Captivating Beauty

It seems for women especially the mere mention of ‘beauty’ carries so many triggers. We move through times of believing it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter at all. In other moments it feels to be what matters the most. Upon seeing our reflection in the mirror we sometimes believe the physical beauty of ourselves is the total sum of our value. And there are occasions when we catch a glimpse of our reflection and sink deep into the essence of our true beauty, understanding and seeing at once how it glimmers through our skin to reveal the most intimate and sacred parts of who we are.

‘Beauty’ and the desire for it, the nurturing of it has for many women become a dirty word. I wonder how this relates for our male counterparts? How does beauty compute in the interior of the man’s sensual nature?

I myself shunned my own physical beauty in its entirety for several years. There were very real and painful life circumstances that led me to such total feminine abandonment of myself, and yet I believed it to be the most kind thing I could do. Interestingly, even as I share this conversation with you now I can hear some of the old rumblings that lead women to feeling guilt and shame over the ways we love and adorn ourselves.

Beauty quote

There’s a natural desire to feel our full feminine sensuality. We do so through the feel of the clothes we choose to place against our skin. Through the fragrances we allow to seep into and through our pores. We each carry our own natural, very sweet scent for those who are close enough to breathe us in deeply. Our hair is for many of us an expression and carrier of our soul’s magic. The colors and styles we wear serve as indicators of our inner truth, our present mood and as a statement of how we engage this world.

With all the rage against the very overstated beauty industry, we have perhaps forgotten the nuance of what our true beauty is. It’s not merely on the inside as so many would have us to believe. When we pause and truly take in the essence of a woman, allowing that in fact her appearance–the ways in which she presents and holds herself–is an exterior, visual statement of her inner essence, we gain a pure sense of her true beauty. For beauty flows through her pores, spilling over into the outer layer of her human body. Beauty, dear loves, is not merely ‘spiritual,’ but very, very physical as well.

It’s in our natural programming to become drawn to beauty in all her forms. Yes, we each have our own unique taste and desire when it comes to our attractions, but it remains true we all carry and respond to the allure of beauty herself.

It took a few years for me to feel her nudging once again, to welcome beauty into my life beyond the esoteric and yes, very ‘safe’ manifestation of her presence. The more I saw and felt my true self, the more I remembered who I am and invited the sensation of all the beauty that is me. We do great harm to our being when we lock beauty into one way of walking in this world. It would do us well to become unraveled in her presence, to expand and petition Beauty herself to penetrate our senses, announcing her arrival and desire to be seen, felt and heard on every level of all we are. I sense she has much to arouse in us yet.

 

HER Temple is my Body

Six women, including me. Six women gathered in my home here in Atlanta two weekends ago. Only two of us – my sister and I – had ever met. The other four women I have loved for nearly five years in the virtual realm of life, although they are women I feel have known me and I them for lifetimes. We shared an amazing sacred retreat together. We laughed, we cried, we came together in quiet contemplation and healing. We opened and gave ourselves to every beautiful moment that offered itself to us. One of these ladies is Joceline Burnel, Crowing Crone Woman of Wisdom and author of If God Was a Woman. She shared a bit about our time together in her post Women Loving Women, if you’d like to feel more deeply into who we are. It was absolutely extraordinary and each of us knows our lives will never again be the same.

On Sunday, with just four of us still gathered, we made our way to my bedroom, my own intimate sanctuary of very holy love. You see, these women have seen and loved me in a way I had yet to experience myself. Our intention was to take photos of me, potentially to be used on my sites and perhaps on the cover of my upcoming book. I love who I am, and yet like so many women still, there are criticisms I’ve held about my body – and certainly that sinks deeper into the core of how I see and feel myself. I feel like a woman who has released so much of that. But this journey to self awareness, to walking this planet with a heart wide open – this journey demands that we give it ALL. That we release and dissolve the places where we allow ourselves to be held back. And in this space of loving me, these women were instrumental in the dissolution of old programming.

Pic 8

It’s been years since I’ve had an intimate photo shoot. I must have been just 19 when I did my one and only boudoir session, mostly because I knew the photographer and he wanted to do it for me. (Well, of course he did!) It wasn’t for me. I was insecure, shy and so very much NOT in my own body. This time was very different. As we began, my beautiful love Cat began to work her golden magic, ‘styling’ me as she called it. What it felt like to me was being adorned with radiant love. My whole body responded and opened as a rose might under the heated glow of sunlight. I’m certain my skin glistened with her love shining over me. She called in our anam cara soul love Anna to assist. I’ve felt Anna loving me for years, and there’s quite honestly nothing like being loved by this woman. She is unconditional and wholehearted in her seeing of me, beyond the body and into my soul’s beauty. And she’s gifted in showing me how that spirals outward into my physical presence.

