The squiggle comes while reading Chantal’s shout-out to Glennon Doyle Melton: “This woman is freaking amazing—authenticity, vulnerability, fierceness beyond measure, grit, grace....it's all there. I can't compare her to anybody but think Brené Brown, Liz Gilbert, Esther Perel, Anne Lamott, and Oprah all in one! For reals, people—don’t miss this one.”
I know my discomfort has nothing to do with Glennon. In fact, when literary agent and fellow Emerging Woman Kelly Notaras posts a video review of Glennon’s book Love Warrior on FB, I immediately google the Momastery blogger and fall in love with her. “She’s a true soul sister,” I think to myself, “having found her way to freeing the authentic self buried underneath her representative self.”
Nope. My flinch isn’t about Glennon or Kelly or Chantal.
It’s my own insecurity.
I’m afraid there might not be enough room.
A voice in my head launches into her litany: “You better hurry up. You’re gonna miss your chance. That could have been you that Chantal was raving about. You’re blowing it.”
I peer scornfully at the voice and release my defense: “As if there were a way to hurry up, or pull off the latest 10 Easy Steps to Overnight Success. As if there were a stage—one stage—that, if I got onto it, would finally establish my legitimacy, my happiness, my worth.”
I take a long deep breath, shake my head, and call forth my hard earned superpower: my ability to pause. I enter this hiatus to step back and witness what’s arising. My capacity to detach kicks in strongly. Instead of reacting, I become curious. Years of meditation serve me well at times like this. The witness is now wired into my circuitry right alongside the relentless critical bitch.
I view the bitch’s reaction as the ingenious and honorable work of my reptilian brain. It’s suddenly hilarious to me that a reflex encoded millions of years ago for survival—a miraculous regulating force in the human organism—has somehow come to define survival as getting on the Emerging Women stage.
I chuckle. If I didn’t laugh I would certainly cry.
On a bad day here’s where my attention would be right now:
First stop, Judgement Square. In addition to the bitch calling me pathetic, Judgement Square is where her cronies spout their venom about everyone and everything: Glennon’s just feeding the mainstream dogma. She has no real depth. And Chantal's just as bad … a phony new-age self-help-femininista.
Next stop, Pity Hill, where weepy voices incessantly wail: If only my mother wouldn’t have been so shut down maybe I wouldn’t have a competition thing with other women. But it wouldn't matter anyway, because my story is not as interesting as theirs. Glennon is clearly smarter, prettier, and more worthy than I am.
Final destination, Righteous Resignation Corner, where every resident knows that a truly righteous person’s status is established by God alone. The voices here are stoic and disembodied: Your desire to be recognized is an insidious element of the unholiness of your wretched sinful soul.
Though my attention is tempted to slide down the well worn rabbit hole into my primal brain, I turn away from the familiar pathway and take a seat in my frontal lobe. Here I locate objective facts:
I’m perfectly safe.
There’s no threat to my physical life.
There’s no need to believe any of the chatter arising from the amygdala’s domain.
My forebrain confidently reminds me that a certain section of my nervous system is wired to survive, to compete for supremacy in a threatening predatory environment. “She’s merely doing her job,” my neo-cortex assures me. “She’s simply got some wires crossed is all.”
I soften my shoulders and lean back in my chair. I close my eyes. My heartbeat slows and my breathing normalizes. I can now become aware of what else is present other than the impulse to fight or flee.
Fluttering in my upper chest is a yearning.
When I notice it my heart quickens again.
“For what do you long?” I ask.
The answer comes softly and confidently: “I wish to be me.”
Relocating this self is like waking from a dream. Too often I ambulate through life as a confused and fearful dream character. But this one feels like the dreamer. She feels like home.
Through her eyes I now look at Glennon’s face frozen in the FB feed before me. I see power, radiance, and authenticity. I see a sister claiming her voice, sharing her story, taking her place on the stage of life.
I inhale and ask myself, “Is there room for both of you?”
The question now seems silly.
Just a moment ago it felt like life and death.
I know I’m not the only one who acts out due to the programming of well established reptilian neural pathways. I also know I’m not the only one clumsily waking up from this dreadful habit. I imagine I might even be one of a whole slew of homo sapiens approaching the possibility of becoming human. But it’s messy.
