Category Archives: Power

Strong Like the Water

Today’s post from Jackie Singer sent shivers of soul recognition down my spine… I hope it does for you too.

What is an empowered woman like?

I keep returning to this question and wondering. What is the nature of feminine power? Is it different from masculine power? Do we have any models?

A year and a half ago I went to a Women and Earth Retreat, at Pistyll Rhaeadr in Powys. The long weekend was run by Annie Davey and Hilary Kneale at a campsite next to a magnificent waterfall.

waterfallPhoto by Zane Licite

At that time, as a mother of two small children, trying to keep my creative practices alive, and keep some money coming into the family coffers, I was feeling more than a wee bit weary, and yet I felt such a strong drive to make waves in the world. I travelled with this question: how can I step more fully into my power? It was the element of water that spoke to me in reply.

On the first bright, clear morning, we walked up the river valley to a mountain lake, and spent time sitting quietly by its shore. After a while, I bent low to the water, and noticed a tiny sound. Droplets of water were rolling from the soft moss into the lake. As I listened to their delicate music, I marvelled at how these sweet droplets were made of the same stuff that filled the great lake, and which had, over millennia, carved the entire valley. I was put in mind of the daily tasks of mothering, which in themselves are so small, yet which add up to something great. ‘Take heart’, the droplets seemed to say. ‘Each sandwich made, each sock hung up to dry, each goodnight kiss is a droplet that partakes of the great lake of love, which has huge power.’ This put me in mind of Mother Theresa’s advice that we should not pursue “great deeds” but rather “small deeds with great love.”

Later on that day, we chose the spots on the land where we would be alone for the next twenty-four hours. My place was sheltered by a sycamore tree, right by a stream. All day and night, the stream sang to me. I couldn’t see where the source of this flow was, it just endlessly poured by. I often sang along, and a little ditty emerged:

“From deep within, your blessings flow. You are the spring, you are the flow.”

In a world where I am regularly looking for affirmation from outside (a good pay packet, an award for achievement, preferably both), this was a beautiful reminder to look within for both affirmation and inspiration.

Within the last hour of our solo time, the sky grew overcast, and it started to rain. I was glad to pack up my sleeping bag, and head for shelter, warmth, food and company.

By the time I woke up early the next morning, it had been raining for 15 hours. As I wandered from the tent towards the shower block in my anorack, I became aware of a roaring sound. Looking up, I was stunned by the sight of the waterfall in full flow. What had been a graceful, white, maidenly fall of water when we had arrived, was now a thunderous, red Mumma in full power. I abandoned any thoughts of showering or breakfast, and headed straight for the waterfall. “YOU WANT TO SEE POWER?” she yelled, “I’LL SHOW YOU POWER!”

waterfall2Photo by Zane Licite

Here was charge enough to pound rock, and carry away trees: a vivid demonstration of what happens when millions of those little drops of rain from upstream run together. I kept a wary distance, but got soaked anyway. And a new song started forming in me . . .

Mother you call us home,

And all our journeys are as one,

And when we flow together,

Then we are strong.

We are strong like the water,

And our power is the flow.

Every sister, mother, daughter,

Come on and let your passion grow.

For the water knows no stopping,

And the water knows no pain,

So bring your burden to the water,

And be free again.

I’ve spent more than a year pondering the teachings from this retreat. I went with a question about power, and came home with an answer that was all about nourishment upstream. As a woman, especially a mother, it’s easy to run dry. Yet those little drops of love – a sandwich here, a kind word there – fill us up again, ready to flow, effortlessly. To be really powerful, we need really good nourishment upstream. And we are even more powerful, when individual tributaries meet.

Starting a monthly women’s circle last January has given me a tangible sense of what magic can be unlocked when women make a commitment to collaborate, celebrate and nourish each other. This is far from the Patriarchal idea of power, in which for me to be lifted up, someone else has to be subjugated. No, this is what the American activist / author / ritual-worker Starhawk defined as “power with” rather than “power over”. Individually, we each have our cycles of giving and needing to receive. If we carry on giving, we burn out. But by leading collectively, we take our turns to serve, and be served, as the need arises. In this way we flow together. We are strong like the water. And, as the water has been showing us abundantly over the past three months in the UK, that is very powerful indeed.

***

If you want to explore more about women and power check out Lucy’s series

1A power-full series for women who are ready to stop playing small and step into their power.

Written from the heart – these posts address:

  • why women struggle with power,
  • the dark side of women’s power,
  • how women keep other women down,
  • how to step into your own authentic power.

Read the series here…

 Today’s guest post author…

DSC00466

Jackie Singer  is a writer, workshop leader, and independent celebrant, living in Oxford with her husband and two young girls.  She increasingly works with women and girls, exploring rites of passage and the archetypes of the Deep Feminine.  Jackie is author of Birthrites: Rituals and Celebrations for the Childbearing Years, and a regular contributor to Juno magazine.  Visit her blog at http://jackiesinger.wordpress.com.

Advertisements

Confident Carry – Overcoming Shame Around Menstrual Products

Today’s guest post is from Period Wise, and touches on a really important issue: shame and menstrual products which was sparked by a recent event in a school in the US.

