The Photographic Journey to here

Namaste Friends,

Thank you for your patience, my processes paused as I noticed my reaction to world events. More disruption all over our planet: shifting political power, weaponized economics, ongoing pandemic, severe weather events due to climate change, and civil unrest in so many parts of the world… my heart has been heavy, my thoughts have been with those who are suffering.

However, in honour of those who do not currently have the freedom to continue to do the things that need to be done, and who instead must get on with the most important work of survival, I shall get on with the tasks before me…

Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.

Zen Buddhist proverb.

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself”

Simone de Beauvoir

I started looking for myself in places where I knew I’d seen me before. I thought perhaps there would be clues left behind, or perhaps I’d get lucky and find I was still there.

In yoga. I saw my shape, my body, the crafting of age telling a story of it’s own.

In the garden I saw the crone, smiling as she welcomed me home. The witch standing close behind, ever sultry and full of sass, came first from private moments and then out into the world to play.

She reminded me of the desperate attempts the maiden had made to keep herself relevant, to hold on. To find good in the mistakes she and the child had made, instead finding grace in the lessons she learned, from all the times she fell.

I started to see more than the context and form. I started to see the way the different settings inspired me to hold my body or angle my head. I started to notice the different types of energy that flowed through me as I felt the sun on my naked skin, warmth in places that had never been warmed, changing the colours of my body, the tone of my hair.

I started seeing myself in the conversations that came from sharing the images. The therapist, the teacher, the coach, the nurturer, the healer.

I had lost myself in the trauma, not just my own, in fact by then my own had retracted and retreated to the peripheral of my mind, perspective taking hold. Now the storm had passed, I had rested and I started feeling ready.

This was me creeping back out into the sun to play. After too many years of turmoil, after spending far too long dwelling in the shadow of social expectations and dominant gender norms. After realising that I needed to choose to live ‘my best life’, that I needed to wake up and do the thing I want to do, the things that bring joy and love to me, my family and the world.

The images show a clear release and outward expression, the energy and playfulness abundant in moments of total liberation, uninhibited in my experimentation. Both joyful and irreverent in this moment of re-claiming and re-awakening the sovereign being within.

In these moments I was breaking trauma bonds with people central to my narrative and my identity. I was reclaiming the story of my body, what it means to me, how others saw it,  how I see it, the stories I tell myself about size and shape, colour and texture. I was ignoring expectations for how a woman of my age and professional standing should behave and enjoying every moment, embracing the abundant freedom of being as authentic in my anger as I was in the exhilaration of the release.

Crazy cat lady.

Cranky old hippie.

Crackpot yogi.

Oddball. Weirdo….I’ll take them all.

The first album of this project, some might say, ‘somewhat like the first pancake’, exposes my naivety and ignorance, as a model and photographer, and also as a woman who brings beginner’s mind to the things she does, willing to fail, make mistakes, be ‘good enough’ to make a start and learn and grow in the process of becoming rather than waiting to share perfection, which she may never attain.

The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. 

John Dewey

Through the process of taking nude selfies and sharing them online with other people who identify as nudists and/or naturists I stumbled, very awkwardly, into a safe space for identity work. And found a community of people asking similar questions to myself, ‘why is society so hung up about nudity, with people seeing them?’. And as I experimented with different styles of photos, imitating others, coming up with my own crazy ideas, seeking inspiration from my environment, I started to see the different things that make up my identity the different parts of myself; and the things I have never shared before.

While I looked very outward facing in the photos, this was a time of deep introspection. I’ve always been comfortable alone. And this time and space I have given myself for this project has been like a retreat for my soul. A practice, a journey and a reflection, integrated into a process of un-learning and re-emerging.

The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project.

Simone de Beauvoir

May all beings everywhere know freedom from suffering,


Being shot by an other

The next set of photos I share (next post) will be those I very first shared online with a community of naturists (and some others…). As I share the various albums I have created for this project, I will toggle back and forth between reflection on now and then. I will share where I was at in my journey when the photo was taken, what I saw in the image at the time, and if anything has changed. As well, I will check in regularly with a mindful pause, an update of where things are at with the project real time and a few new pics as the opportunities to collaborate with more experienced artists emerge and unfold.

