Taking Stock: A Personal Post on Pride and Impossible Transformations

It’s funny the things that make us pause, and take stock of where we are at, and the journey we have been on. For me, today, the invitation came in the form of an emotional health questionnaire that I was required to fill out as part of an application for disability insurance.

The form was filled with standard questions. Each probing into the details and history of any and all emotional health issues I have ever had, been told I had, or been investigated for.

At first I felt a wave of frustration. Why do I have to relay the intimate details of my mental and emotional health to some company for the purpose of allowing them to judge whether I am “good enough” for them to insure? Mostly, I didn’t really want to relive what is now in the past.

Of course, as an insurance defence lawyer who has done her share of coverage work, I was also not surprised. Insurers must assess the risk of insuring. And so, I began to fill out the questions – grudgingly at first, and then with more and more ease and willingness.

By the time I had finished documenting my history and recovery from bulimia, my reconnection to my emotional intelligence, and the work I have achieved to date in developing self-mastery over my emotions, I felt something else: a sense of pride.

A sense of pride is an odd thing for an insurance application to bring up. But that is unmistakably what arose. And while I don’t often admit it to myself, it is deserved. I have a lot to be proud of. It is a rare thing for someone to truly and sustainably release themselves from the clutches of something as powerful as bulimia.

I rarely let myself focus on this fact: I chose to do the hard work to heal my wounds and transform the fundamental beliefs that ran me, instead of choosing the easy route of pretending, or giving up and allowing the weight of the pain to crush me.

For approximately eight years (2005 to 2013) much of my time and energy revolved around food and my body. I lived by an impossible number of rules as to how little I was allowed to eat, and the weight and shape my body had to maintain. In secret, I repeatedly broke my rules by gorging on food and then tried to undo the transgression by purging, and then shaming myself into stricter rules. It was an exhausting cycle. I feared I would never be able break it.

Yet, I did. In early 2013 my life force (my soul) shouted “STOP!” and I embarked on a new and completely unknown journey. A journey into myself, and the beliefs, patterns and fears that ran me. It was not a comfortable process. It was humbling. It required I get to know parts of myself I had long since shut down – my creativity, my physicality, my spirituality, and my emotions. It required I let go of the shame around each of these parts of myself so that I could be free to be me in the world. It required I let go of people and places and things that would not transform with me.

Through this process of allowing my own humanity, I began to hear the deeper voice of truth within me. This voice was foreign. It did not counsel me to hurt or shame or force myself into a box of rules. This voice was kind and loving and compassionate. It was playful. It was peaceful. It wanted me to be free. It was this voice who told me I did not actually want to consume an entire tub of ice cream. “You just need a good cry” the voice would whisper, and slowly, I released the shame I held around the idea of being someone who cried, and I began to allow myself to cry when I needed to. The same kind of process occurred with all strong emotions and states I had been denying myself – anger, frustration, disappointment, love, passion and joy.

As I began to get in touch with the emotions I had been numbing with food, at first they were so strong it was challenging to deal with. I did not know how to listen to them. I was afraid of them. For a while I let them have a certain amount of power over me. I began changing the course of my life based on how I felt, with little consult to reason.

It was again the deeper voice of truth within me that began to show me the way. “The emotion simply wants to pass.” The voice would say. “Just allow it. Be with it. Do not react immediately.” As I began a practice of simply being with the emotions that came up in me, I found that they really did just pass. What was left in their wake was a much gentler knowing or truth.

Slowly, I began to see and understand the needs underlying the emotions that I had been suppressing: self-love, nurturance, safety, stability, connection and creative expression.  I again began the challenging process of transformation: allowing my needs to be true; releasing the shame I felt around them, and beginning to satisfy them. As I took on the task of satisfying my needs, my inner state became more and more peaceful. My emotions no longer waged war with me because I was tending to the needs they were trying to bring to my attention.

While I am still working on more subtle forms of emotional mastery – like asserting myself gracefully in conflict situations, and strengthening my ability to maintain poise and self-confidence when challenged – I am proud of where I am at and who I have become. My emotions do not rule me, and I no longer have any need for coping mechanisms.

I consider the breadth of emotional capacity I have access to as a result of my past struggles and the journey I embarked upon to overcome them a true gift. My emotions allow me to see and connect with others at levels beyond what I knew possible, and that, at times, feels magical. The degree of self-love I have learned to cultivate for myself and my own humanity has equally increased my capacity to hold healing and transformative space for others.  

