiting anymore. If you want to run with me, you’re going to have to actually run. Lace up your shoes, grab my hand, and let’s go!

On this particular point I realized something very deeply: I have always done my best, felt my best, had the best time when someone – personal, professional, relational – has said, “Hell, yes, I want to do this with you!” and off we go. The plans might change as we go along, but it doesn’t matter, as soon as someone says “Yes!” then I am off like a rocket. And not everyone can do that or wants to follow.

It’s kind of funny…two of my favorite songs are about this kind of ‘yes.’ Say Yes by Floetry is one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard (ooooff). It gets me every time. And it is about this same idea that is now my lesson- that if we just say ‘yes’ it all opens up. I just need someone to grab my hand and I will take them to all the places there are in the universe. Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol is another huge favorite of mine with the same idea: just say yes, it will be fine, it’s easy…just say yes. And that’s really the case with me. When people simply say ‘yes’ to me, I make it the most gorgeous, honest, loved-up ride it can possibly be, whether it’s romantic, professional, friendly, or whatever. It’s just someone agreeing to let my passion flow between us and carry us both.

The lesson here is that I am not going to stop being this way and other people can’t always take that trip with me. And it shouldn’t stop me- it won’t stop me, anymore.

And, Jesus, it makes me giggly happy just to write these things down and feel the truth of them down to my bones, down to my deepest core. Oh, my god. Yes.

It’s the end of Mercury in retrograde today and it’s also a new moon tonight (my favorite phase), which means we (you) should be having more clarity about our lives and our patterns and it’s time to ‘plant’ what we’ve learned under this new moon darkness and let it begin to build into something real in our lives. These lessons are what I know now, and they are what I am going to be making my life from in 2019.

In these last weeks of the year, beloveds, I encourage you to take some time and look at your lessons for the year. Maybe you need to stew on them. Maybe you need a good word-barf session. Maybe you need to put the headphones on and dance like crazy until you sweat out your lessons. Whatever it is, do it. Make the space to find your lessons. Plant them for the new year. Watch you grow.

Under the dark moon, with all my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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New England [from Paris]

The day was bright and hot, but not humid. The sky was blue, with lots of white clouds above us. My feet were walking on gray cobbles, one step at a time. I had a backpack full of food and maps on my back. I walked slowly, tired and hungry. I looked up ahead and saw my husband and children and it occurred to me, “Normally, right now, I would be angry that we weren’t where we were supposed to be, that it’s hot and I’m hot, that we haven’t found a place to eat yet. But I’m not.”

It was a strange revelation to have in a cemetery. But there I was, in the middle of the Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris, and I recognized that I was fully in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about what came next or what had happened a few minutes (or years) ago. I wasn’t angry because we weren’t ‘there’ yet. I wasn’t upset because we’d been trudging uphill for what seemed like hours. I was just walking, noticing what was around me, noticing the sky, noticing the backpack. My mind was calm.

This is one of the gifts I found when I went on vacation in Paris. My mind finally let go of its daily chatter. I found that once I noticed this was happening, I can make it happen whenever I wish. Because, of course I can.

I can’t quite describe how freeing this has felt in the couple of weeks since I’ve returned home. I don’t play scenarios over and over in my head. I don’t try to overly use my intuition. I don’t try to ‘feel into’ people, places, or experiences. I am just living and being and my head is a lot less busy. And it feels great. I watch TV now and read more books (and less social media). I go to bed on time, which I have struggled with for years. It has really been an amazing shift. I want to hold on to this.

I sometimes feel a little disoriented for not thinking and futzing around in my head so much. But I get over it. And it’s not fully integrated yet, so there are still moments when I catch myself at the old habits of mind. But I know how to let myself out now. I was my own jailer; now I know how to set myself free.

