I Am Only One

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Helen Keller

Eighteen months ago, I became a vegetarian. I had been a vegetarian in my teens, around about the same time that I was a member of CND, boycotted Del Monte because of their support of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, had a subscription to the New Internationalist, was wearing Doc Martins before they were cool when the only place you could buy them was the Army Surplus store, and wanted to study medicine to rid the world of disease and suffering.

But somewhere along the road of life, wide-eyed teenage conviction that one’s purpose in life is to change the world for the better was overtaken by the cynicism of adulthood. Marriage, mortgage, motherhood and the mundanity of everyday life shrunk my world, blinkered my view and sapped every last ounce of energy I had. I no longer had the time for my convictions, never mind the courage of them.

So I pottered along in my perfectly lovely, perfectly normal life, telling my inner teenager that there really wasn’t any point anyway; who did she think she was with her ideas of world peace and ending starvation and universal healthcare. No one else was giving a shit and really it was time to quieten  down, get real and grow up. I told her one person couldn’t change the world, and she really needed to get over it.

And that was fine, for a while. But my life was out of kilter with my internal compass, and my chronic box of sadness was growing larger and larger. With the exception of my family, I had lost sight of the things that were important to me, things that I felt strongly about and felt compelled to stand up for.

Then, all of a sudden, it happened – a moment of clarity. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t change the world, feed the poor, house the homeless, eradicate treatable disease. Because I could change me. It didn’t matter if my actions made no difference at all in the grand scheme of things, or if you agreed with me. Because I agreed with me. It didn’t matter if others thought I was a crank or an eccentric. Because I knew my reasons. The teenager did grow up, and she realised that striving to change others and the external world  was missing the point.  I could no longer refuse to do the something I could do.

I became a vegetarian, I took up yoga, I volunteered. I sign petitions, I boycott Nestle, I buy a meal for the first homeless person I come across each time I am in the city centre. I make sure the people in my life  who are important to me, know how important they are. I write to encourage others to be their own true, powerful selves and change their own worlds.

When we all do the something we can do, the world is a better place for everyone.

What can you do?

Claire x

Do you have the courage of your convictions? Do you find it hard to find the time to live what you believe? Share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

 

Being Brave

In the few weeks that have passed since sticking my head above the parapet and  deciding to share my innermost feelings about myself as a whole, authentic woman, I have been told many times how brave I am being. My feelings vacillate  wildly between pride that I have had the courage to even attempt to foster a nurturing community where I and others can move into all of our glorious, womanly power, and abject terror when the volume of my inner voice is turned up to the max and sneering “Who do you think you are? Who wants to read about the crap that floats around in your head?”

The most interesting thing for me is how these expressions of bravery have reached me; not one has been during a face to face conversation with someone. On a number of occasions, I have met up with a friend who has not even mentioned it to me at the time, and then later messaged me or emailed me to tell me that my writing resonated with them and I am so brave for putting it out there. Some have not even mentioned it at all, yet I know they are following.

Why is it so difficult for many of us to express our true feelings and be real with each other, human to human, in the flesh? One word – vulnerability.

We are conditioned from a very young age to view vulnerability as weakness. Putting ourselves in an emotionally vulnerable position elicits enormous feelings of fear; fear that if other people know our intimate thoughts and feelings then they will no longer like us; fear that we do not deserve to be seen as we are, because what we are is not good enough, and fear that our vulnerability will not be reciprocated and we will be left exposed and hurt. And so we avoid putting ourselves in situations where we might express our true feelings because of the possibility of appearing weak in the presence of another.

But here is the thing – I have made myself vulnerable by speaking my truth in a very public way, and that vulnerability looks like bravery to you. So why one rule for me and another for you? You can bet your boots that if you expressed your vulnerability you would look courageous to others too. Because you would be. It is in the sharing of our vulnerabilities that true connection happens between my heart and yours. Allowing someone to really see you with all your human frailties is the greatest gift you can give, and your reward is a real spiritual connection with an equally flawed soul.

So today, in some small way, have the courage to share your vulnerability with someone. Look someone in the eye and tell them how you really feel about them, or ask for that help you need, or leave a comment here and share your vulnerabilities in a safe space where you will be accepted with love.

Yours in vulnerability,

Claire

Note – since I wrote this, a friend directed me to the work of Brene Brown, an eminent research professor specialising in vulnerability. If this post resonates with you, then check out her blog Ordinary Courage.

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?