I'm writing this on a Saturday morning as I sit on my deck listening to the birds pipping and my neighbour splitting his logs for his winter heat. More and more, as I allow myself to strip my layers of protection away and stand naked in front of you, this blog is becoming an extension of my journal.
Just like you, I sometimes need to be triggered to go deeper. Today, I was posting in my Wild Woman Journaling group on Facebook and saw a challenge from my coach in our Fiercely Courageous Soul Facebook group. She wrote:
“Perhaps one of the bravest things we can ever do is to have the courage to be vulnerable. As Brené Brown says, to own our story and love ourselves through that process. To share our journey, our struggles, our celebrations, our wounding, our healing, our sadness and our joy with an open heart. To be our true selves. To take others off pedestals and stand beside them, to get off the pedestals others have put us on and let them know who we really are as we return to the knowing that we are all one.”
After all, how can we truly know someone’s deepest truth by seeing only the image they project? I used to spend my time on Facebook revealing only the light. No one wants to listen to someone complain or always be sad; it’s a big downer, right? Not in my experience, or in the experience of all the bare naked women who tell it like it is. We love them for it and it's how we find peace.
We may not bare ourselves because we're afraid to experience judgement, but it’s also very challenging to accept kindness. Me, as soon as someone says something sweet to me like I’m brave, I’ve helped them, or they love what I do, I immediately tear up.
Life is so much more than the black or the white — it's all the colours in between too. By sharing our truths, our mistakes, our longings, our sadness — as well as our triumphs, our victories, and our joys — we show others who are struggling that it’s okay to admit we’re not perfect, we don’t have perfect lives. We can be step off the pedestal of ridiculous perfection that keeps us afraid and stuck.
It becomes more difficult to take off the mask the longer we’ve had it on around someone, but the person you are showing an incomplete (or false) face to, may be feeling that she isn’t good enough for you — up you go on the pedestal. Then, she’s afraid to show you her true self in case you think less of her. The cycle perpetuates and we become more and more distant from each other for trying to meet those impossible standards.
So, I say, take off the mask — you don’t have to share your whole freak show of a life all at once — but think of the mask as gauze bandages that are taken off one layer at a time. Also, it wouldn't be fair of me not to stress that you don’t have to bare your soul to someone who's belittling, disrespectful or will use what you say to their advantage. You don't need to share your stories with anyone who hasn't earned your trust enough to reveal them. Of course you know I’m going to tell you that if someone doesn’t respect you enough to be compassionate towards you, you are honestly better to let the relationship go.
In sharing your stories and your authentic self, you may actually be helping someone. You may never know it, they may never tell you, but someone will be touched. And it may just take the weight of the world off your shoulders. It’s so hard to carry the weight of another persona, isn’t it?
Inspired by my coach, I'm offering an invitation. There’s no prize. There's nothing to win. But there's an opportunity. The chance that by saying yes to this invitation ONE person will feel less alone...even if that one person is your own beautiful self.
Own your Wild Woman-ness! and your wild woman-mess!
Post a picture of you and use the hashtag #iamcourage. Share your story of why you are brave and courageous on our Wild Woman Journaling closed Facebook Group and you will see how much your story helps others.
So, here is my #iamcourage...
This little piece of the Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de shay) in northeastern Arizona is a symbol of my first and biggest step out of the family mould into the life I have now. A lot of things had to happen to get me there — everything is connected and all the events of my life were leading me there. The biggest 'thing' was my mother died about a year before I left for what turned out to be a solo trip to the desert of the southwestern United States. After months of feeling like I was mummified (I just realized the word mum is in there), I got really sick with bronchitis and now I believe it was Spirit who made me slow down and listen. I was writing in my journal and creatively with great intensity back then in my grief and dreaming of the desert. You can read about how journaling saved me as I experienced my mother’s death and eventually connected me to my dreams of dancing the desert and the life I lead now, on my blog.
The hardest part was leaving the safety of my home and friends in Vancouver and then getting across the border. It took me two tries. By the time I got to northeastern Arizona and the Canyon de Chelly, I was already comfortable being on my own, more or less. There are other stories of courage and breaking free in the three visits I made there on that three-month journey, but my first visit was completely solo and found this chunk of the red rock at the Spider Woman Rock lookout.
According to Navajo mythology, Spider Woman was responsible for the stars in the sky; she took a web she had spun, laced it with dew, threw it into the sky and the dew became the stars (I literally just discovered that this is the tie-in to the gossamer web I was wrapped in as I danced up to the stars in my dream before leaving for the Southwest).
Spider Woman is also the weaver of creativity. Although I thought I understood it then, the pieces are just now fitting together into the final acceptance that I was meant to weave a magnificent, creative life of my own choosing. Now I see why I have never been able to properly write the memoir I know I will one day write. I am only now becoming the magnificent Wild Woman I was always meant to be. I am stepping fully into my power and I can feel myself growing as tall and as firmly rooted as Spider Woman Rock herself.
Since it was a solo trip, I don't know that I even have any pictures of myself on this trip. In 1994, film still ruled photography and it was long before selfies could easily be taken. The photos I did take were horribly developed and printed at a Walmart in Santa Fe. But I have this piece of the southwest, the memories, and I have the courage to do this. It's taken me another 20 years to answer that call to the life of my own chosen destiny, but I'm here now, ready to surrender to it and receive all the abundance and joy that comes with it.
If this inspires you, I ask you to share this forward and tell your own act of courage so that you can inspire the one person who needs to hear it. If you are not ready to do it publicly, you can share it in Wild Woman Journaling where we welcome magnificent acts of bravery, without judgement, but with lots of love and support.
All love and blessings to you!
kathy mercure is a storyhealer, storylistener, and storyteller. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students to help them unlock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women in realizing their true identity as wild women, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)