A teenage girl who was suspended for concealed carry of menstrual supplies [in a school system which requires that everything be brought into school in a clear plastic bag to facilitate security checks] sheds light on a problem that sadly still plagues us – a lack of confidence among those who menstruate and a lack of understanding among those who do not.

Apparently the Principal’s position is that teenage girls should feel confident enough to place their feminine hygiene needs in a clear bag for all the world to see and carry it with them to class throughout the days they are menstruating, or expect to become menstrual.

Social taboos and menstrual myths abound and affect all.

Rules are established – and followed – without real consideration to the needs of half (and perhaps over half) of the population of a school…group…gathering…attendees of functions….

And, perhaps that’s what these girls should do until this rule is struck down. Perhaps the girls should band together and bring feminine hygiene products in a clear confident carry bag every day whether they are menstruating or not.

I wish all girls and women were so confident in themselves and with menstruation that they were comfortable doing just that.  It would go a long way in ending the embarrassment that so often (and unnecessarily) accompanies things period wise.

And, it would also put an end to the idiotic assumption that menstruation requires a doctor’s permission slip because it’s a medical issue.

A medical issue?  Um…the last time I checked the definition of “medical” it said the word related to the treatment of illness and/or injury.

Menstruation is NEITHER.

So what does confident carry look like?

You tell me.

When you confidently carry menstrual products, what do you carry and how?

If you’ve never confidently carried menstrual products openly in public, what do you think it would look like?  And, how would you confident carry?

Who me? Confident carry?

YES! You!

Confident Carry day TODAY is an opportunity for all to embrace menstruation as normal and natural – NOT something to hide or be ashamed of.  It’s an opportunity to raise awareness to the plight of girls and women all over the world who are shamed into secrecy about all things period wise.

Who would benefit from seeing you confidently and openly carrying feminine hygiene products? Your daughter?  Granddaughter? Your mother? A niece? Your BFF? A student? A girl new to menstruation? A woman with years of experience?  Your partner?

Who could you / would you impact by participating in Confident Carry Day?

At the very least, Confident Carry Day (if you choose to participate) will impact YOU.)

Before you say, “This is not for me because I…” let me say this: male or female, not currently menstruating / never have / or never will again – all are role models for the girl or the boy in your life.

Yes.  Confident Carry is not just about girls and women.  It’s about men and boys, too.

#ConfidentCarry on #May9 is for all.

https://i2.wp.com/www.periodwise.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HS.jpg

 

Guestpost from Suzan from Period Wise: Empowering girls and women to embrace a too long taboo topic – menstruation.

Currently my work as a menstrual activist and educator includes many roles: mentor, friend, writer, speaker, teacher, and perpetual student.  I also serve as the Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved (a non-profit that raises awareness about TSS) and as the Manager of North American Operations for Lunette (makers of an amazing reusable menstrual cup).

 

Women are Humans Too.

A couple of days ago I got this tremendous boost. The community I hang out in of world-changing, paradigm-shifting women was gathered for a teleconference. Day in day out I see women doing inspiring, world-changing personal work, creating health-making businesses… and I feel full. Excited. We are on the brink. We are doing it. Women are helping to shift this world with more power and energy than any time in the past few thousand years. I can almost FEEL a tangible shift in being – for us as individuals, for our daughters, sons, communities…

And then I hear news like that of the hundreds of missing school girls in Nigeria. And I feel despair, dark, sad, sickness. That anyone, whatever their moral compass can believe that they have the right to steal hundreds of human beings, and decide their fates for them forcibly.

The leader boasted that all girls should be wives at 12… or even 6. SIX!  I have a 6 year old girl. How depraved must any man be to want a child of that age to wait on their every need… including sexual… is beyond belief.

That there are still, not just one or two, but thousands, hundreds of thousands of men (and perhaps women) in this world who still believe that the only purpose of another human being is to serve their domestic and sexual needs, without question, as their entire reason for being. And that for any fault in this service, the “contract” can be extinguished through death or permanent disability….

I find it extraordinary that STILL we need to reiterate the basic fact: women are humans too.

And then I think back… that in another life time this could have been me. I think how 25 years ago I would still have been excluded from some Oxbridge colleges. Less than 100 years ago my education would have been curtailed and I would have been married by 18. To have unknown numbers of children, and my fate tied to that of my husband. 150 years ago I would have been refused education all together and would have had my husband decided for me.

I know that many men in the West are a bit like, pipe down now, you’ve got everything you wanted. And more. Look schools are more focused on girl-friendly methods, you get loads of paid maternity leave. Shut up already.

But whilst there are still women in the world whose lives are in danger, are tradeable, are not their own, simply by virtue of having been born with a vagina, then I will continue to shout:

Women are humans too.

These girls are our daughters. Our sisters. Ourselves.

Whatever your religion. Whatever your nationality.

Women are humans too.

The news coverage of this horrific kidnapping of high school students in Nigeria has been shoddy at best. If you don't yet, you need to know the story. And then you need to share it. #bringbackourgirls