I remember the first time HeatherAsh told me she wanted to speak on the Emerging Women stage. I had just signed up for the inaugural Emerging Women Live event in Boulder and, even though HeatherAsh is a dear friend, has been instrumental in supporting my emergence, and is a transformative teacher and advocate for the warrior goddess within, it didn’t matter to the reptilian me. HeatherAsh had no business pushing into my space. After all, maybe I could be the one to step on the Emerging Women stage some day. Not her.
The Emerging Women event successfully yanks me out of my embarrassingly competitive habit by getting me high in a sea of hundreds of women shouting, “Yes! there is room for all of us!” Not only is there enough, but there is an urgent call for each of us to stand and take our rightful place on the world stage. These are unprecedented times. Humanity needs our feminine power and presence. In order to bring her forward we must access the depth of our capacity to be fully “for” each other as women.
Not only do I hear this message reverberate through the voices of the women who stand on the Emerging Women stage, but it’s also embedded into the choreography of the entire gathering. Like a 3-D onomatopoeia, Emerging Women is created by and for emerging women. No woman is considered on the outside. There is no outside. It’s all a matter of finding our rightful place … from the inside out.
I decide to buy my ticket for the second Emerging Women Live event in NYC and manage to side step my reptilian impulse to overtly dissuade HeatherAsh from attending knowing that the dates would not work for her again. However, my nervous system is buzzing on high alert poisoning my ability to be fully “for” her. I hate this feeling.
I sit down and pause to be with myself. Again.
My still small voice is kind when she says, “If you’re truly committed to bringing forward your authentic offering into the world, your place may never be on the Emerging Women stage. But HeatherAsh’s might.”
I settle into this knowing, though not without a bit of struggle. I know the truest, best, most fulfilling life is not found on a strategically targeted stage “out there.” Still, it tempts me.
“Where you stand is your stage,” she whispers to me.
How can I know this for sure?
“Because you’re here standing. Nobody else is in this place.”
I repeat to myself, “I am here. This is my place. I will move forward into the world from here.”
I say this mantra every day.
And so it has come to pass that the fourth Emerging Women Live event is less than a month away, and HeatherAsh is scheduled to teach a workshop. I’ll be a paying attendee for the fourth year in a row and HeatherAsh will be one step closer to the main stage.
I am sincerely thrilled for her. And here’s more good news.
Living my own unique story is getting easier every day. When I'm stressed, tired, or unmindful, my nervous system might flair, leaving me feeling vulnerable and exposed, unsure of my path or my future. At such times I may want to lurch at HeatherAsh and try to knock her off her path. When this occurs, I have only one way through. We are in this together, she and I. So I pause. I tell her what's happening inside of me. I share my sorrow and my shame, allow my authentic self to show up and be genuinely for her rather than hiding the competitive one and pretending she doesn’t exist. HeatherAsh's heart bursts open with compassion for me as she confesses her own inner competitive streak. We laugh and cry in each others arms.
This is the way of the sisterhood. Because we're each connected to Source as the author of our unique life, when we are centered in this place there's no stopping us. We are fully for one another. Still, let’s be real. We’re works in progress. We’re not always rooted in this place of clarity. We’re more and more grounded there, but not always. What to do when we are not stationed in our deepest knowing is the crucial teaching of these times.
What do I do when I know what the “right” thing is, but my instinct is to do the exact opposite and the strength to do the right thing is simply not available?
I stop to witness and identify which self is about to act. I breathe. I rest into my breath and access the Breath that is breathing me. I practice this maneuver over and over and over again without ever believing this process of centering will get easier or that I will never again get drawn out of my center—without ever teaching others that it should be any other way. This is the dance of becoming human. It's a journey. Not a fixed state.
I download Glennon’s book on my Kindle this morning as I fly to SF from NY. I can hardly put the book down, and have finally done so only because I want to finish writing this blog. The onomatopoeic experience is happening again right now. I’m reading about, observing, and living the emergent feminine. She is everywhere, coming through us with great force.
Maybe you are an emerging woman, too. Maybe I will see you in SF at EW Live in October. If you want to find me, I'll be cheering on my bestie HeatherAsh and all the other incredible women who will convene to make this event epic. As I walk through the halls I will be emanating this mantra:
I am for you.
Not against you.
I see you.
I love you.
You’re just like me.
We are emerging women.