I believe the most powerful force in the world is an embodied woman.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of forces working against women having deeply rooted, peaceful, and trustworthy relationships with their own flesh. These forces are cultural, governmental, sometimes parental, and always patriarchal.
I’m committed to helping change this and it’s easier than we might think. We don’t need to change those systems as much as we need to stop participating in them. We need to opt out. We need to see through the paradigm of body shaming, body loathing, body shrinking, body judging, body comparing, body manipulating, body commodification, and body warfare.
Why? Because there is nothing wrong with women’s bodies. The pursuit, or rather obsession, to fix, change, improve, conform, and hide the female body is draining invaluable resources: women’s mental, emotional, and physical energy.
We need that energy. We need those resources.
But before we can stop the leak, we need to know our story.
What is our personal body story? What is the story we tell ourselves about our body and intimacy? What is the story we replay about our body and its ability, or disability? What is the well-worn story we have about our body and food? We have to lay bare our body stories so we can see what parts no longer fit or feel true, and let them go.
It has taken years and years to heal and rewrite my own body story. There is no forcing what’s not ready to fade away. It took me so long, in part, because I was ashamed that as a smart, educated, capable, conventionally attractive, privileged feminist I struggled with my body. I had to look at my story; the one where people like me didn’t have a right to struggle too.
Your story is likely different than my story. Or maybe, in parts, it’s similar.
Regardless, your story matters. Your ability to author and revise your story matters.
I mentioned a few months back that I was developing a workbook is an invitation to explore the story you’ve been carrying about your body, to let go of the parts that don’t belong to you, and to move into a truthful, compassionate, and sovereign narrative. Well, today it’s here!
Your body is yours, despite all the forces conspiring from the day you were born to tell you otherwise. The Body Sovereignty Workbook will help transform the story you tell yourself about your body into a life-changing narrative. It includes 83 beautiful digital pages of essays by 10+ women’s empowerment experts, worksheets, and activities to support your cultivating an empowered relationship with your body. In addition to my own writings collected from the best of my archive, contributors include Carmen Cool, Julie Daley, Caroline Dooner, Mara Glatzel, Summer Innanen, Hilary Kinavey, Dana Sturtevant, Willo O’Brien, Andrea Scher, Bari Tessler, and Pace Smith.
And here’s the best part: 100% of profits from The Body Sovereignty Workbook will be donated to Emily’s List and The National Center for Transgender Equality.
If you’re not familiar with these organizations. EMILY’s List is committed to driving progressive change throughout our country by winning elections that put pro-choice Democratic women into office. The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.
When you purchase The Body Sovereignty Workbook you’ll get to select which of these two charities you’d like your funds to go towards. The base cost for the workbook is just $10 and you you have the option to make a larger donation if you’d like. Again, 100% of the profits go to these two organizations.
If you’re ready to explore your body story and to move towards greater body sovereignty I hope you’ll grab your copy of The Body Sovereignty Workbook today. I’d also be grateful if took a moment to share this post with your community so that we can generate as much support for these organization and as many sovereign women as possible.
Image credit: Nu debout de face (1910-11), Roger de La Fresnaye
I want to show you something. There’s this amazing transformation I’ve been witness to.
I’ve just got to get a video camera so that you can see what I’m seeing.
What I want to capture is what happens to a woman’s face, body, and whole being when I ask her to identify a meaningful and resonate term of endearment for herself.
As part the most recent Well-Fed Woman Retreatshops, after we’ve delved into our inner critic, I have each woman identify and share a name for herself that elicits love, safety, and adoration.
First they journal to themselves, listing all the names that might be fit. Tossing out the ones that feel cloying or inauthentic. Considering the things only their inner circle calls them or perhaps a childhood nickname. They weigh “Lovely” with “Beloved” and “Sweetheart” with “Sweetness.”
They are looking for the moment their body says “yes. that’s it. that’s us. let’s curl up with that one.” Many of them know they’ve found their term of endearment when tears well in their eyes.
I’ve heard it all, from “My Love” to “Darling” or “Pumpkin.” From “Cookie” to “Sarah-Loo” or “Babygirl.”
There’s a name for everyone that calls us home.
Once they’ve got it, we go around the room and share. As we move from feeling our patterns of self-abuse to the healing that comes from self-kindness, the women I work with change right before my eyes. It’s a pretty remarkable thing to watch.
They change and the room changes. What had been a circle of sadness, grief, and angst becomes one of delight, compassion, and understanding.
Having a name, rooted in love, to call ourselves gives us a foothold. When we’re in pain or feeling disconnected all we need to is reach for this name and it brings us back. It’s a name laced with maternal affection and eternal care.
Having a term of endearment for ourselves helps to build safety and intimacy in the most important relationship we’ll ever have: us with ourselves. me with me. you with you.
If you want to experience the power of this practice, next time you catch yourself with a self-directed whip in your hand, next time you’re body is contracted from shame or insecurity, go find a mirror and greet yourself.