One thing I realized, having let go and calmed down in these last two weeks is how much I was at the mercy of my own emotions. I thought and felt deeply – still do – and I got dragged all over by those thoughts and feelings. And that happens less often now. I am also more aware of when it does happen and I can pull myself off the hamster wheel as needed. I still feel deeply, but now it doesn’t pull me all over, feeling by feeling, low and high. I realize how busy and crazy it made me feel; I prefer this peace.

The other gift of Paris was as wonderful as peace, it was beauty. In Paris there were far fewer ads for beauty products for women. In America women are bombarded with magazines, TV ads, bus posters, and billboards about the ways in which they are deficient and should improve themselves (to a beauty standard no woman can achieve). There are aisles and aisles of beauty products in stores the country over for women to improve how they look. These things do not exist in Paris. And I came to understand something really important: I am the only one who can define my beauty.

Is it nice when someone says I’m beautiful? Of course. It’s always lovely when someone says they find you meet their standards of beauty. But me finding myself beautiful is much more important and valuable. I started taking selfies with no make-up on. I take selfies when I feel good, generally. But to feel good without make-up on was weird. It challenged the part of me that feels I must live up to the impossible standards; it challenged the part of me that knows I gain something in this world from meeting a lot of those standards. I get resources – respect, patience, a discount from the manager – that others don’t get due to how they look because I meet the standards of conventional beauty in this country. It’s not fair or right, but it happens, and it was challenging to my sense of self to recognize that as I looked at how my ‘unmade’ face – my naked face – did not meet those standards. My naked face is beautiful, but it won’t get me as many resources as my ‘made up’ face does.

Finally, I also learned that I don’t even have to ask the beauty question if I don’t want to. Am I beautiful? Who cares? There are so many things that are more important than beauty: kindness, authenticity, compassion to name a few. I believe that our beloved will find us beautiful no matter what, so what does beauty matter? I think maybe it doesn’t.

 

Naked faced me.

In the last two weeks, since being home, I’ve also come to realize that I want to experiment with being done here. I have a few things left to say, but I am beginning to think that this space has served its purpose. It was a place for me to make art from my pain and frustration, which I did. It was a place for me to tell my truth, which I have done.

I’ve been thinking about the tagline here, recently. “Honest. Erotic. Rebellious. With god.” At the time I started this blog, being sensual and sexual felt like the furthest thing from being spiritual. My Protestant upbringing assured those two energies would be divided in my mind and body for a long time. But I have worked and found the place where they are both true. That’s part of me now. And, truth be told, what is ‘rebellious’ to a middle class, white lady is not exactly ‘rebellious’ to the rest of the world (we all have our stories to break free from, but mine is like a lot of other white, Protestant ladies, so it’s not very rebellious at all). If anything, this has always been a place for me to share my thoughts and tell what I see as truth, but I have no real claim to any capital-T truth, so I’m not sure I have much else of value to share.

The other thing I’ve begun to wonder about is that I really put my heart on the page here and maybe my heart it worth more than that. Maybe my heart is for those who love me enough to get over their own fears and seek connection with me. Maybe my heart is for those whom I deem worthy. And maybe that’s why it’s time to play with being done here. We shall see…

Big love from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Night, the beloved.

 

 

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

 

“Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

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The Best Thing You Can Do With Your Life is Rebel

We are born into boxes.

When they pull you up and out of the womb, the first thing they say is the first box you’ll be stuck with: “It’s a boy!” “It’s a girl!”

You are born into a family with rules and norms already established, which you will be expected to follow.

Religion.
Sexuality.
Politics.
Behavioral norms.
Expectations for how your brain should work.
Et cetera.

Now, only recently have we come to understand that maybe this isn’t the best idea. That there ought to be room for people to define their own life, to describe their own gender, sexuality, politics, religion. But this is a very recent development.

