Change starts with a NO! - Guest Blog by Lucy Pearce
We have two sacred words. Yes. And No.
As women we are taught to be “Yes merchants”. To smile and be nice. To keep our heads down and our mouths shut. To avert our eyes when we see something that troubles us, or when something is done to us without permission. We are encultrated NOT to say No. To live a Yes with every action, every breath. To breathe in what is around us, and accept it. A woman in her No is awkward, frigid, challenging, threatening, unladylike. We have been brought up in the dichotomous delusion of Yes=good, No=Bad.
But here is the secret - our power as women lies in the ability to say No: to that which threatens us, to that which threatens others, to that which does not resonate with the highest good and which does not serve us. Our No is as legitimate as our Yes. Yes and no are as night and day. Both are vital to life, balance and health...
Our need to learn to say No is getting stronger every day. No to overwhelm. No to more than we can cope with. No to the thoughtless destruction of our environment. No to violence. No to abuse.
No says “I see and I do not accept”. No says my energy is not there. No says “Not on my watch”.
In my writing and research, what I have discovered is that women often require external permission before they move into previously forbidden territory. It is as though, having been programmed from birth to be a certain way by the patriarchal norm, we need other women to give permission to choose again. We need other women to help to midwife us
into our power.
It seems more than a little ironic that my writing this post also started with a No. When requested, I, for the first time in my life said “Thank you, but No. I am too busy. I am honoured by your request. And would like to give it the energy it deserves, when that is available to me.”
And hot on the heels of that, when I knew the world wasn’t about to end, and nobody hated me, I said that word again, to remove myself from an event that was sucking too much energy from me.
Both times I said it with integrity and love. For myself, for my children and my husband who get the worst of me when I am over-stretched, and for the person I was saying No to. Saying No was an honouring of my reality. It rooted me in my power as a mother of three young children with a burgeoning part time creative career. No centers me in my own power. It connects me with the source of my own creative power once more, rather than aligning me with the ego, which wants to be like, which wants to have and do everything.
No means I respect myself and my needs as much as yours. I can promise you this: no one else will say No for you, if you don’t learn to say it yourself.
Women have not been brought up this way. The Earth is not treated this way. We are used as limitless resources. But we are not. We are precious. And in our material bodies we are limited. We must choose to live sustainably, in wholeness with our cycles, or imbalance, disease and decline will naturally follow. They are nature’s No.
I do not say it lightly, when I say that learning to say No with an open heart, without fear, is one of the most empowering things you can do.
There are two sorts of No that we need. A No where we cut off our energy. And a No where we keep our hearts open.
I have just finished reading Sonia Johnson’s powerful book Going Out of Our Minds: The Metaphysical of Liberation, and she talks of the need not to fight patriarchy, not to resist it, for in doing so we give it our energy. Instead she suggests that we throw all our our energy, our focus into building and living our alternative vision, our alternative culture. Of breathing life into our visions, so that when others see them alive they can join us in them – then there is no fighting, no wasted energy convincing and persuading, simply a living model. And this is what I see with TreeSisters, a powerful, lived model. Not in opposition to anything, but FOR something.
A wise man I know taught me that the greatest gift we can give our children, and ourselves is to learn to say No with an open heart.
Many years ago I learnt to stop saying No. I was called frigid. I was shamed. And so I learned to disconnect. To demure, to avoid confrontations and discomfort so I could keep my integrity intact.
But this doesn’t work. The world can no longer function with a global population of disconnected women. We must connect – to our power, and to each other. It is the only hope we have. And to be able to be in our power we must own our No and our Yes. It cannot be shamed from us. It cannot be violated. It cannot be snatched.
We have a sacred right to our No. The Earth has a sacred right to her No. And from these
Nos, the Yeses will flow.
So know, dearest one, you have permission to say No. Your deepest No. From your belly, from your womb, with all your power. You have permission.
And behind that No, when you are standing in your power, a million new Yeses will spring up in time. Yeses that were previously outside of your reach. Yeses that felt too daunting, impossible are suddenly there. With your feet rooted firmly in the ground. Your self rooted in your body, your power coming from your belly. Your spine straight and heart open.
Changing the world, changing ourselves, starts with a powerful No, so that all that you no longer align yourself with can wither and die. And with that No, you regain your power to co-create a new world of a million Yeses.
About Lucy H. Pearce
Lucy H. Pearce is author of several books, including Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle and Moods of Motherhood. She has two forthcoming titles The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood (November 2013) and a gentle book for introducing girls to the cycles of womanhood entitled: Reaching for the Moon (July 2013). Her work has been lauded as “life-changing” by women around the world. She has contributed to a number of anthologies and blogs, and her work is seen regularly on Rhythm of the Home and Tiny Buddha.
She is contributing editor at the UK natural family magazine, JUNO and is founder of The Happy Womb, for empowering women’s resources. She blogs on creativity, mindfulness & motherhood at Dreaming Aloud, and has a baking blog The Queen of Puddings. She is also an artist, blogging consultant and teacher, and a leader of powerful women’s workshops. You can connect with Dreaming Aloud, The Queen of Puddings & The Happy Womb on Facebook & Twitter.
She and her husband share the care of their three children, currently aged 7,5 and 3, and live on the south-coast of Ireland.
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