Could Invisibility be a Secret Power?

 
As published in Sybil Magazine, April 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine, April 2015

(#4 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Nowadays in social media and elsewhere the ‘come out of hiding and step into your power’ message seems to be getting louder and louder. But I often wonder… does this admonishment make us stronger? Or does it offer the message that we have to change who we are, and what we are doing to ‘become’ powerful?

When we see our quiet nature, or our need for privacy or internal time as negative, we buy into the notion that we have a ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed. We adopt another ‘should’ instead of asking who we are and what gifts we possess. We can then become “the woman in hiding,” the shy one “afraid of her own power”, the one who is constantly on the verge of success but “can’t quite make it”.  Instead, we need to stop and question the whole notion that a quality like introversion (or a need for turning inward) is ‘hiding’ – wrong, bad and worthy of shame. And to question the belief that power means being extroverted, ‘having impact’ or being constantly in the spotlight.

What is the truth about declining the spotlight and visibility? Is it the opposite to ‘stepping into our power?’ In the popular Harry Potter series, as he apprentices to become a powerful wizard, Harry is gifted with several secret tools or powers. One of these is the Invisibility Cloak. When he dawns the cloak, he does not lose power. He gains it. He gains the ability to travel great distances without being seen or impeded. He is able to observe conversations without being detected. And it allows him to act on behalf of good in the world without fear of being thwarted by the forces of evil.

Similarly, when we are introverted, or when we chose to remain silent and out of the spotlight, we gain valuable opportunities – to observe, to listen deeply, to gestate, to see the whole, or to quietly prepare until we are ready to speak. As a powerful wizard, Harry doesn’t live his life under the invisibility cloak. But having it and learning to use it wisely gives him an advantage that others lack.

I’m not suggesting that women should hide their power or not speak up. But what I’ve learned is that when we’re judging ourselves, when we label our behavior with words like ‘hiding’, we are fighting ourselves. We are denying and pushing away our unique, inherent power. Whether the fullness of your power stuns like the roar of a lion or mesmerizes like the quiet beauty of fireflies against the night sky, it has its own unique nature, needs and rhythms.

If you are pushing yourself to be more visible, or resisting your ‘hiding’ in any way, I invite you to pause and consider this. What secret powers may your invisibility cloak be offering you?

Stop Trying to Shine!

As published in Sybil Magazine March, 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine
March, 2015

(#3 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Can we shine or excel through an act of will?  Yes, intention, desire, and commitment are important. But our light never shines because we decide it should, because we tell it to, or because we ‘manage’ it into being. It shines when we get out of our own way and allow it to shine.

Think about what happens when you ‘try’ to do something important, something beyond your comfort zone. Maybe it’s writing a report or a speech, creating a program, or completing an important project. What happens? Perhaps you sit at your computer, looking at a blank screen. You fidget. Get distracted and check your email. Maybe you zone out for a while. Or get up and pace. Sooner or later, you get frustrated. You get up and make yourself a snack, or make a phone call, then come back and read what you’ve written. Annoyed, you delete everything. Maybe you tell yourself to forget it, to come back tomorrow and you start over again. Or maybe you ‘forget’ to come back at all.

When this happens, we know we’ve come up against a block or ‘resistance’. But what do we really know about this state of mind that we struggle so hard to overcome?   Our thinking mind may try to dissolve a block through the force of will, or by telling it what to do. But we can never push our way through our resistance. Trying to cajole or drive it away only makes it stronger.

Resistance asks something different from us. It asks us to stay put, to put aside our judgements, and to practice compassion.   Resistance asks us to be curious and ask questions. To ask what the block looks and feels like. To wonder what it wants and what function it might serve. It asks us to listen to its messages – to notice if they’re kind or brutal, or whether the block is asking a question or wisdom we might need to hear. Resistance asks us to know it intimately – to track how it arises and disappears. Whether there’s a pattern behind it.

Often we don’t stop to ask these questions. We only know that we feel frustrated. And, squirming away from our discomfort, thinking it’s ‘wrong’, we try to will our block away. But if we are willing to touch the block, to feel it, see it, touch it, and listen to it, resistance opens up into something else. Something we don’t expect. Something that feels more like ease, flow, expansion and light. Something that gives us access to our brilliance and higher capacities. The moment we relax into the experience of being blocked, we can bring the light of awareness to what we are doing. Resistance dissolves when we stop resisting it.

Healing ambivalence about power

CTH-logo-BTRMany healers, change agents and transformative leaders have a deep ambivalence about power and stepping into it.  In this radio interview I talk about some of the sources of this ambivalence and how it can hold us back in our missions to create a better world.