As a parent, I certainly had no idea of this when my children were born. I knew I didn’t want to put as many requirements on them as my family had on me, but I was definitely not thinking about letting them define their own gender at the time they were born. (Although this seems like a reasonable thing, 13 years later.) I did expect that having children would bring people into our family and that they would be expected to function within this family until they were able to care for themselves. I see now that this was also slightly misguided. Already my kids are defining their lives away from our family rules (cool but also hard). I have to remember that rebelling, and becoming who they are, is the best thing they can do. And the best thing for our family.

::: ::: ::: :::

I’ve been thinking about rebellion a bit lately. That we are given, or accept, these boxes at various points in life and, quite often, they do not end up fitting who we are as we grow into our own truth. The boxes we are given may be as foundational as gender (M or F, pick one?) and breaking out of that can be a long, hard path. More often, I think we have to break out of the boxes of sub-culture: religion, politics, job expectations, etc.

I had to break out of the sub-culture of Christianity, a sub-culture that served me well for many years.

I had to break out of the sub-culture of ‘normal’ heterosexual marriage. [Have I told this story before? The day after we were married and headed out to our honeymoon, I sat my husband down, crying, and said, “I don’t want to be married to you anymore! I don’t want to be a ‘wife!’ ” He was a bit taken aback, but understood what I was getting at. I did not want traditional marriage roles. He gracefully said we would not be ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ then, but ‘partners’ – and so we have been.]

I had to leave the sub-culture of conservative politics.

I have been gradually transforming what sub-culture I relate to in my sexual identity.

I refused to enter the sub-culture of ‘busy kids’ where everyone has multiple activities. [Dare to be bored, my children!]

As an entrepreneur, I have left the sub-culture of ‘9-to-5 job.’ [They punish you big for this one.]

And more.

But it is in leaving these sub-cultures, in making my small rebellions, that I have become myself.

It has been in the moments of saying, “This does not work for me. This culturally-decided rule does not fit who I am or how I wish to live,” that I have created my own life, and been true to my deepest and best self.

This is messy work.

It is hard to leave behind boxes that supposedly guarantee the successes our culture offers. Certainly, as a white woman, even when I ‘rebel’ I still get the goodies- the money, the safety, the support our society calls ‘success.’ The stakes are higher and the punishment worse for people of color, indigenous people, disabled people, and others who dare to rebel.

There is a woman I follow on Facebook- Isabel Faith Abbott- who writes and speaks about rebelling in the medical realm. She refuses to accept the story of the ‘good warrior’ who deals with health issues and puts a smile on at every appointment or dismisses her pain and suffering (or tried to ‘make love and light’ out of it). She is a rebel whose quality and authenticity I hope to achieve. (She also just does not put up with the bullshit of our society and I learn a lot simply from reading her work.)

On the flip side, I know a hundred people who have not felt able to rebel around their work, and so are stuck with the ‘golden handcuffs.’ Income that provides for their needs and wants and safety, but a job that actually sucks the life out of them. (Some call it ‘slow suicide’ and I don’t think that’s far off from the truth.) Their choosing to not rebel leaves them empty, if safe. [I have begun to wonder about how this plays out with white women who politely protect racism…another post, perhaps.]

 

Photo by Aashish R Gautam on Unsplash

 

Rebellion is often hard, painful work. It can be hard due to emotional pain, leaving family, leaving work, leaving ideas of our self and who we are (or who we thought we were). In some cases there is deep punishment for rebelling. This may be with money or access to healthcare or simply access to our own bodies (I think of women in this and other cultures who have no say over who and what is done to their bodies; their rebellion may mean death) or many other things.

But the rebellion is often worth it.

Because to be able to be true to one’s own self is what the soul calls for. 

And to shake off or refuse the boxes that we are given throughout our life is a call to soul development, soul loving, and soul truth. It is being real.

To accept yourself, and thereby carve your own path, is much of what we are here to do. And I believe it makes the world a better place. When we show the fullness of who we are, we make a bigger, brighter, better version of the world to live in. We make more faces for God to love and laugh through.

Be who you are, fellow rebels. The world needs your colors and light and truth.

And I will be here, cheering you on.

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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