Tag Archives: success

Authentic Feminine Power

I came across a prayer to Baba Yaga  recently. I’ve spent a lot of time with Baba Yaga, who is a supernatural female figure out of Slavic European folklore. I’ve told stories about her for years, and she’s an important character in my book. She’s a powerful life-death-life-death figure and has many names, among them Storm Raiser, Primal Mother, Lady of Beasts and Mother of Witches. In spite of our long acquaintance, I’ve only lately begun to love her.

Sometimes I think the most important thing to understand about life is power. It structures every single relationship, most of all our relationships with ourselves. Power creates wars, cults, murderers, abusers, tyrants, rebels and perhaps angels.

I believe we have a great longing for our individual mislaid power, such a longing that we’ve lost track of what it is or how to recognize it in our hunger and desperation. I don’t know how else to explain our mindless obedience to the media, to our culture, to our religions, to the almighty “they” who instruct us how to live, how to eat, what to believe, how to look, how to buy and how to be.

At this time in my life, and at this time in my country’s history, I cling to Baba Yaga, because she represents sanity in a world becoming more insane by the day. The prayer reminds me of what true feminine power is—and is not.

True feminine power wastes no time on despots and bullies who conceal their fear and impotence behind dishonesty and the willingness to use force. It’s not her business to prop them up. They have nothing she needs and they’re not worth her attention, for they shall not endure.

True feminine power is real. It’s authentic. It’s not bound by chains of political correctness, manners, fear or ideology. A woman in her authentic power is, according to need and whim, a child, a wild woman, a bitch, a seductive temptress, a crone, and a creature of magic. Obedience and compliance are not in her nature.

True feminine power seeks the hidden thing, within and without. She pares away layers, stories, masks, facades, dreams, visions, expectations, and shoulds. She’s a persistent poker, prier and meddlesome busybody in holey tennis shoes. She opens drawers, boxes and jars, looks behind forbidden doors and never stops asking questions. She refuses to shut up, close her eyes or pretend, and views everything by the stark light of a fiery skull without flinching. She doesn’t need anyone to agree with her, and she doesn’t need everyone to agree with her. She doesn’t argue with what is. The truth cannot escape her.

True feminine power doesn’t prostitute for love and validation. Baba Yaga eats sulfur to make her farts more momentous and fertilizes her body hair to make it grow more abundant. She’s hairy legs and iron-tipped fingers and teeth sharpened on bones. She takes a lover when she feels like it, but she kicks him out of her bed before dawn and doesn’t offer breakfast. Her body is not for sale, her hair is the color it wants to be, and she has no use for a painted mask over her face.

True feminine power is a teacher of magic. She teaches the sorting of one thing from another, cleansing, lighting a fire, the alchemy of cooking. She’s the power of the cauldron, the cup, the womb and the growing seed. She’s the wisdom of bone and blood, seed and water, life and death. A woman in her authentic feminine power learns to feed and nurture the magic of her intuition and creativity. She knows they are the most priceless jewels she will ever have.

True feminine power feels huge, deep feelings of rage, grief, joy and lust. When fear accosts a woman in her power, she spits in its eye and knocks it down on her way forward. An authentically powerful woman knows how to cause earthquakes with her dance, bring rain with her tears, melt rocks with her passion and sow stars with her joy. She allows no one to make her small.

True feminine power expresses all her fine feelings. She shrieks, curses, cackles, stomps, grumps, slams and mutters. She will not be silent. She stays up all night drumming and dancing if the mood takes her, and sleeps all day when she wants. She collects secrets, stories, marbles and insults with equal enjoyment. In fact, she says and does exactly what she wants to do and say.

(Yes, I said marbles.)

True feminine power is ancient and enduring. It’s coarse silver hair, aching bones, pearly stretch marks, lumpy thighs, scars and wrinkles and cracks and crevices. A woman in her power bleeds, first red and then the invisible silver blood of wisdom that arrives when the children of her body have become ghosts that live only in her memory. A woman in her full authentic power smiles kindly on the young and beautiful, because they are not yet capable of her wisdom.

