kim talks virgins, lovers, crones and living in two different worlds

Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013

She tells me her early adult life was full of physical risks.  “I took on being a geologist, jumping out of helicopters in grizzly bear country – that kind of danger, hero-type risks.  It did a lot for building my self-confidence and my sense of my ability to take care of myself in the world, to handle challenges that would come at me.  I think that was actually really an important way of handling risk, but then when having children I came to recognize that there’s a whole other type of risk.”  I lean in ready to hear more from this risk-taker.  “It’s a risk to look inside yourself and know who you are from what everyone else wants or thinks you should be, and then to just give it some life, to actually live that knowledge.”  This takes me back physically and emotionally.  I sit in my chair.  My mind wanders through experiences and thoughts about true self-awareness, about holding a mirror up to the heart in its brightest light and its darkest shadow.  Looking inside can be scary and painful.  Looking inside can also be rewarding and life-saving.  I think of all of this as I sit and talk with Kim.  Kim Hudson is a writer.  To me she’s also a storyteller.  She has the voice and the presence of a storyteller.  Her words are soothing.  My eyes slightly shut and her words sing into me.  I love her voice.  It’s soft, powerful, police, fierce.  She is a woman of many shades.  I ask her what being a woman in today’s world means.  “I kind of want to answer what it means to be me as a woman,” she says.  “What I’ve learned as I’ve grown into it – and I think I wasn’t able to call myself a woman until well into my thirties –


 Being a woman is to know your power, but it is a different kind of power than a masculine power.  It’s the power to be all that you are capable of being and also the power to want others to be all that they are capable of being in your relationships – That being the foundational heart of your relationships.


My relationship with Kim began as writers.  Our love for words, a story to read and a story to tell formed our friendship.  As I heard her story, she told me of her journey with archetypes.  An archetype, Kim explains, “Is a symbol.  It’s a symbol of the universal stories in the human condition.  It’s incredibly powerful because the language of our unconscious is in symbols.  It’s the root of imagination.  You can’t do anything until you can imagine it.  So archetypes become the story that we draw upon for all forms of human growth.”  Pulling knowledge from her Jung memory box, Kim tells me, “I do believe there are universal transformations that life presents us with the opportunity to go through, and there’s three of them: First, we all need to learn to have a relationship with ourselves, or to take up your personal power.  Second, we need to learn to have a relationship with others, or to use our power well with others.  Lastly, we all need to understand at some point how we are connected to all other things in life and to release our power to that. 


We’re all born with a story in us.  These archetypes, these symbols, help pull us through on these journeys.  They give us the path to carry through on these journeys.

I think, how is my relationship with myself?  Am I kind to myself?  Am I honest with myself?  Do I love myself?  I question my relationship with others.  Do I love the best I can?  Are my words sincere and kind?  And I question, how is my interaction with the world?  In this moment, my eyes seem to widen, contemplating where I am in these three stages.  “Does everyone go through these transformations in this order?”  I ask Kim, one of the many questions in my mind that I actually verbalize.  “When I think about it,” she responds, “I think women often are pulled into the nurturing roles almost as soon as you become a woman and it’s only after your children leave (this mark where I am) that you start to realize you aren’t connected to who you are once your children are grown – so sometimes it’s the opposite for women, because of the way our society is structured.  I absolutely believe you cannot give what you don’t have.  Ideally, everyone would develop a really strong connection to who they are; they would come to know his or her unique selves.  From that place you enter into relationships with others.”


If you don’t have a strong connection to yourself, you end up either appeasing other people when you have a relationship with them because you don’t understand that you are your own person or you end up trying to control other people, because you feel they have resources that you need so you try to control them when you feel your survival is threatened.

“So if you have a strong foundation with a relationship with yourself, you’re so much better off when you try to have a relationship with others.  It’s a platform.  When you have a relationship with yourself and others, then you can start to see how you are connected to everything and you can start to have a relationship with nature and yourself and the cosmos, the bigger picture.”