We began and the energy I felt as I knelt on my bed, my back bared and heart open, was the essence of holy prayer. I’m not one to use that word often – prayer – because it wreaks of church men uttering words filled with pious intent. And yet. My whole body was in reverent communion with all that is sacred. I’ve many times written about becoming an offering of love, baring all that I am to the Sacred Feminine, to the Beloved. Kneeling there, exposed in all my beauty and vulnerable nakedness, all I could feel was deep, deep merging with the divine woman I am.

As Joceline took photos of me, my eyes were closed and I felt myself moved from merely being in that room. I felt the love of those women all around me. Love that stops time and evokes serenity and grace. Love that melts every doubt and uncertainty about who you are and why you might not be good enough. Only beauty remained.

There was a moment, Joceline whispered to me with tears in her eyes ‘you are so fucking beautiful.’ A gorgeous, intimate moment in which she was overcome by the Divine Feminine fully palpable in our temple space. I felt the moist tears welling up in my own eyes, understanding I was the image of each woman in that room; the image of the Goddess shining full in all She is. No hiding or quieting. No judging beauty or imperfection. Every moment, every element, every woman in that room and beyond – filled with beauty and grace.

Temple

I’ve had this note on my desk for nearly a year now: ‘HER Temple is my Body.’ I’ve believed it. I’ve felt all that it conveys and stirs in my being. Being in that space of my bedroom with these women surrounding me, loving me, seeing me with the eyes of their hearts – I felt in every cell of my body what it means to become HER Temple. I saw myself as perfect, without flaw. I fully felt IN MY BODY. And I knew I was beautiful to behold. In every way possible. Sacred Feminine essence – raw, vulnerable, laid bare. I gave myself completely.

That experience was so very holy for me. As I gaze upon the images captured that day, I see reflections of each woman present. I see and feel their love poured over me, through them, through me and radiated out from each of us. I feel different in my body now. No more ‘hiding’ what I think isn’t quite right. I walk with a knowing of who I am, of what it is to feel my beauty from the inside out. I feel the holiness of what it is to be woman; this woman. Me. I hold myself with deep honor and divine love. Everything is different now. This is how we love. Women loving women. And I love these women madly. My life, forever changed by the way they have loved me into beautiful, elegant fullness. HER Temple…IS my body.

‘Awakening to Beauty’

Spending time in Nature, attempting to ‘capture’ her beauty through my lens, I can’t help but feel that we are as the flowers, the leaves and all that is awakening just now with the advent of Spring. Each year these bits of Life begin to form, from seed to bud to full blossom. The flowers will open to the brilliance of sunlight glowingly radiating down upon them, leaves will unfurl with the gentleness of a warm breeze. Each will serve its time….until once again they fall away with the advent of autumn’s coolness. 

Is that not our journey, my friends? Fully opening ourselves to the uplifting warmth of sunshine, allowing every pore to be energized with the heat of Divine presence….eventually coming back around to the release and harvest of our efforts, preparing for hibernation and healing yet again. 

I love Irish poet John O’Donohue’s work, especially the cd series he recorded called Beauty, The Invisible Embrace. I was delighted to come across the following excerpt he wrote for the Kosmos Journal back in 2004, which seems to describe perfectly the beauty of Spring’s blossoms as well as the journey of our souls: Awakening & Surrender. That’s it, my friends…..the focus of our work on this planet and the purpose of our presence. Awaken & surrender. Enjoy. xo

Awakening to Beauty 

We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: They frame each day and each life; between them is the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty.

The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere — in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. No one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful, for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strain of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty becomes illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shutter of appearances the sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. We find that we slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.   ~ Beloved John O’Donohue, 1956-2008 

(Excerpt found on UTNE Reader)

Pausing Long Enough to See

I’ve been listening to reflections on beauty by Irish poet, philosopher and Catholic scholar John O’Donohue.  It feels as though each sentence and thought he shares is one to be relished, held close to my heart and remembered for not only hours, but days.  I’ve only listened to 5 tracks in a 4 cd set and already the mystical dance with my soul has begun.  With a rich Irish dialect, John reminds us that beauty is all around us, and in truth we have lost touch with its gifts of sacredness.

