Category Archives: women’s joy circle

calling all men!

The god Heimdallr with the horn Gjallarhorn an...

To all my beloved male readers (if, indeed, there are any?)—will you please help me out?

Next week, our women’s joy circle is opening to men.  This is scary for me.

I have loved men, I have deeply bonded with men, I have birthed men, but the sacred masculine still remains mysterious and a bit forbidding to me.

I believe that at the holy core of masculine experience is a deep faith and desire to serve that is staggering in its strength and purity.  I believe this because I have seen it again and again, and it leaves me breathless.

So why is it that when women gather to talk about men, the traits that we most often complain about are the faithlessness, the egocentrism of our partners and lovers?

The work I have done with women—with myself—is to slowly regain the inner equilibrium of the divine feminine.  This equilibrium expresses itself as a beautiful self-sufficiency and joyful caretaking.  I cannot do this work with men, because I do not know what it is to be a man.

But I can open our circle to men, with love, and show them what we have done.  And we can share our self-sufficiency, our joyful caretaking, our carefully tended well of divine femininity, in hopes of inspiring an emergence of that soaring, sacred masculine that weakens the knees and staggers the breath.

Or maybe there will be a lot of awkward silences and giggling.  This is why I need your help.

In the comments below, will you do the human race a solid and answer the following questions? (And female readers, will you pass these on to the men in your lives?  I really, really, desire some answers before next Monday!)

1. What makes you feel comfortable and safe around women?

2. What do you most fear/dislike about women?

3. If you could ask a woman any question without fear of offending her, what would it be?

4. What is your deepest wish for the women in your life?

5. What do you most appreciate about women?

If you don’t want to answer these questions in the comments, you can also answer them anonymously by taking this survey:  PLEASE TAKE THIS SURVEY!

Thank you, so much, for your honesty and bravery!  Next week I’ll write how it all went, and spill some juicy secrets, and hopefully answer some of your questions.  In closing, the sexiest appreciation of men I’ve ever heard.


April 16, 2013 · 3:55 am

Women’s Joy Circle: the wanting

Flaming June.

I brought a lot away from the radical pleasure workshop I taught March 30th with the inimitable Briana Schuck and the incomparable Laura Alvarez. The ringing one-liner, though, the kernel around which last night’s joy circle crystallized, was something Briana said about the difference between a want and a desire.

When you want something, you are aware of a lack.  You are bemoaning what isn’t.    There is a gulf between you and what it is you want.

I wrote this song in the throes of want, languishing in an unhealthy relationship and confused about what I really wanted.  The misery of wanting is downright audible!

When you desire something, however…ahhh.  You feel it in your body.  You come alive with the tingling sensation of desiring this beautiful thing.  You luxuriate in the knowledge that it is already in you.  And you celebrate every time you see what you desire, because the fact that it exists at all just lights you up.

Last night’s joy circle was a celebration of desire.  We ate the lavender-infused truffles I keep going on and on about (because they are THAT GOOD) and sipped kombucha and rose petal tea.  We did a lot of yoga.  We turned off the lights, lit candles, and had a sweaty no-holds-barred dance party with the delicious help of Modest Mouse, Florence + The Machine, MC Yogi, and Garmarna.  And then we settled in with our notebooks and wrote down our desires.

When you write down a desire, it should feel really, really good.  Your whole body should come alive.  Here’s an example:

“I desire an exquisite, handbuilt earthen cottage set into acres of gardens, overflowing with light and scent and flowers.  I desire built-in windowseats with bookshelves for curling into on a rainy morning, and an airy kitchen with space for all of my drying herbs.  I desire a little bathroom with large, light-filled windows and a clawfoot bathtub surrounded by blooming scented geraniums and dozens of varieties of lavender.  I desire gardens that contain cherry, raspberry, peach, plum, sea buckthorn, goji, jojoba, hawthorn.  I desire winding paths through my acres of medicine herbs and food forests that end at a year-round creek that supplies my little home with abundant microhydro energy, a cool place to submerge and swim in summer, a quiet place to meditate in winter.

I desire to share this beautiful space by hosting earth-centered events, exuberant parties circling on the wheel of the year, counseling circles,  healing herbal gatherings and permaculture courses.”

Wow.  That feels so good, just writing it again.  So different from wanting it...desiring it, feeling it, sensing it already there.  It’s a joy to desire something.  It’s agony to want it.

Knowing what you desire is an immense boon to those around you. Taking the time to write down your desires, in great detail and specificity, gives all of your tumbling tumultuous creative energy a locus point.  And in time, you become so comfortable with what it is that you really, truly want that you recognize it when it comes.  You make the choices that lead you to it.  You tell everyone you meet about the fulness of your desires and they voluntarily enlist in helping you achieve them.

Because our deepest, truest desires are for the things that lead us home.  And when we are home, creating what we were made to create, living the life that lights us up, we are doing the best good we are capable of.


April 10, 2013 · 3:14 am

Women’s Joy Circle: Arousal

It starts with her beauty in my eyes, it moves...