As an activist, I am finding my voice and I recently had the opportunity to use it. I hope I was heard, but if ultimately there is no action, that just provides me with more information about the leadership culture at play in this situation. So far, they are not naked in their truth, do not allow themselves to be seen, their authentic voice heard. I believe leaders, particularly those in public institutions, should be expected to demonstrate their integrity (alignment between espoused and enacted values) in every situation, to show that they are able to learn as they go, and accept full responsibility and accountability for their actions and decisions, particularly those that detract value from others in some way.

As I share openly, who I am and what I stand for, I hope to role model some of what I believe should be the norm among world leaders. A willingness to be both strong and soft, connected and open with the people you are striving to represent, to serve. I hope to be someone who is able to hold a signpost for those on the path; ‘Right way keep going’, ‘Road widens ahead’, ‘Welcome, merging traffic’.


S’BF x

For the first few months of this project I only took my own photos and had never had a nude photo taken of my by anyone else before, ever.

The original idea had been to find someone who would be interested in using me as a nude model for a landscape type shoot (ie. I would be off in the distance) or a life drawing session (where in any perceived imperfections could be accounted for by the interpretation of the artist rather than my own inadequacies…)

Instead I found myself, day after day,  taking photos of myself, for myself.

Coming across the online community for nudists gave me a way to share the photos and receive feedback.

I grappled with the sexual nature of social nudism but, with a little time, found a way to present my profile, and the images I shared, that seems to ward off a lot of the sexual harassment type communication. And with the few that still get through, I get to practice setting boundaries and ‘using my words’. Particularly that really hard one, ‘no’.

This virtual experience helped prepare me for my first actual photoshoot with an actual photographer. I’ll share more about the shoot itself in a later post together with a few of the images from the shoot.  What I would like to reflect on here is the opportunity this lovely, calm, slow first shoot provided me.

I quickly discovered that the practices of yoga and meditation are excellent training for life as a model. To be able to slip into a light meditative state and focus on breath while holding a pose, and be supported by good core strength, an understanding of concepts like base of support, centre of gravity, range of movement. Knowing how to use the bandhas, intentional muscle locks, and the energetic scaffolding of our bodies.

Being in this state, you notice different things, your awareness is altered. I noticed the things I had given up, the things that the other photographer now had control over. when the shutter opened and closed, how the light reflected off my curves and body parts, which photos would be examined and edited…

This was something I had not reckoned on grappling with. Noticing the tension within myself created, not by being nude in a room with a clothed stranger (though that was slightly awkward the first time…), but the giving over of control of the way my essence is seen, captured and interpreted.

With this new understanding and awareness of control primed in my mind, I began seeing the invitations for collaboration in a different light. I tested the boundaries again, reflected, contemplated, reset them.

I started to see myself in a different light, I started to ask more difficult questions. I still have more to learn. But I can see now how women are conditioned to say yes to men and men are conditioned to pushing at women’s boundaries until they do. And a woman that says ‘no’ is difficult, rude, brattish, out of control, hormonal and/or a raging lesbian. Or just a source of more frustration, a hassle, a burden.

I don’t mind any of those terms. I now know where I start and finish and how to notice when other people’s baggage has become mixed up with mine. I see now, how you put your bag down a little too close. How your small request becomes a larger one, how you negotiate your way to yes, sometimes with charm, sometimes with military precision. You are on a mission to fulfil your goal, achieve your outcome.

You trample all over my boundaries in your big clumsy boots.

You are used to me bending to your will.

You nudge me again.

I smile politely (fuck I did it again).

You relax, back on track. I notice the tension leave your face. Your words less anxious.

Your dominance, at ease, at the wait.

I am also now ‘at the wait’. That shit now gets no closer than the first time I say no. I did the experiment and turns out I am right the first time, and if I’m wrong, we’ll both learn something. If you push, if you keep at it, if you try to win me over or even if you throw a fucking tantrum, cut the conversation short, stop communicating or threaten to leave me altogether? Ok.

Your trauma is not mine.

This has been such a crucial realisation for my project. A project about women’s sovereignty in the midst of global upheaval.

