Consciousness, Free Your Voice, Personal Writings, Poetry

[Poem] The Moment

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I wake up and I feel the heaviness settle in
discouragement
disillusionment
wondering… why?
what am I doing wrong?

Tears fall and I must decide
to change
to leave
or
to accept
this

I step outside… to change
I breathe in the crisp morning air
chaos surrounds me
cars start
school children leave
sirens race past
insects devour plants

Yet my mind becomes quiet
I feel like the eye of the storm
then
the cacophony surrounding me stills
my heart is stilled
peace is in the morning air
joy is in the dew on the grass

I am joy.
I am love.
I am the calm in the storm.

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© 2018 Marieke Schwartz

May be freely shared with proper attribution and link back

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Free Your Voice, Video, Voice Work

Discovering Your Voice

In the previous article, I shared a way for you to Ground Your Voice – the foundation of Free Your Voice sessions.

There are four primary elements to the voice work: Grounding, Discovering, Freeing, and Balancing.

Initial sessions typically address Grounding and Discovering to varying degrees. As you build that foundation (and depending on your goals and skills), future sessions will delve in to more Freeing and Balancing work.

This video demonstrates the expansive work of discovering your voice and its capabilities, range, and power.

 

Book a free info session here to learn more.

How do you feel after doing this exercise? Let me know how this was helpful to you!

Free Your Voice, Video, Voice Work

Grounding Your Voice

Free Your Voice sessions are something to be experienced because the magic happens when you go through the process. Sessions include energy healing and intuitive voice work.

There are four primary elements to the voice work: Grounding, Discovering, Freeing, and Balancing.

Initial sessions typically address grounding and discovering to varying degrees. As you build that foundation (and depending on your goals and skills), future sessions will delve in to more Freeing and Balancing work.

This video demonstrates the foundational work of grounding your energy and connecting to your deepest, most efficient breathing.

Book a free info session here to learn more.

How do you feel after doing this exercise? Let me know how this was helpful to you!

Learn how to Discover Your Voice in the next post!

Free Your Voice, LGBTQ+, Personal Writings, Sexuality, Socal Justice, Spirituality

Sexuality and the Divine Part 2: My own journey of identity

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Part 1 was all about “other” people and general concepts. But now it’s time to get personal. I’ll just come out and say it…I’ve recently discovered that I am pansexual and demisexual. If you’re not in the LGBTQIAP+ community, you may have no idea what that means, but let me share my personal journey:

When it comes to gender, I have identified as female my whole life and considered myself strongly feminine overall, but I recognized that I still had some traditionally “masculine” personality traits according to cultural definitions, and I eventually embraced that. Regarding sexuality, I identified as heterosexual and wasn’t open to thinking beyond that. After all, I married a man at age 22, have been happily married, and don’t feel like I need anything more. There was no “need” to think about it further. Heterosexual, box checked. Done.

Yet, looking back on my friendships and relationships, through much of my life I tended to have one really close friend at a time. Part of it was life circumstances, and part of it was just personality and the way I tended to connect with people. Most often it was women, but sometimes it was men. With my friends who were male, there would inevitably be a point where I would experience attraction. With some of my female friends, if I’m honest with myself, the same thing would happen, but I didn’t allow myself to go there, thought I was confused, or just lonely or something and my hormones were playing tricks on me. First because I was too repressed about sexuality in general, and then later because I was married anyway (and personally, monogamy is important to me). And now, the majority of the female friends I’m still in contact with identify as queer in some form. That could be coincidence, but it speaks to the fact that I easily became close with people who didn’t fit into heterosexual or gender norms.

Honestly, I can’t remember what it was that got me thinking about it, but a few months ago something triggered me into thinking that perhaps I’m not actually heterosexual. I debated for a while whether it was actually worth exploring this because, well, how would it make my life different? I’m not planning on exploring this in terms of relationships or lifestyle changes. I would still hold the same privilege as a heterosexual woman, especially if I kept it to myself.

But a friend encouraged me to look into it for myself because regardless of how one acts on it, every part of our identity matters.

Additionally, I believe that when we explore all parts of ourselves and hold all those parts with compassion and love (but without attachment, because we all learn and change as part of the growth process), we are able to show up in the world as our full selves. I’ve chosen to talk about my own story within the context of sexuality because I desire to be an ally to ALL outside heterosexual norms, and how can I justify keeping quiet about my own identity in that case?

