masculine energy Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

The Princess and the Pea: Reflections on the Princess Archetype

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I remembered the first time the pain of endometriosis hit like it was yesterday. I was 17 and my mother and I had just eaten at Bennigan’s restaurant. I had experienced menstrual cramps before and this wasn’t it. Doubled over on the floor, wracked with nausea, I thought I had food poisoning and never went back to Bennigan’s again.

Approximately 28 days later, it happened again.

Back in the late 1990s, little was known about this crippling disease. My ob-gyn made an unofficial diagnosis of endometriosis and put me on birth control pills. A few years later, a formal diagnosis was made when an ovarian cyst ruptured and I had to go in for emergency surgery (at the time, endometriosis could only be diagnosed with exploratory surgery). This began a decade-long journey filled with synthetic hormones, prescription pain pills, drug-induced menopause, and five surgeries that would culminate in my body putting itself into natural menopause at age 27. (I later healed my body and came back out of menopause at age 36.)

The funny thing is:

2) My Prince Charming was going to come save me and take me away from the hormone hell I was living in.

It wasn’t until I was 40 and newly divorced that I realized the ridiculousness of both of those beliefs. That I wasn't broken and didn't need saving. And even if I did, I was going to be the one to do it.

I’m not sure where I learned to rely so heavily on this idea of Prince Charming – maybe from childhood fairy tales or Disney movies. Ironically, I didn’t even realize that I was looking for my Prince to save me, so deeply held was my belief in him. But as I sat journaling one day, I realized that I had been waiting on this Prince my entire life.

As I started to examine my own belief system, I began to unravel my thoughts about what it meant to be a woman in today’s society. On the one hand, we were raised to believe that we could be or do anything we wanted to and encouraged to be ambitious and independent, firmly seated in our masculine energy. On the other hand, we were told we had to learn how to cook because “the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Apparently, we would need a man for something, even if we didn’t exactly know why at the time.

As my childhood turned into my teenage years, I was encouraged to be a debutante. My mother hoped those years of cotillion lessons would finally pay off. Unfortunately, she’d done such a good job of pushing me academically that putting on a white dress and dancing for boys was the last thing on my mind. I had AP tests to study for so I could get into college. And that’s what I did.

In college I learned two things: 1) I needed to get my PhD if I wanted to do anything with my Psychology degree, and 2) I was quickly aging past my prime to ‘catch’ a man. Although I thought the point of college was to advance my education, there were many women who went to college for the express purpose of finding a husband. We jokingly called it the “Mrs. Degree.”

Yet, the culture behind the Mrs. Degree was real, and it was based on the belief that women needed a man: they could not function without one.  As I watched my parent’s marriage unravel while my own fertility – what I then thought was the key defining element of what it meant to be a woman  – was in question, all I could think was: I want to escape. I want someone to take me away from all of this. Enter my now ex-husband. I finally got why I needed a man to save me and thought I had found my Prince who would, in fact, save me, in one fell swoop.

As my teens turned into my 20s and my 20s into my 30s, I discovered that life isn’t like a fairy tale. I had my Prince, but he didn’t save me. I had my ‘castle,’ but the septic tank was going bad and we had to shell out a lot of money we didn’t have to fix it. There was no glass slipper, no fancy gown, no ball. Instead, there were surgeries, failed attempts to have a child, and bills to pay. The worst part about it? I still felt broken and assumed it was my fault. I was the one with the job that didn’t make enough money. I was the one who had endometriosis and couldn’t have kids. I was the one who had wanted the ‘castle in the forest’ so I could be surrounded by woodland creatures (and I was – although they never helped out with any household chores – I think Cinderella got the better end of that deal!). All I had to show for it was a stack of bills and a failing marriage.

As my 30s came to an end, I finally realized my husband wasn’t Prince Charming and he wasn’t going to save me. Yet, there I was, still broken. We cut our losses and went our separate ways for myriad reasons. In the end, getting a divorce was one of the best decisions I ever made.