Men are being displaced, women are finding their voices, children, teenagers, young adults, sick from being treated like an inconvenient necessity, are experiencing a collective mental health crisis.

This, what is happening in the world, affects everyone. However, if you only feel your pain without seeing the places that it is coming from, it is hard to keep it contained and refrain from misfiring. It is hard to disentangle the threads in your mind, trauma loops and new information, confused and confounded. Your psychology unknown to you. Your focus is only on the outcome of your pursuit.

Psychology affects the way I am seen by a male photographer and thus the way they set up, capture and interpret the images. A dominant, trauma-laden male will see something very different in a nude female model, will take a very different photo of me, than someone who understands and respects individual sovereignty. Who is looking for a unique artistic angle as opposed to soft warm curves (or perhaps as well as…more on this). Someone who understands how to hold a space for the experience of freedom and courageous vulnerability in exposing yourself, not just your physical body, but your soul, the energy flowing through and around you. To really let someone else see, the authentic you.

When I am in this state of openness I need to be in a safe place.

If you are always putting your needs before mine, I can’t be sure I’m safe with you.

If you can’t hear me say no to the little things, I can’t be sure I’m safe with you.

If you see my openness and think it is an opening, I’m not safe with you.

If you see the warm softness in me and come after it…

I see you now. I know how you see me.

And now, with my own eyes, I see myself.

Now I will show you.

I pause.

I’m not finished. I wasn’t sure why. But then a conversation in a driveway occurred. A man sharing with a woman, two humans caught up in it all, his grief, his devotion. He shared with me why.

His why, my why. We have both been shot by an other, made out to be the other. Our identities cast by the trauma of others.

Being male doesn’t protect you from harm and being female doesn’t preclude me being the predator.  The generational trauma of living inauthentic lives plays out in and around each of us in various ways. Sometimes you are the lead, sometimes you are backstage. Sometimes you sit in the stalls and pretend that none of it is yours.

But there is no way to freedom without walking through the door of self-realisation, of realising you are both self and Self; both player and audience. Playing a role, one with a script that you know. Taking you down a path with no end. A path that keeps you holding on, yet, without letting go  you cannot move on.

Let go, and as you cross the threshold from unknowing to becoming aware, you realise.

It happens.

In that space in between.

Reconciling my desire to give with my need for safety I reset my boundaries.

My heart filled with compassion for us both.

A brief overview of the journey thus far...

In love’s shadow, anger is a powerful ally

A new energy is washing through and taking with it the raw edges of anger.

Standing with strength, forged like the steel in a sharpened blade.

Ready for battle, yet wanting not for blood but for peace.

I want to rest and play, knowing the world is safe, that my daughters are welcomed in their community and my sisters are treated with respect.

And while I wish for nothing more than my mother’s freedom, some journeys aren’t about us.

My grandmothers are speaking to me now. One showed up in an artist’s drawing. My face, her reflection. A still life sitting, the crone at ease in her pose.

She looks back over the many images that have each formed a stepping stone, out into the lake of acceptance and love.

The soft light a spectacular reflection of the inner glow that comes from acknowledging the source, the essence, life.

Still life drawing by artist Brett Poulsen

Over the course of the next series of posts I will share the journey of images that have acted as pavers on this yellow brick road.

A road that has been at times dark and lonely, bright and busy, and now joyful and liberating.

The practice of self awareness, self study, is referred to by yogis as Svadhyaya.

“Knowing ourself is the path to freedom. The fact that seven sages etched it into a temple in Ancient Greece is one clue in thousands. It’s written in every scripture, it falls off the tongues of poets. It has driven mankind across the world and into outer space in search of answers: Who are we? Who are you? Who am I? ” – The practice is explained beautifully here:

Svadhyaya, the fourth Niyama on the path of the Yoga Sutras asks us to have faith. To trust that our true nature is what we are seeking, and to make a commitment to finding it.

The big existential questions addressed by yogis and other contemplatives overlap with the curiosities of philosophers and great minds throughout time. Why are we here? Why do I seek a sense of meaning and purpose? What is this experience I am having?

In the galleries that I will share in the coming posts, I will expose, with as much grace and courage as I can, the way self-study liberated me from many years and layering of conditioning, from the fear of being too much, the fear of rejection, and the fear of being alone.

