I sat down to write this letter, thinking about all the themes that have been coming up for me lately: seeking love, feeling shame and grief, being on the cusp of change, awakening into transitions. They’re all juicy topics, but then I realized that today is International Women’s Day.

And now I want to write about women. The thing is though, that the topics above, those broad subjects, they also all fit into the theme of womanhood.

Seeking love. Because I’ve spent most of my adult life single, longing for a partner/lover, longing to be with one or other man who doesn’t want me back, and confounded about why that is. Because I’ve had an inkling it has to do with my relationship to being female.

Seeking love. Which has turned me inside out into a process of self-discovery that has spiraled me into more internal discoveries about self-love, about being a woman, and about how hard it has been to love myself in my female body when everything that our culture screams out is ‘not good enough, never good enough!

Seeking love. Because we all do. And sometimes it’s in healthy ways, and sometimes it’s not.

Shame. Because feeling ‘not-good-enough’ leads us to the shame at the foundations of those thoughts. The thoughts that chant: “I am not ok.” “I am not enough.” Paradoxically, they also chant “I am too much.”

Shame. Because our culture promotes shame about everything. All sorts of outmoded and strange and horrifying beliefs about myself as a woman being somehow ‘less than’ and ‘shameful’ have their roots in a deeply unhealthy culture which crafts femininities and masculinities in opposition to the other, and which promotes consumerism by teaching everyone that they are not good enough, and could improve ‘something/everything’ if they just bought this cool whatchamacallit.

Shame. Because if I feel deep shame about every part of myself as a woman, I must then try to hide and apologize for existing. Aaaaahhhhhhh! I’ve been working through a great deal of collective cultural shame in my own personal self.

And this awareness of shame unlocks grief and sadness. As I pull the scabs off the festering wounds that shame brews, and experience how difficult it is to connect with others when I feel shame, a dropping down endless well of grief starts to fill up and overflow into tears.

Grief and sadness. Because the sadness I feel as I look around at our culture, at the messages we spread of inadequacy, through advertising in particular, and the deep belief that so many have that they are not good enough is heartbreaking.

Grief and sadness because there are so many isolated lonely disconnected people because of these themes. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Transitions. We are all, in a sense, on the cusp of change.

What will the future look like for all of us? I’m not sure, but I do know, as I raise my 12 year old daughter, that I deeply long for a world in which women’s bodies are honoured for their life-giving power, that men and boys are taught to love and respect and drop the violence around sex and masculinity as it relates to dominating women, and that an honourable and thorough sexual education of boys and girls, men and women is more widespread.

I desire that we are not shamed for living in bodies of one gender or another.

I desire that we are taught that pleasure comes from the beauty of living in our bodies, not in the shame. I desire that we are taught how to give and receive pleasure. That women’s wages and women’s traditional roles are valued economically at the same rate as men. That work with children is honoured for it’s deep importance.

I am on my own journey of learning how to inhabit the monthly rhythms of my own female body, in the rhythms of our natural world, and how to enjoy being female. It hasn’t been a natural thing – we are taught many lessons about womanhood, but almost none of them says that how we are is awesome.

Let’s start to change that. My transitions lately have been about learning and growing and unraveling  these unconscious patterns, feeling these deeply buried feelings.

Life feels like such a rollercoaster sometimes. But the alternative to awakening to these feelings is a life of conflict, a life of being ruled by these unconscious feelings.

Coming into an awareness of these feelings and themes prompts change. An awakening into transitions that feel scary, that feel foreign, but that also feel welcome.

Because the awakening prompts choice.

It’s in the spaciousness of awakening that I can choose to continue to feel crushed by shame, by feeling lonely, less than and sad. And only that.

Or, I can embrace these feelings, allow them to be felt, but choose to step into sovereignty. To step into my own adult life as a woman who does not let others define her as less than, as shameful, as anything other than fully realized, powerful and glorious.

And, if I get swept away by the difficult feelings and forget I have choice, I have the spaciousness to be forgiving of myself later. This is the blessing of awareness.

Sovereignty is my hope for myself, for my daughter, and for all women in my life.

My hope for the men in my life is that they may be blessed by the presence of sexy, confident glorious women, and that they may be supportive of these unshaming processes, the ones we all need to go through (and that they can heal their own shame too).

So, in reverence to all the women in my life, here is my love letter to women and the feminine.

(I wrote a love letter to men a while back, you can read it here).

Oh, women! We have the sweetest pussies in the world, these flower-petal-like tender and rippled lips between our legs, opening into an expandable and muscled vagina that gives and receives so much! Pussies that receive pleasure and penises and a knowingness and aliveness like nothing else. Pussies that birth life. Babies. Release menstrual blood.

Oh women! Our breasts are incredible. We feed our children with them, we feed our lovers with them, we feed ourselves with the exquisite ability to feel pleasure through them. We watch them grow and change over the years, telling us where in the aging process we are, whether we like it or not.

Youthful, uplifted, plump. Softer, stretched and starting to flatten from a couple decades of existence and perhaps breastfeeding. Plumper again and bigger upon menopause, Weight gain. The comfort and pillowy softness of an embrace with a busty woman. Juicy. Then stretched into soft skin, fat having long gone. Breasts that are used up, but in the best sense possible – by love, by nourishing, by being blessed to have lived long enough for them to droop and flatten, oh great blessing of blessings.

Oh women! Our waists. Our hips. The hourglass flare, that specific ratio that signals the feminine figure. What is it about this combination that is so alluring? It’s not just men that create art that celebrates the female body, it’s other women that seek out the feminine as a muse. Hourglass curves that stir longing, that stir sapphic lust, that stir cocks to life.

Oh women! Our ability to connect with each other. The lusty fellowship of clothing swaps and saunas and changerooms and laughter and irreverence and belly laughs. Let’s not lose touch with that. There is nothing like a women’s circle to build trust and faith that good people are out there and safe spaces are to be had.

Oh women! Watch yourself. Just watch yourself get turned on and flirtatious. Do you see it? How everything softens, and the focus lands on lips, on eyes, on the swish of hair and adornment and body movement. The light, how it plays on your neck, your collarbone. Don’t forget your pussy – she’s playing her part – warming up, getting slick from the pleasure of connecting, of desire, of being desired. Now watch yourself being adored. Admired. Watch yourself being watched. Yes, you! Yes! You, in your womanhood, you are enough!

Oh women! With our emotions rising so quickly to the surface whether we want them or not. Let’s not suppress and denigrate this ability to feel. Instead, let’s really feel and express with clarity, heat and power. Because it’s beautiful, and it’s powerful.

Oh women! Rooted into the earth like trees, communities blossoming around us, elders, children, men encircling. We humans are meant to be in relationship, in community, and our gift for connection, for creating community, for weaving the webs that soothe the longing of the lonely, of the disconnected, is huge.

Oh women! Let’s not forget the incredible beauty of living in our bodies, and accepting them as they are. Fat, thin, short, tall. It doesn’t matter. Shine your gorgeous lovelight through and no one will be able to resist you, I promise.

Oh women! Inspiring me with your varied ways of being woman. It gives me permission to simply be my own woman self too. How can I thank you enough?

Oh women! Oh yum!

As usual, I’m so curious.

What have your experiences of being a woman been? Or, if you’re a man, what do you love about women? Being around women? What do genuine women give you permission to be? What are you longing for in the women in your life, and in yourself?

I’m truly interested.

Until next time,

Janelle

ps – I wrote a love letter to men a while ago. It’s kinda hot!