Category Archives: Self-esteem

Sorry: Sugar Coated Non-Consent

I wrote before over on my personal blog, Dreaming Aloud about how saying sorry was epidemic for women… and was a major feminist issue.

There’s a big buzz about a new Pantene ad in the US which calls attention to how the apology is too often used by women as a crutch and a way to downplay their power. Time magazine and Forbes are writing about it. And it does seem to be a trait which defines women, rather than men.

And I’m not just talking about sorry when you bump into someone. But sorry if they bump into you and spill your drink down you.

It’s madness. A cultural epidemic amongst women. And we do it unconsciously all the time.

“Women know they have to be likable to get ahead. Apologizing is one way to make yourself more accessible and less threatening,” says Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl. “Apologizing is one way of being deemed more likable.”  Sorry is simply another way of downplaying our power, of softening what we do, to seem nice.

(Read the full article here.)

The Happy Womb

Reading another woman’s take on why she’s giving up saying sorry (for things that she’s not actually sorry for), I suddenly saw the root of it.

I had previously thought it was sorry I take up space.

But actually it goes deeper – it’s sorry… but no.

It’s all about consent.

And mama do we know what a can of worms THAT is for women.

Women… for a very long time have not been allowed to, not safe to, say no.

Our consent has not been our own to give.

And so we have found ways to get around it. To soften it. Sweeten it.

Sorry is the sugar that helps the medicine of consent go down.

Sorry, but no.

Because no by itself is just too dangerous, too inflammatory, to much of a sign of a woman in her power who needs to be taken down a peg or two. Or shown who’s boss.

So next time you say yes… when you mean no.

Next time you say sorry. When you mean no.

How about just say no?

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://i1.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).

 

Cunt Love

 

Today’s guest post from Colette aka Lady Cunt Love is powerful stuff…

To really love your cunt is to take back what belongs to you.

It is to reconcile with the patriarchal bullshit we have had to put up with for the last thousand years and gain back all the wisdom that we had in a time when our cunts were revered with love and awe. It is to accept that the fear that men felt of our power and capacity for sexual pleasure and to also see that somewhere along the line, we have internalised that fear.

To reclaim the word ‘cunt’ and say with a smile on your lips is so fucking liberating. It is to strip yourself of the chastity belts and straight jackets once and for all.

It’s time for us to move on to a new place.

A place where we are no longer silent or shamed. A place where we see the beauty in ourselves and others.

It is time for us to stop comparing and competing with each other as women but to join together in a circle of sisters. It’s so much easier and liberating this way. It is the only way.

I learned all of this through talking to people on the streets. I decided one day that I had enough of the secrecy and silence. So I created an alter ego for myself named Lady Cunt Love. I wore a silk cunt headpiece on my head and a velvet, glittery cunt around my waist. I had a clipboard and a lots of handrawn cunts and colouring pencils. I had my two friends with me – Queen Clit and The Cuntess. We approached people on the street and in pubs and cafes and clubs. We learned so much about how people view the world, cunts, cocks, sex, porn, gender and language.

cuntlove

I then began to share my story in the form of a poetry collection called ‘The Healing Journey of my Cunt’. We created Cuntcraft, a craft where we sit in circle and use velvet, satin, silk, glitter to create our own beautifully crafted cunts. I facilitate these circles and perform and exhibit from my studio in Brighton, The Cuntquarters and all over the UK and Ireland.

I have witnessed so many beautiful moments where a sweet kind of magic takes over and women find the courage to share their stories with me. Sad stories are told about painful periods, rape, traumatic abortions, miscarriage, abuse and shame (lots of shame). Liberating stories are told too – about sexual pleasure, joyous births and pregnancies, premenstrual insights and happy bleeds. Once the stories are expressed, they are out in the world and can take on a new meaning. They are released and we can come to a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

cunt

I have now decided it is time to take this even further and am inviting women to join me on a four week online Cunt Loving Quest beginning on the 1st April. This is to give women the opportunity to explore their relationships with the cunts in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

You can see a video of me describing the course here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGEyvx6dYrY and join the quest on my website here. http://cherishthecunt.com/2014/03/06/introducing-the-28-day-cunt-loving-quest

Your Story is Sacred: 5 Steps to Find your Sacred Path

Today‘s guest post comes from Leanne Chapman

sacred story

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” 

Joseph Campbell

 

What if everything you had come to believe about yourself wasn’t true?

