“The New York Times is going to feature your blog on its home page, and you’ve been asked to publish a new post — it’ll be the first thing tens of thousands of new readers see. Write it.” WordPress Daily Post Challenge
As luck would have it, just today I experienced my first taste of post virility. [Really?!] Not five days ago, I emailed an embarrassingly large number of invitations to the book launch of “Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write” (Orbis Books), a collection of prose and poetry by Vermont’s imprisoned women produced during our first three years of writinginsideVT.
Already we are getting enthusiastic responses far beyond the large mailing list. Burlington VT has gone viral. Is it the program? Is it the graphics? Is it the opportunity to celebrate the women who use writing as a tool to pull themselves up and out of the despair and demons that landed them in jail to begin with? Is it the endorsements by such well-known women as Helen Prejean (“Dead Man Walking”), Michelle Alexander (“The New Jim Crow”), Madeleine Kunin (former governor of Vermont) and Ellen Barry (E.D., Insight Prison Project) — among many more?
All I know for sure is – post virility happens. Really!!!
“Strength without softness becomes aggression. Softness without strength becomes victimhood.”
On her Facebook post this evening, Elizabeth Lesser – a wonderful wise woman and co-founder in 1977 of the Omega Institute – shared a practice from her recent workshop. It was so beautiful, this way of bringing us into the paradox of strong and soft, that I needed to share it here.
“While leading my annual weekend workshop there, I taught my students a practice that I have been using in my own life—a way of cultivating a fearless and strong backbone, and at the same time staying open and soft.
Have you ever seen a statue or picture of the Buddha sitting or standing, with an expression of peace, extending his right arm and holding up his hand in the gesture of STOP? That is called the abhaya mudra and it symbolizes an attitude of fearlessness and strength. Take a few quiet breaths right now, come into stillness, straighten your back, extend your right arm, and make the gesture of abhaya mudra. Just holding my hand like that for a few seconds gives me a feeling of inner power. It reminds me that I am a noble human being; that I already know the way if I follow my heart with clarity and courage. It says: it’s is good to be strong. To know my own mind. To speak and live my truth. Continue reading
Today would have been your 106th birthday. Although you lived to 90, there is little of my life today that you knew about. Partly because you were 40 when I was born, and I repeated that cycle with my own children. Partly because it is precisely in the years since your death that I have moved into my own, as writer, facilitator, late-blooming spiritual feminist.
Yet most parts of my life, in fact, evolved directly from you, things for which I am entirely grateful and things you would not only recognize but appreciate. Like the ‘grand-daughter who looks like me’ of your heart wish. And so much more:
For you, I learned to bake and the necessity of dessert.
To you I owe the gift of language at play and a wry sense of humor.
With you I shared many lazy Sunday afternoons biking uphill and down along the country lanes of my youth.
From you I learned love of the land, mountains, sea; and the joy of cultivating a plot of dirt for both beauty and nourishment.
By your example, I learned the importance of presence, patience and deep listening.
You lived a life of quiet moderation and deep conviction. Despite your world-wide stature as a ground-breaking chemist, you carried yourself with utmost humility. Intensely private and well-known by none, you nonetheless managed in your last years to offer me heartfelt expressions of your love. All told, you opened me to a more conscious way of living, to the spiritual feminine values that have become the underpinning of my work in the world.
I love you, Dad, and I miss you terribly.
Your ‘little sunshine’
A wide-winged monarch skimming over head along my bike ride
A young fox cavorting in the early dusk meadow
A hummingbird hovering at eye level with me for prolonged moments
A spirit bear of Lake Champlain stone washed to my feet during my morning walk
A lingering sunset turning from soft pink to fuchsia to deep peach across the hour
A peach tree laden with ripening rosy fruit, after a decade without
Row upon row of leafing sprouts just two weeks post-sowing
A hunting hawk winging on the updraft of an August afternoon
Abundant blueberries again and again
A lunch with my children en route to vacation
A cool river breeze covering me with a night’s deep sleep