We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
our statures touch the skies.
— Emily Dickinson
One drizzly Sunday morning, Arthur Miller parked in front of a pharmacy and opened the passenger-side door of his car. Out stepped his wife, Marilyn Monroe, although on that particular morning, she didn’t look anything like Marilyn Monroe. Sick with a head cold, she looked like an average housewife, tired and washed out. She hid inside her oversized beige trench coat, covering her signature blonde locks with a white scarf.
Ten minutes later, filled prescription in hand, the pair headed back to their car. “MARILYN!” someone shrieked from across the street. “Hey! That’s Marilyn Monroe!”
Passersby whizzed their heads around and darted toward the couple. In an instant, Marilyn switched her charisma on, sloughing her malaise and illuminating from within. She flashed her seductive smile. Her eyes sparkled. She posed for the cameras while flirting with her fans.
Turning On Your Brights & Beaming Your Radiance
That morning, Marilyn demonstrated her mastery of generously beaming her feminine radiance on the world. She went from hardly taking up any space to taking up every inch of it — and then some. In a nanosecond, she turned on her “brights” and became Marilyn.
Sofia shared that story with me a few years ago when I was learning how to “turn on my brights” and flip my own feminine radiance switch at will.
Like most of us, I grew into womanhood harboring a deep confusion about my beauty and sexuality. Sometimes I needed to cloak it to keep me safe on New York City streets late at night, sometimes I used it to manipulate others to feel better about myself, and sometimes I pushed it away and shut it down because I didn’t know how to absorb all the attention coming my way. I was a victim to my radiance, rather than the masterful conductor of it.
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Marilyn represents an archetype of embodied, feminine love-light that we can all learn from and call upon. As Patriarchy’s Daughters, we initially learned to fuel ourselves through our willpower and personas alone. But Marilyn reminds us that the art and science of joyfully partaking in life through beaming our great feminine strengths of love, ecstasy, and beauty, in the presence of others, is our sacred responsibility.
Are You Masking Your Incandescence?
When we were young, we quickly learned to mask our incandescence because it was unsafe or simply too much for others to stand — as it was for Cinderella’s stepsisters. We need to learn to slowly adjust our eyes to the light. Little by little, we’ll practice getting more comfortable with truly being seen. Bit by bit, we’ll open ourselves to receive regard from the world and to fully inhabit this dazzlingly embodied feminine power that resides within all of us.
This isn’t about objectification or submission to another person’s sexual agenda. While many of us do need to remember how to flip this switch internally, ultimately, radiance is an intrinsic part of our feminine nature. It arises naturally when you feel a deep sense of inner peace and self-love. The more we let go, the more radiant we will be. Once we’ve tasted the depths of our own self-love, we can’t help but become lovers to the world, loving everything and everyone, without exception, until it aches.
Playing It Safe & Sweet
Sweet Sara. That’s what people always used to call me. It didn’t matter where I went in the world — whether it was to visit a cousin in the Midwest, have tea with a girlfriend in Bangkok, or read a piece of fan mail from someone I’d never met before. Everyone I knew at some point arrived at “Sweet Sara” as my nickname.
Don’t get me wrong. I was flattered that others thought I was nice, thoughtful, present, and sweet. But I was tired of always being just sweet. Because sweet can also mean playing it safe. It meant I didn’t ruffle anyone else’s feathers. Sweet sometimes stopped me from taking a big risk publicly, falling flat on my face, and looking like a fool. Sweet could also mean feeling inhibited — from trying to fit into other people’s agendas or from dimming my passion (or beauty, ambition, sensitivity, sexuality, whatever) so I didn’t exclude or make someone feel uncomfortable.
Being So Much More Than Sweet
And on top of that, I’m so much more than just sweet. And so are you. Let’s explore the “so much more” that longs to be expressed and seen in all of us. This “so much more” is the sexy, sharp-toothed, fierce, and growling go-after-what-you-want ecstatic, erotic, lit up, and — most of all — turned-on parts of ourselves.
It’s all the edgy, uncomfortable, and vibrantly alive “what’s next” parts of us that keep us passionate about our lives. It’s treading a new frontier in womanhood, where we live our eroticism in an open and everyday way — on our yoga mats, in our relationships, walking down the street, cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed, or in a business meeting.
Celebrating Your Greatness
Rather than incessantly thinking there’s something wrong with you, it’s time to risk celebrating your greatness. Simply by being born a woman, you’re luminous, delicious, and brilliant — beyond your ego, soul, SHE, or anything you’ve tried to acquire or cultivate.
You can’t “put on” your radiant nature or buy it in an expensive face cream. You can only acknowledge and participate in it, for it lives inside you, as real and tangible as your lungs or thighbones. Like anything else in life, your radiance only grows the more you remember and nurture it.
