Do you know the Aretha Franklin song “Natural Woman”? Listen to it here.
My favourite lyrics are these:
When my soul was in the lost-and-found
You came along to claim it
And that got me thinking.
Do we need some “other person” to help us feel like a natural woman? And what is a “natural woman”?
As always I simply give you my humble perspective, but for me, my experience of feeling lost for numbers of years, lead me down a dark path. Where did that lost feeling come from? From not feeling included, from feeling different and from feeling very alone. My soul simply felt lost and didn’t know where to find itself or find its place.
During that period of teenagehood where I isolated myself within the world of academia and imprisonment of eating disorders and the secrecy and privacy of that, I really did not feel womanly, and certainly not a “natural” woman. And the same goes following my marriage split when I felt so alone and humbled to little.
If I reflect on womanliness, in those two periods of my life, I found myself dressing quite asexually. My religious upbringing also herded me into less than “natural-free-spirited-woman clothing”.
I didn’t enjoy fluidity in my body. Yes I played some sport and yes I did my daily walking, but I did not feel the flowing, flirtatious and fun-induced movement in my step as a “natural woman” would.
I did not learn the art of make-up, and therefore opted for “natural.”
During my singledom I opted for what I call “mechanical” sex. Some would call it “friends with benefits”. This, for me, is not natural. Love-making within a loving relationship is. Allowing myself since then to learn fuller sexual expression is the freedom I gift myself and another as I learn to embrace more of my “natural womanliness”. It is an interesting path to explore such vulnerability, nakedness and naturalness with another.
A natural woman oozes femininity – but that is not something I was schooled in, role-modelled or had the option of exploring until years after my marriage split, when I started to see some light. Dresses and shoes and sexy lingerie, I chose to enjoy. Being less controlling and more receptive became my way of being. Seeking someone to compliment my femininity became my yearning – in the sense of finding a man in his own natural strong masculinity.
I guess when I think about the lyrics, my soul was in the lost and found department and yes I was desiring someone, not to come and “claim me”, but for two souls – each complete – to find each other and create a brand new “whole”. And this is what happened after years of patience, finding my own wholeness and learning to be more of my “natural” self – void of too many material possessions, too much “baggage” and too many tick-charts of what my ideal soulmate would be like.
And what do I think about someone claiming my soul that was lost? I’m not sure it’s the right word. For me it felt more that we found each other and we are each part of each other’s soul healing and we are both part of finding ourselves again in a new light. Yeah to that and the joys and challenges that brings us!
This morning, I was prompted by a woman online to fully claim my name. So what did I take that to mean and what did that make me think of? The first memory that popped into my head was something that occurred several years ago, when one night I was molested.
Without going into the whole deal, this man said my name in such a sleazy, degrading and sexual way that I really felt disempowered when I introduced myself to others. Saying my name took me back to what happened. It took me back to the deep feelings of shame, hurt and anger within my body. It makes me cry with sadness as I type as I recall the fuller story of being betrayed by a friend who believed him over me.
Some years later I was on a Presenter’s course and we were asked to participate in a simple name exercise. I wept in the “remembering”. However I also took the opportunity right there in that moment to reclaim a more assertive, powerful, louder and more confident “tone” to my name when I spoke it out. I reclaimed the love of my mother when she birthed me and gave me that special name. I declared there and then that who I am is powerful, not powerless and I am a woman of courage, not a victim of circumstance. I also honoured my unsilencing and finding my voice by going to the police even though they disappointed me in their lack of follow-though and ability to take things further.
So what’s in your name(s) that you go by, and do you want to keep, change or give your name(s) new life and energy?
As part of my workshops with women, I have often done an introduction exercise where people write down all of the names they have been given or have assumed – family name, christian name, middle name, adopted name, married name, sexual names, belittling names, teacher’s pet names, names teachers, parents, the church or community have called them, nicknames, names they have overheard people saying about them, adjectives they have been described by, names of endearment, spiritual names, names spoken over them ( eg. “I wish you were never born”), names they have called themselves and their body by and whatever else springs into their awareness when they think about name-calling including the words, tone, volume, attitude and intent behind the name.
This becomes a very powerful opportunity to feel into what names they wish to ditch, and which ones they wish to assume or give energy to again. For some, having divorced, they now wish to assume a different surname that energetically feels uplifting or right for them. For others, they wish to ditch the degrading names they have called themselves or their body, and to start speaking out more body gratitude and body positive messages, not to mention more lovingly describe their body parts. They have released sexual names – whore, bitch, frigid….through body ritual and cleansing. They have created ceremony around their new assumed name.
What does this spark within you today? What is your intuitive voice sounding out for you to consider when it comes to names – for better and for worse? What names are denying you of being fully fabulous?
For me I thank the woman this morning who prompted this enquiry. I claimed the name “vibrant, courageous femme extraordinaire”. I also thank another woman who shared this picture – Your vibe attracts your tribe. This helped me feel into what my vibe and tribe is and I claim these as part of my name today.
I am real, vibrant, authentic, alive, natural, feminine, sensual, courageous, simple, graceful, elegant, open-hearted and shining my unique light, love and loveliness.
Wow, what an awesome name!
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Janelle Fletcher www.janellefletcher.com