One element of my daily spiritual practice — and the thing that kicks it all off each and every morning — is setting an intention for the day, soon after I wake up.
Truth be told, I ended up falling off the intention-setting wagon at some point, and I think it’s important to note that if something isn’t working for you in your own daily spiritual practice, don’t force it (or feel guilty about it)!
Sometimes I think we can feel pressured to jump into certain spiritual practices, because “everyone else” with any spiritual backbone seems to be doing it — yoga or meditation, anyone?
But that might not be what works for us. Or the activity itself might be something that resonates with us, but we need to tweak the way we’re doing it to make it work better within our day.
So, to make intention setting a part of my daily life again, I thought about what would motivate me to get back into this practice.
I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with mind maps, and seeing words and ideas in more of a visual form. So, of course I decided to start an intention mind map!
As you can see, my intention for each day branches out from the center “Intention” bubble (e.g. stay open to new opportunities and ideas).
The cool thing is later returning to the mind map to further branch out from the day’s intention bubble, adding things that happened as a result of carrying that intention with me throughout the day (e.g. saying yes to a photo shoot offer).
Is intention setting a part of your spiritual practice? How do you incorporate it into your day? If not, how could setting a daily intention help change the way you experience your everyday life?
Lots of love and self-love,
About three years ago, I got laid off from my job, ended a long-term relationship, and started a series of moves around the city. It was a time of some big unknowns and instability.
Knowing that these huge life changes could easily knock me off my feet, I created what I came to call my Happiness List.
The items that went down on my Happiness List answered the question: What do I need to make me happy (that doesn’t rely on anyone else)?
It’s not that I feel we shouldn’t derive our happiness from others. I absolutely think that cultivating happiness with others is essential!
But given that I anticipated a lot of alone time and self-exploration, I knew I had to get clear on how I could feel happy on my own.
And so, I wanted to share with you my happiness list, in case it inspires you to create your own!
Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re single, in a relationship, an introvert, or constantly surrounded by people. We all need to be good with ourselves first and foremost before we can genuinely be good with others.
All right, here it is. The things that truly make me happy in life and keep my soul balanced and fulfilled:
- Quiet spaces and time
- Being in nature
- Making intentional decisions based on what’s right for me
- Understanding my spiritual self and what it needs to grow and be healthy
- Making an effort to have a positive relationship with my family
- Keeping negative energy out of my life
- Being on my phone less
- Drinking less
- Keeping to my budget
- Writing creatively
- Making music
I do this as a journaling exercise and reflect on each item, asking myself: How is this present in my life right now? If it’s not, what’s been blocking that? How can I make more space for it moving forward?
This list is great for me to revisit at any time, but I do find that I usually do a Happiness List check-in when I’m feeling a lot of imbalance inside me, or a prolonged sense of frustration that I can’t really trace back to one specific event.
And when I am feeling that dissonance, it always turns out to be the case that there are several happiness items that I’ve been neglecting.
That’s my soul saying: “Hey! You haven’t been taking me out to nature recently.” Or: “We’re feeling drained because you keep saying yes to a million things, when what you really need is rest and alone time.”
What is your soul asking you for? How would you answer the question: What do I need to be happy (that doesn’t rely on anyone else)?
Let me know in the comments below, if you’d like to share! I would love to know your thoughts!
Lots of love and self-love,
It’s a pretty complex subject, and it’s not like I have it all figured out. But what I do know for sure is how damaging the dominant representations of Asian women in media can be on individuals such as myself.
I know what kind of stereotypes exist out there about human beings who look like me. And I know how that can impact the way people perceive Asian women, as well as how Asian women can come to see themselves.
This post isn’t to rehash everything I said in the episode. (You can listen to the whole conversation here). Rather, I just needed to decompress here a bit, because thinking and reading about this topic leads to me feeling a really heavy weight in my heart.
It’s like the emotional turmoil I knew I’d have to go through writing my #metoo post. And it’s that feeling I get when having to digest anything about social injustice and oppression.
