Tag Archives: courage

Fuck Vulnerability.

1stphone6I didn’t want to be at the mercy of someone else so easily—nor at the mercy of my own, willingly open, heart.

“…to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen, to love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of kind of terror when we’re wondering can I love you this much, can I believe in this this passionately, can I be this fierce about this, just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen—just say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable, means I’m alive.”
~Brene Brown

Some days I don’t know if I can “dare greatly,” “live my vulnerability” and “choose authenticity.” I think I’ve failed miserably today at this thing I am calling my new, vulnerable, wholehearted life.

In fact, I think I fail at it a lot.

And if that shame-vulnerability goddess, Brene Brown, had been within range today… well, let’s just say it would not have been pretty.

I found myself thinking about the “slug fest” she spoke of having with vulnerability in the early years of looking at shame. “Vulnerability pushed; I pushed back. I lost the fight, but I won my life back.”

I went into fear this morning over an email, got right again quickly with the person who had sent it—oversight, human error, totally understandable and not even in need of forgiveness it was so innocently written/sent, but then spent most of the day beating myself up that I had gone so easily and quickly into fear and doubt.

Where is my trust and faith? Where is the “center” I speak of so self-confidently (so arrogantly?) when all is well, when I have not just allowed a simple email to peel me back to the quick? Have I learned nothing, then?

Where was my head and heart? Why, when things come at me seemingly sideways, do I still assume the worst? It’s one more item on the list of things I like least about myself.

I sat there, carefully reading the email over and over, wondering how I could better interpret it, trying to read the very best into it, assume good intent—and finally ended up just flat out failing, just giving in to the pain it provoked.

I sat at my computer and cried.

I am embarrassed to say that at that moment I did not want to address that email at all. I did not want to do my usual and attempt to speak not from a place of fear but try and find a kinder and more careful place from which to ask for clarification.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to—anywhere but here—just go!

I simply wanted to flip the sign on the door to my heart to “closed out of business,” do a quick, well-executed about-face and run—run right out the back door and not stop—ever.

And I can still see the view out that back door. That door opens out onto a depressing, wide, flat, dry plain of land with a sunset oranging and pinking its way to sleep. There are single, spaced, lonely highline poles with one thick cable suspended, scalloping off into the distance across that plain, the poles growing shorter and skinnier and finally merging with the blinding orange somewhere unseen, way off near the arc of the Earth.

I wanted to be on my way to that beckoning arc, a small, dark, indecipherable speck from here in all that flat orange glow. I’m pretty sure my mad sprint to reach that illusive, ever-retreating, seductive arc could continue the rest of my (at this point, short) life if I let it.

I didn’t want to be at the mercy of someone else so easily—nor at the mercy of my own, willingly open, heart. Wanted not to be so easily bruised. Wanted to not be so vulnerable as to be available for such abrasions.

I found myself thinking things like, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why?! Isn’t it easier to just close off and not be openhearted, not put myself in this position?”

Because sure, to dare greatly and be authentic and open is to be available for great love and depth from others and the world in general, but holy fuck(!), it also means we risk the possibility of great pain too.

To live so openly, so close to the bone, so vulnerably is a mighty risky. It is not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure—not even for the wise. Most days I’m not sure I can conjure the guts, the courage (the foolhardiness!), to get up and do it all over again.

I could try and go back to the old self I was before I started this journey a couple of years ago—closed off, unavailable, solitary, withdrawn (read: miserable). I could try living half-assed again.

As much as I hate being in this vulnerable, fear-relief hangover I’m squatting in right now writing this, I’m also pretty sure I’m ruined now for the old me, pretty sure I’d always be looking over my shoulder in that lonely marathon to that horizon, always wondering what I’d missed out on, who and what I’d given up, what I could have had.

So I think that means (thank gawd the math is simple, at least) for better or worse:  I’m in.

“I know vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness. But it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love…”
~ Brene Brown

A version published at elephant journal too.