How it uncovered a burning rage deep within, one that has burned for generations, one that motivates me to act as a cycle breaker, an agent of change.

And how it released my voice, opened my mind, and reminded my heart that passion comes in many forms; and that anger that arises from love, is the most powerful force in the universe to those you act to protect.

Strong and soft…

May all beings everywhere know freedom from suffering,


SB’F x

Please subscribe if you’d like to follow along. Namaste, SB’F x

Sitting with an angry shadow

As I look around I see sisters in transformation rising up. Women’s issues in the workplace, particularly around sexual harassment and the way women navigate their way through these difficult conversations, is a very hot topic in Australia right now.

Recently, Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year, refused to smile in a meeting with the Australian Prime Minister, it has raised a national conversation about the role of angry women as drivers of change.

I am hearing it in my own conversations about change with others who are dedicated to helping bring about systemic transformation, but are still coming to terms with the nuances of the changes needed to re-imagine our places of work and trade as inclusive and consensual .

People are noticing that women are speaking up more. That we are demanding that they listen more than speak. But they are not yet sure how to hear what she is saying.

While you spent  lunchtime yesterday listening to her angry outburst, she has lived the experience her whole long life. Can you hear her? She is my colleague, she is my friend, she is my sister and she is me.

She will not be my daughter.

I will not dampen my anger, I will not sit until I am calm. Sitting enrages me further, sitting allows me to see.

I see the way that want us all to stay smaller, to smile and be polite. Diplomatic. Aren’t I supposed to be some peace loving hippie? Why aren’t you happy all the time?

As I shed the norms of the good girl daughter and the pleaser wife, my expectations of myself fell to the floor with my clothes. Why would I stand against those I love but fall at the feet of those who have used me? Those who keep others small and contained everyday.

What once was designed to harness the energy of the non-land owning workforce continues with a tantalising promise of your own home. They realised they had to modify the game to keep you playing. Come work for us,  work for a while and then banks will loan you money, then keep working for the next 30 or so years and you can have this token of our appreciation, we’ll let you keep the house, probably.  And maybe you get clever and level up, and get a bigger house and a nicer car and go on longer holidays…..but you are still their slave. Your slavery has just been made more comfortable with built in rewards and that ever-present threat of punishment, the fear of losing it all.

Faced with an army of passive establishment soldiers, themselves enslaved by the delusion of freedom, the workers march on. But not I.

And not, so, so many others. For every person reading this blog there are many thousands of others thinking these thoughts too. Women and men who are tired of having their minds raped, their ideas pimped, their smiles sold; all for the privilege of paying off a mortgage on a house they couldn’t afford. We are done.

And so I will not dampen my anger, instead I sit with her in mutual rage. We sit together and wonder about what we should do with our time. How to show our daughters where to find the cracks in the system, to pries them open and expose the rot inside.

My anger loves me and my daughters just as much as I.

Simone B’Free – Identity work leads to shadow integration.

Shadow integration is essential for transcendence. The system relies on your continued passivity, your diplomacy, your ability to keep it above the fucking line.

There is strength in your shadow. She moves within in you with purpose, with meaning, with conviction and passion. Hold her back at your own remorse. Regret for things not done, for all those times you didn’t take a stand, didn’t say what you felt, didn’t act to change the way they assume that things should be done.

While we can take a non-violent path, one infused with empathy, with compassion, with lovingkindness for all; we must also have integrity in presenting what and who we are. If we are angry, it is fair and honest to let others know, I am angry. If I am frustrated, it is fair and honest to let people know my resentment is growing. Do I instead pretend that all is ok, enable you and allow you to continue to cause me pain and suffering, all the while my fear and/or hatred for you growing? Who does that serve?

Should people in positions of power, those with privilege and dominance and control, be allowed to continue in their efforts to enslave simply because they are polite and diplomatic about it? But the tearful, angry, emotional woman they have betrayed needs to go and calm down and get herself under control…???


Get yourself under control woman.

Can’t you control your woman?

Can’t you control your kids?

