How to Find True Happiness and Worth as a Woman in this World

Photo: Levi Guzman via unsplash

Photo: Levi Guzman via unsplash

Photos of young, naked women peppered the pages of my father’s newspapers. It was a serious newspaper (non-English) speaking to matters of politics and foreign policy and, yet.

Here were these photos too.

There were never any naked men in there. Just women.

I had already begun to internalize messages of being less than boys – my father outright told us such things.

These pictures, with the general conditioning of the culture-at-large had me believing that my value lay in how attractive and sexy I looked – to men – with as few clothes on as possible.

I felt a strange cocktail emotions relating to my body and my gender – disgust, anger, resentment, inferiority. I felt trapped. I felt at war with myself even if I probably couldn’t articulate it as such at the time.

One way in which this manifested itself very strongly in incredibly painful periods. Every month, a torture (until I was able to heal it).

The world we live in now is not quite the same as the one I grew up in. There are far better and more positive messages towards respecting and cherishing women and the feminine. We have more of a voice and the means to speak our truth and have it be heard.

Still, it’s not quite good enough. Misogyny is so pervasive it’s the air we breathe, most of us can barely distinguish.

It’s just normal or the way it’s always been. Sigh.

Even for women, we’ve internalized so much misogyny it’s a lifetime to extract and separate from it all.

So if you find difficulty in finding joy and your true purpose in your life, especially as a woman, you are not alone!

And the practice of finding joy and pleasure and purpose in being a woman is a lifelong one of discovery.

Below are my suggestion on where to start re-discovering your joy, purpose, power, and pleasure in being a woman. It’s based on decades of my own practice and in working with hundreds of women.

It may seem simple but I truly believe to begin these steps will liberate us.  Start with one and I would suggest it be this first one:

 

Dance & Move Your Body.  In Private. Just You.

When was the last time you danced? Or, more importantly, moved your body to music? If you can’t remember, or it’s been a really long time, you’re not alone.

And this needs to be remedied.

The discernment between dancing and moving your body to music is important for some of us to understand.

Sometimes we dance and we think it has to contain certain choreographed movements or look a certain way (like polished or sexy or ‘good’ in whatever way). This can be fun and challenging in interesting ways – nothing wrong with it.

However when we slow down and become present to our body with our attention and our breath, we can allow our body to move in the manner it wants and needs to move. I would still call this dancing but it’s not choreographed, it doesn’t necessarily look good. It can look chaotic and strange.

This is why it’s important to dance and move alone with no one watching. With safety and freedom to truly feel (and even discover!) yourself and move in all sorts of weird and unusual ways.

Pay attention to your hips and pelvic area. Chances are these are tight.

Pay attention to your jaw as you’re paying attention to moving your hips and pelvic area. Chances are this area is tight too. What will it take to relax all these parts at once? How can you move? How are you being moved?

What feels good can be your guide. Be prepared to have different feelings come up. Welcome them. Use the feelings to guide you in how you want to move. Bonus points for letting sounds out too.

Move the body. In private. Just you. Move in weird and different and unusual ways. Breathe. Breathe.

Pick your favourite music. Then pick music you don’t know or don’t particularly like. Try out different things is what I’m saying.

Do this every day! Yes, every day. Even just 5 minutes.

A stiff body breaks down. A body that moves is a body that lives, is a body that can respond and flow with the inevitable and unpredictable.

Of course, not every body can move in the same way.

There is a starting point for everyone. It doesn’t need to be the same. We start with where we are.

Where and how can you start today with movement and dance?

 

Dance with Others

When I was a young woman, one of my greatest joys and thrills in life was going clubbing. Music on full blast and dancing with people, flirting with strangers, being out with my friends was the thrill of finally being an adult.

But somehow, I got it into my head that once I reached a certain age and once I was married, going out dancing was supposed to stop. Like it was a flighty thing appropriate for young people only.

I’m not sure where I got, and why I had, that idea in my head. But those years where I stopped dancing were some of the most miserable in my life.

Whatever age you are, get yourself out to where people are dancing and dance. Find the safe spaces for this.

If you have ecstatic dance happening near you, please try that out. It’s dance as meditation. Dance for expansion. Dance for the sake of pleasure and as the name implies, ecstasy. No one else is looking at you, they’re dancing ecstatically themselves. If it’s done right, it’s a safe and supportive space where the new parts of ourselves we are uncovering can begin to emerge.

Dance and move with other people. Allow your self-discovery and emergence to continue in the presence of others.

We don’t fully heal alone.

 

Befriend and Spend Time with Women Who Love, Nourish, and Uplift You

And minimize the time with those who do the opposite (even if they say and do ‘love’ you).

Most of us carry deep wounding we’ve experienced from the behaviours or words of other women and we’re yearning for re-connection, trust, safety, and the love of female friends.