Grow a Vagina

Originally published at Elephant Journal as If you Wanna Be Tough, Grow a Vagina
“Why do people say, “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” ~Sheng Wang (and actually not Betty White)

As a woman, I am tired of the disrespect shown to women by the incorrect naming of our genitals. I’m not necessarily talking about slang words. I am, rather, talking about when men and women use the word “vagina” (or other singular word) to denote the entire female groin area.

vulvarose1I can’t figure out if this is a natural shift in language usage (The dropping of “ly” off of adverbs is so common now, I can only assume it will soon be an official rule. The poor “ly” will be forgotten and archaic. Destined to be relegated to those articles about words that used to be popular but that now no one has even heard of), or if it’s a lack of education and knowledge.

Or maybe it’s a product of shame.

The vagina is actually the internal tube (the birth canal) leading from the uterus to the outside of the body; “vagina” does not name the entire groin area.

I don’t understand the reduction of the beautiful, highly functional, well-designed, female genitals to one, incorrectly assigned word. I don’t understand why we are settling for this oversight, and to my mind, this lack, this ignorance, this norm of making the female less—less known, less important, less studied, less worthy of respect.

I cannot participate in perpetuating this.

I think women’s bodies, and therefore women, will continue to be objectified and seen as less-than for as long as it is acceptable to be ignorant and ashamed of the female body.

The famous line spoken by a kindergartener out of the (highly entertaining!) Arnold Schwarzenager movie, Kindergarten Cop, comes to mind: “Men have a penis; women have a vagina.” And while these things are true, it is not the full truth.

Not knowing and/or speaking that entire truth feels demeaning to women—on a large, societal, even global, scale. To me, it’s like saying our female bodies aren’t worth knowing, aren’t worth studying, aren’t worth naming correctly, aren’t important enough to be bothered with and that they are too shameful.

How offended would you be if someone pointedly refused, even after repeated corrections, to call you by your correct name? Would you see it as a slight, a passive aggressive attempt to belittle you in some way?

When a woman is seen in a nude, upright, full frontal view, the vagina isn’t seen. It’s the vulva that’s visible. You might see part of the clitoris at the top/front of the vulva or even, further back, the usually frilly labia minor peeking out from inside the vulva, but the vagina, itself, is not in sight.

This, my latest rant on this subject, was prompted by a young woman’s question on a Facebook group page of which I am a member. It is a group dedicated to and in pursuit of natural, “crunchy” alternatives for living. It is a group for those of us wanting to reduce our footprint on the Planet in whatever way we can.

The question she asked was: “Personal hygiene question! What do you use to wash your vagina? Besides plain water.”

I had the feeling she meant “my entire genital region” when she wrote this, but that is definitely not what she said. And it turned out to be true, because later in that same thread she explained she didn’t mean inside the vagina. However, she still did not use the word “vulva,” “genitals,” or even a slang term to denote the entire area.

The Cunt

Some time back, while researching the origins of the word “cunt,” I came across The Vagina Monologues definition:

“So when an abuser calls a woman a “cunt” he is actually calling her a “queen who invented writing and numerals.” Girls and women can thus reclaim the words in our language that have been used as weapons against us in emotionally explosive situations.”

If you need/want some good perspective on the word “cunt,” check out Jeannine Parvati Baker and her book Hygieia, A Woman’s Herbal, where she talks about how important it is to have “cunt consciousness.”

The only time I have an issue with slang words for genitals, is when those words are taught to a child because parents/society is too ashamed to use the correct words. I have no problem with slang words that are commonly used to refer to the vagina—if they are used to denote the vagina itself and not the entire female genital area and if they aren’t used unilaterally.

I also see no problem with the popular terms: “lady parts,” “sexy bits,” “girly bits,” etc. Because it is pretty clear, from the plural status, that they refer to the vulva and its entire contents.

There are many commonly used words to mean “vagina,” some slang, some in different languages: “pussy,” “yoni,” “vajayjay,” “cunt,” “twat,” etc.—none of which even give me pause.

