Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Living an uncommon life

It is time we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men and women. Henry David Thoreau
When I was a little girl I dreamt of being a woman. Wise. Sexy. Successful. Looked up to. Admired. Beautiful.

I don't know the exact day I became a woman. Can't tell you the time and place when I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Good morning woman. Good-bye little girl."

Then again, for a long time, I dragged my little girl with me, letting her out in temper tantrums and wailing tears of fear and shame. For a long time, I resisted becoming a woman because -- women are weak. women cry. women can't do what men do.

Becoming a woman was and is a process. It isn't just about being 'female'. It's about being who I am as a human being of the feminine gender in an adult body.

It's about being me.

For a long time, I didn't 'get it'. I thought if I could do it like a man, I was being a woman. If I could ski as fast, run as far, play as hard, work as much, I would be 'equal'.

Equality is not a gender issue. Equality is about being free to be who I am without fearing that who I am is not good enough.

Think about it, when did you last hear a man say, "I wish I could cry like a woman."

I'm thinking -- never.

Yet, as a woman, I have thought, "I wish I didn't cry like a woman. I wish I had more control of my emotions like men do."

I'm learning differently in the school of life that being in control of my emotions is not the same as suppressing them because I don't know how important they are to me or because they scare me or because they're a sign of my gender and make me unequal to someone else.

Emotions are incredibly important in my life. My emotions are my weather vane. They tell me which direction the wind is blowing, and how hard it is pressing against my past pushing me away from where I'm at and whipping up dust clouds preventing me from seeing where I'm going. My emotions tell me the temperature of what's happening inside me and where I'm at in dealing with whatever is going on in my life. They tell me when I'm avoiding, hiding, overreacting, misinterpreting, misunderstanding, and/or misdirecting the events unfolding in the world around me. And, they tell me when I'm safe, or not.

In the uncommon school of life, I am learning to acknowledge my feelings through my emotions so that they can flow freely -- and appropriately.

As a woman, appropriate sometimes means 'with tears streaming down my face'. Yet, in a business setting tears are generally considered inappropriate. Because I wanted to be a woman who was 'equal' to a man, I didn't like to let my tears out in certain circumstances. It made for rather uncomfortable meetings sometimes. I would want to express my opinion about something that was important to me, and wouldn't. I didn't want to cry in public.

Now, my not wanting to express my opinion was not based on what was important to me, it was always based on my thinking around my emotions and in particular, my tears. -- Tears make men uncomfortable. Tears are not professional. Tears are a sign of weakness...

Tears are words the heart cannot express.

When my heart is touched in wholeness, I am open to love and loving. I am alive, sensitive and caring to and of the world around me.

When my heart is blocked, I am blocked. Stuck. Cut-off. I'm in my emotions -- but they are a swirling sea of discord flowing out on a wave of tears. They churn up my peace of mind, disturb my balance, and undermine my well-being.

My tears can heal, or they can be an inappropriate expression of my emotions. When I am feeling wounded, out of esteem, lacking in confidence, frustrated, angry -- I will cry. Generally, I am feeling those things because I do not understand the emotions rising within me. I do not understand the connection of my emotions to the stories I tell myself about what's happened to me in my life and what's happening to me in this moment.

When I cry in frustration and anger, it is not because my emotions are flowing freely. It's because I am stuck in feeling the past rising up in the moment. I am fearing the woman I think I might be. I am fearful that who I was in the past is all I can be in this moment forever more. And in my fear, I am not being the woman I am. Whole. Complete. Balanced. Accepting. At peace with all of me.

My emotions are more than just my tears. My emotions are me. Laughter, softness, gentleness, moments of stillness, moments of peace. Moments of exuberance, of leaps and bounds and cartwheels of joy. Anger. Uncertainty. Guilt. Fear. Humility. Determination. Optimism. Innocence. Hope. Love.

When I acknowledge my feelings, and embrace my emotions I am released from being trapped in my mind. Aware and conscious, I am free to feel my way through living a life of tenderness and joy and passion.

My emotions are me and I am a woman. Different than a man, yet just the same. In the uncommon school of life I am free to be the woman I am. I let go of the common and step fearlessly into an uncommon way of being – at peace with all of me. In love with who I am, just the way I am in all my emotions flowing freely as I feel my way into living an uncommon life.

The question is: Are you willing to feel your emotions without judging yourself for how you express them? Are you courageous enough to become aware of your feelings so you can express yourself in this moment without dragging the past forward?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


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