What if the person you thought you were was built on the stories of others, projected on to you by their own untended wounds, their lack of understanding, their confusion?

I have let go of one story after another over the years – the story that I’m invisible, the story of being second-best, the multitude of stories about how I’m not OK as I am, the stories that told me to change so I could fit in, be OK, be enough.

Without clear guidance, how easy it is to fall into step with the rules and expectations of others – rules which don’t feed or nurture our souls. Who guides us into womanhood when those around us are asleep and don’t see or know us as we are?

Here are 5 suggestions for finding your own sacred path:

1. Step back and see the bigger picture

When you stand in front of a tall building, you can’t clearly see the whole structure. It’s difficult to get a clear view of the floor you need to get to from this viewpoint. But when you stand back further, your view  is much broader and you can see all the way to the top.

Our lives are the same – when we’re in the midst of transition and upheaval, we get up too close and our focus becomes very narrow. This is exactly the time when we really need to be taking a step back so we can see the whole story. Our momentary discomforts are often leading to longer term growth and learning, we just can’t see it when we look at them from a micro perspective.

2. Look for the answers inside you

Research psychologists have discovered that when behaviour is uncertain, such as when we try something we’ve never done before or go to an unfamiliar place, we are more likely to copy the behaviour of others. So when we’re feeling lost and confused about our life direction, we tend to go looking for answers from others. We ask friends what they would do, we check in with psychics, oracle cards, astrological forecasts, and still we can’t decide our next step.

That’s because the answers aren’t out there. The only way to find your true north is to look within. Our heads are so full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘yes buts’, while our heart usually has only one answer – the real one. Our heads are so busy sorting through all the external advice that we don’t learn to go to the source of our own wisdom. Our intuition, our ‘gut’ feeling, our inner knowing – this is where the real answers lie.

3. Focus on your progress, not your stumbles

It’s easy to focus on what we haven’t achieved yet and what didn’t turn out the way we hoped along the way, but we can do this to such a degree that we filter out our successes. It’s important to notice what’s working for us and celebrate our accomplishments so that we keep a balanced view of our journey.

One way to do this is to compare ourselves only with ourselves. For instance, when you started learning a new language three months ago you might’ve only known three words. Now you’re able to hold basic conversations. Of course there are times when you use the wrong word or misunderstand something, but you’re using a lot more of the right words and understanding far more than you were three months ago. It doesn’t matter if other people are fluent, you’ve made progress – celebrate it!

4. Recognise that this is a journey with many segments

Our life path never takes a direct route to success, healing and happiness. The trail follows a winding course, disappearing around corners, dipping into gullies and climbing mountainous terrain. There are sunny days but there are also wild stormy days that almost knock us off our feet. We can’t judge our footing by looking at any of these single points in the road.

The path is made up of many segments which twist and turn in numerous directions. We can only tell if we’re moving forward by taking a series of measurements over time. You’ll have good days and days where you take three steps back. But if the overall trend is in the direction you want to go, you’re on track.

5. Realise that you can create your own path rather than following ready-made ones

The mythologist Joseph Campbell said “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

We often find ourselves on paths that are influenced by the wishes and expectations of others. This works for many, especially those who might otherwise feel directionless, but if it’s not working for you then it’s OK to get off that path. Your own path might take a different route to existing ones, and you might have to beat your way through the undergrowth with a machete to find it, but it will be there and it will be waiting for you.

You’ll know you’ve found your unique path when time slows down. You’ll no longer be lost and unsure or feel as though you’re running out of time. You’ll be caught up in the moment and your future will light up in front of you. All the previous challenges and detours into the unknown will suddenly make sense because they were bringing you to this, your sacred path.

 

leanneLeanne Chapman is an art therapist, writer and founder of Claim Your Treasure, a place to discover your sacred path, reclaim your lost treasures, and connect with who you really are through self-expression, creativity and intuition.

