Marianne Williamson

On embracing our multi-passionate selves...


As soon as we are of school age, we are taught to hone our skills and limit our field of interests. After assessments on 10 or so subjects aged 16, that number is quartered for our final set of exams. Next, it’s off to university to focus on one single subject followed by a career whose ideal progress is linear, direct and upwards. At this point, everything else must be excluded from public view, in case it is seen as a distraction. Why else would interviewers narrow the field by asking where you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Thus, we are groomed by a patriarchal society to prioritise our masculine energy over our feminine. We are taught that in order to thrive, regardless of our sex, we have to adopt a logical and analytical view of the world. We learn that to get ahead, we must be fearlessly determined, single-mindedly independent and driven towards a financially-orientated definition of success.

Until recently, I was the perfect disciple: intellectually assertive, in control and busy. I saw myself as the sum total of my skills, achievements and job roles to date, not as the person behind them.

But this didn’t always come naturally. I came across my first stumbling block just after university - that weird limbo between childhood and adulthood when you do not yet know what your purpose is, nor how you should present yourself to the world. Having favoured intellectual curiosity over the emotional kind, I had no idea who I really was. The arena in which the masculine had thrived no longer existed. I was suffering from a quarter-life crisis and my existential angst was not assuaged by hearing that “the world was my oyster”. Because faced with a quagmire of potential career options and no route map to navigate it, the oyster looked pretty bleak.

What I needed was some balancing feminine energy: something to ground me, to allow me to surrender and to be flexible. But with no tools to access it nor role model to emulate, I replaced intuition with strategy, took up a seemingly random job and continued to forge ahead.

I hit another such block in my late 20s, when the masculine model revealed a few more flaws: I was exhausted of doing rather than being, of pushing rather than allowing, of always striving for a better future or lingering in the past, of not feeling enough, right now. But still ignorant of an alternative modus operandi, I again dismissed these warning signs and struggled on impervious.

It was only when I became a mother and was forced to slow down, that the once small stirrings of my neglected feminine became a clamour. Mothering in my masculine had been successful for a while (Gina Ford offers an arguably acceptable role model), but a second, less ‘pliant’ infant and a demanding toddler in tow, made me see that children need more than just the essentials: they needed my full presence, complete acceptance and constant, unconditional love. In this arena, my masculine was revealed as impotent. I had reached my mid-life crisis.

And so began a difficult but rewarding journey towards emotional and spiritual balance. I took a long, hard look at my motivations, beliefs, reactions and triggers, at the people and situations I was surrounded by and at what makes me truly happy and fulfilled. Finally I met my divine feminine: I practised reconnecting to my body and intuition, I began to allow uncomfortable feelings and I implemented self-care. I balanced my yang yoga with some yin; I carved out time to be meditative and calm, and worked on cultivating patience and gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong, life is not now miraculously easy. But it is easier. For the first time, it includes centredness, joy, fulfilment and connection. And to quote Marianne Williamson, I would much rather endure the occasional, “sharp pains of self-discovery” than the enduring, “dull pain of unconsciousness”.

These days, I try to see the world through feminine-tinted glasses: to be more collaborative, vulnerable, soft and creative; to flow with life and allow unexpected, magical things to happen in the spaces I no longer rush to fill. Instead of pigeon-holing myself into the Linked-In mindset, I have embraced my multi-faceted nature. I realise that being authentically me means revealing more than just one of my many faces; that I can navigate different paths at the same time and that these actually enrich and enhance each other.

And I also want my children to value these feminine traits -  just as highly as the masculine ones. To combine both energies in the way that best suits their unique range of skills. Which is hard. Because there are so few role models. Particularly amongst those who, like me, toed the academic party line. I can count on the fingers of one hand the women with whom I was hot-housed who are running their own, creative businesses. It seems that those who dare to step out of the intellectual matrix in order to shine their creative light, are few and far between.

For our current educational system promotes the story that the intellect and intuition/creativity are mutually exclusive and then trains you to exemplify this: the more academic you are considered to be, the more your passions are (subtly) repressed. You are taught to worship your powers of critical analysis, your prize a career that is “intellectually rigorous and rewarding”.

But what if we could be intellectually rigorous AND intuitive, driven and present, nurturing and successful? I want my kids to know that WHO they are and the WAY they are is just as important as WHAT they do.

So, I won’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up, instead I will ask them what they love to do. I will show them that they can be pulled in more than one direction. I will encourage them to be proudly multi-faceted. Because then, the world really IS their oyster…

Art by Christian Schloe

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On restraint...


