I sat down on international women’s day to write a letter to the hearts of the women of the world, and the men who also cared to listen. The following is what came. It is more of a letter for your contemplation and consideration, an invitation and an opening to how we move from here, knowing that we come from a long line of courageous women (and men) who have dared to do things differently… and that now is the time for that same daring to guide us.
I taped the video the day after… to start a conversation around how to think about where we’ve been and where we are – so we can work with our feminine wisdom to wisely move forward in the year to come.
Watch the video and read the letter. Both are for you.
When I look back at the generations of women who have come before us, whose light we stand in, and whose wisdom we can build from, I see this:
The power of our individual and collective strength — women embodying their full spectrum of power, centered in the heart. Courageous and compassionate. Devoted and determined. Deep intuitive wisdom and mindful thinking.
We women are strong.
Our strength is formidable, beautiful and has within it the power of creation itself. Yet, there is also a shadow to this super woman strength that has been taking its toll on women for far too long.
We women have become so strong and self-sufficient that we’ve come to accept the frenzied, overfilled, fast pace at which we work and live as ‘normal.’
We’ve become so capable at getting the work done and taking care of everyone that our tolerance threshold for sacrificing our health, human needs and personal desires is making us sick.
Yes, we are strong, but are we are not super heroines, productivity machines or self-less martyrs. We are women who have needs, not because we are weak, but because we are human beings.
Perhaps the time has come to redefine what it looks like to be a strong, successful woman. Perhaps the time has come to admit the pressure and pace are too much, even for strong women like us.
Not from a place of defeat, or as a disempowered victim. But by standing truly in our power and being real about what is not working for us and has not been sustainable for some time. And without shame, guilt or self-judgement embrace the following.
We women are tired.
Tired not just from a pandemic and all of the chaos of the past year. We are exhausted from years of over-working, over-giving, over-stretching and over-extending our time, energy and money to ‘make things work’ within systems and a society that were never built with a woman’s best interest at heart.
If honest, most of us would admit that even before 2020, our bodies were bone tired, our minds frazzled, our spirits weary and our hearts heavy. We feel unsupported and stretched too thin, too often. We keep giving to our work and others, without getting what we need. Until we get sick, quit or find ourselves in a super woman sob, where the spontaneous tears just won’t stop.
The pressure and expectations are too much to hold.
Most every woman I know and the women who came before us has stood here.
If you too have found yourself here, know you are not alone.
And then take a deep exhale, in recognition of what you’ve just been through this last year – the emotional, energetic, mental and physical stress, stretches and challenges. It was and is real.
And then exhale again, this time seeing yourself standing shoulder to shoulder with women all around the world, who are daring enough to give voice to this collective truth that we cannot just keep pushing through:
The ways we’ve been working, living and operating are not working, are not healthy, and honestly, aren’t how things have to be – it’s just how it has been, up until now.
In 2006, I realized that while on paper women had been given more rights and freedoms, in reality we were more stretched and feeling less free.
I experienced it first in my corporate career and second as an entrepreneur. No matter how much I gave, how hard I worked, there was never enough – time, money, energy, space – and there was always more to do. Self-care, stress management and productivity hacks were more like band-aids on a dam about to burst, than solutions that had the power to free me from what seemed like a life-time sentence of pushing.
I’ve spent the last decade diving into and researching the core root reasons underneath the burnout and overwhelm, and the rise of disease, anxiety and feelings of isolation in women.
I found a lot, but here are just three eye-openers:
- We’ve been trying to thrive and succeed in systems built for burnout– within a set of rules and values rooted in hierarchical structures that value speed, short-term results and accumulation over wholeness, wellness and sustainability.
- Always pushing forward or just keeping up, we don’t have the energy or space to see we’ve been trapped – in rules, routines and structures made up by humans, which means as humans we have the power to change them.
- We have not had the collective power or personal consciousness in generations past to fully breakthrough to truly new ways of working, living and being.
What if now is the moment to stop masking the overwhelm, exhaustion and exasperation that women have hidden and endured for so many years?
Admit that in the last year and the years past, on more than one occasion, we have found ourselves in the throes of a super woman sob? And while we may be great women, we are done trying to be super women, for once and for all.
We women have had enough
Lasting change always starts with a catalyst – something that breaks apart the old and opens the way for the new.
A catalyst is like lightning.
It illuminates with an almost overbearing light, what has been all around us but which we haven’t been willing or able to see.
It liberates us from what doesn’t serves any longer, cracking apart the roles, structures, patterns, ways of being that need to be shed and let go.
It often rocks us to the core, shaking up our deep primal fears and surfacing our own personal wounds.