True feminine power knows how to live through the night alone, how to wander in the desert, how to go underground and live in a cave among the roots of life when necessary. She survives the conflagration, the invasion, the prison sentence, the betrayal, the loss, the beating, the chaos, the flood. A woman in her authentic power is rooted in the stars, in the trees, in the mountains, in the sea and in the earth. She welcomes the cycles and seasons. Change is her strength. She knows how to bide her time and let die what must, because she knows her power will endure in women who come after her.

A woman in her power is not confused. She knows there’s no authentic power in money or position, youth or beauty or hairless legs. She knows her wellspring of power is internal and if she can’t find it, no one will. True feminine power defines her own success, her own goals, her own agenda, her own spiritual practice, her own beauty and her own rules.

Baba Yaga’s specialty is too-good maidens of all ages. That’s how I met her. When the Baba is finished with such a maiden, she’s either saltier and wiser or dead. Baba Yaga eats the dead ones with vinegar to cut the sweetness.

It’s a good time for prayers. Perhaps it’s always a good time for prayers. Here’s mine.

Baba Yaga, Grandmother, we offer you our sweat, tears, blood, milk and urine. Initiate us into life and death with our own blood and bone. Lead us back into love for ourselves, our bodies and our earth. Help us, your daughters, find our authentic feminine power again.

Go to my Good Girl Rebellion page for a picture of Baba Yaga–maybe! For more about her, see a snippet from my book on my Hanged Man page.

All content on this site ©2017
Jennifer Rose
except where otherwise noted

Nothing for Fear

Last week I came down the steep stairs from my little attic aerie, sat in a chair in the living room and cried while I asked my partner if he thought I would ever have a less effortful experience of life.

It’s not that anything was really wrong. What I was feeling was an old, familiar feeling of trying to manage my life and myself as efficiently as possible and feeling worn out and unsuccessful.

Trying. Manage. Efficiently. What am I, a machine?

I was tired that evening, and worried about diminished workflow and subsequent diminished paycheck. I wasn’t seeing a way out of my work/income situation, which is a place I’ve been in for several years.

One of the things I did last week during a work shift devoid of work was to join She Writes, an online community for, obviously, women writers. I’d been procrastinating about doing so for a long time.

For years, I’ve been trying to find a writing community, both locally and online. I’ve joined a professional local organization, but their programs are rarely offered up here in Central Maine, as Portland is their headquarters. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to find beta readers for my first book. I put up an invitation to start a writer’s group at the local library and didn’t get a single call. I tried a give and take partnership with another writer so we could read one another’s work and provide feedback, but my partner had other priorities and needed to drop out.

And, of course, I need to work for that paycheck, so my time and energy are largely gobbled up by my financial needs priority rather than the joyful work of my life. This produces a chronic background tension that grinds away at my soul.

Anyway, I decided the time had come and I was ready to join She Writes and see what possibilities might open up through that community. I had to apply to join.

I knew they wouldn’t take me.

They accepted me (probably some kind of mistake) and the day after I sat in the chair and cried, I had another shift with no work and began exploring She Writes. I came across a blog titled “The Only Reason to do Anything is Love,” by Bella Mahaya Carter, and had an epiphany.

Engaging with life from a place of love rather than fear is not a new idea for me, or probably for anyone reading this. It’s the kind of thing we hear and read all the time. I would have said I do that. It’s always my intention to show up in the world with love, which is to say kindness, compassion and respect.

The wording of Carter’s blog, however, indicates motivation, an internal thing, not external action. Make choices with love, not fear. Decide what to do based on love. Do nothing for fear.

Right, I thought. I treat others and myself well. Of course.


I treat others well because I think it’s effective and I’m afraid of violence, hatefulness, rejection and just plain crazy.

