How to be a Woman

Posted by on 05.14.08 | 8 Comments
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This post is in response to Steve Pavlina’s post: “How to be a Man”. He put out the challenge for someone to balance his strong post by writing about how to be a woman.

In the interest of not living in the shadow of being either an untouchable goddess, a long-suffering mother, or a bitchy, edgy vixen, I offer the few points of interest that I’ve learned about living an authentic life in a world that wants to put women in those few, very tight boxes.

Matter of fact, here’s the first point: I had this post almost ready to publish, and lost it due to an unannounced power failure, and of course hadn’t saved it along the way. My first reaction was ‘***, I’m already late in submitting it, blah blah blah.’ Then I got some tortilla chips, sat down and said to myself, ‘Self, why are you doing this? Is it for Steve’s blog, or your benefit?’ I had to admit it was for Steve’s blog, so I then I ratcheted it down a notch and said, ‘Self, when you’ve lost articles and documents before, have they not been stronger in the re-write?’ And I had to admit that whoever it is that’s asking those kinds of irritating question knows something about something, and I’ve learned to listen to ‘her’. So the first point is: Sometimes what seems to be broken is just life’s way of slowing women down. Many women tend to be admired multi-taskers, esteemed for their organization and ability to move it all forward at the same time. Their intuitive sense helps them accomplish many things–by knowing what’s requiring what, now. But that multi-tasking, moving forward energy is at the expense of something: depth. So while women seem to feel deeply–and they do–they need space and time and to get a little broken-down by life to really understand themselves. Slowing down, the work of middle-age for many women, is the pre-requisite for distilling our experience into some form of useable wisdom for our daughters, sons and grandchildren.

Point 2: We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Women can be steadfast, waiting until god knows what, to give up on a relationship or other valued thing. In there someplace, if we dig deep enough, is this sense that we’re not the grown ups yet, that we’re not the ones with the wisdom yet, we’re not the ones that know enough yet (to write the book, perform in the Shakespeare play, etc.). And so, we wait, for what we know not! The truth is: we are the ancestors waiting to happen. When we learn to look at our lives through the eyes of our children as if they’re telling their kids about us, our perception of life shifts. What we don’t try becomes what our kids and grand-kids remember about us–that we had innate talent and/or chutzpah, and somehow flaked out! We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for. Accepting this as our truth and leaning and living into it is the challenge for many women.

Point 3: Never say never. It’ll get us in trouble with a capital ‘T’. Some Super Scribe out there in the universe takes a big note when we say, I’Il never do that…or I’ll never do that, again”, and then cleverly, diabolically, figures out how to trick us into doing just that thing. Not ever saying never is hard…but will keep us out of those air-tight boxes I was mentioning. Point of reference: Bridges of Madison County… What I can say with some conviction at this point in my life: I choose to be faithful to my core values, which include doing no harm whenever possible. This gives me leeway to do lots of things at least once, but self-or-other-harming ones…not so much.

Point 4: Sometimes we have to break what ain’t broke. This point of interest is related to ‘Never say never’. Being part of pre-emptive destruction so that renewal can take place may be the highest and best use of women’s ability to grow and develop things that seem ungrow-able. Relatedly, we can also see what is not going to live, not going to work, and we then have the strength to take the initiative and say, ‘no more’.

Point 5: It’s almost impossible that one relationship will grow with us from age 16 to 96. That’s like a cruel fairy tale. When it happens, it’s amazing and blessed. But most of the rest of us mortal women-folk should not be held to that kind of standard. Motto: Love hard, love well, don’t shoot the messenger, let go with some dignity and grace, be grateful, stay friends and move on!

Point 6: Speaking our truth without requiring anyone to agree with us or even understand us, is very hard for many women. However, it’s crucial to living life large and with honor. And it gets easier with practice.

Point 7: Gossip kills. It kills the spirit of the gossiper, and the one who is being gossiped about. It is the refuge of minds that need a real challenge, like fighting a lion or tiger that’s after our children. If we train ourselves to always be kind, then being in the presence of gossip–from ourselves or others–will leave us with a shivery kind of feeling that we’ve just done something irreparable…and we’ll eventually stop doing it.

Point 8: Saggy body parts are not to be taken too seriously. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Last, but not least: Women’s dreams are powerful, life-giving artesian wells of energy and creativity. If we listen to them, study them, start a group to explore them, they will lead us ‘home’. Dreams will tell us all we need to know to live an extraordinarily vibrant and love-filled life. If we don’t listen to this ready source of wisdom, we may thrive, but we’ll never know what dreams might have been!

Thanks, Steve, for the opportunity to take this snapshot, at age 53, of what it takes to be a woman. As I look over the article, I realize that these points of interest are as true for men as for women. But they flow from my experience, from my woman’s heart. It is a heart that refuses to be kept down, kept quiet. Kept, period.

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