Posts Tagged ‘women leaders’

Women Holding the Long Lens

Monday, January 11th, 2016


I’m visiting family and marveling at how long my grandchildren’s arms and legs have grown, how my daughter has become an inventive and creative cook, and how my ex husband has turned into a gentle friend. As this year just begins to unfold, I’m aware of the longer arc, and of the graceful way life changes the way the path looked …way back then.

I’m reminded of the story of how an apparent tragedy occurs, only to become s portal for a fortuitous event, that then morphs into the doorway for another downturn. Age at least provides a lens for the long story, and presents an option not to get too caught up in the drama and apparent truths of each chapter of this wild and beautiful journey.

On this annual solo road trip, I visit family, see old friends, and will end up with seven close women friends who have been a group for over 35 years. We’ve watched each other meet obstacles, embrace blessings, and survive dramas great and small. Perhaps to balance out the complexity of our own sagas, we always pepper our reunion with as many movies as possible, separated by walks on the beach, home cooked food and less wine than we used to drink.

In our seventies, we know we face losses in the upcoming episodes of our reunion series. One of us has already lost a partner to a sudden, deadly heart attack. Another is recovering from a knee replacement and can’t make it this year. What will it be like when our numbers thin? How will we all get to our destination if we’re disabled? Who will die first, and how will we deal with that?

These kinds of questions are a reality of aging, and yet so far there is a saving grace. We have each other. Friendships forged at a progressive Episcopal church we all attended back in the day, our shared values run deep. We taught each others’ children in Sunday school, and so we care who they’ve married and how their children are doing. We also care whether each woman is finding joy, discovering new meaning, and whether she can take a good joke.

We all have common political views, and so we complain about the state of the world. But these are women who are change-makers. We haven’t given up. Back in the 70’s we named ourselves the Women’s Quilting and Terrorist Society, which we thought was funny then. Now we just use the initials, but the desire to shake things up is still very much alive.

Everything has changed for the one whose husband turned out to be gay and still is her best friend. For the one who lives close to the bone, after using all her savings taking care of her father. For the one whose bitter divorce was healed by a surprise passionate romance and marriage, ending in her partner’s sudden death.

And nothing has changed. The big arc of our lives is trained by faith in the unseen. The dramas in each chapter have been tamed by good humor. And the shards of old stories are held in a sacred pot by women who will treasure them, laughing and crying together until we can’t do it in person any more

This year I salute these women and all women and men who come together in groups, urging you to put these meetings first, even when it’s hard to put the important ahead of the seemingly urgent. Every time you meet, you put money in the pot. And the older you get, the wealthier you feel, finding that life is made, after all, not of victories or defeats, but of the stream of love embedded in the entire adventure.


This post is also available on Huffington Post at my author archive, Your comments there or here are appreciated.

Who is the Divine Feminine?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015


Have you heard a lot about the Divine Feminine re-emerging? What does this mean? Who or what is the Divine Feminine and how can we benefit from Her?

When I traveled in Nepal, the Divine Feminine was everywhere. In the middle of the market were shrines to Kali, or Durga, or other Hindu figures. People and filth abounded and it was hard to tell sometimes if the goddess smelled of incense, urine, food, sweat, or all of the above. She might be covered with filth and/or flowers, but she was accessible, part of life. Sometimes she was portrayed ripping apart an icon of evil or falseness.

Not exactly the image we have of the Divine Feminine as the Virgin Mary, for example. Shouldn’t the Divine Feminine be pure? Beautiful? Enshrined and protected? Full of peace and tenderness?

Of course in many traditions, she is. But as the force in charge of births, she knows about pain and blood and suffering as a way to usher in new life. And as the force in charge of death, she knows about destroying the false that has to die for the true to gain ascendance.

In America, the Divine Feminine is harder to find. In the southwest, we have the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is much more prominent these days. In Latin America, the Virgin is a mainstay, especially for women. In Europe, one can find the Black Madonna.

So, the Divine Feminine is complicated and multi-faceted. Not to be explained by logic, or tamed by too many rules. She is, in fact, wild. And that is why she has been oppressed in so many cultures for so many years. Along with her human feminine counterparts!

These days a lot of spiritual teachers are writing and teaching about the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine. She seems to be showing up everywhere. As Mother Earth, she has been turbulent, unpredictable and changing. As Venus, she has been hidden from us, traveling the underworld, to reappear as a sign of love. As the Virgin, she shows up on screen doors and tree trunks. As Mary Magdalene, she tends those who suffer, and as Kwan Yin, she is the heart of compassion. As the goddess, she has been honored in a variety of renewed ceremonies and myths. And in the form of certain women, we see her incarnate.

