And Then There was Aretha
All I want you to do for me
Is give it to me when you get home…respect (re, re ,re)
Yeah baby (re, re, re ,re)
Whip it to me (respect, just a little bit)
When you get home, now (just a little bit of respect)
Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB
Otis Redding, Jr.
(see YouTube at end)
Respect – it’s what every woman wants. Respect is what every woman needs.
Our individual definitions of respect have as many shapes and colors as there are women. Every woman instinctively senses what respect feels like in our bodies and souls. The mystery is how can this be when some women seldom feel respected by anyone around them? Do we know respect in the coding of our souls? Or do we know respect because we know denigration, condescension, abuse, and tolerance so well? Feeling respected by those around us may be elusive, and will be more forthcoming the more we respect ourselves. The more we value ourselves, the more we are perceived as having value. This can be an uneasy conundrum to solve. How can we birth that self-respect we instinctively know when we don’t see that respect in the mirrors or in the people around us?
Giving Up Our Victim Stories
We can begin by believing we deserve respect for simply existing as human beings. We further deserve respect for living in cultures that rarely fully support women for being the beautiful beings we truly are. Like a newly developed muscle we develop respect through self-care, affirmations, following our joy, and choosing people who are accurate mirrors. We further build up that muscle by giving up our victim stories of how awful…whine, whine, our lives have been. No matter how much abuse we experienced in the past, and how horrific our lives the past is the past. We cannot change the past, only live more in the present. The more we let go of those stories and step into what I call a soul myth, the more we are truly ourselves. A soul myth is what our souls truly know and desire to embody. A soul myth is expressed in one sentence like, “The Woman Who Runs with the Wolves”.
When I first heard Aretha sing about respect in the 60’s I was floored and unbelievably excited. This was my kind of woman! She sang about my deepest needs as a girl. Back then I did not have a definition for what respect meant. I did know however what being disrespected meant as a girl. My father was very traditional; girls and women’s territory was the kitchen and boys played with tools. Being the eldest of three children in our house, my father first turned to me to help him with his projects. I loved handling the tools and feeling like I was doing something that mattered. A small little seed of respect was planted. Suddenly when my brother turned five I was no longer needed in my father’s workshop. No explanation, just a dismissal to the kitchen. At the time I was hurt, then enraged at my father’s callousness. Now I am glad that he saved my hands from cuts and scrapes, and tossed me back into the circle of women. The seed was set nonetheless I work with tools in the garden, do small carpentry projects, know my way around a computer, and can repair my car when necessary.
This week’s exercise has three parts: The first part is to reflect a moment on your well of self-respect. How full is your well? Do you need to prime the pump and pull forth more from your deepest self? Or are you feeling content and accepting of who you are today? Maybe you are ready to jump into life with a big “YES”? Maybe you have no idea how much you respect yourself. No matter how full and clear your well of self-respect may be you can dredge deeper and express your soul’s path further.
The second part of the exercise is to look into a mirror and say 3 times, “Thank you God, Good for me!”
The third part to the exercise is to write down how it felt to look at yourself while saying, “Thank you God, Good for Me!” Now how full is your well of self-respect? Imagine you are a woman who trusts and respects herself. A woman who listens to her needs and desires. You are that woman who meets her needs and desires with tenderness and grace.
What do you think is your soul myth? Comment to me (below) and share in one sentence what you believe is your soul myth. I look forward to your comments and your progress toward the respect you deserve.
Watch Aretha: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0
About the Author, Mari Selby
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” In addition to being an unruly woman, Mari Selby is a poet who is currently working on several books. Over the years Mari has published two poetry books, as well as having her writing included in anthologies, almanacs, magazines and newsletters. She has also taught and led writing groups for many years.
Mari is the director of Selby Ink, a publicity and marketing firm. Selby ink promotes authors who make a difference, and helps those authors to develop name recognition through traditional and online publicity. Selby ink specializes in the following genres: body, mind, spirit, relationships, environmental issues, and social justice. You can also find Mari on Facebook, Twitter @selbyink, and on her own blog Food for Thought: Inspiring Authors to Be Tastier.