I am so excited to share with you words from the lovely singer-songwriter Bethany from @bethanyfolkmusic. I asked her to write a guest post to this months theme "exploring womanhood" and she did not disappoint. I can't wait for you to read it, so I'll be quite and let you get on..
(let's start a conversation in the comments below..)
Dear Daughters of the Earth,
These lustrous pearls of wisdom keep asking me to thread them onto a string and wear them out for you to see. So here I am, sharing them with you.
I should note that all the best wisdom is found or passed down, not created. It's important to me that you understand that these are not my creations, they’re my heirlooms. This isn’t my art gallery, this is my collection.
1. Accept compliments. Every last one. If kind words have been tailored for you, then accept them. It dishonors both yourself and the giver of the compliment if you deny yourself this gift of kind words. When you are complimented, you are no longer allowed to respond with apologies or excuses or explanations. You must look the giver directly in the eyes, and simply say “thank you”. No more, no less. Accept the gift.
It seems, our culture is inundated with women who don’t believe they are worth a damn. I hear the deflection of their compliments like a million thudding gift-boxes dropping to the earth. I know more of us would bloom if we’d just take the compliment. Unwrap it like a child unwrapping a gift on christmas morning. Clutch the compliment to your pajama-clad heart with a squeal of delight!
2. You must train your eyes to see beauty in all things. Especially yourself. If we can learn to find spelling errors in our school papers, socks in a laundry pile, and berries in the wild, then we can learn to find the beauty in all things.
CHALLENGE: approach the mirror. Greet your reflection with a warm smile (the ones you normally reserve for beloved friends.) This is where we usually begin to tug at our tummies or our thighs but DON’T. Stay in this warm smile and focus in on the beauty of the person in the mirror. Where is it? Your bright eyes? Cute freckles? Wild and free hair? Find one thing and obsess over it the same way you obsess over your chubby tummy. Before you leave the mirror, please tell yourself just how radiant you are- inside and out!
P.S. Daughter, most women are designed to be soft and round. You are allowed to have a cute tummy and thighs. For the greater majority of us, softness and roundness is encoded in our DNA. Your body isn’t wrong and bad. Your body… she is made for such greatness and it is my dream that you make it a practice to love her everyday.
3. Choose to believe, just for fun. If we can’t know the secrets of the Universe, then at least let us waste no time with cynical nihilism. Come and play in the joy of magic and miracles, spirits and god, light and love. You are none the wiser for mourning the monotony and meaninglessness of life. Come dance in refreshing rain showers of serendipity and fate, faith and optimism. Darling- Believe! Just for fun.
4. No one is going to give you permission. There is no stamp of approval for what it is you want to become. Your head will be an echo chamber of admonishing voices of parents, teachers, and the collective “they”. Like a black cloud of gnats, “they” will swarm your skull with shame and guilt until you can’t hear your own voice anymore. It is your responsibility to find your voice, speak your truth, and do the thing you are burning to do anyway.
You see, dear daughter, the secret to becoming is simply doing.
5. Here is the thing about love: It shouldn’t hurt. It just shouldn’t. If it is causing you pain, then it isn’t love, it's something else entirely. In relationships, there is no reason for name-calling or physical assault or imprisonment. All of these are unacceptable
For you, Dear Daughter, I dream of patience and understanding, devotion and loyalty, thoughtful gestures and long hugs. I dream of compassion for when you mess up the budget… again, and eyes glistening with pride when you achieve greatness… again.
If love isn’t pain, then I want to tell you what love IS. Love should feel like basking in the Summer sun after a cool dip in the lake. It should be as comforting as coffee in Autumn, and it should nurture your spirit like a good book in Winter. There may be pain and hardships but your True Love will weather the storms of Spring alongside you, as your partner. You’ll take turns being each other's shelter from the storm.
Your lover should not be the storm.
6. No one can read your mind, and you can not read theirs. So don’t get angry when your needs are left unmet for too long if you never gave voice to your desires. It's your duty to be as accurate an ambassador for your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs as you can possibly manage. Learning how to communicate your observations, feelings, and needs is CRUCIAL in times of anger and distress. Let your words reveal your wounds without wounding anyone else.
The other side of this, is that you MUST be a good listener too. When someone is sharing their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, it doesn’t mean that you must adopt the same inner wiring in order to be liked, it simply means they are looking to be heard and understood. Learn to be a good listener without losing yourself.
7. You don’t have to do it alone. When the world turns dull and gray and your mind feels like a hell-cave that is crumbling in on itself and burying you alive, remember that it is ok to ask for help.
In fact, it's ok to ask for help before it gets that bad. (But sometimes, that's what it will take for you to learn this.)
Ask your pastor, therapist, or parent for help. Even a good friend may be up for the task if she is ready and willing and feeling strong enough to sit in your pain and darkness with you.
No one does anything alone. We aren’t supposed to. Humans are tribal creatures. Ask for help. Accept the help. Offer help to those who are struggling in their darkness.
8. You are not responsible for other people’s emotions. I used to panic when people became quiet, distressed, or even bored. I assumed that this was my fault and would try to fix it.
Dear Daughter, though you are radiant magic, I’d also like to tell you that every human is an entire Universe of their own and you are merely a twinkle in their sky. You do not have to punish yourself everytime you see a human in distress. Allow them to feel what they need to feel and remind yourself to live in your own feelings and perceptions.
9. You are allowed to say no. Your instincts are a connection to the source. Trust them Listen to them. Learn to hear your true yes and your true no. Your true yes and your true no may disappoint other people. This is not your problem. Let them pout. It is extremely important that you live out your true yes and your true no. Say yes to joy and delight, say no to anything that just doesn’t feel right. Do not do good deeds with the begrudging heart of a martyr. Whatever you do, do it with enjoyment and gladness. Your gut is a powerful compass that is trying to steer you home to joy. Learn to hear it, let it guide you.
10. Let yourself cry. You’ve been holding your breath, choking back tears, and turning to stone and it's making you sick.
Find a place where you feel comfortable to bawl loudly and shamelessly like a child.
Empty yourself of every last sob and tear so you can keep navigating bravely into the world. You do yourself no favors and prove nothing by denying yourself the renewing effects of tears.
My Dear Daughter, I’m a late bloomer. I’ve been caught in every last one of these snares. Each pearl of wisdom was the souvenir I got to take with me when the ride was finally over. ( but I’ll keep learning them over and over, hopping back on the ride sometimes before I finally take the pearl home for keeps.) I proudly display these pearls at my collarbones, for you.
Close your eyes now, and hold out your hand. Feel the weight of them like touchable sweet berries in your palm. Let them roll in your fingers. They are yours now. I’ve written them each on my heart.
Now It's your turn to wear this string of pearls.
A Daughter of the Earth