I stop writing.  I look at the daffodils – their heads turned outward, facing the window.  I watch the cat pace around the room slowly, without an obligation for anything but to be my companion.  I inhale the air.  Warm.  Still.  I think of the times I’ve felt the most insecure with myself, and how I’ve tried to control the ones I love.  I think about the happiest I’ve been in my life, I release control.  I feel as though Kim is telling the story of myself.  I feel vulnerable, as if I need to cover up, but I like the rawness, the exposure.  I want her to keep digging into the light and shadow of each of us.  But the more alone we feel in our stories, as we start to dig deeper, we discover there are fundamental bonds that tie us all together on our distinct journeys.


I want to know more about universal feminine archetypes and ask Kim to describe which she feels are the most prominent.  “Because there are those three layers, I believe there are three prominent feminine archetypes each with a shadow side.  And we have many names for each of them, which is why we tend to think of having many archetypes, but I think there are six core archetypes – three feminine and three masculine.  My relationship to self would be the Virgin archetype.  While Jung, the master of archetypes, called it the Virgin, “it can also be referred to as the Rebel or the Artist,” says Kim.  Everybody reacts badly to the name,” she laughs.  “So I’m forever asking people to think of the Virgin Forest where the original meaning of virgin is still preserved, which is to know that something is of intrinsic worth just for being itself.”  That sentence sings to me.  “To know that something of is of intrinsic worth just for being itself.”  How often do we judge ourselves on what we do, not what we are?  When we are born, there is nothing we can do, and still we are loved unconditionally.  When does this fade away?  When do we stop realizing our worth for being?  Kim summarizes,


The journey of the Virgin is to know that you are born with the right to belong and be loved. The journey to know who you are is intrinsically valuable.  Usually that involves understanding specifically who you are and you make it valuable by giving is your attention and bringing it to life.


“The next is your relationship with others.  I used to call this the Mother Goddess, but I’m starting to call it the Lover archetype.  Essentially you know your power and you are trying to use it with others.  It’s the power to receive.  It’s the feminine ability to welcome, to forgive, to show gratitude.  These are all ways that we receive another.  You still maintain who you are, but you allow another person to enter you.  It’s really interesting because the masculine is the offering and the feminine is the receiving.  If you don’t have those two things, you don’t have flow.  If somebody is offering like crazy and the other person says, I’ll do it myself, then there’s no flow.  When you have an offering and a receiving – receiving is not a passive things, it is an extremely powerful position to be in – it allows energy to flow.  The quest of this Lover archetype is they know their power and they are receiving the world, nurturing, but the key is they have to learn to find a place of rejuvenation, a home where they can power up again otherwise you burn out.  And that’s what we see so often in women.  We are so receiving and nurturing people so much that we burn out.”


How many times have we told out partners, I can do this, when in fact, we’re desperate for help?  As Kim tells us, when we block others to give to us, we block the flow of our relationships with others.  We must find the power in receiving as much as we honor the power of giving.  When all we do is give, we give until there’s nothing left.  An empty river cannot quench thirst.  It must welcome the rains from the sky, the slope of the mountain and hold the water with gratitude, knowing the joy of receiving will be passed on.  A depleted woman cannot give all her love, no matter how much she wants to if she blocks the flow of receiving from others.  Kim recollects a quote, “Women take care of life and men take care of women.  It’s essentially that.  That’s where the flow happens.”  She then recounts a Cherokee proverb, “Women show men to their souls and men preserve and protect women.


“There’s one last level,” she adds.  The Crone, also know as Wise Woman or Trickster.” (One of my favorites.)  “This is where you see the connection of all things.  It’s about releasing your power back to the cosmos.  I always think of Beauty and the Beast where the old lady shows up at the door and turns him into a beast until he learns to love.  It’s the person who messes with people’s lives to force them to get on the path that’s best for them, the archetypal journeys that they are meant to go on. The Crone will not be ignored.”


