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Woman to Woman

Woman to Woman

by Dr. Joy Freeman D.C., Ph.D.(cand)

I am consistently amazed and grateful for the role that women and the feminine in general has played in my life.  I was one of those, like so many in this culture, who was raised by a mother who did not have a clue about what it meant to truly nurture.  And who, being subject to the experts of her day, didn’t even believe in breast feeding.  How basic can you get on the scale of connecting, nurturing and loving a child, than to follow your most inbred instincts? But would a woman of her day stand up to the male establishment and say “no, I know better?”  Then after adopting many defensive strategies that allowed me to cope with such parental inadequacies, I grew up into childhood relatively adapted. But at that point, I learned that feelings weren’t OK, and that wild displays of enthusiasm, self appreciation, creativity, or perhaps sexuality were not appreciated.  Does any of this sound familiar?  Well needless to say, most of us who are products of that generation have some wounds and places of lack that are wanting to be fed, healed and nurtured now.  And in addition, especially for girls who were to be “little ladies” or “seen and not hear”, we have some real expressing to do.

I started out this story by expressing my gratitude for women and the feminine, because it has been my connection with these that have slowly but surely been pulling me out of some dull, empty, or hurtful places in my life.  Part of the adapting I did as a child was to identify with my father and thus took on more “masculine” or “yang” traits.  I became quite capable in the world, a “doer”, and resorted to retreat to my head, reason and understanding as a protection from the more painful or frustrating experiences in my life.  I have since undertaken a dedicated study of learning to incorporate the feminine into all aspects of my life.  In a broad sense what that looks like is learning to know what I feel at any given time and be able to express it; being in touch with what I had felt that I never let myself and being able to express that; letting myself be unproductive and still at times; committing more time to connecting with nature; becoming more comfortable with the unknown, that is, not having to know the outcomes or answers all the time; learning to let go of my sense of control and surrender to life or a higher energy;  moving beyond being run by judgmental voices in my head; coming to a much greater place of acceptance for who I am; and very importantly, letting my self express creatively on a regular basis.  I am not saying I have this study down perfectly yet, but I am saying that as I develop in the process of the study, something fundamental and almost primal in me is coming alive.  A passion, strength and ability to speak up, step out and go for what has meaning for me is becoming the norm rather than the rare.

And of course when we find something that significantly uplevels our own life, part of our natural evolution is to want to share these gifts and use them in service to others.  Having just written a book explaining the entire process in detail and having returned to doing retreats and workshops, that encorporate the feminine and the creative in a much greater way, I am now in the blessed place of being able to give of my self in service and share my gifts.

I share this story of my passage from being  “a motherless child” of sorts, to feeling like a full fledged child of “the mother,”  in hopes to inspire woman to dedicate portions of their lives to cultivating their connection with the feminine.  This can be done by practicing any of the things I mentioned before, especially spending more time in nature, engaging in creative expressive acts, (i.e. dancing, singing, art, writing), partaking in rituals, and connecting with other women.

I can’t impress strongly enough the power of connecting with other women in a heart to heart way.  A friend recently told me, “ Before I started connecting with women I was depressed and my life was lacking a lot.  My friend helped me remember my connection with other women and after a time I gained an inner strength and feelings of connectedness with all beings. It basically healed my life.”   I read the story of Patrice Wynne who ran an important bookstore in Berkeley, California, that had been a center of activism and community service for many years. After being told by her lawyers that she had to close (internet was killing her business) she says she was “gripped with fear” and her deepest values were shaken.  At that point she called together a group of women friends. “One thing I knew , as a woman, was that telling my story to a group of intimates would help.  Men are perhaps trained to see themselves as individuals, going out to face the battle field alone, as if their identities depend on their sole accomplishments…I knew if I completely collapsed and wailed in that group I would be OK.” Her being received by these woman was a healing in itself but magic also happens in a group of women who focus to support each other.  They ended up supporting her in raising over $300,000 to meet her debts and start her out refreshed and refurbished.

It has been the help of individual woman and circles of women over the years and especially engaging in rituals with them, that has supported me in embracing the feminine in the way I spoke of earlier. And only recently after the unexpected loss of the most significant and loving relationship in my life, was I supported through my grieving process and empowered to return to life in a whole new way.

The other large key in this process of bringing the feminine into our lives along with connecting with other women is learning to express ourselves, both speaking our truths and creative less linear forms of expression.  Be it through any form of art, vocal expression such as sounds or song, movement such as dance or freeform moving, writing such as poetry or impulse writing, improvising music, or play act theater.  Something powerful and magical happens in the creative act.  Something that helps us make sense of our worlds.  Something that releases the frustrations, hurts, and anxieties of life and at the same time puts us truly in the moment and feeling connected to the divine.  This type of expressing relieves the strains of everyday living from our systems and in a sense “cleans the pipes.”   Thus leaving us empowered to make choices and decisions from a whole new place.   All of these acts of bringing the feminine into our lives create a feeling of greater stability within.  It is that greater sense of stability and inner strength that enable us to take the risks which are inevitably necessary to create a life that fits the truth of who we are. Once our lives begin to look like who we really are rather than some made up or defended version that we took on in childhood, that is when true joy, passion, and celebration can occur.

Joy Lynn Freeman, D.C., Ph.D. (cand.), has been a pioneer in the healing arts for over twenty years as a natural physician, speaker-facilitator, therapist, and life transition coach. She has lectured and offered workshops and retreats nationwide and is a frequent guest on radio shows.  Joy is the author of the Book Express Yourself: Discover Your Inner Truth, Creative Self and The Courage To Let It Out, a companion music CD, Let It Shine, a series of five yoga videos and Women as Leaders and Healers – transformational retreats and workshops incorporating expressive arts, ritual & nature.