The core message is that redefining power in our own terms is crucial in claiming the ability EACH of us has to make a difference.

Thanks to Susan Jacobi from ‘Conversations that Heal’ for this interview entitled “How do  you use your power?”  You can listen to the replay here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationsthatheal/2015/02/11/how-do-you-use-your-power

Why is ‘Shining’ a Daring Act?

COVER FEB. 2015 SIBYL MAGAZINE

As published in Sibyl Magazine, February 2015

(#2 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Shining our full light should be second nature. It’s what we did when we were newborns. It’s what we do when we’re relaxed or ‘in our element’ – whether that’s horseback riding, hiking trails, or when we’re in love. During those times we radiate joy, happiness and comfort – with ourselves, with others and Life. But for so many of us, shining becomes limited to rare occasions, those special weekends, holidays or times when we’re with our closest friends, rather than our everyday state of being.

We lose our light gradually as we accommodate to the needs and demands of our world, first to our parents, then to our teachers, and later to our supervisors at work. We hold back parts of who we are in order to stay safe, to fit in, to please others, to avoid conflict, to get ahead and earn a living.   Accommodation isn’t bad. It allows us to negotiate unfamiliar situations and helps us meet our needs for love, safety, belonging and more. Often, it’s the price of admission to success at school, in the workplace, in our homes and community.

The problem is this. As we put aside more and more of our true needs, values, desires and capacities it’s easy to lose or forget who we are in the process. We can end up identifying with the image we present to the world, the person our job or others want us to be, rather than the person we truly are. Or we can live our lives chasing a definition of success we don’t really believe.

A turning point in my journey was surfacing a hidden belief – that it wasn’t safe to be truly, fully visible.   Speaking with other women, I soon realized I was far from alone. Buried deep within is the fear that if we allowed ourselves to be truly transparent, we could risk our safety, security, success, and the support and nurturance of those we loved. It’s an ancient archetypal wound that many women carry – the fear that our tribe could abandon us to die us at the edge of the village if we dared speak our truth or be who were truly are.

But there’s a deeper truth. As the Earth and our world face unprecedented dangers and challenges, our old comfort zones and identities only offer the illusion of safety. There’s a larger definition of safety at stake. The future of our world asks women to own our full brilliance, to live by our most cherished values, and to speak our deepest truths. To live, speak and act not only on our own behalf, but for the entire web of life.

Shining our full light can entail risk and enormous courage. But fearing and refusing our brilliance can pose an even bigger risk.

The Truth About Hiding

As published in Sybil Magazine, January 2015
As published in Sybil Magazine, January 2015
(#1 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

When it comes to sharing our gifts and our wisdom with the world – that is, really sharing ourselves in our fullest brilliance and expression – why do so many women still hold back? As Marianne Williamson has said, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”  But WHY? Why are so many brilliant, talented women – heads of organizations, academics, women launching their own businesses – afraid of their brilliance, light and power?

In the process of helping women claim their unique power and wisdom, and working with my own fears of visibility, I’ve found many reasons we hold back. Sometimes it’s fear of an embarrassing failure, of somehow being ‘not enough’ or ‘too much’. Sometimes we think we need more time to perfect our talents, believing we’re ‘not ready’. Sometimes we’re afraid we’d lose the approval of loved ones if we stepped out more boldly. Or fear what more power and responsibility could cost us – or our families. And sometimes we hold back because of the uncomfortable uncertainty we feel when we step into new roles and territory.

But the fear of our light and power reaches far beyond our personal psychology. It’s buried deep in our experiences of a world that doesn’t always value our unique gifts and perspectives, and in the collective history of women. As gifted helpers, teachers and healers, many of us have learned to hide our most treasured gifts so as to keep them – and us – safe. Safe from possible misunderstanding, ridicule, judgement, and sometimes even violence. The roots of those fears go deep – to the witch-burning trials and beyond.

It’s important to acknowledge our fears and the strategies we’ve adopted to protect us. But it’s equally important to weigh their cost. Dimming down can drain our aliveness, joy and fulfillment. It can dull our relationships, create a glass ceiling on our career success and our earning potential. And when we hide our truth from others, it becomes harder for us to see it too. But there’s an even larger cost. Holding back our light cheats the world of what only we can offer.

This moment of history is asking women to discover our unique gifts, to reach past our fears to our courage and power. To speak and live the messages of our hearts, intuition, and greater knowing. To act on behalf of what is most dear to us. And to support each other – as sisters rather than rivals – as we do it. Releasing our tender gifts into the world can be the most vulnerable act of courage and love we’ll ever take. But as we each step into our unique power, we give others permission to do the same. And thereby birth a new world.

