How to embody soulful feminine leadership

I’m sitting in my friend’s gorgeous apartment overlooking South London on a Friday night. My body is exhausted from a full day of embodiment work with two amazing women. My heart is full from witnessing the fullest expression of themselves.

Doing this work I get confronted. I ask other people to connect to the voice of their soul; the deepest part of themselves, and allow for that part to be expressed. Not just through dance, or through what might feel like bizarre ways of howling, moaning, or happy baby-ing across the floor. That is all just a practice for the real thing.

The real thing called life. For when you feel the tug to do something that might seem just a little bit out there.

Set up a sober rave for ex-clubbers who are ‘too old’ for the club scene yet crave a release and a high without the high. Tell your story in the shape of a book that might just light a fire on the hearts of other women who have struggled with their relationship with food, are questioning their faith, and been shamed about their bodies and their femininity. Have a baby.

These are just a few examples where I still haven’t fully embodied the whispers of my soul. This is why I get confronted.

The nudges come, and then what?

Option A: brainstorm, mind-map, project plan, and execute.

Option B: slow-down, tune-in, tap into your senses, and listen for the inner guidance to direct your steps.

I’ve lived out Option A for most of my life and career. It worked. And then it didn’t.

It worked when I was surrounded by other humans who also relied on their brains to set the strategic vision of the organization, had clear metrics and targets to try to meet, and had a team to help execute.

It also worked because the things I was trying to create were not a part of me. They were policies and programs that I thought would create operational efficiencies for the organization. Yes the ideas came to me and through me; but they were not from me.

To put it simply: my heart wasn’t in it.

Once I started to listen to my heart and prioritize the things that I cared about, Option A didn’t work anymore. It burned me out and left me broke. It was too linear. Too exacting. Too disconnected from what I was experiencing in the present moment.

On Monday I’d map it all out and plan what was going to be said and when and where. By the time it came to say it or share it, pfffftht; it fell flat on its face. There was no life in it anymore; just a robotic execution of what I thought was a good idea a few days ago.

I kept running out of steam. It was painful to live through; probably as much as it was to watch.

Option B works different. You still show up, day in and day out, but instead of micro-managing yourself, you let your Self shine through. I didn’t sit down with a plan to write this today. I was going to write about my body (because that was on the list), but when I was still long enough and quiet long enough, this came out instead.

Option B doesn’t always have a rhyme or reason to it. In the middle of things you think you’re a little crazy, shifting from one thing to another. But then at some point you look back and notice a beautiful tapestry has been woven. Instead of following the pre-determined pattern, you stay true to what is most you. Each stitch is carefully curated, breathed into life because you can’t not; not because you thought you had too.

Option B feels like it takes longer. If the shortest distance between me and my soul expression is a straight line, Option B seems to have missed that memo.

Option B presents more risk; more uncertainty, more unknown, more of the ‘not sure this actually gonna work’, because there is no tried and tested method that you’re following.

As I’ve tested out Option B, sometimes it feels good and it gets the results I want and I think, ‘OK, I can do this.’ Other times it feels like I’ve completely lost balance. I imagine it’s like surfing.

Right now it feels like I’m riding the wave. Things feel OK. There’s just enough certainty to balance on. A container of: write every day, dive deeper into the trauma resolution side of embodiment (because you can’t have one without the other), heal your heart so you can love your husband fully. For this season, I’m trying to let that be enough.

It’s not rocket science. I’m not going to win some award for it. And it feels like I’m moving at a snail’s pace.

I’m sure at some point it will feel like I’ve gotten swallowed up by the wave, with everything coming crashing down around me. (And when I say ‘everything’, what I really mean is, one day I will wake up feeling like a failure and doubting myself, most likely triggered because I didn’t like the number in my bank account. It used to be the number on the bathroom scale that did this to me. I guess I will be grateful I’ve moved on.)

When this happens, I usually panic, trying to find the proverbial surfboard to hold on to. I think this surfboard will save me because it tells me all the things I could and should be doing to make sure I don’t fall over again.

Maybe next time I won’t panic. Maybe next time I’ll remember that if I just let my body relax a little bit, get a little bit softer, I’ll actually rise to the surface of the water and, get this: maybe even float. Whoah.

And then maybe once you’re floating, you remember you’ve got arms and legs that help you swim.

Maybe once you start swimming, you let yourself enjoy the feeling of the water rushing over your body, the sunlight reflecting off the water’s surface, creating a beautiful array of colors.

Maybe once you actually start enjoying your surroundings, you actually become content with where you’re at, instead of feeling like you need to rush off and get to the shore.

Maybe once the contentment comes, my soul will finally trust me enough to speak louder than a whisper. Maybe that’s when we get to do this thing together.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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