Imagine A Woman
Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.
Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.
Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.
Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.
Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.
Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.
Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.
Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.
Imagine yourself as this woman.
© Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995
Women, sisters, daughters and mothers; the beauty of the feminine takes many forms. Being a woman comes with a veritable list of expectations, inhibitions and even privileges. Women are expected to be caretakers, lovers, nurturers and collaborators. At the same time, we are encouraged to aspire to lofty goals albeit, politely, gently and fairly. All character traits forced without consent, by a society that values female submissiveness.
Being one that is sensitive and soft spoken, it stands to reason my personal conflict between expectation and reality is minimized. This has not always been the case as I have struggled stepping into my true self, finding my voice and shedding layers of expectations. This paradox is confusing. I cherish being a part of the divine feminine, the wellspring of all life and the universal heartbeat that connects us all. At the same time, I have a deep desire to live strongly, independently, authentically and free. The idea that I need to be taken care of is foreign to me. No one can own another person. We all must ultimately stand alone when our end is near and answer for the choices we have made.
With all of this being so, why is it so difficult for women to be heard without shouting, be taken seriously without being brash or express emotion without being labeled neurotic? Why is it a woman’s outside appearance becomes an open invitation for criticism, a way to discredit simply by the clothes worn or the style of hair?
“A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is. Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.”
-Patricia Lynn Reilly
As a former dancer, I was judged on my physical aesthetic, never my intelligence or depth of insight. Dancers are silent tools of a choreographer’s vision, very much like clay to be molded. This extreme drive for a perfect aesthetic was difficult to let go even after I retired. I suffered from some degree of body dysmorphia and an acute discomfort with my sensuality apart from the characters I played on stage. If not pretending to be someone else, who was I?
Despite this long and hard fought battle with body image, I now feel absolutely no shame in embracing my femininity. Every single thing that makes me courageous and adventurous is seeded in this strength. I am stubborn yet soft, determined yet pliable, wise yet young at heart and sensual while intelligent. All states are a part of the whole and it has taken many years to welcome them all back to my table with an open heart. I no longer feel a sense of the forbidden when feeling my sensuality bubble below the surface. I no longer feel stern when stating a difference of opinion and I no longer feel meek when choosing not to be boisterous or openly bold. I honor my gentle hearted manner and pay little mind to what others opinions.
“Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman. A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories. Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life”, I too have shed layers of shame for choices made out of fear, carried forward from generations that came before. These ancestral cords are shared biological remnants of abandonment, low self-esteem and self-hate. I no longer have to remain tethered to these emotions; they were never for me to begin with. I freely cut these ties and feel stronger for doing so.
Perhaps someday there will appear a poet courageous
enough to give expression to the voices of the “mothers.”
~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 386-387
Similarly, women in my family are incredibly sensitive to energy and well aware of the emotional temperature of a room. It stands to reason that we hide some of these gifts in an attempt to avoid labels of “hormonal, overly sensitive or believers in wacky pseudo-science.” Imagine having the intuition that something is amiss and not being able to find words to describe why? Very few are able to move forward when a woman answers “I just know” to the question of “Why?” There is no tangible data to cull, no statistics to list and no definitive proof. It is a matter of faith, in being a woman and embracing self.
If I could share one thing with women today, I would implore them to wear energetic shades deflecting expectations, norms and criticism. Embrace all that is beautifully feminine about you and pay no mind to the naysayers. In an effort to be seen, do not change your manner by becoming aggressive or loud. Those that need to see, will. They will notice you just as you are and embrace all that makes you so beautifully strong, nurturing and feminine. Be yourself and relish in this wholeness with each breathe, hearing the whisper of the Divine feminine all around you.