Use Your Imagination

There is something incredibly powerful about good fiction, yes? The craft of it. The story itself. And the imagination required to make it come alive.

I have a long and torrid love-affair with imaginative writing; an infinite and ever-expanding list of “sacred” texts:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
  • The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd.
  • And despite my disappointment in J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter.

I could easily and endlessly go on…

What is it, do you think, that makes these novels, these texts, more permissive of imagination than traditional sacred texts?

Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts.

Many of us have been taught to think about sacred or spiritual things (and texts) as “absolute truth.” Concepts are concretized and imagination is, for the most part, disallowed.

My go-to example is the Genesis story: The Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam. The tree. The serpent. The fruit. The bite. It is an imaginative answer to the question of why (not how) the world was created. No committee or panel of experts sat down to write it. No one debated about what should be included or not, what was allegory and what was literal, what was to become rigid rule vs. remaining narrative technique. It was first imagined, then recited, then recited again. It changed every time it was told based on the storyteller’s imagination, perspective, mood, language, and audience. As every good story should!

Somehow though, over time, this story (a poem, actually) became a text and the text became a treatise and the treatise became a theology and the theology became something to enforce. (This sounds a lot like the nursery rhyme, “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…”)

Even though I know exactly how all of this happened, it breaks my heart.

What happens when our imagination is no longer encouraged, even allowed as it relates to our spirituality? My quick answer: We lose interest and leave it behind. And though this may be the healthiest and best of decisions, there is still a loss. A gap exists where these set-in-stone beliefs once resided. It’s hard to heal.

What happens when we reintroduce imagination into the spiritual aspect of our lives, into the deepest and most sacred aspects of our very self and soul? My quick answer: We are passionate, connected, and deeply moved by any and everything that touches our hearts and others’.

All of this is on my mind because I just completed the final edits on one of the chapters in my upcoming book (which still feels strange and amazing to say…and…if you’re keeping up with the countdown, will be published on 10.3./23). It’s the story of a woman who is desperate for Jesus to heal her daughter. Rather than just doing so, he is incredibly rude. (I don’t know how else to explain it.) He says things that are both dismissive and derogatory. Nevertheless, she persists. She demands. She will not be deterred. And in the end, he heals the girl because of the woman’s faith, a mother who fiercely loved.

As you might imagine, endless effort has been extended over the years to rationalize Jesus’ behavior — everything from naming his responses as a sophisticated rhetorical device to saying that he was *merely* testing her faith. Bullshit. (Sorry.)

No question about it: this is an incredibly confusing and unsettling story. But what if we stopped trying to make it fit some rubric of sensibility and instead, saw it as expansive opportunity to imagine something different, something more, something profoundly sacred? What if we let go of the demand for solid answers when it comes to things-spiritual? It’s almost as though we can’t allow the divine to be anything other than perfect. We’re nervous about tarnishing God’s image. Which, ironically and ridiculously, assumes that it’s up to us to maintain! What if the sacred, in any and every form, can handle its own PR? Imagine that!

OK. I digress. Well, not completely. This is my point, after all.

What happens when our imagination is no longer encouraged, even allowed as it relates to our spirituality? We cannot handle ambivalence or contradiction or complexity (all of which, in my personal opinion, are the stuff of life almost all of the time).

And what happens when we reintroduce imagination into the spiritual aspect of our lives? Even into the sacred stories that we’d often far-prefer to leave behind? We can handle so. much. more. We can feel so. much. more. Our spirituality becomes so. much. more.

Here’s the so. much. more. that shows up for me when I give myself free reign to imagine this story (and the divine/sacred) in new ways:

  • I imagine a god to and with whom I can actually relate when all requirement of perfection disappears.
  • I imagine a spirituality in which I can argue, fuss, and fight for what I most deeply desire and deserve.
  • I imagine a life that is like this woman’s: passionate and heartfelt and persistent and alive and awake and deeply, deeply committed.
  • I imagine an experience of the sacred that is shaped by the stories of the women — their voices, their lives, their faith.