As for my relationship with food, it is 100% transformed, and has been for some time. My relationship with food is intuitive. I have no rules about what or when I can eat. I do not look to food as comfort, as an escape, or to cope. I rarely overeat. Food does not preoccupy my thoughts unless I am hungry. I enjoying making and sharing meals with those I love. I have not restricted my food intake, binged or purged my food in years. Most days, the fact that I was bulimic, and that my relationship with food was unhealthy, is such a distant memory, that I forget that time in my life even existed.

Today I was reminded. Both of where I have come from in my emotional health journey, and the stark contrast to where I am at today. I have truly re-written a story. A story I once believed impossible to re-write. I am proud of myself. I am grateful for all of the support I have received along my journey. I am emboldened and filled with faith for the impossible transformations and creations yet to come.

xo,

Danielle

p.s. Maybe there is an impossible transformation you would like to acknowledge yourself for. Take a look. You deserve it.

Danielle Rondeau Comments
Partnership, Imperfections and the Magick of Life in All Things

There was a time in my life when I could not have handled any of this.

That time was not so long ago. Six months, a year, maybe. Definitely two years ago I would not have been ready. Despite that I thought I was. Despite that I wanted it. Despite that the longing was there. I was not ready.

I did not trust myself enough to be ready. I did not believe that I was deserving. I did not believe that I was worthy of true devotion or respect. I did not believe I was worthy of being cherished. I did not believe I was worthy of the love story I longed for. I did not believe I deserved a fairy tale, or a true partner in work or in life. And so, I did not know how to offer it to another.

Had partnership showed up on my doorstep two years ago I would have distrusted its sincerity. I would have discounted the value of its humility. I would have manipulated the vulnerability of its love. I would have. And I did.

I was not ready to allow myself, or another, that gift.

I am allowing it now, and it is amazing. It is not because I have figured my shit out that it has arrived. It is not because I have overcome my faults and flaws and imperfections. It has arrived because I know that I am worthy, and I would not accept anything less.

I have simply been down the road of compromising my soul’s longings too many times. I know the cost. I am unwilling to bear it. There is a line that has developed in me. If you cross it, you are done. That’s it. If you do not treat me the way I want to be treated, the only thing left between us is goodbye. I never used to be like this. I had a million chances for everyone. I simply don’t anymore. It must be like this. And it is.

I know I am ready. And yet, in the midst of stepping into this next level of love and partnership, I am realizing just how green I am at showing up as a true partner - at being reliable in my faith and in my word, and at receiving. I am coming up against my old demons. I am reminded every day just how challenging it is to keep being seen, and to keep believing.

It is not just romantic love where these challenges arise - although it is at the centre. The same challenges show up in the deepening towards partnership in all areas. Romance. Work. Friendship. Creativity. Spirituality. Family. Home.

All of our self-sabotaging patterns are revealed in the intimacy of partnership. Their impact is magnified tenfold. A new level of self-mastery is required.

With every stride forward insecurities screech like a broken record. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIS. YOU AREN’T READY. ONCE THEY REALIZE THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU, THEY WON’T WANT YOU ANYMORE.

Not worthy. Not good enough. Undeserving.

Same old story. Same old wound.

The fear that our imperfections will be our downfall is the greatest lie we have all accepted.

It keeps us from being at peace with who we are. It has us hide parts of ourselves. It forecloses intimacy and love, and prevents us from sharing our creative gifts - some of the greatest joys of being human and alive.

These or similar stories of unworthiness have held me back from being fully seen by lovers, friends, colleagues and the world, for a very long time. I have done a lot of work to dismantle them. They have lost a lot of their power with me. Hiding is no longer where I am at, or who I am.

My life is now on loud speaker. I am not ashamed to be me in all of my beauty and imperfection.

And though the insecurities still whisper, I know they will not win. I believe I am enough. I believe I can trust. I have faith to keep showing up when life gets messy. I have developed the strength to allow the vulnerability that partnership requires.

If you are in my life you get all of me. I don’t keep secrets from those I love anymore. I know I am imperfect. I am a work in progress. And, I am deserving of love and respect just the same.

If you love and respect me in all of my messy humanity, I will love and respect you in yours. And together we will create beauty, as humans have done for centuries - imperfect, together, and believing in the magick of life in all things.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment
A Personal Post on Flying, and Sustainable, Fiery Love

"I have gone on a few good test runs. I have hovered at the end of this runway, on the lip of this nest, on the edge of this canyon. I have flown little circles above it. Dipped a wing beyond it."