I treat myself well because I’m afraid to be unhealthy, unable to earn a living and/or unable to be independent.

It’s all for fear. It’s not for love.

Furthermore, treating myself well doesn’t equal loving myself. I caretake my physical form like a good property manager takes care of a rental. I exercise, eat well, brush my teeth, wash my body and take care of injuries.

What I think about myself is that I disappointed my parents, drove my brother nuts (not literally!), failed two marriages and made unforgiveable mistakes as a parent. I think I’ve never made a successful career or had a good enough job. I think I’m ridiculously hard to live with. I think I eat too much, use too much hot water in the shower, like obnoxious music, try too hard and am too sensitive. I think I’m unattractive and few people want to hug or touch me. I think I’ve spent years writing a 300,000-word book that, for all I know, has less value in the world than a roll of cheap toilet paper. On sale.

Those are some of the things I’m conscious of. When I look at my fear-based choice making, it appears I also think that if I don’t hold my own feet to the fire at all times I’ll become a lazy, irresponsible, selfish slacker, demanding, mean, dishonest and greedy.

Carter’s blog made me realize I could hardly think of a choice, any choice, whether important or mundane, that I haven’t made based on some kind of fear. Ever. From earliest memory.

The greatest motivator in my life is and has always been fear.

Not only that, but I’ve created a whole pantheon of idols I obsessively and ceaselessly worship in order to avoid the vengeful, punitive God I’ve made out of fear. I make daily bloody and brutal sacrifices of time, energy and life to appease them, but insatiable fear just gets more and more powerful. Here are some of the idols:

  • Responsibility
  • Duty
  • Punctuality
  • Hard work (breaks don’t count)
  • Productivity
  • Loyalty
  • Efficiency
  • Trying
  • Pleasing
  • Perfection
  • Intelligence
  • Frugality
  • Success
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Expectation

I read that blog on Friday. There and then I decided to try out making choices based on loving and believing in myself rather than fear of consequences and see what happened.

Without leaving the chair, I asked myself what the hell I was doing messing around with a job I was unhappy in and wasn’t meeting my needs.

On Saturday I applied and tested for a job as an independent contractor to do transcription for an online company.

On Sunday I applied and tested for a job as an independent contractor to do transcription for a second online company and was hired on the spot. I also wrote the publisher of She Writes Press and asked for help with the next step for my book manuscript.

On Monday, when I ran out of work, I began getting qualified (via testing) to do various kinds of transcription through my new job and looked up the resignation process from my medical transcription job.

Yesterday the second online business hired me.

This morning She Writes Press wrote me back with support, suggestions, a recommended professional who might read the manuscript, and what it would cost.

The fear is not gone. In fact, it’s louder than ever because I’m challenging it on so many fronts at once. The difference is I’m not standing nose to nose with it right now. Playing with the new toy of making choices based on what’s loving for myself gives me another option, which means now I can make a real choice.

Fear is not a bad feeling. We need it to survive. It’s just that mine has grown bloated and swollen on all the power I’ve given it over the years. The bigger it gets, the more space it takes. At this point I’ve become its thing. It thinks it can do as it likes with me.

It’s wrong.

I’ve had a belly full of life based on doing things out of fear. It’s exhausting, demoralizing, joyless and hag-ridden. It doesn’t work well and I’m sick of it. When I think about it rationally, I know I don’t need to beat myself with a stick through every day for fear I’ll become lazy, selfish, etc., etc. If I was going to turn into any of those things I would have done it long ago.

How would it be if I used regard for myself as a motivator and refused to do or not do out of fear? What might a life based on doing things out of thinking well of myself look like? What if I stopped giving anything to fear?

The funny thing is life looks much the same. The difference is largely in the outwardly invisible motivation behind my choices. Am I going to relax with music or a video and stretch because that’s the right and responsible way to treat my tiresome physical needs after a long day sitting in which I earned inadequate money, or am I going to do it because I love the way it feels after a tiring day in which I worked hard, whether I earned money or not?