I don’t even have a problem with the word “gash”—as one of my girlfriends was called by a man years ago in what he hoped would be an insulting fashion. She just laughed, looked him up and down in that marvelous, putting-jerks-in-their-place way she has and sauntered away, unaffected.

The Vulva

Wikipedia defines “vulva” as:  “The vulva consists of the external genital organs of the female mammal.”

The term used in medical circles for the vulva is the “mons pubis” (Latin for “pubic mound”).

The human female genitals consist of the vulva (the outside part you see when the woman is standing with legs together, full frontal), then (for simplicity’s sake)—front to back is: the clitoris, the urethra (where urine/pee exits the body), then the vagina, and finally—behind the vulva—the anus (where feces/poop exits the body).

I know that’s a lot of things in one small area, but we really do owe it to ourselves, our lovers (if you and/or your lover happen to be a female), our children, and to every woman on the Planet—past, present, future—to be respectful enough to know a woman’s body parts.

Once, during sex, I had to teach a grown man that the thing he was massaging, and much to my discomfort (while thinking, “Up or down, buddy, one way or the other”), was actually the urethra and not the clitoris.

His education consisted of me gently moving his fingers to the clitoris while saying, “It’s right there.” And then showing him, with my body movements and voice, how much I appreciated the switch.

A simple search of “human female external reproductive viscera” online will pull up many literal, clear pictures of women’s genitals. Go ahead and have a look; I’ll wait.

It’s a beautiful work of art, the vulva.

The Clitoris

It has not been until recent years that anyone has even bothered to study the clitoris. It was a couple of women, of course, that expanded that virtually nonexistent research. So therefore I was surprised to learn that the clitoris is primarily an internal organ. Internally, it encircles the vagina. Check out this great MRI of an erect clitoris.

“Sadly, it is precisely because the clitoris has no function apart from female pleasure that science has neglected to study it as intricately as the penis…In 2005 The American Urological Association published one of Dr. O’Connell’s reports on clitoral anatomy. The report itself even states, “The anatomy of the clitoris has not been stable with time as would be expected. To a major extent its study has been dominated by social factors … Some recent anatomy textbooks omit a description of the clitoris. By comparison, pages are devoted to penile anatomy.”

Sexism and Slang

At one point, years ago, I decided that to own and study the book The Joy of Sex might be a good idea. I could not stomach the text, however, because he insisted on calling the woman’s vagina a “pussy.”

I found his insistence upon using the word “pussy” to name the vagina objectionable only because he also, throughout the entire book, used the word “penis” for penis. He didn’t use the word “dick,” “schlong,” “cock,” “johnson,” etc.

Why did he think it was okay to call the vagina a “pussy,” but called the penis by its correct, English equivalent?

If he had used a slang word for penis, as he did for vagina, I might have actually purchased the book. For a book that’s purpose was supposedly to make sex about equality for men and women, I found it quite sexist and demeaning to women. I understand the book has been revised in the last few years from its original version, but I have not looked to see if that has been changed.

The Naming

What does it tell a child when we won’t even teach her/him the correct names for body parts?

I absolutely reject the idea of teaching a child slang, incorrect names for body parts that we, as a society have decided are too embarrassing or shameful to talk about.

From the very beginning of my daughter’s life, I taught her the correct names for body parts—all of her body parts, to include her vulva and its contents—the same way I taught her the correct names for everything else in her world. Because if we, as humans, were not somehow embarrassed and ashamed of bodies, sex and bodily functions, that’s what everyone would just naturally do.

I didn’t use the excuse that “those words” are too difficult for a child to remember—or too many. I didn’t use the excuse that there are so many slang words for genitals that if I teach her the correct terms she won’t be able to make sense of anything later.

I didn’t use the excuse that it was too embarrassing (it wasn’t) or too difficult. I didn’t use the excuse that one vague, fear-based term like “down there,” for example, was good enough for my daughter and her journey through her lifetime.

