Kimberly Ward Manning, voice, power & living really real
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A study on voice

We’ve been living in a time of talk. The chatter has been constant: people speaking many words and a lot of them empty, angry, impotent. Television, radio, the internet – everywhere, there are lots of words and very little voice.

I have been interviewing women about voice. I ask questions like:

What does “voice” mean to you?
When did you become aware of your voice?
Where does that voice come from?
How do you distinguish between voice that comes from ego or fear and that of your deeply presenced voice?
Are you able to use your deeply presenced voice in your work?

What I’ve learned from these interviews has been astounding and I’ll be sharing more with you in future posts.

Connect with your Sacred Voice

I invite you to connect with your voice, the one that is deeply presenced. It’s what I call sacred voice. When you tap into your sacred voice you begin to see the holy thread that runs through your voice, your vision and your vocation. A thread that I feel called to help women weave into the fabric of their lives.

The planet is in desperate need of women inspired, called and speaking truth to the world. I invite you to join me on this evolving journey.

Until we meet again, I share these words that speak to the urgency of connecting to your sacred voice and weaving that into your work:

“If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

                        – Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Wishing you wild blessings. May you speak with your sacred voice. And may you hear your calling and begin to bring it forward.

Calling all S/hero’s

Authentic women are scary. Light bearers shining onto the darkness of what is out of balance in our world, they are catalysts for change. The world is shifting and it can appear a little scary. Your true self is truly needed — right now. It’s a time for living dangerously and audaciously really real.

Lead from love

The Truth is that you are love from Love. When we lead from love, our service is authentic, pure, inspired (“in Spirit”). There are wonderful people and organizations doing work inspired from love, whether that’s helping alleviate hunger or poverty, finding cures for diseases, protecting the environment, the disenfranchised and those without voice, or making communities more vibrant through public art, among others. Oh yeah, and marching.

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, says, we need awake people in all sorts of professions – teachers, accountants, caregivers, trash collectors, presidents.

What does it mean to be awake? It means that you know the truth about yourself and others: you are love, I am love. 

We are all the same – One, Love.

I have the honor of working with women inspired to do work that creates positive change in our world. Women who are daring to be unabashedly authentic. Choosing to create a different and better world for all of us. They are leading from love. (Please join us! You can learn more here.)

All the right stuff

When we’re being our really real, we are also more likely to do right, as in Right Relationship, Right Work, Right Seeing, Right Speaking, Right Action. These are Buddhist terms that have jumped to common parlance. What do they mean for you as a woman living and working authentically?

Right Relationship: You forge partnerships that uplift you and the other. You respect time and energy – yours and your partner’s/’. It’s not about competition, rather, everybody wins.

Right Work: Your livelihood raises up. Goods, services, profits, ideas that make people and the world better. When your work is authentic, aka love-based, your work is in the ultimate service.

Right Seeing: See paragraph above on sniffing out truth from fiction.

Right Action: You boldly go in the direction guided by your Inner Wisdom. You use everything you got — Right Speech, Right Work, Right Relationships — inspired by Love, to make your way in this world.

This isn’t woo-woo. It’s practical.

And it works.

Sniffing fact from fiction

There’s a curious thing about inhabiting your really real – your bullshit meter becomes finely calibrated. That allows you to be more adept at sorting fact from fiction, right from wrong. This is important for how you spend your time and energy.

Scientist and physician Sir David R. Hawkens, MD, PhD, conducted thought-provoking research on the subject, included in his book, Power vs. Force: The Determinants of Human Behavior and explains way better than I can why, when we’re in our authentic nature (of love and bliss), we can sniff out the rats: lies, liars, bad guys, unhealthy choices, toxic relationships, etc.

Important for investing your precious time and energy on people, projects, ideas, beliefs, etc., that serve.

Calling all S/heroes

I’m inviting you to be dangerously, unabashedly, audaciously authentic.

Have you looked outside? The world needs you – the really real you.

