Women's History Month: Rachel Fiske
By: Rachel Fiske
Beginning when my now-23-year-old daughter Lily was about two years old, well-meaning friends and relatives and especially strangers began to say, “Oh, just wait. Wait till she becomes a teenager. Enjoy her now, because…” and their voices would trail off into doom.
Because what? She would pierce her tongue? Get a Mohawk? Embark upon random acts of promiscuity? One parenting book back then offered that the “terrible twos” were a foreshadowing of adolescence, so I watched Lily during her twos for a hint. Although she was not prone to temper tantrums, her twos did bring on a very peaceful violation of social decorum when she got into a puzzling habit of deliberately and impishly urinating on the floor. I was not amused. How on earth would that kind of dreadful behavior manifest in adolescence?
I was being programmed by well-meaning others to expect rebellion and chaos, though I actually looked forward to her maturity. I felt, in fact, that I’d be fine…that I even liked teenagers. I wondered, what if I gave her teen years the space to be different? Daughters, too, are programmed—by movies, songs, friends, tv--that as they get older, parents are the last things they want to have around. I was willing to have it be the opposite. What if she actually still liked me when she entered her teens? I was open to it.
A yoga teacher since 1995, I have explored the questions inherent in being human: what keeps us from being happy and fulfilled, what keeps us from getting what we want out of life. I recognize it’s a priviledge even to be able to ask these questions—clearly my (and my yoga clients’) basic needs are met if we are focused on our wants. In addition to teaching yoga, I have worked both in private practice as a conscious sexuality coach, and in association with Dr. Laura Berman of Chicago’s The Berman Center as an alternative consultant to couples in crisis who seek to heal or enhance their intimate connection. In the case of couples, too, they must be healthy with a roof over their heads if they are seeking a deeper level of physical satisfaction in life. We owe this priviledge to the women of the past who paved the way for the level of freedom many of us in the western world enjoy in 2020. But, I began to wonder, what about the women of the future—those future women who are girls now? What way could I pave for them? And how could I keep my 2-year-old from becoming…whatever it was those well-meaning individuals tried to warn me about?
In 2005 I created MoonBeams mother-daughter groups to engender conscious relationships between mothers and their pre-teen daughters. My original 10-year-olds are now joyful, conscious 23-year-olds, and my own daughter and I co-authored a book about our experience, some of which is excerpted in my blog. http://goddesstogoddess.blogspot.com/ .
MoonBeams is a time to unplug and connect with each other in a fun yet reverent atmosphere with other moms and girls who meet once a month for 90 minutes to pause and truly see each other, review the previous month, and set intentions for how they’d like the following month to go. Most mothers want their daughter’s inner voice to be clear enough to hear above the din of peers and media messages. MoonBeams offers the time and place to practice. That’s the gift, the privilege, I hope girls take into their future: the gift of having paved the way for themselves. Our monthly groups offer an experience that supplements what girls are not getting in our society: an opportunity to tune into themselves, to look and listen and feel, and then consciously choose who, and how, they want to be. These are the girls who are going to create history!
Girls are moving from external authority--in which parents have told them what to do and how to behave--toward internal authority. I love creating a space where girls can practice it, so that when they move into adolescence, they are tuned in to the most important voice: their own. Plus, when mothers honor their daughter’s inner voice, they become accustomed to being treated with reverence for who they are inside, and they feel their own inherent value. As they age, they will choose to be with people who honor them, and truly see them. I want the girls of today to able to discern for themselves whether they are being honored by those around them as they go out into the world.
In calling our gatherings Moonbeams, I imagine girls as little yet powerful beams of light, gathering once a month to glow in full splendor, just like the moon. My original vision was to lead a ritual and celebration when Lily started her monthly cycle. But when she was about nine, I began to realize that I couldn’t just spring it on her; she and her friends needed to be eased into this “celebration” with a monthly group, a group of mothers and daughters who would enjoy coming together and creating sacred space and being--simply being--together.
Ten-year-old Lily was slightly uncomfortable with this prospect--the prospect of her mom potentially looking foolish in front of all her friends and their moms. I agreed: how horrifying if Lily were to be embarrassed by my antics—though I am one of the most composed, low-key, un-embarrassing people I know. Nevertheless that was Lily’s number one fear, and I had sympathy. So we made a deal: I committed to run the mother-daughter evenings by her in advance, and she would have the right to reject anything that seemed dumb, embarrassing, or not fun.
For our first evening, we packed roses, a cloth for our potential altar, water and cups, cd’s (!), tissues. Lily helped me set up the room. Her friends giddily showed up, sat beside their moms, and looked at me expectantly. I felt their trust. Taking in the gazes of the daughters, I felt alive with a heightened sense of adventure, tuned in and open to whatever might happen.
The girls learned, each month, that they deserved to be honored—in fact they loved it, they soaked it up! And they learned how to grow, how to create themselves, consciously, from the inside, out. MoonBeams groups create new and fertile terrain and provide an opportunity to check in on a deep level. They give each girl a chance to practice being seen by her mom and her friends at the same time, which challenges her to be true to herself. They give us a chance to practice noticing if we feel judged, as mothers, and to let that go. Beyond that, the groups give mothers and daughters the opportunity to ask themselves and each other consciously, “What legacy do we want to leave for the girls who come next in our female lineage?”
Reserving a couple hours once a month, in a supportive group, to tap in on a deep level is also a great vaccination against depression, alienation, and acting out. It is also a vaccination against eating disorders and self-medication, against losing ourselves in someone else, against tuning out who we truly are. Hearing and honoring the inner voice: THAT for girls is what defines an individual—not piercings or eyeliner or a boy’s attention. When we insist on not hearing our inner voice, it sometimes needs to roar to get our attention—a monthly check-in with other mothers and daughters helps prevent that roar.
When we create a place where our daughters can be seen and celebrated for the voice of their heart, that is the place from which they will conduct their lives. When they are able to hear and follow their inner voice, they will live in happiness, health, and harmony. When we honor them, they will learn to surround themselves with others who honor them.
We are all everyday goddesses, especially when we let go of our other roles and allow ourselves to expand beyond our everyday perceptions of who we are. Our roles of daughter, wife, or single mom, mother, employee, business owner—whatever our roles—do not entirely encompass the amazing fact of who we are: we are creators! When we teach girls to hear and honor—that is, follow—their inner voice, they will be to grow up and surround themselves with others who honor them, and honor their own inner voice.
Rather than feeling like as they grow up we are releasing them into a world of competition and temptation, a world where the media pulls them out of themselves and tries to get them to be more! Better! Younger! Hotter! --we can be assured that, because of their grounding in who they truly are, that the voice of their heart is the reality they will carry around with them and surround themselves with. Their true beauty and value, they will deeply know, is within. They will be comfortable expressing it, comfortable letting their inner light shine through, because we have paved the way, we have seen it and honored it and taught them how to dwell within, even when so much of the world is externally focused, on external beauty and external stuff. They won’t have to wait until they’re 40 to realize they need to do yoga, or meditate, or go to therapy, to somehow tune IN. They will be already tuned in.