These are times of planetary crisis, and so if we ever needed a dose of compassion, tenderness, unbridled fierce protectiveness and signs of death and rebirth, I’d say this is the time.

So, if the Divine Feminine is calling us to awaken, how can we respond? We might begin by looking for her presence, veiled by tradition or culture, at the essence of things. Even, and especially within our own hearts.

Whether you’re male or female, you have the Divine Feminine within your heart. You have that wild, tender, compassionate, fierce force in charge of births and deaths, all within you.

And so I invite you to begin looking everywhere to see signs that it is time to welcome the Divine Feminine back into full equality—in the outer world and in our inner ones. When she has been fully welcomed, hopefully a new balance will begin to be possible in this wild, beautiful complex Earth home.

Qualities of feminine leadership: a love for beauty

Monday, June 7th, 2010

outrageous beauty

I’ve been inspired to write about the qualities of feminine leadership after seeing a wonderful exhibit in San Diego at the Mengei International Museum. It’s entitled Sonabai: A New Way of Seeing. Sonabai was a poor woman who lived in a remote village in central India and was married to a man who kept her imprisoned in their house for ten years. Unable to have contact with anyone but their small son, and able to only go out to their well, Sonabai went beyond surviving to thriving. She began to create.

When she discovered that she could sculpt the thick mud she scraped off the sides of their well, Sonabi began to make figures and animals to serve as toys. Next, it occurred to her to fashion a screen that would filter the hot sun beating down on one side of the house. She tied pieces of bamboo into small circles and connected them. She attached her screen to the house with wood, and covered the whole thing with mud. Next, she sculpted whimsical birds and figures to sit within the openings of the screen. She painted all her work with bright colors made of vegetal dyes. By the end of her decade, her whole house had become a work of art.

Sonabai created something completely unique without any training or any exposure to architecture or art. She had never seen or known about the elaborate screens that are part of the royal architecture in India’s cities. Yet out of the deep well of creative energy to which we all have access, she created outrageous beauty. Other women nearby had decorated their doorways, but in patterns and colors that stayed within the local traditions. Sonabai’s art was fresh, innocent, alive and original. Like the plants in the photo above, the details she chose, the colors and the variety of designs were delicious.

Sonabai wasn’t aware that she was going to become a leader, but she did. When she was discovered and her art was exhibited internationally, she received a grant to teach other Indian artists her methods. They have taken the basic folk art themes and developed their own styles and variations. Sonabai has left a legacy–not only of art, but a lesson about creativity and empowerment.

Perhaps the way we can all engage the creative power that lives within us, is to begin by thinking of what kinds of beauty we love. How can we create more experiences of these kinds of beauty? Some of us might not ever sculpt or paint, but we might create beauty with food or flowers or music or dance. We might recite poetry with passion or learn the forms of a sport in a way that feels beautiful to us. All these efforts are ways in which we can empower ourselves. We can do more than survive; we can thrive.

If you’re curious about Sonabai and the gorgeous exhibit created by anthropologist, photographer and curator, Stephen Huyler, go to

And then, I’d love to hear your comments about how you create beauty and how you feel that is related to the new feminine leadership!

3 Ways to become an empowered feminine leader

Monday, May 10th, 2010

blue wave

Today there is a new wave of opportunity for women who want to become empowered, conscious, evolutionary leaders who make a difference. Teleclasses abound. Just google Integral Enlightment or Feminine Power or Conscious Evolutionaries and you’ll see.  In the meantime, here are 3 principles to think about and practice:

1. Nourish yourself. This means on the level of mind, body and spirit. These are not times for wimps. We need to be strong. Gentle warriors, standing in our truth. If we don’t take care of ourselves, what good will we be for anyone else? So what is your premium fuel? Fill that tank.

2.  Ride the wave. The wave in the photo is a wave of light, a photo projected on the wall of an imaginative San Diego restaurant. Light is nothing but energy. You are nothing but energy and light. So ride the big wave of light, the one other “en-lightened” beings ride. Jump on. Meditate, pray, do yoga, eat spinach or do whatever else helps you stay on. Ride the wave of light.

3. Bring out your soul’s gifts. If you don’t bring them out, what in the world are they for anyway? They are your “original medicine” and if you don’t bring them out, they could disappear forever. This is the moment. We are the ones. We need whatever you can offer. Remember what Jesus said (according to the Gnostic gospels): “If you bring out what is within you, what is within you will save you; if you do not bring out what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” Sounds dramatic, but think about illness, crime and other tragedies. Could be as simple as this. Out. Into the world. Now.