Even this cursory imagining spins me into a million more imaginings beside. Every one of which feel sacred and spiritual and divine and real and true and worthwhile. Now that I think of it, it feels a lot like the novels I poured through this week. Immersive. Impossible to put down. Transported. Transformed.

Mmmmm. As it should be, yes? As we would want and hope and intend when it comes to the deepest and most sacred aspects of our very self and soul… I thought about taking this further, but then thought again. Your imagination (and thought) is way more interesting and what matters. So, I hope you’ll do just that! Imagine. Imagine. Imagine!

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Letting go of happy endings . . .

I’ve been ensconced in fiction lately. There is a LOT to be said for getting lost in the pages of a book, stepping vicariously into the realities of others, witnessing their happy endings and imagining them as my own. I often feel a palpable ache when I turn the last page; I’ve become so attached to the characters. It’s like their story is somehow connected to mine.

Which, of course, it is. That is the power of story! When we immerse ourselves in it, we more acutely feel our own desire, disappointment, loss, loves, trials, tribulations, and hope. The very best stories are ultimately less about the characters themselves and far more about us! Even in the most fantastical or tragic of tales, we find ourselves between the lines; we see aspects of ourselves mirrored back in actuality and in aspiration, again and again.

For all that is the same, one thing is vastly different: most of the stories we read or watch have a happy ending. Perhaps not perfect or Disney-esque, but wrapped up nicely with some kind of bow, some kind of resolution, something that makes sense of all that’s gone before. Understandably, we want the same for ourselves! And there is absolutely nothing wrong or wasted with such a wish. The problem occurs when we compare the goodness or worth of our own story, our very life, to that which can (only) be captured so neatly in fiction.

Unlike the books we read or movies we watch, our lives are not neatly packaged. They are messy and unresolved, difficult and confusing. The plot is not clear. The characters are conflicted. Bad things happen. Good does not always triumph. Any sort of ending feels illusive and often far from happy. Ours is a story that is “true.” 

In Untamed, Glennon Doyle says this:

“The truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one. We need to let go of the lie that it’s supposed to be.”

She’s right, of course. Not “happily ever after,” but most definitely true (and beautiful).

I would love to tell you – with conviction and personal experience – that “everything works together for good;” that your endurance (and compliance) guarantee success and/or bliss and/or endless love; that if you just persevere, everything will eventually turn rosy and bright – an amazing story with an enviable “happily ever after.” I cannot promise or speak to a bit of this. But if you want to know what is true, I can both promise and speak to that with vast personal experience and lots of conviction.

The hardest realities in your story, the loose ends, the impossible twists and turns, seemingly no fairy godmother (or god) to be found, are exactly what make your story worth being told…and lived. 

Little consolation, I know, but no less accurate or important to know and name.

When I look back over my life thus far, I see so much that I would have never predicted or foretold. The most painful seasons have invited profound growth and transformation. My biggest mistakes have been converted into a mostly-unswerving belief in my value and worth. My fear and anxiety, depression and grief, anger and frustration have somehow, miraculously and unwittingly, become the most gracious of teachers, the closest of companions, and my dearest of friends. No pretty bow. No tidy conclusion. Unwieldy and unpredictable. Hardly easy or perfect, but honest and real and “true,” even beautiful.

Pages worth turning. Stories worth telling. A life worth living. And uniquely, surprisingly, amazingly…mine.

“Happily ever after” remains to be seen. It’s all that happens along the way that matters most, that we remember, that makes a story – your story – worth writing, telling, and living. 

4 Things I Want You to Know

As you undoubtedly know, I spend countless hours (decades, really) in the midst of ancient, sacred stories of women. And I persist because, bottom line, this is what I believe:

We need these stories. We need these women. And we deserve them: muses, mentors, companions, even midwives who call us forth and birth us into the lives that are ours to claim, to live, to love.

I believe this, as well:

The more value and worth we give to any woman’s story, the more value and worth we give to our own. 