It’s not just because I am an empath who FEELS A LOT and feels the pain of others. But it’s also that I have been at the bottom end of that oppression many times over in my life.
So, it’s kind of having to reliving the sadness, resentment, and feelings of shame and low self-worth that all go along with those experiences.
Because, let’s face it, a lot of stereotypes and expectations about Asian women are not uplifting or empowering.
Regardless, my soul is calling me to speak on this, and so I will. We have a lot of work to do in changing the script. Let’s keep this conversation open. Let’s keep talking.
Lots of love & self-love,
I have this life formula for myself, which is Honesty + Courage = Freedom.
So, first getting really honest with myself regarding what I want in life, what I don’t want, who or what is bringing me negative energy, and so on.
And then, secondly, summoning up that courage to take the oftentimes scary step of putting that honest revelation into action.
And I have always found, that no matter what the result or the outcome, letting go of that fear and taking the brave step makes me feel FREE.
With that in mind, I think it’s really worthwhile to explore fear. Because fear is often what keeps us trapped inside a box, held down, and restrained from doing the things that are actually what would bring fulfillment to our lives.
And the crazy thing that always blows my mind, when I think about it, is that maybe at first it’s more so the external world — society and people outside of us — who are the ones trying to restrict us inside this little box.
Perhaps, they tell us: You should be this way. You shouldn’t do that. Don’t go for that dream, because it won’t get you anywhere. Blah, blah, blah …
And I liken it to them throwing us into a jail cell. (Not to be overly dramatic, but that’s gonna be our metaphor for today, okay?).
So, they’ve thrown us into this metaphorical jail cell, and they’ve locked the door behind us with one of those giant, old school jail keys. That’s the picture in my mind.
But as time goes by, we start to internalize those beliefs that the external world has been bombarding us with.
We no longer need anyone else feeding us those perceptions anymore (although, of course, that external pressure lives on!).
Because, for a lot of us, we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve taken ownership of those fearful beliefs.
They’ve become so internalized, ingrained within us, that we hold onto those self-limiting beliefs as our own thoughts.
And that, to me, is the worst kind of loss of freedom. It’s like when you’re in a mental prison inside your own head.
And so, even if our jail keeper slipped us the key through the bars and walked away from guard duty, we might just stay sitting in that cell.
Because we’ve been in there for so long, and we’ve come to believe that that’s where we should be, that’s all we know.
And it doesn’t matter that we’re now holding the key right in the palm of our hand.
Because we’ve become afraid of what will happen should we unlock that cell door, and walk out into what has now become an unknown and uncertain world beyond our little box.
So, I think that honesty is about coming to the realization that we do want more and deserve more than just staying in that little box.
And courage is like the next step, where we find the strength — despite how fearful we are of that unknown world beyond the jail cell — to take that key, unlock the cell door, swing it wide open, and walk out of that box, free.
So, Honesty + Courage = Freedom
And the good news — the amazingly fantastic news — is that we absolutely do hold that key in our hand.
Lots of love and self-love,
And within the episode, I shared about a self-care burning ritual I did after publishing my #metoo post online — something that had really drained my energy and required some healing vibes!
Here are the photos I mentioned I’d post, as a visual complement to the story. It was a beautiful night and definitely helped to restore my soul. ❤
In Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Soul’s Work Podcast, I share a letter that I wrote to Fear in my quest to develop a different, more compassionate, relationship with Fear. Here is that letter:
I want to apologize. I haven’t treated you so well for most of my life. Whenever you’ve tried to talk to me, I’ve reacted by resenting you, sometimes hating you, and wishing that you would just go away entirely. I’m sorry. You must have felt really rejected, maybe even abused sometimes.
‘Cause the thing that I realize clearly now is that you have only been trying to help me. Your intention has not been to ruin my life. You just want to protect me, to keep me safe, because you care about my wellbeing.