And, now – now I am flying. Early mornings of free-falling-bliss deep into the canyon – swirling down and then back up into the clouds high, high, above – twirling noon-time, heart light-and-free, into afternoons of play-fights and peaceful resting by that aqua blue pond, just beyond, the overhang, that yesterday I discovered, until I find myself lazily zig-zagging my evening back up to my nest in the cliff-face, talons sinking into cool earth like the roots of an old tree, wings ready for tomorrow's new foray. 

Two years and two months ago I wrote the first paragraph.

The second paragraph was last weekend.

This learning to fly is slow like that. Not days, not weeks, not even months-long. Years-long. Multiple years-long learning.

More than two years to begin to get the hang of a thing is an excruciatingly long time for someone who loves to just throw herself off the cliff’s edge into the wind of something new and take chances as to where and how she lands.

Yet there is something so deeply satisfying about this years-long lift-off.

I am learning that I can be fully present, embodied, and in-love with a thing, and it can be sustainable. It does not need to take over my life. It does not need to be at a cost to my foundation, or any other area of my life.

It can grow deeper roots and become sturdier, as I fly higher and wilder. I can be both more-safe and more-free.

All of you artists out there will understand the seeming impossibility of what I am writing. You lovers too. You passionate ones who can easily be swept into a vortex of creative / romantic / sexual / intellectual / spiritual bliss, and wake up a few months later with a love-hang-over; the rest of your life in shambles.  

But, man, is the fire good. Am I right?

Those of you who know, will know why this having the intensity without the collateral damage is blowing my F-ing mind.

I have been practising this impossible concept, intentionally, in my legal work since the fall of 2015 – an area of my life where there is passion and creativity, but not quite as much as some other areas, like writing poetic philosophy, creating magical transformative experiences for people, and of course, romantic love.

I still wobble out of balance sometimes with my legal work. I still get a little “too into it” on occasion and let my home, health and relationships tremble. But I always bring it back into balance before there is true destruction of anything that matters to me.

I can’t say I’ve mastered this practice, but I now have some facility. I am showing up most days to my legal work with full intensity and leaving at the end of the work day with ample time and energy to tend to the foundation of my life, with care.

The beginning of this month I met a guy who fits the vision I have for a romantic partner, pretty well perfectly. He is sweet and passionate and wild and stable, and most importantly, a really good cook (kidding, the most important part is he’s committed to showing up – the cooking is an awesome bonus).

So, of course, there is a part of me that is freaked out that I will fall in love head-over-heels and destroy the other parts of my life that are currently working just swell. But a bigger part of me trusts.

He’s showing up in my life, because I am ready.

The past month I have proven to myself that I am. I am allowing myself to fall in love, and it is amazing. Yet I am so fiercely protective of my foundation, and what I have built with my commitment to my legal work, that those areas of my life have not suffered.

Intensity + Responsibility = Flying Without Crash Landings.

I am actually flying most days now. In-love in real-time in my real life. It is astounding. And bone-deep nourishing. Ecstasy woven into the messiness of every day life.

So, I’m going to keep at it. This years-long training is by no means over. I’m no expert at flying yet. There are higher highs I want to hit. Darker depths I want to dance with. Wild-wave-caverns I want to weave through. Wind tunnels I want to release myself into.

There are levels of ecstasy, freedom and peace I have not yet allowed myself, because I am not ready to enjoy them responsibly. And the cost of me not doing so is just too high a cost to bear when I love the life I am creating as much as I now do.

The bliss of writing these next books that live in me and owning a full-fledged Write Your Soul Story business that shares my philosophy with the world in both intellectual and experiential ways, are two things I have not yet been ready to embrace sustainably. And of course, I have only begun to scratch the surface of the depths of intimacy, passion and love that are available to me to surrender to in romantic partnership.

That I become the woman who can show up to each of these things with the full intensity of her passion, without destroying her foundation or any other area of her life – is a transformation I am committed to at the level of soul.

I am devoted. I am becoming her. She will be. I have already decided.

And so, I continue to practise this expansion. Slowly. Intentionally. And with buckets more patience than is comfortable.