It forced me to take a long look in the mirror. It forced me to stop waiting for a man to come save me. It forced me to be my own Prince Charming. More importunately, it forced me to confront my belief systems. It made me realize that I wasn’t broken – never had been – and didn’t need saving. It forced me to be the woman I was meant to be. It forced me to heal.

If you have been living in your own version of the Princess archetype and waiting, consciously or not, for someone to save you, I invite you to join my Sacred Circle, where we are working on finding ourselves, healing our chakras, our insecurities and not enoughness issues, so we can step into our Feminine Power and live the lives we were meant to live.

Coyotes, Queens, and Lemonade

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A pair of coyotes trot through tall grass.My German Shepherd Kolby and I saw two coyotes on our walk this morning, followed by two hot air balloons. While these events may seem unrelated, I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason, and thus nothing is truly unrelated.

So when I got home and sat down for my morning meditation, I asked myself, “Why coyote? Why 2s?”

In Native American mythology, especially Cherokee, Coyotes are the tricksters. They love to play and have fun – albeit sometimes at others’ expense. The message coyote brought me was that I need to play more, learn to laugh at myself, take myself and life in general less seriously, and just have fun. Coming off the heels of hosting my first video interview series and getting ready to launch a new website and a new podcast, this makes perfect sense to me. Less work; more play, have more fun. Check.

What about the pairs – of coyotes and of balloons? In numerology, the number 2 is associated with all things feminine: gentle, tactful, diplomatic, forgiving and understanding. And this gets us back to what we’ve been talking about in the past few blog posts – be-ing a Queen.

In my 20s and 30s, I tended to act from a masculine rather than feminine perspective. I think this is fairly common among women in male-dominated careers or ‘corporate America’ types of jobs, of which I consider Academia. When you must be goal-oriented in your career and the pressure is on to do more with less, I think having these masculine traits can be of service. But, if you take those same traits into your everyday life – as I did for two decades – that doesn’t always work out so well…

What do I mean by masculine traits? In my experience, that has meant that individuals in their masculine tend to be very competitive, operating from a sense of lack or ‘not enoughness’ rather than a sense of collaboration or abundance.  Individuals who are more in their masculine seem almost distant from their feelings, as though their feelings can’t be shared or shown for fear of being seen as weak. So they appear to distance themselves from you just when you start reaching for the emotional connection required for most women to feel truly attached to someone.

That may not seem so bad, but it usually doesn’t stop there. Because I always felt like I had to prove my worth – in academia and in life – I tended to approach relationships from a place of fear rather than a place of love. I was vigilant, wanting to make sure I didn’t ‘screw up’ or make someone mad. Or even worse, I worried that they might find out about my ‘not enoughness’ and leave me. And because I was trapped in my own fear of being not enough, I didn’t trust myself, which meant I really couldn’t trust anyone else. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop – not a good place to find yourself in any relationship, but especially not in a romantic one. And after years and years of this be-ing (or do-ing, really) in my masculine, I got bitter and resentful. I wondered why I could never seem to be enough.

Until one day when I realized that I was.

I wasn’t broken, I didn’t need fixing. I was enough, perfect just as I am right here, right now.

And that is the secret every Queen knows: a Queen is gentle, tactful, diplomatic, forgiving and understanding because she believes in herself. She’s seen struggle, she’s known loss, and she made it through. She walked on the lemons life threw her way and not only set up a lemonade stand, but also became more confident in her ability to sell said lemonade and make a profit. She looks in the mirror and knows that her wrinkles tell her story, her lines and scars speak of her journey that is this life, and her tears are shed not only for grief but for joy and happiness, for lessons learned. She loves and accepts every part of herself – her shadow and her light. And she is proud – of her life, of her journey, of herself. She’s sees her own beauty and the beauty in others. She walks beside you, never stepping on you for her own gain. She remembers how to play and makes sure to take exquisite care of herself. She sees coyote and knows her message: Be true to yourself, child, you are not in this life alone. Play, have fun, ask for help when you need it, and most importantly, always be as gentle, forgiving, and understanding with yourself as you are with everyone else.