So what does this mean?  Why do I want to understand archetypes?  According to Kim, “When you think about your life in terms of archetypes, a really cool thing happens.  You step back a little bit and it allows you to read the story of it in a non-reactive way and it gives you incredible insight to what’s going on.  You can embrace your own shadow nature, because you see it as a part of your desire to move towards a light archetype.  For instance, if you are feeling like a victim, it’s really hard to acknowledge that when you are right in it – but if you can ask yourself, What kind of archetype is at play here? – Then you can start to recognize, this is essentially, me feeling disconnected from myself, feeling that my environment isn’t valuing me and maybe that means I’m not of value.  What you need is to move yourself toward the Virgin archetype.  Just that perspective is hugely helpful.  An archetype journey is also a story that can help guide you where you want to go if you pay attention.”


I like to call this, stepping outside of myself and looking down at my physical self.  There are moments, if in the middle of a pity party, where I’ve removed myself and become a witness where I can see the situation from a new perspective.  Then, as Kim says, there is a shift when I can work with this person and this situation more objectively.  How many times do I have to remind myself to see the lessons?  How many times do I feel as though I am the Sleeping Beauty asleep to the messages around me; the Beast, unable to let the love in; the Little Mermaid, who has given away her voice?  It is when I step outside the story and see things more clearly that an invitation for transformation arrives.


Kim’s book, The Virgin’s Promise, tells you how to get from the Victim standpoint to a Virgin, where you are reconnected with your inherent value.  “It’s the same from Martyr to Lover or from the Hag to the Crone.  Sometimes you’ll recognize there is a point in a Virgin’s story where you need a heroic influence.   You need somebody to say, ‘This is a value I’m willing to stand up and die for this.’”  I think of my hero who came to me, not on a white horse and shining armor, but in a flannel beneath wine tanks.  He didn’t dance with me at the ball, but we danced mariachi at our work harvest party.  Little did I know I was a Virgin years ago crying out for my Prince Charming to rescue me.


“It gives you that perspective to know when to shift from that feminine side to that masculine side as well,” says Kim.  Ok, I think to myself.  So it doesn’t literally have to be a man to the rescue, but the Hero inside myself.  While I like to reminisce of the days when my husband swept (and still sweeps) me off my feet, I think about the times the Hero in me has come to the rescue. How many times have we saved ourselves?  In the busyness of our lives, we’ve forgotten to crown ourselves with the victory of saving our own lives in a hard moral decision, a compliment or encouragement to ourselves to go on.  There are Heroes in our men, but also, it’s important to remember, there are Heroes within us.  We are armored with steel and we are rescuing the princess within us that’s calling high from the tower.


How then do women balance their feminine and masculine features?  “Balance,” says Kim, “is crucial.  We live in a world where we tend to think that there’s one world or one operating system and I believe there’s two.  Until you think about it as two separate worlds, everything seems really mighty, but we have two fundamental drives – one is away from fear or pain and the other is towards what we love or what brings us passion.  Those are two very separate words.  Our feminine instincts work really well in the love driven world and all of our masculine instincts work very well in the fear driven world.”  I go back to the years I put on jackets and slacks, covering up insecurity, fear, and drive to push ahead.  Cold.  Tiring.  Masculine overdrive.  Kim’s words break my daydream.  “Ultimately you need a balance between those two and you need to be conscious on the options that you have.  That you could choose to apply love to the situation or you could use the fear instinct to make you brave and strong and rugged.”  In the office, I found myself tiring of being strong and melted into love.  Just in my work world, I saw the large struggle with finding balance.  Kim tells me her recent project addressing this exact struggle: Balanced Leadership.  She is looking at “recognizing that there are two worlds which gives you the ability to balance those two when you are in leadership positions, personal or professional.  When you understand that there’s two worlds, a lot of things become available to you.”  I ask Kim, “What if we can’t see what’s available?  What if we quit our job or don’t take the promotion or move away to form long distance relationships?  What we made a grand mistake by a significant decision in our lives and are unable to save our Virgin?”  She tells me, “If you look at it in the fear based world, you keep your head up. When you make a mistake the reward is you survive making a mistake, there’s lessons learned and you move on.  When looking at a mistake in love-based world (which can be looked at not really a mistake, but rather a surprise or an unintended outcome that wasn’t in the plan) you face things with humor or curiosity.  In a fear-based world, it’s either/or.  I’m either a winner or a loser; it’s all or nothing. In the love-based world, it’s and.  You start thinking, what would happen if I put this and add that or where will this take me?”  You are open to the possibility of the shift instead of feeling frozen in failure.  “It completely shifts your way of moving, I wouldn’t even say you have to move forward, you can move in a circle.  If anything you are trying to do is creative, then you want to shift to the love-based world and to use that attitude toward unintended outcomes.”


