Even as a little girl, I would look into a mirror and wonder, “who am I? Why am I here?” The world seemed scary, but I felt something deep inside that I did not understand or know how to express until much later in life.
“I stand with my hands on my hips and my eyes on the truth; unflinching in my gaze and courageous in my resolve, I’m no longer on simmer, relegated to life’s back burner, pushing everything and everyone out front in place of me; I am radiant and determined, wild and untamable, and at long last woke.” Alicia keys from her book “More Myself” as she describes a picture of herself on an album cover
Damn, that Alicia Keys quote and her book went deep and were the catalyst for this short story.
I cherish the few memories of being wild and free as a child. I was a precocious redhead little girl with big feelings and very intuitive but learned that quiet and well-behaved little girls were preferred early on. That was hard for me, but it was a skill I learned quickly to survive in the first seven years of my life. The most genuine palpable memories I have were playing outside in nature, where I felt wild and free.
I loved climbing trees. I would choose the tallest fir. I loved the scent of the amber-coloured resin on the bark. I loved feeling my hand on the rough bark and my foot maneuvering and testing each limb to feel its strength. My quickening heart as I climbed higher and higher on each branch until I reached the top and could see what seemed to me, for miles. My hands would be full of sticky resin, and the scent would remain for most of the day. I loved playing in the creek that flowed out of a large pond. I loved the cool, slimy soft feel of frog eggs as I scooped them with my hands out of the water. I would put them in a bucket and, three weeks later, watch them wiggle and hatch and then release them back in the pond. I loved catching and releasing snakes, grasshoppers, frogs, and my favourite, the tiny red salamanders. I loved lying down in the tall grass and watching the clouds float by as I daydreamed.
I remember riding bareback on my chestnut mare called Princess. I love how muscular and strong my thighs felt as I pressed them firmly against her warm body when she went into a full gallop down a trail in the back of our home. I felt free and wild! I loved swimming. I remember feeling so sensual and expansive when I went skinny dipping for the first time in the river with friends—allowing my nude body to float and be supported by the water looking up at the endless milky way in the dark night sky. I loved skating on ponds in the cold crisp maritime winters. I loved the feel of the icy wind on my face as I glided around the edges of the ice as fast as I could; it felt like flying! In moments like these, my body tingled with the energy of my blood coursing through my veins.
At a very young age, I felt the energy of everyone around me, often dismissed as being too sensitive. I was sensitive and am still today. Being sensitive for a woman is a superpower when understood and embraced. Sadly, I began that destructive journey like many women, learning to be stoic and numb instead of expressive and passionate.
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been,” Glennon Doyle.
As I mature, I understand this truth. This wise quote is powerful. I have discovered I need help sometimes because, without good reflective mirrors in times of pain, we can get lost in the internal struggles that keep us small and stuck in our dark shadows of self-doubt. The key is to choose wisely; the second part of this quote is essential. For me, most recently, it was my Spiritual Director who saved my ass a few years ago; she had gone through where I needed to go and could shine a light for me so I could uncover what I needed to heal. I am inspired by women on this journey of reclaiming their wild; I learn from others who have gone before me. I am careful to take only the wisdom that speaks to me as I forge my own unique wild path, seeking guidance from God. Each of us has to define what it means to us.
I don’t know about you, but the pandemic has given me a sense of urgency not to take life for granted. As I turned 60 this summer, I understood that too much of me still stays hidden and unexpressed. Today a lot less, certainly way less than before; as a younger woman, I worked too hard, and too often, to prove that I was “enough” and “strong.”
I want to reclaim some of the freedom of spirit I shoved away growing up as a child. When children feel safe and are nurtured and loved, they are naturally spontaneous, creative, curious, and forever exploring their environment. They have no filters and, therefore, no trouble expressing big emotions. As a result, they stay in their body without the need for numbing. They are clear about their feelings and what they want. Their eyes sparkle and dance, and they move their bodies with ease; they grow up trusting themselves, their bodies, others and life. A wild heart always includes a creative force that requires expression. Some of us only discover this when we start to rediscover our wild.
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes, it turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame” Brene Brown.