And I guess I kind of acted like that rebellious teenager, who butts heads and fights with their overbearing parent. But I understand that, like any parent, you’re just doing your job. You didn’t even ask for that job. You just got sent over to my brain for fear duty. And quite frankly, I didn’t ask for you either. But here we are, together. And we always will be.
So, now I want to have an adult, heart-to-heart conversation with you. Here’s the thing. There are definitely going to be times in my life when I need you. Like if I’m backcountry camping and a big ass bear jumps out at me in the woods, Fear, I need you step the fuck up. I need you to help me whip out that bear spray and go all Revenant on its ass.
But Fear, there’s a whole lot of other situations where you can stand down. At ease, soldier. ‘Cause we got our sister friends over here, too — we got Honesty and Courage — and they’re also here to help out when I need them.
So, during those times, when I ask you: “Hey Fear, this is one of those situations where my life isn’t being threatened. It’s really not as serious as you think it is. Here, have a seat in this comfy chair. I’d offer you some wine … to sedate you … but that might not be the best idea. So, here’s a warm cup of tea. Enjoy it.
And I just respectfully ask that you let Honesty, Courage, and I have a conversation right now. And you know what? I bet if you take some time to just quietly listen to what they have to say, you might actually feel comforted by their words, and realize that they’ve got this. We’re all gonna be okay.
Thank you so much, Fear, for being there for me, but also for giving me the space I need now to grow.
With love and gratitude,
(You can listen to Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Souls Work Podcast on: Apple Podcasts | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Google Play | PlayerFM | Please leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤)
This week has been a pretty momentous one for me, having finally launched my new podcast, The Soul’s Work Podcast! *WOooOOOoo!!!* 🙂
This show is where I pretty much bare all about my spiritual journey, which includes sharing a whole lot of my past experiences in life. ‘Cause before the spiritual awakening, there’s usually a lot of shit, angst and turmoil that you’re mucking through!
I talk about what that muck looked like for me in Episode 1 (Introduction). Seriously, back then, I really couldn’t see a way out of the dark hole I felt I was in.
Looking back at that time from where I’m standing now, I just want to send my past self a whole lot of love and compassion. I definitely needed it back then!
Honesty has been the guiding principle in my life, ever since I went through some huge life changes almost three years ago: getting laid off from a job, ending an 8-year relationship, and having to move yet again (this all happened within the span of a month).
The future was so uncertain and unknown at that point, but having my life turned upside down by those events made me take a hard look at what was the truthful path for me to take. It was time to look honesty square in the face.
Episode 3 (Courage & Fear) is also coming soon! I truly hope you guys enjoy the podcast. I’d love to know what you think, as I’m just starting out with this new creative venture and am always up for improvement!
I was confessing to my coach Ivy the other day that I felt scared about taking some time off work to really focus on developing this podcast. It’s not like I’m rolling in money right now, but my gut instinct knows with zero doubt that I have to give this creative project my full attention, at least for a little while.
Ivy asked what my motivation for doing this podcast was in the first place. And I said — with some fierce determination in my voice(!) — that my soul was calling me to do it, plain and simple.
It was saying that I must share my story, my vulnerability. And I must do it now.
I’ve been deeply blessed to have had so many incredible experiences in life. Even the tough ones have gifted me with invaluable lessons to make me a better person and get me to the point of spiritual awakening.
And now, as I explained to Ivy, sharing my story with others is basically the main thing I feel I need to do now before I die. (Strong statement, I know! But the soul knows what it wants.)
Sure, I’ll have many more experiences from here on out. But if I knew my time was going to be up in a month, sharing my story, my experiences, my spiritual learnings, would be my last wish.
It’s not because my story is special. It’s not. But that’s kind of the point.
My story is strewn with a whole lot of sadness, anger, depression, escapism through alcohol, harmful relationships, self-doubt, hopelessness. Those things — unfortunately — are not unique to my life.
But while many of us go through those common struggles, we oftentimes feel alone, like we’re the odd person out, that everyone else is so much better off than us.
We stuff away our shame, anxiety, hurt, and sadness. We put up our guard, wear our masks, and drown our problems deep inside the bottle (or whatever your particular defense mechanism might be).
