When I think about the word "fear," I am the first to admit that I have a lot of them. Fear of public speaking; fear of sounding stupid; fear of not being able to pay my bills; fear of not being able to accomplish everything I want to accomplish; and the list goes on. So, can I ever be a fearless woman?
I spoke recently on this topic with Mary Ann Halpin, internationally acclaimed photographer and author of Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits and of the soon-to-be-released Fearless Women, Fearless Wisdom. Mary Ann's opinion is that fearlessness is not about eliminating fear altogether, but it's about moving through it.
"I have women come up to me when I lecture, and they say, 'You know I don't like this fearless thing because it's a lot of pressure to not be afraid.' I say, 'You don't have to have that pressure. All we are doing here is moving through the fear and embracing courage," said Mary Ann.
I liked that. I do consider myself courageous.
"It's a different time than when our sisters that came before us had to be very macho -- in the 60s -- and God bless them. They paved the way for us. But it is a different time. It's a time to connect to our feminine power," she said.
But what does this feminine power look like?
It looks different in every woman, and there are different aspects to it. But what I think is consistent is a certain level of vulnerability to access our real feminine nature. In other words, I think feminine power is rooted in our willingness to be seen as women and feel good about it -- truly embodied in our feminine sensuality. For example, when I looked at the photographs Mary Ann took of pregnant women in her first book, Pregnant Goddesshood, I felt beautiful, at home and proud to be a woman. These women, in their deepest feminine essence, reflected back to me my own power as a woman.
While the Gloria Steinem and Billy Jean King of the 60s and 70s laid the groundwork for our fearlessness as women, I think today's fearlessness looks a little different -- and I think Gloria Steinem would agree. Today I think it's about being honest about our fears (aka some vulnerability) and finding that courage of heart and soul to keep moving forward in alignment with what we are being called to do.
"That's kind of the bottom line -- not pretending that we don't have fear," says Mary Ann.
What are your thoughts? What does fearlessness look like to you? And how do you respond to fear?FYI: On August 26, 2010 women will gather around the US and Canada in celebration of their fearless journey for a first annual "Fearless Women Day." On this day, 90 years ago, the 19th amendment was ratified to give women the right to vote. Each city participating will vote for, select and honor one fearless woman who has contributed to their community and the world by awarding them with a "Fearless Women, Susan B. Anthony" award.
You can join the thousands of women coming together in the "Fearless Women Revolution," by clicking here.
First and third photos by Mary Ann Halpin