My father asked me this once. Screamed it at me from across the room. “CAN’T YOU CONTROL YOUR BLOODY KIDS?”. He sat at the dining table, expecting his quiet pre-dinner beer, his cheese and crackers, the dips and bread. But instead he was faced with the usual pre-dinner riot of pre-school children fighting for their right to keep partying…. children he didn’t know, didn’t ever lift a finger to help raise, didn’t accept their divergence. Didn’t know how to love.

And the answer is no. I can’t control my kids. I’ve never really tried.

My kids have been taught to think freely. To be themselves even when it hurts. My kids have taught me to be free. To be myself, even when it hurts.

And it does hurt.

So when you worry that my anger will make him uncomfortable, when you get concerned that he will be offended or maybe confused at my request to try something different, to see me differently, to respond to me, not his expectation of what I will be, your worry is not for him, but for yourself.

You are worried that you are also causing this hurt and this pain.

And you are angry that your wife and daughters, your sisters and mother, they’ve all suffered for this and for more.

And now you can hear the pain in her voice,

And you can sit with her anger and with her.

Now you see, it was keeping you small as well. If she is held back, you are held back, her potential is our potential, what is possible can be in service of us all.

Free your mind, your body and your soul, let your angry shadow strengthen your voice  and give you the energy to stand, to step up and step in.

Claim your life, your sovereignty.

Allow all of your self to be.

Simone B’Free – Allow all of your self to be.

From my desk, to yours… thank you for subscribing 🙂 Namaste

Wild woman on the loose

And, as if the world wasn’t crazy enough right now, we’ve had reports that there has been a giant naked lady moving around parts of the industrial areas just outside of the city today.

She saw them in the distance and began the journey back. She wasn’t completely sure how she had wandered off so far so quickly.

As she moved closer back towards them, something strange happened. She felt herself growing, larger, taller, bigger, she was becoming… giant???

Her curiosity and love for many of the people still in the buildings around the city, urged her closer. Whatever was happening to her would have to just take care of itself for a while, except that she couldn’t ignore it. It commanded the engine room of her mind. The takeover had been stealth, or perhaps it had happened when she wandered off, not noticing as she tended to her wounds, that her mind was shifting and adapting.

Webs of knowing woven and re-woven, torn, damaged, repaired or rebuilt, reigniting passion and strengthening conviction, and lighting her way through the night.

The new perspective, as one who no longer fit in, as an outsider, an ‘other’, wasn’t entirely new. However, her understanding of what was happening was something that was dawning on her like the sun on a clear summer morning.

Both because of and in spite of her nudity, she moved closer.

She paused to look in.

The window was so small, she could only see parts of the room inside, some of the people. She recalled a time when she had believed the windows to outside were clear and large and offered a view of it all.

As she stood and looked across the rooftops, she could see how this had never been true. She shifted her gaze to acknowledge the others who stood among the buildings, wondering how to free more. Together. That’s how.

What they now understood, was that it wasn’t that they had grown to become giant, but rather grown into their natural state of being, free from the restrictions of being inside. Something more than those buildings let them be.

What they now understood, was how those still inside are kept small.

Image by Mark Stephen, Lensart, Brisbane.

A vision of feathers everywhere

So to what end do I write and share? What does the wild woman crave?

I write, I share

To nudge and awaken those who are just opening their eyes.

To encourage and inspire those who are walking their own path.

To step into the arena.

To be courageous enough to show people that most of what you think you have to fear is, quite simply, not real.

I’m here to help reveal what is possible.

I’m here to serve the efforts of change, to enable greater human and planetary prosperity; not for some but for all.

I am here to reduce and minimise suffering.

My vision, my hope, my dream, is that we gather enough momentum as a people to change the current system in ways that create a world that is just and fair whenever possible. Where our default is to pause, without judgment, to assist one another, to add value to each other’s lives.

Where we have workplaces free of management, free of control and coercion and all managers are taught instead how to nurture culture and create a safe space for collaboration and emergent value creation; no  more managers, every one replaced by cultural facilitators, enablers who help people grow and thrive.  Regardless of the industry, the sector, the size or the type of business or organisation, it is time for a new paradigm in the way we generate value in our societies.