So I started to let it simmer in the back of my mind over the past few months. Then a storyline from a character in the Netflix show “Dear White People” got me thinking more in depth. It was his story of discovering who he was (a gay man) that made me realize I could partially relate to his experiences. Oddly enough (especially considering I don’t watch that much TV, lol), another TV show, Queer Eye, affected me in a round about way, in particular the episode with Mama Tammye where Christians embraced these men who are Queer and proud of it. It was oddly healing for ME to watch those stories, especially since part of my decision to stop going to church was because of lack of acceptance for LGBTQIAP+ people and the lack of ability to be in leadership while being open about sexuality that’s not heterosexual.

So, after talking with my best friend and doing some internet research, I learned that there is such a thing as experiencing sexual attraction primarily AFTER developing a strong bond with someone (demisexuality). And something called pansexuality, which is generally considered to mean sexual attraction regardless of gender (it can also include romantic attraction, also called panromantic). It was a huge AHA moment to realize my own sexuality falls within range of these identities on the spectrum of sexuality. I think part of why I specifically identify as pan, and why I desire to ensure I’m inclusive of all identities, is because ultimately we’re all just human. I have strong values of connectedness and love for all people, and a desire to help people become empowered to live life as their authentic selves. My sexuality is basically an extension of these other values.

I now find myself in a place where I am actually part of the LGBTQPIA+ community, but my lived experience affords me a lot of privilege and I have to recognize that.

I’ll still be partnering with folx in the community to ensure I’m fully inclusive and to keep me honest about my privilege. I am still working towards being an ally to all LGBTQIAP+ folx, and what language matters for those who don’t identify as masculine or feminine, regardless of how they show up in the world. I know there will still be a process of dismantling the heterosexual and gender binary norms I grew up with. But I’m really glad I am at a point where I am embracing my own unique sexuality and am learning to be honest and unapologetic about who I am in all ways.

We all have the qualities of God, and God is within all of us. If we reject other people simply based on their identity, or part of it, we are rejecting God’s creation. We are rejecting the Divine in someone else, and that means we ultimately are rejecting the Divine within ourselves as well.

When we stand up for others, we are not only standing in solidarity, but are taking a stand for the Divine within others. We’re ALL connected, regardless of belief system, religion, or creed. Our primary focus should ALWAYS be LOVE LOVE and more LOVE.

~Marieke

I’d love to hear your thoughts or your story! Share below, on Facebook, or shoot me an email (unless you’re gonna be mean, then just write in your journal or don’t say anything).

Want to dive into this more? Check out this article by Victoria Crossman: http://victoriacrossman.com/gender-constructs-archetypes-colonization-energy/

Also, a big thank you to Mason Aid for reviewing this article series and providing feedback! Mason provides consulting and education for businesses who wish to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Divinity, Free Your Voice, LGBTQ+, Personal Writings, Sexuality, Socal Justice, Spirituality

Sexuality and the Divine Part 1: Sexual identity, the gender binary, and spirituality

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CW: Homophobia mentioned, discussion of gender binaries, conservative Christian views of sexuality.

Additional note: I am sharing my experiences and journey towards understanding, and I recognize I may not understand everything perfectly.

I grew up in the culture of evangelical and conservative Christianity, and it goes without saying that sexuality is crammed into a very specific box in this culture. I grew up with the very black and white view of sexuality, and subtle (and not so subtle) messaging that sexuality in general is something to be held down and kept under control. So much about sex and sexuality was considered sinful, locked down via purity culture, abused via complementarianism, and controlled (like in the concept of courtship vs dating), that it was hard to hold on to the idea of it’s inherent sacredness. There is a lot to unpack here and I may do so more in a future post, but all that to say, I had a LOT of shame about sex, despite the fact that I was a virgin and therefore considered “pure” when I married my husband.

Earlier in my college career I took a class on Women, Class, and Gender and that was when I first started to open my mind to the experiences of other people’s sexuality. I certainly argued with my teacher, but the education was still there. Much of what we learned was both hard facts, and the lived experiences of people. It’s hard to argue with that (though people certainly do), especially since I have a tendency to be able to see multiple sides to issues and understand other people’s perspectives.