A good place to start could be to spend some time contemplating and even journaling on the women in your life right now who love and uplift you and those who do not. (And sidenote: if someone falls into some middle category between the two, slot them in the ‘do not uplift’ you category).

Make a commitment to surround yourself as much as you can with the positive, loving, affirming women. Create and attend gatherings. Make friend dates. Do errands together. Find your like-minded people and agree to support each other in the manifestation and creations of your life.

I think ‘Sex & the City’ is so iconic and enduring in part because of the strength and constancy of the friendships of the 4 women. This is something we need and want in our own lives. The thing is, we must be proactive in creating it. I think this is the mistake a lot of us make. If doesn’t really just happen, we have to make it happen.

It’s such a gift to have even one such friend, and honey, not uncommon, if you’re feeling you have no one. If this is you, you might like to think back to someone at some point in your life. Perhaps a kind, thoughtful teacher or an auntie, or someone who was kind, loving, and generous towards you. Someone who really saw you for you and loved you.

Remember how that felt and feel the gratitude of having had this person. Remember how they made you feel- comforted, special, loved, etc. Come back to this feeling, and the memory of this person often, as you go out and explore different ways of making new friends.

I’ve heard the lament that it gets harder to make friends as you grow older. I dispute that. I’ve made more friends, with ever deeper connections, in the past 10 years of my life than ever before. I fully expect this to continue.

Some of the places where I’ve found these friend soulmates: work, self-development workshops, trainings, women’s circles, in cafes, at parties, concerts.

We need the presence of people, and especially women, to reflect our beauty and light back to us. People who we can trust and have the best wishes in their heart for us.  And like sunshine, we will always need this even as one day we begin to believe that yes, we are beautiful and wonderful.

 

Create or Make Things that Bring You Pleasure

(and that don’t need to serve any other purpose!)

This can be just about anything! We are creative beings. I know I’m not alone in drifting away from doing things I love as I grew older (like in my aforementioned dancing story). Is this you too? Is there something you loved doing and creating, that brought you pleasure and made you lose all sense of time?  Are you still doing it? Time to start!

We need generative, creative experiences.

When we make something with our hands and bodies, we are in some important way blessed with beautiful evidence of our wonderful existence.

Some women want to create babies. Some women do not.

But I believe we all have a drive and desire to make something. To see and hold something of ourselves beyond ourselves.

I love cooking food especially for others. I love singing and making up songs and sounds. I love writing words and creating transformative, moving experiences for others.

What do you love to make? Are you doing it regularly?

Or, what did you used to love to make that you no longer make time for? Or that maybe feels frivolous? How can you start again?

 

Choose You First

You may naturally find your way here after you’ve been doing the first four recommendations (dance privately, dance with others, befriend uplifting women, make stuff that makes you happy).

Chances are that you are now experiencing (or beginning to experience) what it feels like to feel good. To feel satisfied and at home with and in yourself.

Which can start you on a path toward naturally making choices that are right for you.

Not making a choice because someone else wants you to, or expects you to.

You choose for you.

One of the harmful ways we’ve been programmed to think is in ‘either/or’ terms. This has us pitted against one another as though for one person to be satisfied or happy the other one must be unhappy and dissatisfied.

Try on ‘and/both’ instead the next time you have to make a choice.

Instead of saying:

I can  do ‘yyy’ OR I can do ‘zzz’ (the either/or scenario)

Try on saying:

I can do ‘yyy’ AND I can do ‘zzz’ (the and/both)

You can apply this re-frame to any decision you need to make. See how it feels to use ‘and’ instead of ‘or.’

At times, it may be that someone is going to be disappointed or frustrated or unhappy by your choice, but I say let that frustrated person not be you.

We have been conditioned forever to be accommodating of everyone’s needs before our own. The more we veer into sacrifice of our own needs, the most burnt out and unhappy we become. This, too, serves no one.