I do believe these things. Deep in my bones. But that hardly means I always (even often) feel confident about a bit of it. My inner critic gets the better of me more days than not. I sit in front of this screen and wonder if what I’m thinking and writing makes any difference at all. I question whether I’ll ever get the manuscript finished and if it will matter a whit once I do. And I know that every single one of these thoughts are lies from the pit of hell…

The beauty, gift, and miracle in all of this is that no matter how far I wander down this less-than-honoring rabbit trail, the stories — the women themselves — bring me back to myself. It’s astonishing and miraculous and humbling. And so, I persist. 

What follows is the tiniest glimpse into just one of the stories I’m (re)visioning. I’m hopeful it will bring you back to yourself — no matter your doubts, your inner critic, your questions, your fears; that you will see just how much value and worth YOUR story holds; how much value and worth YOU have — today and every day, all the time.

Once upon a time there was a pharaoh who was paranoid about the population growth of his slaves. He feared that if something wasn’t done about it that they would eventually overtake him. Fed up with this, he called two midwives into his presence and commanded that they kill every boy-child birthed. They didn’t like this idea and so, did just the opposite. The pharaoh called them on the carpet, demanding to know why they had not obeyed him. They said, “The Hebrew women are much too strong and fast! They have the child before we can even get there!” Because of their courage, they were blessed with children of their own.

(Yes, eventually, the Hebrew slaves DID break free. Their exodus was led by a man who was once a baby boy not killed; saved by his mother’s bravery, his sister’s creativity, and yet another woman’s compassion — the pharaoh’s own daughter. But that’s another story for another time.)

Though there is so much to mine and treasure in this story, here are four takeaways for now — and for you; the oh-so-relevant wisdom these two women speak into your heart and life:

  1. Do what you can’t not do — even before you feel ready. You are.
  2. Neither the voices within, nor those of “power” without have the final say. You do.
  3. Trust that life is yours to bring forth on your own and others’ behalf, no matter the risk. It is.
  4. Stand alongside other women — always and in all things. It matters.

If there were a 5th takeaway, it would be this: The midwives (and countless others) stand alongside you. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. No matter what.

That’s it! 

Well, OK, just one thing more. Well, 5 things. 5 questions, really.

  1. What is it that you can’t not do?
  2. What does your voice have to say?
  3. What life is yours to bring forth — for yourself and/or others — no matter the risk?
  4. Who are the women alongside whom you can stand?
  5. What if you aren’t alone, ever? You’re not. I promise.

Every Monday morning I write and send a letter (via email). It’s my latest thoughts, my deepest heart — and always on your behalf. I’d love for you to have it. SUBSCRIBE.

All the wisdom you’ll ever need…

I recently (re)watched The Matrix. It’s one of my favorites, to be sure. Even so, I’d forgotten about the Oracle.

She’s an aging woman in an apron who bakes cookies while she smokes cigarettes, tssk-tssk’s at various things, makes jokes, and surreptitiously, almost nonchalantly supplants her wisdom into Neo’s mind.

This wisdom of hers — its transference — hardly seemed spectacular, but that made it no less true. It was what eventually enabled Neo to step into his role in profound and world-saving ways.

We often wish for an Oracle, don’t we?

We’d like to be able to sit at the feet of wise and beautiful crones, soaking up their wisdom, asking them questions, getting their advice, reveling in their presence, and hearing exactly the words we need in order to be compelled into our future, our destiny, our life’s work in profound and world-saving ways.

Believe it or not, I have an Oracle.

Actually, I have lots of them. Countless women who surround and support; and who, when I’m willing to listen, tell me what I most need to hear.

So do you.

Let me introduce you to just one of them.

She lived in a time long, long ago, or maybe it was yesterday, or maybe it is yet to come.

84 years old at the time of this particular story, she had lived countless stories beforehand. Married only seven years until her beloved had died, she sought solace and refuge in the only place she could find: the temple. And every night and day since, she’d never left; endlessly worshipping, fasting, and praying.

People came and went. Sacred feasts. Sacrifices. Praises uttered. Alms given. Baby boys consecrated and circumcised. Some parents looked away while others looked for miracles. But all of them came seeking. She could see it in their faces. She could feel it in their souls. And she both knew and had what they sought. But rarely was she asked, so rarely did she tell.

