Taking Space

May I be freed from all projections

So I can see clearly

Show up as an empty vessel

Listen well.

There is love here

There is darkness too.

New vision discerns:

This is my work to do

And this

Is not.

Time sees what was hidden before

Space for healing.

We come together again

More real.

Feminine power

IMG_3882This photo was taken last spring when I performed with the Wandering Bindis bellydance troupe at a women’s heart health conference. I didn’t share it at the time because I was still stifled by the worn-out belief that a woman can’t be both feminine and professional.

A professional knows how to put everything else aside to be fully present for another. A professional knows how to stay calm and do what needs to be done in a crisis. A professional steps up, steps in, and competently uses the tools available. A woman can do all those things no matter what she is wearing or how she enjoys her free time.

Feminine power is not the female version of masculine power. It is strength in vulnerability, beauty in chaos, and stillness in change. Feminine power is fearlessly emotional, wild, creative, and loving, and it is a blazing fire when it encounters something no longer serving its purpose. It is accessible within all of us, regardless of gender.

I don’t need to pretend to be less or more or different than I am, and neither do you. We can be whole human beings, expressing all dimensions of ourselves. 

The paradigm is shifting, and it feels like an earthquake. I don’t want to live in a world where women dominate men any more than I want to live in a world where men dominate women, white people dominate people of color, straight cisgender people dominate everyone else, and so on. Let the systems of external authority crumble. They haven’t been working for most of us for long enough. In the new vision, personal power serves the collective good. Lending a hand feels better than posturing, competing, or institutionalizing. We can do this when we do it together. LOVE is the greatest force ever known. 

The Mirror

Yesterday morning, I saw an older woman crying on the trail. I put a hand over my heart as we passed, and we looked into each other’s eyes, just briefly. I saw her, and she acknowledged that seeing. My chest filled, and tears came to my eyes. I have been that woman crying on the trail. It’s not so easy to be seen when you’re in pain.

This is a healing time for many. In my experience doing my own healing work and holding space for others, the difference between re-wounding and healing is in the safe, loving container. To be in a place where you can feel it all–the shock, the panic, the rage, the terror, the helplessness, the numbness–to feel into the darkness, but present in the body, supported by a deeply compassionate container that sees and honors your true essence–that is healing work. There are many resources available, and if you’re having trouble finding some, please ask for help. If you’re going solo on this leg of the journey, I hope you are creating that space for yourself and finding those resources within.

I also see this as a real time for self-reflection. We each are coming from different realities, so we have different questions to ask ourselves. Here are some of mine:

42917423_10215815937822808_89046294227582976_nWhere have I blamed myself for situations that were out of my control so I wouldn’t have to feel vulnerable?

Where have I felt a boundary be crossed without saying anything?

Where have I misused power myself?

How can I contribute more to our collective healing?

Self-awareness is a key not often used. It opens the door to vulnerable conversation. It allows me to see you, instead of just seeing a reflection of myself.

Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, I hope you face and embrace the person you see in the mirror. That you ask the hard questions and say to yourself, “I am with you every step of the way.”

With a hand over my heart, may we come into our true alignment with healing and integrity.

 

Courage

A shift is underway. It is tumultuous, real, and necessary. A new authority figure is not going to tell us how to fix things or what to do. The leader is in you, and in me, and she rises like a phoenix out of these ashes. She is the whole that is much greater than the sum of her parts.

What can we do? We can stand up. We can speak from our hearts. We can do that hard thing we’ve been avoiding. We can step aside to let some new voices be heard, the voices of the ones who have stayed quiet, the ones who have been stepped on and marginalized for long enough. We can use what we have. We can be uncomfortable for the sake of listening.

We each have our own part to play in this shift. Only you know what your part is. That’s not for me or anyone else to tell you. But I know your part was made just for you, as mine was made for me. When we show up for ourselves, we show up for our community. We show up on behalf of a greater love. 

The time has come for us to know our own strength. Not the strength to take over, but the strength to do what we came here to do. The power has been there inside us all along.

The time has come to support our sisters and brothers who also work out of love, service, integrity, and truth. They falter sometimes too, and we can all use a hand up now and then.

I have faith in us. I hear stories every day of women and men who face their traumas and their fears. We surface with hearts scarred but open. We fall down, and we will get back up again. We have been brave, and we can be even braver together. Love is still here for us.

Reach for the light

Photo by Nacho Juárez

Beyond Self-Care

Self-care isn’t just a yoga class you take twice a week or the beach vacation you plan with girlfriends. Those things are wonderful, perhaps essential. But do you ever deeply relax for a few days only to return to your previous state of tension within hours of resuming the regular routine?

We need more than just the pleasurable, nourishing activities we do to recharge. Beyond self-care is self-love. Self-love is the way you talk to yourself on your roughest days and the permission you give to feel your emotions in full color. It’s saying no when you don’t feel like saying yes, and it’s forgiving yourself when things don’t work out the way you intended. Shifting your self-talk is a bit trickier than scheduling a massage, but the effects can be profound.

When I’m struggling, one of the practices I find most useful is talking to myself. It’s pretty easy to do in public these days—I just put on a pair of headphones and pretend I’m talking on the phone. I’ll take a walk in the neighborhood and ask myself questions like:

“How are you feeling, love?”

“What do you need, sweetie?”

And then I let my inner wounded one speak. I tell the story as long as I feel I need to tell it, and then wait for a response. Sometimes it helps to ask the question:

“What does my heart say?”

And when I let my heart speak, she usually says things like,

“Yeah, that was really hard for you. Of course you’re feeling sad right now.” 

Or, “I love you, dear one. I am with you no matter what.”

It works. I know it sounds a little silly, but hey, what’s wrong with silly? We have conversations in our heads all day long. This is about purposefully choosing the conversation you want to have.

To hear more ideas about going beyond self-care, check out my recent podcast conversation with Erica Blocker.

MWD 127 Julia Aziz

The Blog begins…

I’ve been letting loose into a creative whirlwind these past couple weeks, with five different journals full of project ideas. There’s one for dreams and random inspirations, one for program development, one for calendaring, one for essay writing, and one for stream-of-consciousness processing and poetry. Oh yeah, and there’s also the little notepad I keep in my purse in case an idea pops in when I’m talking to somebody.

I promise you right now, many of these ideas won’t make it off the page. I have come to terms with the reality that my mind enjoys creating AND my human body can only do so much in one lifetime. I have to respect the process of creativity. It starts with this free-for-all chaotic purge of ideas. It’s the madman step Betty Flowers talks about in a short article that guided me through my entire book-writing process. To begin something new, we have to purge all the ideas in whatever messy form they come out in. Structure comes later.

What has emerged out of this mess so far is a little whisper that has turned into a nudge and now a push.

“Start a blog,” it keeps saying.

I have resisted this idea for months, maybe even years. Now I’m saying yes. I’m choosing to follow inspiration where it leads, even if I don’t know the final destination.

Thank you for accompanying me on this ride, dear reader. I am wishing you too some real space and time to dream up your own dreams and the courage to let them come true.

writings