Women's Empowerment Stories ...
From Writing Practice to Authenticity
It had been a year since I had started commuting morning and night between Edmonton and Calgary, between home and work. One morning, on the first flight out to Calgary, it dawned on me that I had been running around in circles at 900 km. an hour for an entire year, and that I couldn't maintain that pace much longer. I wanted something different out of life; the rat race didn't do it for me. I could no longer deny I felt a deep longing to fill the emptiness. I needed to write. And so I gave my notice that day. In the following years, I watched the unfolding of a new woman.
I first came across Natalie Goldberg's book Wild Mind - Living the Writer's Life. Three of her concepts had a profound effect on me:
1. No matter what, keep your hand moving until you're finished your exercise (flow writing).
2. Don't censure.
3. Questions are fine, as long as you write the answer to each one on the very next line.
And so, I got my hand moving, letting whatever needed to come up come up, to the complete dismay of the censor in me. I, who had always carefully avoided addressing the core issues in my life, was suddenly describing in great many details my anger, frustration and fear of the emptiness. My first notebooks became safe and precious containers for all my questions, doubts and uncertainties.
I spent a long time exploring the 'great emptiness.' I started questioning where it was coming from and why it should be so huge. I wrote answers to my questions, wondering each time where they all came from. I realized my old full-time job felt very safe.... No risk-taking involved. No chance of failing at becoming the creator I had always longed to be. No judgments to fear.
I got to the point where I loved writing down questions because my own answers were always such a surprise. I still wasn't sure where they were coming from, but I was writing them down. There seemed to be more to me than sheer emptiness after all... And plus, I quite liked my answers. They seemed to fit, better in fact, than any advice I had ever received from others. They made sense. I was starting to trust my own voice.
Through writing, I became aware of the things I was doing out of a sense of duty or for fear that people would stop liking me. It became very clear that I needed to stop trying to please and start being.
The time being right, I got a copy of Christina Baldwin's Life's Companion - Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest and immersed myself into its beauty. I literally wrote a contract with life, in which I committed to choose life, not misery. I wrote dialogues with my heart until I heard its voice, loud and clear, telling me what I was waiting to do. I asked the sacred what my purpose in life was. The wise child in me replied I had come here to 'write hope.' I wrote a new definition of 'discipline' for myself, in which I named what I needed to do to create the life I wanted.
In total delight, I was uncovering such a richness of inner life. The emptiness was starting to feel completely different. It was starting to feel like huge potential.
I started to appreciate the gifts I had been given and to wonder how to bring them into the world. Surprise, I felt no false modesty or guilt about seeing myself in a new light. I suddenly felt very tall... I was starting to get in touch with my own power. I was starting to create a vision for myself. I held on to Christina Baldwin's saying: "We do not choose a vision; we are not given a longing, unless we are also given the ability to fulfill it."
To get to know myself a little better yet, I entered a fairly detailed 'list phase,' and wrote lists of the things that made me happy, that brought me peace and satisfaction; things that I wanted to do, things I no longer needed; things I was willing to have in my life by invitation only; things I couldn't do without.
My priorities quickly became very clear. There were definite recurrent themes I couldn't ignore and had to address. So, I wasn't writing the books and the plays I was dreaming of writing; and yes, this process was a long and, at times, painful one; and no, I didn't know where I was going to end up.... But at long last I was, line after line, getting to the essential and out of the emptiness. I was finally starting to get a feel for the woman I am.
I didn't know, before reading Life's Companion that I could create a vision for myself, and just follow it. But I had heard her... and I started to create one. It had a lot to do with acknowledging a deep longing, following my heart, and keeping my hand moving....
Meanwhile, I had come to hear my inner dialogue. I had identified certain voices within me. Some were friendly and supportive, some were sarcastic and critical and one, among others, was plain furious and had amazing amounts of energy. I made a deal with her and told her I would give her a voice as long as she agreed to not erupt in my life at any given moment and cause great turmoil. After all, she did have good reasons to be angry, and she did have good points. And so I bought her her own book: a black book for shadow writing.
Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way, enabled me to see how I could begin to transform the desperate energy of my shadow into creative energy. She suggested that I write a letter from myself, at eighty, to myself at my current age! And so, within, I found an old and wise woman, the most unconditional ally I had ever had. I found a loving and respectful voice with a hopeful message. In her letter to me, she described how the sanctuary she had envisioned had become the pilgrimage centre of the people she treasured; the quality of the friends she had had the chance to work with; and the peace and satisfaction of a lifetime of creation. She had ended her letter this way: "Above all, trust yourself and go in peace: know that you are a success story in the making for... look where I am writing you from!"
~ Mireille Dupuis
Journaling is so powerful for women! Honour yourself or a friend with the gift of one of the most beautiful journals ever created: A Woman's Journal is her Legacy. Click here for more information.
Mireille shares the tips that have guided her journaling practice. See: Getting Started with Journal Writing.
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