So, sharing my story means expressing my vulnerability — removing the mask — and letting others know that it’s okay. Someone else (me) has been there, too. And that amidst the struggle, there’s still hope. There’s always hope.
Lots of love and self-love, my friends. ❤
Happy New Year, friends! It’s been a minute since I last wrote here, but I’m excited to be back with this particular post.
Why? Well, because while I love reflecting all the time, the closing of a year presents an especially poignant opportunity to look back on all that we’ve experienced and learned over the past 12 months.
What did surrender & patience teach you this year?
Surrender taught me to let go of the expectations, questions, and worries about the future. You know, the ones we can’t predict, the ones that may or may not come true.
Instead, stay in the present. Simply do what feels honest right now. Taking that approach to life meant that surrender also taught me freedom.
Patience taught me to slow down during some big life changes (it’s still teaching me that)! Don’t be so hard on myself and expect that I’m gonna get everything “right” immediately — ’cause adapting to change takes time.
Again, it comes back to being in the present and focusing on what I have now, not just on what I hope to have in the future.
What did magic & mystery teach you this year?
Magic and mystery taught me to give in to falling in love, no matter how unreal and crazy it seemed. ‘Nuff said 😉
What did you decide you would no longer tolerate this year?
A huge thing that I’m continuing to stick to my guns about is saying no to things and people that drain my energy and waste my fricking time. Life is too short, y’all!
What experiences gave you the most pleasure this year?
Walks on the farm with Olive. Taking the sheep out to graze in the spring pastures. Witnessing gorgeous sunsets. Sleeping in my hammock tent, listening to the frogs sing nearby. Six beautiful days (and counting) of an unexpected romance. Hiking the fairytale Panorama Ridge Trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Moments by the lake on H1 at Killarney Provincial Park with my cousin Lilli. A two-night stay at a lovely ecolodge in Algonquin Provincial Park with my family.
How did you become more fully you this year?
I finally embraced what I believe is my calling in life: to be a creative, and to put my creations out there in the world.
That includes writing my first book, getting back into the singing life, and launching my soon-to-be first podcast, The Soul’s Work Podcast!
There’s a lot of vulnerability that is required to bare one’s creative soul, but I’m determined to take on the challenge come 2018!
What about you? How would you answer these questions for your own 2017?
I started writing a book a few months ago. It’s about my spiritual development journey, each chapter focusing on a different spiritual learning I’ve gained over the last couple of years.
One of the chapters centers around power and oppression. It’s definitely the most difficult chapter to write, and I often find myself closing my laptop, overwhelmed at having to revisit my past.
I’ve had no shortage of experiences with oppression over the course of my life.
It seems that simply coming into this world as I did, I was already set up to experience oppression on multiple levels — as a woman, as a visible minority (specifically, a person of Asian descent), and, for many years, as someone on the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder.
Of course, with all of the #metoo posts being shared on social media, following the slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, it’s men’s oppression against women that is specifically weighing on my mind right now.
And while I’d like to close my laptop, overwhelmed, I feel compelled to write.
Deep breath. Okay, let’s dive in.
For those of you who don’t know, the recently gone-viral #metoo movement started on Sunday, October 15 with actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
(FYI – The #metoo movement actually originated with activist Tarana Burke.)
I have watched as several women I know have shared their #metoo’s on their Facebook pages over the past few days.
And I have thought back to my own experiences where men have sexually harassed me. Here’s the first three that I could immediately recall, off the top of my head:
- The time a man masturbated openly on the subway train while staring at me, and then got up — presumably to follow me — when I got up to exit at the next stop. (He left the train as I pretended to, but then I stayed on as the doors closed behind him.)
- The time a man who was in a position of authority over me made sexual advances, including touching and grabbing me without my consent, and continued to persist after I said that, no, I wasn’t going to have sex with him. (Because I had no choice but to still be in contact with him over the next several days, I had to ask some of my friends to make sure that I wasn’t left alone with him, since he clearly didn’t know the meaning of “no.”)