Kim is speaking my language.  Is that why I felt so out of place in the hustle-bustle of Corporate America?  Is that why the writing world is my haven?  Although my journey was to take a path away from concrete slabs and cubicles, not everyone chooses that path.  What we must remember is to shift into the love or fear-based worlds internally.  It’s a deeply intuitive awareness.  Whether in a meeting or with a client or at home, we can access the way we choose to respond to our situations with fear and pride or humor and excitement, discerning which world will best help us.


“In the fear-based world you need to set a goal, you need to know where you are going and you share the world so that you can achieve that world.  Everything that is not on track is an obstacle and you overcome it.  That’s the attitude you have to have in the fear-based world.  In the love love-based world, it’s very internal.  You keep a check asking yourself, am I enjoying this, does this feed me?  And you need to trust it and you don’t know where you’re going to go, but you trust, as long as your connected to your inner sense of loving it, it will take you where you need to go.  We live in such a fear-based world that you’re like a salmon going against the stream when you choose to operate within the love-based world.  We need to give language to it and we need to validate the second world, so that people have the ability to move from one to the other and not feel like they are out of step sometimes.”  So often we can feel out of step or not quite ourselves when experiencing the darker side of ourselves.  I talk to Kim about the light and dark sides within us.  How our world tends to honor the light, and, like the winter, shun or yearn to get out of dark moments.


 If all you can ever admit to is the light side, then it’s very stagnating, there’s no growth there’s no development.  It’s kind of plastic. There’s less opportunity to be real.  It forces us to put on masks if we only talk about our light.


Kim wonders what the world could be like if talking about depression could be encouraged rather than stigmatized or judged.  Let us not put on our game faces and get the job done.  Let us not keep things in boxes.  May we rip open these boxes and tackle tough situations, tough topics.  Let’s take down the masks and see the story in wrinkles, the adventure in a scar.  Instead of covering up, reveal, release and reconnect.  Instead of pulling in for ourselves, may we share a little bit more of our whole hearts and our gifts. Recognizing the power in fear-based and love-based worlds, masculine and feminine archetypes, Kim ultimately suggests, “We need to make space for both those things.”


Kim’s made space in her life as a mother, a risk-taker, a writer, many levels of herself allowing masculine and feminine power to guide her.  A mother of two growing girls, I ask her what she’d want her daughters to learn about being a woman in today’s world.  She tells me, “The value of the love-based world.  The whole journey to really first love yourself, take the time to learn to love another, and to love your connection to everything, and to see that.  I have this theory that fear comes and gets you – it pushes you around, so you push back and that makes you stronger, braver and you can live a bigger world.  Love, you have to awake to.  You have to welcome it into your world.  You have to look for it.  I would like teach my daughters to make space to awaken to love, which I hope I have done.”  When we draw back to the simplicity and playfulness of love, things feel easier, freer.  The tenseness and heaviness of daily tasks and become a bit more manageable when we come from the pureness of love.  I think Kim gets to the core of every woman’s desire as a mother and a human being: to love and to be loved.


feature image provided by Emma Plunkett

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