Until one particular day.

She spotted the couple immediately — walking through the maze of activity and din of noise. And she saw Simeon, the old priest, talk with them as he held up their son for all to see. Their son. She saw him.

Time stood still. Silence enveloped. Everything stopped.

Words came from deep within her. She hadn’t anticipated them, hadn’t rehearsed them, hadn’t thought them through in advance. She didn’t need to. The deepest truths require none of this.


Were you to ask her what she said that day, she would tell you it was only one thing, just a small thing, and just the right thing…

In The Matrix, after all the build-up and anticipation of what the Oracle would say to Neo, it came down to this:

“I wanna tell you a little secret. Being the One is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love. You just know it, through and through.”

The prophetess Anna said almost exactly the same thing.

What she saw and named in that child so long ago, was no different than what the Oracle named in Neo. That young boy held within all he would ever need. Full of the divine spark. A birthright of wisdom. Profoundly gifted. Whole and complete. The sacred in our midst. On the planet for a distinct purpose. And his only work, just like hers, would be to live what he already knew, through and through.

Anna whispers (and sometimes shouts) the same to you:

“You hold within all you will ever need. You are full of the divine spark. You have a birthright of wisdom. You are profoundly gifted. You are whole and complete. You are the sacred in our midst. You are on the planet for a distinct purpose. And your only work is to live what you already know, through and through.”

It’s not a secret: this deep, before-the-dawn-of-time, Oracle-like wisdom that this prophetess (or any wise woman) holds and offers. It is simply and profoundly this:

You already know, through and through.

That’s it.

Your wish for the wisdom of the (s)ages and the seeress, the accumulated brilliance of all women throughout time, and certainly Anna’s, is encapsulated in these few words. This one sentence. All that you will ever seek, everything you long to find, the only thing you will ever need.

You already know, through and through.

So sit at the feet of any and all women you can find. Soak up every word they have to offer. And realize that all of them, every one, whether mythic, legendary, archetypal, or even apron-wearing-cookie-baking-cigarette-smoking, will tell you the same thing:

You already know, through and through.

There is only one catch: you have to believe that it’s true.

May it be so.


I write a long-form letter every week. Aptly named Monday Letters. I’d love for you to have it…from my heart to yours. SUBSCRIBE.

About peanut butter, shame, and old stories

I was journaling the other morning and flashed on a memory from close to 50 years ago…

I snuck into the kitchen when I knew my mom wasn’t there, opened the fridge, and got myself a spoonful of peanut butter — then devoured it and disposed of any evidence before I got caught. This was hardly the only time I took on such stealth activity related to food; this scene is an amalgamation of countless such moments. 

So, the questions you might be asking are these:

  1. Why did she need to sneak in the first place? What was wrong with having a spoonful of peanut butter?
  2. Why did she know to anticipate shame, if caught? What about the shame she felt in getting away with what was not allowed?

My behavior was hardly limited to peanut butter, nor did it end when I was young. I can conjure up memory after memory in which I was convinced that I needed to hide my behavior. Yes, around food, but also money, sex, anything not deemed “good” or “right.” And it persists. 

I am now 61 years old, have been in years of therapy and spiritual direction, am deeply familiar with self-reflection, have grown in profound ways, and am far, far from that young girl in a small dairy town in Eastern Washington. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter. All of these core fears and beliefs remain. No, they don’t hold the same power they once did, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t present, functioning, and often running roughshod.

How about a current example: 

When I order something on Amazon, both of my daughters receive a confirmation email. If they click on “details,” they instantly know what is coming my way. As you might imagine, this is distinctly problematic around birthdays and Christmas, but above/beyond those obvious and appropriate “secrets,” here’s what happens within me: I actually think about what I’m going to purchase (or not) based on my anticipation of their response.

I know! It sounds completely crazy. Cuz it is!! It doesn’t function as powerfully as it once did. I don’t give it a ton of credence. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still there. The pattern persists — and remains — at a DNA-level, it seems:

  • what I want is disallowed or “wrong”
  • not getting caught or hiding is my response
  • shame is a given

It would be really, really easy for me to launch into the story of Eve right now — all the ways in which that telling (not the story itself) has created and reinforced why I feel this way; why you probably do, as well.