Ooh, arousal.  It has such a sexual connotation, doesn’t it? And yet it’s important to specify just what type of arousal we’re talking here.  Arousal of the nervous system–the fight-or-flight response–is the opposite of sexy.  When the nervous system is aroused, stress hormones get dumped into the bloodstream, halting digestion, cutting off blood supply to the extremities, and eventually suppressing the immune system.  Great when you need to wrestle a mountain lion off your back, but not so hot on the lion-skin rug, if you know what I’m saying. Continue reading


March 20, 2013 · 3:09 am

Women’s Joy Circle: Living an Authentic Life


Sculpture from the Peaceful Warrior collection by Margot Robinson

Last night’s joy circle was graced by Margot Robinson, a sculptor, artist, author, public speaking coach, and ecstatic dancer who came to share the wisdom she’s learned along the way.  We opened with a round of brags: one of us bragged that she had finally finished her grueling separation paperwork, another that she had managed a heartbreakingly difficult week without running away or collapsing. One of us had an incredible business opportunity land in her lap after following the lead of her heart, and one had designed an academic major that brought her personal passions into line with her academic work.

It is wonderful to sit in that circle and be reminded of the daily bravery this life takes, to take a moment and appreciate how sincerely we take this business of living, even when it gets painfully hard. One woman shared  gratitude for her cloud of witnesses, remarking that many in her support system are women who had “been made stronger than they should have to be” and how well that strength, born of struggle, had served her in her own difficult times.

After rose petal chai and sprouted-flour banana muffins we congregated again by candlelight to hear what Margot had to say. She first asked: “if you had one question to ask someone wise in the ways of life, what would it be?”  The circle responded:

“How do you care for yourself in the face of the press of daily obligations?”

“How do you get past the fear?” Continue reading


March 12, 2013 · 1:51 pm

Women’s Joy Circle: Celebrating Beauty

Henna design at 36 hours

self-decoration with henna

Every Monday, the Greensboro Women’s Joy Circle meets to share stories, sip tea, brag, write, stretch, dance, and meditate…every week it is a different constellation of women, and every week we explore a new theme as we continue to build daring, joyful lives.  On Tuesdays, I share what we’ve learned with you.

Okay, disclaimer:  the women’s joy circle didn’t actually meet this week.  My wonderfully intelligent body kicked the crap out of me because I had decided to take a trip that my spirit, mind, and intuition were all warning me against.  (“Just try to go NOW” purred my body from its supine position, too feverish to allow me even to pick up the phone and cancel my airplane ticket.)  There is a treatment when sickness has progressed this far: it is called SHUT UP AND LISTEN.  As in, put your echinacea tincture down, girl, get some sleep, and next time your intuition kicks in PAY ATTENTION.  All right, all right.  Sheesh.  Anyway, what follows is a description of a women’s circle from last month.

We congregated to celebrate beauty.  We stood in that circle and took each others’ hands and looked in each others’ eyes and decided that we would make our own definitions of beauty that night; that we would love and celebrate and affirm what we saw.  And then I passed out bellydance scarves and put on this song and we were off.  We practiced hip circles, and rib circles; we learned to flutter our bellies and shimmy like fiends.  Some of us had never bellydanced before.  It didn’t matter.  This is a female dance form, sinuous and cyclical.  It comes pretty naturally and feels wonderful.  It is felt beauty, moving like this, letting the body spiral and shake, and laughter bubbled out naturally from all of us.

Bodies warm and loved, hearts full, we sat on the floor and I brought out my little bags of prepared hennaContinue reading


March 5, 2013 · 3:11 am

pleasure IS productive.


getting it done.

Long ago, or maybe this morning, someone laughed at your idea and told you it was unrealistic.  Someone told you that enjoying yourself was lazy, or selfish, or disgusting.  Someone asked you who do you think you are to do that? Someone criticized your work, your appearance, your efforts.  Someone told you that you weren’t talented enough, or rich enough, or young enough, or old enough, or strong enough, or smart enough.  Someone said leave that to the experts.  Someone hit you, or pushed you, or locked the door between you and what you wanted. And that HURT.

When that happened, a part of you took note.  And that brave, protective part decided NEVER to let you get hurt again.  Now, that part notices every time you make yourself vulnerable—every time you stick your neck out, venture a new opinion, decide to play larger, start something new—and it shuts you down.  Because if YOU demean, belittle, and constrain yourself, no one else will have the chance to do it for you. And you will be safe.  Miserable and muzzled, yes, but safe. Continue reading


February 28, 2013 · 3:11 pm

Women’s Joy Circle: on receiving

Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atk...

Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Monday, the Greensboro Women’s Joy Circle meets to share stories, sip tea, brag, write, stretch, dance, and meditate…every week it is a different constellation of women, and every week we explore a new theme as we continue to build daring, joyful lives.  On Tuesdays, I share what we’ve learned with you.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how difficult it is for some women to brag.  We use bragging at joy circle to overcome the tendency to either self-deprecate or complain.  It is both inspiring and exhilarating to sit in a circle of women who openly admit their creativity and strength and fortitude.  But for some of us, bragging goes against the grain–is, in fact, downright uncomfortable.  Continue reading

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February 26, 2013 · 7:04 pm