I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the notion of restraint: on whether it is a concept that is positive or negative and on what would happen if we were free of it. Restraint would have been lauded in Victorian times, I suppose; in those days it was intricately linked to dignity. But that only makes sense if you assume that deep down we are naturally feral and need to be controlled in order to be civil.

You could say that we sometimes need to apply boundaries to our behaviour because without them we would all become lazy, unfit, obese, indulgent and selfish. But I don’t share that view. I don’t think we naturally tend towards wildness or excess. I think we may need to moderate ourselves from time to time, to check-in to see whether some of our habits make long-term sense, but we don’t need restraint. Restraint means self-control; it means keeping ourselves within limits. And in my book, that’s never good.

So for me, it is a negative concept. I feel a sense of scorn when I see it written or say it out loud. Probably because I have spent so many years under its spell: feeling that I needed to restrain parts of myself (physically and emotionally) in order to fit in, in order to please others, in order not to be ‘too much’.

For example, until recently, I’ve always envied quiet, shy, retiring violets; introverts who think before they speak, or even more elusively, don’t say much at all. Because onto these types of people I could project just about anything I wished I could be. They were the ideal blank slates. I also envied them because I knew deep down that they provided the perfect antonym to my (usually) loud and intense presence.

So in order to emulate them I would use restraint. Or rather, since I’m not very good at restraint-on-the-spot as it were, I’d be BIG by mistake and then regret it (usually because I felt I was the only one in the room being quite that big) and would resort to retrospective restraint in the form of guilt, shame and self-blame: "I’ll be less direct next time, less passionate next time…”

But I don’t do that anymore. Firstly, because I saw that there was no point. I never was able to curb my bigness. And secondly because I realised that all of my self-imposed limits were based on an entirely subjective appraisal of myself and of what others might think of me.

For there are degrees of bigness. And I saw that there was no point beating myself up for being at one end of the spectrum rather than at the other. Because, the spectrum can start and finish wherever you choose it to and my judgement of what was too much or too little was equally arbitrary! I realised that I will always be louder than some people (especially in withdrawn, stiff-upper-lip, collar-buttoned-up UK) and I will always be more introvert than others (perhaps why I love Spaniards, Italians and Americans!)

Our self-perception is dependent upon the precise sector of humanity against whom we choose to compare ourselves, as well as upon the set of values we decide to attach to our bigness (or smallness or anything we pick as not being ‘good enough’). Tact, passion, discretion, restraint and assertiveness are all culturally relative: they hold different values according to the nationality, culture and social setting into which we are born.

And when I finally got this, I started allowing myself to be more authentic, more natural, less forced: I stopped depending so much on others for approval, and started caring less if I didn’t it get it. It felt GOOD. The only thing that had been stopping me was fear. Fear of accepting the unrestrained version of myself, a fear of indulging my authentic self.

And I think this is a sentiment that is far more widely held than we care to admit. We are so used to being controlled by the system, by others, by ourselves, that most of us fear what would happen if our limits weren't in place. Because as the inspirational 'spiritual activist' Marianne Williamson so beautifully puts it in the oft-quoted passage from her book: “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

So to this end, I would like to propose a New Year's experiment: what if we each had as our aim this coming year to feel good rather than to be conventional? What if we each took up our unique niche on the beautiful, far-ranging scale of bigness with pride instead of timidity or shame? What if we ditched the restraint and let ourselves be as big as each of us is meant to be? As messy and naturally responsive as our bodies and emotions allowed?

Just imagine if we could all commit to becoming a little more authentic this year. Because ultimately, authenticity leads to acceptance that each of us comes in different flavours, shapes, tones and volumes. And that each is as perfect as the other. Now wouldn’t that be awesome and worthwhile?

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Artwork: Christian Schloe

a call to action...

I think I love this woman... 


I got serious goosebumps listening to it. For me, this is just so inspiring - a woman who is not afraid to shake things up, not afraid to speak her truth, who calls on us to rise up and "resist" the status quo. And yet her message is also about purifying the heart, love and finding our divine soul purpose. If we can do that and become the "passionate freethinking adults" she is calling us to become, then, as she says, we not only become "difficult to manipulate" but also "impossible to control".

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with other social media! I’d love to keep sending you updates so feel free to sign up to receive posts by e-mail and click subscribe. Don’t forget you can also follow me on facebook,twitterinstagram & bloglovin!