- The time when the guy who lived across the hall from me in a rooming house tried to push his way into my room after I declined to have a drink with him. (I had to throw my weight against the door to get it closed and locked, so that he couldn’t come in and do God knows what to me.)
What those men did (and what others have done) made me feel everything from shock to anxiety, to feeling like I had a lack of control and choices, to feeling anger, vulnerability, to just outright fear.
Furthermore, there was nothing in me that felt empowered to defend myself, to speak out, or to assert myself in the way that I actually wanted to.
What happened, instead, was that:
I hid. I avoided.
I called another man to come help me.
I removed myself from places I had every right to be in, and wanted to be in.
I disconnected from people around me when I was out in public.
I became hyper-vigilant. (Even after I moved multiple times after leaving that rooming house, including to neighbourhoods where people would probably feel safe enough to leave their front doors unlocked, I still always kept some kind of weapon in my bedroom. Just in case.)
I relived traumatic memories in my mind, even if, physically, I wasn’t in danger at the moment.
(Tellingly, I had a vivid nightmare the morning after I started working on this post. The nightmare was about me being sexually assaulted, running away from someone, and trying to shut myself in my room with a door that barely locked. Go figure.)
The impacts of sexual harassment, of sexual assault, and of men’s oppression against women in general, aren’t just contained to that one specific experience a woman goes through.
Those impacts don’t go away when the man goes away, or after she’s able to leave the scene.
No, the impacts extend far past each violation. They accumulate, and carry on years later, and affect every part of of a woman’s being, and her sense of safety and self-worth.
This Piece is for Men
In some ways, I didn’t want to publicly share any of my experiences of sexual harassment.
I didn’t (and don’t) want other women to read those stories, only to have to shelve them into their already over-stuffed mental repository holding all of the other innumerable accounts of men’s oppression against women, simply to weigh those creaking shelves down just a little bit more.
I, myself, didn’t want to dig any further than those experiences, because I knew I’d find countless more, and those three alone still make my stomach churn, and my heart turn a little bit colder, to think about what they, and every other experienced or witnessed instance of men’s violations against women represent about humanity.
But this piece is only for other women insofar as letting them know that they — you — are not alone in your experiences.
And to let you — my dear sister — know: It’s not us. It’s not our fault. And no, we are not overreacting.
This piece is only for me insofar as addressing some urgent force inside me that chose this specific time to speak up. I had to listen.
In every other way, this piece is for men.
Men who may be noticing all the #metoo posts on social media, and actually want to know more about a woman’s perspective.
This piece is a reminder to men that contributing to our very prevalent culture of men sexually harassing and assaulting women isn’t just about whether you, yourself, force your body onto a woman or call her obviously lewd names to her face.
It’s also about what you, as a man, may be doing to keep that overall system of oppression against women — of which sexual harassment and assault are only one facet — alive. A system that is fed and satiated through everyday, often unmindful acts (or omissions to act).
- Like when you talk to “your boys” about your female partner when she’s not around, or about women in general, in a disrespectful, demeaning way. Or when you stay silent, or laugh, when hearing other men speaking about women in that way. (I can’t even begin to tell you the things that I’ve heard over my time, hanging out with guys when there have been no other women present, that have shocked and saddened me, but ultimately, led me to believe that this was a normal way for women to be treated. Women are not objects. And they are not inferior to you. They are beautiful human beings who make your lives better.)
- Like when you dismiss what a woman is trying to express to you, because, in your mind, she’s “just being hormonal” or “irrational.”
- Like when you cut a woman off when she’s speaking to a group, or “explain” to everyone that “this is what she’s trying to say.”
- Like when you ignore a woman who is asking you a question, until she gives up and leaves you alone. (I hate when I see this happen. I have seen many men do this to their partners and to their mothers. It’s like you are sending her the message that she is so unworthy of your response, that she is invisible.)
