Women's Empowerment starts young!


There is no doubting whose daughter this is... Not only did she ask to get her hair cut short aged 5 (I did the same aged 7), but for her birthday manicure/pedicure treat she went for blue toes and neon hands (non-matching obvs)...

I can't think where she gets her independent streak from...And I couldn't feel prouder.

Because despite the fact that it has often been a MAJOR source of irritation to me - let's face it, independent thought and obedience don't fit that well together - I couldn't wish more for a young girl growing up in this day and age.

For the world out there is tough. Social media is pervasive. Opinions on what a woman should do, look like, feel, eat, wear and how they should behave have never been stronger.

So women's empowerment needs to start young. And it is our duty as parents to model this at home. Which doesn't mean allowing our daughters to disregard all of the house "rules" and run amok (no, no, no - I'm a Gina-Ford-parenting-control-freak, remember?) but it does mean allowing them to express themselves in whichever way feels real to them. Because THIS is (time for my buzz word here) AUTHENTICITY.

Because children do have their own, unique voices and opinions, even at a young age. And if we stifle those by overruling them with OUR needs and desires, all the time, just because we have been put "in charge" as parents, then they quickly learn that theirs are not valued and therefore that there is no point in articulating them.

And in a society that doesn't value women as highly as it does men as a whole, this damage lasts well into adulthood. Until we take the momentous leap of faith required to trust in ourselves again. To listen to our intuition. To our excitement (that's a yes!) and to our hesitation (that's probably a no!). Sound familiar?

If we weren't allowed to speak our minds when we were little, we quickly fall out of practise. Because it is a muscle that needs constant stimulation.

So whilst it may seem like a small thing to have acted upon her desire to cut her hair short, and an even smaller thing to let her choose her own nail varnish colour, it isn't. It is huge. And there are so many parents our there vetoing similar choices. Which is such a shame. Because I saw with my own eyes how her behaviour changed from one day to the next: I have a voice! It counts! I can use it to express myself!

Women's empowerment starts at home. It starts with our girls. Whatever their age. I DARE YOU...

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On speaking your truth...


It’s been a full on couple of days. Not only was it the last few days of the school holidays (which somehow made it harder for me to accept not having any time to myself rather than easier - as though I was so close to the finishing line that I just couldn’t hold my frustration in any longer) but I have also been called upon more than once to speak my truth. I have had to stand up to what I believe rather than cave in to the desire to attenuate myself in order to be appreciated. I have had to speak my truth, regardless of the potential consequences. It has been terrifying. Why? Because it is part of the patriarchal dynamic in which we live that women must stay small in order to be accepted. Society frowns upon women that are “too much”: too loud, too big, too tall, too outspoken, too beautiful, too confident, too happy even. The result is that many women, including myself on occasions, feel that their empowerment hurts others; that by being ourselves we risk losing the admiration, love and respect of others. That it is best that we hide our power in order not to risk being seen as too much. So in order to fit in, not make a fuss, we silence ourselves, act small, tow the party line, pretend to others we are feeling something we are not just to make the uncomfortable feelings that are lurking underneath go away.

But this is counterproductive. Because not only does trying to fit in when it is inauthentic cause yet more ‘negative’ feelings: anger, grief, disappointment, resentfulness; it also merely serves to perpetuate our smallness. And reinforce the belief in others that they too must remain small.

So on more than one occasion last week, I ignored the temptation to be small, to 'emotionally caretake' others’ potential triggers and to make it all ok by denying what I actually felt. It has not been easy.

Before and after, I have felt out on a limb, isolated, hurtful even. But deep down, I KNOW it was the right thing to do. So I have been doing a lot of inner parenting to help me through: I have had to remind myself over and over that I am not in charge of others’ reactions to me, I cannot force them to understand, I cannot be liked and loved by everyone all the time. That I am ok, that I can do this, and that by sticking to my values and expressing my feelings authentically and respectfully, I am also paving the way for others to do the same. And this is the key: that by summoning the courage of my inner Warrior to help me speak my truth with the compassion and centeredness of my inner Buddha and showing others that it can be done without falling apart, I am hopefully demonstrating that there IS another way to being a woman in a patriarchal society, that we CAN indeed own our power and be authentic. And that with this comes an immense sense of true freedom, far greater than the fleeting contentment that comes from being accepted.

Have you ever struggled to own your power, to take the path of authenticity over acceptance? If so, I’d love to hear how. Please share your comments below!