Consider the photos I’ve attached to this prose.  The first is of a vibrant, simply elegant autumn leaf.  Its presence here is stunningly real, stimulating our senses to smell the autumn air, hear the crispness of fallen leaves on the ground, see the perfect geometry of the leaf’s veins, perhaps even taste apple cider on our tongues as we feel the gentle breeze.  The image of this leaf evokes a sense of wonder, of connectedness, of being part of a Universe in which anything is possible, where we are loved, nurtured and always held in the embrace of grace.  Is that not the beauty we all seek?  Is this not the deepest longing of our soul?

Take a moment now to see the same leaf through the photo below.  How easily might we have missed something so wondrous, so awakening?  Going about the events and experiences in our day with our “eyes closed,” we miss the most lovely moments life has to offer us.

Allow yourself the space today to see and feel the beauty around you.  Connect to the miracles always happening in our world.  Open your soul’s ears….and listen….to the whispers of your heart….

Gratitude and Love to Rachel Edgar McIntyre for her beautifully poetic photographs ♥

Thriving Beauty

“Thriving Beauty”

You can sense her movement, flowing outward.  Love thrives in the pulse of her heart. She whispers sacredness into your soul and offers tantalizing delights to your senses.  What do you feel as you gaze upon her Thriving Beauty?

Follow Your Heartsong

There are times I feel strongly the desire to express through writing, but the words escape me. This morning I decided to pick up an old journal from the middle of 2007 and seek out some of the poetry I had written a few years ago. Reading those lyrics that seem such a short time ago in my life, I was instantly aware of how far I’ve come and how much has been released over the last 3 1/2 years of this journey. The shift within myself was immediate, bringing about a clearer perspective on who I am TODAY. Uncertainties, doubts, worries about where I am on my present path vanished as I began to read the words of a woman who had no voice. Searching desperately she implored God, her soul, her self to step into the light, into authenticity.

“What’s there in my soul, hiding out in the dark? Flames would burst into fire – just give me one spark. Let me just get a glimpse of this delicate space. Step out of the shadows, show me your face. Something within is calling to me – I can’t quite hear its voice; it’s barely a whisper yet it feels like a scream. Crying out in great pain, begging me for its ease. ‘You’re not making sense’ comes my reply. Though your lips move, neither words nor sound can escape. What is keeping you mute, can’t you see, don’t you know? Why can’t you break free from this master of your soul? You want to, I see desperation in your eyes. The message seems clear – this is now ‘do or die.'”

As I look back upon the growing pains of developing my own voice, becoming an authentic expression of who I truly am inside–I can both feel her pain and at the same time feel the love that has grown in its place.  This woman had to want it.  She had to need it, desperate enough to risk all her comforts to find it.

And through her eyes, I can now see how much I have healed the holes in my spirit.  She has a voice now–and sings beautifully her heartsong.

Don’t judge where you are in your journey.  Allow yourself to feel what you feel, experiencing what you must in order to release old wounds and burdens.  Beneath all of that breathes a vibrant, extraordinary spirit, just waiting for your permission to BE.

We each have our own heartsong.  Its sweet sounds can be heard when we honor who we are in this very moment and take the time to listen…..to the whispers of our hearts…..

Appreciating the Simplicity

There is something magnificently beautiful in the simplest things of life.  Artist Lisa Kubik illustrates this truth in her alluring work of art depicting one of the simplest and most stunning pieces of nature – a flower.  What child is not drawn to a flower when out in nature?  A flower can be an expression of “I love you” or “get well soon.”  There is something about a flower that can brighten our day, bring life into a room or even our entire awareness.

Imagine yourself as a child, running and playing in a field full of wildflowers.  Although they become part of the scenery, there’s something magical in the flowery landscape.  Just as you feel something magical inside yourself when you take a moment to really *see* and *be* with this painting.  Feel it?

If you allow, you will feel yourself smile from within.  Take a moment to observe how your senses respond.  Our eyes can’t help but take in the beauty.  Naturally, we inhale through our lungs as though we can take in the sweet floral aroma.  And giving ourselves the space, we can even imagine what it must feel like to hold this flower in our own hand.  From there – check in with your inner being.  Do you feel the warmth, the appreciation, the gratitude and love that is swirling inside of you?

This is true not only for a beautiful work of art – either on canvas or in nature – but also for yourself.  What do you find of magnificence within?  What Lisa Kubik has done in her artwork is capture the elegance and gorgeously stunning nature of just one flower.  We are given the canvas that is who we are, to paint upon, to gaze upon, to appreciate and love.  Our heart channels the essence of our soul, inspiring us to create the masterpiece that is our authentic self.

Take time today to see into YOU.  See the beauty, the uniqueness, the simplicity that you just ARE.  And really breathe that into your being, awakening all your senses to your own loveliness.  As you become connected to your inner spirit…..pause in this space…..and take a moment to listen…..to the whispers of your heart……