The women in my year-long program just completed our spring retreat, “Enact Your Vision!” They reported that it was their favorite module yet, and I must say, I agree. I am in the process of turning this spring content into both an online course and a one-day, in-person retreat near Santa Cruz, so stay tuned for those opportunities. In the meantime, I’ve decided to write a 5-part blog series so you can learn about my clients’ favorite springy exercises from the module and do them yourself!
Part One: Learn From the Trees (April 22nd)
Part Two: Prepare Your Soil (April 29th)
Part Three: Envision Your Harvest (May 6th)
Part Four: Plant Your Seeds (May 13th)
Part Five: Allow Your Anger to Fuel Your Growth (May 20th)
If we went by nature’s calendar rather than our man-made one, we would celebrate New Year’s Eve the night before the spring equinox, and March would be the first month of the year. Everything about spring represents newness, a clean slate, and a fresh start. Aries is the first sign of the 12-month zodiac wheel. Pagans recognize the goddess, Ostara, who oversees budding plants and fertility on the earth. Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection during Easter. Everywhere there are images of chicks, bunnies, eggs, seeds, and other symbols of new life.
(As I write this, I am also quite aware of the new life growing in my womb as I am 18 weeks pregnant! It’s a surreal feeling to physically grow life in my body while I watch the earth doing the same thing out of my office window.)
So before we race to plant seeds and start new projects, it is important to make our soil as new and rich as it can be. Clearing the weeds from our garden patch (aka old beliefs and certitudes) and turning over the soil (aka composting your garbage from last year) greatly increases the chances that new seeds (aka, your vision) will grow happily there.
Compost Your Stinky Garbage
The first night of our spring retreat, I gave the wild women in my group a whole stack of little pieces of paper and asked them to write down everything they wanted to leave from the previous year’s cycle - especially those pesky beliefs about “what I should have accomplished by now.” Then we went out back and buried them in the compost bin in my yard.
I invite you to do the same, blog reader. Give yourself the gift of a fresh start. Thousands of cells are dying in your body every second, and thousands more are being born. Your entire body is recreated every seven years. You are quite literally not the same person as you were yesterday, or even an hour ago. Allow yourself to be new. As Anne of Green Gables, the mishap-prone heroine of one of my favorite novel series as a young girl, used to say each morning, “Today is a fresh new day with no mistakes in it.”
Give others the gift of a fresh start, too. The closer someone is to us, the easier it becomes to package them into a tidy little box. My graduate professor, Dianne Connelly, calls this “concluding” someone. “Oh that’s just how dad is.” Or, “My partner wouldn’t understand. She never does.” If you can grow and change, so can they, right? Aren’t their cells also dying and being created every second? What would it be like to look at those closest to you with fresh eyes today, allowing them a clean slate? What might grow in a patch of soil like that?
Check the Certitudes, Dude
While you’re at it, you might as well clear out the certitudes you have about society and the greater world as well. Certitudes are beliefs that we have unconsciously adopted as the Truth with a capital “T,” and they are the #1 enemy of creating visions. They are the weeds in your vision garden. They will clog you up every time.
We receive certitudes from our parents and other early caretakers, and continue to absorb them through the culture over time. The dangerous part is that we may not even realize we have been operating under these beliefs, and they may not be our beliefs at all! It is important to identify them so we can decide whether to keep them, toss them, or expand them into something bigger.
Red flags for certitudes are phrases like, “Well that’s the way it/he/she is,” and “That’s just how we’ve always done it.”
For example, growing up, we went on vacation to Virginia Beach every summer to visit my extended Italian family. I liked going, but I also wanted to go to other places. I spent countless hours as a kid watching The Travel Channel and fantasizing about journeying to faraway places. I often approached my parents and said things like, “Instead of going to Virginia Beach this summer, I think we should go to Africa.”
The response was always the same, adoring laughter and something like, “We can’t honey. Only rich people travel.”
It wasn’t until I fell into some money from a settlement from a minor car accident that I finally traveled. When I became the first person in my family to get a passport at age 26 and backpacked through Europe for six weeks by myself, I saw how affordable travel could be. I realized that the belief about travel only being for rich people was a certitude I’d allowed to hold me back for years.
I continued traveling from then on, often by myself, often on a very small budget. At this point I have been to 14 European countries, Indonesia, Mexico, Guatemala, and 49 U.S. states. The year I left my job as a school principal on the east coast and traveled around the U.S. for a year, I spent a total of $84 on accommodations. For the whole year. (It’s a whole other story, but in short: couchsurfing.com, sleeping in my station wagon, camping, and making auspicious connections everywhere I went.)
I asked the women at our spring retreat to add other certitudes they have heard or caught themselves believing. I could barely get the question out before one woman blurted, “Single moms have to struggle!” Yes! Good one.
That started the ball rolling. Next came, “The only way to make money is with hard work,” followed by “Money is greedy,” “Money is evil,” and “College is the only path to success.” Do these sound familiar?
There are many certitudes about genders as well, things like, “Women are emotional” or “Men are distant.” I’m sure you could add your own and we could write a list that stretches to the moon.
Clear Speaking, Please
Likewise, you can see how many of the certitudes my clients came up with contain extreme language or at least inferences of it - “always,” “never,” “all,” “none,” and they often lump together concepts or groups of people with generalizations. These are all signs of certitudes, and remember, certitudes are blind beliefs. They are not based on truth or observation, only ignorance.
It might be true that your single mother worked three jobs and struggled to put food on the table, but that does not mean that all single moms struggle, or that you automatically must as well if you find yourself in that position.
It may be true that your ex-wife is a woman who displayed a lot of emotion, or your ex-husband is a man who was often emotionally distant, but that doesn’t mean that “women are emotional” or “men are distant.” Can you feel how stifling those certitudes are to future opportunities? No one else has a chance in your heart with those beliefs running the show.
I hope you can see how important it is that we address this topic of certitudes before we begin discussing the creation of your vision, because I’ve seen way too many clients paralyzed during visioning processes by their certitudes. So before you ask yourself the questions in next week’s visioning questionnaire, I invite you to check your certitudes at the door.
Remember that every great idea came from someone who went through a gauntlet of others telling them it would never be possible. “People can’t fly up in the sky in machines!” “The earth is flat, you’ll fall off the edge!” “You can’t make money and do what you love!” Really?
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than can be dreamt of in your philosophy.” - Hamlet
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What type of wild woman are you?
Hello! I'm Melanie Munir, founder of Professional Wild Woman - a women's empowerment business dedicated to helping women who are tired of feeling either "too much" or "not enough" to connect to their inner wildness so they can create work that allows them the fullest expression of their unique voice. Welcome!