Letting go of the old year…making way for the new

changed prioritiesHow do you mark the passage of the old year?  To complete it in a way that frees you to create a fresh vision and momentum for the new year?

In my own passages, and witnessing those of my clients, I’ve realized how important it is to navigate around the inner critic (who is never satisfied), and the inner pusher (who says you should be doing more).  To tap into a deeper, wiser knowing, one that can acknowledge and celebrate your successes, set-backs and growth in all its fullness. If you don’t do this, you can risk creating a new year in reaction to the last.

Here are a couple ways to help you to complete 2013:

… with the help of the left-brain

Clutter (of our in-boxes, homes, lives) takes up enormous energy.  As work often quietens over the holidays, it’s often a great time to work through those things we never seem to get to. Before you begin working through these things (and risk getting lost in details or spending time on non-essentials), first brainstorm a list of things you’d think you ‘should’ complete before the end of the year.

Then, compassionately and realistically, decide which ones are true priorities (especially those that tug at your heart!), which ones you are willing to carry over or defer into the new year, and which ones you are willing to let go of (by declaring them as unessential, unnecessary or ‘sufficiently completed’).  Once you have decided on your list of  ‘true priorities’ rank them in order of importance before working through them.  Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference!

…with the help of the heart

Before committing to end-of-the-year projects like the one above, take the time to ask yourself: “What do I really need and long for at this time?”  I’ve found that it’s so easy to get pulled into completing the loose ends of our businesses or work, to responding to the needs of our families and desires of our friends that we forget to ask this question, to prioritize our own selves and desires.

Take the time to check in with yourself and ask which of these activities will energize you or deplete you, and what kind of agreements you could make with yourself in advance to give yourself the kind of holiday season you truly desire.  Even making time to journal each day can have a profound effect on your sense of spaciousness and well-being!

Would you appreciate some help in clearing the old year and planning the new in a way that includes all of you?  Please contact me!

Why waste your time (and mine) on a newsletter!?

What motivates you to subscribe to someone’s newsletter?  When you do sign up, what (if anything) prompts you to actually open, read, and engage with them?  I asked this question to my community on Facebook and was a bit astounded by the response.

I was surprised not by the ideas and feelings my community shared – in fact, I shared most of them.  What surprised me was the flood of responses – 31 to be exact (not including my own responses).  Some of which were very long.  Clearly I had hit a nerve.

I asked the question because I was planning on launching a new newsletter.  I wanted to stay closer in touch with my community, and dialogue with them about issues facing transformative leaders.  But to be honest, I wasn’t sure that a newsletter was a good idea.

The truth is, that currently I subscribe to very few newsletters and read even fewer.  But as I received and dialogued with those who responded, I became much clearer what I (and others) hate about them, as well as realizing that there are a few that I (and others) absolutely love and read faithfully.

So this is what my community told me they love and hate…

About Frequency: I’ve been advised by marketing experts that newsletters need to be published at least twice a month for your readers to remember you, and many say it’s better to publish weekly.

But my community told me they resent being ‘pummeled frequently and repeatedly’, something that simply adds to the noise and overwhelm.  While they may appreciate an occasional flurry of more frequent issues if the topic is of interest and value, they’d much prefer to receive ‘an occasional or unpredictable gem’, written when the writer is inspired, rather than driven by some marketing formula.

About Content: My community hates useless information, content that is trendy, or focused on sales and marketing tactics. What they want is…

  • Resources and information, that are genuinely helpful.
  • Insightful or meaningful articles that are deep, well-written and thoughtful or contain cutting-edge perspectives
  • Inspiration in the form of poems, quotes, art and images of nature.
  • Connection – they want the author to share in a way that’s real, transparent and deeply personal.  And they appreciate deep questions that prompt them to reflect, discover and share their own wisdom.

About Approach, tone and attitude: My community will unsubscribe if the writer doesn’t have respect for their intelligence, wisdom and time.  Owning one’s expertise and perspective is one thing, but being preachy, teachy or assuming they are ‘more or better’ than the reader is quite another.

What they wanted instead touched me deeply.  They wanted a writer who can ask, “how can I best connect with my people and fall in love with them” (Julia Kious Zabell).  Or someone who asks “am I the writer or the holder of sacred space in a more public way?” (Bobbye Middendorf).

So there you have it – what my community loves and hates about newsletters – occasional or unpredictable gems containing valuable resources and information, articles of depth that share cutting-edge perspectives, creative inspiration and real connection.

