This weekend was my darling boy’s 8th birthday party. I love the run up to the children’s birthday parties; picking the theme and making invitations weeks beforehand, the kids making crispy cakes for the big day and covering the kitchen, and themselves, in melted chocolate, making the birthday cake, which has to be kept as a surprise until the morning of the party. And then the big day itself; the dressing up and decorations, twenty excited kids running all over the place in their costumes, the silly games, the sound of unadulterated fun, and the large glass of wine when it is all over. But there is one thing about parties I hate.

Party bags!

Since the kids started having parties I have duly churned out the little bags filled with  plastic crap and the obligatory sweets, all the time knowing that the very act of doing so made me feel ill at ease. I hate party bags on so many levels; that we are teaching our kids that the getting of “stuff” is more important than the experience itself, that they are filled with cheap, environmentally disastrous  plastic tat made in Chinese sweatshops by kids not much older than my own; that really the only worth they have for kids is the sugar-laden, teeth-rotting sweets that we are conditioning them to associate with fun and happy times. Am I over-thinking on the whole party bag thing here?  Yes of course! And somehow no.

You see, despite my strong feelings about what party bags represent for me, for the last 5 years I have I doled them out anyway. Why? Because it is what is expected,  you must because it is what everyone else does. Who wants to be the social pariah who spoiled the kid’s fun for the sake of a higher purpose? Who wants to take a stand for what they believe in at the risk of gossip at the school gate?

Well, now that I am learning to tap into my power and trust my own instincts, I do. I want to be that pariah. This year I did take a stand and decided that not a single party bag would grace my house . Clearly a difficult discussion with my son ensued – at the age of 8 children are already programmed to do whatever it takes to fit in and avoid any behavior that might mark them out as different. But after my explanation of how I felt about it, he agreed that we would make cakes and he would decorate them all differently, one for each individual child to take home. How beautiful they all looked, in rainbow colours, fundamentally the same but each unique in its own way.

The kids loved it and one little girl said how lovely it was that my son had given her something that he had made himself. He glowed with pride and I didn’t apologise and didn’t explain and tried very hard not to worry about what the other mums would think.

We all have “party bag” issues, things that we do to fit in with the crowd because we feel it is expected of us, even if  it make us feel uncomfortable.  Sometimes you have been doing these things for so long that you can suppress the sickly feeling and pretend to yourself that it is ok to ignore the things that really matter to you. But in the process you lose something of your authentic self and take a step away from your full divine power.

But somewhere in your subconscious, you know. You know what you stand for and what you believe in, and you know when you are compromising yourself for the sake of social acceptance. Oh yes you do, and it doesn’t feel good does it? So, starting today, step into your power, stand up for what you believe, however ridiculous or small it may seem, and be who you are, not who you think others expect.

With love from a party bag-free zone,

Claire x

Woman Uncut

I have been living on the edge of something for a while, something elusive and fearful, something powerful but terrifying. I was stuck in a dark, constricted, oppressive space which seemed without end. I had no words to express what I was on the edge of, or how it felt.

I do now.

Primeval, female, animal, guttural, powerful, divine, free, connected, strong, whole, authentic, sexual, creative, wild.

This is what I have been on the edge of, the edge of my full power as a complete woman.

I have been fighting with this woman within because she is too powerful, too vulnerable, too outspoken, too confrontational, too lascivious, too threatening to others.

How do I know this? Because others told her. Others trampled on her. Others disapproved of her. Others squashed and repressed her. And so did I.

I subjugated her because I wanted to fit in. I subjugated her because she was too powerful for other people to understand. I subjugated her because of the fear of rejection and isolation.  I subjugated her in fear of disconnection from those around me. And in the process I disconnected from myself.

I ignored her intuition, deliberately overriding it to capitulate to the thoughts, feelings and will of others, rationalising in my head that this was ok, that I was ok. I needed to know things, to understand the world at an intellectual level, to control things, to contain things, to avoid her spilling out and betraying me as a fraud, or worse, as mentally unstable.

I have often thought I should have been a man. I have over-masculinised myself cope with the fear of the almighty female power within. But yet, I have always known she was there.  In my early twenties I met a woman when I was travelling who told me that she could sense that I knew things and felt things that others didn’t, that I could feel and see the dark places in others and was called to heal them. I was terrified and extricated myself as quickly as possible and put it down to mumbo jumbo. But somewhere deep inside I knew – and I was afraid.

She was with me in the labour of childbirth. I was totally in tune with what it means to be a woman. I was a powerful goddess, connected to the earth and spirit, birthing new life with extreme power and beauty. But then life took over and the veil descended and she was lost to me.

My life and my relationships with others have been orchestrated to conceal her, to contain her to repress her. She has whispered at times, and I have paid no heed. Now she is shouting so loudly that I can’t think.

So what now? I am fighting with myself. I know now that I am afraid of surrendering to her, of being ostracised, rejected and derided all over again. But there is a faint light at the end of the dark place. I have come further than there is still to go. She needs to be heard.

Are you living your full athentic self? Do you hide your full power beacuse you may be “too much” for other people? Are you scared to shine your light? Have you got life licked and take no shit from nobody? Share your story. What would help you live your truth?