The idea of sexuality as a spectrum rather than a strict binary was something I started to really see was true. At that point, I already recognized that masculinity and femininity were a spectrum. I had female friends who were more “masculine” in many ways, but still held on to femininity, and vice versa. If all people were made in God’s image, then the qualities that we place under masculine and feminine identities come from God, and in order to embrace all of what God has for us, we have to embrace the experiences of all.

I now recognize and affirm that some people live without gender or outside the gender binary, and that ultimately, God is nonbinary as well. I also recognized how much of what is considered masculine/feminine is based on culture and not inherent qualities of people.

Going back to sexuality, I really started to integrate what I learned when I went to San Francisco State University (after already being married for a year) to study vocal performance and became friends with people with diverse expressions of gender and sexual identity. This was also the time I really started to question my beliefs about sexuality and the Bible. I knew many people who believed in Jesus and were also gay. Who was I to judge them, regardless of my beliefs? Who was I to think I had the “right” views and other people didn’t. And if people didn’t believe in Jesus, then it certainly wasn’t my place to say what they had to do because they hadn’t made the same spiritual commitments I had made. Ultimately, I came to the understanding that it was something between a person and God, and no one else’s business. That ultimately, the Bible talks WAY more about other things, like *greed* (hello, huge problem here), than it did about sexuality, so obviously even the God of the Bible has higher priorities. Not to mention that the verses always quoted were not as clearly supportive of heterosexuality as conservative Christians made them out to be.

As I’ve continued to educate myself about gender and sexuality, I actually see it as more than just a spectrum.

That people can be a part of it, express their own version, or be completely outside it.

And even within the labels, there is a huge range of experiences and preferences. Why would we want to squash the beautiful differences in identity and expression? They can in fact expand our connection to humanity and to each other.

So how does this relate to spirituality?

I think we can all agree that many spiritualities have fallen along the gender binary. But where does that leave those of us who don’t ascribe to the binary system, or identify as nonbinary? I think there are many different ways to approach this, but ultimately, it is that we are ultimately human and Divine. You can choose to eschew binary all together and just view spirituality through a non-gendered lens. The Divine is the Divine. Gods and goddesses are simply expressions of one ultimate Divinity brought into the lens of a binary world. God, the Universe, Yahweh, or Allah, etc is They/Them.

Ultimately, all human characteristics are reflections of Divine characteristics, regardless of whether they are considered masculine or feminine. We ALL have what are considered masculine and feminine traits in varying expressions. We all have light and dark, and everything in between.

In our culture, the separation of masculine and feminine when it comes to spiritual or personality traits has become a damaging thing to those who don’t fall into traditional roles or expressions of masculine and feminine, or who find themselves outside the binary. Many faith traditions have no Divine representation for non binary folx, at least within the mainstream orthodoxy. And this is harmful to ALL people. It feeds into toxic versions of masculinity and femininity that serve to constrain us and prevent us from living unapologetically as our selves. We stuff down the parts of ourselves that don’t fit into our role within the gender binary and therefore give up a part of our personal power and our authenticity.

I’ll be honest, even though I don’t personally identify outside the gender binary as a cisgender woman, the gendering of God messed with my relationship with the Divine. I was hurt a lot by my father, and it’s hard to separate that from a God called Father.

When I started to think of God as a Divine being that encompasses all the characteristics that fall under masculine and feminine, as a Whole Being instead, I felt more connection.

The patriarchal tropes could fall away and God could be anything I needed – Mother, Father, or just Parent. God could be strong and soft, intellectual and intuitive, active and restful, destroyer and creator, without having to assign those attributes to a gender. I could accept the traditionally masculine parts of myself without feeling like I was giving up a feminine identity.

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to non binary spirituality, but it absolutely is possible to find spiritual balance without the gender binary. It really is not ultimately necessary and perhaps its time to find new language within spirituality that doesn’t alienate folx who don’t ascribe to the gender binary.

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. Click here for Part 2.

What are your thoughts? Share them below or on Facebook!

Want to dive into this more? Check out this article by Victoria Crossman: http://victoriacrossman.com/gender-constructs-archetypes-colonization-energy/

Also, a big thank you to Mason Aid for reviewing this article series and providing feedback! Mason provides consulting and education for businesses who wish to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.