awakened body

tree woman

The awakened body takes initiatives, is no longer content to receive or “put up with.”
When we live in our body, we give body to our life
.  –Therese Bertherat

To love yourself as you are is a miracle and to seek yourself is to have found yourself. For now. And now is all we have and love is who we are. – Anne Lamott

The body itself is a dwelling place, as the Anglo-Saxons knew in naming it banhus (bonehouse) and lichama (bodyhome), and the homeliness of its nature is even livelier for a woman than for a man… Through writing her body, woman may reclaim the deed to her dwelling. . .  From Remembering the Bone House, Nancy Mairs

With May comes spring – at least we continue to hope so in the chill northern clime of Vermont. So we pair the notion of the awakening of earth’s spring body with our own. Not an unusual comparison in these parts. Winter signals a complete in-turning – layers of down, chirping log fires, warm cocoa and a really good book …

But spring? It often comes/goes so quickly it seems we leap from winter to summer in one short jump. This year it has come/gone multiple times in spurts of heat and return to damp chill. Of course we know of earth’s penchant to return season upon season. It’s just a matter of when. Our firmly-held stories about our own bodies seem to hold equal constancy, with less of the change from season to season.

Our opening poem – ‘homage to my hips’ by lucille clifton – is a bawdy all-out-brag on independence and sheer pleasure of the power of the physical body. Kind of how spring makes me feel with its rush to push all manner of life into view. Writers inside have an equally wide range of reactions to share in their words:

‘To love yourself as you are is a miracle and to seek yourself is to have found yourself.’
What do I love about myself? I have always compared myself to others and tried to be like this one or that one. As I have grown up, I am more comfortable in my skin but do not think I will ever love my skin. Talking about myself is hard, it makes me vulnerable and I do not like to feel vulnerable. 

I do love my insides, though and can talk about the qualities I possess within.

I have always been told it is the inside that matters, and don’t judge a book by its cover. This may be true, but that does not stop the girls sitting across the room from talking about others’ flaws. I always say I don’t care what anyone thinks but that is far from the truth.

I struggle to fit in more than I will ever admit.



To love yourself as you are is a miracle. Some of us can do it. Some of us are incapable. To love yourself as you are is so profound whether you’re alone staring in a mirror, or in a room with people staring all around. To love yourself as you are says a lot even if you feel extremely ugly, or so, so sexy, burning hot … To love yourself as you are is more than just an image. It is that feeling on the inside, it is the soul you were given. To love yourself as you truly are can be such a task. That’s why so many of us fake it, cover it up and put on a mask. But to love yourself is to be yourself. So please, trust me on this one. Never give up, continue to move forward in getting to know yourself!



Green hazel eyes,
so beautiful and kind
Green hazel eyes
the shape and size
long lashes to be seductive with.
Green hazel eyes
see the beauty in all evil things
see the pain in all broken beings,
see all the agony of the most beautiful human beings
the forsaken angels who wander this earth alone
like herself and her mate who found each other by fate.
Those green hazel eyes
have seen all that is divine,
the trees, the flowers, the most beautiful
happily ever afters,
beautiful disasters.
Green eyes
full of beauty and broken fantasies.
Green hazel eyes
envy of beauty
one of my favorites things.
However, all of my being is surrounded by beauty.

The Courage to Tell Our Stories

It takes courage to tell our stories.-Christina Baldwin

Discovering this practice of courage… requires a skilled listening, . . . to get under the surface of what is being said. To learn this practice of courage we need time and space to breathe freely, to be vulnerable, to speak honestly with one another. – Annie G.Rogers

We’ve had more than one group focus on the courage it takes to tell our own stories. This bears repeating. We carry ourselves in each story we tell. We carry each other in the hearing. We are revealed in ways we can’t predict or control. Writing is a leap, a fall, a catch, a risk that surprises us in its intensity. To overcome this takes courage.

The women who return to the group overcome again and again. Their stories are not told all at once but in layers, deepening the more times and ways they are told. As the story grows, each woman’s skill grows and the stories sharpen into focus, each woman reflected more completely and bravely on the page.  Continue reading

vulnerability is an offering

When their light has picked you out/ and their questions are asked, say to them:/ “I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon/ will come around you. The heron will begin/ his evening flight from the hilltop. – from Do not be ashamed – Wendell Berry

The second a phrase like “Do not be ashamed” comes across the table, the whole circle is changed. The air is electric. We know we’re in for something. It’s a challenge straight from the teeth of a poet: an imperative, an edge, a subversion. In quiet that follows, we wrote, we spoke, and consistently expressed the same understanding: our greatest act of subversion and greatest gift to one another is to become vulnerable.

We were afraid, sure. That’s a given. The circle is quiet and people spoke quietly, especially at first. The pauses between words were long. Some women opted not to share their work. Some women read quickly or slowly or without expression or with so much, it was almost a performance. In each voice was an imbedded fear. But that means within each written piece, there was bravery. Continue reading

vulnerability revisited

credit - Tigran-Tsitoghdzyan

credit – Tigran-Tsitoghdzyan

“We, as women, need friendships, soothing sisters to rely on to apply ointments to our wounds …”  – TC

My previous post shared the tender impressions of an ‘outside’ woman’s first visit ‘inside’ to assist with the writing group. Her own vulnerability felt like an intrusion on the intimacy of the inmates she saw at a distance but whose lives she has yet to witness up close.

In Thursday’s group, TC wrote of the need for that very sense of intimacy among women friends.  Even – or especially – inside. She writes of the challenges of opening to potential wounding, at the same time acknowledging the greater need that can be soothed in the process.


Intimacy to the point of vulnerability
unashamedly opening up my emotions
to allow another to examine my thoughts
is an action that I frequently disallowed – until recently.
Although vulnerability over the past three years has become
more frequent, there come times when
people’s behaviors and actions distract me
from the path I have decided to walk –
and I want  to come out of character
and react – so I have to allow others
into my space to soothe me as a calming
ointment would – to remind me of where
I am going and of who I have become.
I believe allowing that vulnerability is a
kind of intimacy friends can share,
not only lovers. Intimacy
is such a broad term – but not one
often used and shared. We, as women
need friendships, soothing sisters
to rely on to apply ointments to our wounds,
our vulnerable spots, our emotional scars. It
is so difficult to be vulnerable and trust
anyone, even for a moment, because that
one person causes the next wound. And
we move on.


closing the gap between what you and I see

Photo credit: Yellow Earth 168/Flickr

Photo credit: Yellow Earth 168/Flickr

Sometimes another’s perception of us as beautiful, gifted and clever can feel like a continent away…

We may feel the inner angst of limitation and less than, unable to rip ourselves from the grasp of dwindling self-esteem.

Yet this other person’s (authentic!) vision of us gives us a strand of hope to hold onto.  It keeps us moving forward through our own mental quagmire and challenging life circumstances.

It is our ability to hold this tension of opposite views with patience and without judgment that ultimately pulls us toward healthier, truer perceptions of self.  But, not without some struggle…

JL’s piece from this week’s writing circle captures her own process in this regard:

She says I have talent, I dance before her,
I make her laugh until tears roll down her
reddened cheeks, my poetry makes her cry
for other reasons

She says she thinks I’m the only one who
doesn’t see it in me,
how far I will go in this world, how many lives
I have to touch

And I want to believe, I ache with the hunger to see,
I thumb-wrestle with that wonderful fantasy
that what she says is really what will be
But in the quiet of my mind, my character defects
lengthen and twist and strangle  Continue reading