The word “shero” (a blend of “she” and “hero”) reentered my life at the end of August 2010. I had taken a month long digital sabbatical – no email, no social media – so I could listen more deeply to what was calling to me.
Right at the end of my sabbatical, Kripalu contacted me about my yearly teaching gig. Martha asked me if I would consider doing two retreats with them, my usual Luscious Self-Care Retreat and… what else?
The words “Shero’s Journey” plopped out of my mouth. I raised an eyebrow to myself thinking, “And what would that mean Jenny Bee?” But I trusted what was moving in me, and so did Martha, and I taught a wondrous 3 day retreat.
As has been true for all my creative life, the best ideas plop out and then I spend years or decades living in/up/through them.
1. Cast yourself as the lead in the story of your life. Frame that story as worthwhile, beautiful, important, even epic. Dress accordingly for the adventure ahead.
2. When you wake at 3 a.m., do not go back to sleep. Listen. What is scratching at the door of your heart? Let it in and let it speak. This is your Gandalf arriving with a map, a map that reveals your first step.
3. Look for what was lost, perhaps between the ages of 8 and 12, and pledge to reclaim it – not for fame, fortune or love, but for yourself. Hint: it always seems to have a creative component.
4. Begin the journey for yourself, and yourself alone. Do not journey for others, not even those you love, not even what breaks your heart. Instead, go because you want to, because you desire it. This will set you free to be of real service when the time is right.
5. Follow the timing of your human life. Sally Kempton tells the story of two radical callings in her life, and both times, she took the time she needed to make the changes she was called to make. You are living in a human body with human limits and needs. Proceed accordingly. (Note: your journey may be metaphorical, completely internal, quietly subtle and it is no less sheroic. You define what all of this looks like. Always.)
6. Cultivate your necessary magic by owning your precise gifts – Not “I’m good at helping people” but “I’m great at seeing what people are good at and where the world needs their particular gift.”
7. Follow what obsesses you. Do not ask what it will get you or why it beckons. Noorjahan Akbar collected Afghan women’s folk songs which inspired her, in time, to start a non-profit which lead to a women’s internet cafe, a tailor shop, two libraries, and more. She did not know exactly why she was collecting and recording these songs. And she did it anyway.
8. Stay awake by questioning and find others to question with. The status quo, the familiar, the safe will try to lull you off your path, back to sleep. Allies help you stay awake.
9. Trust the darkness, trust the descents, and do not shy away from your sorrows and pain. That is where wisdom is, even if takes years to harvest it.
10. Cultivate ways to take care of yourself in the descents. Proceed at the pace that your heart can bear. Learn to discern drama from descent.
11. Let love carry you forward. Not duty, not shame, not guilt. Love.
12. Return knowing you will share your boons with your community in a way that feeds you and them. The martyr way is dead to you. Return knowing you will journey again so you have to keep listening.
What might be possible if more of us saw ourselves as leaders capable of creating a world as beautiful as us?
Thanks for considering my request and for seeing yourself as a shero.
Want to start your Shero’s Journey? Check out Jen Louden’s Shero’s School for Revolutionaries!
Originally published here.