And here lies the stumbling block. First people must be willing to learn to recognise and acknowledge the problem, its root cause and the complexity of its current state. This is not a few leadership development programs and a couple of coaching sessions. This is about installing a new operating system. A transition to a completely new way of being with and relating to each other; and meeting each other’s needs.

Paradigms provide maps of what the world is believed to be like. They constitute guidelines for getting about and for identifying and solving problems. Above all, paradigms provide the framework of meaning within which ‘facts’ and experiences acquire significance and can be interpreted.

Paradigms are not only beliefs about what the world is like and guides to action, they also serve the purpose of legitimating or justifying courses of action. That is to say, they function as ideologies. Hence, conflicts over what constitutes the paradigm by which action should be guided and judged to be reasonable is itself a part of the political process. The struggle to universalise a paradigm is part of a struggle for power.

A paradigm is dominant not in the statistical sense of being held by most people, but in the sense that it is the paradigm held by dominant groups in industrial societies and in the sense that it serves to legitimate and justify the institutions and practices of a market economy. It is the taken-for-granted commonsensical view which usually determines the outcome of debates on [issues such as…] environmental issues.

(Milbrath, 1986, pp. 100-101)

Generally speaking, people don’t go to work with the intention to cause others suffering. They think they are doing what it takes to get stuff done and moving in the ‘right direction’; others turn up and do their best despite challenging or even oppressive conditions. But why have we collectively accepted the notion that work must encompass a form of suffering or it’s not work?

Why don’t more of us play for a living?

Why do we scoff at the artists, the musicians, the poets, the writers, the dreamers, the tinkerers?

Because they haven’t made a million dollars from their idea yet?

What if they never intended to? What if they just wanted to create a thing of beauty? And that somehow, through this, they were able to sustain a lifestyle of their own making and to their own satisfaction.

What if we talked about ways we could all contribute value to our communities and societies? What strengths and passions we bring and offer one another in service of what needs to be done to meet our collective needs?

What if we weren’t so busy buying solutions to problems we never had that we noticed how many of those problems aren’t really ours? What if they never were?

My vision is to live in a world where people in meetings talk about ways to serve people in their ‘community of value’; not attract more market-share from consumers.

My vision is to live in a world where social categories are fuzzy and we have opened our minds and our hearts to what is the same in us all, embracing difference with compassion and curiosity, and a desire to share and learn.

The current world operates on categories and gatekeeping and digital transformation in its current form is only set to make this worse. 

Emerging leaders must be expected to make decisions in the interest of the many and be held accountable to employees, customers and other external stakeholders alike. Neither society nor the environment can sustain continued abuse of power and freedom that has accompanied corporate leadership since the industrial revolution. Widespread human-focused, ethical and value-based change is absolutely necessary if we, as a society, are ever to address the wicked problems we currently face. In this sense, we must disrupt leadership.

Imagine a global strike of everyone who thinks it’s time for a major system update at the very least? There are more of us than there are of them.

It is a matter of re-imagining what is possible. Of starting new conversations about new ways. Not just doing doing different things, but doing things differently. With a new mindset, a renewed sense of purpose and mission.

My mission is to share this message.

My purpose is to nudge those nearest to me.

My vision is one of love and kindness.

And to this end I write and I share.

Simone B’Free # nudeforchange

A noticing (and a mindful pause).

As the role identity, Dr Shari Read, the ambitious, young, female academic, continues to fragment, I notice her strengths, her character, her conviction, being re-assigned to new or newly dominant aspects of self.

The activist has encountered her first hostile. The walls of a virtual corporate cult slammed down in her face. A castle full of empty promises and duplicitous messaging. Where polite professionals feast upon each other’s cleverness at being part of an exclusive club for members wishing to promote ‘economic opportunity’ for each other. Although, I suspect most of the revelers do not know on what they feast. What gets them drunk at the expense of so many. I didn’t.

What an interesting first discovery, one that others had known all along of course…

I notice as I encounter the tension created, the discomfort my voice might bring to others.

The wild woman loves the keen mind, the crafting of words, the understanding of evidence, and influence of nuance on the minds of many. She is watching as the story unfolds. Creeping with anticipation, steady, grounded in her conviction and determined in her love, in her devotion to service.

She does not flinch.

