individuality

Have you forgotten? You are a wild one.

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“Wild Women of the Woods” by Nikki Simpson

 

“Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it.”

– Reggie Ray, Buddhist scholar

From the time you were a little child they’ve been trying to tame you.

They told you how to sit, they told you how to behave. They told you what nice girls do and don’t and when you acted wild, they told you that you should be ashamed of yourself.

So you were.

They told you to sit still.

They told you to quiet down.

They told you to play nice and stop being bossy. They told you to not get dirty. To not be naughty.

You learned that if you were gonna get by in this world, your wild animal self would need to be trained in the ways of the world. You acclimated. You adapted. You shut her away.

You’ve spent your life trying to be good. They love you more when you’re good. But when good becomes false, your true self grieves. When playing by the rules becomes sacrificing your heart’s desires, death is slow and secret. You’re smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.

I declare a Reclamation Proclamation on your wild and fiery spirit. I dare you to untame yourself. Just a little bit. Or a lot.

What does that mean? I don’t know! It will be different for all of us.

For some of us the Reclamation will involve a complete purge of objects, relationships, old familiar ways, burning through the old, to grow new from the ash.

For some of us a Reclamation might be as simple as one single NO.

No I won’t be attending the event.

No I will not entertain this damaging thought.

No I will not feel guilty about taking care of myself.

No I will not work for a company that requires the women to wear panty hose every day.
For some of us, the Reclamation will be in the form of a YES.

YES this is what I want.

YES I will swim naked in the moonlight.

YES I will take a lover.

YES I will travel alone.

YES I will do the unthinkable.

Whatever your unthinkable might be.

You might stop shaving your legs, if that suits your fancy. You might go without panties for a week, to see how that changes the way you move and experience the world. You might quit your job. You might leave a marriage. You might start a marriage. You might parachute, para-sail, para-glide. You might release a relationship, renew a promise, set fire to the old. Give birth to the new in you.

Dance. Sing. Scream. Run. Stay. Do the wild thing.

There’s a new movement sweeping the country, thousands of women have stopped shaving their legs. They’re taking pictures, they’re sharing them online. It’s bold, it’s definitely a Reclamation Proclamation of the wild one!

Although I don’t think I’ll be going to such extremes, (only because I don’t feel pulled in that direction, it doesn’t titillate me) I do occasionally allow them to grow unruly because I just don’t feel like shaving and it’s sort of fun to marvel at their prickly stubbly layer of hair that will most certainly grow wild if I let it.

Your wild child is begging you to let her out. She needs to live. She needs to breathe. She needs your respect and adoration.

You do not have to be good.You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. “

– Mary Oliver

Did you get that?

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Your wild one is calling out. Untame your spirit. How might your world change? How does your wild spirit want to reveal herself?

Do something wild. I dare you. Love what you love. Burn what needs to burn. Set fire to your tameness. To your jaded holding back, keeping it down, guarding your heart (as if.)

It’s not working.

You were born to be wild.

 

 

 

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Originally published Summer, 2014. Taking a short break from writing, be back soon!

Fashion Rules, Pumpkin Spice, Leggings, Shaming and a Better Way

mean-girls

A couple years ago, I decided to cut my hair because I’d been hearing and reading that women over 40 should not have long hair. I did it. I hated it. I could not grow my long hair back quickly enough.

I decided then to have long hair forever and ever amen, or at least as long as I wanted to.

Call it a perk of being in my 40s, but something new is emerging in me, and I’m embracing and welcoming an absolute resolve to wear what I want, be who I want, ignore “fashion rules” when I want. I’m getting better at loving myself, and one way I show love to me is by dressing and adorning myself in ways that please me. About me. For me. Screw the “rules”.

Let’s stop telling each other how to dress, what clothes or hair or shoes or whatnot is age appropriate, size appropriate, life appropriate.

If you like it, it’s appropriate.

And can we quit with this “basic” thing, please? It’s become a running quip that liking Uggs and pumpkin spice and yoga pants makes you “basic.” I am not defending Uggs specifically, because I personally don’t like them, but I promise not to judge you or your worth or your depth by the boots you choose to wear, even if I think they’re Uggly.  And somehow pumpkin spice and yoga pants have worked their way into the “basic” qualifying checklist, among other preferences and likes. Can we all come to terms with how dumb that is?

Like what you like. Let me like what I like.

Here’s the thing. We are all basic. And none of us are.

It is not your business what I wear and or how I like my lattes.

We joke “Haha, I’m so basic!” as a way of diffusing this, I suppose. It helps. Offsetting, detracting, self-deprecating silliness, sure.

But this woman-on-woman ridiculing– we cannot afford it. It is a waste of time and energy and eats away at any sort of progress we are making together as women. Subtle, like termites, but damaging nonetheless.

A quick Google search of “fashion rules” brought up 146,000,000 hits. Apparently there are a lot of people with a lot to say about how I should or shouldn’t dress.

The infamous “People of Wal-Mart” has over 1.3 million followers on Facebook alone, mostly by posting ridiculing pictures of people, mostly women, and their outfits, without their even knowing they are being photographed.

The shaming has got to stop.

If we’re going to band together to save the world like the superheroes we are, like a world in crisis needs us to, we have got to stop with the subtle and not-so-subtle ridiculing and shaming, and turn our judgment inward, as an opportunity to reflect on the question “Who the hell do I think I am?”

It’s a humbling question. And it’s the curiously contrary flipside to the paradox that we are eternal, ethereal, divine and powerful. But at the same time, who the hell do we think we are when we pass judgment, in jest or in seriousness, on the way another woman is expressing herself, dressing or not dressing, adorning herself, taking her coffee, wearing leggings as pants, long hair over 40, white after labor day, shaving or not shaving?

It is not our place. It does not matter.

What matters more is showing up in the world expressively reflecting the beauty and radiance that exists within you. Looking to the woman we’re inclined to judge and noticing and drawing attention to the beauty and radiance that exists within her.

What matters more is having the freedom to be exactly who you are, and honoring and respecting my freedom to be exactly who I am.

What matters more is that we stand up for each other, with each other, that we set down our protective mechanisms of judgment, snark, sarcasm and ridicule, and embrace a braver, more vulnerable, more accepting, more compassionate and more loving way of being a woman.

Imagine, just imagine, how beautiful we’d all be, if we lived like this every day. If we showed up for one another like this every day. Or even every other day. Imagine what we could accomplish together.

Trust me, I’m not claiming to be perfect. I am not claiming to be immune or righteous or some magnanimous being, floating around, sending love 24/7.  Of course I sometimes slip into this cheap and easy way of sorting and classifying and organizing the world. I’m tempted and sometimes succumb in conversations, before I realize it, mindlessly munching on this low-hanging fruit of female bonding. But I’m getting better at noticing it, and at choosing differently.

So if we’re hanging out, and you catch me in this sort of conversation, call me out, stop me. Remind me there’s a better way.

There’s a higher fruit, up there, in the top branches. It’s juicy, full of nourishment and love and respect and support. And it’s delicious. Wanna bite? There’s plenty for everyone, just requires a little more reach and a little more stretch.