There’s another story I want to tell instead. Back to the other morning, my journaling, and the remembered story of the stealth peanut butter…

As is my ritual, I type for about 45 minutes and then draw a card from my deck — just to see what woman/story/wisdom might show up on my behalf and speak to what I’ve written up to that point. The card I turned over? 

I swear: I can’t make this up.

The Unaccused Woman

Do you know her story? If you have heard of her, she’s been called The Woman Caught in Adultery. I despise this “name” for a myriad of reasons: she continues to be objectified, the man is not responsible at all, her “sin” is our focus, it perpetuates the belief that a woman’s desire is dangerous…I could go on and on.

So, I’ve renamed her The Unaccused Woman. Here’s the gist:

Jesus was traveling from town to town, drawing larger and larger crowds — much to the dismay of the religious leaders and teachers. In order to trap him, they brought a woman before him and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” He bent over and wrote in the dust with his finger as they kept demanding an answer. Finally he stood up and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” Then he returned to drawing in the dirt. When her accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one until only Jesus and the woman were left in the midst of the crowd. He said to her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. He replied, “Neither do I.” 

This story makes mine about peanut butter (or money or sex or Amazon purchases) seem relatively inconsequential. But we have much in common — this woman and me (and you). Centuries and centuries have spoken of her sin. Centuries and centuries have guessed about what he was drawing in the dirt. Centuries and centuries have pondered and preached and pontificated about “he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Centuries and centuries have made this story about his power to forgive. Centuries and centuries have assumed she was guilty — and just “lucky” that Jesus happened along to save her. 

What has not been spoken of, asked, or considered (at least not nearly enough) is who she was in the first place, let alone who she became when all the old stories suddenly disappeared, when she was seen without shame, when she stepped into an expanse of grace. And we’ve certainly not asked what wisdom she longs to offer on our behalf when we find ourselves caught in old stories, reeling in shame (imagined or real), and repeating old patterns that no longer serve.

Perhaps it’s time we did. It’s what she deserves. It’s what we deserve — and desire and need! Whether it has anything to do with peanut butter, or not. 

“It helps me to be in conversation with the women who have gone before us because understanding the past illuminates how we got to where we are and how we might walk a brighter path into the future.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser, Cassandra Speaks

What might she say to you today, knowing what she knows?

The shadows are not your home; step into the light.

Imagine if this was the refrain, the over-arching truth, the wisdom that was inculcated into you from the earliest age. Imagine if her voice was the one you heard in bedtime stories, read in your favorite books, sang of in houses of worship…

You do not need to sneak. You do not need to hide. And you do not need to feel shame. Every part of you is wanted, allowed, and welcomed. Walk through your days in full expression of your desire, your wants, your opinions, your hopes, your emotions, your beliefs. Those hints of accusation, the possibility of risk, the fear of being caught? Never deserved, never appropriate, never yours to take on. And the shadows? They are not where you belong. So now, at last, step into the light and stay there. Stand in the spotlight, center stage, visible and glorious — making your own choices: wise, full-of-desire, and sovereign. It’s time. I am with you.

You are draped with dignity and grace. 

Imagine if this was the blessing spoken over you at birth, repeated at each meal, whispered as prayer while someone soothed your brow and tucked you in at night…

See yourself as I do — robed in velvet, beautiful beyond compare, shoulders back, strength revealed, no questions asked. And in moments and seasons when this vision feels far away, almost impossible, ask yourself: “What does dignity look like right now?” “What does grace feel like right now?” Both are givens. Both are yours. These two — as faithful companions — offer you a way of being that eliminates shame (by self or others), reminds you of who you truly are, and removes all judgment and fear. This IS who you are. Always. From the beginning of time and still today. No matter what. I promise.

Freedom and strength define you.