I will practice this skill until I master it. And then I will tweak it and finesse it some more – until the day comes when I can shoot across the sky of my life like a comet, blazing fireworks from my eyes, creating magick with my words, roaring ferociously and dancing wildly with the creatures in the darkest depths of the forest – and still show up to Court on Monday, with the laundry done, unperturbed.

xo,

Danielle

 

Thoughts on Shedding an Identity and Suicide

When you shed an identity, release an old story, there is a period of time when you haven’t quite grown into a new one.

You’ve got glimpses. Ideas, maybe. But all of them are informed by the old landscape; a little too wrapped up in what you used to know, who you used to be. None are fully aligned. None are as satisfying as you’d like them to be.

And yet, you can’t go back.

Nothing is left for you in the place from which you’ve come.

And so you must sit, in this alchemical place – a mixture of death and longing.

This. 

This is the place where we humans least like to be.

It is a place of extreme discomfort. Ripe for indulgence in skin-deep pleasures: instantly gratifying, but fake. It is the place where we turn to behaviours of numbing out – to busyness, to addiction, to avoidance – whatever flavour our escape.

And yet, escape is even less satisfying.

We wake, the stench of death filling our nostrils; the discomfort of our longing, intensified by shame and the loneliness of self-imposed hiding; and still no clear way to satisfy our hearts.

These are the spaces – the experiences of being human – we most like to pretend do not exist.

We would rather if darkness were not.

And so, we deny its natural existence in the cycles of our lives. We deny the small deaths of living with such viscosity, that, eventually, the backed-up-swell of darkness turns into a raging storm that can no longer be kept at bay.

Fed by denial and shame, its power becomes so great that our faith in life itself starts to waver. 

We find ourselves exhausted and longing for relief. We begin to believe the best way forward might be to simply give up on the light altogether, and to release ourselves into a greater unknown. 

I have been in this place of darkness.

I have never seriously considered taking my own life, but I know what it is like to waver in the faith to go on.

What I have learned from my own journey is it is not by avoidance of the darkness that we find a way to move forward into the new story that is waiting.

It is by allowing what is to be.

It is by being fully in the discomfort and the pain of the small deaths that life brings us.

It is by lighting a candle and raising the flame so our friends know where to find us.

It is by allowing the pain to be real without shaming ourselves for the experience.

It is only if we let death come, that it will go. This I know.

Small deaths will come and go, if we let them.

The sun will rise again.

So keep a candle and a match by your bedside, for those nights when death comes to visit.

And when darkness closes in, strike your match and raise your flame high in the air. Help will come. It will not be a quick-fix, instantly-feel-better kind of help. It will be the kind of help that heals by allowing what naturally is. It will lend an ear, a hug, a prayer, a laugh, a hand. It will not judge. It will be love so big there will be room for death within it. 

In that safe space, death will come, and it will go. The sun will rise again. 

May we each receive and be that kind of love. May we show up for each other no matter how dimly the light may flicker.

We will all have times in our life when we don’t know how to write the next chapter.

Its okay. Take off the covers. Strike the match. Let in the love.

A new story is coming.

xo,

Danielle

R.I.P. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and every one who has found themselves in darkness, without a match, and without the faith needed to write the next chapter of their story.

Burning Bridges: A Personal Post on Self-Sabotage, Healing and Transition

Last year, about this time, I spoke words that destroyed the two closest female relationships I had.

I loved these ladies like sisters. I knew that if I said "the thing" (which at the time was deeply true for me) it would break the heart of one, and therefore the other, and therefore mine as well, and that our friendships - our sisterhood - may never recover. 

I said the thing anyways. 

I still don't know if it was the 'right' thing to do. Some people would say it was courageous and inspiring. Some people would say it clearly wasn't. Some would say it was selfish and reckless, and even cruel. People have said all of these things. I myself have doubted the decision I made several times over the past year, as my friendships with these women quickly crumbled. 

I was left with a gaping aching void, where sisters had been, and I couldn't help but wonder - why did I say the thing? 

The funny (heartbreaking) thing is that it wasn't about 'the thing'. I can't justify the pain that ensued by saying that the thing was vital to my survival or physical well-being in any visible or tangible way. I have no way to rationalize why I did it, other than I felt like I was being squeezed into a smaller and smaller box by holding it in. It was true in my soul. And in that sense it was vital in a way I could not ignore. I couldn't let it go without saying it.

A few months ago, a mentor of mine (who has been there for me through many of my soul's stories), in a kind, joking way, made a comment about my "burning bridges". 