Last year was a giant collective catalyst. One that had been brewing for more than a century. Catalysts often seem to come out of nowhere, but usually have been a long time in the making.
Personal catalysts are challenging and often painful. Collective catalysts don’t play fair or take personal feelings into account, in fact, they often hit those with the most need hardest.
This is not the first nor the last catalyst women will face.
Each generation has a part to play.
We stand in a long lineage of women who too at some point said “NO MORE. ENOUGH.”
And changed the course of ‘history’ and created a new reality.
The question is, what will you and I do with ours?
- Contract and go back to what was.
- Rush in to create a new normal, set up camp quickly, and make just enough change to make things 10% better.
- Open up our eyes, minds and hearts. Connect. Go deeper within and with each other. With compassion and courage, to truly create a new reality for ourselves, and the world that actually enables all people and the planet to thrive.
While it will ask more of us, this generation of women – which to me means you are alive and a woman on the planet today – is ready to take all that light and momentum conjured up by the daring women before us, join forces with each other, and direct our innate wisdom and power to make shift happen.
To say ENOUGH to the ways of working, living, relating, creating, operating, succeeding and leading that are NOT working for you, or for other people and this planet.
To say NO MORE to anything that does not support sustainability, wholeness, and wellness.
What is your enough?
- What have you had ENOUGH of?
- What is no longer sustainable for you?
- What is no longer sustainable for this planet or the people on it?
What is your no more?
- What are you a NO to going back to?
- What rules, routines or realities have you created that no longer serve you?
We women can choose to do things differently, in our own choices, and from there create a tidal wave of change that lifts all people and this planet up – but only if we feel supported, sustained and centered.
Where we stand today is like the calm within a storm – if we can find the calm within ourselves. Where the thunder still rolls and the threat of more lightening lurks in the background. But like old deeply rooted oak trees are so entwined with each other and the earth, we may shake a little, but we never fall.
But to be those deeply rooted trees of wisdom for ourselves and others, we need space to settle. Space to take a look around, and assess what’s real, what’s needed, and what we are taking with us going forward.
We are like the butterfly still partly in the cocoon or the dragonfly congealing on a reed after stepping out of the eco-skeleton.
A structure that served it when it lived underwater, but will weigh it down and make it unable to fly.
How we move and go from here matters.
Maybe more than most of us can know at this time.
May we learn from the generations before us that we should never silence our voices or hold back our power.
May we also embrace the wisdom that if we choose to push vs. pace ourselves we will burnout too fast and not have what’s needed to sustain.
This is a time to pace yourself, to give yourself the space to heal, reset, and re-stabilize.
To look at your own life and boldly make the shifts your soul is calling you to. While giving yourself the runway you need to elevate and expand into possibility beyond what you’ve known before.
- What support do I need to stay sustained and centered this year?
- What in one action or one person I can reach out to spark the spiral of support I need?
Your choices define who you are.
Your choices create your reality.
Simple but significant choices make a big difference.
Stay focused on your part.
Support and sisterhood are essential as breathing to your surviving and thriving.
Know what you need.
State what you need.
And make choices based on the that.
Know that while you will feel at times you are alone.
Together, we will walk through this threshold as pioneers.
Who knew there was a better life and way.
We may not be able to see it.
But together, we can and will create it.
Even though we may never meet in the flesh,
We are connected at our power center, the fierce feminine heart.
A sisterhood of wise women, daring to do it differently, for the benefit of all beings, including ourselves.
With great heart,
Christine Arylo, MBA, is a women’s leadership advisor, transformational teacher and best selling author who works with women to make shift happen – in the lives they lead, the work they do, and the impact they desire to make. Marrying 20 years of business experience with 15 years of feminine & yogic wisdom training, Arylo illuminates how to lead and live a different way, the “feminine way” – professionally successful, internally empowered, and personally sustainable and satisfying. A powerful mentor and teacher known for her ability to translate deep wisdom into practical super powers, her programs on intuition, feminine power, and cultivating resilience, self-love and courage have reached over 35,000 students worldwide. She’s committed to working with emerging and established women leaders to awaken their full power and presence to lead the world and those they love and lead to more a more sustainable, compassionate and equitable world for all. Arylo is known for her powerful and real presence that inspires personal and social transformation. And for her stand for sisterhood and what is possible when women come together, drop their masks, speak from their hearts and truly support each other. Christine currently lives on an island off the coast of Seattle, where she is working on her fourth book: “Overwhelmed and Over It: Why It’s Not Your Fault and How to Find the Power To Change It.” Learn more about Christine at www.ChristineArylo.com and learn more about her Feminine Power Time Podcast at www.FemininePowerPodcast.com.
Image courtesy of Anna Shvets.