Once upon a time a woman has a desire—
To rise up in her career.
To make something of her own.
To allow herself pleasure.
To love her body.
(Because it is her birthright.
Because she was born to want big.
Because desire is biological and the engine of evolution)
She might say she wants it to a few people, or a lot of people, or maybe nobody.
Maybe she makes a vision board or a list of what she can do to get there. She excitedly buys a motivational book or two, and creates some accountability for herself.
She carries on, but doesn’t feel like she is moving fast enough. Because she has been taught by the Patriarchy that she is never enough no matter what, and that the gap between where she is and where she wants to be is a sign of weakness and inadequacy—instead of an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of being inside of a desire—she turns to the only toolbox she has been given; the master’s toolbox is not fun but it is familiar.
She tells herself she never deserved what she wanted in the first place, criticizes herself as selfish for wanting anything at all, shames, judges, and feels a debilitating guilt for wanting what she wants and especially that she is too much.
Her desire still burns, and the bigger the burn, the bigger the feelings that arise. Anger and grief erupt like a volcano, but because she has been taught that the parts of herself feeling these emotions are not acceptable, she siphons them off into quiet chambers of her heart, where they decay into resentment, blame, jealousy, crippling overwhelm, depression, and isolation.
She might continue to look at her vision board, or write about her desire in her journal, or put it on her goal list every January 1st, but battling the shame, judgement, resentment, and guilt is a full time job, and she becomes depleted and ready to throw the towel in.
The patriarchy inside of her head wins the olympic gold for being the biggest energy suck around. She definitely needs a nap. Or 100 naps. Instead, she assumes she must not be pushing herself hard enough so tries more, does more, and buys more programs to tell her what to do.
Using the master’s tools, she cannot hear the whispers of her intuition. The master’s toolbox did not include instructions for trusting herself and her voice.
She doesn’t know what to do with her desire that won’t go away and the contradictory and relentless oppression that she feels for having it in the first place, so she overeats, she undereats, she drinks, she packs her schedule, she people pleases, she spends money she doesn’t have, she disassociates, she over-apologizes, she expertly expounds on the particulars of her imposter syndrome and perfectionism to anyone who will listen, she spends hours on the internet doing things she can’t remember, she scrolls through Instagram and feels jealous and then feels bad about feeling jealous, and she puts all of her energy into supporting others and helping them manifest their dreams.
And though she categorizes it as such—not one shred of this behavior is her fault—she is simply walking the path she has been shown since she was a little girl.
One day she wakes up and realizes that the path she has been walking was not made with her expansion in mind.
Someone had forgotten to give her the memo that this path was designed to keep her small.
She senses an ancient knowing that there is something else.
She pauses. She takes a breath. This is scary, she thinks.
She asks for assistance from all of the unseen forces of support to show her the way and to hold her in the process.
Determined to find her path, she ventures out to where can be as big as she was born to be.
(Somewhere, on the other side of the world, a sister woman releases a howl of delight)
Come home my body whispered for 100 years until I finally responded.
Real homecomings are profound but exasperating and not like the movies. Sometimes our reunion is so tender it takes my breath away and some days I think it’s all BS and I long for the fake ease of our old estrangement.
Learning how to have an actual relationship is not the same as #slaying with a hard core workout or a green juice. I tried fixing her but duh everyone knows fixing debilitates relationships.
Then I remembered that nonviolent communication is good for inside relationships too so stop telling her what she is supposed to want and instead just start asking and listening and asking if she has any requests. Not easier but more truthful.
She had been waiting a lifetime to be asked of course so she had a litany: basic respect, an apology, eating breakfast, kindness when looking in the mirror, attending to the pain we have been ignoring for over a decade, to stop being secretly proud when I “forget” to eat, to remember that advertising, the patriarchy, and ballet did not always have our best interest at heart so we will need to collaborate on a new operating system.
Therapist Esther Perel says it is the job of a person who has betrayed a relationship to keep vigil for it.
I am keeping vigil by slowly answering her requests and saying one small apology every day.
My new doctor says the pain I can’t seem to shake is my body’s way of saying the way have been doing things is not working. We have gotten remarkably better but I have to keep up the vigil because forgiveness is not an overnight job.
Who are we without our pain? I ask her.
Trusting each other again, she says.
I love you.
I'm sorry it took me 3 decades to say it.