Imagine if this was reinforced at every turn, repeated in every moment of doubt, tattooed on your heart, the index card on your mirror, the magnet on your fridge…

Freedom defines you — not second guessing or holding back or being small of staying silent or enduring shame. Freedom defines you — so choose, and choose, and choose again: what you want, what you desire, what you believe in, what you know. Freedom defines you — not a man or a job or a culture or your social media numbers. Strength defines you — not compliance or compromise or peace-making or your bank statement. Strength defines you — so risk and speak and give and love. Strength defines you — in the most fierce and tender of ways. Knowing you have complete freedom is what gives you strength. Trusting in your strength is what gives you freedom. Both are yours. By divine right. By inheritance. As impossible-to-ignore truth. You are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.

My experience as a young girl is a small story. Not hugely significant, necessarily. But it offers me a glimpse into so many more stories that were yet to come — and still do. The peanut butter itself is not the cause or to blame; rather, it’s a symptom (and a source of discernment/wisdom) of something far larger, older than time, in my bloodstream…and in yours. 

We have been trained to see ourselves at fault, the ones to blame, deserving of being drug into the center of town and stoned. We assume that pursuing what we want — from the smallest thing to the largest — is going to get us into trouble…or cause it for others. We are fairly certain that we will somehow, some way, be punished. And in truth — every bit of this is all-too-often true! We’re not imagining it or making it up! Centuries and centuries have taught us these lessons, we’ve experienced their pain ourselves, and we’ve certainly witnessed them in others. 

Which is why a story like The Unaccused Woman matters so much. Which is why paying attention to the seemingly-smallest of stories in our own lives matters so much.

“You may think these stories are the stuff of ‘once upon a time’ and have nothing to do with you or your times. But ‘once upon a time’ is now, because the past is laced into the present on the needle and thread of stories.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser, Cassandra Speaks


I hope you will pay attention to your own memories, that you’ll wonder about what they invite, and maybe even listen to the voice and wisdom of an ancient, sacred woman from long ago who has so much to say, so much to offer, and who longs for so much on your behalf. 

And definitely eat peanut butter by the spoonful!!

I write a letter every week — and email it every Monday morning. I’d love for you to have it: my thoughts, truth-telling, not skimming the surface. From my heart to yours. SUBSCRIBE.

About NOT living a conventional life

“Most of us live conventional lives. We want to avoid the discomforts that arise from complications. But the full, creative life must be open to unpredictability. Jewish wisdom urges us to open our eyes to the possibility of change, even to the need to break a rule. Sometimes the only way to grow is to take a bite of the apple.” ~ Rabbi Irwin Kula

Fantastic. Powerful. And true.

Here’s where we’re headed:

  1. a conventional life = avoiding discomfort
  2. a full, creative life = unpredictability
  3. change = breaking a rule (or two)
  4. growth = taking a bite of the apple


When I look back at my own life, my adamant demand of avoiding discomfort (for myself and for others) has caused me to choose what is generally done or believed — at the expense of my intuition, my wisdom, my very heart. The opposite has also been true: when I have listened to my intuition, trusted my wisdom, and followed my heart it has always been outside of convention, incredibly uncomfortable, and most-definitely (ultimately) worth it.

How about for you?

  • What stories come to mind? Where, when, and with whom have you diligently worked to sustain comfort (your own and/or others’), maintain the status quo, avoid discomfort and choose convention?
  • Think about your own experiences of being uncomfortable. Are they also the places in which you’ve gone against the grain, done what’s unexpected, and (hopefully) chosen what’s best for you instead of what everyone else wanted from/for you? What does that invite you to consider?

Instead of resisting discomfort, how might we welcome it? Could we learn to see “complications” as a form of discernment; a trail of breadcrumbs that lead us to what is unconventional — and far closer to what we truly value and desire?

Because I do not want to live a conventional life, discomfort cannot be avoided.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “state” of my life, now 61 years old, relatively-suddenly living on the other side of the country with my sister and her family, changing pretty much everything. It’s not the first time I’ve done something like this: seemingly random and unconventional. There is a part of me that wants to believe I’ve been the one to make this happen, but I know better. In truth, it has been the unexpected, the surprises, the random and seemingly-crazy choices that have ultimately shaped the life that is mine.

