I Love You, Woman

This weekend, I experienced the most beautiful and spiritually rich celebration of my life, second only perhaps to giving Mitch my wedding vow. It is going to be a challenge to capture its power in these words. I'll do my best to explain. See, there’s a lot of #girlboss, #hustle, #feminist buzz going on right now, and I’m not sure this is that. But I believe this is part of that conversation, on a less sexy level maybe.

My mother hosted a Blessingway for myself and my sister-to-be, Charity. A Blessingway is a ceremony borrowed from an old Native American tradition, in which a mother-to-be is nurtured and empowered by other women to transition. I had no idea how this ceremony would unfold, whether it would be awkward meshing mine and Charity’s women. It’s not a commonly practiced ritual in our society. 

Photo cred: Cindy Harvey

Photo cred: Cindy Harvey

I don’t think it’s coincidence that I had some of the hardest days of my year leading up to the Blessingway. On Thursday evening I was reduced to an emotional low I haven’t experienced in years. It was a coming to terms with being alive, allowing the inevitable uncertainty of the future to root deep. I cried and cried feeling the fear, contemplating the potential hopelessness, wondering about meaning, missing my cycle, and doubting my own feelings as we women so often do as the “more emotional” sex. From those ashes of my raw emotion emerged a clear and powerful longing...for magic. It has become so elusive, but I know it exists, and it’s worth living for. I went to sleep comforted, still longing.

Longing can be good.

On Friday, I was torn apart again, this time physically. I had a scare and the midwife came to do an exam. It was hours of scary and persistent pain that came on suddenly without relief. We diagnosed the problem and began treatment. More importantly, as I struggled in a fetal position, hair matted to my unwashed face, sweaty and short of breath, my husband and midwife poured into me with so much empathy. Every touch, squeeze, comforting word, soft tone, and kiss on the forehead...was magic.

And then Saturday, with my pain greatly reduced (drugs FTW), I went to the Blessingway with butterflies in my stomach. Everything looked and smelled so beautiful. Shades of pink and red everywhere. Tables filled with flowers, and fresh food, and burning candles. My grandmother’s dreamcatcher and maternal statuette placed between blooms and flames. Our mothers, sisters and sisters-of-our-souls embraced us. We floated our heavy bodies in the water, then exposed are swollen bellies to be decorated with lavender-infused henna. My sister massaged our feet and painted the toenails we can no longer reach. At the crescendo of being served and loved physically, our souls became the focus. Each woman shared words of love, wisdom, hurt, pain, encouragement, and strength for each of us. My mother played an original song. We were given charms and beads to string on twine and wear during labor, reminding us of each woman’s support and love. We all cried and hugged. There was no hers and mine. We all belonged to each other. Strangers were bonded as sisters. At the end, we were surrounded and tied together with thread encircling our wrists. They blessed us. The threads were cut and tied off, and they will be worn until umbilical cords are cut after safe deliveries. 

Magic. 

And it needs to be shared. So…

Dear woman,

I am a woman, among women. There is magic in our coming together, in exposing our humanness, our longing, our wild feelings, our unbridled passions, our terrifying great love. There is magic in being untame together. In worshipping our nurturing selves, and in unleashing the depth of our broad spectrum of emotion together. There is a transcendent bonding in seeing one another, really seeing. Acknowledging our universal fear, and facing it knowing we all can, and we all must. This is great, and ancient magic.

This. This is the power of the feminine. This is deeper than any #girlboss movement. This is beyond pregnancy and motherhood. This is deeply, magically female. We are the nurturers, the healers, the feelers. We shoulder the weight of intuition, of bleeding, of all things internal. And until those moments, that ceremony, I never knew how it felt to be relieved of it all, to be recognized and unburdened for a short time, as my tribe of women blessed the work, breathed a strength in me I’ve never felt, and then gave me back my sacred load. I have never felt so capable. So in awe of my own self. 

We need more of this in our lives. Instead of feeling inadequate, invisible, unworthy, ashamed, wild, simple, weak, emotional, fragile, threatening...let’s truly recognize one another. Powerful. Beautiful. Worthy. Let’s use our magic, great empathy, and send one another forth unleashed. Let’s give up jealousy and competition and the pursuit of perfection. Let’s start right now. With me.

Today, I hope you feel deep in your bones your own infiniteness, and at once your humanness. You are connected to great magic, and you are fiercely, beautifully alive. Your life is beautiful, your work is honorable, your thoughts and feelings are sacred. You are worthy and you have a place. You are seen. You, you are magic.

And I love you, woman.