Get more practiced at choosing you.

~~~

how to be a happy womanSo this is it,  the start to finding happiness, power, pleasure as a woman.

Note I said the start!

Now that you’ve read the steps go out and do them. The juice is in the action. Do these steps. Expect to encounter resistance and dance/move through it.

It’s very easy to stay in the mind about this and be critical. Like, I don’t get it. Why would any of this make the difference? The point is not to intellectualize and figure things out. Do it and see what happens inside the doing of it.

Click the image to the left for the list – feel free to print and put it up where you’ll see it.

Practice it all. Do it! Have fun with it!

And by all means, add to it!

It’s not in reading this blog that you’ll have transformed into joyful woman.

It’s in doing these things.

Now, go dance.


Transformation: We Want It & It Scares Us

Transformation by Robert Lovejoy

Transformation by Robert Lovejoy

The other week I watched my niece, 7 month-old Kat, on her belly getting set to crawl.

I had seen her and Mira (my sister) about 4 days earlier and enough time had elapsed for very visible change. Kat felt weightier, heartier, even more energetic. Watching young ones during these times of rapid development is such a gift!

It is possible to literally watch her grow.

So I did. I watched her as she squirmed on her belly. Mira said she is a minute away from crawling. And it’s true. She shimmies. She moves. She swerves. She uses her hands, her arms, her feet, her legs, her belly. She uses everything she has. She’s propelled forward by her curiosity, her interest in that colourful thing in front of her, that place she wants to get to.

Pushing, grunting, working.

A short time ago, I watched another baby a few months older who has mastered crawling and can shoot swiftly across a room before you’ve even had a chance to blink.

Consider how one’s world opens up?

I was taking all of this in while watching Kat, wondering if this was going to be the moment. Would I get to witness the moment of transformation?

This is the moment life evolves. The moment after which nothing is ever the same again.

And, while I have the privilege of watching her and knowing what is coming up, she herself doesn’t know. She doesn’t know how much more exciting and interesting life is about to get.

Watching her, and really getting into the energy and the electricity around this impending milestone, I had a new appreciation and understanding of transformation.

The nature, and the very definition, of transformation is that we CANNOT know what awaits us on the other side.

Transformation requires some blind faith, requires that we give up trying to know or control what awaits us, requires giving up the expectation of a reward or gain, requires us to continue driving forward, propelled, unconcerned with failure, innocent, untroubled by the unknown.

To just keep going with no guarantees that anything awaits us on the other side.

Lots of us get to a point where we are done. We’ve learned and mastered all there is, we think. Maybe we are complacent. Maybe resigned. Like that’s all there is, at least for us anyway. Let someone smarter/richer/stronger do the other stuff. I’m fine

I’ve been there. A lot.

Where have we given up? And why?

Are we really okay with what is so or are we in some denial about some nagging feelings of regret or anxiety that stir around just under the surface?

Do we have to wait until our present situation is so bad, so untenable, that the only choice we have is to leap. Aren’t we there yet??

Present day mystic and spiritual teacher, Caroline Myss, refers to us humans as being in a time of predicament. It isn’t that we have a lot of problems in need of solutions. We, humans, are in a time of predicament with regards to our survival on the earth.

There are no solutions to predicaments. Predicaments must call forth transformation. Transformation starts with me. And it starts with you.

The more we are willing, and we allow ourselves to be in this uncomfortable space, the more we make it possible for others to do the same.

Where is it in life that it would serve to keep plugging away, squirming, getting sweaty, being okay with the discomfort, grunting, working…without attachment or knowing what it will bring? Without any measurable, visible show of progress?

Can we be okay with failing over and over and over again? And still getting on with the work anyway without any guarantee that anything will happen.

It’s actually an electrifying and powerful place to come from.

Of course, many of us are dealing with a lot of trauma. It may be here that we need to start.

Truly consider that our collective lives on Earth depend on our willingness and capacity to transform and throw ourselves into the scary unknown.

I share these insights and experiences on transformation here because the work we do here is transformational in nature. Reclaiming our Feminine selves is powerful. It can feel scary. It is diving into the unknown. But I’ve never known anyone who would go back to the time before.

You know, before crawling.


how my anxiety dissipated

Special Half-Day August Retreat Click hereIn these past few weeks, I’ve experienced an unusual amount of anxiety sometimes bordering on despair.

I think it’s been the consumption of too much of the news and current events in our world.

Of course, we’re in some astrologically turbulent times as well (if you follow the stars maybe you can relate) and I’ve certainly been visited by lingering fragments from my past seeking some resolution and integration.

Naturally I’ve been remembering to drop into my womb space in these times. When I feel unsafe, this is what I do. However this – in womb space – is actually where I’ve noticed quite a bit of this anxiety. The place where I’m accustomed to feeling safe and flowing and peaceful, had become just the opposite.

The sensations I encountered in womb felt like a painful stretching of the tendons and muscle to the point of physical pain. At other times it has felt like sharp boulders knocking around in there – weighty, sharp, dangerous.

It’s been a terrible feeling, made worse because I was experiencing it in my ‘safe’ space. Where was there to go then? When and how would it shift?

Well, it did shift and release and it happened in group, while facilitating two Art of Feminine Presence circles on back-to-back evenings. The safe space was still a safe space (!) but in this instance, with this depth of emotion, I couldn’t access the safety by myself. I needed the presence of others doing the same thing with me.

