Calling on the Wisdom of the Wild Woman

What are you hungry for deep in your soul? The Wild Woman Archetype can help you to bring forth that which is calling to you. She connects you with your innate wisdom, she is your innate wisdom. She is powerful and wise. She is connected to all those who have gone before you. Call on her. Invite her in.

For the past several weeks I have been endlessly fascinated with the Wild Woman, ever since reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes bestseller, Women Who Run with the Wolves. In the past month or so I’ve been feeling as though I’d lost touch with a part of my wild nature. Going through the motions, trying to live a soulful, fulfilled life. But still, there has been a touch of wildness that is missing. There has been this part of me that deeply longs to just break out of all the norms and run free. But in reflecting on this, I wonder, what exactly does that look like?

Clarissa’s book provides more or less a road map to connect with this innate, wild energy that is available to all of us. We’ve been so conditioned by culture, religion, and family norms, to name a few, knowing what we must and must not do to have and maintain connection and belonging. But what part of ourselves do we lose in this process of domestication?

We lose a huge part of ourselves. We lose our connection to the wild, we lose our connection to our soul, if we are going through the motions unconsciously.

You see, the Wild Woman doesn’t just survive—she THRIVES.

We need to reclaim our instinctual life, our soul, our spirit.

Clarissa discusses how this Wild Woman is an endangered species in today’s society, and a protective preserve must be created to nurture her. This protective preserve, this sacred space, is created and nurtured by US. This wild aspect of self is needed more now than ever in today’s politically tumultuous climate—with our safety, our water, our environment, our children, our dignity being threatened at every turn. With women making 77 cents per every dollar made by a man, our society needs us to reclaim our wildness. To stand for equality. To step out of our acceptance of the status quo, and instead to call on our fierce, wild nature.

You may be wondering who or what this Wild Woman is. What she looks like. How she acts. If you had asked me 15 years ago I would have said she is the one carelessly dancing on table tops, streaking through the university campus at the sight of the first rain of the season, swimming naked in the ocean (I have done all of these!). Yes, this can be her, and yet she is so much more.

Below you will find some thoughts and questions to reflect on to cultivate the Wild Woman energy in your life. Grab a cup of coffee, grab your journal, and take a few minutes to reflect on and answer the following questions.

1.  The Wild Woman leads a truthful life that is informed by both gut instincts as well as intellect. She runs, gets lost, and risks making mistakes in order to answer the call of her soul.

  • What is my soul hungry for?
  • Where am I in denial, or not telling my truth?
  • Where am I staying small out of fear of making a mistake?
  • Am I afraid of getting lost, and is that fear holding me back?
  • Do I listen to my gut instincts, or do I continually rationalize with intellect?

2.  The Wild Woman is a rebellious seeker. She takes the road less traveled. She doesn’t wait for a guide to show up, instead, she strikes out on her own.

  • In what area of my life do I need to set out on the road less traveled?
  • Where am I waiting for a guide?
  • Why am I waiting for a guide?

3.  The Wild Woman cannot be controlled, she is the original rebel, the original revolutionary.

  • Where am I being controlled? By what or by whom?
  • Where do I need to call on my rebellious nature?
  • What status quo am I currently accepting?

4.  The Wild Woman uses all of her senses. She uses her imagination, her passion, she tells her stories. SHE USES HER VOICE.

  • Where do I need to speak up?
  • What is keeping me from using my voice?
  • What are my passions?
  • What are my stories?
  • Am I living them? Am I sharing them? If not, why?

5.  The wild woman doesn’t want to settle or be forced into any box.

  • Where in my life am I settling?

6.  The Wild Woman is in tune with nature. She’s in tune with the rhythms, cycles, and seasons of her life.

  • Do I know what season I am in?
  • If I’m in winter, am I allowing myself to hibernate and replenish? If not, why?
  • If I’m in spring, am I taking myself out into the world, creating, sharing, and blossoming? If not, why?

7.  The Wild Woman is uninhibited, erotic, and comfortable with her life force energy.

  • Am I allowing myself pleasure?
  • How can I cultivate even more pleasure in my life?
  • Am I comfortable in and embracing my sexuality?
  • Am I embracing the dirty, juicy, moist, earthy parts of myself?

8.  The Wild Woman accepts and embraces all parts of herself.

  • What aspect of myself do I find unacceptable? Why?
  • What do I need to do to find acceptance in this area?
  • How can I foster more self-love?

9.  The Wild Woman allows for spontaneity. She is inventive. She creates and she destroys.

  • What do I need to create?
  • What do I need to destroy?
  • How can I allow for more spontaneity in my life?