- Like when you don’t let a woman just walk down the fricking street without making her feel like she’s an object to be called after, eye-raped, or followed. A woman should never have to walk in public with her head down, eyes averted, or feel forced to cross to the other side because of your disturbing presence. It’s her street, too.
- Like when you are “handsy” with a woman who hasn’t invited you to touch her. (This happened to me recently where a man I barely knew — but who apparently thought that my general friendliness equated to an invitation to invade my personal space — placed his big paw on my shoulder and gripped it, leaving it there while he said whatever he wanted to say. I felt completely uncomfortable, but also paralyzed, as he crossed my personal boundaries with zero regard. I did not give you permission to touch me. And you just did, forcefully, as though you had some kind of right to my body. You don’t. So, fuck off.)
- And so on.
It’s about being aware that some of the actions and words that you have normally taken for granted as acceptable — because they’ve never been questioned, because you’ve “always” seen other men behave in that way, or because women don’t explicitly tell you how much you’ve hurt them with your actions and words — can actually have a profoundly harmful impact on the way a woman perceives herself, and how she experiences every relationship that she’s a part of.
No doubt, that this has been the case for me.
All of my own personal experiences of gendered oppression, including sexual harassment — as well as witnessing those of other women — have had a tremendously negative impact on my life.
Because, as a result, what I have learned is that I often have to think twice about where I want to live, where and how I want to travel, what I want to wear, where I want to sit, what I want to say (oh, don’t want to give him “the wrong impression”), and who I want to talk to.
(And many times, the outcome of that thinking is that I don’t feel free to do what I want. Even though I have every right to. And even though I am in no way asking to be harassed or oppressed by doing any of those very basic things.)
What I have learned is that trusting a man to genuinely respect me is not the rule of thumb. It is the exception.
What I have learned is that my voice won’t be taken as seriously as a man’s. Even if I’m smart as fuck.
What I have learned is that I have to fight against the completely false, but insidiously internalized, message that my body is not mine to fully control and own.
What I have learned is that I will continuously have to think twice about the safety of my mind, my body, and my life, simply because I am a woman. I cannot expect that my safety is a given.
What I had learned was that I was not worthy enough to deserve better than men who cheated on me, sexually manipulated me, disrespected me, and emotionally and verbally abused me. (This has since changed, but only since my last relationship. And it took the first two years of being with him to believe that I was — and could — actually be with a genuinely good guy.)
Now, of course, we — women — are worthy enough to not have to endure any of this shit.
But believe me, no matter how strong, self-confident, and self-loving a woman is, she is always fighting — both internally and the world around her — to accept and own her inherent worthiness as a woman.
Why? Because she is always bombarded with, and internalizing, the messages from the people closest to her, media, social media, her workplace, and so on, that she is not worthy enough to be just exactly as she is.
And, as men time and time again, overstep their boundaries with her — and they will — she is always fighting to reassert those boundaries, and to reclaim her body and agency, oftentimes feeling powerless to do so because she has been taught, since day one, to “be nice,” that she’s “just overreacting,” that she might need to fear for her safety if she fights back, and that, even if she does try to fight back, there will likely be little to no repercussions against her perpetrator.
So, this piece is for men.
It’s an awareness call to men that it is the cumulative effect of each and every single instance of cat-calling, unwanted touching, objectifying women, talking shit about women, humiliating women, dismissing women, pressuring a woman to give more than she is comfortable with, and disrespecting your female partner, that then enable (some) men to feel that they have the power to jerk off in front of a woman when she clearly did not ask for it, or to force their body onto a woman when she said “no.”
Because all of it, at the end of the day, is one and the same: It’s about throwing up your hand and saluting a culture where men devalue women.
It’s about reinforcing a culture where men can expect to overstep a woman’s boundaries unchecked, because the control and ownership of women are so ingrained in the psyche of male privilege.
It’s about perpetuating a culture where men continue to hold privilege and power that dictates how women should behave, think and feel — even when that is not how a woman wants to behave, think or feel.