It hit a place of pain deep inside me. 

Is this what I am doing with my 'truth'? Burning bridges?

I wonder this sometimes. Are my soul revelations simply the "safe" way that I have learned to do endings? Do I set fire to the bridge from high above on newly formed wings - only to inevitably fall into searing flames of my own fire as the other person runs away, the bridge collapses, and I am consumed by the raging waters below? To be honest, that is how it has felt, at times. Sure, it is a painful way to transition, but at least I can say it wasn't me who did the leaving. 

This possibility has crossed my mind many times in the past in a judgmental accusatory way. I have used it to beat myself up. But what I haven't been willing to do is to invite it in, and take a look with compassion and curiosity. 

I am doing that now. 

I am sitting with this possibility in an honest and kind-to-myself way. It is humbling to be with this part of my humanity. The part that wants to destroy and to kill. 

As I sit with it, I begin to hear her: hissing and snarling in the deepest corners of my heart; wild, like a wounded animal. Ready to slice through anything (or anyone) that finds its way in. 

She frightens me, but I realize I love her. I instantly want to mother her.

One day soon I will get to hold her, and to tend to her wounds. For now I am grateful I have found her. She has let me see her. I know where she lives. 

I have faith that in time, and with love, my dragon heart will find ways to stop crossing a bridge that no longer aligns with my soul, without incinerating it. I can see that I have already learned to do this in many areas of my life that are less intimate.

This willingness to be human - this tending to my own wounds - is an integral part of what it means to live the story of my soul. 

I don't expect an answer will arrive about the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of any particular thing I have said or done in the past. I don't think that is what this is about. I suspect my truth has been, and always will be, a combination of pure soul, and human limitations, beliefs and wounding. Life is not meant to be about separating out (or eliminating one of) these things.  

What it is about is cultivating the courage and compassion to allow ourselves to be both. 

It is about being willing to have the faith to speak our truth when we need to, and being willing to be transformed by the heartbreak of losing our sisters, our brothers, our lovers, and our dreams. 

It is about finding ways to surrender to the consequences of our choices; to accept the inevitable loss and rejection that will come alongside the love and the celebration; and to, day by day, become a kinder, more honest, and more fiercely loving, version of ourselves in the process. 

A true soul, story.

xo, 

Danielle

Breaking Through: A Poem For Embracing The Season

I am breaking through the blocks of hard crusted ground. 
I am breaking through the doubt that kept me tightly bound.

I am breaking through this shell, 
sprouting this new form. 
I am breaking through the frozen, 
to play beyond the storm. 

I am breaking through the frame I had allowed my fears to set.
I am breaking through the cold and lonely winter they beget. 

I am breaking through the lies, 
that have kept me playing small.
The grandiose declarations, 
and inevitable falls. 

I am breaking through the dusty judgments of my mind. 
I am deepening my roots and reaching for the sky.

I am breaking through the barriers they never thought I would.
I am playing a game bigger than I know they think I should. 

I am opening my mouth.
I am using my full voice.
I am shouting now, true and clear.
I am accessible by choice.

I am breaking through this comfort into an unknown world.
I am standing firm for love, however it unfurls. 

I am here now, before the rubble as it burns.

I turn my back, drop my last match,
and with a laugh, of utter childlike glee,
I break through this old story,
into a softer, fiercer, me.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment
Thoughts on Control, Teetering and Almost-Spring

I am twirling. Whirling. Eyes closed. Arms outstretched. Faster, and faster. The new grass tickling my bare soles.

I am laughing. Involuntarily. Giggles bubbling up my throat like a warm bubble bath. Overflowing. Spilling over onto everything around me.

I am teetering. Out of control. My eyes peek open. Earth and sky warp into each other odd angles. I feel the ground come up to meet me.

I am disoriented. Nauseous. The Earth is damp to the touch. I let out a sigh as I pick myself up. Wet and shivering. Bubbles replaced by fog.

It is still not quite spring.

I keep encountering this part of me that thinks I should know “how”. A part of me that loves to live in the illusion that I have it all figured out. A part of me that wants to play the right cards, at just the right time; to get where I want to go without the messiness of the seasons.

But try as I might to close my eyes early spring and apply the right amount of twirling, I cannot open them into summer.

Nature does not hurry because we are uncomfortable with its process.

There is a delicate balance to be held at this time of year between releasing the old, dreaming the new – and being patient with the process of its arrival.