Life is crazy right now. Everything feels like it’s in transition. I hardly know what to concentrate on in any given moment, there’s so much on the table. Even so, now when I run out of energy in the afternoon I spend a few minutes writhing between making a choice between demanding more from myself out of fear or doing something pleasurable and relaxing. So far, every day I’ve managed to choose rest and relaxation after another wild day.

It appears I’ve begun a new practice. I didn’t know that evening I sat in the chair and cried that I was standing on an important threshold. I didn’t know by the end of the week I’d have not one but two new jobs. I didn’t know I was going to finally get serious about putting my manuscript into a professional’s hands and risk failure and rejection. I didn’t know in just a couple of days I was going to begin making a habit out of rolling out of bed and stepping into the day’s embrace with curiosity and a resolve to think well of myself as I navigate, rather than wondering fearfully what would happen next and whether I would manage it adequately.

So far, so good.

Nothing more for fear.

Visit my Good Girl Rebellion page for a quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke, this week’s antitoxin to powerlessness.

All content on this site ©2017
Jennifer Rose
except where otherwise noted

The Failure of Money

I’m thinking about money today. This is not new. Sometimes I think most of my life has been consumed by thoughts about money. Well, not thoughts so much as panic, guilt, shame and worry.

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

There’s a heavy snowstorm here in central Maine. I’ve just been standing looking out my attic window, watching it fall on the huge elderly maples, bare as old bones, and the grass and the street and our little black Hyundai car in the driveway.

We found out this morning that the car needs about $1,300 worth of work. Almost exactly what it’s worth. Time to make choices.

We went out to walk, my partner and I. I didn’t cover my head, and when we got home my hair and eyelashes were clotted with wet snow. My son, who had gone out to run errands, was backing into the driveway as we came home. He’d been meditating in a ditch, not being able to get in touch with us, after sliding off the extremely slick road and into a guy wire securing a telephone pole. Some kind soul drove by and pulled him back onto the road. Fortunately, my son wasn’t dented, but the car was. This, needless to say, does not improve the resale value!

Photo by Caley Dimmock on Unsplash

I also took time this morning to buy Christmas gifts, so I’ve been absorbing all the jingle bells, merry merry and buy buy online. Quite a contrast, all the glitz and glitter, deals and special buys and impossibly joyous advertising, to the silent world outside the window, grey, smoke blue, brown, dark green and the ivory snow. Over the years, I’ve done less and less gift exchange for Christmas. There are only two people left with whom I do it, not because I don’t love giving gifts but because of financial stress and my resentment of the pressure to consume.

I’ve always had a dreadful relationship with money. My earliest understanding of what it was became inextricably tangled with anguish, fear, rage and power issues. As a child, I was always afraid there wouldn’t be enough. As an adult, I was locked in a belief that money defined me. To have money was to be successful, and to not have it was to be a failure. There was a well-known and well-defined path to follow: Graduate high school with top grades and scholarships, obtain a college education in something employable and lucrative, get a job with benefits, and never NEVER touch the principal. If you must borrow, pay off ASAP and stay out of credit debt. Save for retirement, own your own home and pay off the mortgage, take vacations and have a nice car.

However, during my lifetime the world has changed considerably. The middle class from which I came has all but vanished. I didn’t want to go to college, but did it because it was expected. I didn’t get a good scholarship and felt guilty every day I was there, and my guilt was made worse by the fact that the only subjects that interested me were religion, literature, history and the like. After two years, I dropped out. (Note: Dropouts are NOT successful. Ever.) I’ve been working ever since.

Then I got divorced (credit card debt), saved for retirement but cashed a couple of those accounts for emergencies, lost all my investment money to a crooked contractor, never took a vacation or even a plane ride out of my own pocket, and never in my life bought a new car. Retirement? You must be kidding. What are the chances there will even still be social security by the time I’m 65?