Look into your own eyes and call out the name that only means “I love you. Yes, you. I love you”
Eating. Sex. Exercise.
Somewhere along the path from girl to woman we got the message. Or rather messages.
:: eating is about being good, pure, healthy
:: sex is about pleasing our partner, being ‘sexy’, and how we look
:: exercise is about striving, ‘no pain no gain’, and diligence
Today I consider these three of greatest acts of thievery in our world. Violent thievery.
The truth, it turns out, is that food, sex, and body movement are about pleasure.
They are about our own, rightful pleasure.
They are about connecting to our own bodies, feeling our sensations, and following the thread of pleasure where it leads.
I believe a well-fed woman we cannot heal just one of these relationships – she must heal all three.
Thankfully, the medicine is the same across the board: compassion, listening inward, trial and error on the path to developing self-trust, and activation of our own power and voice.
The healing isn’t easy, but the process is far better than passively allowing food, sex, and body movement to be weapons of compliance, or worse, self-torture. Eating, sex, and body movement are about nothing but our deep wisdom and true pleasure. These are sacred acts that allow us to fill up and then engage in life.
Certainly this is just the start of the conversation, but hear my cry:
Reclaim it all! Reclaim it all!
Eat what you desire.
Make love in ways that deeply pleasure you.
Move your body always in the direction of it’s own happiness.
Reconnect to yourself and honor what you hear.
Your being good serves no one.
Your being fed serves everyone.
Your self-denial is not medicine for the world.
Your self-generosity is the healing balm we’re in need of.
Walking the tight rope distracts you from life. Step off. Step off and feast!
Resources for reclaiming pleasurable eating:
Resources for reclaiming pleasurable sex:
Resources for reclaiming pleasurable body movement:
Writing a book is not an easy feat. I report this from the trenches.
Bonus: the book is fantastic!
If you’ve been wanting to claim permission to step passionately into your life, discover how you and your gifts are unique, and uncover what you are meant to do, then this book is for you. And it’s oh so pretty thanks to Jess’s illustrations. You can catch other bloggers writing about about it over here.
The book touches on the following important topics: enthusiasm, uniquity, intention, success, money, celebration, trust, and…self-care.
In celebrating The Declaration of You I thought I’d the opportunity to look at just some of the ways I’ve explored self-care:
Self-care for the perfectionist.
Self-care for being well-fed.
Self-care for everyday life.
Self-care for relaxation.
Self-care for when you’re afraid.
Self-care for your body.
Self-care for when you’re in crisis.
Self-care for your creative spirit.
Self-care for when you need tenderness.
Self-care for owning your power.
Self-care for pleasure.
Self-care for self-love.
I’m working with a client who is just starting to thaw the iceberg that is her hungers.
The women I work with are often in this place when we first start to work together. It’s a place of unhappiness, dis-ease, and lack of fulfillment. It’s also a place where their true hunger are usually still frozen.
So we begin the thaw.We begin to feel.
What is it that they truly desire? What is it that would allow their whole lives to feel like the best meal ever? What is it that would give them a total body exhale?
Without fail we run into the elaborate fortresses they’ve built to avoid feeling their hungers.
There are walls of “But to have that would be selfish” and prison bars of “but is that even possible to have?!”
And there are oceans of sadness.
Sadness for the years spent hungry. Sadness from the longing. Sadness for the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
It’s a scary place. I’ve been there and the women I work with will tell you, I can walk with you out of that place.
So the client I mentioned, I received a note from her in the thick of the thaw:
“It’s almost as though admitting to wanting…has opened me up to just how much I need it. Just the thought of doing anything for anyone exhausts me right now…I think more than anything it’s showing me my depth of longing. Whenever something nice & nurturing happens and it’s over all too fast I can feel myself inside yelling for it not to stop. It’s almost like now I’m starting to open the door every hunger I’ve ever had is clamouring to be heard. It’s overwhelming right now. Breath. Take my time.”
She is starving for care, for touch, for nurturing. She needs it like she needs air and she’s been breathing through a straw.
Can you relate? Do some of your hungers feel this wide and deep? Do your hungers feel like they can never be satisfied?
Darling, here is what my heart has to say to you:
What’s the alternative?
The alternative is to live a life frozen.
Breathing through the straw.
Nibbling on crumbs.
The alternative is jobs that don’t feel good, relationships that don’t taste good, and a body that screams out for nourishment.
We are here, if for nothing else, to live fully.
For any life form to live fully it needs to be fed. A well-fed life is built on far more than whole grains and fresh produce.
We need play, touch, creative outlets, community, a voice, deep rest and more.
And these hungers – they aren’t bottomless.
Slowly but surely. As we listen, honor, and act we become fed. The sensation of hunger – of longing – cannot swallow us whole.
Your hungers may feel terribly deep and I say to you they are wise and you only need start to feed yourself one bite at a time.
Let it thaw. Let it all melt away.
Let your hungers rise and rise to the surface.