The seeds you hold in your heart at this time may not bear any resemblance to the beautiful flowers and towering trees they will become.

And so we must trust. We must expand our understanding of “how”, to incorporate the mystery of nature. We must lean into the teetering. We must allow ourselves to be disoriented for a time. We must be with the nausea of not knowing.

There is frustration in this season of not-yet-arriving. And there is anticipation too. Both of these are great sources of energy.  Do not throw your energy away by launching full-speed towards blooming, when your bulbs are not yet fully rooted, nor sprouted above the cool ground under which they are just beginning to stir from their slumber.

Plant your seeds with love, and pause.

Surrender.

Be with the uncomfortable alchemical process of nature.  

Allow your energy reserves to expand, fill and bubble up to near bursting with the buzz of your anticipation. You will be grateful you held on to your passion when the time for spring birthing and nurturing, and summer blooming and dancing arrives.

The time for you to step out into the world and create the new dreams you are holding in your heart will come. It always does.

And when it does, you will be asked to show up – full-force – in ways you are unsure you are ready to show up. But you will show up. And you will be ready.

It is these in between times that will prepare you.

The alchemical process of nature is working in you right now too.

This discomfort is your transformation. Your tentative messy beginning.  Your winter roots are ready to support your new creations and you are beginning to sprout your ideas through the foggy darkness towards the yet unseen sun lit skies ahead.  

You might hit a few rocks along the way and need to navigate the darkness around them. Some of your seeds may never make out into the sunny summer days.

You cannot control this birthing process.

You plant the seeds of your dreams. You tend to the soil of your life with love. You keep your heart open with a promise of tending to your soul’s desires with everything you have the moment they poke their heads into the light. 

In the mean time you wait. You don't get to control this process. The miracle of nature gets to say, which of your dreams are ready to make it into the light of day. 

Do not lose faith. Do not turn away.

This teetering point is uncomfortable, but is necessary. It natural.

It is. The only way.

These are my sweet pea seeds, by the way.

I have planted them along with all of my other dreams – the island home, the love story, my next book, and a platform to share my vision for a more beautiful world. My heart is open to showing up fully to those that are ready to break through the darkness, into the light of this springtime with me.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment
Thoughts on Inclusion, Safety and Space

What does it mean to hold an inclusive, safe, space?

Recent events in my life have invited me to consider deeply this question.

I facilitate a weekly group called Write Your Soul Story. It is meant to be a safe, inclusive, space, where humans can meet to explore, through writing, and being witnessed by one another, the life their soul is inviting them to live.

The internal excavation this requires inevitably brings up the belief systems that each participant lives within, including any judgements, ignorance, prejudices and fears. Beliefs can vary widely, even among a relatively small group of people, to the extent that the belief of one person may challenge the value, or worth of the very existence of another.

If I allow into my group, the expression, or even the holding, of views that say a certain group of people, or certain life forms, are wrong, bad, or do not deserve to exist and thrive, at all, or as much as others, is this not harmful to those groups and life forms? And is my allowance of those who hold extreme views into the space, not itself endorsement of those views, or at least acquiescence, without care of the harm they may cause to others?

But if I, on the other hand, refuse to tolerate extreme views and expel those people who hold them from the space, surely this is not only harmful to the people that hold the views – for exclusion is a form of violence that can cut deeper than any knife – but is my act of exclusion not also likely to cause both sides to become more entrenched and extreme in their views, more justified in their separation, more intensified in their hatred or fear towards each other, and more likely to cause each other harm? Is my refusal to allow extreme views not endorsement of the exclusion of the extremes of humanity, which is itself an act of violence towards life?

I would answer yes to all of those questions.

So, what do I do? Is it possible to expand enough to hold a space that doesn’t require me to make someone wrong, or to label a person unsafe because of the beliefs they hold, yet still create a space that fosters healing for all, and at the very least, does not foster harm?

I think the answer to this question is also yes, but it asks something astronomically challenging of me: it asks me to do the work first.

Any space I create for others can only be as inclusive and safe as the space I am able to hold within myself.  And my capacity to love in this way – unconditionally – is limited by my own experiences and background. Whatever prejudices I hold, whatever ignorance, judgments and fears I possess – I bring these with me wherever I go.

There is a principle of life that says if I were you, with your ancestry and experiences, I would believe and behave exactly as you have, and do. And in reverse, you would believe and behave the same as I, too. All of my experiences in life thus far, give truth to this principle of wholeness.

