Read an Excerpt
Sometime in your life, you will go on a journey.
It will be the longest journey you will have
ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself.
Calling All Women: From Competition to Connection grew out of my more than thirty years of experience in sharing with countless women the ways that they have lived in the world. Women walk through life in complex ways. Jean Shinoda Bolen writes about the goddess in every woman. Her writings awaken and highlight the beauty that is part of womankind. In addition, I believe that in every woman there is a little girl, a weathered and wise old woman, a fierce mother bear, a sensual kitten, a loyal dog, a powerhouse of strength, an executive, and a survivor. Being a woman is at once complex and fulfilling.
Young women deal with the anxiety and struggles of youth. There are issues of self-image, body image, and vulnerability. Early connections with friends and boyfriends are filled with excitement, angst, and fear. There are choices to make about sex, alcohol, and drugs. There are choices to be made about education and leaving home. We live in a fast-moving culture, and tension and expectations are high.
At the same time, young women in these years are beautiful, bright, and strong. They have a chance to bring their idealism and creativity to the foreground and take the women's movement forward another notch. They are interested in ecology, government, and the movement toward global consciousness. Among young women, there is a unity of spirit.
For adult women, there is attention to careers, partnerships, marriages, and motherhood. These bring a physical and an emotional intensity that preoccupies them in young adulthood. Learning to blend life with a partner or a spouse and become connected to another family is both a challenge and an opportunity.
Young adult women often modify personal goals and dreams when choosing to become a parent. Elizabeth Stone says it well: 'Making the decision to have a child—it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.' During these years, it's more difficult to find unity of spirit, simply because of time and energy pressures. However, through women's groups, vacation getaways, networks, and literature, the fire continues to burn among women.
Later in life, there are womanly changes that bring about a renewal of energy for many women. When most of the child-rearing and career years are finished, there can be a resurgence of energy, passion, and creativity. Using all her learning and experience, a woman can become renewed in her connection to life. One could say she becomes increasingly passionate and maybe even an activist. She has been many places, she has had many experiences, and her wisdom is deep and caring.
There is a natural flow for women from maiden to mover to mystic. Women take this journey seriously. By the time a woman reaches her later years, she has the opportunity and the possibility of becoming the core, leader, mystic, sage, or healer in her tribe. Tribes are units of people who are bound together by experience, time, love, and compassion. Sometimes they are blood families and sometimes they are families of choice. The blood is less important than the commitment and connection between people.
Men can also become cores, leaders, mystics, sages, and healers in their tribes. They have an energy all their own. In recent years, they have gathered with one another and found their own connections. They have become more interested in other men and have become willing to connect at a deeper inner level. Traditionally, male energy has been different from female energy. Men have often used sports, business, and competition to find ways to connect. Now there are many more men who are finding other ways to connect.
Nevertheless, this book is about female energy and wisdom. This energy is about inner connections between hearts and souls. Women know the value of feeling it all and feeling with intensity and gusto. When they are sad, they cry, and sometimes, in grief, they wail. When they laugh and feel joy, they giggle and belly-laugh. When women go into one of these moments of hilarity, they are willing to share embarrassment, triumphs, defeats, and victories.
There is nothing quite as healing as fun times together, yet women do not stop there. They know how to feel compassion. It has been said that compassion is the trembling of the soul in the presence of pain. Women are able to hurt with and for others. They can expand their love to include all children, their neighbors, their pets, and their friends. They become outraged when they see suffering. It is easy for women to become activists and do what they can to end suffering.
Women know how to be rather than just do. They know that when they are feathering their nest, cooking, cleaning, and paying bills, they are meditating, in their own way. They know the value of creating and furnishing a nest in which they and those they love are able to thrive, rest, and regroup.
I spend time at a wonderful center in Arizona that teaches mindfulness. My experience is that many women are mindful naturally. Whenever women hold something in their hearts and souls and think about it, they are meditating. I keep yellow notes on my prayer table that contain the names of those for whom I want to pray. Holding their names in my consciousness is my prayer.
To be a woman is to love and then be vulnerable. If we love, and then we lose someone we love, we suffer. Perhaps suffering is the sign of how much we have loved. All of life may be a matter of choosing love or choosing indifference or fear. These decisions shape what each woman becomes.
Women have needs and wants that are different at different stages of their lives. Little girls giggle and play together. They start early, with slumber parties and sleepovers. They connect by telling secrets, fixing each other's hair, and sharing fun. Teens get together for more slumber parties, shopping trips, boy talk, never-ending laughter, and sometimes tears. Adult women connect and share with other women over lunch, shopping, careers, and social groups. The laughter continues, and so do the tears. The sharing deepens and becomes increasingly valuable.
There are travel networks like Gutsy Women, magazines like Girlfriend Getaways, and spa programs for mothers and daughters. All these group gatherings add to the female energy that is life producing and sustaining. Later in life, the wise women, gutsy women, sages, and mentors find ways to help one another through the stages of life.
Calling All Women: From Competition to Connection is about finding more and helpful ways to be wise and connected. Women can connect through conferences, books, workshops, and the Internet. There are many hurdles and challenges in life when we can support each other. I wrote this book because I believe that in finding one another we can eliminate the myths that women are too introspective, too emotional, too sensitive, and too controlling. My intent in writing this book is to offer women clear, concise information and directions in areas of life that are familiar to us all.
The information is short and pithy to reflect the way we live today. Most women are too busy to read long books on each of the subjects in this book. My strategy for sharing is to give short, immediate direction and then guide the reader to more in-depth work should she want to find more information, counseling, or coaching.
This book is not meant to replace counseling. It is designed to address the normal transitions and circumstances in everyone's life. It may be all that a woman needs to make choices and changes in her life. Sometimes all we need to find resolution is information and direction.
If we make those choices and changes and still need help, it becomes necessary to seek objective input from a counselor, a coach, or a workshop. Life doesn't change; we change. Once we accept that it is our responsibility and opportunity to make these choices and changes, we will be well on our way to healing, satisfaction, and happiness in our lives.
Enjoy the journey!
Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives. New York: Harper, 2004.
Girlfriend Getaways magazine, www.girlgetaways.com
©2009. Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Calling All Women--From Competition to Connection. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442