I never understood what “feminine energy” or “masculine energy” meant until back in April when I took an online course called Forging a Feminine Path with Kimberly Ann Johnson, author of The Fourth Trimester. All I knew was that I was constantly feeling dissatisfied with my lack of recent accomplishments. For twenty three years, I lived my life in pursuit of doing more. I sought out security in the structure of academia and corporate America, and I envisioned myself ascending the rungs of a never-ending ladder. I was completely self centered, always concerned with how I was going to keep going.
In other words, I subscribed to a narrative that was passed down to me from everywhere I looked. “Get into a good college, get good grades, get a good job, get a good man and get a good baby.” If I wasn’t actively and ostentatiously displaying my sincere dedication to that trajectory, then I wasn’t doing enough. My accomplishments were an extension of my self worth. In all honesty, I stockpiled awards, certificates and perfect grades as proof that I deserved to be loved. I lived wholly and completely in the realm of the masculine. The energy present in all human beings, regardless of gender, that compels us to be productive members of society at all costs. I lived my life in pursuit of doing more.
And then I became pregnant.
“Me” became “we.” I switched from obsessing over “where am I going?” to “how are we going to get there?” I packed up the cerebral space I had been inhabiting in my mind, and I moved into my body, experiencing my form shift and grow and move in ways I never had before. I started craving a community rich in support and moved away from wanting to establish individual success. I. moved. With. such. leisurely. intention. For the first time in my life, “being” became my mission and my incessant over-productivity came to a screeching halt. I was operating on a completely totally different wavelength, one that I never allowed myself to access before.
I’ve been adjusting to the pace of feminine energy for the last three years. And I’ve learned to:
Reconsider self value
I don’t remember anyone showing me how to value this new state of “being.” In fact, I had learned to identify it as unacceptable sloth. So, I anchored my identity in performing as the overactive overachiever. I felt that my accomplishments were evidence that I was worth something, and when I first started staying at home, I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. But in actuality, I was mistaken. I just wasn’t viewing myself through the lens of the slowful feminine which assures that just “being” me is all that is required. When I slowed down, I saw how just in “being” with my son, nursing him, teaching him, singing to him, teaching him… I was all that he needed me to be. And that counts for a whole lot of something.
Relax into timing
I like predictability. I like knowing that I can count on a routine to get me through the quotidian chaos. But when it comes to keeping time, the slowful feminine isn’t linear. So, I’ve had to learn how to move through life in a way that I never thought I could. In retrospect, the shift from linear to cyclical timekeeping was most apparent in the early days of motherhood. The 24 hours in a day all blend and blur together until they just give up and decide to let the unrelenting rhythm of “feed, sleep, change the baby” mark the passing moments. One thing is now clear: my schedule no longer rules the roost. And I’ve been able to alleviate a lot of self-imposed stress by surrendering to the cyclical. What needs to happen, will happen in its own time. The book Do Less by Kate Northrup has been such a great reference for how to approach this shift.
Rejoice in the hiatus
Once I decided to stop swimming against the current, I realized I could seek rejuvenation within the energy of the slowful feminine. For example, when Milo went through a phase of getting up 4 times a night, I stopped staying up late and waking up early to get stuff done. I allowed myself to rest which helped me avoid total burnout. It’s been frustrating, surrendering to the slowful feminine. Adjusting to a less frenetic pace of life challenged my entire way of being. But here’s the thing: the field is not bountiful all year long. There is a growing season. And there is a time to lie fallow. I need both. We all do.