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Feminine Courage

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Feminine Courage

Have you ever wondered what a word fitly spoken looks like The Old Testament has many examples of women who spoke words of courage and help and displayed a kind of God-confidence that is to be admired. Consider these ten women in the Bible who were bold and faithful in their Spirit-led interventions and, in their womanly way, were mightily used by God.

"Then I would say men like you," Cohan says, "who are embracing aspects of their femininity; dressing in feminine ways, they're more courageous than most people I know, because it takes a lot of courage to move beyond those rigid boundaries."

Es extraño verá mi hijo como con colores, de ropa muy feminino pero pues tengo que respetar que él le gusta," my mom says in Spanish. "It's strange to see my son with colorful, feminine clothes, but well, I need to respect what he likes."

David considers the unique ways women hold a conversation with the world, and the thresholds of courage they pass through along the way. Given as a benefit for the Seattle organization Young Women Empowered.

Additionally, the popularity of Kuan Yin, the Chinese bodhisattva of compassion, speaks to her role as an icon for the divine feminine around the world, while in Ancient Greece, Aphrodite was seen as a goddess of love and beauty as well as being associated with fertility and reproduction.

Sheela na Gig sculptures are thought to symbolize fertility, abundance, and power, as well as divine feminine energy and independence. Their presence in public and private structures suggests they were held in high regard by all classes of society.

Now that you know over 30 different woman symbols of strength, courage, and power that have been used for ages by different cultures around the world, here are a few ways to incorporate them into your life:

David Whyte shared his inspired and inspiring wisdom about the feminine embodiments of power last night at Town Hall Seattle. At a benefit event for Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) - an organization co-founded by his wife, Leslie - he guided the audience on a journey exploring the "five forms of female courage" and revealed aspects of that courage through stories, poetry and an articulation of what he calls a philosophy of attention. Whyte suggested that these forms of courage are not restricted to women, but that men typically only arrive at these forms of courage - and wisdom - after they have tried all the more masculine forms of courage. I have often wrestled with an interior tension between the masculine and the feminine - most of my closest friends are women, and most of the artists who inspire me are women - and so Whyte's framing of the masculine vs. the feminine forms offers me a new perspective from which to contemplate this tension.

Whyte described the first form as the feminine relationship to the unknown or to mystery, perhaps best exemplified by a woman's central role in the miracle of birth ... and a man's role as an outsider looking in. After distinguishing a father's relationship with a son, whom he is supposed to teach, and his relationship with a daughter, to whom he is supposed to apprentice himself, Whyte recited My Daughter Asleep, which he composed over a course of several years for his daughter, Charlotte, beginning shortly after her birth. When she was five, he recited the poem for her, and asked what her favorite part was. Charlotte's favorite section is also my favorite ... and I wonder if my own daughter (who I suspect is very close to Charlotte's age) would also find a deep resonance with the lines:

As a marine biologist who worked as a naturalist in the Galapagos, and who has always felt and expressed a keen appreciation of the natural world, Whyte introduced another poem by explaining that a collection of larks is called an exaltation of larks, and asserting that he considers the lark an emblem of humans' ability to speak out in the world. He then recited Song of the Lark, another poem that reveals - or perhaps more precisely, revels in - the mystery of the feminine, which was inspired by [a postcard of] a painting by Jules Breton from 1884:

The second form of feminine courage explored during the evening was a willingness to ground that mystery in the world. Whyte sees vulnerability as a source of strength rather than weakness, reflecting wisdom I have encountered in words written and spoken by empowered and empowering women such as Oriah Mountain Dreamer (through whom I first discovered David Whyte) and Brene Brown, who also advocate - and model - connection and compassion through courage, vulnerability & authenticity.