Leanne creates Treasure Maps and Sacred Stories to help you unlock the true meaning of your journey, uncover new pathways to success, and intentionally take the next steps on your sacred path. You can also find her on Facebook.

Moving Beyond your Childhood Pain

I am a big fan of the site, Tiny Buddha, it was my ambition, ever since discovering it to contribute to it.

I have now contributed to it three times (on Perfectionism, Anxiety and The Importance of Connection for Healing. 

So you can imagine my excitement when one of my pieces was selected for Lori Deschene’s second book: Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself which is published on 1st October this year by Conari Press. And if you pre-order it from her site for the month of September you get a whole raft of e-goodies, including my e-book The Creative Mama’s Soul Book!

So to whet your appetite, here’s some powerful words from it that touched me deep…

 

Top 4 Tips about Moving Beyond your Childhood Pain
1. Tell empowering stories of healing in the present instead of sad stories of hurting from the past.

When you live in the story of how you were hurt, you define yourself by your pain, and you essentially pick up where others left off in mistreating you. It’s hurtful and crippling to rehash these events over and over again (though it can be helpful in a therapeutic setting). When you find yourself dwelling on an old story, tell yourself that you’re creating a new one—a story of forgiving and loving yourself in action. Try to understand whoever hurt you, and recognize that their actions were prob- ably caused by their own pain. Then proactively choose to do something to take care of yourself in the way you wanted to be taken care of years ago.

2. Challenge the limiting beliefs that make you feel bad about yourself. You may be holding on to all kinds of limiting, inaccurate beliefs about your worth, your potential, and what you deserve. Realize these are not facts—you formed these beliefs based on difficult experiences and years of misguided thinking, and you can change your life by challenging these beliefs and forming healthier ones. When you start thinking the old belief, look for evidence to support the opposite one. It’s there—proof of your intrinsic value is in your choices, your actions, and your daily life. You just have to start recognizing all the good you do.

3. Shine a spotlight on your shame and douse it with empathy.

When people abuse us, disrespect us, silence us, or disregard our feelings or needs, we often internalize that and feel shame, as if we deserved to be hurt because we were unworthy, bad, or flawed. We then feel the need to hide ourselves to avoid the pain of being seen, but hiding just creates more pain. It’s not your fault that you feel shame—it’s a natural response to the way you were treated—but it is your responsibility to heal it.

Researcher Brené Brown wrote that shame requires secrecy, silence, and judgment to grow exponentially, and that it can’t survive when doused with empathy. Offer yourself that empathy by choosing not to judge yourself for what other people did to you or what you did in response; and let someone else into that process, whether it’s a friend or a professional.

4. Recognize the beauty in your journey.

You may not feel that all parts of you are beautiful, but there’s beauty in the strength and courage that have helped you get where you are. Whatever you did in the past, you were doing the best you could, based on what you learned and experienced. Shift your focus and take some time to acknowledge how amazing your journey has been thus far. How have you displayed grace and bravery? How have all the chaotic dots of your past shaped up to create something unique and inspiring? If your life were a movie, what positive message would viewers take away?

Lori Deschene has dedicated the last  four years of her life building a supportive online community for those seeking and looking to share wisdom. Since she launched tinybuddha.com in 2009, she’s helped more than 650 writers share their stories with over 17 million readers. In addition to writing her first print  book, Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s  Hard  Questions, Lori has self-published the Tiny Wisdom eBook series, and recently launched her first eCourse, Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the Hero. Formerly a writer for nationally distributed ‘tween publications, she has also written articles for Tricycle: The  Buddhist Review, Shambhala Sun, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A native of Massachusetts, Lori now splits her time between the Boston area and the San Francisco Bay Area with her fiancé Ehren

 

Let Your Daughter Find Her Song: Guest Post DeAnna L’Am

Art by Lucy Pearce, cards and prints available from Fine Art America and Slippery Jacks.

Art by Lucy Pearce, cards and prints available from Fine Art America and Slippery Jacks.

 

Sing daughter sing
Make a song
And sing
Beat out your own rhythms
The rhythms of your life
But make the song soulful
And make life
Sing

~ Micere Mugo
Zimbabwe, 1970’s
(From: “I’m on my way running”, editors: Lynn Reese, Sean Wilkinson, Phyllis Koppelman. Avon books, 1975)

Isn’t this the wish of every mother – for her daughter to find her own song, beat her own rhythms, make a soulful song of her life, and sing it?