#nudeforchange ~ Image by Rocketpixs

The crone breathes deeply and smiles, her own smile………..

Her path has been laid before her, she has always known.

#nudeforchange ~ Image by Rocketpixs

The child and the maiden look into each others’ eyes, and grin. They turn, holding hands, this is not for them. They are saved, they heal, it is time for them to play.

I breathe into the knowledge that my triggers are only triggers, they do not control me. They remind me of my path, the strength I have gained on my way here, the lessons I have learned.

I am ready.

Turns out, I did come to fight.

#nudeforchange ~ Image by Rocketpixs

Breathe in. Breathe out.

I’m ready.

Are you?

What it is to be a wild woman

I fucking hate toxic positivity.

“Keep it above the line…”, I was told.

“Let people speak for themselves”.

“Your problem is you care”.

“Not everyone feels like you”.

We don’t want to hear anything bad about ourselves or what we’re doing. No-one else is brave enough to speak up, and that’s the way we like it. We don’t understand your suggestions or concerns, you’re looking at it all wrong. We have lulled the others into a false sense of security and you are threatening the status quo.

I could be a team player, I could play between the lines when it made sense, I could even smile on cue. But I couldn’t fucking tolerate pretending everything was fine when it fucking wasn’t. I was done with that.

For me, stepping over, fully, from good girl to wild woman, was the moment I completely rejected the notion that I had to be right and liked and approved of by most of the people most of the time. Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck everyone.

Whatever. I went the distance, I stepped up, I stepped in and it still wasn’t good enough???  I am done settling.I’m done taking orders from people who wont step into the arena.

I bring my best. I learn, I grow.

I have had enough feedback in my life, in so many different forms, to understand well enough  now how I am seen, in all the roles I have played. Role identity is not always a helpful concept, another tool for categorising and fragmenting our selves. But being able to assign feedback to a certain role is useful. If the time comes that feedback suggests this role is no longer serving you, having the ability to release yourself from that identity, by ‘retiring’ the role, is a freedom many forget they have.

When you can step away from (or out of) the norms and expectations of certain role identities you have adopted, you can start to see where there is good fit and where there may be potential dissonance. This is hard. It is very confronting and, if you really acknowledge what you learn, you can’t then ignore what you’ve seen.

Quite a few years ago now, I did a leadership identity exercise as part of a course and had to ask  the people who knew me best at the time, when they believed I was at my best. They all said pretty much the same thing. The people around me see me at  my best when I am helping other people be at their best.

I fucking hated that.

The tantrum was real.

I didn’t want to be always using my energy to help others. When did I get to finally help myself? When was it my turn to love me?

It took me a long time to fully realise two things:

  • Loving others is loving yourself; and
  • I could choose to start loving me any time, whenever I wanted.

But the thing about keeping it ‘above the line’ is that you never talk about the stuff that needs to be talked about. You never get to demonstrate your ability to love and accept unconditionally, or to experience unconditional love. And you don’t get all the feedback about yourself that you need to learn and grown as a human being.

Toxic positivity and a culture of ‘politeness’, usually masks an underlying culture of blame.

Just keep smiling and do your job.

I’m just going to keep tolerating you because that’s the polite thing to do.

As a woman I have had to learn the hardest of ways, that it is not safe to be polite. Setting boundaries, saying ‘no’, and asking to have your needs met can’t always be done with a courteous ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  Particularly in a society where the social norm, is for women to serve men.

I get your dinner.

I wash your clothes.

I let you think you’re right.

And now look at the fucking mess we’re in.

And so now I’m mad. Now the wild woman surfaces.

The crone doesn’t mind if you think she’s crazy. The maiden has been set free. The child is safe and happy. And the wild woman dances with glee.

The wild woman dances with glee ~ Simone B’Free

The wild woman knows that it is no longer safe to keep it ‘above the line’, it’s time for the difficult conversations, and that it’s time for us to acknowledge that ‘polite’, ‘and professional’ are just sanitised, construed, inauthentic half-versions of ourselves.

To keep the peace, to not rock the boat; it’s simply enabling the bullshit to go on.

To be a wild woman is to speak your mind, to use your voice, your power, to serve and protect what you love, to stand your ground or move into another space, whatever sets you free.