The Dalai Lama said it best recently: “The western woman will save the world.” I guess it’s up to us. Let’s get started!

What’s your image?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

paris lookWhat do you look like to others?  And how do you try to present yourself?

Each of us deals with the real fact that how we see ourselves may be different that the image others have of us. How do we begin to project a more authentic “look” that reflects who we truly are inside?  Or is that even important?

In today’s culture we are so surrounded by invitations to be inauthentic and to conjure an image that is young enough, thin enough, glamorous enough…or just enough…that it can get exhausting. So how can we work on allowing our clothes, our makeup, our choice of hairstyle and the complete way we present ourselves in public to be just a natural celebration of being ourselves?

I love the days when I am going to an event and instead of struggling over “the right thing to wear,” I simply reach for the color that will nourish me, the necklace that will make me feel happy, the shade of lipstick that brings a smile to my face…and walk out the door just glad to be joining a community.

What if women all over the world rose up in protest of fashion tyranny  and used fashion in this way: just a celebration of who they are. Certainly I know many women already accustomed to approaching their image in this way. But if we can encourage girls and young women to take a deep breath, maybe they will allow their “image” to reflect the celebration of being themselves, rather than one more thing to try to get right.

What do you think? What is your relationship to fashion and to the concept of your image? How would you like to be a leader in this area?

Opening a door

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

opening the door

Are you a woman leader looking for affordable, practical tools for women at a crossroads? You already have a tool you can teach them that is absolutely free and accessible by birthright. Surprise! It’s the creative imagination!

You want tools of hope for women facing the gravity of life’s challenges, and what I’ve seen is the best approach to that is to show people how to let the creative imagination take flight. When you learn how to speak the language of metaphors, symbols and images, you are learning the language of the soul. When the woman who feels victimized by outer circumstances connects with her soul’s true power, a door opens. Are you willing to help her open that door?

The creative imagination has so many benefits, both for you and for those you serve.  Not only is it free, but the more you use it the more powerful it becomes. And, it’s easily accessible. Just try accessing it by looking at the photo above and then closing your eyes and seeing if you can “see” the image. Now allow the image to change. The woman with white hair appears to be helping the other woman open the door. Does she succeed? What happens next? What is inside that door?

The stories we tell in our creative imagination determine our reality. When we can expand what we see and shift the lens we use, our lives expand and change. This is a practice everyone can learn.

The final benefit is for you as a leader. People spend a lot of effort trying to step into a greater role as a woman leader, when often they could be better served by focusing on embodying their soul’s true power. That way they not only accelerate their progress, but they end up being authentic and able to connect in a deep way with others.

How do you open the door to your creative imagination? Nature is one great portal. Guided meditation. Poetry. What are your favorites?

Your authentic voice

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Desert bloom

What if your true voice–the one that represents your deepest truth and your most spectacular gifts–sounded like this flower looks?

I think it does. The question is, how do we remember how to bring out that true voice and give it to the world?

After all, if we don’t, our deepest message–which is what Angeles Arrien calls our personal medicine–could be lost to the world forever.

I just finished faciliating a luncheon seminar with an intimate group of 8 women seated around a table at one of Tucson’s loveliest resorts. This Feast for the Feminine Soul session was titled “Nourishing Your Authentic Voice.” So we discussed all the aspects of what the song is we want to sing, what stops us from singing it, and what might happen to us and to the world if we belted it out with abandon.

After all, we mused, how do birds know their songs? Well, it sure as hell isn’t because they think about it, try to figure it out, consider how it will affect other birds, or decide what they have to sing isn’t worthwhile. Their song is simply part of them, inseparable from their being– as the vibrant color of the flower in the photograph is inseparable from its petals.

We thought about the fears of singing out, and how they are related to being rejected or oppressed or made foolish or feeling unworthy, and decided that it’s true that these fears are part of being human. But as women leaders, we also know that we are, as the Dalai Lama pointed out recently, the ones who will save the world. And so the time’s up for those old fears. We long to move past them, to trust our voices. After all our lyrics are all about  justice and love and compassion and all those other good things we want for ourselves and for the world.

We’re going to sing in the shower, in the grocery store, in our offices and in our bedrooms and board rooms. We want to belt out messages of truth and beauty and clarity, and we have faith that these songs will reverberate to places we cannot even imagine.

And you? What do you long to sing? What messages do you hope to contribute to the world? And if you spoke them with the deepest, truest voice within you, without false pride or false fear or apology, what might be the results? Could it be that you might change your loved ones in positive ways? Might you inspire others? Might you feel fulfilled and relieved from the freedom of being your real self?

Sing out and let us hear your voice.