Whatever parts of my own humanity I refuse to acknowledge or accept, and whatever parts of humanity I have not yet been exposed to – and therefore do not yet accept – could never feel truly invited to show up in any space I create. I cannot allow in you, what I have not allowed in me.

And so, given we (myself included) all have certain traumas and experiences, and carry the traumas and experiences of our ancestors in the very cells that make us up, how can any of us create a truly safe and inclusive space for all life?

This is the question I have been sitting with. And in sitting with this question, another arose – a deeper, more philosophical question – and that is this: even if it is possible, why should we try? Is a safe, inclusive space for all something worthy of striving for? 

This question – why – always arises when I sit with any life challenge for long enough. Why, always gets right at the heart of the thing humans have struggled with for centuries – why, do anything? What is the point of life? What is valuable? What matters? What is worth standing for?

I don’t know that I have fully sorted out for myself an answer to this question, and I don’t know that I ever will. I do know that what emerges for me when I grapple with this question for long enough is something expansive, and ironically, unknowable. It is standing for the mystery of the natural way things work.

Sometimes I call this mystery Truth – a deep knowingness that is large enough to hold all paradoxes, stories and versions of truth. Sometimes I call this mystery Wholeness, or Life, in a sense encompassing enough to hold the natural cycles of life and death, and everything in between. Sometimes I call this mystery Nature, and the inherent Justice that simply is in the existence of things.

I do recognize the luxury that I am blessed with to have the space and mental capacity to consider these issues at a philosophical level. There are many people who find themselves on the front lines of life and death every day, fighting for their own safety and inclusion in a very real way. I am not in that situation. I am not faced with life and death situations every day. I do not walk in fear of having my existence challenged simply by walking down the street. I am however a deeply creative, soulful, woman living in a male dominated, industrialized, capitalist world, and in that capacity have experienced exclusion and devaluation of my existence, every day since I was born.  

I have some frame of reference for the soul violence that occurs when we are not valued for simply being who we are. And because I have both this frame of reference, and a certain amount of peace and space and safety, I consider it is my obligation to not only think about these questions, but to call upon my courage, to raise awareness of their importance, and to attempt, as best I can, to bring the answers I discover into my life in ordinary, everyday ways.

For what is the value of philosophy, if we do not live by it?

And so, what does it mean, then, for me to stand for the Wholeness of Life, in the creation and holding of a space for my little writing group?

I do not yet have a complete answer to this question. I do know that it requires me to take responsibility for my own healing, to take a look inwards and call out the ignorance, prejudices, judgments and fears I have within me, that are preventing me from addressing the challenge in front of me from a place of love.

I am in process with this.

I have acknowledged my own ignorance and taken it upon myself to learn about all sides of the issues that have arisen, and am in process of examining my own beliefs, in light of the information I am taking in, for fears and judgments and prejudices so these can be brought into the light, allowed, understood and released.   

I have also taken some practical steps – I have created guidelines for participation which require confidentiality and respect, including, approaching what is shared by others with curiosity rather than judgment, and obtaining consent before providing coaching, advice or feedback. I have also asked participants to agree to be responsible for their own needs being met, including their need for safety. This may at times require that they take some space from the group, or raise an issue with me that I might have, because of my own ignorance or prejudices or fears, overlooked.

While these steps do not eliminate the potential for participants being exposed to beliefs that for them raise concerns of safety, it does prevent the views of any one from being imposed upon any one else. It also prevents any one person from being considered right – and any other wrong. And, most importantly, it offers a container in which each can be exposed to views opposing of their own. In this manner the ignorance that fosters separation is decreased and each person must witness and feel the impact of their views upon other real humans sitting right in front of them. This is something that has been lost in our highly individualized, self-reliant culture, where we are not required to live with and rely upon others in closely knit community.

It is my belief that spaces that expose us to the opposing beliefs of others are highly needed, and that, this slow, tender seeing and remembering of one another, can and will create the readiness and willingness in each of us to take a look inwards, and discover some of the fears and judgments and prejudices that live there, so that these can be brought into the light, allowed, understood and released.

This is the kind of expansion a soul journey will always require. A never-ending humbling and deeply satisfying journey towards unconditional love, unconditional trust in the soul of Humanity, and unending faith in the Justice inherent in all Life.

This is what I am standing for in my little every day corner of the world.