Artwork: 'Between Two Worlds' by Vian Sora

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The importance of grandmothers...

Message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers: "As you move through these changing times... be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.

You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.

Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother's grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle... and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.

Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings."

This pretty much sums up how I am TRYING to live my life from now on. I'm probably trying too hard (as always) which falls into the masculine, yang category of "pushing" rather than "allowing", but it's a start.

The irony is that it takes warrior courage (and therefore a little bit of pushing) to transform ourselves from one mode of being to another, even if the new mode is softer and calmer. We need our Warrior to tap into our Buddha; and if I and others can indeed remember to call in the love, guidance and wisdom of our female ancestors to whom this came far more naturally than to our confused, patriarchally-repressed selves, then bit by bit we can change the way we live and create a place in which yin and yang, feminine and masculine energies, the Buddha and the Warrior, are in perfect harmony, finally.

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The 'second' sex?

Lying in my sick bed, I just listened to a recent recording of a discussion on Simone de Beauvoir, the intellectual, philosopher and feminist's life and works. Touching on topics as varied as existentialism, the patriarchy, how motherhood is not a feminine given and that we are as "natural" at it as men are paternal, menstruation and bodily functions, The Second Sex - the book that launched her career (I was going to put "seminal" but that is completely inappropriate given the subject matter) is now firmly on my Xmas list. It is both depressing (in that not that much has changed since) but also inspiring that there have always been great, strong, outspoken women such as this pioneering a redefinition of our role in society.

Have a listen to the podcast and let me know what you think?

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On women and their mothers...

The “mother wound”. It’s kind of taboo to even write that let alone admit that it resonates. Because the bond between a woman and her mother is often considered sacrosanct – too important to be interfered with. But it is precisely because it is so important that it must be interfered with. Or at least looked at, to see whether it is allowing both parties to live lives according to their fullest potential or whether it is holding both parties back in an unconscious contract that requires them to hide their light and act ‘small’ to fit in or be accepted by each other. I have been exploring this concept having come across the amazing work of Bethany Webster who has made the mother wound the core part of her offering. It is both fascinating and challenging work which I hope to learn more about soon by following her online course. As a mother myself, I want to make sure that I can clear as much generational baggage as I can so that my children are in the best position they can be to become authentic, happy people. I believe this is the cornerstone to all female innerwork.

Generational baggage is even stronger for women because it is passed on physically as well as through the usual unconscious patterns of behaviour we inherit as children learning to navigate the world. It always amazes me when I reflect that I was already present in my grandmother’s womb. Yes, physically! As women we are born with a fully functioning set of ovaries and all the eggs we will ever produce throughout our lives. Thus I was already fully immersed into the matriarchal line as an egg in my mother’s womb as my grandmother was pregnant with her. Crazy, eh?!

And where does the wound come from? In a nutshell, historically women and feminine energies in both men and women have been oppressed. This has traditionally caused women to segregate and compete for available resources. The degree to which our female ancestors felt “less than” has dictated the depth of the wound that is unconsciously passed on through the generations. There is no blame in this because they simply did not have the tools to release the trauma this created. We do.

As part of a larger female collective awakening we are in a unique position to use our feminine energies and means of connection: movement, song, touch as well as meditation and reflection to clear this baggage. But it must start with the very difficult admission that on some level there IS a wound: our mothers may not have been there for us in all the ways we wanted her to be. Probably because they simply couldn’t be.

This acknowledgement alone allows us to free up the energy that was spent trying to fill the void in unconstructive ways – either through addictions, inappropriate relationships or work – and begin to give ourselves what we felt was lacking. Through parenting ourselves, we are free to become our authentic selves. We can begin to live our lives according to our own, unique set of beliefs rather than according to a book of beliefs we were handed as children by our parents, our culture, society as a whole.

This is necessary work. Because without a healthy relationship to our female ancestral line (however independent and modern we think we are!) we cannot have a healthy relationship to ourselves or to our children. We are the generation who can take an honest look at our inherited beliefs and take unprecedented steps to clear generational baggage by rejecting those that do not truly belong to us.

I therefore challenge you to ask yourself the following questions: Are you carrying negative stories passed down from before that are not truly yours to pass on? Are you caretaking inherited beliefs that do not actually resonate with your authentic self? Is the bond with your mother one that allows you both to flourish?

This is deep and scary work that goes to the core of how we see ourselves. But it is exciting too because it is liberating. It requires courage. I’m going to summon my Warrior to dive in – will you?

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