I finally got my almost two year old down for his nap. After futzing around on social media a bit while he lay snuggled against my body, I finally extract my nipple from between his lips and my body from the king mattress on the floor of my bedroom that we share. I creep down the stairs and step over the eruption of toys and half folded laundry load covering the kitchen floor to get to the sink for a drink of water.
My thirst never quite feels satiated entering month 21 of breastfeeding my son. I know my aching joints feel depleted from all this nurturing-another-being-off-my-breasts and mostly forgetting to take my vitamins to replenish or otherwise rightly care for my body as she was cared for before Nyvon came along. Oh and my nipples, they are screaming for me to wean. But my heart is not quite ready. It’s getting there, just not quite yet.
It’s almost 2 pm. I’m still in my pajamas, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, and definitely haven’t showered. As I gulp down a glass of water, my mind is on how quickly I can do the bare minimum of tidying up to get this joint in nominal working order so as to steal a moment out of the mundane planes of existence that threaten to overtake the break times from toddler mothering.
Out my kitchen window, I face the two story garage studio that I turned into the Feminist Sanctuary, a dedicated gathering space for our collective feminine rising. As always, it’s calling me to come play. What goes on in this space makes my heart absolutely soar. If you could see my energetic connection to this entity, it would look like a ruby filled river of gold coming out from my heart, rooting into the earth below to forge a path to its foundation, then weaving a gloriously intricate web to envelop its stucco walls and tiled roof in a yolk of protection and love. Over the last several months, I’ve been devotionally building this sanctuary as a temple to the divine feminine – circling, healing, communicating with our ancestors and co-creating with some incredible women in my community in Santa Monica, California.
This space was born more or less overnight around the beginning of this year. My baby had just turned one. The all consuming fog of my first year as a mother was just starting to lift. As I was doing dishes and looking out on my patio and yard, I felt visceral sense of feeling trapped. A house to keep up, endless dishes, laundry, dog hair, clutter, and not enough help from my husband who was gone working all the time at his high pressure job. Most of my energy was dedicated to caring for my son (a role that I truly adore) with a lot of energy otherwise wasted in frustration at feeling I had been used as a pawn to fulfill desires not my own. I kept telling myself it didn’t make sense to start any endeavor because eventually I’d get pregnant again and be zapped back in to the baby vortex. We moved back to LA to be near my husband’s family, and to be in a bigger city for his work opportunities. I always thought I would land off the grid, but the opposite came to be.
Like so many of you, my slow and spiraling awakening in this lifetime continues to come in fits and starts through myriad experiences, some I choose, others I don’t. And this? Could I have possibly chosen this? I knew the hamster wheel of conventional householder life in our materialistic world was never something I wanted. And yet here I was, deep in the patriarchal framework, responsible for taking care of the house and kid while my husband goes out in the world to fight for our bread. Despite a life quite full of privilege and blessings, my cloak of victimhood felt suffocating.
But then I realized: my heart had led me here. And it will also lead me out. My husband and I have a glorious love story that continues to unfold, even if these days we need frequent couples counseling. We were basically smacked over the head by Cupid when we reconnected seven years after dating in college. And unlike other deep love affairs I had in my twenties, there was never a deal breaker to bring this one to a screeching halt. And so, after courting for a couple years, we married. A couple years after that, we moved to LA and had our son Nyvon. My husband is loving, kind, and generous. But over our almost seven years together, I nearly lost myself.
His family is Persian, and when we first got together, I was seduced by Iranian American culture. The community is strong, confident in its traditions and deeply connected to its beautiful and heartbreaking history. My family’s immigrant story and its accompanying trauma, on this other hand, left us largely disassociated from our origins. I dove into this new culture, my soul desperate for some sense of rootedness on stolen land and my ego desperate to fit in. I cooked for him, cleaned up after him, and tended to him, really as if he were a child. This was how I had observed men taken care of in his culture. He didn’t ask me to treat him this way, but he did come to enjoy and expect it.
Over time, my wise and wild soul, that I had previously spent so much time making space for, got all boxed up and put in the closet as I was tidying up like the perfect wife I was trying so hard to be. Although I had started to recognize the damaging patterns we’d co-created, it was really after we had our baby that I realized the patriarchal gender roles and lack of equality in our household were no longer working for me.