From one woman who would be Queen of Her Own Life to Another: Namaste.

Now go share your light with the world, and don’t forget to have a little fun!


Balancing Masculine and Feminine

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2nd chakraIf you’ve been following my blog, you know that I am in the middle of a journey to heal my chakras. Last week I started healing my second chakra and hoped to be onto my third chakra by now. Best laid plans and all that…

A few hours after writing my second chakra post, I was in the middle of a meeting with a magazine editor, when the editor’s friend Lori popped in to say hi. After introductions were made, Lori saw my crutches and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I had broken my heel. Instead of the typical, “How did you do that?” question that usually follows my heel breaking proclamation, she asked me, “Why did you do that?”

I was stumped. What did she mean Why did I break my heel? It’s not like it was intentional. She peered at me, waiting for my answer. The editor I was there to see explained to me, “Lori’s an intuitive.”

Lori asked again, “Why did you break your heel?”

It took me a few days to come up with an answer. (And no, I never saw her again, so I didn’t get a chance to explain my why to her. But that’s not the point, is it?)

To make a long story short, as you may know, I first broke my heel over a year ago. After months of slow healing and mulling the “why” over, I thought it was a sign that I was following the wrong path (see my About page for more on that).

Yet, I have changed what I thought the Universe was asking me to change and here I am in the exact same place I was a year ago. Frustrated, I began journaling and soul searching for the answer to my “why” and this is what I came up with: Yes, I changed the topic of the book I was writing, I started a new business to fulfill my soul’s purpose, I met the ‘right’ people and did the ‘right’ things, but I was still operating under the old model – one that no longer works for me.

When I received my Rude Awakening back in April, the message centered around the fact that I had been suppressing my feminine side – my intuitive nature – for too long. It was time to stop being so logical and ‘masculine’ and reconnect with the feminine essence. Although I starting writing about intuition and getting in touch with the feminine, I was doing it in a masculine way. I was still planning and organizing and crossing all of my I’s and dotting all of my T’s rather than letting it flow. Yes, the writing flowed from me like water, but my life did not. In other words, I haven’t been taking my own advice! I have become skilled at telling you how to connect with your intuition, but have I been doing what I advise you to do? In a nutshell, no.

My re-broken heel is letting me know that writing about using your intuition isn’t enough. You have to actually use that intuition on a daily basis! This reminds me of a recent lecture by Shiloh Sophia McCloud. She explained that while women are perfectly capable of acting in logical, ‘masculine’ ways, to the extent that counteracts the woman’s own nature, she will burn out pretty quickly. Or, in my case, keep breaking my heel.

In the past week, I have found myself in numerous conversations with my fellow female academicians about this imbalance of masculine and feminine energy. Academia, as is much of corporate America, is very masculine dominant – not just in the people in the field, but in the energy you need to ‘succeed’ in the field. I am fortunate enough to be on sabbatical this semester, giving me the opportunity to explore this issue, heal my chakras, and my heel while I write my books. But a friend and fellow academic recently asked me, “What are you going to do when you have to go back to teaching in January?” I honestly don’t know and the question itself frightens me.

I know me and I know how easily I can get sucked into doing instead of being, striving instead of living. And if I find myself struggling to balance my masculine and feminine now – at a time when I am relatively free to spend my time as I choose and work on projects I want to work on – what will happen when the masculine pressure is back in full force next year?

This brings me back to Shiloh’s talk. I think what Shiloh was trying to say was this:

we have a choice in much more of our lives than we think.

Yes, academia is a very masculine world, but is that in part because I expect it to be and answer the call on that level? Why can’t I change that – at least for me? Why can’t I go back to that world still choosing to make decisions that are in line with my intuition?

Of course that means that in the meantime, I need to figure out how to do that from where I am right now. I am still painting (see above for my 2nd chakra rendition). I am trying to find balance – a way to honor my obligations while still living as much of the time as I can by my intuition. Lest I fall back into my old way of thinking, I plugged a daily reminder into my iPhone that says, “Why did you break your heel?”

Because sometimes the Why really is more important than the How.