We women know stories.
Stories that hum in our minds as our days pass in a myriad of tasks and chores. Stories that fall into each other like cascading water into the next lower pool. Sometimes they seem they'll all converge and erupt into our consciousness and show on our faces and in our mannerisms. We think, what is this? Is this hurt? Wisdom? Fear? Why do I feel like everyone can see these things when all they see is me smiling and trying to keep the peace in some form or another? We look for the bigger meanings, and sometimes there are none to be found so we just put the stories aside and keep moving. Dishes get washed. Bills get paid, children get taught, staffs get directed. We stretch our necks and tired backs at the end of the day to release something - a sigh.
Women sigh. Alot. We sigh with satisfaction, with resignation, with exhaustion. But when we lay our heads down at the end of the day, they're still there. The stories. Cascading. Moving.
Our hurts. Our fears. Our knowledge and experiences. Our interior lives - the part we live as observers of our own fate, our own decisions. If we get around other women who give us emotional permission to share, the stories come out, gushing at first, slowing to a comfortable flow after a while, and our stories intertwine with those of women who have gone before, or have come after, creating yet another tapestry of awareness,individuality, and hope.
Women do this naturally, if we allow ourselves. If we can trust that the stories will be honored. If we know we won't be cut off or thought of as too intense or demanding. Because often, as soon as we sense that we are being too demanding by asking to be heard, we make ourselves small so as not to be a bother. We give other people's perceived discomfort with who we really are a higher importance level than being on the level with our own truth.
We need to first tell our stories to people that we trust, and who are capable of sharing their stories with us as well. With practice, we can own our truth, and there is no reason, ever again, to make ourselves small.
Women's stories are at the heart of the hearth. We are the sisters, the partners, the mothers, the daughters. We absorb all of what is around us. We process change so that those around us can be more comfortable. We worry about the people we love and those people become part of our story. Our stories, our mothers' stories, our aunts' stories - these are the fiber that support creation. The stories give us hope; they make us brave. They let us know that those who have gone before have suffered and sacrificed so we can have the enviable task of passing wisdom on to the next in line.
As a writer, I am magnetically drawn to other women's stories. They resonate with me and often reaffirm what I already know to be true, even if I may want to resist my own truth. I rarely find other women's stories too much to handle. Rather, I find myself in stories of trauma and growth. Because there is joy there, right along side the hurt. There is happiness to be lived on the moments of pain.
As I research and refine my change mentoring practice for spring 2013, I am finding the wisdom I need from the most bountiful source - other women. In talking out what I see I can do for others, I see what resonates with women I respect, giving me clues to the framework I will use. There is honor in exchange, in placing your story in the hands of another woman and saying, "Here. Please look at this. Tell me what you see."
There is great power in femininity. But we should claim it, step into it, refuse to make ourselves small because of it. Because our stories are for the ones that come after us. It's those women that owe our stories to; the world is a place in need of wisdom passed down through the generations.
What I've been doing
I took a weekend photography and video workshop with Camera Journeys in the Italian port city of Genoa. I'll be sharing new work and talking in detail about this cathartic and healing weekend.
What I'm reading
I've just ordered a copy of Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise Deslavo.
Poet (and activist and teacher and guide and much more) Ren Powell's blog.
What I'll be doing this week
I'll be nurturing my novel True Vines as it continues to make its way into the wider world, finishing some new ceramic pieces and playing with my trusty old Nikon D70 while I practice all that I've learned about photography over the past weekend. More photos to follow!
I'll also be working on my change mentoring practice, walking my dog and focusing on releasing and accepting everything.
... and I'll be randomly choosing the winner of an autographed copy of True Vines! To be eligible, be sure to comment on this post.