This is a child who, as a toddler, and with the most intense, serious, questioning look on her face that told me she had already given it quite a bit of thought, asked me, “Momma, did I have on clothes when I came out of your bagina?”

“Lord no, child, it was hard enough getting you out of there naked and slick. I can’t imagine having to do it with buttons and zippers in the way.” And we both laughed at that funny image.

It enrages me when I hear parents ask the question, “My daughter is starting to explore her body now, so what should I tell her to call those parts?” How about their real names, for humanity’s sake?!

She’ll come across plenty of slang words as she grows up, she’ll encounter all types of misinformation, but at least start her, arm her, with the truth.

The Body

I want to honor bodies—all bodies. I want to understand them. I want my daughter to understand, know and honor her body.

I want to help usher in the idea that the body might simply be a normal, healthy tool for navigating life—that it’s parts might be called just what they are called.

I want female bodies to be just as important, revered, studied and understood as male bodies. I want to live in a world where females are treated with respect—their bodies, themselves.

I want to live in a world where bodies are seen for their beauty and for their function, a world where we honor them and don’t abuse them.

A world where it is safe for my daughter to walk alone at night in her female body.

A world where I don’t have to evaluate my safety parameters based on what I wear on my female body.

A world that doesn’t see exposed female skin as an open invitation for sexual assault.

A world where a woman’s body is not seen as dirty, wrong, unknown, wanton.

A world where ignorance—about anatomy, sex, bodily functions, sexuality, the body, what constitutes respect and what doesn’t—is not tolerated.

Growing a Vagina

So I am growing a vagina, and I am speaking up—for women, men, children, humanity and bodies—but mostly for peace. The peace that might be possible if all people were seen as equal and as equally deserving, equally important, equally worthy, equally entitled to safety in their body.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I think it begins with respect for the body—chiefly, respect for the highly ignored, under-appreciated, female body.

Hypnotherapy Workshop: Open to Love. Open to Your Feminine Essence

Presented by Grace Cooley, Certified Hypnotherapist

Open to Love
Open to your Feminine Essence

For Women Only—Single or Partneredgodess blue

Open your heart, life and body to allow Real love. Connect with the juicy, sacred, powerful Divine Feminine Energy that you really are.

We’ll explore the polarization between feminine and masculine energy, talk about how to activate your own feminine energy and stay in that space. We’ll discuss specific issues you have (or have had) in your relationship(s) and how to resolve them from a respectful, feminine perspective. This class is not about manipulating men or any other superficial issues. This class is about discovering your own true vulnerable self and being able to live from that place of power. When we live from that place of authenticity, we can’t help but improve our entire life—including all of our relationships.

This is an invitation to you to journey with the group to Find, Heal and Release the Subconscious Blocks – those aspects of yourself – that are keeping you from experiencing deep, satisfying, vulnerable love. You are safe here.

open doorAre you wondering why you are attracting the same type of partner each time – one that doesn’t satisfy you? Do you imagine yourself in a much better, fulfilling life and relationship than the one you are currently living? Do you wonder whydf blue your man doesn’t seem to be very ‘masculine’ and what part you play in that? Do you feel that you are not worthy of love?

Are you self-protecting so much that even while in a relationship you feel unfulfilled?

Your mind is 15 – 20% conscious and 80 – 85% subconscious, and when the conscious and subconscious minds disagree, the subconscious thought/belief will always win. Your beliefs create your life – for better or worse. mandala1.jpgYou are constantly – even when sleeping – emitting your very own, unique, signature frequency. And when that frequency is fueled by unconscious, and often limiting, beliefs you are going to manifest that – no matter how much time you try to spend thinking good thoughts and saying positive affirmations. hand heart