At the same time, the #metoo movement was in full force, and I felt deeply triggered. The last straw for me came when the Aziz Ansari story broke in January. While on a first date with a woman, in his home, he basically tried to use his power and “charm” to get her to have sex with him, despite her verbal and nonverbal cues to slow down. When her story came out, many people sided with Ansari, justifying that he was “just being a guy” and that she could have left the situation. Our bodies are sacred vessels that create life and embody souls on to this planet. For it to be deemed acceptable for a woman to feel obligated to have intercourse after a bad dinner date shows how sick our society is right now.
As you know, I could go on and on about all the good reasons women need safe spaces to come together and nurture each other’s healing and growth. At the end of the day, as women, we are long over due to claim our sovereignty. We have been exploited and objectified over the last several thousand years. We come in to this life carrying, in our bodies, the cringing of every woman who came before us, each time she was forced to go against her intuition and will. How many times did our mothers, grandmothers, and women further back in our maternal line stifle their power to acquiesce a man or other outside force?
And yet, the patriarchy isn’t our only history. Our earth knew millions of years of peace and women were long revered and respected for their intuitive gifts and creative powers before this patriarchal age came to be. Our ancestral stories are not only the traumas, but also our wisdom and the sense of spirituality in our lifeblood.
When we make space to listen to each other’s inner voices and authentic presences, we get a glimpse of the beauty and radiance of feminine energy that goes so much deeper than the skin. We connect to the fierce power within us that is inseparable from Mother Earth herself.
I am a householder, a mother, a wife. I am also a priestess, a space holder, a creatrix. Giving birth to my son in my home, virtually unassisted, gifted me the experience of what we are capable of, whether we birth or not, whether we have a physical womb, or not. The ways that our true nature, as profoundly strong and insightful beings aligned with the rhythms of the elements, has been dismissed over this past age is a loss that we can never take back. But we can help hatch a more liberated future for ourselves and our legacy.
The feminist sanctuary calls me because it represents this blood wisdom we all carry. What we do in spaces like it all over the planet is remember who we are. We need feminine leadership to shape our world now, through compassion, collaboration, vision, presence and patience. The stakes are high. Our planet and all who call it home are aching.
Personally, I am claiming my power on a daily basis. My husband and I are finding ways to grow and evolve together within our family structure that feel more grounded in equality. I have quite literally staked my ground on this little piece of earth that we steward to let it be known in my family and community that my voice will no longer be silenced; my light will not be dimmed. I prioritize the cultivation of my inner world and my connection to dimensions beyond what we see with our eyes. At dinner parties, when people ask me what I do, I answer, “Dismantle the patriarchy.” And I mean it.
I am 34 years old. For now, I am being a damn good mother and an honest and loyal wife. I am doing my best to obey my inner rhythms and I scrape out every last moment I can to cultivate sisterhood. I dream of our gatherings, our healing, our timelessness. In my dreams, I feel connected to every other woman on this planet. And all the women who have ever been here. And all of us who will be. Even if I don’t get along with all of them in waking life! I can feel us as scattered grains of sand, all on the same vast desert of stardust. All ancient and pushed around by the winds and merging with the sky into a crimson sunset under a rising moon.
Sisters, I am so grateful for this wave of transformation we are all on together. It is so liberating to know we are all on this journey in global community and that we don’t have to muscle through survival-of-the-fittest-style anymore. How freeing that our vulnerability is now championed, as difficult as it can be to continue to unpack our masks and defenses. We don’t have to try to fit ourselves into the box of linear progress anymore. We are redefining success to encompass an acceptance of all that we are, just as we are. I can feel in my bones the vastness of fun, adventure, expansion, depth and connection we can experience together, in this lifetime and beyond.
With a background in meditation, yoga, dance, bodywork, energy healing, and textile arts, Nicole curates retreats that bring art, movement and other expansive experiences together with badass women throughout our global community. Enrollment is open for her upcoming weekend retreat in October. You can mention that you are a part of Global Sisterhood for 10% off tuition: https://
space to gather // support each other // claim our greatness