The Wild Woman is often feared because she is immensely powerful. She is liberated. She is unstoppable. She knows when to soften and when to call on her fierce nature. Where in your life do you need to invite her in? Perhaps in your relationship? Your parenting? Career? In your creative life? Your activism? Your emotional life?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “The Wild Woman is only intimidating to those who are not yet free. She is a mirror of all you are or all you have yet to become. She is a living invitation to claim your freedom. Your wings long to life you on the wind.”

Claim your freedom by inviting this powerful and wise archetype into your life. Her wisdom and power will set you free. She will help you create and live a life where you can THRIVE. She will connect you to the wisdom of all women who have gone before you. It is time to unleash your power.

When we free ourselves, it is then that we can truly step into our power and help to liberate others.

Stress Got You Down?

I cannot believe that it is November. It seems like just yesterday I was basking in the warm sunshine, enjoying days and nights on the river and lake. Sharing campfire stories and s’mores with beloved family and friends.

The transition from summer to fall was like going from 0 to 100mph in less than two seconds. Suddenly, we were off and running. Getting up early and rushing to get to school, then hustling from one activity to the next.

During this transition, you could feel the stress level of everybody begin to rise. In fact, you could feel the stress level of the entire county rise as September faded into October.

Aside from the kid’s schedules, the work days this time of year are long and the town where we live has been WAY beyond maximum capacity. With travelers from all over the world coming to temporarily make Southern Humboldt their home.

The stress this year has been confounded by the changing times and the unknown future of our beloved local economy. People are competing for limited resources. Many are not sure if the hard work they put in this year will pay off, nor are they sure about what the future holds for them and their families. You can feel the stress in the air; it is like a heavy, thick, stagnant fog that lingers.

It is my husband’s stress that has inspired me to write this blog post. His body hurts, his neck hurts, he is tense and continually saying he is “stressed-out.” I try to offer him comfort by listening to his pain, but his stress is something that only he can work through.

The thing is, stressed-out is just a blanket term that we wrap ourselves in like a warm cozy blanket that is familiar, albeit scratchy. More like one of those woolen blankets, that provides warmth but is definitely NOT merino wool. We do this to avoid the uncomfortable task of having to go deeper. We avoid looking at what lies beneath the stress, at what is really there, waiting to be heard.

We do this because stressful situations always point to our deepest issues.

You see, stress is not actually an emotion.

Karla McLaren says that stress is, “a term from the world of physics and engineering, where it is defined as a pressure, pull, or force exerted on one thing by another, or the internal resistance of a thing to the external forces applied to it.”

Basically, stress is something that happens to an object. And while some may disagree with me, we are not objects. We are living, breathing, emotional beings whose soul expresses itself through our body.

In our mind-based culture, we’ve been taught to value the intellect and will over experiencing life in an embodied way, which has caused us to grow out of and away from the body as an immediate, lived experience.

One of the many consequences of this has been that we have lost our emotional fluency. We have objectified the body and use catch-all terms such as stress and anxiety to keep from having to dive in and do the work necessary to feel and process that which arises from our psyche, that which needs to be carefully and lovingly tended to.

Because emotions are a somatic experience (they arise from and can be felt in the body), if we are disconnecting from the body and objectifying it, we will also be disconnecting from our emotional experience and therefore our emotional vocabulary will be limited.

If you want to resolve your stress, you have to be willing to dive deeper.

You have to be willing to explore and feel what lies in depths, underneath the warm blanket of stress. It’s actually less work to hide behind “stressed-out.” That is part of the reason why we hide there. We are creatures who seek ease and comfort. If we don’t know any better, we go to what feels familiar. However, if you are willing to do the work, you will become more emotionally fluent and increase your well-being in the long run. The work is worth it.

If you’re feeling stressed, you now know that stress is not an emotion. The next step is to ask yourself: “What am I really feeling?” It is probably a combination of emotions.

Check in with the sensations in your body. Chances are high that you are experiencing tightness or pain. Probably in your neck or shoulders. Maybe in your low back. Scan your body and notice where you are holding tension. Ask that sensation what it is trying to communicate. What is it protecting you from knowing or feeling?

Is there fear underneath the stress? Is it real fear? As in, are you in immediate danger and need to take action NOW? Or is it manufactured fear, based in the future? Ask yourself: “What action should be taken?”

Is their anger beneath the stress? If so, what boundary has been violated? What boundary needs to be restored?

Is there sadness? Ask, “What needs to be released?”

Is there confusion? Check in with and question your intentions.

When we step back and allow ourselves to feel, we develop the capacity to respond in an empowered way. We develop the capacity to see new possibilities and change course without letting our stress debilitate us.

