Nina Simons: Celebrating Women’s Ways
In her new book, Nature, Culture and the Sacred (Green Fire Press, 2018), Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons offers inspiration for anyone who aspires to grow into their own unique form of leadership with resilience and joy. Informed by her extensive experience with multicultural women’s leadership development, Simons replaces the old patriarchal leadership paradigm with a more feminine-inflected style that illustrates the interconnected nature of the issues we face today. Sharing moving stories of women around the world joining together to reconnect people, nature and the land—both practically and spiritually—Nature, Culture and the Sacred is necessary reading for anyone who wants to learn from and be inspired by women who are leading the way towards transformational change by cultivating vibrant movements for social and environmental justice.
The following poem is from the book’s final essay.
I find myself appreciating women —
and valuing what we bring to the world —
in this writhing, frightening change-time, more every day.
And I so deeply admire men who are
learning from women’s ways,
becoming better listeners, rotating leadership,
and staying connected to others —
even while you stay true to your own purposes.
Remembering the value of beauty,
relatedness, flexibility, pausing and reflection.
I am oddly reassured by the ancient prophesies
that predicted this would be a time
for the return of the Feminine —
a time for re-balancing the world.
Perhaps I seek reassurance from our ancestors,
for what I already know, deep in my bones,
is true and needed and right.
I’m discovering aspects of myself as a woman
that I’d largely abandoned,
ones that are larger than I’ve allowed myself to be,
parts that are fierce, fiery and feisty,
also playful, sure-footed and wise.
Before, I imagined them too dangerous to reveal.
Now, I feel called to bring all of me to bear —
from the place of my own commitment,
from the place of my deep love for people and nature and culture.
My fear pales in comparison with what’s at stake.
I remember that we teach young women
to be good by following the rules,
coloring inside the lines, and not making waves.
We’re taught to keep our heads low — to avoid conflict.
To be good at caring for others, and knowing what they need —
often well ahead of knowing our own needs, ourselves.
But we expect young men to rebel.
To find their own identity,
they’re encouraged to defy the norms,
to stand firm in their own convictions,
and to step out on their own.
Boys are applauded for taking risks,
and for bragging, or boasting
about their achievements.
Girls are told to demure and be quiet.
Admonished not to show off,
“not to be so full of yourself.”
(Who are we supposed to be full of,
we might wonder, if not ourselves?)
Many of us are learning, now,
to turn that caring and nurturing inward as well,
and to toss out some of our good-girl conditioning,
to step out and fulfill our purposes
in creative, risky and authentic ways.
How encouraging to find women emerging everywhere,
stepping out of our safety zones,
mirroring and complementing each other’s strength and vulnerability —
which is the “power through,” not “power over” that is the essence
of power being redefined and reclaimed
by women all over.
What do I love most about women?
(As reminders for us all
about women’s magnificence
in this transitional time.)
When women interact intimately,
there’s a lot more going on than an exchange of ideas.
We absorb each other’s textures, scents, and colors.
We inhale each other’s bearing, intuiting undercurrents of childhood,
gleaning molecules of emotion —
our bodies trade a hundred unspoken cues.
As women enter deeper relational waters,
our enthusiasms become infectious,
our beginnings and endings blur, seamlessly.
We enjoy the rhythms we form with each other,
concepts coinciding as our passions swirl.
We not only braid our thoughts, ideas and feelings together,
we let our memories mingle with our intuitions and our dreams.
I love how often women remember how much we don’t know —
and that our intuition or silence, dreams or deep listening
often bring whatever is most needed.
At our best, we weave our worlds together,
contrasting combinations of disparate realities.
Creating a multicolored canvas thick with texture and pigment.
Changing our moods and minds as often as the winds —
but rarely our hearts, our truest compasses.
As women, our bodies and the moon instruct us
to recognize the cyclical nature of change.
We understand innately that the destruction and death
all around us
also mean that a birth is imminent.
Each of us, men and women alike,
are being asked to assist in this labor.
To deliver the profound, fierce, single-focused commitment to life
that accompanies any successful birth.
The midwives know that
it’s just when the labor is becoming most scary, bloody and intense,
just when the mother feels she cannot bear the pain any further —
that is when you know that
the baby is about to be born.
As women, we attentively attune to our bodies, relishing the pulses of deep knowing that come from our bellies.
Together, we knit dimensional patterns of our laughter, anger, sadness, and the holy water of our tears.
We yearn to mend the tattered fragments,
to turn our anger into compassionate action. To integrate the painful,
frightening, enraged hot beauty and the flows of laughter, unity and celebration into
dancing a new world into being.
Republished with permission from Nature, Culture and the Sacred (Green Fire Press, 2018) by Nina Simons.