When I graduated from high school, I moved to Santa Cruz.
I had been driving over the hill between San Jose where I grew up and Santa Cruz where my boyfriend at the time was attending college so I could visit him in his dorms his first year living there.
I was tired of driving the windy road over and over so I decided to move in with him and 3 other guys who were his friends and also college students.
It was a life changing transition as I began taking classes at the community college across town, taking Women’s studies courses, dance and yoga for the first time.
I made new friends and walked down to the farmers market on Wednesdays.
I performed in the dance concert on stage and was invited to my first sweat lodge experience.
We had wild college parties at our house full of surfer boys, musicians and stoners.
I learned so much about myself and began to feel into who I was becoming as a young adult in the world.
As I took my general education preparing to transfer to the university, one class I took was on Women, religion and mythology. It struck a chord because it spoke to something deep inside me that never quite fit the religious beliefs I had grown up with.
It was the Goddess expressed in multiple cultures and spiritual practices across the planet. She was dark and angry. She was terrorized and demanded reciprocity. She was also nurturing and all forgiving. Strong and independent. Fiercely protective and truth seeking. I felt her in me. She’d been there all along.
I knew I wanted to be a mother at some point in my life. I also felt the desire to impact the world and my community in positive, transformational ways. The instructor for the women’s studies class suggested that women couldn’t do both. That one had to choose between being a mother or being impactful because becoming a mother took so much time, energy and focus from life it seemed impossible to give oneself to any other endeavor. I had found my challenge.
I had children early at 23 & 25 years of age. I never ended up transferring to a 4 year college as I had been on track to do, but I had taken early childhood development classes in addition to my general education courses. So I felt ready to be a mother.
A few years into it, I realized that the partnership I was in was not sustainable. I had to make a decision to stay in this relationship which would compromise my values in order to stay secure financially and “safe” in a relationship or to stand up for myself and start over in my own way finding my own resources and sense of safety in the world.
I chose the latter. The Goddess rose up inside me, mourned the loss of a dream and rose again like a phoenix. She continued to guide and teach me so much over the next several years and decades.
To this day, that lesson was one of the biggest. It would’ve betrayed my soul to sell myself out. And it’s scary. Especially as a woman. The sails can be out and the wind will tend to blow into a more common direction that feels comfortable and predictable to others.
I learned to take care of myself and my children for over a decade. I dated and met men, each time learning more clearly what would match my soul’s longings in partnership. And I waited. For a man who wanted to rise to the occasion and grow together in all aspects of life. Who would meet me with mutual respect and communicate honestly not withholding his own truth. With willingness to be vulnerable and not try to fix me or deflect his own insecurities onto me but consider what is being triggered and do his own deep digging for healing his own past. For someone who wanted to have fun and experience life’s pleasures, and who could also have the difficult conversations with genuine interest and dedication to the authenticity of our connection.
I’ve learned that pointing fingers never leads to resolve. Admitting mistakes and shortcomings is key. Being open to being on the same team in the face of disagreements is the first step to finding a way through differences of opinion and perspectives.
Don’t sell out. Stand for and express your values in all relationships. Live your life beautifully and with integrity. Without seeking perfection, soften your determination to obliterate flaws. Often, these are what make us unique and express the most authentic parts of our hearts. We all have the capacity to evolve if we choose. Some slower and some with more rigor. Find your way and don’t let anyone try to change you before you’re ready to change. Ask for space and you will find your grace.