Along with Marilyn, Venus, who is the Roman goddess of grace and love (and an expression of the Greek goddess Aphrodite), serves as a powerful archetype for our emergence. Ascending from the frothy sea of primordial creation, Venus is born, poised on her half shell, graciously bearing spring blossoms and erotic innocence. This goddess of beauty and desire personifies both relative and Absolute love.
Stepping into Your Golden Shadow
Our Golden Shadows are our brightest, most expansive qualities that went into hiding because we were reprimanded for expressing them as young children. We toned them down and settled into a ho-hum mediocrity so we wouldn’t make other people feel uncomfortable. As a result, we live in a time where we’re more afraid of our wonderfulness than we are of our awfulness; and it’s an arduous journey home to the joy and power that are our birthright.
Yes, feeling good and internalizing our heroes and heroines is hard work. Carl Jung, the man who gave language to the concept of the shadow, also suggested that it was often more difficult for people to get the gold out of their shadows than to get the skeletons out of their closets.
Greater Levels of Success Can Feel Scary & Threatening
From an early age most of us learned to survive our childhoods by shutting down. We experienced sadness and anger while excluding the best parts of life. Consequently, we may find that when we finally start to experience more abundance, love, power, and pleasure as adult women, the surge in positive feelings can feel incredibly scary and threatening.
In fact, oftentimes as we stand at the threshold of realizing greater levels of success than we’ve ever known before, we self-sabotage ourselves. We get a cold before our big presentations. Our backs go out right after we get promotions, or we start to bicker with our fiancés right before we say “I do.”
We all have a certain set point for how much energy we can stand — at either end of the spectrum. We hold deeply ingrained patterns of constriction, and evolving requires that we systematically train ourselves to feel higher and higher highs, while also sustaining compassionate presence during our lowest of lows.
It’s also important to recognize that our own set points are often directly related to our mothers’ upper limits. What was the maximum amount of pleasure she was willing and capable of experiencing and receiving?
It’s up to each of us to hold the pinnacle of our lineages and pay our openness forward. Since we carry the unhealed wounds of our female lineage in our bodies and souls, the inner work we do has the power to heal through the generations. The ecstasy you open in your own body now will benefit the generations of women both before and after you.
The Rubber Band Effect
On the last day of the retreats I lead, I warn women of what I call “the rubber band effect.” It’s something we all experience when we go home after a transformative week together. We’ve stretched our capacity, holding an unfamiliar, heightened experience of openness, happiness, and freedom in our bodies. When we jump back into our daily grind, it’s hard to maintain this expansion. Maybe our loved ones feel threatened by our newfound power, or we dive back into unresolved conflict and revert to habitual defense mechanisms.
Like rubber bands, we sharply snap back, contracting to a place of even more closure than was our norm before we went on retreat! This is okay. In fact, it’s how we find our new normal. Soon enough we’ll settle back to a sweet spot right smack in the middle — between the old, familiar closure and the fresh taste of radical opening. There we’ll stay until we feel safe enough to once again shift our set point to experience even more goodness. This is how we evolve.
Whenever we seek transformation, we need to be sure we’re ready to actually receive the abundance that awaits us on the other side. If we don’t know how to let it in, we’ll miss out on the fruits of our hard work.
How Good Can I Stand It?
Ask yourself regularly, “How good can I stand it?” Test yourself with how much energy — both dark and light — you can handle in your system. Get familiar with how you contract, as well as with how you expand. What do both of these look like from the outside? How do they feel in your body? Continually strengthen your ability to receive more.
Grandeur is not just for celebrities or those who are “more fortunate.” Greatness is your destiny too. This doesn’t mean that you need to be rich and famous. It means that you deserve to be wildly happy, fulfilled, and turned on by life — in the ways that have the most heart and meaning for you. You have the unlimited power of the Goddess within you right now. Will you partner with this inner power?
Untying and teasing out our repressed nobility is essential on our paths and must not be regarded as egotistical, “unspiritual,” divergent sidetracks. In addition to being warriors who courageously explore the cracks of our unconscious, let’s also be divas, feasting on our own deliciousness, drunk on our own fabulousness.
©2015 by Sara Avant Stover. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. newworldlibrary.com.
The Book of SHE: Your Heroine's Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power
by Sara Avant Stover.
About the Author
Sara Avant Stover is a motivational speaker, teacher, mentor, and founder and director of The Way of the Happy Woman®. After a health scare in her early twenties, she moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she lived for nine years, embarked on an extensive healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and, as a multicertified yoga teacher, served as one of the pioneer yoga teachers in that part of the world. Since then she has studied with many spiritual masters and has taught three thousand students in more than a dozen different countries. Visit Sara online at www.thewayofthehappywoman.com.
Watch a video with Sara: Retrieving True Unconditional Happiness