This is in no way a remarkable biography, I realize, but for me there’s a red stamp across every page of it that says FAILURE.

I’ve only in the last two years really understood how much power I gave money to define who I am and what I’m (you guessed it) worth. The idea of monetary value, like sexism, is embedded in our very language. There’s no escaping it. In my culture, the failure to make and spend money in ever increasing amounts is unpatriotic, unattractive, unsuccessful and sometimes illegal.

This is all wrong. I feel like the little boy who said out loud the emperor had no clothes.  Everyone was appalled and shushed him, lest the emperor hear and be offended.

I know myself to be an intelligent, heartful, creative, empathetic, honest person. The numbers in my bank account have absolutely nothing to do with those qualities.

The most important things in my life are my healthy relationships. Again, the numbers in my bank account have no influence over my ability to love and be loved and connected. (Hint: A relationship dependent on money doesn’t fit my definition of healthy. Just sayin’.)

Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

My ability to be present, entertain joy, laugh, create and learn has nothing to do with money.

My enormous talent for life has nothing to do with money.

Unfortunately, our broken system does require money for health care and the necessities of shelter, food and water. To be human is to need these basics. Not having money for them is the experience of increasing numbers of Americans and the vast majority of others in the world. I myself don’t have the money to buy health insurance. Does that mean we’re all failures?

Of course not.

Not only that, but we’re exhausting our global resources and when no amount of money will buy food and water we’ll all starve together, regardless of our bank balances.

So, yeah, we’re going to have to figure out what to do with the car. We’ll have to get a loan and work on finding a good used vehicle that can deal with our weather. It will mean a monthly car payment. No idea how we’ll do it, but I know we’ll find a way. Before that, we may have to do some work on the Hyundai in order to get top price for it.

But none of that is about me, or what I’m worth in the world, or what I can do or be. It’s all just static and distraction. It’s not failure or success, it’s just that cars age out and need to be replaced. If I could go out and buy a brand-new Subaru, it wouldn’t be failure or success, either.  It would be CONVENIENT and LUCKY.

Here are a couple of Christmas presents from me to you. The first is a quote and the second is an old wisdom tale from the Hindu tradition, one version of which is in More Ready-To-Tell Tales from Around the World, edited by David Holt and Bill Mooney, and told by Jim May.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

–Jiddu Krishnamurti

The Ruby

A holy man awoke, as usual, in the hour before dawn, on his mattress of grass. A warm wind moved across the land, bringing the scent of dust, animals, early morning cooking fires and blossoms, fresh and sweet in the cool morning.

The holy man was beginning his morning prayers when an excited young peasant ran up to him. “Master, where is it?”

The holy man raised an inquiring eyebrow.

“I had a dream,” said the peasant, calming himself. “In my dream, I met a holy man at the edge of the village. And here you are! The holy man gave me a precious jewel.”

“Ah, yes,” said the holy man. He bent and pulled from beneath his mattress of grass a ruby the size of his fist. “You must mean this. I have no use for it.”

He handed it to the peasant, who had never held more than two copper coins in his hand. The peasant raised the ruby between himself and the rising sun and his awed face was washed in red shadow. He walked slowly home, his eyes fastened on the ruby. He entered his simple hut and sat down on the dirt floor with the ruby before him.

All day he gazed, enchanted, and dreamed of what the ruby could buy him. He forgot his morning prayers. He didn’t eat, bathe, or take care of his livestock. He didn’t scythe grass for hay. When night came, he didn’t say his evening prayers, make a meal or lie down and rest. He sat before the ruby, worshipping.

The next morning the peasant took the ruby in his hand and went out, searching the fields for the holy man. When he found him, he handed the ruby back to him.

“This is not the precious jewel I want. Teach me what you know that made it so easy for you to give it away.”

All content on this site ©2016
Jennifer Rose
except where otherwise noted