Please teach us how to stop feeling badly about ourselves when we are not #slaying at #wellness and #selfcare in an #instaworthy way with a lot of perfectly placed #plants in the background. And show us some evidence (hopefully soon) that grace is a more effective strategy than just clicking HERE for the 10-Easy-Steps-to-Success Program That Will Change Your Life. And help us see that having this conversation does not mean we are slacking // failing // not doing enough.
I know you know this but grace and joy are your birthright and you are never not far enough along to deserve them.
I know you know this but non-results oriented wandering and wondering lead to your wonderwork.
I know you know this but cramming the schedule and piling the projects is not a definition of our worth as humans.
What would happen if you lifted one ounce of the pressure off of your sweet heart//to do list?
It is August so what if you said not for now to one or two things that are making you feel like you are carrying a wet blanket and see how the world doesn’t end?
Your intuition has some updates for you so what if you gave yourself 5 minutes or a walk or 1 hour this week to have a reunion with her?
Loosening the grip makes space for grace which is the prerequisite for creative genius and other stuff we want.
I know you know this but it’s more fun to work on closing the gap between our knowing and how we are walking when we do it together. And we can let social media be a place where we trigger our perfectionism or where we remember our wholeness; I propose the latter.
I believe in us and our nonlinear unfolding.
Creativity is a wild mistress.
You light a candle and carve out nice beautiful space and time for her and she decides to just... opt out. You feel like a loser and sit at the table alone and pretend to squeeze out something that is actually nothing and compose social media posts and grocery lists in your head alternatively.
But THEN, on the day the calendar has appointments like It’s Time to Write Very Important Emails and It’s Been a Week Since You Exercised and You Really Have to Sit Through This Meeting Creativity dramatically enters, like Beyoncé at any concert but especially Coachella, inhabiting your full being and body so all-encompassingly and ecstatically that you have no option but to run from the room, like you madly have to pee... or throw up...frantically searching for a container expansive enough for her avalanche, quick enough so that you don’t lose the firebombs she is hurling at you.
She wears a fantastic dress and usually she looks like Frida Kahlo and she hopes you understand, darling, that she is always non-negotiable and she does NOT work around anyone else’s GOOGLE CALENDAR.
Also WHAT are you doing on that silly device? she says.
You know I'm the real fun.
And you do.
Because she is intoxicating.
To our mistresses and their wildness.
A few days before a 2017 special election in New York, I was rushing into a Brooklyn subway station with too many bags strapped across my body and thoughts scuttling around my brain, when a woman handed me a flyer and said:
Hi, I’m Ede Fox. I’m running for City Council.
On auto-pilot, I begrudgingly and awkwardly (no free hands!) took the flyer and hurried down the stairs.
She was Ede Fox? Not a representative for Ede Fox? Not a volunteer on the campaign?
I heard her say it to someone else. Her voice was strong, warm, and unapologetic.
Hi, I’m Ede Fox. I’m running for City Council.
The theme of my quarter one was creativity and process, and instead of starting the year with long lists of goals and habits, I spent the first few months creating a set of intuitive rules / not rules that I want to live into.
Beginning a new year with excessive goal-setting and habit-installing before I have clarity on the quality with which I want to show up and what I want to show up for exacerbates people-pleasing habits and makes me participate in patriarchal structures of achievement that don’t seem to be serving us anymore.
Once upon a time I had a wild idea that my Dad should star in his own show. And then I had a wild idea that maybe I could direct it.
A multi-faceted artist who spent the majority of his career directing and artistic directing opera, my Dad is also an extraordinary singer.
Though he has sung throughout his life, a singing career proved too risky in his earlier years, and when opportunities for leadership positions emerged, he took them so that he could provide more consistently for our family.
Childhood memories revolve around his singing: sitting on the floor of church choir stalls while he sang (cheaper than babysitting), high C’s at the end of every happy birthday (I was embarrassed but secretly proud) late nights banging away duets on our out of tune piano (more fulfilling than high school parties). When I went to see his star turns at summer theaters, I remember looking around at the other audience members and grinning because I had the best secret in the room: I was the daughter of my dad.
Dedicated to my Grandmother, and to all of the women living within each of us.
The incredible Kristine Oller created the video. Click to play above or click here to share with your communities.
With love, deep admiration, and solidarity,