Because the list is so close to my own, I adopted it as the guiding vision for my own newsletter.  A bit daunting, perhaps to live up to, but the best visions stretch us.

If this describes what you want in a newsletter, please do subscribe by entering your name in the box to the left. I want to dialogue with a community that is excited by the collective challenge of building a better world, and deeply value your role in this magnificent challenge.

Marilyn

P.S. You can read the entire conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.daniels.3762/posts/10151909542197744?comment_id=29825338&offset=0&total_comments=17 If you can’t access it, please send me a friend request which will then give you access).  If you’re a business owner, it’s worth talking to your own community to see what they say.

 

 

What’s under procrastination?

Ever wonder why we get stuck and just can’t seem to move forward on something?

One view is that buried under that stuck feeling and procrastination is ‘fear of feeling’ our feelings fully.  The solution?  Risking, making friends with failure and the feelings (and automatic thoughts) it brings up.  For more on this perspective, see this article from Harvard Business Review (via Andrea J. Lee) – http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/the-unexpected-antidote-to-pro/

And according ‘Truthbomb’ from Danielle LaPorte, ‘procrastination can be a form of intuition.’

More on other theories to follow, but I’m curious – how do you understand procrastination?

What is a ‘New-Paradigm Enterpreneur?’

affirmation stonesRecently the lovely Julia Kious Zabell (www.beinvigorated.com), in her telesummit ‘The Conscious Consortium’ invited reflections on ‘what are the qualities of a New-Paradigm Enterpreneur?’  Sharing my responses here.  Would love your reflections on this question!

 Transformative: They see the current system of business as in transition and take responsibility for their role in shaping that transition. They see their business structures, processes, marketing and interactions with clients as opportunities for catalyzing and contributing to that transformation. They see that wherever they exist within the larger ecosystem of business their influence ripples forward, whether or not they see the ultimate results.

Big-picture alignment: their business serves their own needs, the needs of their clients and the greater needs of the world.

Visionary: They hold larger perspective on and visions for the earth, humanity and all of life. They are clear about the difference their business is here to make.

Integrative: They integrate and strive to include / heal polarities and restore wholeness: e.g. they seek to take the best of the past / crumbling paradigm and weave it what is emergent, they honour both masculine and feminine ways of being etc.

Creative: They are on the edge of thought leadership, helping to define larger systems, structures and alternative ways of being and doing.

Self-aware: They know they have blind spots and partial perspectives, so and are open, dedicated to questioning, to curiosity about others’ experiences, to honouring their own inner diversity. They can question and critique and reinvent themselves. Ultimately, they are guided by their best / highest selves.

Co-creative: They act in collaboration and support of other businesses. They are co-creative with life and what is trying to emerge on behalf of future generations.

Wise: They are in touch with the deepest currents of their being, and trust it to guide them and to grow through uncertainty, chaos, adversity and the unknown. They demonstrate wisdom leadership.

What is a new paradigm entrepreneur to you?

Today I turn sixty

Our culture's view of the Crone.

Our culture’s view of the Crone.

Today I turn sixty.

My breath catches as I say these words.  It catches on decades of being told, and believing, that sixty was “old”, the “beginning of the end”, of irrelevance and dismissal.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday I wondered whether to ignore it or pretend it was just another day.  But the crone is emerging – in both me and in our culture – and her message is loud and insistent.

She stands for something our world needs.  She stands for turning outmoded myths on their heads.  She stands for gaining value and relevance as we age.  She stands for teaching our young women to find their own inner crones.  She stands for the emergence of the soul and of wisdom as an operating principle in our lives, and in the larger currents in our world.

She is one who can travel into the darkness and find light therein.  She breaks mirrors and dares to define herself.   She transmutes suffering – her own and that of others – into insight, awareness, and compassion.  And yet she will lash out when what she cherishes is desecrated.

I have had few positive feminine role models for aging so I cross this threshold gingerly.  Rooting into the archetype of the wise crone to guide me, she is my mentor, my guide, my support.  I call too on my sisters, my younger ‘sage-sisters’ and my older ‘elder sisters’ because we are breaking the molds together, creating a world and culture where experience, wisdom and insight matters.  We are keeping each other honest, real and courageous.

I am also choosing this portal, the day of my sixtieth birthday, to celebrate my ‘coming of age’ by announcing the next form of my business. Wisdom Leadership Studio was birthed in the initiatory flames of the crone goddess in the months preceding this day.  I hope that you will visit, sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to receive inspiration and wisdom resources in the weeks and months to come.  But most of all, I hope that whatever your age and gender, you will take time to listen to the crone within YOUR heart. The world needs her.

Many blessings,
Marilyn