Wild also means the maturity of adulthood being fully expressed with necessary filters of love and compassion. This means communicating in honest, respectful ways and setting boundaries with those I love when needed. Being wild is holding myself accountable, which is why I believe in having a loving friend, partner, or community who can do this in respectful and direct ways. Wild can also mean saying nothing when I know what I say will be unkind. Not speaking to others I know will not allow what I am sharing to land or be respected. It’s not letting fear of failure or embarrassment from keeping me from exploring creative endeavours. I am more fully alive through these actions, and doing these more often helps me no longer need to numb or distract myself.
An important lesson I have learned along the way is to choose fewer people to share and see inside my inner heart sanctum—only those who are sincere, respect others and themselves. And most important, non-judgmental people who own their shit and dare to keep evolving who are comfortable with all parts of themselves, both their light and the dark, their strengths and their vulnerabilities, because I know they will accept all of mine too.
I have spent a lot of time alone and in silence this year and things have become much clearer. Writing has saved me; it’s my creative outlet. Also, OA and my writers’ group are new communities where I have discovered new aspects of myself. It’s only been through vulnerability that I have ever been able to find people who are some of the most honest and genuine people I have ever known. Only when I am willing to be seen can others see me. Each one of them has opened my heart and allowed me to see myself in a new way over the years. I am also privileged to be a part of a woman’s group now for over 20 years. The six of us have gathered every month ( until the pandemic ) and shared our lives in profound ways. We all need community, but now, I make sure to choose people I can be myself with, all of me.
I have entered into my wilderness during this pandemic. Brene Brown talks about the wilderness that is the necessary loneliness of staying true to yourself. Yet, the power of allowing ourselves to be creative is the very salve for this loneliness. There is a delicate balance between being alone and community, but being alone is where creativity and trusting ourselves begins.
I will always belong to and believe in myself first.” Brene Brown
A wild heart often gets quashed early on, in little girls and especially young women.
I am still working on reclaiming living fully in my whole body. Part of this is allowing intuition to guide me, comprised of my heart, gut and senses. I believe this is how God or the Divine Feminine as I see her speaks to me; God is more feminine for me these days. It’s becoming easier, but it has been a long time unlearning default thoughts and habits over my adult years. I still carry the scars of a negative body image from abuse as a child, but they are fading. Being comfortable in our skin is vital to embrace our wild hearts fully.
We get swept up in our family of origins model and our western ideas of what a woman is or is not. Adolescence often creates a detour into self-doubt, low self-esteem, body issues and struggle that sometimes lasts a lifetime.
The natural wild in young women can slowly be dulled by their peers and the drama of trying to fit in and be liked. Also, in my youth, as it is today, young girls are “mirrored” a very narrow idea of what a woman “should” look like, which can create all kinds of body dysmorphic visions of themselves. Our sexuality is often exploded, which creates a disconnect to our bodies; then, we no longer feel grounded to the earth, which often numbs our sensual, passionate, authentic, creative selves. The good news is, as women, we are also warriors at heart. We can begin to heal the moment we allow ourselves to start to feel.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to be like everybody else- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting” EE Cummings.
“To be yourself” is a battle worth fighting for. And only when we realize the battle is only with ourselves can we begin to heal. A woman’s wild heart is boundless, ever-expanding, creative and untamed no matter how old our bodies are if we dare to claim it. Every single woman on the planet has the ability and courage to heal and find their wild again. When we do the work, we show our daughters, granddaughters and other women the way. I have been so blessed to have met a few wild women. I see in them what is possible for other women and me at any age.
These are just of few of my favourite books about women who have reclaimed their wild hearts, such as
Cheryl Strayed “Wild”
Elizabeth Gilbert. “Eat, Pray, Love”
Elizabeth Lesser “Broken Open”
Jewel “Never Broken,”
Joy Harjo, “Crazy Brave,”
Mirabai Starr, “Wild Mercy,”
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, “To Speak for the Trees,”
Michelle Obama “Becoming”
Meggan Watterson “Mary Magdalene Revealed.”
Tara Westover “Educated.”
Anne Lamott “Bird by Bird”
Glennon Doyle “Untamed”
Alicia Keys “More Myself”
-are just a few that I highly recommend!