And just so you know, this pattern applies to far more than just “good” things! Some of the hardest seasons in my life were unexpected and completely out of my control — others’ decisions impacted me in excruciating ways, there were circumstances I could have no more predicted than flown, ramifications and realities were everywhere that I didn’t see coming. All unpredictable — and much to my chagrin. In the moment, the opposite of “full and creative,” but usually the means through which my life has found deeper meaning, more fullness, and yes, creativity, as well.

When we look back, we see all the twists and turns our story has taken; a plot that has been far less conventional and far more full-and-creative than we might have ever imagined or predictably planned on our own.

How about for you?

  • What thoughts come to mind when you think of allowing your life to be unpredictable?
  • Consider when you were most firmly grasping for control, what was predictable, and what felt safe. What words describe your life during those times?
  • What stories come to mind that you’d define as “creative and full”? How was unpredictability manifest in the midst?

When we find ourselves in places that feel the opposite of “full and creative,” it is probably because the need to control is dialed way up; we (falsely) believe that life is 100% ours to determine and shape.

[I certainly do not believe it’s all in the hands of fate. Agency and choice, will and determination — these things matter. Take heart: if you’re anything like me, there’s no risk whatsoever of these things disappearing! The challenge and invitation is allowing in the opposite, the unpredictable.]

When/if life feels empty and dry, unfulfilling and exhausting, it’s the unpredictable that’s called for — which means letting go, surrendering, releasing our grip.

I’m a huge advocate for breaking things: rules, traditions, assumptions, patterns, habits, beliefs.

I haven’t always been this way. In fact, far more of my life could be defined by following the rules — no matter what! It ensured that I’d be loved, accepted, and allowed, even honored and esteemed. And every bit of that worked for me — until it didn’t.

How about for you?

  • Do you agree that change cannot occur without rules being broken?
  • When have you broken the rules? What change occurred?
  • Can you name the rules that you’re afraid to break right now in service of your own change?

It’s important to note that rules — especially those that we follow as women — are a) what is demanded of us; and b) the very things that perpetuate patriarchy’s harm. It is defiant to intentionally break them — and it is critical.

If we want change, because we want change (for ourselves and for our world), we must be fiercely committed to being rule-breakers.

No surprise: I love this part of the quote the most!

Eve’s choice to eat the apple is what moved humanity forward, invited life in a more expansive world, even brought forth vastly increased intimacy and connection with the divine (vs. the opposite, as we’ve been told) and yes, compelled growth.

She serves as a woman’s best template, mentor, and muse. She provides a model of what it means to choose the unconventional, to be unpredictable, to break the rules, and yes, to take a bite of the apple.

And yet, what we have inculcated and internalized (even if unintentionally and unwittingly) through her story is just the opposite! Which makes me completely crazy AND explains, at least in part, why it’s hard for us to follow her lead. We feel the tension when we are perceived as:

swimming upstream
going against the grain
thinking for ourselves
acting on our own volition
choosing what we want
listening to and trusting our own wisdom

Every bit of this has been reinforced as “bad,” wrong, even sinful for thousands upon thousands of years!

How about for you?

  • What is your very first thought when you hear Eve’s name? What data does that give you about internalized beliefs related to risk, trusting yourself, or being defiant?
  • What IS the apple you most want to bite? Can you name what prevents you from doing so?
  • Once again, look back over your own life. What are the experiences that have enabled the most growth? How many of those held an element of choosing yourself over others’ expectations or demands?

Instead of seeing ourselves as defiant when we take a bite of the apple, we must recognize it as our truest nature; pursuing and cherishing growth is our truest nature!

If you ever want to hear exactly what I think about Eve’s story (and the way it’s been told), listen to my TEDx Talk.


One more time:

“Most of us live conventional lives. We want to avoid the discomforts that arise from complications. But the full, creative life must be open to unpredictability. Jewish wisdom urges us to open our eyes to the possibility of change, even to the need to break a rule. Sometimes the only way to grow is to take a bite of the apple.” ~ Rabbi Irwin Kula

May it be so.