This is a real thing for most women – the need to tend and befriend. When stressed, we need other people – though, the right people for sure! We need community, we need to be safely held and witnessed.

(It’s humbling to have to learn this again and again but I am so grateful)

How much are you holding in?

How much are you dealing with on your own hoping it will go away, just pass, or that you’ll just figure it out?

Are you stuck feeling like you should be feeling happier with all the (on the surface) good things going on in life when underneath it all something just doesn’t feel right?

And when I think about the big issues in the world right now and what the antidote is, I think it starts exactly with this: women coming together to dig deep within, listen to, and support, each other. We need spaces where an authentic expression of ourselves, new and miraculous, can open up, be cheered and supported. So that we can live this authentic expression out in the world, no matter where we are. So that something new can be born.

This type of space and community doesn’t typically just happen on its own. It needs to be created, crafted, curated, cherished. In other words, it takes something!

It takes something for me too.

I’m holding a special 1/2 day Art of Feminine Presence Intensive in Toronto on August 10th, 2019. The early-bird special is on offer until the end of July at a very affordable $67. You may register here
(or send an e-transfer to lkevic@gmail.com and save on the eventbrite fees)

Whether you’ve participated before or whether this is your first time, this is for you. Together, in a small group setting, we will explore what it feels like to beginning tapping into, and living from, the Feminine Essence. Together, we are able to harness this energy and leave with a very special infusion of the rightness and holiness of the Feminine.

This happens every time. I hope you can join us and begin to relieve some of the discomfort, pain, anxiety of our turbulent times.


The first time, I didn’t want to…

Lana, 2012

Lana, 2012

Some of you have heard me say this… my first experience with the Art of Feminine Presence was somewhat … underwhelming.

The experience was via an introduction night which I attended out of curiosity, and because I was going to be around anyway. I had no idea what to expect and likely some guard up going in.

In the evening I did have moments of thinking ‘hmm, interesting’ and also ‘oh, weird!’

And while I didn’t sign up at that time to do any further work with the presenting instructor, I did receive an important insight into myself. Which was that I had no idea really of what the Feminine meant to me. The Feminine as I personally related to her was rather foreign; any inkling that I did harbour somewhere was flimsy, diminutive to the extreme. I was a bit stunned.

(And, I see now years later, rather ashamed about it… to be so confronted with my own ignorance and prejudice even after all the work I’d done up to that point.)

The next day, unexpectedly, I had a chance to talk to the same instructor, the teacher from the night before. That was when we had met, we didn’t know each other at all. During our conversation she said something to me so random and out of the blue, that I knew it was the Universe speaking to me directly. Indicating that, despite my resistance, this was something I should do.  (Indeed, when I asked her about this later, she said she had no idea why she had said this thing)

Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to attend these classes of hers once my prior commitment ended and once she had space in the circle.

Have you ever had that experience of resisting something (perhaps even a person!) only to have it (them) persist in showing up in your face? I can find it somewhat reassuring – like, even if my ego stands in the way of what is good for me, the Universe will not give up on showing me the path of my own highest good. But… I also find it annoying. It’s uncomfortable too, isn’t it?

This is also what has me feel very understanding of some of the women I encounter who feel this resistance in the face of strong indications that it should be a ‘yes.’

There is no need to force anything and, also, comfort is not always our friend. Sometimes we need a nudge, sometimes a push. And better to surrender at that point until it becomes something along the lines of a shove (such as pain, illness, loss).

It worked out to 4 months  after that introduction that I made it to my first, real Art of Feminine Presence circle. Again, I had no idea what to expect and perhaps had I known, I would have made some effort to participate sooner…  more on that soon.


What is Truly Knowing the Feminine

Art: 'The Mirror of Venus' by  Edward Burne-JonesWhat I’ve been hearing lately when I ask women what the ‘Feminine’ means to them has changed quite a bit over the past 5 years. We are more likely to use words like:
powerful & sensual & wise.

Which is great. It wasn’t always so clear or the language so powerful and affirmative.

However, this stands in stark contrast to what most of us heard about what it meant to be a woman or a girl or feminine being as we were growing up.

And therein, the challenge and difficulty.

While we may ‘know’ and be reading and understanding and appreciating more about the Feminine these days, it doesn’t necessarily unwind and heal the hurtful and painful messages so many of us received (and continue to receive) which tend to be something along the lines of:
*women are weak and need protection
*we are not ‘enough’ whether it be pretty, worthy, or whatever – fill in the blank
*women can’t be trusted; we’re crazy and irrational
*being a woman is dangerous
and it goes on.

Can you relate?

My antidote and access to healing and bridging the distance between knowing the Feminine to be wise, powerful, and beautiful and relating to myself and to others in this way has been the Art of Feminine Presence.

My experience has shown me that we can’t just think or positively affirm away the messages and the hurt we have internalized in our very bones. We need sisterhood, connection, reflection and validation of our very Goddess natures. So that we begin to relate to ourselves and get this knowing deep in our bones.

The feminine is rising, we see that all around. And it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to rise alongside her.

This is my holy and special offering to women (of Toronto, ON at the present time). If you are feeling a stirring or strong pull, I hope you will heed the call. Click here

Art: ‘The Mirror of Venus’ by  Edward Burne-Jones