Wild women, be free ~ Simone B’Free

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SB’F x

Expand, contract…breathe.

In a quiet moment on my own,

My mind occupied with other things,

I was shown the way my life breathes.

I expand and contract.

I open up, and then I withdraw.

I explore and uncover.

I sit and reflect.

I advance. I retreat.

I reach out. I look in.

I inhale. I exhale.

My natural rhythm a guide on the path,

The ebb and flow of an energetic tide,

Comes in, goes out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

The space to explore my own spaces,

The pauses between my breaths,

My life between these moments.

Time is my only need,

And for that my only need is breath,

And so I breathe.

Sit. Until I am Done.

I wrote this piece in February 2013. It provides some insight into where I was at that time with regard to my journey to radical freedom. It was before re-entering academia. I was immersed in motherhood, yoga and Buddhism. I could see the world around me in pain and felt helpless to do anything about it. My arms were full. My heart was breaking, for myself and the world. But in this moment, I was becoming.

A window into becoming intentional

It’s almost like finding out that, years ago, you were hypnotised to believe that you are wrong, defective, bad, useless, and then someday, something pulls you out of the fog of hypnosis. However, to begin with you can’t be sure that you’re not still in the fog, is this just another trick? Something feels different though, there is a new sense of hope perhaps, a strong sense that you can’t go back. You wouldn’t want to, but even if you did, you couldn’t.

So the trance is broken, or more like breaking, so many layers, so many lies. Who am I? Was that really me in there? Holy crap what happened?

The trouble with this work of self-discovery is that, because of the nature of what you are working with, many times, you have to go back through the past and, in some regard, re-live, re-experience the trauma before you can fully appreciate what it is that you went through, to be fully aware of the cause and effect, to be fully aware and awake you have to follow through the experience watching as your body responds to the unconscious processes of the mind, catching the clues, feeling the pattern and rythym, up and down, down and churned up, gut wrenching fear, heart-breaking pain. All of it all over again.

Sit. Sit. Sit. Let it flow by. Sit. Breathe. Be here. Breathe now. Now. Here. Sit.

Fear. What am I afraid of? This process. I can live life in ignorance. Most do. Why bother? Because the fears don’t leave, we have to transform them to find peace. We have to face and accept them to be free. Ok. So what and I afraid of? 

– I want to help but I am scared of being used.

– I want to give, but I am scared of being taken from.

– I want to live my dreams, but I am scared that they’re not really mine.

– I want to succeed but I am scared that the needs of my loved ones will mean that I have to give up my dreams because my need to give is bigger than my need to succeed.

I am a good person. Aren’t I?

I don’t know who I am because all that I was, was torn apart with criticism, negativity, negligence and abuse. The scattered pieces fit so beautifully together but the process of picking them up and re-aligning them is painful, exhausting and seemingly never-ending. The hurt and fatigue fuel the fire of self-doubt, maybe it is me, I despair. Maybe it was always me. 

No. Now I know. It was them. It was always them. I was a child, a small, scared, lonely child without someone to hold me and tell me how good and clever I was. Without someone who said with their arms, their eyes and their heart that they loved me, completely, unconditionally, without question. I was the child left, abandoned, 5 minutes, an hour, 3 hours, days, weeks and then months. What needs could I have had? What could I possibly have needed from them? I couldn’t say. I’d lost my voice. I was voiceless.

I feel lost again. 

Sit. Sit. Sit. Let it flow by. Sit. Breathe. Be here. Breathe now. Now. Here. Sit.

Can you see what I’m saying? Can you see me? Can you tell me who I am?

Sit. Sit. Sit. Let it flow by. Sit. Breathe. Be here. Breathe now. Now. Here. Sit.

There is trauma. I need to heal and that will take time. I’m scared of time and all that it will bring, but I have nothing else. All that we have is this stretched out, drawn out, moment in slow motion, a fleeting window of opportunity in which to find ourselves, our not-selves, our true selves. My relative self is tired. Mature wisdom will have to wait. I need to sleep. Tomorrow. I will Sit. Sit. Sit. Let it flow by. Sit. Breathe. Be here. Breathe now. Now. Here. Sit.

Until I am done.

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