We ignore this call to our wild heart in many ways. We have addictions. We stay crazy busy by becoming martyrs by filling all of our time taking care of others to the detriment of our health and wellness. We spend more time judging and gossiping about others instead of looking inside ourselves. We have life-sucking careers. Some of us stay disconnected by trying to control our loved ones by being overly involved in their lives; we stay numb by any means possible not to hear that wild voice inside for fear of rejection. I have done all of these. We often shrink, lose our voice; we are usually the peacemakers and people pleasers in our families. Most often, we are empathic, compassionate, kind, and we deeply feel the pain of others in the world. Our feelings and emotions are vast and messy, and others who are comfortably numb in the world find us too much, so we learn to comply to be excepted. So many of us become part of that matrix.
Today I am less inhibited with my feelings, yet I still allow people to shut me down sometimes. I still dull myself way down when I am around certain people.
I love how comfortable my hubby is with me shouting or crying when we watch TV. I love how excited I can get with him at little things. He gets me in ways most do not. When I am upset, he does not try and tame or rescue me anymore. 🙂 He knows I am strong in important ways, and I am just working my way through pain instead of ignoring it.
I am not as quick-witted as I would like. I do my best, to tell the truth about how I feel. I speak up when others are unkind or disrespectful. Not as much as I would like because, quite frankly, I am stunned into silence when it happens, or worse, I find myself defending myself, which is pointless when people don’t hear what I have to say. At different times in my life, I found myself closed-hearted, so I know that underneath their projections, they are good people with painful stories of their own. This is why I try hard not to be triggered, but it still happens sometimes.
Women are very capable of being chameleons. Yes, I understand it is more comfortable and much easier in the moment, but we lose all sense of who we are over time. I watch people, especially women, become beautifully crafted chameleons around each person in their lives to appease and manage them separately. I hear their tone and inflection change and become different for each person; they say precisely what the other person wants to hear. God forbid they would tell the truth, even though their body language gives them away. Early on, many women learn to amour up and stuff away what they genuinely want to say or do to keep the peace. I have not had the energy for this for a long time, thank goodness.
I have had the honour of hearing hundreds of stories from women who opened up their deep true thoughts and feelings about their painful lives. Yet, most go back into their lives and act out the same unhealthy patterns that have made their relationships and bodies sick in the first place. I have learned that the truth is freedom. I am talking about the truth that often stays hidden about what is genuine in our hearts, even from ourselves. Too many of us have become too comfortable with lies, and they are killing us.
There is a sacred spiritual truth that is at our core. When I say telling the truth, it does not mean saying obvious things to others to manipulative to get our way, as we are all capable of doing. It is sharing authentically who we are, not what others want to hear.
Wild also means to show up fully expressed and not muted into being a peacemaker to the detriment of our own needs. The truth is a firm “NO” when we usually say yes and regret it every time. Or saying an excited “YES” when we have always said “no” too afraid of what others might think. Over time, this causes internalized resentment and anger, and if we are peacemakers, it turns in on us.
“What is better: uncomfortable truth or comfortable lies? Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Every untruth is an unkindness, even if it makes others comfortable.” Glennon Doyle.
I want to end with another quote from Alicia Keys’s book, “More myself.”
“As long as I am alive, I will be growing and improving, wielding my pen as the author of my own forever. But even as I lift myself to the next level, I hope to always recognize my reflection, I want to know who I am, and except every part of that identity. I am frightened and I am fearless, I am weak and a warrior, I am uncertain and I am confident, And by learning to embrace the paradox and all of it, I am more myself.”
I feel the truth of this quote viscerally.
Over the years, for me, life has been a quest to find out “who am I really?” This is what I know for sure up until now. I am contemplative, gregarious, honest, open and closed-minded, sensitive, complicated, brave, anxious, wildly curious, strong, vulnerable, stubborn, flexible, cautious, adventurous, quiet, loud, spontaneous, ridged, gentle, tough, and creative. I procrastinate sometimes, I am not as organized as I would like, my house is often cluttered, but I am finally OK. I am all of that and more to discover, both dark and light. I, too, am learning to embrace the paradox of who I am. I will forever be a student of life and have come to love the human spirit, primarily when it is fully expressed.
I look at this picture of me as a little girl; I understand her now and love her dearly. I used to wonder who I might have been if life had been different, but I now know that I was given the exact life I’ve had to become who I am. I am who I am.
Let us all embrace our wild, untamed creative selves. It is more critical than at any other time in history. Yin is rising. Gaia is waiting ❤