Whyte recited poetry exemplifying strength through vulnerability, including a poem by the courageous Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, I Know the Truth, remarking how much more authentic such a bold assertion seems when it comes from a woman vs. a man. He also recited his own poems The House of Belonging and Start Close In, the latter of which suggests a step-wise approach to grounding the mystery in the world:

The third form of feminine courage is a willingness to say "no" to anything and everything that is not a full "yes". This courage is illustrated by Meera (aka Mira / Meerabai / Mirabai), an ecstatic Hindu poet and singer in 16th century India, and her poem, Why Meera Can't Go Back Home, which articulates firm boundaries:

After an intermission, Jamie Rose-Edwards, the Executive Director of Young Women Empowered, and two of its recent graduates shared their hopes for and experiences with the program. The mission of Y-WE is to "empower young women from diverse communities to step up as leaders in their schools, communities, and the world." There was clear alignment between the kinds of courage and power Whyte was expressing and the characteristics modeled and cultivated by the staff and mentors of the program.

When Whyte returned to the stage, he articulated the fourth form of feminine courage, a willingness to live in different forms of beauty. The forms of beauty that a woman will exhibit and experience will change throughout her life, and the transitions will often involve disappointment and heartbreak, but the courage to work through the transitions open doors to new forms of beauty (and wisdom). Whyte recited Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, his own poem to (and, in a way, from) his mother, Farewell Letter, and a poem, Weathering, by New Zealand poet (and librarian), Fleur Adcock, composed during her year-long, late mid-life sabbatical in the English Lake District (one of the places through which Whyte leads tours):

At the end of the evening, Whyte shared the fifth form of feminine courage, the courage to accept the invitations of life and step out beyond yourself, noting that the most courageous conversation is the one we don't want to have. Throughout much of his prose and poetry, Whyte advocates adopting an investigative vulnerability in exploring the frontiers of experience, and his poem, The True Love - with which he concluded the event - is one of this most penetrating articulations of this truth, drawing upon the biblical account of Jesus inviting Peter to find the faith and courage get out of a boat amid stormy seas and walk on water toward him. A passage in the poem is especially poignant for me now, as I wrestle with my own vulnerable sense of power, worthiness and faith:

When you think of examples of biblical courage, who comes to mind Perhaps Abram leading his 318 fighting men into battle to rescue his nephew Lot Or perhaps young David and his sling facing off against Goliath Or perhaps Peter and the apostles standing before the Sanhedrin and boldly promising to obey God and not men

The survey of 4,300 women in nine countries; Brazil, China, India Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Russia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S., also showed that one-in-nine globally, rising as high as one-in-four in Brazil, said that positive female role models had given them the courage to leave an abusive relationship.

Civil War illustrator Frank Leslie often parodied the evasion of the Enrollment Act of 1863. The image above encouraged women to make men feel obligated to go and fight via the persuasive method of emasculation.

Before this course, I was exhausted, on edge and looking down the barrel of burnout. More things have shifted in the last 8 weeks than I thought possible! feel re-energized and excited about moving forward. I couldn't recommend enough LeeAnn's unique work and this program as a significant jump-start for those looking to lead from an authentic, sustainable and feminine perspective.

During the last decade, scholars of business ethics have become increasingly interested in the construct of moral courage. However, despite the importance of understanding both moral courage and the factors that might facilitate its expression, this topic has still received relatively limited study and several areas have been identified as being in need of further exploration. These include the need to investigate courage from within a full range of theoretical frameworks, including feminist ones, from within which, little is yet known about this construct; the need for developmental perspectives on moral courage; and, the identification of developmentally informed approaches for facilitating its expression. This article responds to these needs by providing a conceptual framework for understanding moral courage through a feminist and developmental ethic of care, and by describing the implications of this framework for the expression of moral courage in business and organizational settings.

Examples of the interrelationships among various types of courage will become clearer following the discussion of moral courage in the subsequent section of the article. In particular, definitions of moral courage reflect concern with maintaining ethical authenticity or integrity even in the face of serious personal consequences such as social ostracism. Hence, to the extent to which individuals enact moral courage and suffer its personal consequences, those individuals might subsequently require psychological or vital courage to persevere and live life more fully through those consequences. Alternately, given the centrality of personal responsibility and authenticity to both psychological or vital courage on one hand (e.g., Putnam 2010) and moral courage on the other hand (e.g., Worline 2010), it is possible that the will to live more fully often associated with psychological courage might support the expression of moral courage. 59ce067264


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