If you still can’t make the connection, here it is once more:
… sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women. (source)
There is nothing inherently correct about men devaluing, controlling, and violating women. Nothing.
As a woman, my body is mine. I say who gets to touch it. And I choose who to share it with.
As a woman, I have a brain just the same as a man’s. And depending on the man, my brain might even work a little better. (Just sayin’.) I am contributing my intellect and talents to the world much more than I am contributing my pretty smile. Recognize that.
As a woman, I may embody the stereotypical feminine traits of being emotional, intuitive, empathic and nurturing. Those are gifts. Not signs of weakness. I bring healing, empathy, compassion and love into this world. Honour that. Value that. Imagine a world without women like that. What a shitty world that would be.
As a woman, I am also just a human being, the same as any person of any other gender. And as a human being, I have a right to feel safe doing everyday, basic things like walking down the street or living in my own home.
As a woman, I am fucking pissed off. And I will not do what is expected of me and keep fucking quiet.
I am saying my piece.
So, Now What?
Women reading this, at this point, may be thinking: “Yup. I already know this. I’ve lived this. I am living this.”
Maybe, like me, you’re feeling drained, too. I almost didn’t want to write this, because I knew what it would take out of me. And indeed, after three days of writing, I am depleted.
If you’re feeling the pain, too, I’m so sorry.
I know all of you have gone through your own experiences — some similar, and some much more egregious violations of your bodies, minds and souls.
My heart is aching for you, me, and the rest of our sisters.
Diving into this topic, as a woman — whether you’re sharing or reading — is difficult, and I’m actively seeking some self-care to counter the serious energy drain I’ve been going through.
(I’ll share at the bottom about my self-care practices, in case they might also help you).
Men reading this, at this point, may be feeling overwhelmed, motivated, ashamed, indifferent, and/or confused about what to do.
Maybe you’re even feeling upset or angry, as you read post after post about “how awful” men are. If that’s you, my friend, leave your ego at the door and keep reading. I know you don’t recognize it yet, but your reaction is a direct result of holding male privilege.
I believe that there are a lot of men out there who have been following the #metoo movement, and are wanting to do something towards positive change. I truly believe that.
If you don’t know where to start, just start with yourself.
Start with the women in your own life.
Your wife. Your girlfriend. Your mother. Your sister. Your daughter. Your female friends. Your female co-workers. Your female employees. Your female students. And so on.
Ask yourself what you might be doing in your everyday interactions with these women that might make them feel inferior, objectified, devalued, demeaned, humiliated, ashamed, violated, unsafe.
Think past those initial thoughts of, “Well, I don’t think that’s so bad …” or, “But I don’t mean anything harmful by that.”
It’s not about what you think.
It’s about the impact that your actions or words may be having on her.
If you really listen to what she’s saying (and not saying), you’ll probably pick up some clues.
Keep educating yourself on this issue, if you really care to make a difference, because a large part of this is about changing deeply ingrained perspectives — your deeply ingrained perspectives.
And if you don’t make a real effort to learn about, and open your eyes to, different perspectives, then your acceptance and expression of male privilege will remain intact.
And so, the epidemic of men’s sexual harassment and assault against women will live on.
It’s up to you to fix this. You, as a man, need to:
Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women. (source)
These resources are only a start. Questions will probably pop up for you. Do your own research. Ask Google. Whatever you’re wondering has already been asked and written about. Trust me.
Some people confuse “privilege” as meaning “special advantages.” This guide explains what “privilege” actually means in the context of the #metoo conversation.
No one is asking you to feel guilty for having your privilege. “But once you understand that these often invisible perks aren’t available to everyone, you can see why addressing privilege means recognizing that people of all genders deserve equal access to basic respect for our humanity.”
A comic that visualizes examples of sexual harassment and how you, as a man, can help to change the script.
“Are you a man confused on how to treat the women you work with? … This life hack will have you treating women like people in no time.” Humorous, but it makes the point.
Why it’s on you guys to fix this. In case I wasn’t clear.