We need you to build a business. In finance. Education. Healthcare. Politics. Protecting the environment. Raising up children. Caregiving. Healing. Growing things. Creating art. Building cities and roads and homes and families. Whatever your gift, infuse it with your authentic voice and power — and love.

Be really real. It’s your superpower. This is your time. Let’s go! You are needed.

The Power of the Mud

In Buddhism there exists a beautiful parable of alchemy. The lotus and the mud. The story is a symbol of how our wounds, our shadows – the things that we are certain rob us of our authenticity — are the very catalysts for the remembrance of our really real self. The power is in the mud.

The Lotus Meditation

If you’ve spent even a little time on the meditation cushion you’ve most likely heard the story or performed the lotus meditation. The lotus plant roots into the mud at the water’s bottom, that murky, furtive, fecund place. And fed from that connection, the lotus thrusts a stem upward, a flower bud at the tip, reaching toward the sun. From the muddiness a beautiful pink or white flower grows. The mud gives the gift of life to the plant.

The power is in the mud.

To Buddhists, the lotus is a sacred symbol. This story represents the overcoming of difficulties, suffering and defilements (translation: those things that obscure our really real, like anger, jealousy, etc.). Like the lotus, you, too, can transform the gifts of the mud into a gorgeous flower of a life.

The power is in the mud.

Wriggling in the dark

A wound is where you have suffered some challenge, ordeal or hardship in your life. The shadow is the unowned pieces of our self, the parts that we relegate to the basement of our consciousness, hiding them from others, and often from ourselves.

Our wounds and shadows are like mud for the lotus. We can transform these “gifts” into a really real life.

For many of us, instead of seeing these as the rich substance from which something beautiful can grow, we tend to run away, close our eyes, tell ourselves stories or numb out, so that the alchemy that can come with the awareness and understanding of our wounds and shadows becomes nearly impossible.

Many of us wriggle in the mud for an entire lifetime, wanting so badly the flowering of an authentic life, but unable to transform through the power of the mud.

The gifts of transformation

Anne Lamott refers to the mind as a kind of scary neighborhood, a place to avoid going into alone. The darkness of our wounds and shadows – the mud – can feel like a bad neighborhood. And so we stay out. But that’s how we can miss the gifts.

You must look. You have to go in.

When you use the mud for transformative healing, you can see the gifts in the mud of your life. Through the awareness, understanding and healing that occurs around a wound or a shadow, wisdom is gained, gifts are developed, and purpose is revealed.

An aspect of your authentic self can spring forth. Like a lotus flower.

Your authentic self is your really real, laying in potentiality for you to remember the truth of who you are. Your true voice, your power, your really real aren’t things to be acquired – they are your birthright, to be remembered.

Thrust a stem down into the fecund darkness and upward toward your really real. The power is in the mud.


Being at the Intersection of Happiness and Now

Where do you put your happiness?

This may sound like a silly question, but where and when you allow happiness in your life have huge ramifications. Be happy in the now. That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re struggling to stay above the waves of life.

Some of us keep our happiness chained to the past:

“I loved that job; there will never be another one like that.”

“That was the happiest day of my life.”

If you put happiness in the future, instead of the now, guess what?! You’ll be waiting to be happy. Have you said things like: “I’ll be happy once I get that certification, grow my hair out, surpass 1000 followers,…” These thoughts put your happiness out into the future, a future that is not guaranteed.

If you’ve embodied thoughts like these, haven’t you found it difficult to be in happiness? You’ve made joy conditional. It’s not a good plan and can cause a great deal of suffering. As I was going through my ordeals, I found it sometimes particularly difficult to be in happiness in the present moment.

Happiness now

When I speak about happiness, it’s not simply a smiley face, a positive outlook and a spring in your step. Happiness is synonymous with your really real self: peace, love, gratitude, truth.

Happiness now is being your really real in the present moment. It’s being your authentic self.

One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles is this:

Be happy, for your only function here is happiness. (W-102.5:1)

And if happiness = peace, love, gratitude, truth, then your job is to be peaceful, loving, grateful, truth. That, my friend, is your really real, your authentic self.

