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March/April 2020

“She was fire and life. She was awe and starlight.”

– Nadine Brandes, Author, Fawkes

“O my Courageous Sister! You have to become the beacon of hope
for all women around you and then for the whole society.”

– Abhijit Naskar, Author The Bengal Tigress: A Treatise on Gender Equality

March is Women’s History month and a great reason to write about something that it is deeply needed at this time: the feminine anima in each of us. Every person is called to make room for the feminine aspects within, whether in a male or female body.

As I typed “Rise Up,” I wondered if this term might conjure images of one person rising up above others. What I’m picturing is the rising up of a mother or a father in the middle of the night; quick and eager to comfort and provide love and care for an infant. This is the part of us that rises to nurture and support one another through presence and generosity to meet the needs of a troubled people.

I recently watched both the documentary and the movie on the life and work of Mr. Rogers. I was struck in a new way, by who he was, what he valued, and how courageously he lived, especially during times in which he expressed his mission through counter-cultural actions. I am inspired by how he persevered even through self-doubt, recriminations, and setbacks, and his wondering in the end if he was making any positive difference at all. Like many heroes, Mr. Rogers remained largely unsung and unrecognized until after his death.

I wonder why I did not recognize Mr. Rogers’ gifts fully when my children were little and his show was on my TV. I think his gentleness, kindness and presence (often associated with the feminine) felt alien and uncomfortable to me in the beginning, even though I highly value this now. I felt sad that I hadn’t recognized at the time how brave and loving he really was, especially in a man’s world, and why it matters so much that we do so now. Maybe that is the way when witnessing the rising up of love in action. First it frightens and even repels until we open fully to receive it.

As you consider this month of celebration of women, ask yourself, “Am I called to bring support, relief and inspiration? If so, how?” It is so easy to see needs and become overwhelmed, thinking, “what can I do?!” I encourage you to focus on the joy and passion in your heart and to consider what you can do that brings you comfort, healing and new life. For me, it has been a passion of mine to share my work in human systems as it heals me to do so. I am fortunate to have discovered this and how to help whole communities create new conditions and conversations that are truly life-giving through a system I built. What’s most important to share with you is that my work doesn’t feel like work to me at all! Your rising up need not be monumental, hard or even noteworthy but it must be a commitment. For some, this means honoring any fear and rise up to accept that and yourself exactly where you are so that your very loving presence and unconditional support within, overflows to others. It ALL matters.

The feminine is a joyous energy. Seek what you are inspired to do and be. Maybe you like to study and experiment with veganism, or like to tutor people on reading, or to write fun and thought-provoking poems or blogs. What may stop you are thoughts like: “Well, that’s no big deal!” or “I’m not that good at it. No one would find value in that.” It can be scary to rise up and be vulnerable and it may seem meaningless to do so through joyful means. As you make your way through March and all the remaining days of your life, celebrate the kindness and gentleness and the nurturing and even the fierce protectiveness of the feminine in you. Our very survival depends on this for much needed balance and progress. I honor and celebrate all that you are!

Judy Ryan is the founder and CEO of LifeWork Systems and is an expert thought leader on applied behavioral science systems that impact deep culture change for exceptional outcomes. People hire Judy and LifeWork Systems because they want to fully experience the joy and vitality that can be realized through a purpose-driven workplace culture where excellence in achievement is accomplished and celebrated.

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