I’ve been preparing for the second in-person gathering next weekend of the group of women with whom I’ve worked closely over the last couple years. Most of them were part of my first Realizing RICH Relationships group program Relationship Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight. When that was complete, their request (and patient waiting) inspired me to risk creating this beta program they’ve been part of – we called it Diving Deeper, and indeed we have.

I’d not done anything like this before. Other than a commitment to dive more deeply into embodying the principles and practices we’d begun to explore, there was no specific curriculum. It (and we) have evolved together. Together we’ve co-created a powerful container for transformation and support. Here are a few snippets from their email exchanges over the last months:

“I wonder if you could hold me in your hearts this evening.  My friend is coming by and we are continuing the difficult discussion that began Sunday.  I am resting in that balanced point holding two opposing things….hoping that I can maintain my balance throughout our conversation.”

“What beautiful magical writing and sentiments… so honored to be a part of this tribe… letting my tired heartbeat join with all of yours… holding each of you in my heart, loving you tenderly and fiercely…”

“I love that our sisterhood has allowed you to hold your fear in a way that made you feel less alone.”

“Beautiful! I picture you in this lovely space creating the magic that is you and breath by breath following the calling of your amazing life.”

An image of us at our gathering last year!

“I honour the wisdom and courage it takes to ‘be with’ regret, with the scariness, with the discomfort.”

“However the future unfolds, our standing together has provided me with the strength and courage to face my challenges and allowed me to do the same for my friend.”

“What lovely news.  Feeling your lighter-ness and curiosity and joy and honouring your wisdom and courage and tenacity.”

As I’ve been preparing for our gathering, I’m both looking back and looking forward. In reflecting on the themes that have been most potent for all of us, I’ve recognized something that has called and challenged me my whole life, and which will become the intentional focus for this next cycle of my work in the world.

Even though each person’s experience is unique, there’s a thread that has been most commonly woven into our work together that’s become clear. In one form or another each one of us is expanding our capacity to take a powerful stand for the transformation of both ourselves and our world through:

The honouring, and moment-to-moment full expression, of
the feminine and masculine in each of us and between us,  as we engage life.

Every part of this statement is significant, and over the next while, I know I’ll continue to explore the deeper implications, the challenges to doing this, the painful consequences for us and our world when we don’t, and practical steps in making this real in our lives.

My focus this eNews is what I do and don’t mean when I refer to the feminine and masculine in each of us, and I’ll share a poignant, personal story to illustrate what I mean.

First, I’m not making a political statement here, nor am I suggesting a binary notion of gender.

What I am referring to are the qualities of expression that might typically be associated with the masculine and feminine energies as we embody and express them in our interactions within ourselves and betweeneach other.

Situations in which concrete and tangible results need to be produced call from us the qualities often identified as more masculine. In times when transformation or enhancement of our environments and relationships are needed, it’s qualities like nurturing connection and creating beauty that have been seen as ‘softer’, more feminine(and for a long time less valued in our society) that are more effective.

One of the keys to fully expressing ourselves in a way that’s honouring is our wisdom in discerning which of these qualities the moment at hand is calling out of us. Without this we risk becoming a caricature of ourselves – things like a blowhard, a tyrant, an airhead or a doormat. To the extent this happens, we’re neither honouring ourselves or others, and we miss out on the full range of human experience. On the other hand, what’s available to us as we become more aware and expand our capacity to be honouring and responsive to the moment is an increasing sense of sovereignty – more clarity, aliveness, freedom, confidence and ease of presence in life – whatever is hapening.

To ground these ideas in real lived experience I’m going to tell you the story of what happened the last time I saw my Nanny Lotta. It was about 20 years ago. Though she’d left our family to care for her injured mother when I was 7, we’d stayed in touch, and when I went back to Barbados on vacation I’d go visit her. As our car pulled into the parking area of the care facility where she lived then, I heard someone call out “Miss Haynes your people are here!”

Lotta and the chil’ she raised …

The nurse who supported her as she came out to meet me asked Lotta whether she knew who I was. Lotta looked at her, turned to look at me, and sharply turned her face back to the nurse saying “How I cudn’t know who this is? I raised this chil’ yuh know!”

Lotta sat on her bed, and I sat beside her on a chair the nurse had provided. We had a wonderful visit, and as the time to leave approached her tone shifted. She had something important to communicate. “Miss Mally” she said, “when you leave here, this is the last time we’re goin’ to see each other on this earth, because Lotta is goin’ Home. But we will see each other in Glory, and our spirits will recognize each other.” She then proceeded to sing to me one of old familiar hymns of the faith that had sustained her over the years.

Of course by this time I was a weeping mess – the whole sweep of our relationship washing over me. We sat there for a few moments in the loving connection that was every bit as deep, and yet now even richer than what is evident in the photo above taken over 60 years ago. How wise, and gracious of her to name this moment so I could truly savour it, and our connection.

Then it was time for me to leave …

After one last hug, I took the chair I’d been sitting on and placed it where I thought it needed to go, but Lotta had other ideas. “No, it don’t go there, it does come from over here” she directed. “But Lotta”, I replied, “I thought I saw the nurse take it from over there.” Even in her weakened state, her comeback was instant and unequivocal “Miss Mally, you do what Lotta tells you to do!”

Though I was in my 40s, married and with 3 children in tow, and we’d just had that tender moment together, in her eyes I was still the chil’ she raised, and the results she needed me to produce were clear. Not surprisingly, I complied!

That was the last time I saw Lotta. She died less than a year later. But her clear and strong capacity to move easily and fluidly between expressing both those tender, connecting moments, and times when a result needed to be produced, all the while keeping her heart open, has always stayed with me. In her life, and through the legacy of her memory her powerful influence continues.

Many of us have been socialized to act primarily out of our masculine or feminine qualities of expression. Recognizing the conditioning and patterns we’ve consciously and unconsciously absorbed in our lives isn’t something most of us have been taught. Community support as we’re waking up to the way these old patterns have kept us chained and contained is key.

The Realizing RICH Relationships community is a place where we stand strongly with you as you expand your capacity to fully and freely express what you can feel in your bones is yours to offer. You can see and feel the difference it’s making for those in the Diving Deeper group. Individually, and together, we practice honouring and expressing the feminine and masculine in each of us and between us, embracing what wants to emerge in this next moment of life. Feeling a resonance here? Please give yourself the gift of joining us.

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!