Most would answer with a resounding Yes! But applying this may be easier said than done…

To begin with, there is nothing to apply here!

For our daughters to find their own rhythms we need to get out of the way, rather than teach, dispense, administer, or reinforce…

The only thing required of us is to model singing our own song, beating our own rhythms, making a soulful song of our life, and singing our hearts out!

Our daughters (and our sons for that matter) learn first by imitation. The early childhood mode of operation is copying… We never “teach” our child how to walk, nor do we explain the concept of “one foot in front of the other”. Instead we simply walk… letting our children try, time and again, to do that which they see us do. Through trial and error, falling and getting up, they ultimately learn how to walk by themselves.

Similarly they watch us eat, get dressed, play ball… We model everything we want them to do. Why is it we stop modeling (and start talking) when it comes to Being?

As parents we have a huge investment in how our children turn out to be.

We don’t give much thought to how they walk, as long as they walk, yet we give a lot of thought to who we wish them to become.

Do you wish your daughter to become like you?
Take a moment to ponder this question…

It is likely that you’d answer Yes to some aspects, and No to others. Perhaps you would like her to be as dedicated as you are to your vocation, but not as procrastinating…. Maybe you wish her to be as loyal as you are, but not dislike her body as much… whatever it is, take a brave look at the aspects you wish her to be inspired by, and those you wish she wouldn’t even see… Take a break from reading this article, and write each of these lists in a separate column on a piece of paper.

Now, look at your two lists, and consider this: which behaviors do I model out of each list?

You may find that the things you like about yourself, and wish your girl to be inspired by, are the things you never “preach” nor spend any time “teaching,” but rather lead by example, without giving it much thought.
On the other hand, it is likely that you spend time thinking about (and talking to your girl at length about) the aspects you wish her to be different from how you currently are…

You already know how to model behaviors about which you have no “chip on your shoulder.” It’s time to implement this across the board!

Look at the list of things you dislike about yourself (or wish your girl would not follow) and make a plan (starting with the 1st item on the list) of transforming your Self…

This has nothing to do with your daughter!
It has everything to do with your own growth, and your own metamorphoses:
from low to high self esteem, from disliking your body to loving it unconditionally, from hating your period to finding solace and insights during “that time of the month”, or from whatever condition you are dissatisfied with, to one you embrace and grow from.

For now, make a commitment to stop talking with your daughter about any of these ideals you haven’t yet achieved in yourself. Instead, cultivate your own songs, and start singing them… discover the rhythms that make you dance, and start dancing.

Seeing you do this, over time, is the best inspiration a girl can have to finding her own song!

***

DeAnna L’am, (B.A.) speaker, coach, and trainer, is author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s guide to Getting Your Period. She is founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls. Her pioneering work has been transforming women’s & girls’ lives around the world, for over 20 years.

DeAnna helps women & girls love themselves unconditionally! She specializes in helping women make peace with their cycle; Instructs Moms in the art of welcoming girls to empowered womanhood, supports parents in guiding their boys and girls through important rites of passagetrains women to hold RED TENTS in their communities. Visit her at: www.deannalam.com.

(NB These are affiliate links.)

The Power of Breasts

Art Lucy H Pearce -http://lucy-h-pearce.artistwebsites.com

Few would deny the power of breasts. They are magnetic. Hypnotic. Fascinating.

So much so that their power has become taboo. They are biologically “secondary sexual features”. But their sexual aspect has supplanted their primary function. They are mammary glands. For nurturing young. They are what connects us to all other mammals. But our culture has forgotten this, and has put them into the “erotic” bracket, and kept for TITillation of men. Their superficial appearance is all that is valued: large, pert, neat nippled breasts.

But breasts are so much more than this.

When we talk of nurturing, the first thing we think of is their milk. And this is truly incredible stuff. Over the years, the more I have learnt about it, the more I have been purely stunned by the intricate miraculousness of this precious fluid. Breast milk, so I have read, changes composition according not only to the age and nutritional needs of the baby, but in order to protect them from infection. Every time a mother kisses her baby, she ingests the pathogens on their skin and creates antibodies which are then fed to the baby through her milk.

