On Wednesday I am having my next meeting with Dr. Rachna Jain, my business mentor, muse, coach and guide into the process of building my business. I told her in an e-mail that I felt I needed to take a step back and really plumb the depths of my life, my experience and training, and what my natural gifts are, so that the work that I do is grounded in what I am best at and in an effort to offer the gifts that I have in the best possible way. She agreed.
Preparing for our meeting I went back to a post I had written on my old blog, Maitri’s Heart, not long before it moved here. This post I edited into what is actually now my bio on this site. I have been going through it and writing down notes and thoughts for our meeting, and as I do I am marveling, once more, at how much we do in our lives that we often don’t stop and count as part of our resume. If you carefully watch the life of someone who is a mother and really see all of the skills she has or develops in the decades of raising children, well, it is awe-inspiring. I watch my own daughters with their sons and am constantly amazed by them and proud of them. I was a stay-at-home mother and that had its own set of benefits and challenges, and both of my daughters are working mothers and I am in awe of how they handle it all. I am so proud of both of them.
I am reprinting this here because I would love for all of you to start with Oliver’s quote and make a list of every conceivable thing in your life that makes up your biography and acquired talents and skills. Not just where you went to school, what degrees you have earned, those are good things of course, but some of the deepest learning, some of the most important skills that we hone, are through life experience and not in a classroom.
I would love for you to share your thoughts, gifts, and musings on this subject, and celebrate everything that you have lived through, learned, and become. Celebrate it all.
And now, my biography…
“On writing one’s bio…
I came across this Mary Oliver quote this morning and it brought me up short. I just sat and stared at it.
“Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?”
I was a daughter and a wife. I am a mother and a grandmother, a friend and a lover of so much of the world and very nearly every one I meet, everyone that is kind and gentle and loving I embrace with my whole heart, even if I can’t do it in person I have a lot to give and receive from where I am. I was a childbirth educator for ten years teaching natural childbirth classes to countless couples, and after having my 2nd and 3rd babies at home I got more and more involved in the home-birth movement and became a lay midwife. I was a La Leche League Leader and counseled breastfeeding mothers for over a decade and nursed my own three children for long periods of time. We home-schooled our children and grew as a family through so very many experiences and so much over so many years. After 25 years we would separate and just short of our 31st wedding anniversary we divorced but my husband and I have had a very gentle, kind, and loving parting and celebrated birthdays and holidays and weddings and deaths and births together over the years. My family, including my ex-husband, are the dearest people in the world to me.
As a survivor of long-term sexual abuse and suffering from a handful of mental health diagnoses, and having had nervous breakdowns and been suicidal, and having come through the worst of it to the place where I now work vigilantly at self-care, managing medications and working with a therapist for four of my nearly six decades, I have gained so much insight and wisdom about being a survivor, about healing, about struggling, nearly losing the battle, but winning the worst wars and daily finding my way over the hurdles and through the valleys, I have been on a shaman’s journey, and with a lifelong spiritual quest from being raised Catholic, to studying Buddhism for four decades, as well as Native American spirituality, being ordained a Christian minister, studying, deeply, the monastic traditions, and finally coming to peace with God in what I call Direct Communion, I have a knowledge base that spans a multitude of spiritual traditions, that has brought a richness to my life and which carries with it so much depth, and color, and passion for living a life of spiritual service that I know I was born to do just this, to be of service in the world carrying the message of the name I took legally a decade ago. Maitri, the Buddhist teaching of loving-kindness and compassion, and that we must first have it for ourselves to give it to another. My work is centered in compassion and loving-kindness in all that I do from day to day relations with others to my writing and art to the work that I will do for the rest of my life.
Having taught very healing, spiritual journal-keeping classes for over thirty years, to studying with Ira Progoff, the founder of The Intensive Journal Method, and Natalie Goldberg author of Writing Down The Bones, and becoming friends with the woman who was my favorite writer and became my mentor and muse in the last years of her life, May Sarton, all the way up to this last year when I have studied and worked with SARK, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, who has taught me so much, read my writing and encouraged me every month since last July, and inspired me to do all that I have wanted and meant to do, in fact was born to do, yes, all of these people have stood me in good stead for what lies ahead. I have learned the power of our stories. Writing and sharing our human stories is the most powerful thing that we can do and the recording and sharing of our lives with others and leaving that legacy for the generations to come I truly believe is the great legacy we will have left when our days on this earth have come to an end. Writing and sharing my own story, teaching, helping, and encouraging others to do the same, and gently midwifing others through the birthing of their deepest, most authentic self, and learning to fully love and embrace who they are may just be the most important work that I can do.
I am also a Reiki Master, a Shamballa Master Healer, a long time gardener connected to the earth more deeply than almost anything else, and I have had a lifetime of working with animals, rescuing them, as they rescued me, and living with a multitude of pugs and parrots and more over the years. Colette wrote, ”My poetry is earthbound.” My poetry, my life, my work, my love, my whole being are both earthbound and spirit-led. I am a child of the sun, the moon, and the stars. I carry within me the innocence of the newborn that I have never lost throughout it all as well as the wisdom of the grandmothers which I have truly earned. I am near tears writing this. I am all of this and so much more.
One of the most important things that I have done for many years and am preparing to do again is to create a safe haven for women, creating a community where they can be nurtured, witnessed, answered, and led, through writing and communion with others in the community, and my teaching, work as a mentor, a spiritual guide, a Grandmother Crone, and more, to find and love the deepest parts of themselves, and to create an authentic life that will serve them in a way that they never, perhaps, thought possible, and to help them embrace fitting out if they never felt like they fit in.
As I write this I truly encourage all of you to do just this. Start with the quote at the top and keep writing. Write for days, for weeks, for the rest of your life. Embrace and love and celebrate all that you are, and keep evolving and becoming and celebrating every single facet of your life, every battle scar and stripe of glory that you have rightly earned. As Walt Whitman wrote, ”Celebrate yourself, Sing yourself!” and going forward I am committed to helping others to do just this.
I have answered the question. I am ready. I offer you this, then, as my bio. I think it serves it’s purpose.”