Again, this is just a start. If anyone — men or women — come across any other resources you think should be shared, please let me know in the comments. Thank you.
Working on this post, which has included reading numerous soul-draining articles and #metoo experiences, has triggered something fierce in me.
I have been feeling annoyed, angry, frustrated, drained, saddened, and apathetic, all at the same time.
I do want to mention that, at this point in my life, I thankfully do know more than just a handful of men who have shown me that they are capable of genuinely respecting women.
As I said earlier, the last partner I was with was the first true example that I could, indeed, be respected by a man in a romantic relationship. Thank goodness for him. I had learned to have very low standards before him. But. Never. Again.
There are other men who are currently in my life who make me feel safe, valued and accepted for who I am, and for that, I am deeply grateful. It’s still not enough, but they give me some hope in this tiresome battle that we endure.
On sharing our stories
(As an aside, Layla wrote an amazing piece called “I need to talk to spiritual white women about white supremacy (Part One)” that calls out a different type of continuance of oppression. You can find Part Two here.)
Although the podcast episode was geared towards female spiritual leaders, and I certainly do not consider myself a spiritual leader in any way (in fact, I am a spiritual learner in every way), it gave me some peace of mind for both writing and sharing this post.
As Layla said:
… you don’t have to wait for it to be perfect, or for you to have it perfectly figured out or understood, before you say something or do something.
I am not an “expert” feminist. I cannot speak for every other woman I know and don’t know. I’m not even sure if what I wrote here truly encapsulates everything I want to say on this topic (probably not).
But I felt the need to speak. And so, I am speaking.
That being said, if you don’t share your own story — even if you want to — that is entirely (and obviously) your choice, and yours alone.
As I commented recently on a friend’s Facebook post where she stated that maybe she wasn’t brave enough to share her own #metoo story:
“… not sharing doesn’t make you not brave. It just might mean that sharing could trigger something that you don’t want to experience (and shouldn’t have to experience). It could mean that you only want to share in private, to specific people. It could mean that you just don’t fucking feel like it. It’s an individual decision and nobody can fault you for the one you make for yourself.”
I have read from some women’s posts that women shouldn’t have to out ourselves, explain ourselves, or tell men how to fix this problem.
No, we shouldn’t have to.
But at the end of the day, sister, do whatever the hell your soul tells you to do. The people who love you will be there to support you and catch you, if you need it.
Writing this piece, and reading about other women’s experiences, has triggered a lot of memories, negative emotions, and unresolved wounds. The need for self-care has been a given.
Some of the things I’ve done to reground myself have included:
- Journaling about the nightmare I had. Putting it on paper helped me to get it out, and let it go.
- Making sure I’ve been eating well.
- Spending time with our farm dog, Olive. Animals are better than therapy sometimes.
- Taking a few minutes during the busyness of the day to chat with someone who I knew would make me smile. 🙂
- Going for a run.
- Only returning to writing this post when I felt ready to again. There is nothing but 100% of my conviction and intention behind this piece.
- Debriefing with my amazingly supportive coach, Ivy, about the impact that delving into this topic has had on my wellbeing.
- While I’ve been writing this piece, I have physically been around a lot of male energy. I have been giving myself the space I need from that energy as much as possible. And without apology.
And after I publish this piece, I will be celebrating — yes, celebrating — with a burning ritual: I’ll be doing a bonfire at the farm where I burn a printed copy of this post, as a release to make room for healing. (Thanks, Ivy, for the suggestion. I love it!)
If you’re in need of some self-care, too, but don’t know where to start, here’s a couple of articles that you can check out for more ideas:
- How to Cope If You’re Feeling Triggered by the #MeToo Movement
- Tell Us Your Best Self-Care Tips As Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted (Women have shared their self-care tips in the comment thread on this post.)
Ultimately, do what speaks to you, and what makes you feel comforted, grounded and safe. ❤
Thank you for reading. And if you want to share any of your own thoughts here, please feel free and safe to do so in the comments below.
Lots of love and healing,