The most important thing about the subconscious mind you need to know is that it is always “on”. That is, it is active day and night, regardless of whether you are doing. The subconscious mind controls your body. You cannot hear this silent inner process with your conscious effort.Read more at: http://www.learning-mind.com/your-subconscious-mind-can-do-anything-how-to-use-its-power/
The most important thing about the subconscious mind you need to know is that it is always “on”. That is, it is active day and night, regardless of whether you are doing. The subconscious mind controls your body. You cannot hear this silent inner process with your conscious effort.Read more at: http://www.learning-mind.com/your-subconscious-mind-can-do-anything-how-to-use-its-power/
The most important thing about the subconscious mind you need to know is that it is always “on”. That is, it is active day and night, regardless of whether you are doing. The subconscious mind controls your body. You cannot hear this silent inner process with your conscious effort.Read more at: http://www.learning-mind.com/your-subconscious-mind-can-do-anything-how-to-use-its-power/

We need a way to release those hidden beliefs in order to get the conscious and subconscious working together. When the subconscious supports and agrees with your conscious goals, you unleash your maximum potential. And hypnosis is recognized as one of the most effective ways to access and affect the subconscious mind. Ninety percent of men, women and children easily learn hypnosis. It is an education-communication system that allows the conscious and subconscious to communicate and then believe the same message and be on the same page. Hypnosis automatically reduces stress, creates greater clarity, improves focus and enhances subconscious functions. You can even teach your body to regulate ‘automatic’ responses like blood pressure, wound healing, etc.

I am always honored to be allowed into your personal, sacred mind-space during hypnotherapy and group sessions, so rest assured that you are welcome and safe here.

goddessinthewombofvoidEven after the first session you will already feel lighter, more relaxed and open to allowing vulnerability in yourself and others. And it just gets better from there, as we continue in a safe, supportive environment to gently peel off the layers of you that need validation, love and healing.

Each class will include group hypnosis, ‘homework’, journaling and sharing (at your comfort level). Wear comfortable clothing, bring a water bottle, something to write with and something to write on/in. Consider using a special journal to document this freeing, powerful journey for yourself—who knows, you may find, at some point, that you are writing the next best-seller!

This series will assist you in changing the way you define yourself as a woman. We will help you find, connect with and live from that Powerful, Divine part of you. You will blossom and begin to love & respect the Strong, Powerful Woman that you really are, and when you do that, you also begin to love, trust and respect others—you begin to Allow, you begin to respect and trust men and the Masculine aspects in your partner and potential partners. You will free yourself to receive the Masculine gifts offered to you by all the men in your life when you allow your own Feminine side to emerge.loverock

We will gently dive into:      

~ Introduction to Hypnotherapy and the Divine Feminine/Masculine

~ Find and talk to the Wall (your subconscious beliefs/blocks) and the Guard

~ Gently heal those subconscious beliefs by going into the Secret Garden

~ Release the Past utilizing the Fire of Transformation

~ Journey to the Garden of the Soul and unite and activate Her Presence in your life

~ Meet your Future, Sexy, Powerful, Divine Self and draw upon her wisdom

Times:  Monday nights – 6:30pm – 8:30pm 

Location:  NW Fort Collins, CO

Investment:  The full tuition for the 6-week class is $279, but if you make your payment more than 1 week in advance of class, you pay only $249. This is a $600+ value if done in individual sessions. 

What to Bring: Water bottle, Pen/Pencil & Journal.

Space is limited in each class, so contact me to reserve your seat and find out when the next class starts:  cooley.grace@gmail.com 

Find out more about Hypnotherapy and Grace.

We also usually use one of our 2-hours sessions for time with Certified Life and Relationship Coach, Steve Horsmon. Past groups have found his session so very informative and helpful!

steve horsmon photoSteve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life and Relationship Coach and founder of Good Guys 2 Great Men. With a long corporate career in leadership and organizational training and development, Steve is a lifelong student and “passionate pursuer” of the communication and personal development skills required for healthy and satisfying relationships. You can connect with him via Facebook too.

Grace Cooley is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO,gracethanx2013.3 USA. She sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-bees, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet—yep, they do exist. She writes for elephant journal and The Scarlet Orchid. You can find her blog here and her creations here. You can also connect with her on Facebook.