The reality is that we live in an always changing and unstable environment. Security is an illusion that we all cling to and when our security is threatened, we turn to stress.

However, our well-being comes from conscious awareness, from shining a light on the dark. From feeling our feelings and allowing them to be in motion as the word ‘emotion’ implies. It is derived from the Latin word emovere which means ‘to move through or out.’ The only way to move through or out is by diving into the emotion that is present. Also, our well-being is nurtured when we step back, take an eagle eye’s view and respond in an empowered way. And when all else fails, accepting what is.

The only thing we can trust in life is that we will be given multiple opportunities to practice coming back to center. To practice grounding ourselves. To practice feeling our feelings. To practice mindfulness and loving kindness. To practice being at home in our bodies.

Stress can be one of our most insightful teachers, if we let it.

Problem Solving 102

Problems, problems, problems–we all have them. They can be the bane of our existence and paradoxically some of our greatest teachers. Some problems are big, some are small. Some pass quickly and are readily solved, others seem to linger.

If we tune into the body, there is always an accompanying somatic response. Often a tightening, a clenching, sometimes a hunching of the shoulders and a closing of the heart.  When you combine this response with the spinning of the mind that also seems to walk hand in hand with the problems we encounter, it is no wonder we seek solutions! Problems simply don’t feel good. Actually, most of the time they just flat out suck.

In a group called The Rowdies, of which I am a part, I talk daily with brilliant women from around the globe about many various issues.  Lately, we have been discussing problems, and looking at concepts such as, “the problem IS the solution” and “the problem is the solution to another underlying problem.” Are you following? I know, it sounds trippy, but hang in there with me, it will make sense in a moment.

You see, this conversation has become more or less of a “problem” for me.  It has left my mind spinning, seeking solutions. I wasn’t so sure that these two concepts could be applied to every situation or whether one concept over the other was better fitting given the specifics of the predicament.

So I decided to problem solve. I wanted answers. Through my inquiry, I discovered a process to open-heartedly inquire into life’s problems.

Step one: Identify the problem

Is this actually a problem that needs solving, or is it simply something to be experienced? In my example, I didn’t actually need to problem solve, I could have just let it be and moved on. But I was curious. I saw this as something to engage with and wanted to play. Is your problem something to be played with? If so, keep a light heart while you play.

Conversely, maybe your problem doesn’t need to be solved, maybe you just need to feel your feelings in regards to the situation and let it go, with no action at all. If you can determine that now, in step one, then great! Feel the feels and let that shit go. Problem solved!

The bottom line is to get very clear on what the problem actually is. Sometimes our mind can trick us into thinking that something is a problem, when in fact, it really isn’t. Inquire with curiosity.

If you’ve identified that this is, in fact, a problem where you want to take action, move to step two.

Step two: Get clear on why this is a problem

What about it is problematic? What characteristics and qualities make it a problem? Check in with your body. How is your body responding when you are thinking about this problem? What is your mind saying? What emotions are you feeling when you think about the problem?

Clarity is of utmost importance when it comes to disentangling the situation.

Step three: Open your heart

Open your heart by literally placing your shoulders back and broadening the chest. Breathe into your heart center. It is hard to problem solve when we are closing in, and often it is our hearts that hold the answers we seek. When we open our hearts we create expansion, we open ourselves to the possibilities. We make room for creativity.

I love Tony Robbins heart meditation for problem-solving. Step three is a great place to try out this meditation. The electromagnetic field surrounding the heart is greater than that of the mind, thus scientifically indicating that the heart a very powerful force. It often holds the answers we seek. Ever heard the phrase “follow your heart”? It knows things that the mind doesn’t.

Here is the process:

-Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes

-Think about your problem that needs solving

-Place both hands on your heart and breathe deeply, directing the breath into your heart center

-Answer the question: What are you proud or grateful for that your heart has guided you to give, do, feel, or enjoy?

-Have gratitude for your heart. You didn’t have to earn it. You didn’t have to do anything, give anything, accomplish anything, or be anything to get this powerful heart. Something loved you enough to gift you with this heart that beats over 100,000 times a day.

-Think of one event you are grateful for. Step into it as if you were there. What do you feel? Smell? See? Hear? Fill up with gratitude.

-Think of a second moment that you are grateful for. Breathe it, feel it, step into it.

-Think of one more moment where you felt immense gratitude

-Think of a coincidence that led to something you are grateful for. Was it a coincidence or were you guided?

-Keep breathing into your heart center

-Revisit the initial problem, but continue to stay with your heart, breathing into it

-Ask your heart: What do I need to focus on? Remember? What do I need to do in this situation?