It will be messy, I know, but I believe, we can do it, together.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle Rondeau Comment
A Personal Post on Commitment.

This is a personal post. I haven’t written one of these in a while. A long while.

But it is time. I know it is time. I have been avoiding vulnerability. I have been avoiding sharing my writing. It has been a few months since I have written a piece that I felt called to share with the world. 

The last few weeks I have felt this one building. I have been both terrified of and longing for its arrival. Tonight I sat down and it all came out. Each word nourishing. This is how I know. It is time.

So here it is: A personal post about commitment. And letting go. And justice.

2017 was year of all of these things for me. 

At the beginning of the year I declared 2017 to be about mastery and love: deep devotion and commitment to the people and things that matter to me. The declaration was one that came from the deepest part of me: the peaceful alignment of my soul, and the powerful ache – the longing – in my heart.

It was, and is still, true. I so want to master the crafts I am learning – writing, advocacy, facilitation and speaking. And I so want to enjoy deep intimate relationship with women I consider sisters, and to fall in love and build a home and a family with a man who sees me, loves me, and understands my soul.

None of these things ‘happened’ in 2017. At least not in the way that I imagined.

I do believe they are ‘happening’ though. On a spiritual level, I trust.

I am gaining skills and confidence in my legal work. I am showing up more consistently. I am becoming someone who can be relied upon; someone who can be trusted to show up and take pride in my work; someone who has decided to stay.

There are now a number of things in my life I will show up to every week come rain or shine – my legal work, my writing workshop, my health and my home. Knowing this feels good.

Learning that I can trust myself to stay feels good. Rewriting the story of who I have for so long believed myself to be – someone who leaves – feels good. I am no longer that person. I do not feel trapped. Running away no longer appeals to me. I can trust myself to choose something and to stay. Yes. That does feel so good.

I can feel in me the budding of a true leader. Someone who can show up for others and be of service without needing it to be about myself in some way. My capacities to hold space, to assert my opinion and to have boundaries are all expanding. I am becoming the powerful woman I have somewhere deep down always known I was and could be. 

It hasn’t ‘happened’ yet, but it is ‘happening’. I can feel it.

There are also people I would move mountains to show up for if they were in need, at any time. Family. And people I hold in my heart like family. People I respect and trust enough – and who respect and trust me enough – that we can be honest and true in our opinions and in expressing what we want.

I am getting better at saying ‘yes’ without resentment and ‘no’ without guilt. This. Feels. So. Good. 

This has been a large part of what the last year has been about. Honesty and freedom in relationship. It has at times been messy. To be honest, many of my intimate relationships had been harbouring landmines of suppressed truth. In 2017, with varying degrees of grace, I set them all off.

To the people in my life who have remained close to me through my sometimes harsh and painful honesty, thank you. I know I have pushed the limits of my relationships in this realm.

To those I have hurt because I did not have the courage to be honest earlier, I am truly sorry. I am learning.

And this – this is where Justice comes in. A visceral karmic learning.

I am learning it never pays to suppress the thing that is true, even – especially – when my truth means the relationship will be required to transform, or to end.

Some of my closest relationships were obliterated in 2017 when I revealed things that were deeply true for me. Had I spoken my truth earlier, I don’t know whether my relationships would have survived, but I do know there would have been less pain. Less heartbreak to those that I love.

In 2017 I came face to face with the patterns I run to keep myself ‘safe’ in intimate relationships. The ways I hide. The ways I lie. The masks I wear. The ways I trick myself into believing I want things I don’t really want to avoid the pain of letting go. The ways I create flaws in things that could work to avoid experiencing deeper joy and intimacy and love. The ways I run when things get too vulnerable and real.

I have learned a lot, and I have healed a lot. I have exposed the places where I was pretending.

My heart has finally let go of a man whom I deeply loved, but who had never chosen me in the way my heart needed. My relationships with women in my life are deepening, slowly, in a way that feels honest and free to a degree I have never before experienced. And I have found the courage to open my heart to a man who could meet me in all the ways I long to be met.

The sisterhood and the great love story haven’t ‘happened’. But they are ‘happening’. I can feel it. 

2017, you were sure as Hell challenging, but I have faith in your Justice.

I have finally admitted and chosen what I want, and I am cultivating the discipline and the boundaries to hold my heart open every day to receiving it.  

It hasn’t ‘happened’ yet. But it is ‘happening’. I can feel it.

I am becoming the woman who can live the story I so deeply want to live.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment