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VOF Week 4: (Wild Ophelia)

Much of my life thus far seems to have been spent in hearing, honoring and expressing my own voice in the world. As a young girl, I remember imagination being a fabulous companion to wonderful adventures. I crafted worlds, within and without, in which to play, express, create, commune, explore, dictate and rule! But along the way, perhaps due to family patterns, cultural biases, religious dogma, I became cut off from my best friend, the “wild and imaginative Ophelia” within, who possessed the wisdom, knowing and power to create a world she dreamed and desired.

And like so many, I began to live a rather ordinary life in the real world according to the orders and operations of the times into which I was born. For me, the separation from my own voice – authentic, creative and sacred – didn’t happen all at once. I just took my place in the concrete jungle, doing my job and paying my bills, running the gambit of relationships, molding myself to the 3x5 card of social dictates, while slowly starving on cold soul. Perhaps it was the too-tight-smiles of many compromises and a few white-knuckle surrenders that landed me on skinned knees, until I could no longer ignore the screaming, scared, yet sacred girl within who still wanted to live.

Even now, after years of reestablishing a friendship with the smart, sometimes sassy feminine self, I find it easy to lose step with her. As an artist, performer, occasional writer, it seems I have many opportunities (for which I am grateful) to voice who I am out in the world; and yet I have learned once again to satisfy others – managers, associates, audiences, critics as part of the cogs of an industry and yet another job. I find myself posing; and then rebelling, scrapping things like to-do lists and agenda notes in favor of sacred moments with my dog (in sweet irony, a big alpha male), my grandsons, meditation, the company of fine friends, and singing jazz. More and more, I want to improvise my life outside the set meter and predictable melodies of such things as five and ten-year plans. If I stay too long in the tick-tock world, I begin to hunger for more imaginative beats.

My personal vision is to live more and more in the moments, honoring the impulse, finding the juice, following a different drummer. I think in connecting ourselves to sacred voice within – those fiery inner urgings of the heart tempered by the fullness of our life experience and humanity – we in turn can offer our best selves to our communities and to the world. It is my belief that there may be nothing better that we can truly give. To live in those places of personal authenticity as they are revealed, to share the story and the view from wherever that is, maybe heaven, sometimes hell, would be my highest vision or aspiration.

Happening onto the World Pulse website and reading about the “Voices of Our Future” program, I felt an unexpected pull. With my experience and background, creative projects of many kinds appeal to me, but this was a stronger beckoning – one connected to the deep respect I have for the sacred feminine in all of us, and Divine Feminine presence. I was delighted to find that the last assignment was so entitled, a subject near and dear to my heart. I know firsthand the transformative power of women in collective work and feel the planet could use a healthy (balancing) reminder of values such as community, relationship, nurture, connection, circle of life responsibilities and planet sustainability. I think writing and corresponding on behalf of WorldPulse would be one way in which I could add my voice to the chorus of women (and men) dreaming a new world into existence. That would be a sacred honor and duty, in my opinion. And in so doing, perhaps I could also be a friend to other women along a creative path who are heeding their own “wild Ophelia,” and finding their true voice.


Genice Jacobs's picture

vof week 4 assignment

Hi Sandra,

I'm Genice from Oakland, California and I am your reader for week 4. I loved you essay and could relate to a lot of what you said. I can especially relate to drowning out your passionate spirit and replacing it with the droaning existence of just making a living. (I'm a Silicon Valley headhunter). As a young woman, I never thought I would become a prisioner of my lifestyle (albeit a pretty nice lifestyle), but a prisoner none the less. At 45, I realize I've spent a good many years doing work that I was interesting, but that I wasn't particularly crazy about in lieu of figuring out what my passions were. I've always been drawn to economic empowerment of women and most recently I discovered that my real desire is to work with the poorest of the poor. Now, I wonder how I will ever replace my livelihood this way, but I am determined to do anyway. Even if my ability to travel is limited due to my being a mom of a 5 year old daughter who I do not want to abandon or put at health risk in the developing world. Not to mention not wanting to leave my new husband (just married for the first time last year). I recently took on a project to deliver solar lighting to a rural community in Uganda (a connection which I made through Pulsewire.) Never before have I been so lit up by a possibility and have been on a tear to make things happen.

Anyhow, enough about me. Just wanted to say I loved your essay. It was beautifully written and your commitment to following your inner voice is truly inspiring. I think you would make a fabulous VOF correspondent. Keep writing. Your wonderful spirit is contageous. No critique from me on your essay. I think you delivered on the assignment perfectly and beautifully.


Genice Jacobs

Sandra Dean-Marlowe's picture

Thank You!

Hi, Genice -

Thanks so much for your feedback, and very kind words. Wow, how I could relate to your statement becoming a "prisoner of" - indeed! How quickly the sand we shift around in while finding ourselves when we're young turns to the cement we find ourselves trudging through at middle age (?!). I admire your strong commitment to what sounds like it is your new heart work, and your hard work. Although I don't have young children at this time, I helped raise two step-children a few years back (one teen and one college) when I, too, was newly married. At the time I was also attempting to jump start a profession change into music & the arts (big learning curve, some U.S. travel, major economic "disempowerment"), while adjusting to marriage (I had been single a LONG time), and feeling the pull to be "the perfect stepmom." I was a strange cross between Mrs. Cleaver and Madonna - both of which I rather enjoyed. I don't know how I summoned all the energy to get things done and make the hard choices, but I realize now what a really great time it was - so full of charge and inspiration for me, with many new creative developments. Somehow hubby and I worked it out - I think he realized it was not a "maybe" - it was what I had to do, heed the siren's call or die to big parts of myself. Fortunately, the kids were not so young, or it may have been a tougher place. But I also became willing to give up the perfection I had come to expect from myself and life - plus a clean organized house, some lifestyle points, being a nice person all the time, etc. Your project in Uganda sounds energizing and passionate for you, and I believe that somehow that will translate into new work, new opps, new income - albeit not in the usual comfy and complacent ways. Seems we're always pushed to the uncomfortable edges to make the big leaps. But all these motivational speakers and spiritual seekers say "follow the bliss." I'm intrigued to hear that you made the connection through Pulsewire. What a fantastic opportunity . . . I wish you the best in working out the choices and details. I always maintain the best thing we can give our daughters is a model of self-actualization as women - fulfilled, empowered, happy . . . and occasionally crazy. Good luck, Genice, and thanks so much for writing.

nikki's picture

Your post makes me smile

Hi Sandra,

I really felt myself getting swept up in your words - it seems there are soooo many of us out there that have had to struggle out of the confines of societal measures. Obviously some of us, particularly in countries where women experience horrors we can't imagine in the States, are experiencing much more difficult battle, but in our way here, in the U.S., we also experience an oppression of spirit, of heart and of potential.

As a woman who has always "lived outside the box," I have always loved hearing from other women who have fought, or are fighting to do just that. I have been greatly saddened to come across women in my own age group who have given up, or given in because they didn't want to rock the boat, they were afraid what they're parents or church leaders might say, they were afraid to strive. When women like yourself are willing to give voice to your own liberation, it gives power to others who may be struggling to find that power within them, so thank you for your voice, and your willingness to use it. I trust that you will find a way to harbor all that fire and energy and put it to use in the best way you see fit, and I wish you well.

In Peace,

Nikki Jardin
Portland, Oregon

Sandra Dean-Marlowe's picture

Thanks for writing!

Hi, Nikki -

Thanks so much for your good and kindly words, and for reading my post. I enjoyed checking out your profile and reading about you. I've never been through Oregon, although I hear it's beautiful. I also hear that Portland has a pretty evolved jazz scene, which is one of my interests and pursuits.

I agree that, although we do not experience the horrors as in many other countries, we still have our own brands of suffering relative to our situations that call our souls to further develop, I guess. There are still many levels of discrimination and ridicule in the US, many status quos needing to be challenged - places where the love, light, acceptance and safety don't shine through. I, too, ache for the women who are afraid to be more truly themselves, but I understand it and it's OK, too. I remember journalling once that my mother, in holding the places she had to hold, had "given me the wings with which she, too, would have liked to fly." Maybe that's how the continuum works . . . I am so touched by that thought. And yet, my mom (now 90!) has become a fuller, funnier and more real person in her senior years than I ever expected. So it seems it's never too late to learn to fly . . . !!

Hope you are having a good week . . .
Sandra M.

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