From off the rails to back on the trail

From tolerating smidges of discomfort to feeling the depths of sadness, if you’re not in happiness, you are not your really real self. (To know what wholehearted living feels like, go here.) When you realize you’ve gone off the rails, here are a few deep ideas to get you back to your really real:

Be a heat-seeking missile for what is not love. Then blow that shit up. I’m sometimes amazed at what we tolerate. The niggling ache that turns into a root canal, a habitually late friend, chronic thoughts that don’t serve us. You are love from love. When you see or sense something in your life that is not representative of love, dig deep and pull it out by the root.

Feed yourself spiritual food. Taking time to connect with your seat of Inner Wisdom is critical to living a really real life. Begin and end each day with meditation, some moments with reading that uplifts you or entries in a gratitude journal. It’s been proven to increase happiness and is an important part of an authenticity diet.

Find Mighty Companions. We are joined with others on this journey called life. These dear ones can support us in many ways and help us remove what’s in the way of our really real. Surround yourself with others that hold you up.

There will be times when it feels nearly impossible to connect with your true nature, your happy, peaceful, loving, grateful self. Do not despair. You can find your way back to the intersection of happiness and now by grounding into the truth of who you are.

The more you move in the direction of your authentic self, the more you will connect with the happiness that is your birthright. Don’t put your happiness into the future. Don’t keep it locked in the past. Stand tall at that magic corner, where happiness and now are one.

What if My Authentic Self is Angry?

There’s a lot of talk about authenticity these days. Good stuff, mostly, but I think people are a little confused by what it means to be really real. I’ve heard and read more than a few times that being really real is carte blanche to “let it all out.”

So when a client asked me recently, “What if my authentic self is angry?” I had to put pen to paper (fingers to the keyboard).

Love and fear

A Course in Miracles states there is only love. Emotions like anger, hate, worry, and jealousy, are all forms of fear.

I think of fear as an anti-love thought. So when you’re in the grip of emotions like anger, it’s important to realize that you are in the antithesis of your true nature. You are being inauthentic.

We can debate until the cows come home if anger is good, productive or even necessary, however, it is a normal and common human emotion, and a very good indicator of our emotional state. Anger, and any of the other fear-based emotions, are important gauges of emotional status and we can use them for self-inquiry and ultimately to get to a more peaceful, happy state (which, BTW, is your natural, authentic nature).

Emotions driving

Problems can occur when we let anti-thoughts drive the bus of our life. When we make a decision out of anger (or worry or jealousy, etc.) we’re not working from our highest nature.

When you’ve made a decision under the influence of anger, or worry or desperation you can say, “I wasn’t in my right mind when I made that one.”

Your right mind is love and loving.

If you’re honest with yourself and do a little survey of decisions you’ve made under the influence of anti-thoughts, these most likely haven’t had the best outcomes.

As you develop more self-awareness, you can use your awareness of your emotions to help you move back into your authentic-ness. Back to love.

Your indicator

Emotions are a natural part of being human. Instead of allowing emotions to drive you, however, you can use them as an indicator system, helping you return to your authenticity.

Whenever you feel a negative emotion rising within you, this is your indicator that your peace is disturbed. You are moving away from your authentic nature. In that moment, you can make a choice for peace.

I love this litmus test for deciding what to do.

WWLD: the truth of your authenticity

Your authentic self is loving, peaceful, joyful. In the laboratory of your mind you may think it’s easy to stay really real. In reality, it’s sometimes hard. Be kind, be gentle with yourself as you journey back to your authentic self.

Staying really real isn’t easy and I find it helpful to have tools to help me stay authentic. One of them is WWLD – an acronym for “What Would Love Do.”  When I notice that my peace is disturbed, I ask myself, “WWLD?” and try to align my thoughts and behaviors accordingly. Sometimes I succeed in staying in my really real. When I don’t, I apply WWLD to myself and try to make a better choice next time.

My friend, love, peace and joy are your true nature, your really real. Let that be the driver of your life. OX