I breastfed all three of my children for around two years each. I am so glad I did. But many mothers can’t, or don’t. What I want to talk about is the invisible aspect that is rarely talked about that every mother, whether she breastfeeds or not can give with her breasts: her feminine, nurturing energy.

Think for a second of when you hugged your mother as a child, or when your child hugs you… where is the head? That’s right, laying on the chest, on the breasts. Soothing. comforting, transmitting love. It is intangible, but no less real. This is how mothers transmit the nurturing, loving energy to their children even when they are not breastfeeding, but when we breast feed this streaming of energy is even more direct from mother to child, and sustained for greater lengths of time than a hug.

I first read about the energy properties of breasts in Dr Christiane Northrup’s life changing book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, where she talked powerfully about energy depletion in the breasts and how this can lead to infections and abscesses, when the nursing mother is giving too much and becomes exhausted.

I have also read about the energetic properites of them in Tantric Orgasm for Women, Where author talks of the breasts as a woman’s positive energetic pole, which needs to be approached and awakened first, before genital contact is made. In The Art of Sexual Ecstasy there is an incredible picture of a man sucking his partner’s breast, with a thought bubble, and in it you see him remembering the feeling of suckling at his mother’s breast. His eyes are rolled back, in the same way a milk drunk baby looks, in sheer ecstacy, feeling deep peace and pleasure in their own body and profound connection to the beloved. This is the power of the breast.

Many who have not breastfed worry about the mixing of feelings and emotions between the eroticism of the sexual breast and the nurturing aspect of the mammary gland. Most women report that the physical sensations of breastfeeding are completely different to any sort of sexual interaction, and that if the sexual feelings do emerge, which can happen with a child who is weaning and gone a few days without feeding, that it feels odd and uncomfortable. But the feelings of pleasure and closeness for mother and child are similar to a post orgasmic haze as the act of nursing produces the same hormone: oxytocin, which produces feelings of bliss, bondedness, deep connection and relaxation.

But there is something more to the energetic and nurturing aspect of the breast – something to do with this energy flow which I have experienced many times. When each of my children weaned for a few weeks, to a couple of years with each different child, when they were tired or upset, they would choose to come and put their head, or their hand, on my breast. At first it would have to be on the naked breast. There was some sort of soothing which they got from its energy alone, that was separate from the sucking sensation and the milk itself with which they previously comforted themselves.

And it was not just my breastfed babies who would associate my breasts with nurture. A neighbor’s 3 year old son, who had not been breastfed, fell on the road outside my house, and was very shaken and upset. I picked the sobbing child up to carry him down to his house, the first time I had ever held him, and the first thing he did, was to put his hand gently onto my breast and kept it there, as his sobs subsided, all the way to his house.

And it is not even just humans. One day we found a tiny abandoned kitten in the hedge, and carrying it back home (I was still nursing at the time), it wriggled and nuzzled its way in under my cardigan, nuzzling and licking at my breasts, looking for milk and comfort.

This energy, its pull, its draw for both nurturing and sexual terms fascinates me. One of the most distinctive thing about my paintings is the nipples with the spirals on that emerge so often: a making visible though art, of what lies invisible.

Many of us are unaware of this energy spiral. We have learnt to shut off our feelings to our breasts. But whether we are breastfeeding or not, being aware of this aliveness in our breasts, the energy spirals is key to our feminine health and to healthy, loving, connected relationships. Bringing our attention to them throughout the day and especially when you are hugging people, and before and during intercourse is a key way to be sure that we are in our bodies, giving freely of our energy, not depleting ourselves, nurturing and connecting with love. It is also vital to receive love in through the breasts and heart chakra through hugs and open communication, through keeping our bodies warm, through rest and relaxation, and through massage and loving touch.

Your breasts are miraculous, not for what they look like, but for what they are and do. Take care of them.

This post is part of the Irish Parenting Bloggers BlogMarch to support Breastfeeding Week. For an introduction to the March, and a list of the other participants please visit
Mama.ie