-Write down what your heart has to say, and use this answer as part of step five.

Step four: Know exactly what you want

If you have identified this situation as a problem, it is obviously something you DON’T want. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, draw your attention to what you DO want. Make a list. Get very clear on this. If you are trying to problem-solve without a clear vision of where you are headed, you may find yourself with just another problem on your hands!

Step five: Brainstorm solutions

Get creative. Be ridiculous. There are no limits here. The more you brainstorm, the more likely you are to find a solution. It takes many bad ideas to get to a good idea, just ask Einstein.

Step six: Try out a potential solution

Take one of the steps you’ve identified as a possibility, either from your heart meditation or from the list you made in step five. Be willing to fail. If you fail to solve your problem, give another one of your creative solutions a try.

Okay, now that was Problem Solving 101. Now we will move on to Problem Solving 102.

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF UNABLE TO TAKE THE STEPS YOU HAVE OUTLINED, THEN LOOK AT THE POSSIBILITY THAT “THE PROBLEM IS THE SOLUTION TO ANOTHER UNDERLYING PROBLEM”

If this is the case, the reason you are unable to actively seek solutions is because solving this problem would open you up to another problem you may not be aware is lurking beneath the surface.

Ask yourself:

Why am I unable to take the steps I have identified?

What am I afraid of?

Do I believe the steps I have outlined may create additional problems for me? Problems that could be worse than the original situation?

What is the worst case scenario that can happen if I do solve this?

What is the worst case scenario if I don’t solve this?

Asking and answering these questions can take you to some underlying beliefs that you may not want to face, which is the REAL problem here.

An example here would be that you are completely lacking in the self-care department and you are totally stressed out and a wreck, and it has become a huge problem for you. You KNOW how to do self-care, but just aren’t making the time for it, or can’t find the time, so you fail to take action. Or you take action for a few days and then fall back to old habits and find yourself with the same problem over and over again.

Perhaps the REAL problem then is what it entails to take the steps to self-care. It could involve setting boundaries with work or with your partner. Something you find hard to do or are unwilling to do because of potential problems THAT would create. So in that sense, your problem is the solution to the underlying problem of having poor boundaries. Of being unable to speak your truth and state your needs. Your problem keeps you from having to problem-solve the even harder task of boundary setting and truth telling. It in essence, solves THAT problem for you.

Also, if you find yourself unable to act, it is helpful to reflect back to your answer from step four, knowing what you want. This is the tricky part because you have to be grounded, you have to know yourself, you must have strong boundaries and you have to be clear that you can actually get what you want.  That your ‘wants’ don’t involve controlling other people or living in fantasy land.

If what you are wanting is security (which is an illusion we all cling to), to be special, to belong, to have approval, to not have to set boundaries, to feel good all of the time, or to not have to feel at all, to have everything go your way, etc. Then take a look at and unpack those beliefs. Maybe this isn’t an outside problem, but an inside job. A cleaning up of beliefs. If what you want is something that is unattainable, such as wanting approval from somebody who will never give it to you, then you won’t be able to solve your problem, because your problem is tied to underlying beliefs and that in and of itself is the REAL problem.

I get it. This is confusing. This is a convoluted and complicated process because the underlying problem could be completely unconscious, something you are not aware of. If that’s the case and you find yourself stuck, seek out a coach or a therapist, somebody who can help you unpack the issue.

IF YOU ARE ABLE TO TAKE THE STEPS YOU’VE OUTLINED, AND YET THE PROBLEM PERSISTS, CONSIDER THAT “THE PROBLEM IS THE SOLUTION”

This points to surrender. To accepting what is.

Can you trust that this is exactly what the universe had planned for you? That this problem is actually saving you from a fate that could be much worse? Or that this problem is here for you to experience growth in a way that is not possible through any other experience?

If you’ve exhausted your creative problem-solving solutions and are met with road block after road block, then perhaps the problem IS the solution. Acceptance IS the solution.

Regardless of what you uncover in this process, step seven is the most important.

Step seven: Remember that this too shall pass

It always does. I saw a quote on Facebook the other day, the author was noted as “The Universe” which is perfectly fitting. It said, “Whatever your problem or challenge may be, laugh at it. Laugh long and hard. Because you are forever and it is temporary.”

It IS temporary. Yes, yes it is. As James Hillman says in The Myth of Analysis, “…the complexes are life itself; to be rid of them is to be rid of life.” Our problems can be a beautiful reminder that we are ALIVE. What a gift. We must embrace life with all of the light AND dark. We can’t know pleasure without pain. When all else fails, remember that this too shall pass.