Finding True North, reconnecting with the Wild Woman: what would it be like to know your true identity?

Several things have come up lately that have me pondering what it would be like to know my true identity. What would it look like to strip back the rules and routines, the stories and habits, the over civilisation and learnt behaviours, the false fronts and the polite masks? What would it be like to know and be the ‘wild woman’ within?

The spark:

If you’ve read Women who run with the wolves by Clarrisa Pinkola Estes you’ve probably already guessed the book has sparked this curiosity. Every sentence spoke to me. The ideas expressed were truths I’d always known. It was like coming home to my grandmother’s kitchen, a safe place of love and nurturing. Women who run with the wolves explores the idea that in every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is Wild Woman. Dr Estes uses myths and stories to illustrate how women’s vitality can be restored through reconnecting with the Wild Woman archetype.

The kindling:

I remember a time when it was taboo to talk about female sexuality and sexual desires. It struck me last week that if it was taboo, in polite circles, to talk of female sexuality and sexual desire it was most unspeakable to discuss the sexuality and desire of older women. The lid is being lifted on these topics and women are beginning to share their inner most desires, laugh at failed escapades, lament lost lovers and discuss things polite ladies ought not.

I sat in a circle of women and listened to a 70-year-old woman talk about an emerging sensuality in her mid-sixties. She spoke unashamedly about being dry, going to the doctor for assistance and with the help of estrogen cream became juicy again and engaged in very sensuous sexual relationships.

As I looked around the table, many women were smiling. Those of us close to or enjoying middle age were encouraged that menopause did not mark the end of gorgeous physical connections. One young woman in her early twenties, however, was aghast. She was polite but clearly uncomfortable, a slight revolution and mocking were evident on her gorgeous face.  “Baby girl, I thought, you are so vibrant and fresh you don’t yet know how things change.”  Other young women were like acolytes, sitting at the feet of a master. They drank in her words and were reverent.

More kindling:

There is a tendency in women, as we get older, to contain ourselves more and more. Part of the over civilisation I mentioned earlier, I guess. A friend showed me a video of her toddler niece joyfully dancing in church. I asked, “when do we become so self-conscious that we lose that freedom?”  We agreed it may be around two, possibly three. We forget so easily that wonderful liberating freedom to move our bodies, to express ourselves so openly. We close up when we are told to behave. When we are told not to shine too brightly. When we begin to sense we make others uncomfortable. Be a good girl, we are told.

Years ago, my friend and coach Adam, told me I had to stop being the good girl. I didn’t understand because I didn’t see it. I didn’t think I was being the good girl. My body knew it. Eventually, it got sick. It rebelled. My mind got lost, my emotions unravelled, and sleep became elusive. For years.

The fuel:

I’m at a turning point. Alone after 22 years I’m discovering many false faces. There are so many routines, so many beliefs about myself, so many behaviours that I constructed to survive a reality I co-created, to align with the expectations of others over a lifetime.  The thing is, these habits, beliefs and patterns are no longer necessary, and they no longer serve me. Oh, I could keep the stories going, for sure. But I’ve seen the opportunity to let them go and see them for what they are. Just stories. But when you take away the stories, the habitual behaviours, the conditioning you start to wonder, “hang on, who was I before all this shit clung to me?”

I have shared this realisation with a friend over several months and she  has added the fuel to the kindling of my current contemplations. My friend has very lovingly encouraged me to take time out and to ‘go feral’ (sounds dreadful, doesn’t it?) and to reconnect with the wild woman inside me. She sees it. She knows it’s been leashed, restricted and stifled.

I now have the chance to awaken the wild woman and to discover who and what she is, how she thinks feels and interacts with others. It’s time to go beyond fear. I have felt her calling, in the distance, for ever so long. Perhaps that’s why I wake so suddenly from sleep and lay helplessly alert, sure my name has been called, in an empty room. I have been denying and ignoring a part of myself that needs to emerge. I have no idea what I will find. I’m a little apprehensive and I’m not entirely sure how to go about it but I’m also freaking excited.  And maybe, in the end, I won’t look a whole lot different to the way I look now, but maybe, just maybe, a little bit of the unruly and wild will keep the fire going, make my cells dance, allow my light to shine and with it create a freedom to live unrestrained, untethered and joyfully.

 

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Celebrating life with a Love List. Do you have one?

Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments.
Rose Kennedy

Excited and full of anticipation.

Excited and full of anticipation.

I recently completed a three day hike. Not a long hike compared to others I’ve done, but it’s one I’ve long wanted to do.  When I first visited the Australian Blue Mountains, about ten years ago, and fell in love with the area I declared that one day I would walk the Six Foot Track.  The 45 kilometre walk is both incredibly scenic and historic. It was constructed in the 1880’s as a bridle track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves and it is indeed six foot wide to, originally, allow two laden horses to pass.

What’s this got do with a Love List?  Well, when I completed the walk I shared a photo of celebration with friends and commented that I’d ticked another item off my bucket list.  A wonderful friend of mine shared my delight and suggested that I call it a Love List instead of a bucket list.

“What a great idea” I thought.  A bucket list focuses on the inevitable end of one’s life (which is not in itself a bad thing of course but the connotations are somewhat negative and conjures a sense of quiet desperation) whereas a Love List encapsulates life and energy and the present. A Love List is more of a celebration of living rather than trying to beat the clock.  I like it!

I have a list of places to go, challenges to complete as well as fun activities I’d like to achieve sometime in the near future. From that larger list I created a smaller list to focus on this year. Reflecting on my 2014 Love List this Easter season I realise I have officially achieved several of those goals and I am delighted.  Many of the items on my list are small, fun things such as visit my Nana every three to four weeks, take a photo a day and practice yoga three times a week. Other items require a little more planning such as visit Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, to see the Turtles laying their eggs. Something I’ve been meaning to do since I lived there 20 odd years ago.

Completing the Six Foot Track walk was one of those larger items on my list.  As I was travelling back from the Jenolan Caves to Blackheath after the walk it hit me that I’d just met a long held dream.  I had actually completed something I’d spoken about for years. I realise it isn’t climbing Everest or finding a cure for cancer but this small achievement left me momentarily speechless and full of emotion. Now, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and I’m enjoying the warm after glow of achieving a dream.  I’m allowing myself time to savour the moment before deciding on the next “big” adventure I’ll manifest.

Satisfied and elated at having achieved a dream.

Satisfied and elated at having achieved a dream.

Having a Love List gives me something out of the ordinary to work toward, to look forward to and to dream about. It keeps me motivated, excited and full of anticipation.  It’s a way for me to celebrate life. Do you have Love List?  I’d like to hear one or two of the dreams you have on yours.

Committed to creating more life adventures,
Shannyn